The TNT Open Challenge has been one of the best things on AEW TV, due in part to Cody’s fantastic work rate and ability to put on good matches with literally anyone.
But it’s been so successful because it’s given either a wrestler who isn’t prominent on the card, like Sonny Kiss, or wrestlers who are given a chance on a larger platform, like Eddie Kingston and Rickie Starks. Both of those men are now official members of the AEW roster because of their abilities in the open challenge.
We’ve seen Cody as either the babyface or the defector heel because his opponent is so over and he has just been fantastic. The day he loses the title will be a massive change, I don’t think we’ll see the open challenge again and the exposure wrestlers will be getting will come to an end. There is so much untapped talent in AEW that we haven’t been exposed to as they’ve been acting as fans during the lockdown, some of these wrestlers fully deserve to be appearing in this challenge. In the short term, we probably won’t see many international talents due to travel restrictions but never, ever count out the tenacity of a wrestler.
Miro (FKA Rusev)
Yes, I know he has said he’s “retiring as a wrestler to become a Twitch streamer”, but how many times has a wrestler lied to fans to cause a surprise? The former Bulgarian Brute was one of the multiple wrestlers released by WWE and has since not returned to wrestling in nearly four months nor expressed an interest in doing so, instead of enjoying sitting at home playing video games.
One thing Miro has done is to make fans fall even more in love with him showing his natural side outside the ring over the internet, making fans crave to see him in a wrestling ring once more. As of recent, the TNT Championship open challenge has been more of a surprise and the challenger unknown until the actual show and to see Miro come to the ring and take on another former WWE wrestler in Cody would be a brilliant visual. I can’t see this happening any time soon due to the pandemic, this man debuting in the company in front of actual fans will blow the roof off the place.
With the trajectory of Cody’s heel turn getting steeper, what better way to get Miro even more over by not only answering this challenge but dethroning the heel champion. I know that AEW has a lot of deserving wrestlers but they can’t ignore the phenomenon that the former, Rusev, he would bolster their product massively.
This scenario is beautiful booking at its finest, the best friend turned enemy storyline is as old as time but will always work. Cardona made his AEW debut last week, saving Cody from an attack by two members of The Dark Order looking ZACKED (pun intended) in the process. The former Broski and the current TNT Champion’s friendship is very well known, with the two and their partners making multiple trips together to Disneyland. Any plans for Cardona going forward is completely unknown but we have to assume he’ll be inducted into the Nightmare Family and become an ally of Cody, whose partnership with The Elite has seemingly come to an end.
AEW could kickstart this feud in one of two ways; one would be Cody to snap on another opponent, Cardona attempt to calm him down but would lash out and that starts everything. The other method would be Cardona challenge his friend to a match, Cody has worked as the more heelish character which he could exploit and give it a ‘tough love’ approach or it could just be a friend versus friend match built on respect. A lot of fans wouldn’t know how good Cardona is in the ring, due to the restrictions he faced in his previous gimmick and the lack of booking, but the match these two would have would be fantastic. Whichever way it was taken by AEW, either the two above or other options, Cody and Cardona would put a great match on.
This man needs a push and he needs a solo run. One of the best wrestlers on the AEW roster, but his association with the Jurassic Express is somewhat hampering him. The same can also be said about Jungle Boy but he’s a young talent and has time on his side at just 6,000,000 years old, Luchasaurus is ready to go Jurassic.
It’s been shown that wrestlers can still compete at an older age, AJ Styles for example, but the plug needs to be pulled on Luchasaurus as soon as possible and having him answer the TNT Championship open challenge and prove his abilities as a singles star is the best way to go. I can’t see him being in the main event scene and competing for the AEW World Championship but he could easily become a stalwart of the mid-card scene as he gets older. I can’t see a storyline coming from this in any way, shape or form because this entry is all about the singles exposure that Luchasaurus would get from this scenario. Even if he didn’t get the win, he should out of everyone in this list, it still gives him the freedom of being a singles star and doesn’t make him feel like a tag team wrestler.
For his dedication to his family and improving himself alone, he deserves this spot. Another wrestler released in the batch by WWE in April, he has remained silent on his future in the industry choosing to focus on his family. He and his wife, Maria, appeared at TalknShop-a-Mania in a cameo spot but that is it. A man who has battled so hard to get to where he was only for poor booking to ruin his break in WWE deserves a second chance and that can come from joining AEW, effectively the second biggest wrestling company around today. Answering the challenge would just cement his position in the company, in a similar way that Eddie Kingston did.
Mike would be a class member of the mid-card scene or in the tag team scene, I could easily imagine him teaming with multiple members of the AEW roster. Not only is he a phenomenal talent, who was criminally underused in WWE, but he is a genuinely amazing human being and that seems to be what the AEW roster is made of. Most people on the roster are heavily liked by the management and other competitors, I can easily see Mike and Maria slotting in. Mike and Maria come as a package and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a little reboot of Mike and Maria vs Cody and Brandi that we saw in Impact Wrestling.
The POP! I miss Pac, more than any wrestler whose career has been put on halt due to the pandemic, he is stuck in England but could get to America with a few weeks quarantine. I don’t think he will be near America soon because, well America’s handling of the pandemic is abysmal. This idea is to just reintroduce Pac to the AEW fans and landscape as he’s been away for so long but it also can tie into his teammates in Trinagulo de la Muerta, Pentagon and Fenix, who have been in a constant feud with The Young Bucks. Young Bucks and Cody have some ties, six-man tag matches galore and would keep Cody as a face for a little bit longer. This could lead to a wonderful angle with Cody losing the TNT Championship to Pac, lashes out and turns on The Young Bucks and shatters The Elite into pieces, that is something I want to see. Pac has been in a weird situation since joining AEW, he had some high-profile matches but no major feuds, he got the stable with The Lucha Bros but the world cause that to be put on the backburner. Pac can be in the main event; he is a phenomenal wrestler and character but a solid mid-card run would be the best thing for him upon his return to AEW TV.
The TNT Championship is one of the most captivating championships going at the moment and I can only see it getting better if the open challenge concept is kept as a regular occurrence. Not only these five but a lot more competitors deserve to be a part of it.