07th Jan2022

Opinionated: AEW’s breakthrough stars of 2022

by Alain Elliott

2022 looks set to be another huge year for AEW. 2021 provided their biggest signings ever in Adam Cole, Bryan Danielson and CM Punk, while also concluding its longest and best storyline with Hangman Page finally becoming World Champion. It will be hard to top that but AEW does have some fantastic young talent to breakthrough this year.

There’s no better way to start this than with Taz’s son Hook. With only a couple of matches under his belt you’d think it might be too early to announce him as a star but that’s exactly what he is. It’s not just about his wrestling ability but he clearly does have plenty. Using an array of suplexes his offence is completely unique on the AEW roster. Perhaps more than this though is that he is very much over with both the live crowd and on social media. He’s got that aura about him when making his entrance or leaving after a victory – he just has ‘it’ – something that can’t be taught. Because he is so young and inexperienced he might not be winning titles this year (although it wouldn’t surprise me) but I can see a rivalry or two with some of the bigger names on the roster.

There’s another inexperienced wrestler on the roster that is winning match after match at the moment and his name is Wardlow. Making his début in a steel cage match vs Cody Rhodes made it clear that AEW management trusted Wardlow. His ring time since then has been limited but when needed he has stepped up and his current run of squash matches in which he powerbombs his opponents four, five or more times, is often the highlight of the show it features. He already looks like a champion and it’s clear he is heading for a rivalry with his ‘boss’ MJF. I don’t see anything but a dominant victory for Wardlow there and the crowd will be behind him even more than before.

Jade Cargill is almost twenty five matches into her AEW career and she has won every single match. Many have been squash matches but her latest run in the TBS Women’s Championship tournament you can see her improvement. Whether she gets a win in the final or not won’t stop her progress and at some point in 2022 she will be the women’s champion. She has absolutely everything except that experience and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’ll be headlining Dynamite vs Britt Baker or whoever is AEW Woman’s World champion in the future

Along with 2point0, Daniel Garcia has done nothing but impress since debuting in 2021. He’s been in the ring with the biggest stars including Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, Sting and CM Punk. He stands out in AEW because of his technical ability in the ring. He is yet to have a major singles rivalry yet though and I’m sure that will come in the first half of the year and a TNT title run wouldn’t be completely out of the question. If the often rumoured trios title ever happens, Garcia and 2point0 will be one of the favourites.

After a few years in WWE and a brief break from wrestling Jake Atlas has now signed with AEW. He has only had one match but he looked impressive and will surely go on to bigger things this year. Nick Comoroto has always stood out whenever he is featured on Dynamite. He has a very distinctive look and style and I’d love to see him in a more high profile role. While much of the Varsity Blonds tag team is focused on Brian Pillman Jr, it’s Griff Garrison that impresses me more. His recent outing with Malakai Black showed how much he has improved and I can see a him becoming an accomplished singles wrestler by the end of the year.

Lastly, there is sure to be new signings. Tony Khan even said in a recent interview that a ‘dream signing’ will be making a debut soon. I’m sure the rumours will go into overload until that person appears. Unfortunately it seems that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have both signed new contracts with WWE, two wrestlers I’d love to see in AEW. But both Johnny Gargano and Keith Lee are free agents and I think it’s almost certain they’re both turn up and be huge successes in AEW this year. There’s a host of names on the indie circuit that would fit nicely in AEW. Brody King has already been hinted at by Malakai Black, while Bandido and Jonathan Gresham have been wowing audiences in North America for a few years now and would be a perfect fit in AEW. As for tag teams, The Briscoes seem to be a possibility after a recent match vs FTR and they would no doubt shake things up in the tag division.

With an already star studded roster, AEW will deliver wrestling fans another massively entertaining year in 2022!

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