ALL ELITE ASSESSMENT – Daniel Garcia: How booking missteps have derailed momentum, but opportunity is around the corner for this talented rising star

By Dan Allanson, PWTorch contributor

Daniel Garcia wins ROH Pure Title on AEW Dynamite


A couple of qualms before this weeks All Elite Assessment can commence….

Firstly, being a UK based contributor to PWTorch, I take umbrage with MJF’s comments regarding the state of British dental hygiene during his Dynamite return promo. Although I enjoyed MJF’s return promo overall, leaning on the well-worn and dated stereotype of bad British teeth was low hanging fruit and below such a talented orator.

Secondly, Tony Khan. I will preface this by thanking Tony Khan for giving both fans and wrestlers alike a viable alternative product when the industry needed it the most. AEW is my home team and I am willing the brand to greater heights. Please stop referring to AEW fans as “sickos.” Separate to the negative connotations the nickname conjures, I think the tag is divisive and only reinforces the notion that Tony Khan books for a hardcore minority and not the majority.

Okay, rant over. Time for this weeks All Elite Assessment.

Daniel Garcia


Buffalo native Daniel Garcia is a fascinating case study when assessing the booking practices of All Elite Wrestling. Given his perceived lengthy tenure in AEW (and wrestling acumen), it is staggering to consider that Garcia made his debut on the independent scene as recently as 2017.

Maine based Limitless Wrestling was the future, his first stop on his independent journey. Like many aspiring grapplers, Garcia made a couple of notable (if fleeting) appearances in WWE. A losing effort on the ill-fated 205 Live program opposite Drew Gulak followed by a loss on NXT television against Tyler Rust were both signals that the world leader had at least an eye on the promising prospect.

Adopting the popular technical style which dominated the 2010’s independent scene, Garcia is clearly one of the better proponents of the disciplined skill set. An apparent homage to technicians such as Bret Hart, Dean Malenko, and Bryan Danielson, Garcia employs a mat-based approach in the ring culminating with his ‘”Dragon Tamer” submission.

Recent AEW Dynamite promos have described a significant real life event for the young Garcia. While still in the formative years of his career, Garcia was the victim of a horrendous car accident which led to him both of his legs being broken. Showing impressive determination, Garcia willed himself to recovery and returned to the ring a mere six months later.

Like many independent colleagues, he found refuge from the crippling 2020 COVID pandemic by appearing on AEW YouTube-exclusive Dark episodes. These appearances led to greater opportunities opposite notable names C.M. Punk and Jon Moxley on AEW television. With a growing reputation as a hot free agent, it was only a matter of time before Garcia became All Elite.


Garcia formerly became All Elite in October 2021 with the now-standard tweet from AEW owner Tony Khan. Both pre- and post-contract, Garcia had formed an unlikely alliance with mentors Matt Menard and Angelo Parker. While Garcia was seen as a no-nonsense shooter, the former “Ever Rise” tag team were seen as a lower card comedy act. Despite the odd couple nature of the pairing, Garcia and 2.0 did have an enjoyable teacher-student relationship, though it was clear that Garcia was meant for greater heights.

With the comedic proclivities of Menard and Parker, it seemed a natural progression that the trio would associate with the newly-formed Jericho Appreciation Society stable. Portrayed as an ego boost for a heel Chris Jericho, the group played into the perception among hardcore AEW fans that being a “sports entertainer” (a word conjured by Vince McMahon to differentiate his programming from the mainstream perception of wrasslin’) was a heelish trait in comparison to being a pro wrestler. In a compelling storyline, Garcia was seemingly torn between loyalty to his mentors and the pull of the stylistically opposed Blackpool Combat Club.

The BCC represented a brand of pro wrestling for which Garcia was perfectly suited and the alliance seemed like an obvious next step. Indeed, AEW teased Bryan Danielson as Garcia’s new mentor and a competition for Garcia began within the squared circle. With the AEW audience invested and Garcia at the height of his popularity, the narrative faltered. Inexplicably, Garcia chose sports entertainment in an apparent swerve and realigned with the JAS. Momentum was lost and Garcia returned to being perceived as a Jericho associate who lacked the courage of his convictions.

Garcia’s choice appeared to be the wrong one as he fell back into the shuffle with little creative direction. Divisively for many, Garcia incorporated a dance into his on screen presentation to differentiate himself from the herd. The tactic worked to an extent, but further added to the perception that Garcia was no longer a serious competitor.

A chance for redemption would present itself with the inaugural AEW Continental Classic tournament. The G1-style sports league format would present Garcia with the opportunity to face a variety of opponents and be featured consistently on AEW television. Drawn in the blue bracket, Garcia would lose to Claudio Castagnoli, Andrade El Idolo, Bryan Danielson, and Eddie Kingston in an ongoing losing streak narrative. Although not ideal from a perception point of view, the losing streak storyline did give Garcia narrative focus and culminated with a victory in his last tournament match against Brody King. Revitalized by renewed fan interest, Garcia would transition into a babyface role and begin a slow split away from mentors Menard and Parker.

Garcia would enter 2024 with championship gold in his sights. He would firstly focus on the TNT Title scene with a feud and then association with Adam Copeland opposite Christian Cage. A losing effort against Christian at the AEW Revolution PPV would end his short-lived pursuit of the TNT gold. In recent weeks Garcia has refocused and changed his priority to the International Title now held by Will Ospreay.


Garcia’s renewed focus and more serious approach have been a refreshing change for the character. Video packages on flagship show Dynamite have shown Garcia to be introspective and aware of the “nearly man” perception that surrounds him. An interview with Renee Paquette featured on YouTube is instructive that Garcia has turned the page on his previous sports entertainer character.

Garcia, though, is perhaps the best example of AEW’s stop/start creative for its mid-card roster. Tony Khan has backed Garcia publicly on multiple occasions, but has yet to show the same dedication narratively. The Bryan Danielson-Chris Jericho choice does feel like a sliding doors moment for Garcia with his turn to the dark side a momentum-killer for the young competitor. The Continental Classic did go some way in regaining fan interest and it feels as though Garcia is now on a creative tightrope. Another misstep and Garcia could be consigned to mid-card purgatory, but a renewed creative focus could lead to Garcia recapturing the fan interest he had at the height of the JAS storyline.

A future International Title shot seems to be on the horizon in the short term. With Ospreay on a path to World Title gold, another defeat for Garcia is the obvious choice. If Ospreay does emerge victorious from the upcoming Forbidden Door PPV, then a title vacation could be on the cards. A vacant International Title could be the perfect impetus for a new purpose for him. Much like the ROH Pure Title, Garcia could single out the vacant title as the working champions belt. Capturing the International Title and then defending it opposite like-minded technicians could at least differentiate both Garcia and the title.

It may be too late to revisit the Danielson-Garcia relationship given the former’s impending retirement from a full-time schedule, but a final match between the two with Garcia emerging victorious would put a bow on a long term narrative.

I’d consider Garcia to be an ideal candidate to bring eyes to the AEW-affiliated ROH brand. If ROH is to continue, why not signal the brand as a youthful and development company with Garcia winning the ROH World Title from champion Mark Briscoe? A Garcia victory on an ROH PPV would signal a change in direction and at least give the sister company an identity akin to the black and gold era of NXT. AEW has a roster brimming with youthful talent. Why not send a number of these including Wheeler Yuta, Nick Wayne, a returning Sammy Guevara, and Action Andretti to form a youth-orientated main event scene for a perceived developmental brand?


Daniel Garcia is another of All Elite’s young prospects seemingly stuck in mid-card purgatory, but at only 25 years of age, he still has the potential to be so much more. Just drop the dance.

(Follow Dan on X (formerly Twitter) to agree / disagree, comment or suggest new subjects for the All Elite Assessment @sweetchinmusing.)

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