7 WWE and AEW Stars on Track for Breakouts 2020
With a new year comes new opportunities, and as the WWE and All Elite Wrestling rosters continue to grow at a rapid rate, it's going to be exciting to see who will rise to the occasion and steal the spotlight in 2020.
WWE has more talent under contract now than ever before. As a result, it's tough for certain Superstars to stand out and not get lost in the shuffle.
AEW, on the other hand, exceeded all expectations in 2019 and then some. It has put together a stellar string of shows and has more than held its own against NXT every Wednesday night since October.
Above all else, the new promotion has proved itself as a legitimate alternative to WWE, largely thanks to the outstanding crop of competitors it has built up. As popular as The Elite are, there are many more wrestlers who have made names for themselves in AEW.
There are plenty of wrestlers in AEW who have yet to hold gold but will at some point in the next 12 months. To its credit, WWE has an equal amount of top prospects under contract between Raw, SmackDown and NXT you should also be keeping an eye out for.
Wrestlers in both companies are in prime position to thrive heading into the new year.
These seven stars are about to break out in a major way and get the entire wrestling world buzzing.
Sammy Guevara was deservedly one of the first people handpicked by Chris Jericho to join The Inner Circle. In the short time he's been with AEW, he has blown everyone away with what he can do the ring and his compelling character work on Being The Elite.
The Spanish God (a nickname Jericho bestowed upon him) will forever be able to boast about competing in the first match in AEW Dynamite history. Granted, it was a loss to Cody, but he put in a strong effort and looked excellent in defeat.
Guevara has since gone on to compete in high-profile matches against the likes of Luchasaurus and Adam Page and contend for the AEW World Tag Team Championship alongside Jericho. He's lost more matches than he's won, but that's solely because this isn't his time just yet.
If and when AEW creates a secondary title for its wrestlers, there's no doubt Guevara will have a stranglehold on it. He's too talented to be ignored and has already won over the audience with the confidence he exudes every time he walks to the ring.
With such a strong skill set, Guevara won't be sitting on the sidelines for much longer.
Keith Lee has been advising fans to bask in his glory from the moment he arrived in NXT in mid-2018, but it wasn't until recently that they started to take him up on it after realizing what he's capable of.
Lee should not be able to do half of the things he does between the ropes. He defies the laws of physics with the way he moves in the ring, and he never ceases to captivate a crowd.
He spent the better part of 2019 trying to find his footing, and the injury he suffered in March didn't help his cause. Once he returned to action, he started building momentum by having standout matches with Damian Priest and Dominik Dijakovic.
His surge in popularity couldn't have come at a better time, as his consistently phenomenal performances are now being seen by way more people on USA Network. It all culminated in an amazing weekend in Chicago, where he headlined his first TakeOver event (and won) before taking Roman Reigns to his limit the following night at Survivor Series.
Lee may have fallen short of capturing the NXT Tag Team Championship and becoming the No. 1 contender to Adam Cole's NXT Championship, but that just means the WWE hierarchy are waiting until the right time to pull the trigger on his push.
When it does, a title run and/or a possible move to the main roster should be in his immediate future.
Darby Allin is among the many AEW wrestlers fans weren't overly familiar with when the promotion launched but have come to appreciate since.
What's impressive about his AEW tenure is that despite not being involved in any notable rivalries, he's gotten over with the audience through his tenacity, babyface fire and unique in-ring style.
One can argue Allin officially arrived when he went to war with Cody at Fyter Fest and refused to back down during their 20-minute match. It spoke volumes that AEW didn't have him suffer the pinfall loss that night, meaning it intended to build him up as a top talent.
In the time Dynamite has been on the air, he has had terrific matches with everyone from Jimmy Havoc to Jon Moxley. He even came close to unseating Chris Jericho as AEW world champion on the October 16 episode before falling short in spectacular fashion.
Allin encapsulates everything AEW stands for and is ready to take 2020 by storm.
It's almost unbelievable WWE has barely scratched what it can do with Aleister Black on the main roster, but that means he's due for a breakout year in 2020.
His two-year run in NXT was everything fans could have hoped for. He went undefeated for more than a year, captured the NXT Championship, had excellent feuds with Velveteen Dream and Johnny Gargano and won the 2019 Dusty Tag Team Classic alongside Ricochet.
Although his main roster call-up was a bit abrupt, WWE did initially treat him like a star by protecting him and Ricochet at all costs. After his alliance with The One and Only ran its course, he resorted to issuing open challenges from a dark room backstage and rarely wrestling.
Black's SmackDown stint saw him compete in just a handful of singles matches. He hasn't been much more active since being drafted to Raw, but an injury in early November may have something to do with that.
Nonetheless, the red brand is in desperate need of credible babyfaces, and Black is the perfect person to fill that void. A win over Buddy Murphy at Sunday's TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view would set him up for big things heading into the new year.
For all the major moves AEW made in 2019, one thing it clearly needs to work on is its women's division. The promotion has a lot of talented females on its roster, but none of them feel overly special outside of AEW women's champion Riho.
They have been afforded a decent amount of television time on Dynamite, and their matches are usually solid, but perhaps viewers haven't been given many reasons to care about them. The lack of promos has been noticeable, but even without saying a single word since signing with AEW, Kris Statlander has stood out more than any other woman.
She has a star-like presence and the in-ring skills necessary to match her charisma. After a few impressive showings on AEW Dark, she debuted on Dynamite and shone in a tag team match against Emi Sakura and Bea Priestley.
Statlander then shocked the world with a win over Hikaru Shida on Dec. 4 in what was one of the best women's matches AEW has hosted. Thankfully, she didn't accept the Nightmare Collective's offer to join them and appears to be flying solo with her sights firmly set on becoming AEW women's champion.
The inevitable Riho vs. Statlander feud is guaranteed to be great, but if it doesn't end with the latter taking the title and reigning through most of 2020, something is seriously wrong.
Speaking of special women's wrestlers with bright futures, Rhea Ripley has been the best thing to happen to the NXT women's division in recent months. That's saying something considering how hot that scene has been throughout 2019.
She kicked off the year by losing the NXT UK Women's Championship to Toni Storm and feuding with Piper Niven before making the move to NXT in August. Ripley wasted no time in confronting NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler and voicing her intention to take her belt.
The two have been embroiled in an exciting feud since then, which will culminate Wednesday when they meet in a match with the gold up for grabs. Regardless of whether she wins, there's no reason to believe Ripley won't be a major player in 2020.
Like Keith Lee, her Survivor Series weekend was huge for her burgeoning career. The Australian overcame the odds at TakeOver: WarGames on Nov. 23 by defeating Team Baszler and was the last woman standing at Survivor Series the following night.
Pinning both Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair is no small feat and a sign WWE would love nothing more than to bring her to the main stage sooner rather than later.
Expect big things from The Mosh Pit Kid in 2020 and beyond.
Despite not winning a single match until recently, Jurassic Express remains one of AEW's most popular acts. Luchasaurus, in particular, has been an absolute blast to watch and is bound to be its biggest breakout star of 2020 at the rate he's going.
Don't let the mask he wears fool you: Luchasaurus is a main-eventer in the making for AEW. The company has allowed him to be himself by not relegating him to making stereotypical dinosaur noises and limiting his in-ring arsenal.
Rather, he's proved to be a natural on the mic and an impressive athlete to boot. His absence was felt while he was away with an injury for the first month Dynamite was on the air, but now that he's returned, the faction is even better than it was.
Luchasaurus has made quick work of all of his opponents, both in tag team and singles action, and has gone face-to-face with Jake Hager on multiple occasions. They are destined to do battle, but in the meantime, he's more focused on sharing the spotlight with Jungle Boy and aiding him in his feud with Chris Jericho.
There has been plenty of talk among fans regarding either Jon Moxley or Kenny Omega being the one to take the title from Jericho, but there's a strong chance Luchasaurus steals that spot instead if he continues to climb the ranks.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.