The Five Break Out Stars Of AEW In 2023

12/31/2023 5:04 AM

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The Five Break Out Stars Of AEW In 2023

The Five Break Out Stars Of AEW In 2023

December 31, 2023 5:04 AM
The Five Break Out Stars Of AEW In 2023

The five talents in AEW that emerged as true stars in 2023

AEW has a stacked roster, but several names have emerged as surprising stars in 2023. No shortage of great moments brought the best out of several wrestlers including Swerve Strickland’s amazing showcase in the Texas Death Match. Ricky Starks, Samoa Joe, and Will Hobbs got the spotlight, but these men have proven their talent in the past so they won't be listed here, even though they’ll have a relatively strong year. Check out the five names in AEW that made a surprising impact.

Swerve Strickland

Let’s get the most obvious name out of the way first. The former AEW World Tag Team Champion has proven his potential as a main event player in the past. Going back to Lucha Underground as Killshot, he was always a compelling presence because of his charisma and tremendous wrestling ability. 

However, the moment he broke away from Keith Lee, was when he was allowed to show his role as a top guy. Swerve spent the early portion of the year mostly losing big matches, but he’s had incredible bouts against the likes of Darby Allin, Orange Cassidy, and Hiroshi Tanahashi. His feud with Nick Wayne and Darby Allin had potential until they decided to pivot from it by eliminating AR Fox from the group.

But his feud with Hangman Page allowed him to showcase his character in a top program. Oddly enough, Prince Nana’s dancing during Swerve’s entrance only enhanced his act even further. The juxtaposition of both men’s personalities made Swerve stand out as a natural-born leader. Though Swerve lost the Continental Classic, hopefully, the tease of a future feud against MJF means that he'll be the next AEW World Champion. 

Konosuke Takeshita

Tony Khan dropped the ball on Takeshita and Will Hobbs. These two got massive wins over Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho and yet, they’ve been spinning their wheels as Don Callis’ lackeys since their huge victories. Nevertheless, Takeshita was slowly gaining steam by having strong matches before his heel turn. 

However, that heel turn gave him a much-needed character. That first segment after he turned on Omega remains legendary. It showcased how big he could’ve gotten if creative followed up on his massive victory over Kenny Omega. Though his booking has been baffling since his huge win, there’s no denying that he’s had a breakout year for a good portion of it. Hopefully, there are some big plans for the newcomer in 2024 because it would be a waste if the Don Callis pairing ends up amounting to nothing of note.

Toni Storm

Toni Storm has always been talented as she’s one of the top female wrestlers in the world. The problem was that she never had a character that separated her from the rest of the girls. Her dropping the belt was the best thing to happen as Timeless Toni Storm has been an entertaining act. There’s a risk that this gimmick can overstay its welcome, but Storm has been careful to not repeat the same segments since the development of her character. It'll be fun to see how her brewing feud with Mariah May develops in 2024. 

Julia Hart

The biggest surprise that came out of nowhere. It was fun to see Hart transform from a cheerleader into this dark character, but her progression inside of the ring has been a joy to watch. Admittedly, the nonsense with Skye Blue feels unnecessarily complicated, but it doesn’t detract from the incredible year that Hart has had. 

If AEW can nail down the grounded parts of her character then she’ll be the complete package, but it’s always great to see how performers can grow both inside and outside the ring. Hopefully, AEW can keep the momentum going by having her involved in solid stories that help define her as a champion and deepen the layers of her character. 

Willow Nightingale

Nightingale is somewhat in the same boat as Takeshita, though she’s been given more to do than Don Callis’s lackey. Her performance against Athena at Death Before Dishonor was incredible. The fact that Claudio Castagnoli vs. PAC and Katsuyori Shibata vs Daniel Garcia were on the same card and these two still had the match of the night is incredible. 

Her recent Tornado Street Fight proved her value as a babyface once again. The former NJPW Strong’s Women’s Champion has taken advantage of every opportunity she’s given and Nightingale has yet to disappoint. She has a very likable presence as a babyface and the AEW star understands how to get the crowd invested in her matches. It’s clear that AEW likes Nightingale and hopefully, she will receive a good push in 2024. Seriously though, if you haven’t seen her match against Athena at Death Before Dishonor then I highly recommend you check it out.