AEW Dynamite Succeeding with Captivating Introductions to Breakout Stars
So far in the month-long history of AEW Dynamite, we have been treated to wild brawls, stellar in-ring competition and a historic championship coronation, but it's the influx of fresh faces and introduction to new talent that has helped make the upstart company's TNT broadcasts destination television.
From tag teams seizing the spotlight and upsetting the standard-bearers to the smallest competitor in the fight emerging with the top prize in her division, these breakout stars have helped set AEW apart from WWE's television offerings.
Joey Janela may only have one Dynamite performance under his belt but it was a significant one that sought to change the narrative about who he is.
The Bad Boy had long been considered a garbage wrestler whose best matches were those gimmick-filled ones that made up for the fact he may not have been the most polished in-ring marvel. It was a history commentators Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone and Excalibur called upon to tell the story of his October 23 match with Kenny Omega.
The followup to an unsanctioned AEW Dark match between the two, the bout saw Janela not only hang with The Best Bout Machine but also nearly upset him in a straight wrestling match. He would come up short, eating a V-Trigger to the face that seeped all remaining fight out of him before succumbing to the One-Winged Angel.
Even in defeat, though, Janela was established as one of those young, breakout competitors with the potential to be an enormous star for the company. Once renowned for his unique personality and natural charisma, the 30-year-old proved he had the in-ring acumen those essentials up.
When you factor in the creativity he has repeatedly displayed in hardcore, unsanctioned and Cracker Barrel Clash matches, you have a total package with the potential to succeed far beyond what his look may indicate.
Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen first appeared as part of the Road to Fyter Fest web shows produced by Cody Rhodes and have since built a following for themselves thanks to their raw athleticism, undeniable in-ring chemistry and charisma.
They brought an energy to their performances that was infectious and rubbed off on audiences. It should be of no great surprise that they were able to forge a connection with audiences that had even the most faithful fans of The Elite rooting for the underdog duo to knock off The Young Bucks on the October 9 episode.
When they did, they set themselves up for a showdown with The Lucha Bros that would test their ability to absorb punishment and fight from underneath. They proved willing and capable but ultimately fell to Pentagon and Rey Fenix in a barnburner of a contest on the October 23 broadcast.
Even in defeat, Private Party again stole the show, turning in an engrossing performance that has fans excited about their futures in AEW's tag team division.
Britt Baker was all over the posters and marketing materials early in AEW's infancy. Kylie Rae was the most popular of the female signees. Hikaru Shida had a T-shirt before she wrestled a match.
It was Riho, though, who built momentum and etched her name in the history books on October 2 in Washington, D.C. by defeating Nyla Rose to become the first AEW women's champion.
She followed up on that performance two weeks later by defeating Baker in another stellar showing.
The competitor—a protege of Kenny Omega—shook off all preconceived notions regarding the pecking order in AEW's women's division and has broken out as its face. Little-known to fans outside of Japan, she has seized the opportunity and built her star on strong in-ring performances and an unwavering will.
She has been beaten down, punished and pummeled but never quit, and fans have embraced her.
The consummate underdog because of the size differential she routinely finds herself combating, she has thrived on her tenacity and heart. Whether that is sustainable remains to be seen but the 22-year-old has captured the attention of audiences and developed into one of the most pleasing surprises on Dynamite.
Darby Allin has already competed for the AEW World Heavyweight Championship, yet he still feels like an enigma.
The face-painted wrestler out of Seattle skateboards, throws caution (and his well-being) to the wind in an attempt to take out his opponent and moves with a fluidity between the ropes not seen since Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero tore the house down in 1997 WCW.
There is a creativity to his offense no one else can claim. In the 2019 Viceland docuseries The Wrestlers, Allin said he drew inspiration for his in-ring style from life beyond the ring, and it shows. His uniqueness, not unlike Jeff Hardy at the peak of his singles run, has drawn fans' attention and helped them invest in what he does.
The October 16 episode of Dynamite saw the 26-year-old endure a ruthless beating at the hands of Chris Jericho, yet he still nearly knocked off The Painmaker and captured the AEW Championship.
His ability to absorb a beating and fire off an unconventional offense has sucked audiences in and helped him become the face of alt wrestling in AEW, a company that thrives on it.
While he may not have won the match against Jericho, there is no denying Allin's future with the company is as bright as any. The crowd's reaction, his undeniable charisma and distinctive approach to the mat game will help to establish him as one of the faces of AEW's dazzling future.