The AEW Roster from the companies first show – AEW Double or Nothing 2019 – is a much different beast than it is today.
The upstart promotion prided itself in mixing big stars (like Jon Moxley, Chris Jericho and Cody Rhodes) with young, hungry independent stars (Jungle Boy, Darby Allin and MJF) and International wrestlers making their names in the United States (Pentagon Jr, Rey Fenix and Kenny Omega).
The roster was one of the most exciting in wrestling history. Most of the fans recognised Chris Jericho from his 20 year career throughout all the top promotions and remembered Jon Moxley as “Dean Ambrose” in WWE, but for most of the wrestlers, they were unknown, fresh and exciting.
Hardcore fans would have seen some of these stars in independent promotions or on the Young Bucks’ hit Youtube show “Being the Elite” and were excited to see their favourite, less known stars finally make it on the big stage.
It was one of the most unpredictable times in wrestling and there was potential for another boom in wrestling and finally some competition for the WWE, something not seen since WCW closed its doors in 2001.
This article will look at the AEW roster from when the company first started and put on it’s first show, looking at the successes and the failures from both the men’s and women’s division in AEW. Let us know what you think of this AEW roster in the comments below this article, once you’ve finished reading the whole thing.
The full AEW men’s roster from the start of AEW Double or Nothing is as follows. This includes those who were signed to the promotion full time, but not those who made single appearances in the Double or Nothing 2019 Casino Battle Royale, like Sunny Daze or Tommy Dreamer.
- Chris Jericho
- Jon Moxley
- Kenny Omega
- Nick Jackson
- Matt Jackson
- Cody Rhodes
- Dustin Rhodes
- Pentagon Jr
- Rey Fenix
- Adam “Hangman” Page
- Christopher Daniels
- Chuck Taylor
- Darby Allin
- Frankie Kazarian
- Jack Evans
- Jimmy Havoc
- Joey Janela
- Jungle Boy
- Kip Sabian
- Michael Nakazawa
- Penta El Zero M
- Peter Avalon
- Marq Quen
- Isiah Kassidy
- Sammy Guevara
- Scorpio Sky
- Sonny Kiss
- Trent Beretta
- Orange Cassidy
The early AEW roster contained many names who were unknown at the time to the mainstream wrestling fan who have since become some of the biggest stars in AEW.
Darby Allin was not on the radar of fans who had only watched WWE and maybe New Japan Pro Wrestling, after Chris Jericho appeared they, yet now he has become one of the biggest ratings draws in the company and is now the tag team partner of the legendary Sting.
Jungle Boy was an independent wrestler who had been rejected by WWE for being too small, before signing for AEW.
Even as the son of film star Luke Perry, he could not get a deal with WWE due to his size, but now is considered a future AEW Champion and even held the AEW Tag Team Championship with his partner Luchasaurus.
Sammy Guevara was known mainly in the south and in Mexico. However, after a fantastic Dynamite debut against Cody Rhodes he was taken in and mentored by Chris Jericho and is now a three-time TNT Champion who could be on his way to WWE at the end of his contract.
The biggest name that casual fans wouldn’t have heard of is “Hangman” Adam Page. He had been the “job guy” in the Bullet Club (getting pinned in tag team matches to protect the top stars like Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes.
He was singled out by management as a future star in AEW, who managed to convince him to join the promotion rather than move to NXT.
However, not all the talent from that first show made it as AEW stars. Jimmy Havoc was unceremoniously fired after #SpeakingOut allegations against forced his hand and forced him out of wrestling as a whole, which you can the full details about here.
Joey Janela was tipped to be a big star in the early days of AEW, having lots of buzz as one of the top guys on the independent scene and drawing comparisons to a young Chris Jericho.
He also had some great matches with top talent toward the start of the company, the highlights being a pair of “Lights Out” matches against Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley, who would both go on to win the AEW Championship just a year after.
However, he was not featured much on AEW after it’s first year. He was mainly used on AEW Dark, with his tag team with Sonny Kiss apparently being a highlight of the show – one that nobody watched. He was released by the company in 2022 once his original three-year contract expired.
Other talent was affected by the pandemic in 2020. CIMA was considered one of the top talents in the world at the time and was brought in along with his STRONGHEARTS Stable.
They were featured regularly in trios matches, and CIMA even faced Kenny at Fight for the Fallen 2019, but they were unable to travel to AEW from China during the global travel shutdown and were quietly released from the company once their contracts were up.
The AEW Women’s Roster at the start of the company was also once that was much different than it is now.
By Double or Nothing 2019, the company had started building up their women’s division featuring top talents from Japan and the United States, although due to the state of Women’s wrestling there were much less big names to choose from than in the men’s division.
- Brandi Rhodes
- Britt Baker
- Bea Priestley
- Hikaru Shida
- Kylie Rae
- Leva Bates
- Nyla Rose
- Penelope Ford
- Awesome Kong
The AEW roster of women at it’s inception had a number of names you probably would recognise and some others you definitely would not have.
Brandi Rhodes and Awesome Kong were the two biggest names in the division. Rhodes was a former WWE announcer-turned valet for her husband Cody Rhodes. The two had travelled the world after their WWE releases, with Cody Rhodes becoming champion in a number of promotions like ROH, TNA and NJPW.
Meanwhile, Awesome Kong was one of the biggest names in women’s wrestling in the US, despite only wrestling one match in WWE. She became a star in TNA as one of the world’s best wrestlers, being part of one TNA’s greatest feuds as she battled Gail Kim for the TNA Knockouts Champion.
Kong and Kim put on some of the greatest matches in TNA history that earned both women WWE contracts down the line. They have since been inducted into the Impact Hall of Fame.
Britt Baker was earmarked as a star from day one and was originally built up to be the top face of the division. However, the fans never really got behind the dentist, whose heel turn transformed her character and made her one of the most popular wrestlers in the company during her peak.
However, a few women on that list did not last long on the AEW roster Bea Priestley and Kylie Rae were released from the company in the early years, with Priestly unable to travel to the US due to COVID and Kylie Rae’s mental health struggle forcing her to ask for her release.
It was a huge shame as both women could have been big stars for the company and forced Tony Khan to pivot and change his booking for the AEW women’s division.
What did you think of the AEW Roster from the first All Elite Wrestling event? Let us know in the comments or click below to read more about the history of the AEW Championship
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.