AEW ALL ELITE ASSESSMENT: Wardlow and Parker Boudreaux – Evaluating a main event and potential rising star act


Wardlow and Parker Boudreaux AEW All Elite Assessment
PHOTO CREDIT: Wardlow Twitter




Michael Wardlow is a relative anomaly in the AEW landscape. In comparison to fellow roster members such as Orange Cassidy, Danhausen, and MJF (to name but three of many), Wardlow was a relative unknown amongst AEW’s voracious fan base when a short video package portended his debut at All Out 2019.

The 35 year old Ohio native made his squared circle debut in 2014 and bounced around various independent promotions in the following years to little recognition outside the local fan base. In a modern wrestling world where social media influences, it’s perhaps surprising that someone of Wardlow’s look and skill set did not catch the eye of the hardcore wrestling fan sooner.

Like other AEW stars featured previously on the All Elite Assessment such as Jade Cargill and Powerhouse Hobbs, Wardlow did attend an unsuccessful tryout for the WWE. His loss was AEW’s gain as Wardlow would continue his wrestling education before signing with AEW


Although Wardlow was initially depicted as a lone wolf in his introductory vignette, he soon aligned with the devilish MJF during his battle with Cody Rhodes. A bodyguard to MJF (Diesel to MJF’s Shawn), Wardlow would in fact lose his debut match in a showcase Steel Cage Match opposite Rhodes. Wardlow continued to follow MJF’s lead by first joining the babyface Inner Circle before betraying his new stablemates and transferring to the MJF led heel Pinnacle group. “Blood and Guts” and “Stadium Stampede” battles between the groups would follow which would further showcase Wardlow’s in ring skill. Perhaps more impressive was the on-screen charisma that Wardlow would show as a background player during Pinnacle segments. As the reluctant muscle to the arrogant MJF, Wardlow would entertain with a mere eye roll. It seemed only a matter of time before Wardlow would break away from his unappreciative boss.

The height of Wardlow’s AEW run would come at the Revolution 2022 PPV. Wardlow was victorious in the “Face of the Revolution” ladder match, literally seizing the brass ring and earning a future TNT title shot. Later that night the long awaited face turn would take place as Wardlow betrayed MJF and cost him a victory in a tremendous match against CM Punk. Untethered from MJF, Wardlow’s popularity with the live audience rocketed. A series of squash matches before an inevitable showdown with his nemesis helped establish Wardlow’s power-based offense and his trademark Powerbomb Symphony.

Unfortunately a variety of circumstances (many of which out of Wardlow’s control) would derail his momentum to the main event. Controversy abounded at the Double or Nothing 2022 PPV. Wardlow’s opponent MJF would no-show a fan event, throwing the expected showdown match that weekend into doubt. MJF would appear and Wardlow would be divisively victorious though the match would be overshadowed, the focus solely on MJF’s antics and not on the dominance of Wardlow.

In order to regain lost momentum, Wardlow spent the remainder of 2022 and early stages of 2023 around the TNT title scene. Although winning (and regaining) the secondary title three times, Wardlow’s stock would be harmed by a stop-start push littered with baffling defeats. Hair cuts, a new manager in Arn Anderson, and association with fan favorites such as Samoa Joe have done little to stem the negative tide. A recent title loss to Luchasaurus at the inaugural Collision episode has left Wardlow back at square one.


The recent creative behind Wardlow has been confounding. Physically Wardlow looks like the prototypical star. His in-ring ability is impressive and he has been able to engage the live crowd. Outside of the stellar MJF storyline though, Wardlow has received little to no narrative love. Playing hot potato with a cold TNT title has done little to re-engage Wardlow with the wider AEW fan base and a new approach is needed.

Could a heel turn to a more vicious character light the fuse? Wardlow snapping due to his most recent loss could inject some much needed character. If Wardlow’s power move set could be transferred to that of a dominant bully then a new batch of opponents could open up. Fan favorites such as Orange Cassidy, Darby Allin or Hangman Page would provide compelling babyface opponents.

If staying the course as a babyface then AEW must pull the trigger on revisiting the MJF feud. Wardlow beat MJF so comprehensively on their first encounter that a return to the rivalry writes itself. MJF is now the champion atop of the AEW roster but Wardlow is the one opponent that got away. A heel with the arrogance of MJF would want to right that wrong and a title showdown could be the result.

Verdict: Remind the AEW audience why they fell for Wardlow in the first place. Either as a stoic heel bent on destruction or the fighting face willing to stand up to the dastardly MJF.

Parker Boudreaux


Floridian Parker Boudreaux appeared to be a can’t miss prospect when he signed a WWE developmental contract in 2021. A physically imposing figure, Boudreaux has an extensive and highly decorated American Football career. A state champion at high school level, Boudreaux was offered his pick of college placements. He chose to represent Notre Dame and in his freshman year he later transferred to the University of Central Florida before catching the eye of WWE scouts.

Often compared to Brock Lesnar due to his physical stature and short blond hair, the heavily tattooed Boudreaux has suffered due to comparison. Lesnar has a legitimate collegiate amateur background and took to the basics of professional wrestling with ease. Boudreaux has experienced a more stuttering start. Debuting on NXT television relatively early in his wrestling education, Boudreaux was paired with a charismatic Joe Gacy but failed to impress WWE management. Boudreaux’s NXT run lasted a mere 5 months before he was unceremoniously released.

A sojourn with MLW would follow. Boudreaux’s sporting background still maintained some cache as AEW would take notice. The former Harland would then begin to work the AEW YouTube show circuit before signing a long-term contract with the company.


Initially paired with the Ari Daivari led Trustbusters stable, Boudreaux settled into a similar role to the one he occupied in NXT. The Trustbusters stable itself was a perplexing mix of characters with seemingly no narrative connection. The group rarely troubled flagship show Dynamite though would build a record on AEW Dark and Dark Elevation. Perhaps the group’s highest point occurred when it was featured in a losing effort opposite the Best Friends in the first round of the Trios Championship tournament.

Boudreaux would then switch stable allegiances by joining the Swerve Strickland led Mogul Affiliates. Emerging from backstage to attack the outnumbered Keith Lee, Boudreaux appeared to have a new feud to sink his teeth into. Paired with the debuting (and unfortunately named) Trench, the Mogul Affiliates felt like a better fit for the offensive lineman. Although Strickland’s feud with Lee has stretched the majority of 2023, Boudreaux himself has featured nominally and is now reportedly injured.


Boudreaux is in danger of becoming the subject of a “What ever happened to…?” question for the internet wrestling community to muse upon. AEW creative clearly set expectations low on debut with affiliations to lower tier heel stables. Boudreaux certainly has an intimidating look but recent wrestling history is littered with big men who fail to capture the imagination of both fan and promoter.

Perhaps refinement away from the glare of AEW is required. Ring of Honor feels like an AEW developmental system in all but name and could act as the perfect proving ground for the still rookie Boudreaux. Manager Prince Nana is already associated with stablemate Strickland and could prove a useful mouthpiece. Sell Boudreaux as a monster and set him on an undefeated streak within the confines of ROH. If he catches on and garners attention then keep the momentum going, if he flounders at least AEW has made a good faith effort in developing a promising project.

Verdict: Boudreaux has become lost in such a crowded roster and defined as a heavy within a stable. If Boudreaux has an AEW future then ROH should be the short-term destination on return.

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