The “Reverend of Reinvention” Chris Jericho launched into his reign on top of the All Elite Wrestling mountain with his cohorts in crime, The Inner Circle. Alongside Sammy Guevara, Jake Hager, Santana, and Ortiz, The Inner Circle decimated everyone in AEW’s first year to thrilling success. The faction feuded with The Elite, SCU, Jurassic Express, Jon Moxley, and Best Friends with no current signs of dissension. After a year of dominance, Chris Jericho and his Inner Circle are still treated as an integral aspect of AEW Dynamite. It wasn’t only Jericho who reinvented himself in the group. Sammy Guevara set about finding newfound popularity as the “Spanish God” with hilarious cue cards during TNT commercial breaks. Meanwhile the former Latin American Exchange members Santana & Ortiz consistently provided quality entertainment in the ring and on Being the Elite. However, with a new influx of prominent heel wrestlers and a potential new Four Horsemen-esque stable that is very likely to happen soon, the Inner Circle needs to avoid overstaying its welcome. With an additional number of heel alignments on Dynamite, AEW no longer needs the Inner Circle together and it’s time for the stable to disband.
The Inner Circle has been at the center of AEW’s programming over the past year. Chris Jericho’s reign as the inaugural AEW World Champion elevated wrestlers such as Hangman Adam Page, Scorpio Sky, and Jungle Boy as future stars on Dynamite. Sammy Guevara, in particular, has been on fire as Jericho’s protege in feuds against Darby Allin and Matt Hardy. Together, with Hager and Proud N Powerful, the alliance faced the Elite in the critically acclaimed first-ever Stadium Stampede match at Double or Nothing. There have been some drawbacks to the Inner Circle, unfortunately. Santana & Ortiz have been held back in the tag title scene while Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara, known as Le Sex Gods, have operated as the prominent tag team of the faction. More often than not Santana & Ortiz lose the bulk of their matches on Dynamite to the Young Bucks and Best Friends. Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed best wrestler in the world on Twitter, Jake Hager has been slotted into high profile matches with less than stellar results. On the April 15th edition of Dynamite, Hager challenged Jon Moxley for the AEW World Title in an empty arena match in addition to challenging Cody at Fyter Fest for the TNT Championship. Hager’s matches have been criticized by fans for underdelivering more often than not. And with AEW boasting a roster of exciting young talent, perhaps placing the former Jack Swagger in a noteworthy presence isn’t ideal.
A Crowded (and growing) Heel Scene
With the AEW Four Horsemen imminent, the Inner Circle is in danger of being overshadowed. Ironically enough when World Championship Wrestling founded the New World Order, the original Four Horsemen were outshined by the new main heel stable. Now history is reinvented as the new Horsemen will likely overtake the NWO inspired Inner Circle’s crown on top of AEW. It should also be said how AEW loves to group heel wrestlers together. From Ricky Starks and Brian Cage, to the Lucha Bros and The Butcher & The Blade, to the Dark Order, and finally MJF with Wardlow. AEW has bombarded itself with too many heel alliances. The Inner Circle disbanding could allow these new stables more time to develop and grow into genuine threats to freshen up Dynamite. In addition, AEW is rumored to see an influx of newly turned heel wrestlers. Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes have been teasing a heel turn for months now. Hangman Adam Page’s story, coinciding with FTR and the Young Bucks, has seen him commit villain-ish actions and has led to speculation on a possible heel turn for the cowboy himself. One could make the argument that AEW is starting to have one heel too many. Especially with shades of grey storytelling that sees some babyfaces, mainly the Elite, behaving in a heel manner in certain situations. With so many compelling villains on the AEW roster, they need to mindful to keep the heel/face alignments balanced and avoid turning everyone on the roster heel with so many fewer popular babyfaces.
Unfortunately, the Inner Circle’s shtick is beginning to wear thin. The Painmaker Posse has done everything afforded to them together on Dynamite. The worst thing AEW could do is persistently extend the Inner Circle’s lifespan when the group begins to grow stale. One of reasons why WCW died was the never-ending NWO storyline that over encompassed WCW Nitro. It is absolutely essential for AEW to avoid the mistakes of WCW, and WWE, by making sure stables do not last longer than they need to. The members of the Inner Circle have been built up well and are ready to make their mark separately. Additionally, if AEW desires, there is a potential opportunity for an Inner Circle implosion leading to a feud between Le Sex Gods and Santana & Ortiz. In an almost dark mirror reflection of Young Bucks vs Kenny Omega and Hangman Page, Proud N Powerful vs Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara would be a match fans would immendiately invest in. If the stable were to break up it would provide an opportunity for Santana & Ortiz to either join forces with Eddie Kingston, or turn babyface, or both. With AEW’s tag division full of depth, the former LAX should be a more regular part of the tag title scene. And that starts with getting away from Chris Jericho.
The only other reason to keep the Inner Circle together would be to fight with the new Horsemen and Dark Order as babyfaces themselves. And while that is certainly an intriguing possibility, it would be more beneficial for AEW to begin pushing newer stars who haven’t appeared as much on Dynamite. A babyface Inner Circle only has so little mileage before fans would turn on the group. Similarly to how the “Prince of Pro Wrestling” Cody went from natural babyface to fans begging for him to turn heel, the Inner Circle wouldn’t fare well, in the long term, as heroes. The Inner Circle existed as the main foil for the good guys of AEW to fight and it worked. They have succeeded in elevating themselves along with their opponents and now is the time for something new. There are plenty of other faces on the roster that require more spotlight on TNT in order to become stars. AEW has already built up the members of the Inner Circle to a point where they could be genuine threats on the roster individually. And with the “Spooky Perverts” Dark Order finally beginning to click as a top stable it would be beneficial to allow the IC to disband so the Dark Order can begin their conquest and take over AEW.
Chris Jericho has helped to put AEW on the map with his iconic presence. Together with his Inner Circle they have instilled a legacy for a pro wrestling alternative. Now that AEW has cemented itself in the pro wrestling industry, there is nothing more for them to do together. There are a new batch of heels in AEW waiting for a chance to explode on TNT. AEW must disband the Inner Circle so that a new era can begin on Dynamite. With so many new possible storylines and a new influx of heel stables, AEW needs to avoid having too many stables so some wrestlers can succeed on their own. The Inner Circle must do what the NWO never did, leave with them wanting more.
Stay tuned to Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and AEW DARK Tuesday nights at 7 PM ET on YouTube. All Out airs on PPV on September 5th.
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