Damian Priest, Jungle Boy and WWE, AEW Stars Trending Up

Philip LindseyContributor IFebruary 10, 2021

Damian Priest, Jungle Boy and WWE, AEW Stars Trending Up

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    Since the Royal Rumble, there has been a lot of talk of All Elite Wrestling and WWE's ability to create new stars or give their fans something different.

    This mostly stemmed from Edge's second Rumble win and some dissatisfaction with the finish. However, several wrestlers have gained momentum over the last few months that could materialize as a major storyline.

    Wrestling companies often have to find a perfect balance of promoting a top star and creating new contenders. When done right, it's a seamless part of regular programming, but sometimes there isn't enough attention placed on the next big challenger. That can make it difficult for viewers to invest in them.

    That's not to say there isn't a compelling reason for Edge to win the men's Rumble match. It could just mean some fans were more engaged with another performer's journey into the pay-per-view, and the company did a great job building up the field but didn't stick the landing.

    Nevertheless, there are still some wrestlers to be excited about right now. Some new faces and old favorites have shown signs they could have a strong year.

    Let's take a look at eight WWE and AEW names who are trending up.

Damian Priest

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    Damian Priest has made a significant impact over the last two weeks following his Royal Rumble debut.

    The Archer of Infamy already appears to be one of the most effective NXT call-ups in some time. Straight away, pairing the former North American champion with an international singing star like Bad Bunny makes him look like a big deal.

    The multi-platinum reggaeton artist has accompanied Priest to the ring and even mixed it up with The Miz and John Morrison to help him. His presence immediately gave the wrestler's party-going rock-star persona, which he cultivated on the black-and-gold brand, more legitimacy.

    WWE doesn't always properly use celebrities to play up its own Superstars' ethnicity, but this makes perfect sense. The pairing of the two men with Puerto Rican backgrounds just works and doesn't feel contrived or half-hearted.

    Expect to see more of Priest and Bad Bunny in 2021.

Jungle Boy

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    The right entrance music can completely change a wrestler's presentation, and that's exactly what Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy" has done for Jungle Boy.

    AEW president and CEO Tony Khan bought the rights to the hit song from the 1980s so the Los Angeles native could use it as his entrance music. The decision has already paid dividends as it has produced a new raucous chant for The Jurassic Express constituent.

    In the ring, Jungle Boy has proved more than once that he can go. On the Jan. 27 episode of Dynamite, he had an incredible showing in a win against FTR's Dax Hardwood.

    Some fans may not know it, but the 23-year-old finished 2020 with the most wins in the company and a record of 33-15. We could see him challenge for a title very soon at this rate.

Jade Cargill

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    Jade Cargill was without a doubt one of the most intriguing additions to the AEW women's division last year. She has a fantastic look, a magnetic presence and solid promo work.

    Billed at 5'10", she towers over many on the roster. That immediately makes her look imposing, similar to her idol, former WWE superstar Chyna.

    AEW fans haven't had the chance to see what she can do in the ring yet, but she has an athletic background and has trained with AR Fox's WWA4 Academy, Heath Miller and the in-house training facility, the Nightmare Factory.

    It may seem premature to acknowledge her as the next big thing, but she appears to have so much potential. Her segments with Cody and Brandi Rhodes have given her a chance to stand out, and hopefully that will translate into a great in-ring debut.

Bianca Belair

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    It has been a long and frustrating road for Bianca Belair, but finally she seems to be on pace to secure the title win that has long eluded her.

    It was nearly impossible not to get emotional with The EST of WWE when she won the women's Rumble match and punched her ticket to challenge the champion of her choice at WrestleMania 37. If you've followed her career and transition into a homegrown star on NXT, you already know her track record.

    Belair unsuccessfully challenged for the NXT women's title on three occasions. Last year, she set a new record for eliminations on her Royal Rumble debut but came up short in the end. She also upstaged Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley in the buildup to their clash at WrestleMania 36.

    After a record-setting 56-minute performance, the iron woman of this year's Royal Rumble match looks like the future of the SmackDown women's division. We can't wait to see who she will face in April.

Private Party

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    The young and exhilarating team of Isiah Kassidy and ‎Marq Quen joined AEW in April 2019 with a lot of promise. And they seemingly capitalized on it with an upset win over The Young Bucks in the AEW World Tag Team Championship Tournament on the Oct. 9, 2019 episode of Dynamite.

    However, Private Party lost in the next round to The Lucha Brothers and gradually drifted off television. Lately, an unlikely manager in the form of Matt Hardy has helped revitalize them with his "Big Money" character.

    The trio's contentious working relationship has made for some entertaining backstage segments but their act really took off when they appeared on the Jan. 19 episode of Impact and earned a shot at the company's tag titles at No Surrender. This also led Kassidy and Quen to turn heel on the following installment of Dynamite.

    Private Party already had a dynamic in-ring style and crowd-pleasing moveset but their recent change of heart has given them some much-needed character development. This could be just what they need to separate from the pack in a stacked tag team division.

Raquel Gonzalez

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    The NXT women's division is, arguably, the best in the United States right now. On a roster filled with noteworthy indie stars like Mercedes Martinez, Raquel Gonzalez managed to have a breakout year in 2020.

    As Dakota Kai's menacing enforcer, they have been a pleasant surprise since aligning at NXT TakeOver: Portland. However, Gonzalez has become a dominant force on her own, pinning Io Shirai in the second women's WarGames match. The second-generation wrestler also delivered some phenomenal matches during her brutal feud with Rhea Ripley.

    The Nightmare came out on top in their first collision at NXT: Halloween Havoc, but Gonzalez bested her in the Last Woman Standing match at New Year's Evil. She and Kai have to be favorites to win the first-ever Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic after defeating Team Ninja last week to advance to the finals.

    Even if they don't win, the six-footer has to have a claim to a match with Shirai or the next women's champion sometime down the line, making her someone to keep an eye on in 2021.