|Breakker, on the right here with Tommaso Ciampa, may find fulfillment in AEW|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
AEW's mere existence doesn't just mean there's more wrestling on the television. It means wrestlers now have a chance to jump from WWE to AEW. The vice-versa has a chance of happening, but outside of Brian Cage, what wrestler would want to make that move? And would anyone in AEW's viewership miss Cage? I think some might, but me, I could not care less if he showed up on Main Event or NXT 2.0 as Freask McBeask soon. The jumpers to AEW are what interest me, and not the obvious ones either. At this point, it's all but revealed that Windham Rotunda (Bray Wyatt) is going to be All Elite. Johnny Gargano might take the plunge too. Those aren't spicy names. You know what name would be spicy? One plucked from the aforementioned NXT 2.0, guys who don't fit a traditional AEW mold, and guys with little star power outside this little bubble. But there's one tantalizing name who could make the leap. His daddy, Robert Rechsteiner, named him Bronson. If you don't recognize his father's given name, maybe you know him as Rick Steiner. His son is now known as Bron Breakker.
The Case For: When you think of the Steiner Brothers, do you think of WWE? The fraternal tag team spent a few years there in the '90s, and Scott Steiner had an embarrassing post-World Championship Wrestling run there, but Vince McMahon's playground was not where most of their memories were created. The brothers were minted in the dying days of the territories. Rick found his greatest successes in the late days of the Carolinas and in Georgia and the early days of WCW, and Scott attained superstardom later on as Big Poppa Pump in WCW's Nitro era. To wit, neither Steiner is someone you'd associate with WWE or the WWF or the WWWF. In a day and age where WWE was the only real game in town, one might expect the son of the Dog-Faced Gremlin to settle for working there.
However, in a post-hegemony landscape, the fact that Rechsteiner chose to sign with WWE and not AEW feels like a misfit of legacy, and you can see it in the way he was branded right out of the gate. WWE has so far done nothing to make him a man of his own out of his father's and uncle's shadows. He wrestles like a Steiner, dresses like a Steiner, sounds like a Steiner, talks like a Steiner, looks like a Steiner, and has entrance music like a Steiner. His ring name, however, is Bron Breakker.
Yes, everyone knows Vince McMahon is so far up his own ass on recognizing wrestler legacies, partially in an attempt to control the IP he owns for his emplo... oh, I'm sorry, his "independent contractors," but mostly because he has a complex over being called "Junior" back in the days when he worked for the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation run by his father, Vincent J. McMahon. Some have speculated that he wasn't given his first reported name, the far-superior Rex Steiner, because neither Rick nor Scott had signed Legends deals. Who could blame them? Rick has a successful post-wrestling career in real estate and local politics. Scott still wrestles and has successfully operated his own Shoney's franchise for a time. If McMahon is going to be this petty over a prospect that even Fed-haters admit is can't miss, does he really deserve to have that blue-chipper in his grasps?
Furthermore, the reason why the Steiners got over so much originally was that they were able to wrestle in ways that were extensions of themselves. They didn't have to conform to McMahon's ideals until they were already established, and by then, they had leverage enough to do their thing in McMahon's sterile environment. The WWF in the early '90s was a far different beast than what it would become when WCW had ceased operations. Wrestlers had more leverage then. The idea of taking the son of Rick Steiner and training him almost from scratch at a WWE Performance Center whose hit rate of producing capable wrestlers is bleak compared to other schools is depressing. Why would I want to see an interpretation of Son of Steiner through the sanitized, boring lens of wrestling as desired by McMahon and Paul Levesque and Michael Hickenbottom and Matt Bloom and Kevin Dunn? It feels wrong.
A long time ago, Bryan Danielson signed with WWE to a developmental deal. I'm not talking the one that produced Daniel Bryan; this was in the early Aughts. Danielson went to William Regal and asked him what he could do to become the best wrestler possible. Regal told him, point blank as someone who was contracted to that company, to quit the company and wrestle all around the world. Danielson did just that and became the greatest of all-time, a wrestler so good that he was able to bend the WWE style to his desires rather than the other way around. Hopefully, Regal will be as candid as he was with the American Dragon with Bronson Rechsteiner. Remember, working for AEW doesn't mean you only work for AEW. AAA, New Japan, Impact, DDT, and the American indies would all be open for him. He could be a star in AEW and get seasoning that his father and uncle did in their careers. It would be a huge win for him if he jumped.
The Case Against: Some guys are just stars, ones that cannot be held down. You could give Bronson Rechsteiner a clown gimmick and a name even more absurd than Bron Breakker, and he would nail it. Could you blame him if he wanted to nail it in a company that has record-breaking profits and decades of historical inertia that allow it to pay huge potential salaries to guys like him? He's a physical specimen who can project the kind of character that gives McMahon priapisms. The old NXT is dead and nearly buried. When Tommaso Ciampa and Io Shirai and Johnny Gargano all either go to the main roster or leave the company, NXT 2.0 will become what McMahon wanted it to be, not a boutique alternative brand within the company, but a place where his precious body guys could get screen time before they made the jump.
To wit, Bron Breakker will be a player on the main roster. I don't even think I need to qualify it as a maybe. As long as he doesn't get hurt or bored with wrestling, he will enter the main roster. McMahon will push him. He will probably get to beat Roman Reigns at some point in his early career. Yeah, you can make money in AEW, but the draw of being the top guy in WWE is a siren call. Unless the company deteriorates to the point where the brand name becomes worthless, being The Guy in WWE means doors are open for you. I think there will come a day when WWE withers and dies. I'm not sure that day is today.
So, Breakker will at the bare minimum will have "highest paid WWE wrestler" at his disposal. He might get roles in movies. He might sell a bunch of merchandise. Having him leave WWE to go to AEW and season himself as a wrestler feels more like a fan-driven desire than one that would cause a spark to go off in his brain for his own betterment. I fully believe AEW is overall better for wrestlers than WWE, but for as much as AEW is improving material conditions, they are nowhere closer to paying wrestlers what they're worth than WWE is, and in WWE, top guys get better material conditions just on the basis of being top guys. It's not fair or right, but when you're Breakker, it's something that is in your mind, and not near the back either. Point being, he has McMahon by the metaphorical balls even now, and he might be insane to give that leverage up.
The Final Word: The world is Bronson Rechsteiner's oyster. He has a clear path to being The Guy in WWE, but for as sure a thing as that is right now, how much longer will it last? Jumping to AEW is a far better proposition now than going to TNA or testing the waters in Japan or Mexico has ever been, and if any one wrestler can reach levels in that company that would be comparable to what he will more than likely get in WWE, it's the man who should be known as Rex Steiner.