AEW World’s End Predictions
All Elite Wrestling presents World’s End tonight on December 30th from the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York as the final pay per view of AEW of the year.
Way back in August I spoke about AEW booking in Nightmare Mode. Well it looks like Tony Khan treated that as a challenge and decided that treating four pay per views in five months wasn’t enough. Khan added Wrestle Dream in October to go along with Full Gear in November and now World’s End in December. AEW’s pay per view output has increased from four pay per views since 2020 to five in 2022 and now seven in 2023. 2024 has been rumoured to either increase to eight or even 12.
An increase in pay per views means it’s necessary to build up major matches to sell a pay per view. AEW has often tried to build their television show for programs in between the pay per views but in recent history has done a weaker job of that, instead having throwaway episodes that don’t really “move the plot” of the company forward and just present exciting matches.
Tony Khan decided to challenge himself and introduce the Continental Classic, a round robin tournament with the final at World’s End. It would be AEW’s version of the G1 Climax. The reaction has been mostly positive, with ratings increasing or holding steady against NFL competition on Saturday, and matches being well reviewed. For every action is a reaction, and having two major two hour blocks taken up by the Continental Classic ensured that something would have to get pushed to the periphery. That ended up being the men’s single championships in AEW, as the TNT Championship and International Championship never got the focus it would have in the past (both championships main evented pay per views earlier in the year, with All Out and Wrestle Dream.) The AEW Tag Team and Trios Championships have also taken a step back from focus and neither will be defended on the pay per view. Unless a surprise happens, neither will the International Championship.
But AEW needed this distraction, as the negative vibes of the promotion have been hard to shake off. Despite consistent Dynamite ratings near the top of cable television every week, selling more pay per views than any year, increasing their television exposure by two hours, and one of the most successful wrestling events of all time in All In at Wembley Stadium, the mood and perception of All Elite Wrestling has been largely negative. There’s a doom and dread about the product, a feeling that every week there’s something new to worry about. Whether it be locker room issues, talent issues, criticism of the booking, criticism of the elevation of new talent, criticism of the utilization of veterans, there’s always something.
Maybe it makes sense that the main event of the company is being haunted by a devil. It sure feels like that’s the company itself. Perception can sometimes be hard to shake. It has certainly tempered AEW fans into hardened loyalists that reject much of the criticism of the company, leaning hard into, “well I enjoy it” when maybe a year ago they would have been more welcoming to criticism. Makes my job a little more difficult, but I’ve maintained AEW criticism since 2019 without being branded as a spin merchant. Honestly I’ve found myself being more defensive of AEW decisions from the criticism of others only because I see a strong product overall that just has room for growth and improvement. I don’t see a dire crisis anywhere except in perception and marketing.
So All Elite Wrestling ends the year having to have made some of its most difficult decisions such as firing CM Punk and allowing him to walk to WWE, increasing their pay per view count, and building around a round robin competition instead of their own AEW World Championship (the final segment on Dynamite was left almost entirely as an overrun) making many feel that 2024 will bring a shift in philosophy for the company. It’s my hope that these shifts are for the better, but we have a pay per view to discuss.
AEW World’s End
The most recent match booked on the show features two New York natives who have recently been working as a team instigated into a match by Stokely Hathaway. Kris Statlander went from being a dominant TBS Champion to losing against Skye Blue on Dynamite despite Skye Blue not having a match at World’s End. Did you know Skye Blue has had over 50 matches this year in AEW? And has been consistently on television over other women in the division? But apparently can’t get on the pay per view card? Why is she working all of these matches and using AEW as her personal development program instead of doing that in Ring of Honor? Oh no I can’t get into this here.
Anyway, Kris and Willow. These are two babyfaces fighting each other. Okay. Both have had their share of losses recently. Don’t want to break up and just want to have a good match. Stokely involved somehow. I’ve said more about Skye Blue in this than the two involved which makes me no better than my criticism of Tony. That said, what else can I really say? I don’t think this leads to one turning heel, but maybe it just ends up a good hard hitting match. Statlander probably needs the win a little more to get back on momentum, especially if they have her facing Toni Storm in the new year.
Winner: Kris Statlander
I’m glad Wheeler Yuta has been finding ways to get on the cards as the runt of the Blackpool Combat Club. Even if he is doing it without defending the ROH Pure Championship (which I guess he wasn’t planned to win but Katsuyori Shibata had to abruptly go back to Japan) it’s good to see him finding a way, and that way is Hook.
There has been a bit of criticism on Hook’s development and how he’s basically in the same place he was two years ago. As someone who felt people should pump the breaks on Hook back then, I’m not as critical about it. I do wish Hook was working more in the ring and working on his promos, and wouldn’t be against him taking an excursion at some point to Japan. He doesn’t have the heat he used to and that might be good in letting him develop his ability and being ready to make that jump instead of just doing it because he temporarily caught on with the fans.
As AEW enters its fifth year I think people are in a bit of a frenzy to elevate people up the card in fears of becoming WCW and letting all of the young guys rot due to the old guys at the top of the card. But that isn’t the AEW situation at all. There’s a lot of guys who have potential but might not get it five to seven years down the road. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean the company is failing. It means developing into a top star is really hard, and it takes time from both the company and the wrestler.
I think this will end up a good style match up for both men and we could see some good work, with Hook going over but in a way that protects Yuta as the Pure Champion. Maybe they should have Hook work on ROH and work towards a shot at Yuta down the road?
Winner and still FTW Champion: Hook
At first I thought this was a shot for the AEW Men’s World Championship and I was very excited. I thought this was a perfect place for someone like Hangman Page to win another battle royal and move up the line into title shot territory against MJF or Samoa Joe. Instead it’s for the TNT Championship. It does signal there will be some focus on the TNT Championship coming out of World’s End which is a good thing. It depends on who walks out as TNT Champion at the end of the night to really know who is winning (or seeing the participants list) but making a prediction completely in the dark? If it isn’t someone already booked? I think we get a Wardlow win.
Winner: Wardlow (hopefully he’s booked!)
AEW World’s End
I know that AEW fans like to see development, and they like their kooky favourites. I get it. And I hope you understand that this match isn’t for me.
I don’t consider this to be the standard that All Elite Wrestling should be trying to set. When you have two superior workers in Kris Statlander and Willow Nightingale in the Zero Hour, when you have a superior wrestler in Athena only in Ring of Honor, when Hikaru Shida has disappeared again, of course this ends up the pay per view match. But it’s so difficult to accept for me. I don’t want to rant about it again, but why did Skye Blue get featured so prominently on television for the past year only to not be in a match?
I get people want the best for Abadon. I get people are excited to watch Julia Hart improve. But these things shouldn’t be happening for a championship. It should be happening in a development situation, and a company named All Elite shouldn’t be using their television and pay per view and championship titles for development purposes. It should be for the elite.
Hope they have a good match. Hope they make me look dumb. Lord knows I could use it.
Winner and still TBS Champion: Julia Hart
MJF has twice now given statements about wrestlers using AEW as a parachute for when they get out of WWE. It feels like if he’s talking about anyone it’s possibly Andrade and Miro.
I like both wrestlers a lot. I think Andrade in the Continental Classic was a risk but he ended up bringing it every night in the ring. His work in CMLL recently has been some of the best vibes of his career for the past few years. Instead of the injuries and drama he’s just been a wrestling machine and that’s the way we love to see him. He’s one of the best there is today when he’s on and he’s been pretty close to on for a bit.
Miro, man. I wish I could say the same about Miro. Bringing in CJ Perry I thought would be a good thing for him but this angle of him being the misogynistic husband to his wife who used to be his manager and we all know it is just stupid and insulting in multiple ways. It’s hard to believe since we know he used to be appreciative of CJ Perry as his manager in previous companies so him now claiming she has to be a stay at home wife is just dumb.
I miss the dominant in ring force of nature of Miro, and while I got a taste of it in his match with Powerhouse Hobbs at All Out, that was back in September. We haven’t seen much from him since. Andrade would have been better suited for someone else as an opponent after his CC showing but maybe this ends up a good match for both men.
This feels like a put up or shut up match. And the one man putting it up has been Andrade, so I hope he wins. I could see CJ Perry turning on Andrade and this whole Miro hate thing a ruse to cost him though.
This was originally supposed to be Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega taking on Ricky Starks and Big Bill for the AEW World Tag Team Championship. I thought once the Callis Family and Darby/Sting got involved they would turn it into a four way tag match, especially with Sammy Guevara reuniting with Chris Jericho (Kenny Omega is injured) but instead we get one of two eight man tag matches on the show.
Maybe this is a way to protect Sting from a loss? Or maybe it’s a way to just get everyone crammed into one match. Either way, it’s had some interesting choices already like Kyle Fletcher being replaced by Konosuke Takeshita. Starks and Guevara squaring off is an interesting one because they feel like they are in similar boats in the company. Both are midcard middleweight wrestlers who like to use a little too much insider junk in their promos for cheap pops and have a tendency to try to get sympathy from the crowd even when they are being the heels. Both have aspirations to be at the top of the card and both have their fans but I feel this is the right spot for them.
Big Bill has been so great for AEW. I’m glad AEW took a chance on him, and as a Queens, New York guy he might get some pops from the crowd tonight. He’s been on a roll and I wouldn’t be against him having a singles run after this tag run. I really wish Takeshita was facing Orange Cassidy for the International Championship tonight but I guess it wasn’t in the cards. Or this card. It’s great for Darby to be back and Hobbs to have a big match after his momentum has been derailed.
There’s a lot of stuff the internet has been trying to say about Chris Jericho today but I will just stick to the match. I think Sammy and Chris as a tag team is a good way to go forward, and I hope they just keep them as a team for most of 2024. As for who wins the match? I don’t see Sting being on the losing end this close to his retirement at Revolution.
Winners: Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, Darby Allin, and Sting
Swerve Strickland is that guy.
He’s going to be the AEW Men’s World Champion in 2024. I think we can all feel it. All of the extra work he has been doing with AEW promotional work is a sign to me that the company wants to go all the way with him. Jon Moxley saying he was seeing if he was made for it was another tell. It’s better to do this now than later. Strap the rocket and see how close to the stars he gets.
Keith Lee is an interesting tale. He should probably be at the same spot but rumoured health issues have derailed him several times, including why this program took so long to finally get to a match. It may feel stapled on after the Continental Classic but Keith Lee has now finished his engagements in ROH with Shane Taylor which opened him up to go after Swerve.
It’s a good thing for Swerve to have guys like Keith Lee and Hangman Page as shadows around the corner as if he’s a future World Champion he needs programs we can care about and sink our teeth into. Swerve Strickland can win or lose this match. A loss might feel like a losing streak for a hot wrestler but it means if he wins the World Championship down the road Keith Lee gets to skip the line. If he wins it just puts him back on track for the title sooner rather than later. I’m going with Keith Lee winning a shocker just to give Swerve a wake up call to get a little more desperate and focused on being the guy in 2024.
Winner: Keith Lee
Why yes, that is Daniel Garcia and Bryan Danielson on the same team! You finally get it folks! And you get it the right way at the right time, which it wasn’t back when they were teasing him for the Blackpool Combat Club. Garcia has developed as a character and has become smarter in the ring since that time, as shown from his match with Brody King being a perfect way to book an underdog babyface with nothing to lose. I expect we get a moment where Garcia and Danielson trade kicks on someone seated in the ring. I’m sure the crowd will enjoy it.
I’m extremely happy to see Mark Briscoe on the pay per view after his performance in the Continental Classic. Originally thought of as an inferior addition, every match he had was excellent and really raised his stock as a singles competitor. I would love to see Mark get some wins in the new year and maybe make a run at someone higher on the card. Give him something to chase. Same for Brody King, who I feel is now the stand out of the House of Black. Malakai and Buddy tried to make FTR’s life a problem and none of them could get on the card. Brody carved his way on the show.
Claudio and Rush are two stand outs as well I hope to see more from, and I think it’s time for Jay Lethal to turn babyface and leave Planet Jarrett. There isn’t much room for him after the midcard but he’s better suited as a babyface now. And then we get to Jay White, who beat Jon Moxley clean in the Continental Classic. I know some think he’s not at the spot he should be in, but he’s absolutely floating near the top of the card. The right place for him. In the new year I hope to see him finally clash with Hangman Page, not as just a weekly match, but a full blown feud.
Winners: Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, Mark Briscoe, and Daniel Garcia
The return of Riho happening after Hikaru Shida heads to Japan is always an interesting turnstile but I’m glad to see Riho return. The ratings Queen of AEW getting a title shot is also comforting as she’s one of the best wrestlers on the roster. While Tony Khan does his best to push young women in the TBS division of the women’s division, the best young women’s wrestler is Riho at age 26, even if she has more experience than half the AEW roster.
Toni Storm as Timeless has been a fun gimmick in my opinion, though I think they have been overdoing the black and white with her. I know the idea is a golden age of Hollywood but the cutting back and forth of colour and monochrome has been a little much for me. I still think she’s great in the role and I would just make a few tweaks.
The debut of Mariah May looming in the new year and how they All About Eve the story with Toni makes me think Storm is definitely retaining. It’s too bad because I would love to see Riho lead the division again.
Winner and still Women’s World Champion: Timeless Toni Storm
The debut of Adam Copeland in AEW hasn’t been the game changer that Tony Khan suggested, or maybe it has. Maybe it wasn’t a new era with Copeland being a ratings mover for AEW but more in what it means for a former WWE star coming to AEW to end their career. Copeland hasn’t taken over the oxygen in the company but instead been a complimentary part of the roster. His matches have been decent and doing the feud with Christian Cage immediately makes me feel the end game is for them to be a tag team and close out their careers together.
There’s still other programs they could do so I don’t think that’s in the near future but working this now and having them move on so their eventual team up feels organic is the right move. Not sure if the Mama Wayne stuff is, as it has been a bit of a distraction in what is a personal story of two old friends fractured. Even so, Christian and Copeland have been great against each other and I’m looking forward to this match. I think we see Adam Copeland get the big win on Christian Cage.
Winner and new TNT Champion: Adam Copeland
Early on, I predicted this would be the result of the Continental Classic. Eddie Kingston losing to Brody King in the first match made me realize he’d be doing the underdog come from behind run in the Blue League, and I think AEW booked it perfectly. Getting redemption against Bryan Danielson in the Blue League final and getting to defend the ROH Men’s World Championship and New Japan Strong Championship against Jon Moxley just makes perfect sense. Sometimes the result you predict is because it’s the best result.
Jon Moxley has been his usual reliable self, the ace of AEW. He also makes sense because he’s one of the few guys you could see defending that AEW Triple Crown Championship on a New Japan show as well as in AEW and ROH. Jon will go anywhere a fight is. But I also don’t think this should be his fight to win. 2023 was about Moxley helping make people who needed it. He got Hangman Page back on track as a main event contender. He got Orange Cassidy the credibility he needed as International Champion. He has been doing a lot of work in helping the company. He doesn’t really need the AEW Triple Crown. What he needs is to be right back in the mix for the AEW Men’s World Championship. AEW needs to get everything they can out of him at the top now.
Back to Eddie. Eddie being the AEW Triple Crown Champion makes sense. It’s not the World Championship but something else. I figure that the title is put up in every Continental Classic going forward, which gives it sort of a doomsday clock. Whoever wins it knows they will one day be putting it up in the most grueling round robin tournament in America. I hope he gets the respect he deserves as champion and I would personally have him be “the guy” on Collision and Rampage to help establish it.
The Continental Classic was a big success for AEW. It might change the entire mindset of AEW in 2024 to more sports based and match based booking. Good.
Winner and Inaugural AEW Triple Crown Champion: Eddie Kingston
I’ve written a bit on The Devil angle, including if Jack Perry is the best candidate to be the one involving himself. A lot of people have criticized the angle while also throwing all of their predictions for who it could be. It’s a WhoDunnit but also a WhoCaresWhoDunnit for some.
There’s definitely a divide when it comes to MJF and how AEW books and how AEW is perceived by critics. In the arenas he’s still very over. There’s no split crowd reactions with him. The fans are 100% behind MJF in the AEW arenas. His merchandise still sells and his segments still do strong. But when people discuss his angles since All In, it’s in a disdain and usually called sports entertainment styled. MJF has basically been booked as Hulk Hogan overcoming all the odds stacked against him in ridiculous ways. Him wrestling two matches on more than one pay per view and even defending the ROH World Tag Championships alone is a crazy amount of overexposure for someone who doesn’t really dominate television the way champions of the past did.
This Devil storyline has invoked comparisons to Aces and Eights, the 2019 Dark Order, Dungeon of Doom, and other angles that were either a mystery group of men beating up top guys or a top guy given a cavalcade of enemies to tear down. MJF losing the ROH Tag Championship because he was too injured and had no help to two mystery men feels like a step down on the Tag Championship and is crazy for the World Champion to do before a pay per view main event.
Notice how I’ve barely mentioned Samoa Joe here? It’s all been about the Devil angle. The twist was that the Devil has been helping Samoa Joe, which he really didn’t need to do. Samoa Joe was the one protecting MJF! He could have been letting him get beaten up by everyone! Instead Joe waits for the last week to hit him with a steel chair?
The reason is because they wanted an angle where Max trusted someone who turned on him. They likely wanted to do it with Adam Cole but he’s injured so they had to manufacturer this with Samoa Joe instead. It’s an insistence to tell the story they wanted to tell even at the expense of the product. Sometimes that’s a good thing, if you believe in the angle. AEW pushing the ROH Tag Championship match to the Dynamite overrun tells me they’ve lost their belief in it.
This leaves us with a main event that’s a rematch from Grand Slam with little focus on Joe and Max and more on the devil angle. AEW has been talking about restoring the feeling and MJF has supported that but it’s his angles that has people wanting to restore said feeling. By removing it. And listen, I like MJF a lot. I think as a wrestler and a promo he’s one of the best young wrestlers in the world. Scratch that, one of the best wrestlers in the world period. But I have seen an exhausted first time World champion and that’s what we have. He’s beat up. His material is surface and weak. He’s ultimately hurting his own case as a top guy to continue this. Which is why it’s for the best he loses to Samoa Joe.
I don’t know if he does. I can absolutely see this supposed to be the biggest moment for Max. Even bigger than All In. He walks into his hometown as World Champion and leaves as World Champion. But for the Devil angle to have any bite he should be cost more than just the ROH World Tag Championship. Having him lose and take time off feels like the plan back when he was a heel and still running the war of 2024 angle. It’s hard for him to do after the Players Tribune article of how much of a warrior he was for AEW, but it’s not hard to see he needs a break. Samoa Joe can break him. The devil can reveal themselves. And AEW moves on to 2024 with a new Men’s World Champion.
Is Samoa Joe the best pick to be champion? What’s more important is he isn’t a bad choice even if he isn’t ideal choice. And AEW could use a champion that’s more temporary after such a long reign. Joe will have a lot of people gunning for him, from Swerve Strickland to Hangman Page to Jon Moxley. All credible choices to beat him by Revolution. Heck, maybe even Bryan Danielson who was my pick for wrestler of the year in 2023.
I think Maxwell Jacob Friedman is an important part of AEW going forward, but he needs to be 100% as that important part. And he needs to be part of the solution. I think with a little time off and a bit more perspective he will see just how he can be that for All Elite Wrestling.
The match will be as good as Max is healthy enough to be, and while I expect shenanigans, I hope it’s the end of it. As for who is the devil? I’ve already said Adam Cole doesn’t make sense so if it’s him it’ll be a disappointment for me. Jack Perry is still my pick.
Winner and new AEW Men’s World Champion: Samoa Joe
This ended up very long, mostly because there’s a good three articles I should have written about this stuff before we got here. Not to derail with the personal but I had an extremely important person in my life pass away that has made it hard for me to focus, not to mention the holiday season. Hopefully I can get back into writing regularly but I just want to say hope everyone reading has a happy new year and I ask that you all take a second to think about the people you love and if you have told them that lately. You never know who needs to hear it, or when it’ll be the last time they can.
Happy Wrestling everyone.