AEW saw an influx of talent in 2021 as multiple names became free agents or were released by WWE during the year.
CM Punk, Adam Cole, Bryan Danielson, Andrade El Idolo, Kyle O'Reilly, Malakai Black, Ruby Soho, Bobby Fish, Jay Lethal, and many more names were added to the AEW roster with other top names such as Keith Lee, Mia Yim, Ember Moon, Isaiah "Swerve" Scott and others riding out their non-compete clauses and soon to be available.
Speaking to Yahoo Sports, AEW President Tony Khan explained his thought process as he decides who he wants to join the AEW roster.
“I have to look at a variety of factors,” Khan said. “There are some talent, when they become available, regardless of how they become available, I want to make a place for them because I know they can make a difference here. There are other times that I may have a specific idea for someone.
“Nobody else can do it because there are a variety of factors that I have to consider. There’s the budget, where new people are going to fit on TV, will they be used on TV right away or in a developmental situation, or is it someone I am keeping for insurance in case they break out or if we have injuries or circumstances that necessitate new faces in the mix. This year, more so than any other year prior, we saw difference-making names become available.”
Khan added one more name to the mix on Wednesday when he signed Mercedes Martinez, who helped Jade Cargill advance to the finals of the AEW TBS Title Tournament with a victory over Thunder Rosa.
In an interview with TV Insider, Khan noted that more talent will join in 2022, but he will be " more discerning" with his signings. You can view his full comments by clicking here.