— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) March 1, 2020
Dean who? April 2019 through to now has been a crazy time in pro wrestling, but maybe for nobody more so than Jon Moxley. Upon letting his WWE contract expire and walking away from the company, the Former Lunatic fringe shed his skin and repackaged himself, reverting back to Jon Moxley, the name he’d used on the indie circuits before signing with WWE. First there was that teaser promo of Moxley busting out of prison before making a surprise appearance at the AEW PPV Double or Nothing. With AEW not starting their weekly TV deal until the October, Moxley was free to also take bookings in New Japan and he did so to devastating effect.
Moxley is also currently the IWGP United States Champion, in his second reign, as well as being the new AEW World Champion. Sadly, neither NJPW or AEW are likely to bill Moxley as ‘Jonny Two Belts’, which I think is a shame because I’d love to see Moxley making his BMF walk through the crowd which a belt over each shoulder. Although, who knows, because Jericho made an appearance for New Japan with the AEW title, so Moxley could well appear with both belts at a future NJPW event, providing he simultaneously holds both titles for long enough.
But of course, it’s one thing to become the Champ, it’s another to stay the Champ. Two Championships means double the number of challengers vying to dethrone you. So here we take a look at who could be the top challengers for both of Moxley’s titles.
It makes sense to start with the most obvious. With the Painmaker being the inaugural, and former, AEW World Champion, it stands to reason that Jericho would want that title back. It’s not overly clear where AEW stands on title rematches, but even if Jericho had to earn another shot at the title, a rematch between the two could be a big deal. If this does happen, I imagine it would happen sooner rather than later on a forthcoming episode of Dynamite. With AEW’s next PPV, Double or Nothing, not scheduled until the end of May, I would imagine that the World Champion, whoever that may be, would have a fresh challenger by then.
Ever since he walked out of this Wrestle Kingdom 14 as both IWGP’s Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships, the LIJ fans have been calling him, and in fact before the event, “Two Belts Naito”. But who knows, maybe he wants to become “Three Belts Naito”. After all, the IWGP United States Championship is arguably the most prestigious title missing from Naito’s cabinet, so I daresay there’s huge motivation for him to hold the US title at any point, but it would certainly be an amazing feat to hold it simultaneously with the Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles. Moxley, like Jericho, has shown great passion and enthusiasm for working in Japan on a semi-regular basis and one would imagine he will continue to do so for as long as Tony Khan allows him to. Of all the matches on this list, this is potentially the one I am most excited about.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman
Before Revolution, MJF was ranked fifth among AEW World title challengers, but that was before he defeated Cody, and earned himself some nuclear heat in the process. While Cody may believe he has unfinished business with MJF, it’s pretty clear that Friedman wants little to do with Cody and he may consider their matter closed, despite his questionable methods of winning the match. I can imagine the smug MJF declaring that he’s entitled to be Moxley’s next challenger for the World title. I can imagine Friedman and Moxley having some great chemistry together, both in their promos and in their ring work. At twenty-three years of age, I think it’s clear that Friedman has a bright future ahead of him. And as long as he has Wardlow by his side, who knows how far he could go?
Much like Naito, Tanahashi is among the most decorated wrestlers in New Japan. He holds the record for most reigns as NJPW Heavyweight Champion, with eight, he’s a former Intercontinental Champion and currently one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions with Kota Ibushi. But, also like Naito, Tanahashi has never held the United States Championship and he may well have the desire to right that wrong. Now at the age of forty-three, Tanahashi may well be closer to the end of his career than the beginning. But, right now, he can still go, and I’m certain that a marquee match against Jon Moxley could still be a huge draw.
Because double Champions could be a repeating trend in the current pro wrestling landscape, how about ‘Kenny Two Belts’? Omega is, of course, currently one half of the AEW World Tag Team Champions with “Hangman” Adam Page. Some might say that Omega currently has his hands full, especially when there’s somewhat of a feud with the Young Bucks, and Kenny is currently looking out for the well being of Adam Page, who seems to have a drinking problem. But Omega also has a drive and passion to be the very best. He’s previously been denied of an opportunity for the AEW World title, and he has history with Jon Moxley. In fact, it was Omega who Moxley targeted when he first arrived in AEW and they had an incredible Lights Out match at Full Gear. While Moxley was victorious in that encounter, both men are still relatively young in their careers and I’m certain they will face each other again, sooner rather than later, and it will be all the sweeter if there is Championship gold on the line.
Ahead of Revolution, Cody was #2 in the AEW rankings, and he was undefeated in 2020 singles competition before his match with MJF. There may well be one sticking point though, a stipulation in Cody’s title challenge against Jericho, back at Full Gear, was that Cody would never challenge for the AEW World title again. But if there’s one thing almost certain in pro wrestling, is that things often stay a certain way for long. When the likes of Daniel Bryan and Edge both came out of retirement, I’m sure AEW will find a way to overturn the stipulation and make Cody eligible for a World title shot once again. And so they should, while he may be one of the Vice Presidents, Cody is arguably the top babyface in all of pro wrestling right now and he seems destined to be the World Champion at some point.
All pictures courtesy of AEW