The AEW roster has grown exponentially since the company was formed in 2019. The likes of Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, Adam Cole, Keith Lee, Andrade El Idolo, Malakai Black, and more have all either been released by WWE or, as free agents, decided to join AEW.
FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) are amongst those who were previously with WWE, but jumped to AEW once they were cleared from their contracts.
Speaking to the Dallas Morning News ahead of ROH Supercard of Honor, FTR weighed in on Tony Khan bringing in so many ex-WWE talents.
“I think that Tony Khan is trying to assemble the greatest roster in the world, one of the greatest rosters he possibly can because he wants to put on the greatest product that he can. And anyone who complains about that, I’ll say they are a fool. Because he’s doing this – he spent a [expletive]-ton of money to bring back CM Punk. You think he did that for himself? Or do you think he did that for the enjoyment of the fans and he wanted the fans to be happy? I think it’s the latter part," said Dax. “Yeah, it’s easy to say all these guys from WWE are coming over, but the guys that are coming over are professional wrestlers. That’s what we are. We’re not WWE guys. We’re professional wrestlers. I mean, God, I was barely making it – same thing with Cash – on the independent circuit because we wanted to be successful professional wrestlers. And right now, we’re still a brand new company and Tony is trying to assemble the greatest roster that he possibly can so fans can enjoy the greatest product they can.
"And, on top of that – I’ll say it and I’m not worried about getting heat because nobody can kick my ass – if any of the wrestlers are upset because of all the guys coming in, well, step up. I want [Khan] to bring in every great tag team in the world right now because that’s competition for me. And I want to show him and I want to show the millions of people around the world – we say it with all the humility going out of our bodies – there’s nobody better than us. So, I hope Tony keeps bringing in talent. I hope he brings in the greatest talent from around the world because I want to sit that talent down and say, ‘Watch this. We’re better than you are.’”
In March, Tony Khan announced he had purchased Ring of Honor and he would be booking and running shows moving forward, which started with Supercard of Honor.
Cash explained how more talent will need to be brought in to fill out both rosters, saying “He’s got two rosters now to fill, which you’ve got to keep in mind. He’s got to fill two full rosters. But, like Dax said, AEW is still in its infancy. When AEW started, they had to build from scratch. And you don’t know who’s going to work on TV, who’s not going to work on TV, who the fans will accept and who they won’t. So, you’ve got to just sign everybody and hope after a couple years you’ve kind of got a better read on everything – what’s established, what isn’t. You can’t plan for things that are completely unexpected. So, some of these names that became available to him, he never could have foresaw that coming. None of us could. So, when it was available, he would be a terrible businessman to not pursue that because it’s going to make his company better. And it’s going to make his talent better because now they have another brain to pick. He’s not signing schlubs. He’s signing people that can help. A lot of the talent we have right now, also, are very young talent. They don’t need to be exposed every week on TV to make those mistakes. They need some YouTube shows, they need some independent shows, they need some ROH shows that might not be on TBS in front of a million people or more. They need the exposure before they earn that right to be on AEW television.
“Yeah, he’s got two rosters to fill out. He’s got some young talent he’s got to get seasoning on and grow. He’s got established talent that he’s finally getting where he needs. And it’s going to weed itself out over time. There’s going to be contracts that aren’t renewed. And that’s OK. He’s honoring the contracts still. They don’t need to be told anything other than, ‘We’re not renewing.’ We’re journeymen. We go from one place to the other if it doesn’t work out, but if you want it bad enough you’ll get another opportunity somewhere. You just have to go out and get it.”
Dax continued, using a sports parallel to help explain the growing roster.
"If you’re building a franchise, a sports franchise, and you have these young players who have never played on a mainstream outlet, such as AEW, they’ve all played on these small independent shows. They’ve never been on national television. Why in the hell wouldn’t you hire the Hardy Boyz or Sting or CM Punk or Bryan Danielson or Jon Moxley or FTR? Why wouldn’t you hire them to help teach them TV wrestling? They understand professional wrestling, to an extent. They understand athletics. But man, you’ve got this knowledge of guys who have worked decades on television, and we can pass that knowledge to them. So, when Sting and Moxley and all those guys decide it’s time to hang it up, you’ve got these young guys now primed and ready to go," he said.
Finally, Cash concluded, by discussing the mindset of the younger generation and how patience, or lack thereof, might come into play.
"I think a lot of it also is a mindset of a younger generation, just because we came up in a time where you had to be a little more patient. You didn’t get things as sudden. And now, people are having their first-ever match on live television, they’re debuting on live TV, they’re getting signed within a year of starting wrestling. It’s not their fault, they just don’t know any better. But it’s me, me, me, now, now, now. So, somebody like Adam Cole gets signed – ‘Well, there goes my TV time.’ Not really ‘there goes your TV time’ if you want it and you’re good enough, you’re going to get it. You just have to keep grinding. If it doesn’t happen right away, that’s OK. Just keep grinding because eventually the cream always rises. If you’re good enough, it’s going to show itself. Patience is something that’s a virtue, and it’s been lost," he said.
FTR were part of ROH Supercard of Honor, defeating The Briscoes (Mark & Jay Briscoe) to win the ROH Tag Team Championships.
They successfully defended the titles against The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) on Wednesday's AEW Dynamite. If you missed anything from AEW Dynamite, check out Fightful's full report on the show by clicking here.