Words by Sêan Reid, Laura Mauro & James Truepenny  

Whether or not it’s an ideal time for All Elite Wrestling to introduce a new title is questionable. Nevertheless the thought of a secondary male’s single title is sure to be welcomed in the longterm. While the initial announcement of the TNT Championship tournament promised AEW’s biggest names, the bracket considerably hasn’t delivered on that. Yet that’s understandable given the current circumstances. However, a second title will give some of AEW’s less prominent talent something to aim for.

The tournament will kick off this coming Wednesday on AEW Dynamite and is set to tentatively conclude at Double or Nothing in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 23rd. It sees eight men participating, aiming to become the inaugural AEW TNT Champion with a mixture of up-and-coming names battling against experienced veterans.

Ahead of the first round taking place, we’re taking a lot at all eight competitors and predicting how far they will go.

Lance Archer

The arrival of the ‘Murderhawk Monster’ in AEW comes off the back of a stellar 12 months for the 6ft8in Texan. His participation in last summer’s G1 Climax tournament in Japan undoubtedly revitalised Archer’s career, eventually leading to a spell as IWGP United States Champion. While his departure from NJPW is a major loss, it’s certainly a gain for AEW.

Having been brilliantly paired with Jake ‘the Snake’ Roberts, the duo have earmarked AEW’s golden boy, Cody, as their first target. However, to get to him Archer will have go through Colt Cabana first. With Archer dominating Marko Stunt like a rag-doll on this past week’s episode of AEW Dynamite, Archer’s in-ring power, presence and prowess most certainly makes him an early favourite.

Colt Cabana

He’s a podcast host, a stand-up comedian, a YouTuber and he’s also a wrestler. Chicago’s Colt Cabana is a veteran of the independent scene, spearheading how to maintain a living as an independent wrestler, paving the way for many to follow.

Having joined AEW in early 2020, Cabana brings over 20 years experience which has seen him travel around the world countless times, wrestling in dozens of promotions. His inclusion in the TNT Championship tournament doesn’t quite match the criteria of having “the biggest names,” it’s clear Cabana will be the latest sacrificial lamb for Lance Archer. While he’s sure to bring an admirable underdog attitude to their upcoming match, unfortunalty for Cabana, he’ll be making his way back to the studio… apartment sooner rather than later.

Darby Allin

While the upper echelon of AEW’s cards have been dominated by familiar faces with crossover appeal, there has been a handful of people who have emerged to become future main eventers. Amongst them is Darby Allin.

The semi-face painted rising star has shown a relentless attitude from the moment he stepped into an AEW ring. Since taking Cody to a time-limit draw at Fyter Fest last June, Allin has become a fan-favourite for his reckless demeanour and dark and intriguing promo videos. Impressive showings against former and current AEW Champion’s Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley added credibility to Allin’s burgeoning career.

While the AEW Championship maybe out of his reach, his inclusion in the TNT Championship tournament makes perfect sense. The new belt could potentially become a spotlight for exciting new talent like Allin and his first round opponent, Sammy Guevara. And they have a history together.

At February’s ‘Revolution’ pay-per-view, they delivered a frantic and eventful match. Their upcoming rematch certainly has a lot to live up to but with the stakes even higher with a likely quarter final match against Cody, Allin and Guevara are sure to give it their all. We’ll admit this one is too close call but with Allin’s black star shining more and more, he might just become the first TNT Champion.


Unquestionably one of the biggest names in this tournament, this is the only chance (at the moment) of single’s gold for Cody. Coming off the back of a defeat to MJF at Revolution, Cody will be looking to pick up some momentum in the TNT Championship tournament yet he’s a man with a clear target on his back.

Ever since announcing the formation of AEW, Cody’s has had as many enemies as he has had as friends in the Elite. His participation sees him facing off against someone who was a friend turned foe – Shawn Spears.

Having previously described Spears as “a great hand,” the former Tye Dillinger didn’t take well to his former tag team partner’s comments. At last summer’s Fyter Fest, Spears wielded a steel chair around Cody’s head, busting him open in a bloody way. While Cody got his revenge at All Out, Spears will surely be looking for an upset.

Nevertheless, Cody has to be a favourites in the tournament and seems destined to clash with one of the other key players in the tournament, the ‘Murderhawk Monster’ Lance Archer.

Dustin Rhodes

While the TNT Championship tournament is a great opportunity for an up-and-coming talent to win some gold, there are some wily veterans who shouldn’t be ignored. Amongst them is Dustin Rhodes. With a career spanning across five decades, Rhodes has had a career full of ups and downs with a range of interesting characters throughout.

As one of AEW’s experienced in-ring talents, Dustin has the skills and knowledge to make emerging names shine but for the older Rhodes brother, it’s his advantage. Even though he has one eye on potential tag team gold with QT Marshall as part of the Natural Nightmares, Dustin will be aiming to prove any doubters wrong by becoming the first TNT Champion.

His road to glory will begin against one of the exciting upstarts looking to make their own mark, ‘Superbad’ Kip Sabin. Accompanied by the skilful Penelope Ford, Sabin’s youthful and charismatic ability is certain to be a tough match against Dustin, possibly making it one of the hardest opening round matches to predict. In spite of that, the prospect of Dustin progressing is sure to make interesting viewing.


Sammy Guevara

Why shouldn’t Sammy become the inaugural TNT Champion? The Spanish God represents one of AEW’s best traits: its willingness to develop young talent into legitimate superstars. Guevara has been one of the most exciting and eminently watchable members of the AEW roster, perfecting his slimeball heel act beneath the wing of beloved veteran Chris Jericho. In the last few months he has flourished; both his character work and in-ring skills are the real deal, and Guevara has more than earned the right to hold AEW gold. A win for Sammy would not only cement the Inner Circle’s status as the most dominant stable in AEW, but would also springboard him from Jericho’s hanger-on to an accomplished singles star in his own right. It’s no less than Sammy deserves at this point.

Kip Sabian

Kip Sabian was an interesting signing for AEW, having been a backbone of the pre WWEUK scene and a ten year veteran, the Knight Family trainee has yet to make a really big splash in the company. He is just getting ahead in the win column this year for AEW with a 5-4 record since the beginning of 2020. He recently announced his engagement to his manager Kip Sabian and is riding high personally after a decade of grinding it out on the European scene.

He of course debuted for the company at Double or Nothing with that match against Sammy Guevera that not only turned heads it enlightened the American audience to what an incendiary force he could be in the ring, however storyline wise his focus has been away from titles and more inclined towards Joey Janela, Ford’s former girlfriend. While it makes for a good story, his first round opponent is the irrepresable Dustin Rhodes. The long standing veteran has been had a number of classic performances in the last twelve months in what must be the final run of his career, but he was a signature WCW TV Champion back in the day, a title this belt will aim to emulate. Either way both men would represent this kind of title brilliantly.

Shawn Spears

The former WWE odd man out appears to have settled into his groove in AEW. However going into this tournament he has been on the losing end an awful lot in 2020. With one singles win under his belt, he rarely cracks the AEW top five contenders. However another man who was the long time TV Champion in the NWA may unlock the secret to tournament victory, with Tully Blanchard at his side, Spears has a compelling reason to go deep into this tournament.

His opponent re-matches him with Cody, one of the signature rivalries that AEW has produced so far. Fans should be very excited to see these two go head to head once again.




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