Just over six months ago, AEW fans witnessed one of the most emotionally charged matches in Wednesday Night Dynamite history when The Young Bucks successfully defended their World Tag Team Championships against the team of Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, also known as SoCal Uncensored. And what a match it was. The images of blood poetically dripping down Matt Jackson’s coveted Nike Jordans, Daniels fighting from behind with a brutal-looking bloodshot eye, and Kazarian desperately trying to pull off a miracle will live with me for a long time. It was a visual spectacle in every sense of the word. However, the loss also meant that the longstanding team of SCU was forced to disband due to an ultimatum they themselves set months prior. What a way to go.
So, while it seemed this was the end of the road for the 28-year veteran known as the “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels in AEW, it also super-kicked open the door for a potential Kazarian singles run as “The Elite Hunter”. Afterall, the Elite used every trick in the book to retain that night, and Kazarian had every motivation to go after each member one-by-one. In my mind, Kazarian was John Wick, Daniels was the soon-to-be-avenged puppy dog, and the Elite were about to get wrecked. It was the perfect follow-up to a feud that was begging for a proper conclusion.
Fast forward to present-day and did that end up happening? Well, not really. Actually, since that fateful final night of SCU’s existence, Kazarian has had exactly four matches on national television for AEW. He teamed with Eddie Kingston and Penta El Zero Miedo in a losing effort against The Good Brothers and Matt Jackson, he lost a singles match against Doc Gallows, he teamed with Christian Cage to defeat Kenny Omega and Brandon Cutler (this was Kazarian’s sole in-ring appearance on the newly launched Rampage show), and he lost to Adam Cole back in September on Dynamite. Long story short, Kazarian is 1-3 in meaningful matches since the split of SCU. Not exactly John Wick numbers to say the least.
Given the phenomenal job AEW has always done of spotlighting their roster, it makes me wonder what went wrong with Kazarian in particular. I mean let’s be real, Kazarian has been a badass for a very, very long time. An early standout in 2003 for the brand-new PWG promotion, he became their first ever world champion, eventually branching out in the early days of TNA, and ultimately being brazen enough to ask for an early release from WWE due to conflicts in their visions for his character. From there he returned to TNA and had an even more successful second act of his career where he joined forces with Daniels to form the original version of SCU.
It begs the question: Is Kazarian perhaps the first real casualty of AEW’s recent influx of new talent? Looking through a full list of AEW’s current talent roster, he stands out above the rest as someone who got the shaft. Even Matt Hardy’s entire HFO crew has a prominently featured weekly slot on Dynamite and Rampage in their never-ending feud against Orange Cassidy and his Best Friends. Meanwhile, Kazarian can’t even get a vignette these days (especially confusing when those early “Elite Hunter” pieces were very well-done).
Some will point to his many wins on Dark and Dark: Elevation, but those wins carry very little weight when he flops on the main stage. Even despite those fluff wins on the YouTube shows, how is a vigilante character with revenge on his mind supposed to work when that character does nothing but randomly pop-up here and there with the worst timing possible? It was almost like watching a parody at times. And that was even before Adam Cole joined the now Super Elite. After that, Kazarian very quickly became persona non grata in his post-SCU storyline. The group simply became too powerful for a single man to overcome.
To be clear, I never expected Kazarian to overthrow The Elite and defeat Kenny Omega to become World Champion. But I expected something more than what we ended up getting. From my perspective, he remains one of the few highly-skilled wrestlers within the company who is currently lost and directionless.
Hopefully “The Future” is still bright for Frankie Kazarian in AEW.