Hello AEW fans! Today, we are looking at the 20 fastest rising stars in All Elite Wrestling. This excludes TNT Champion Darby Allin and anyone who previously worked as a full-fledged WWE Superstar. It may include anyone who worked with WWE as a personality or enhancement talent.
In this list, I share my opinions on wrestlers who I believe have the most potential for the future. Some entries are more about me talking about recent events involving the character. Please share who you think should be included with them in the comments. Our Facebook fans provided many of the listed after I asked who they think has the most potential. After that, I included some of my own to round it up to 20. Thanks for sharing everyone!
Display image credit: Benjamin Marra from complex.com
She is the most improved on this list, from the time AEW debuted to the present day. It’s almost like she isn’t the same person. In the early days, many fans criticized her ring work and promos. But in the past year she has turned heads, because of her stellar performances and breakout bloody moments. The first coming against Hikaru Shida, along with the more recent Lights Out encounter with Thunder Rosa.
Baker’s injury was a blessing in disguise, as it gave her the platform to work on her heel character. She has enjoyed more character development than most of the entire roster, and her confidence is at an all-time high. Will she be the one to take it to the Women’s Champion?
Kingston has been under the radar for years. Not only is he a hardcore specialist like his friend Jon Moxley, but there aren’t many who can match him on the mic. Wrestlers with great promo skills is a rarity in today’s world, so Kingston gives fans their money’s worth. It’s so important for the business that more guys and girls learn how to connect verbally with their audience. Some of the most legendary figures in wrestling got over because of their moments, and not their ring skills.
Kingston isn’t bad in the ring, but he’s most appealing when sending messages. His psychology and selling are top-notch. You can put anyone with Kingston and he will elevate them with his words. This is the reason he was one of AEW’s best signings of 2020. When he hangs up the boots, I am positive he would make an excellent trainer & manager.
Similar to Britt Baker, Hangman Adam Page started his AEW career as a blank slate. Unless you saw his work in Japan, you wouldn’t be able to care for him as a character. AEW quickly pushed him despite some resistance. Losing to Chris Jericho for the title was the fall he needed to start over. I’m unsure if making him a drunk gets over like Steve Austin did, but at least it suits his cowboy gimmick. Distancing him from The Elite was absolutely the right call. Many of the initial criticisms toward him stemmed from the belief he was getting preferential treatment for being with The Elite.
Making him a loner while teaming with Kenny Omega as the Tag Team Champions was the logical way forward. With this run, he proved to the world he belonged among the best of AEW. But where he goes from here is questionable after loosely joining the Dark Order. Brodie Lee wanted to take him under his wing, so it made sense to bring him in slowly after his passing. However, I feel like it would’ve led to Page feuding with Brodie. So what’s the next step for him? And when will he return to being the lone cowboy AEW built him to be?
The most obvious candidate for rising stars of AEW is the longest reigning champion in company history. There aren’t many who can work as well as Hikaru Shida, but it took a while for me to accept her position. The women’s division suffered because AEW weren’t doing enough with it. I highlighted the issues in an article last year, and it’s like someone listened to me. Not long after, they took steps to bring the women’s division in to focus. And no, I’m not saying someone at AEW checked it out and changed their plans accordingly; it was a mere coincidence.
Although, it was a fortunate coincidence. A true Women’s Revolution in wrestling needs to happen everywhere to be successful. Shida has since elevated AEW with her performances, but something has to give in 2021. There are others dying to claim the biggest prize. Whoever finally dethrones Shida will soar, not just because of their work, but because of the trust and faith AEW has in the longest reigning champion in company history.
She’s a rough diamond who has a long way to go, but all you got to do is look at her. Cargill is a bonafide star in the making. With her athletic background and confidence exuding like no other newcomer I’ve seen for ages, all Jade needs is to remain humble, learn, and prove herself. Teaming up with Shaquille O’Neal in her first match tells us how much talent AEW sees in her.
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any woman with a physique like hers. And while looks aren’t everything, presentation remains one of the key factors in getting over in the world of wrestling. They say you have to look the part and she already does. But can she play the part? Nothing is set in stone. Cargill has yet to prove she can do this. Let’s find out in 2021.
Aside from Brodie Lee, the other big thing fans noticed about The Dark Order was John Silver. He may not be tall, but he is deceptively strong. Although it’s not his physique that people notice, it’s his charisma. I assumed the biggest names to come out of the Dark Order would be Stu Grayson, Evil Uno, and a rejuvenated Colt Cabana. I’m glad to know that someone completely new has broken through instead.
When I asked our Facebook followers who they thought were AEW’s fastest rising stars, he was the only one (excluding Page) mentioned from the Dark Order. That’s pretty amazing! Considering how he was jobbing out to WWE’s Heavy Machinery in 2019. He spent much of his career in Chikara and CZW before joining AEW in late-2019. There’s so many bright days in this mans future.
He has his entire adult life to grow and become what many know he will be. Sporting his late-father’s celebrity looks, he’ll be like Jeff Hardy in the way the female audience admires him. I’m not sure if the gimmick is what will make him though, as I feel it’s just something to get him to the next level. He’s so young that it’s not like AEW is in any rush to make him a World Champion. If he sticks around for the next ten years, he’s going to be one of their top stars. It’s crazy how good he is already, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.
I feel like Jurassic Express has suffered during the pandemic, mainly because we haven’t had full crowds to remind us how over they are. Adding the new theme song is icing on the cake, and it’s bound to be a hit when we get back to normality. Jungle Boy is well on his way to a lucrative career. The first milestone needs to be tag team gold.
I’m a huge fan of the alien entity from another galaxy. She ticks all boxes to be a women’s champion one day. She was dangerously close to earning this before picking up an ACL injury in June. Before Britt Baker’s meteoric rise, I think Statlander was Shida’s biggest threat. Losing time in wrestling hurts, as others jockey around for the vacant position. It’s never going to be the same landscape upon returning.
Reintroducing Statlander as a member of Best Friends is genius. Not only does she join one of the company’s most popular stables, it gives her more airtime. Had she returned on her own, she would’ve struggled to make it on to Dynamite. This way, even if she isn’t wrestling, Kris can still get involved in the Best Friends business against Penelope Ford.
Lucha Brothers, Penta El Zero Miedo & Rey Fénix
A 2-for-1 deal as the Lucha Brothers are a packaged set. You need to be a MLW, AAA, Lucha Underground or Impact Wrestling fan to fully understand their potential though. You might be impressed if you’ve only seen the brothers in AEW, but their best work was in other companies. Pentagon Jr (now known as Penta El Zero Miedo) was a monster star for Lucha Underground and a World Champion for Impact Wrestling. I often say that Fenix is a modern Rey Mysterio with how he redefines the high-flying style. When they are together, we get some of the best tag team action in the world. Some of Impact’s best tag team matches involved them defending or challenging for the titles.
What makes them special is how amazing they are as singles competitors compared to being a team. Penta is a viable World Champion anywhere, and aside from needing a translator, he’s one of the best at everything else. He breaks language barriers with his “Zero Miedo” (No Fear) philosophy. Fenix speaks English, and anyone could revolve a Cruiserweight or Junior Heavyweight division around him. My only gripe is they can sometimes be a little formulaic with their spots as selling gets thrown out the window. But I don’t let any of that take away from how damn entertaining they are. It remains a travesty that they’ve yet to win the AEW Tag Team titles. It has to happen soon, right? ZERO MIEDO!
He’s my favourite big man in AEW. I’d love to see Luchasaurus branch out as a singles wrestler and take his career to the next level, but I’m happy for now. When he gets involved in the action he looks unstoppable. I think he’s marginally ahead of Jungle Boy in popularity, while his smaller partner has more upside for the future. Unlike Jungle Boy, I don’t want to ever see him lose the gimmick. I want him to grow. Turn heel, change the mask, but never unmask… because it would only repeat history. Kane was never the same when he unmasked.
Build the legend of Luchasaurus, but never abandon it. If he’s talking, then make it about the history of dinosaurs. Kids love learning about dinosaurs, so as a babyface he could easily be educational with his promos. He has a degree in medieval literature, but it doesn’t suit his gimmick. We want to buy in to him being a dinosaur, so don’t humanize too much. There’s so much they could do with Luchasaurus, and I hope it can happen by the time full crowds return.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman in the Inner Circle was frustrating to me. Not because I knew he would eventually turn on them, but because of how long it took to happen. The payoff to his turn was impressive though, so the extra building time was worthy. And I’m glad, because I had little faith that AEW would capitalize, but they totally proved me wrong. I don’t mind that! Doing this writing thing for nearly a decade, I’ve often seen history repeating itself. Things get predictable and shows can run together. But AEW swerved me like I ain’t been since the Vince Russo days.
And yes, we know Russo had some of the worst ideas of all time, but the Attitude Era was littered with good swerves. That’s what wrestling needs more of these days, it needs more legitimately shocking moments. Just when you think it’s going this way… they switch it. And when you think they are going another way, right hook! Another switch. You don’t know where you are. Shock. Intrigue. How did I get fooled so easily? You question yourself because the clues went flying over your head. The Pinnacle introduction was supremely executed, and I couldn’t be happier to be swerved.
I think the Chris Jericho feud was a fun thing booked too soon. Had they done it this year in front of full crowds, it would’ve gone down a treat. But because it happened in front of nobody, it could never reach its potential. Orange Cassidy is a force to be reckoned with, but only with support. Without reactions, his character can’t hit its goals. It doesn’t click (like Broken Matt Hardy) at the moment, so I’m happy AEW reeled him back in. It’s hard to say how much it helped them, but at least it served as light entertainment in one of the toughest times of our lives.
Wrestling hasn’t been serious since the kayfabe days. I understand why some hate on Cassidy for going against tradition. Wrestlers are supposed to try. They want to win and overcome struggles. Cassidy can’t be bothered though. He’s too confident, but still gets it done. His nonchalant demeanor resonates because not only is it unique, it holds up a middle finger to the clichés. There’s a reason Orange Cassidy is ‘certified fresh’. He’s not playing to the audience like a usual babyface, because it’s the fans who play to him. He’s a literal sloth in wrestling form. It works because he does only just enough to encourage them to encourage him to try.
Being compared to The Rock so early in your career has to come with some pressure. Not Ricky Starks though, he knows what he can do and is biding his time. I first saw Starks on NWA Powerrr, and it didn’t come as a surprise when he won a tournament for the returning NWA Television Championship. His two-year rise is insane! He wasn’t anywhere before joining the NWA in 2018.
With six years on the independent scene and a bunch of titles no one’s heard of, someone in the NWA scouted him and gave him a shot. He had worked on WWE TV as an enhancement talent though. His biggest moment was getting beaten up backstage by Ryback in 2013. He must pinch himself to check if this is real. To go from working for the smallest crowds to worldwide television, it must feel like one big dream for Ricky Starks.
Riho’s a doll, and you’ve got to have a heart as cold as ice to hate her. She’s one of the smallest women’s wrestler’s we’ve ever seen, but her skills can’t be denied. For anyone unfamiliar, you may need to suspend your disbelief more so than usual. Especially when she takes on someone like Nyla Rose.
Riho looks like she should be brittle, but it only adds to her toughness. If anyone is feeling the pain of wrestling, it’s her tiny frame taking the brunt. She became a shining example though, upon winning the AEW Women’s Championship. To all the girls out there, you don’t need to be big to be a wrestler. Train hard, have passion, put in the work, and anything’s possible. The AEW fans will welcome her back with open arms when travel restrictions are lifted.
While a little controversial outside the ring, Sammy Guevara is one of AEW’s brightest young stars of tomorrow. And again, it’s not ring work bringing him in to the spotlight. His character work is up there next to Chris Jericho as some of the best in the life of the Inner Circle. You can see why Jericho loves him so much, he’s much like a young Y2J.
Cocky as hell, but generous with selling, Guevara has had several breakout moments. I don’t think anyone will forget his signs during commercial breaks, singing Jericho’s song terribly, or when he got ran over by Matt Hardy & Kenny Omega in a golf cart. They perfectly timed his return to the Inner Circle with MJF’s turn. He was the only one who could see through MJF’s crap.
Much like the Lucha Brothers, you had to see his Impact Wrestling work to understand his potential. Santana & Ortiz were previously known as LAX (Latin American Xchange); managed by Konnan. During their Impact run, they went from being relative unknowns to one of the best teams in company history. Fans were skeptical of them taking the LAX name from Homicide & Hernandez, but I think they proved to be deserving of it. But why did I pick Santana and not Ortiz?
Well, it’s because I think Santana is the better worker and promo. I remember when LAX were on their way out of Impact and they shared their feelings in the streets. Santana surprised me so much with his passionate words, it came out of nowhere. Impact didn’t hand them a mic often, because Konnan was their mouthpiece. And I’m not saying Ortiz isn’t good, but I think if they went their separate ways, Santana would achieve more. He’s missing some character development in AEW, but that could be easily rectified. As Taz would say… don’t sleep on Santana. He’ll surprise ya.
We know AEW has a thing for Scorpio Sky. It’s like when you have a crush on someone, but you can’t ask ‘em out because it’s inappropriate or the timing is off. There’s so much potential in Sky, it screams out of him whenever he’s on TV. But the competition is fierce and there’s only so many spots.
I’m a little disappointed they slotted him back to in a tag team; this time with Ethan Page. Not because I think they can’t succeed, but because they would benefit from singles runs. Page just got out of a tag team in Impact, so to join another feels wasteful. Sky is missing something and I can’t put my finger on it. His ring work is exceptional., but he needs more appeal. I don’t know how, but if he can add more to his game, then his push will come.
Much like Ricky Starks, I knew nothing about Thunder Rosa til she showed up on NWA Powerrr. But I wasn’t a fan to begin with, because they overly hyped her as a MMA fighter despite losing the only fight she ever had in 2019. The way NWA pushed her, it was obvious she’d take the title from Allysin Kay. What happened next? They worked one of the best women’s matches in recent memory at NWA Hard Times. I’ve said this a few times… it was one of the best women’s matches I’ve ever seen.
Yes! Better than the match between Rosa and Britt Baker (waiting for the pitchforks). Unless you saw that match between Allysin Kay and Rosa, then please just believe it was that good. And after the Lights Out match, I’m even more of a fan of Rosa. My only worry is that she can be too stiff, and it’s needlessly unprofessional to injure opponents. She needs to learn when to tone it down. Other than that, she’s one of the best in AEW & NWA’s women’s divisions.
Quietly going about his business is MJF’s right-hand man. What I love about the way AEW handles Wardlow is their slow build approach. They know what they have, but they aren’t over exposing him. Wardlow is learning and keeping his cool, til it’s time to ditch MJF and show why many label him a future star. Aside from the cage match against Cody Rhodes, AEW only books him when it makes him look dominant. And I’m behind that booking, because less is more in wrestling.
I think they overexposed Lance Archer, which is why he isn’t coming across like the force he was after leaving New Japan. AEW needs to do better with the booking of their bigger guys, but Wardlow is in a perfect spot. Considering where he was before his debut, he enjoys the time of his life getting paid to stand around and look menacing. Who wouldn’t want that job?
You know when people complain about AEW relying too much on former WWE Superstars? Please remember this group. Yes, the company has signed a few former superstars since opening its doors. But it has also done an outstanding job of introducing many fresh faces. The women’s division still has a long way to go. Yet, I’m impressed with AEW’s recent efforts to bolster it. One thing I’m unsure about is the extreme amount of stables. I might get to that topic another day. Do you think they have too many?
As we head further in to the 2020s, many of these wrestlers will develop and their stars will shine more brightly so. The best is yet to come, and I’m sure we’ll be around to see them becoming household names. Thanks for reading!
PS: Yes, I know that pretty girls Penelope Ford, Anna Jay and Tay Conti aren’t here. They aren’t potential Women’s Champions, yet.