The Five Most Disappointing AEW Title Reigns In 2023

12/22/2023 5:16 AM

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The Five Most Disappointing AEW Title Reigns In 2023

The Five Most Disappointing AEW Title Reigns In 2023

December 22, 2023 5:16 AM
The Five Most Disappointing AEW Title Reigns In 2023

The title reigns that failed to live up to lofty expectations.

Another year is in the books for AEW! This has been a solid year for the professional wrestling company. Given the fact that we’re in an era of long reigns, there weren't many title changes in 2023. At least when it comes to MJF. Below the card, every title has flipped and flopped several times within the calendar year.

Given the quick reigns, there’s also been a couple of disappointing runs in 2023. This list narrows down the five most disappointing reigns in the promotion. These five men or women had (or still have) a very disappointing reign due to a lack of great matches or memorable feuds. 

TNT Champion - Wardlow (April 19, 2023 - June 17, 2023)

Leading up to Double or Nothing 2022, Wardlow was one of the hottest acts in professional wrestling. It was huge when he finally turned on MJF. It was even bigger when Wardlow squashed him at the pay-per-view. Then Wardlow won the TNT Championship. 

Look, Wardlow has been pulling his part on the in-ring aspect. Are there any classic matches coming from Wardlow? No, but the guy has been a part of great matches; such as his battles with Samoa Joe and Powerhouse Hobbs. Wardlow was a talented wrestler who was primed for an AEW World title run. Thankfully, the company is wisely taking their time re-building him back up and it’s working because there’s buzz surrounding Wardlow’s name.

But his runs with the TNT belt did so much harm that it killed any momentum that he had. The booking for Wardlow was sloppy and oftentimes nonsensical. Wardlow never had a feud that helped elevate him or the TNT title. Tony Khan was wise to take him off television for a good period as it helped wash away the stink of his lackluster title runs.

TNT Champion - Powerhouse Hobbs (March 8, 2023 - April 19, 2023)

This run was a blink and you’ll miss it reign as Powerhouse Hobbs lost it pretty quickly. It was a shame, as it seemed that AEW was finally strapping a rocket to Hobb’s back, and deservedly so. Hobbs has always been on the cusp of the main event scene and giving a strong and lengthy run with the belt would’ve done wonders for the AEW star.

Instead, he was oddly aligned with QT Marshall. It was a mistake that Hobbs needed to cheat to beat Wardlow. The partnership with Marshall was an even bigger mistake, though thankfully, it didn’t last too long. The issue wasn’t the in-ring aspect. In fact, his matches against Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero were great! Sadly most of his defenses played out on Rampage and Hobbs lost the belt in a mere 42 days. It made no sense to give the belt back to Wardlow and Hobbs' run felt like a check-off that Tony Khan wanted to accomplish for 2023.

AEW Women’s Champion - Saraya (August 27, 2023 - October 10, 2023)

The only reason Saraya won was because it was in her native town. That was it. There were plenty of directions to go with the former WWE Women’s Champion. Saraya came into the company a bit rocky, but she’s found her groove with The Outcasts. Still, she was missing something - Purpose. 

Strangely, Saraya and Toni Storm didn’t get into a longer feud. Or that she wasn’t able to mix it up with more of the talent on the roster. At least with Hikaru Shida, she defended the belt consistently even though both of her title reigns were transitional. Saraya defended it once. Then lost it to Shida when the story could’ve called for Storm to get it back from Saraya. This felt like the most unnecessary title reign of 2023. And that’s saying a lot. 

TBS Champion - Kris Statlander (May 28, 2023 - November 18, 2023)

I wasn’t a fan of the way Statlander won the belt. It would’ve been better if she was properly built up as a challenger instead of getting a quick win over the champion, who just went through a battle against Taya Valkyrie.

Nevertheless, Kris Statlander’s title reign felt non-existent. This is by no means her fault. She wasn’t given much to work with in terms of feuds. She just had match after match after match. I get that AEW is more of a sports-based company, but Statlander was never given a proper chance to develop her character nor did she get much of the spotlight as a champion. 

Statlander had great matches against Cargill (their second encounter), Ruby Soho, and Julia Hart, but it didn’t build off the hype of her dethroning the longest-reigning champion in AEW history. 

AEW World Tag Team Champions - The Gunns (February 8, 2023 - April 5, 2023)

They were transitional champions. Nothing less and nothing more. To be fair, most of the names on the list were transitional champions. But The Gunns just didn’t feel ready to be champions at that time. It didn’t make much sense to cut the legs from The Acclaimed here as they could’ve lost the belts to FTR. Instead, AEW chose a rushed route of tacking on a “Win or Leave AEW” stipulation that was unearned. Granted, with FTR’s contract up in the air, the trick did work, but The Gunns just needed to be the foils that FTR had to stop.