Currently, AEW has most of their top guys and tag teams locked in solid storylines or new feuds: Cody and the inevitable Murderhawk situation, Lucha Bros and Best Friends pending street fight, Kenny Omega and Hangman Page have the tag titles and the constant tease of descension, it would seem SCU and Dark Order will finally go at it now that Brodie has arrived, Jericho is awaiting a formal response regarding Vangard's willingness to join the Inner Circle...
All of that makes the timing of this new championship and tournament seemingly perfect. They have an abundance of midcard competitors that are ready for, and deserving of, getting a dedicated spotlight to showcase what they can do. Guys like Kip Sabian, Luchasaurus, Orange Cassidy, Jimmy Havoc, and Jungle Boy could be show-stealers any given week. With such a solid midcard, thankfully this is only an 8 man tournament. They could have absolutely made this a 16 man, month long circus, that would get exhausting because it would be obvious after the first round that the over pushed heel with go home heat would get the crown... but I digress. With it being only 8 men we don't have to deal with guys jobbing in the first round just for the sake of getting air time and being friends with The Elite (sorry Brandon Cutler and QT Marshall). We will get 7 quality matches that put two men on a collison course.
Without getting into a full on bracket prediction, I see only one logical winner and he will face Darby Allin. Outside of the The Elite, there is noone in AEW as over as Darby Allin. He has gone from an unknown to must see (be that in ring or vignettes) and deserves the match unquestionably. One could make a case that he should win it and it would be hard to disagree. So, allow me to do just that.
Darby Allin will lose the championship match because the audience is 100% behind him. We want him to win. We will be invested in his character. This makes him the perfect person to lose to Pac. The Bastard showed up ready to fight, in full gear mind you, on day 1 of AEW. A slow start to his AEW career seems like it was years ago. That barn burner he put on with Orange Cassidy at Revolution, plus the formation of Death Triangle with Lucha Bros, has his stock on the rise; and, as they have demonstrated, they're not above outside interference. Darby and Pac would give us a match of the year candidate. Putting the belt on Pac gives validity to their new faction and, should they chose to have some shenanigans to cost Darby the match, that adds heat onto a group containing 3 guys that have been fan favorites for a long time. Pac being the respected vet he is would bring weight and value to the title immediately similarly, on a smaller scale obviously, to what Jericho did for the AEW Championship. Truthfully, I see no option other than The Bastard Pac as the first TNT Champion.
Other considerations: MJF? He's better than this. Jake Hager? Can't be in this tournament unless he's going to win it all. If he does, they are flirting dangerously close to having a Goldberg situation on their hands. They have to protect Jake as the muscle and intimidator of the Inner Circle. That image is gone if he loses to...well anyone at this point.