From Dean Ambrose to Paige: Top 5 Superstars who joined AEW that WWE regrets letting go

Over the last few years, many superstars have jumped ship from WWE to AEW. While the biggest wrestling promotion was on a superstars-releasing spree, AEW took advantage of it and bolstered their division.


From Dean Ambrose to Paige: Top 5 Superstars who joined AEW that WWE regrets letting go

AEW CEO Tony Khan and WWE CCO Triple H

All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has been on an upward trajectory ever since its launch in 2019. The company has rapidly become the second biggest promotion in the USA behind WWE. The idea of building an alternative for wrestling fans was led by Cody Rhodes, Young Buck, and Kenny Omega, collectively known as The Elite. Furthermore, this idea was materialized by the billionaire businessman and sports enthusiast Tony Khan.

However, the new promotion still needed star power to connect with the masses. And throughout its brief run, they have had jolts of lightning by signing some of the biggest and most renowned names in the industry. On top of that, AEW was greatly helped by their biggest rival, who either released a bunch of superstars or stifled them creatively, so they leave on their own.

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While some of these superstars have made their way back to the company under the Triple H regime, there are still who remain in the rival promotion. These superstars have helped AEW bolster its division and remain to be an integral part of it even now. The following are the five such superstars who jumped ship and still make WWE regret their decision of dropping the ball on them.

Discover More: Dax Harwood clears the past animosity with The Young Bucks and AEW CEO Tony Khan

#5 Paige (Saraya)

Saraya Paige
Saraya in AEW (via AEW)

After her retirement in 2018, Paige was involved with WWE in a non-wrestling capacity. The former Divas champion was a SmackDown GM as well as a usual member of different experts’ panels. All of this changed in 2022, when rumors spread that Paige was physically fit to compete in the ring. However, Paige was not going to wrestle for WWE because of their overly controlling creative. Instead, she demanded more freedom. Hence, Paige announced her departure from the company in June 2022 and debuted in the rival promotion soon after.

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The one department that AEW has majorly lacked since its inception is the women’s division. However, this somewhat changed with the arrival of Paige, now known as Saraya, in AEW. Since her debut in September 2022, the women’s division has not only received more focus but the ratings for women segments have increased significantly too.

#4 The Revival (FTR)

The Revival FTR
FTR draped in gold in AEW (via WrestlingPurists.com)

As opposed to the women’s division, AEW has given a special spotlight to the Tag Team scene. Led by The Young Bucks, the company has put on some of the best Tag Team matches in the industry. On the other hand, WWE’s main roster was producing a below-par TV product with their Tag Teams. While The Revival had given some classics in NXT, their main roster run left them creatively frustrated with the direction Vince McMahon was offering.

The Revival was granted their release in April 2020 and was bound for AEW. They debuted under their new ring names, Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood. The duo also renamed their tag team to FTR due to trademark reasons. The Young Bucks and FTR gave the fans their dream match, and both teams didn’t disappoint. Since Triple H has taken control of the creative over at WWE, he can’t be much happy about not having one of his favorite tag teams from black and gold.

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#3 Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson)

Bryan Danielson Danial Bryan
Bryan Danielson in AEW (via AEW)

The story of Daniel Bryan in professional wrestling has been a surreal one, full of ups and downs. From creating one of the biggest WrestleMania moments in 2014 to his retirement and then his return after a few years, the fans have been part of this roller coaster ride of their favorite underdog. However, even when he returned to the ring in WWE in 2018, Vince was very conservative with the type and frequency of matches Bryan could have.

Therefore, in 2021, Daniel Bryan went back to his pre-WWE moniker, Bryan Danielson, and made his debut at the end of All Out. The American Dragon was following his passion, fighting every week and having dream matches in AEW. In a very short time, the promotion accepted Bryan as a main eventer. On top of that, he even helped mentor young talent and put over guys like Wheeler Yuta and Daniel Garcia during his stay there.

#2 Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley)

Jon Moxley Dean Ambrose AEW
Jon Moxley as AEW World Champion (via AEW)

Dean Ambrose’s run in WWE is one of the most tragic downfalls of what could’ve been a main-event superstar. While his fellow Shield brothers, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, remained with WWE, Ambrose decided to part ways in 2019. The AEW-bound wrestler cited reasons for his departure as creative frustrations and “irreparable damage” done to his character. Later that year in AEW’s first PPV, Double or Nothing, the former WWE champion appeared after the main event under his new name Jon Moxley.

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Moxley continued to execute every fantasy he had that he couldn’t do in WWE. From hardcore death matches to fighting against his heroes like Tanahashi, the former Sheild member achieved everything. Moxley was a constant main event star in AEW, leading the company as the World Champion during the pandemic era. Mox consistently delivered something different to the fans with his sadistic side and became a huge draw in a new promotion.

#1 Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho AEW
Chris Jericho as the first AEW World Champion (via Atletifo.com)

There is no bigger attraction since day one of AEW than Chris Jericho. Y2J is one of those superstars who seemed a WWE lifer. However, it all changed in 2017 when he felt, just like others, that he was stifled in the company. After his brilliant feud with Kevin Owens was delegated to only a US title at WrestleMania 33, Jericho decided to leave WWE after 15 years. A true master of reinvention, Jericho went to NJPW as the Painmaker, where he became friends with the Elite.

This friendship soon turned into a huge signing as AEW announced Chris Jericho’s arrival in the company at the 2019 launch. Jericho was without a doubt, the biggest draw in the company in its initial days. That is why Tony Khan felt it was best to have the WWE legend as the first-ever AEW World Champion. While the Demogod has achieved everything in WWE, his desire to expand himself and help out younger talents has led him into building the biggest rival of WWE.

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