New Stars Trending Towards a Big 2021 in WWE and AEW
Every year, new stars emerge in wrestling. It is a happy inevitability. Each division is graced with new names who are willing to do anything to get noticed.
This year is special because it sees two major promotions on major United States network television. WWE and All Elite Wrestling need to be at their best to compete. While AEW cannot match WWE's heights of popularity, the company has plenty of fuel to divert attention, especially on Wednesday.
With so much to look forward to, it's time to consider which stars will lead the charge in 2021. What talent in WWE and AEW will take the leap from reliable to successful? Could we see a fresh act emerge as a future megastar?
The women's divisions are rife with opportunity. Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair stole the show at the WWE Royal Rumble, Dr. Britt Baker has yet to reach her peak in AEW, and plenty of young talent including Red Velvet seems ready to make the big leap.
The tag team divisions may not have the same energy as years past, but the talent is still there. Rey and Dominik Mysterio are set for a story they will never forget, while MSK look to set a new standard in NXT. Jurassic Express and The Acclaimed have the potential to be the new standard-bearers in AEW.
The men's division will always have the biggest spotlight; some will just want that light more. Bobby Lashley looks poised to win his first WWE title, while Damian Priest has set himself up for success. "Hangman" Adam Page and Rey Fenix are at the top of their game in AEW.
These stars are just a few of the many vital members of WWE and AEW who should take a leap forward in a monumental 2021.
WWE Women: Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley
The EST of WWE is obviously on the rise. Bianca Belair won the 2021 women's Royal Rumble match, joining a list that includes Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Asuka. That's impressive company. She will soon be in one of the biggest matches of the year at WrestleMania 37.
It would be shocking if Belair does not win the SmackDown Women's Championship at The Show of Shows, beginning a new era on the blue brand. The Four Horsewomen have long dominated the women's division due to the apparent gap in talent between them and the rest of the female roster.
Belair is a special talent who can open up the potential for more women to be allowed to step up. Every rivalry for her in 2021 can be a fresh story.
The future is bright for The EST, who will finally be allowed to show her full talent.
The runner-up in the 2021 women's Rumble match, Ripley made an incredible impact at the end of 2019 all the way to WrestleMania 36 when she defended the NXT Women's Championship against Charlotte Flair.
The rest of 2020 was not as good a year for her, but she continued to outperform in every opportunity. Her performances at events such as NXT TakeOver: In Your House and in matches against Raquel Gonzalez were worthy of the highest praise.
It is time for The Nightmare to take the next step. She is clearly being prepped for something special. WWE is just waiting to give her the right opportunity.
AEW Women: Dr. Britt Baker and Red Velvet
Dr. Britt Baker
Arguably the best character worker in the AEW women's division, Dr. Britt Baker has done whatever was needed of her. She has worked a ridiculous rivalry with Big Swole while injured and put over developing stars including Hikaru Shida, shortly before the AEW women's champion won her title.
AEW has played it slow with Baker, and it seems the time is right to deliver on her momentum. She is both a dominant force in and out of the ring.
If anyone is ready to dethrone Shida, it's The Doctor. She has done everything right and can carry the women's division to new heights by adding more dramatic stories in the coming year with the title.
Red Velvet is currently No. 1 on the AEW women's rankings. Her four singles victories and no losses put her on a roll unlike she had at any time in 2020. It feels like her year, especially as she prepares to team up with Cody Rhodes against Shaquille O'Neal and Jade Cargill.
One of the more underutilized women on the roster after signing, Velvet has slowly gained attention, particularly working under Brandi Rhodes up until she went on maternity leave. No longer in Brandi's shadow, she has a chance to fly in 2021.
Her main competition beyond the usual suspects is the opponent she faces soon on AEW Dynamite, Cargill. She has been treated as a big deal since her arrival, but it may take longer for her to get a true shot at the top than Velvet, who has earned her opportunities.
WWE Tag Teams: Rey, Dominik Mysterio and MSK
Rey and Dominik Mysterio
The Master of the 619 has always wanted to team with his son. He is finally getting a chance, and there is no time to waste. At 46 years old with multiple injuries piling up, Rey Mysterio is on his last leg of his wrestling journey.
It is now or never for Rey to have the tag team with his son that can help put Dominik on the map. Recent booking is selling the rise of Mysterio Jr., and the SmackDown tag team division does not have many tag teams with more recognition than the Mysterio family.
Booking the two to the tag team championships seems like a no-brainer. In fact, it would not be surprising for Rey and Dominik to dethrone Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode at WrestleMania 37. It would be a great moment for the whole Mysterio family.
While Wes Lee and Nash Carter have already had a big year, winning the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in their first matches in NXT, MSK seems destined for truly great things. The exciting duo has done so much to prove its worth from the outset.
Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch have done what they can with the NXT Tag Team Championships. However, MSK bring a needed energy to the division. It has been too long since the tag titles were defended at a NXT TakeOver.
This is almost a foregone conclusion, but MSK will most likely be the biggest team in NXT for 2021, especially after competing against so many of the black-and-gold brand's best and brightest.
AEW Tag Teams: Jurassic Express and The Acclaimed
Jungle Boy is one of the hottest young stars in AEW. His momentum is constantly pointing up, but it remains unclear what the company wants to do with him. Before he goes straight to the top as a singles star, it is time to commit to Jurassic Express.
He and Luchasaurus can compete against anyone at the highest level. They are the ultimately babyface team. At every turn, Jurassic Express with and without Marko Stunt has managed to overcome FTR. Once the trio defeats Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood for good, it will be time to go after the gold.
The only team currently ahead of Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus in the tag team rankings is the alliance of Chris Jericho and MJF. That will change come Revolution on March 7, either with The Inner Circle winning tag team gold or falling short and below Jurassic Express.
AEW brought together Anthony Bowens and Max Caster with the hope of building reliable stars for the future. The Acclaimed instead decided to becomes stars from the outset. This duo is special, both in and out of the ring.
While The Acclaimed ended the year losing to The Young Bucks, Bowens and Caster have remained dominant. The duo hold the No. 5 spot in the AEW tag team rankings with serious momentum going forward.
It is very possible that Jurassic Express vs. The Acclaimed is one of the biggest tag team matches of the year for AEW. They both have so much momentum alongside the hype necessary to break through and capture the AEW Tag Team Championships.
WWE Men: Bobby Lashley and Damian Priest
It may finally be time for The All Mighty to take his seat atop WWE. Bobby Lashley has done it all since coming back to WWE. His odd story with Lana nearly tanked him, but he showed resilience while reshuffles to help form Raw's most dominant stable, The Hurt Business.
Despite losing his United States Championship on Sunday, he still made a lasting impact. He cost Drew McIntyre the WWE title while earning his own shot at the gold. It would not be surprising if The All Mighty was the titleholder going into WrestleMania 37.
He has the air of a true champion and the momentum to take that final step. A truly special athlete, Lashley only ever needed the right opportunity. 2021 looks to be his year.
The Archer of Infamy was a solid foundation to NXT for a couple years, but it seems he was always made for the biggest stage. His entrance is spectacular, he has the size to match anyone, and he is a dominant in-ring competitor who can strike and fly.
Aligning himself with Bad Bunny might seem like a waste of Priest's talent, but it puts him in the spotlight. His name is becoming more well-known because he is doing so well putting over one of the biggest international celebrities in the world.
By the time this year is over, The Archer of Infamy will use the momentum to become a champion on Raw. It is inevitable and the perfect way to solidify him as a dominant force in the business.
AEW Men: 'Hangman' Adam Page and Rey Fenix
"Hangman" Adam Page
While Kenny Omega and Darby Allin stand as likely dominant champions for a while, one man is a diamond in the rough. "Hangman" Adam Page is an incredible storyteller, and AEW has used that for all its worth. He has been built steadily to reach the top.
With The Cleaner still champion, Page is the one man who can dethrone him. He showed the potential to defeat Omega straight up in their fight in the finals of the AEW World Championship Elimination Tournament. He just needs the confidence.
The Dark Order has been set up as an ally to The Cowboy, protecting and supporting him in a way no one else has. This sets the stage of Hangman to finally and truly reach his peak in the men's division.
Penta El Zero M suffered a leg injury in December that set the stage for Fenix to finally venture out on his own. The incredible luchador has not disappointed. Fenix can do things no one else can. He is so fluid in the ring that he seems to float on the ropes.
A surprise member of the top five in the AEW men's rankings, Fenix has put in the work, only losing when Omega gets involved. He may not be able to defeat The Cleaner, but he could be the one to dethrone Allin.
Talent should be rewarded, and Fenix is a truly rare breed. He can do just about everything and looks as good as any luchador has in a United States ring. It's all a matter of just how much he is rewarded for his incredible work this year.