Tony Khan has, overall, done very well as the booker of AEW since the promotion started, and he solidified his position in that role after the first year. Khan has established the largest #2 promotion in the United States since WCW with a company that has succeeded in every business metric.
Every booker has weaknesses, and one of Tony Khan’s underutilizes talent. Yes, you don’t want to rush through big matches with no build, but at the same time, you don’t want to leave them unrealized if you can avoid it.
Initially reported by Fightful Select and later confirmed by numerous outlets: Bobby Fish’s contract with AEW has expired, and he appears to be moving on.
Fish is not a top-level draw, but his reDRagon team with Kyle O’Reilly should have been something of a needle mover for the tag division, especially since they were paired with Adam Cole and the Young Bucks in an intended long-term storyline.
Here’s a complete list of the straight tag matches reDRagon had in AEW:
- Alan Angels and Ten on the March 23, 2022 Rampage
- Jurassic Express on the April 13, 2022 Dynamite
Of course, they had six-man tags and were in multi-tag matches, but those were the only two vs. two matches they had while Fish was under contract.
There are some caveats to this specific criticism – Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole have both been out with injuries, which completely derailed the storyline implosion of the Undisputed Elite.
Still, the team was in the promotion for half a year and never got a real match with the Lucha Bros, FTR, The Butcher & the Blade, The Acclaimed, Swerve in Our Glory, Powerhouse Hobbs & Ricky Starks, House of Black, Darby Allin & Sting, Private Party, or Ortiz & Santana. This doesn’t mention the various teams they were in multi-man or multi-team matches, like the Young Bucks, Best Friends, and Alex Reynolds & John Silver.
That’s an amazing number of matches that range from being a solid Dynamite match to a potential PPV main with a sufficient build.
And not a single one happened in six months.
Similar issues arose with Cody Rhodes. By the time he left, there were several high-level roster members with whom he never got in the ring, such as the Elite, Jon Moxley, and Miro, amongst others.
It’s a fine line between running a match too much and never actually doing a match.
In Rhodes’ return to WWE, half of his eight televised matches were against Seth Rollins. That’s a two-month stretch. Running a match at three or more pay-per-views as the WWE house booking style has its own flaws, but at least you got to see two of WWE’s best wrestlers opposite each other.
Tony Khan and AEW can afford to put his foot on the gas a little more with some of his talent. AEW Rampage, in particular, has been lacking marquee matches for months now.
Burning some potential matches would help alleviate that problem and not leave money on the table.