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One of the surprising stories coming from All Elite Wrestling so far has been the company's ability to turn new names into talent that is over with the fanbase. It wasn't surprising that the crowd would be hot for Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega or The Young Bucks--those guys all came into the promotion as big stars. Taking wrestlers without nearly as much exposure or name value and quickly converting them into popular talent? That is a real challenge, and WWE would kill to be able to introduce new talent and in a matter of few weeks, get them really over with the audience.
So who have been the biggest winners of AEW's youth initiative? Here are the five names having the most success so far.
Since AEW first started, management has obviously seen something in MJF, and that potential has been evident so far in the company, with his quick wit and knack for turning a phrase drawing comparisons to Roddy Piper and Bobby Heenan. Recognizing this, AEW made him a pivotal figure in a storyline between Cody Rhodes and Chris Jericho, launching him into a major role in the company in what should be a very long feud with Cody Rhodes.
MJF has shown poise on the mic that very few people in wrestling can match. What he needs to do now is appear to be a legitimate threat inside the ring, someone who is a total asshole on the mic and can back it up as a physical competitor. He has a good physique, which helps, but he needs to be booked like a really good competitor in order to reach his ceiling. I think of someone like The Miz, who has a ton of talent on the mic but was never presented as competitive enough in the ring to reach his potential. MJF needs more credibility in that regard to become the star everything thinks he can become.
Luchasaurus had very little exposure in wrestling outside of a few appearances on Lucha Underground and working some SoCal indies (but not PWG). Despite little notoriety, he has become a breakout star in AEW due to his tag team work with Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt. Although it appeared he had a setback, hurting his hamstring right before his Dynamite debut, the time off served him well as he got a giant pop when he returned on Nov. 13 to save his teammates from The Dark Order.
The character is a real winner; family friendly and goofy, but also somehow still badass. Luchasauras is an example of why size can still matter in wrestling; because the combination of his physique, his agility and his costume really make him standout, especially since the AEW roster is smaller than what most fans are used to seeing. If he can stay healthy and continue to improve in the ring, the sky's the limit for him in the future.
While he had a little more buzz than MJF and Luchasaurus coming into AEW, having worked for EVOLVE for a number years as well as becoming a regular in PWG, Allin is still very much a breakout star. While the first thing people tend to think about when it comes to Allin is his reckless style of wrestling and his willingness to take incredible bumps, long term I think it is his character and personality that will make him a major star.
It is hard to put my finger on it, but there is something natural and authentic about his personality that make him feel endearing. The skateboarding stuff and the face paint make him stand out, and he also has some GREAT theme music. There has been a knack for self-promotion there as well, with the "champ" writing on his face during his match against Jericho, or the bodybag during his match with Moxley. He gets his character more than most, which should carry him a long way.
Private Party where virtually unknown outside the New York area before they were announced for AEW. Thanks to some generous help from The Young Bucks, they quickly became fan favorites in AEW and look poised to be long-term staples of the promotion despite their lack of experience.
Someone a few weeks ago told me that the way they fit into AEW was similar to how a lot of talent fit into ECW. Take The Sandman for instance; his actual wrestling ability was questionable but his character and the way he performed was perfect for the ECW style. Private Party are still pretty green, but they are athletic and wrestle at a fast-pace which fits well in AEW. The company has been able to maximize everything they do well while also hiding their weaknesses.
Out of all the talent that has succeeded so far in AEW, Sky is probably the most surprising break-out star. Unlike the other names on this list, Sky was fairly well known coming into the company, having been around the independent circuit for years and having previously worked with the rest of SCU in ROH. Sky was a known quantity, at least that is what we thought.
Something interesting about AEW is that a lot of fans, perhaps 75 percent or so, are seeing talent like Sky, Omega or The Young Bucks, for the first time. They don't know who is supposed to be a big star, so a guy like Sky working in front of a new audience can shed previous notions about who he is and how big of a star he can be. Sky hasn't even really done anything different than what he was doing in ROH; he is part of SCU, gets hot tags and does a lot of cool high spots, but the exposure to a new audience has turned him into a bigger star. With that has come additional promo time and now a chance to wrestle Chris Jericho for the AEW World Championship. For Sky, it has been a long time coming because he has always been really talented, but it took AEW to come along and show that to the world.
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