Wednesday was all about All Elite Wrestling (AEW) as the promotion delivered an episode of Dynamite which was reminiscent of a Raw After WrestleMania or New Japan Pro Wrestling’s New Year’s Dash show that used to follow Wrestle Kingdom. It was full of surprises, big moments, and signings that had wrestling fans abuzz as they witness everything in real-time. Chris Jericho turned on the Inner Circle, creating the Jericho Appreciation Society alongside Jake Hager, 2.0, and Daniel Garcia. Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley teamed for the first time while having William Regal in their corner for the match. Jeff Hardy‘s signing, of course, was the hot topic of the night but there was a signing later in the night that seemingly got lost in the chaos. It was the signing of Paige VanZant, which could prove to be one of the best in AEW history.
— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) March 10, 2022
After Scorpio Sky defeated Sammy Guevara to become the TNT Champion, VanZant and the rest of the Dan Lambert army laid out Guevara and his girlfriend Tay Conti. VanZant would sign her AEW in the middle of the ring on the body of Conti, officially making her #AllElite. It was easy to look past due to the chaos that ended the night and really what went on from start to finish on Dynamite. It should not be overlooked though as VanZant now officially joins the professional wrestling world — one that many including AEW lead play-by-play commentator Jim Ross said she would thrive in all the way back in 2018 when she was still in the UFC. It’s not crazy to think either as the crossover from MMA makes almost too much sense.
With VanZant now signed to AEW, she has an opportunity to be one of the company’s best signings to date. It will take some work but there is a reason Tony Khan went out to make this happen.
Paige VanZant has an Opportunity to be One of AEW’s Top Stars
A Legitimacy Few in AEW Have
While Paige VanZant doesn’t carry the same name value as a Ronda Rousey (nor the same MMA success), she does carry a large fanbase and legitimacy that should lead her to the top. In her UFC career, VanZant went 5-4-0 including two wins via KO/TKO and two wins via submission (both armbar). In one of her most impressive wins over Bec Rawlings, VanZant executed a flying kick to put Rawlings out cold. Her overall record in MMA is 8-5-0 and she is currently a part of the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship promotion as well. If you have followed VanZant at all during her career, it’s easy to know that despite the many critics, she has continued to prove them wrong through her fights in the octagon and ring. It’s no cakewalk to head into the cage and proceed to fight, which makes the legitimacy of VanZant such an integral factor in why she’s a huge signing for AEW.
There’s no guarantee that VanZant takes to pro wrestling. There isn’t. But with the athletic background she carries and the success she has created for herself, it’s hard to bet against “12 Guage” as she strives to show everyone why they are wrong for doubting her in the first place.
After all, her first remarks since signing tell you all you need to know about her mindset heading into her debut:
Wanted to give the world one more reason to hate on me 💋😉 PVZ TAKING OVER!!!! pic.twitter.com/OzPIZIGybh
— Paige VanZant (@paigevanzant) March 10, 2022
Bolstering The Women’s Division
For all the talk that disgruntled fans have regarding the women’s division in AEW, they should be welcoming VanZant with open arms to AEW. The men’s side of AEW has seen some massive free agents signed over the last two months alone. There are free agents out there that could be welcomed to AEW in due time, but the impact that they carry with them may not be able to match what VanZant brings to the table. When it comes to eyes heading over to the product, her fans are sure to follow to see how she takes to the pro wrestling world. Non-wrestling fans are going to watch for VanZant and that can only benefit those who oppose her. She’s got future AEW Women’s World Champion written all over her. Potential matches with Thunder Rosa (who is a former MMA fighter in her own right), Britt Baker, Serena Deeb, and Hikaru Shida are obvious ones that should be of the most interest to AEW fans.
But there’s something about a matchup between VanZant and TBS Champion Jade Cargill that screams main event. Cargill is the undefeated champion who is tallying wins that can only be matched by someone like Goldberg and his streak in WCW. Could the crossover MMA star be the one to potentially defeat Cargill and hand her first loss? Sounds like a money match for Tony Khan and company.
Fans don’t have to like VanZant. After all, her pairing with Lambert who is likely to be in her corner guarantees that the boos will rain down from crowds. She’s not going to be in AEW to get fans to like her. She’s there to make money and that’s what she will. In doing so, it should help bolster the women’s division that still desperately needs it.
Undeniable Star Power
In an interview with Chris Van Vliet back in February 2021, Paige VanZant noted that the door was open to signing with WWE after meeting with the company at the WWE Performance Center.
“I feel like I would want to do that 100 percent, so maybe it’s something that after I’m done fighting in a cage and in a ring that maybe I’ll go over to there but the door is definitely open,” VanZant told Van Vliet regarding joining WWE.
There’s an “it” factor to her that any promoter looks for when making up their roster. She’s got all the marketable traits which is why WWE had been interested, making this get for AEW an important one. VanZant checks all the boxes — athletic, a great look, oozes charisma, and brings in some mainstream value that other signings may not. She has over three million followers on Instagram. While the follower stat isn’t one that might matter to some fans, it sure does to AEW. VanZant is one who will be on all the posters and graphics for the shows that she will be a part of. There’s an opportunity here to make her one of the top stars in the company, let alone the division.
When VanZant is on the screen, she becomes the center of attention. It’s not as though Wednesday was our first time seeing her do something in AEW. She had a verbal exchange with Chris Jericho, showing the chops and her easy ability to come off as this unlikable heel. It matters. The “you hate me because I’m pretty” persona is one that fans have seen for years in wrestling. However, the twist that VanZant can and will destroy anyone who opposes her adds the dimension to her character that will make it so fresh and different.
No one has seen Paige VanZant wrestle before but she has all the qualities that are so much more difficult to teach. She’s going to be an important part of AEW as long as she wants to do this. If VanZant goes “all in,” the 27-year-old is as close to a guarantee of a legitimate star as you can find right now. Her future is as limitless as they come.
More from LWOS Pro Wrestling
Stay tuned to the 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 TBS and AEW Dark: Elevation (Monday nights) and AEW: Dark (Tuesday nights) at 7 PM ET on YouTube. AEW Rampage airs on TNT at 10 PM EST every Friday night.