On last night’s edition of AEW Rampage, CM Punk dropped the bombshell that he would be taking some time away to heal his foot, which was injured on this week’s AEW Dynamite. Whereas it is currently unclear how much time will be needed to recuperate, the “Best in the World” confirmed that there would be an interim AEW World Champion in his place until he returns. Then, there was further confirmation that on the June 8 edition of AEW Dynamite, a battle royale will open the show – with the winner going on to face Jon Moxley in the main event; with the winner of that bout to be declared as the interim AEW World Champion and face the winner of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Hirooki Goto – who are set to face off at the NJPW DOMINION event – at the upcoming Forbidden Door crossover pay per view. It sounds like total carnage, but it works. The question remains: who should win the battle royale to earn the right to face Jon Moxley this coming week? Here are five potential opponents who might just make sense.
Wardlow would make sense for a number of reasons. Firstly, he is on quite the roll – especially after overcoming MJF so dominantly at the recent Double or Nothing event. No one in AEW right now is having a breakout year at the level of Wardlow. If Wardlow enters the battle royale on Wednesday, you can expect him to discard of his opponents like they work for a security force. Speaking of security forces, with Wardlow being told this week through Mark Sterling that he is being sued by AEW security, perhaps he has more important matters at hand than world titles. Whereas a Wardlow (interim) world championship reign would be fun, it is perhaps too soon, and putting him in a match with a hot babyface like Jon Moxley could potentially pose problems of the 2012 Ryback variety, so we predict Wardlow won’t even be involved in the battle royale, despite his potential to be a solid choice for winner.
Is there a hotter name in professional wrestling right now than MJF? His fiery promo on Tony Khan this week was among the all-time greats and, quite frankly, AEW would be fools to not try to capitalize on the attention it is getting by putting the world championship on him right now. MJF could promise to win the battle royale, defeat Jon Moxley and then take the interim championship hostage until the return of Punk – when MJF would ensure he will beat the straight edge star and take the championship to the WWE. It is something of a role reversal scenario; with MJF being in the 2011 Punk role and Punk being in the pro-company John Cena role. This is a very real possibility for this match-up and whereas we are not certain it will happen, should MJF announce his involvement in the battle royale, you can expect this outcome.
We are not really fans of this idea, but given that Jake Hager is a part of the Jericho Appreciation Society – who are currently embroiled in a heated feud with Moxley’s Blackpool Combat Club – we could envision a possibility where Hager faces Moxley simply to further the feud between the two factions. Moxley and Hager have good chemistry – as shown in their April 15, 2020 bout – but we would prefer something more… fresh.
A very real possibility is the returning “Redeemer”, Miro, who in a promo promised to no longer work for his God (remember, Miro was “God’s Favorite Champion” last year) but to dislodge him from his throne and assume his place as a deity. Miro’s character work is fantastic and he has been booked like an absolute star ever since ditching the video games for divine power. There is no higher power in AEW than the power one obtains by holding its top prize, so this is a natural character progression for Miro. Additionally, a Miro and Moxley brawl would be a great way to end next week’s Dynamite. However, could we see Miro against Goto or Tanahashi? Either of those matches feels somewhat odd, for some reason, but we still believe Miro has a chance at coming out on top next week.
Finally, here is a wildcard pick who many would like to see: Ricky Starks. Starks has it all; the look, the talk, the in-ring ability. Additionally, he is also an AEW original who – while not misused or squandered – probably deserves better than his current lot in AEW. He would not necessarily need to beat Jon Moxley in the main event – it is actually very unlikely that Mox doesn’t win in the main event on Wednesday – but a big battle royale win and main event for the interim championship is a great way to reestablish Starks as a threat to all; to remind the AEW audience that Team Taz is still here. No matter who wins on Wednesday, it is sure to be interesting and, hopefully, one heck of a surprise.
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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.