The Most Entertaining Wrestlers to Watch in WWE, AEW and the World in 2021

Philip LindseyContributor IMay 26, 2021

The Most Entertaining Wrestlers to Watch in WWE, AEW and the World in 2021

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    Photo credit: All Elite Wrestling

    Professional wrestling is in a great place right now. There is something for everyone because there are so many options, the quality of matches continues to improve every year across the board, and there are some striking characters to invest in.

    WWE is planning to head back on tour following its next pay-per-view, Hell in a Cell, while All Elite Wrestling will host its second event of the year, Double or Nothing, on Sunday.

    Impact and New Japan Pro-Wrestling are trying to recover from a rough year during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are glimmers of hope for both companies as new stars have emerged to push them forward.

    It's not perfect, but these are 15 of the most entertaining wrestlers to watch in 2021.

The Acclaimed

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    The Acclaimed are quickly becoming one of the most entertaining acts on the AEW roster thanks to Max Caster's outrageous performances during their entrance. The 31-year-old's lyrical diatribes make him unpredictable and his punchlines rarely miss.

    The duo's music videos also make them stand out in a stacked tag team division. Caster and Anthony Bowens may not be the best in-ring competitors among pairings like Proud and Powerful, The Lucha Brothers or FTR, but they're easily two of the best characters.

    It's easy to sing Caster's praises because he brings so much flair to the team, but Bowens is a perfect partner in crime. His facial expressions and sporadic ad-libs compliment his teammate and The Five-Tool Player is a solid all-rounder between the ropes.

    Most of all, this partnership works so well because they don't take themselves too seriously and they commit to their bit.

Bayley

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    Was there any doubt that The Role Model would land on this list after she thrived in the ThunderDome? Ding dong, hello. Of course, we have to acknowledge one of the most effective character changes in recent memory.

    It had seemed impossible to picture Bayley as anything more than everyone's favorite precocious Hugger, but she turned heads on the Oct. 11, 2019 episode of SmackDown when she cut off her trademark ponytail and destroyed her inflatable Bayley Buddies.

    She then went on an incredible run in the following year to become the longest-reigning SmackDown women's champion.

    This year has not been as momentous in comparison, but her heel character is still just as amusing and her promo work has improved leaps and bounds. Also, she and Bianca Belair have excellent chemistry together.

Chris Bey

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    If anything became abundantly clear last year to Impact Wrestling fans, it's that Chris Bey is a star.

    The 25-year-old just has an X-factor and shines bright every moment he's on-screen.

    The Ultimate Finesser has a style all his own, and his eye-catching offense guarantees he will create a highlight on any card he competes on. He excelled as part of the X-Division in matches with the likes of TJP, Rohit Raju and Ace Austin. He also recently showed out in the six-way bout to determine the No. 1 contender for the Impact world title at Under Siege.

    If the company is looking to groom its next big star, Bey is a great option. Keep an eye on him in the weeks to come, as competitors step up to challenge Kenny Omega.

Darby Allin

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    Since its inception, Darby Allin has been one of AEW's breakout stars. This year, he stepped up to another level as TNT champion and delivered nine heart-wrenching defenses on Dynamite.

    The Punk Rock Daredevil has made a name for himself with high-risk stunts and gutsy performances. However, he proved his merits as an in-ring storyteller this year, taking one beating after another but surviving to fight another day.

    Allin is the most believable underdog in wrestling. His tenacity and fiery comebacks made his TNT title reign the highlight of AEW's flagship series every week. He also helped to make Sting's debut at Revolution a rousing success. Even more, his vignettes are so unique, which in turn makes his promos appear more impactful when he does speak.

    It shouldn't come as a surprise when the 28-year-old gets a loud reaction this weekend at Double or Nothing because he is having a fantastic year.

The New Day

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    The New Day are the most consistent act on the WWE roster, and it wouldn't be a stretch to say they are the best stable in the company.

    Big E, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston have had plenty of success as a tag team, but recently they have proved they could all be accomplished singles competitors.

    Kingston has already done so as the first African-born grand slam champion, and he is finally poised to reenter the WWE title picture.

    On SmackDown, Big E continues to grow as a character and show his range as a performer. The powerhouse of the group can be funny and serious when the time comes.

    Last but not least, Woods is unbelievably versatile because he's a great talker, he plays instruments, and his amateur wrestling background makes him an underrated worker.

    The multi-talented member of the group illustrated just how well he could wrestle this week in an incredible one-on-one match with Riddle. He pulled off a monkey flip into a suplex during the match that you have to see to believe.

Britt Baker

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    Britt Baker is the most compelling character in the AEW women's division. It has been a blast to watch her prove her detractors wrong since she turned heel in January 2020.

    The real-life dentist always appeared to be the face of the fledgling division, but she has worked hard and literally bled to earn that position over the last 18 months. Her promo work is among the best in the company, and she continues to improve in the squared circle.

    On the Mar. 11 episode of Dynamite, Baker and Thunder Rosa delivered an early contender for match of the year as the first women to compete in the main event of the flagship series. Now, The Role Model has set her sights on Hikaru Shida and the AEW Women's World Championship.

    At Double or Nothing, Baker could finally secure the mantle, and the fans are firmly behind her at this point.

Finn Balor

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    Finn Balor has been a revelation since he returned to NXT in October 2019.

    The Prince is a fresh take on the character that put him on the New Japan Pro-Wrestling map. Even more, he has been producing some of the best matches of his career with stars like Kyle O'Reilly, Adam Cole, Pete Dunne, and Karrion Kross.

    Balor's second reign as NXT champion was special. It helped to revitalize the Irishman after his struggles on Raw and SmackDown. In this darker persona, he has been able to showcase his technical ability more in addition to his array of bone-shattering kicks.

    It also seems like he made a concentrated effort to step away from The Demon gimmick and the face paint to prove he didn't need to rely on theatrics. This worked exceptionally well because Balor feels like a legitimate threat again, and we can't wait to see what he does next.

'Hangman' Adam Page

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    Like Britt Baker, Adam Page looked to be earmarked for success with AEW initially. In fact, he was one of the first men to challenge for the company's world title.

    Hangman has yet to achieve his goal to win the championship, but he has developed into a beloved and multi-faceted character. Fans of his run with Ring of Honor and NJPW already know he can compete at a high level, but skeptics questioned his character work.

    Page put those fears to rest last year during his run as one-half of the AEW world tag team champions. His current arc with The Dark Order is much more fun than it has any right to be, and he has to be a favorite to dethrone his former tag team partner, Kenny Omega.

    The support from the fans is a testament to the great work Hangman has done since his loss to Chris Jericho at All Out in 2019. His triumphant return to the world title scene will be the best example of long-term storytelling in AEW's short history.

Seth Rollins

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    WWE has run the term "drip" into the ground at this point. The hip-hop colloquialism isn't nearly as cool as it was three years ago.

    Nevertheless, Seth Rollins' ostentatious wardrobe is a consistent high point of every Friday night. The Savior of SmackDown has done an excellent job reinventing himself as a sneering, boisterous heel since he returned in the men's Royal Rumble match in January.

    Each week, his suits get more elaborate and his promos grow more ridiculous. It's hysterical but he is truly at his best here because he has something to sink his teeth into. Also, the new theme he debuted at WrestleMania 37 is awesome; it's quietly one of the few good songs WWE has introduced.

    We already know Rollins can go when given the chance, but his match with Cesaro at The Showcase of the Immortals was excellent. If a showdown with former Shield stablemate Roman Reigns is in the cards, that could be a banger.

Kenny Omega

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    Kenny Omega is one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling at the moment, and his quest to collect championship gold has been tremendous.

    His alliance with his longtime friend, Don Callis, has made for some stellar segments as the two play off each other well. Additionally, The Best Bout Machine kept his promise, winning the Impact world title after a phenomenal Winner Take All match with Rich Swann at Rebellion. Who knows where he could show up next.

    Omega's over-the-top character work may not work for some viewers, but it's worlds better than what he was doing during AEW's maiden year. The Belt Collector gimmick added some magnitude to the wrestler who came to the U.S. with so much hype.

    This larger-than-life role was exactly what he needed to take his rightful place at the top of the company, and his cartoonish pursuit of world dominance is wildly entertaining. The Canadian is already set to defend three of his titles later this year, and he will produce some fantastic matches in the process.

Sasha Banks

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    Sasha Banks was easily one of the MVPs of the pandemic era heading into 2021. Her feud with Bayley was fantastic, and she took part in several high-profile matches on all three brands.

    This year, Banks proved to be a draw on Friday nights and produced some solid performances with Carmella. The company didn't always book her well, but she still managed to excel on a massive stage.

    On the first night of WrestleMania 37, she became one of the first Black women to headline the event as she defended the SmackDown Women's Championship against Bianca Belair. The Boss has made history with WWE on several occasions, but she cemented her legacy as one of the greatest women's wrestlers of all time as the two delivered the best match of the weekend.

    Banks hasn't appeared on television for the last few weeks, but she is bound to make a dramatic return over the summer.

The Young Bucks

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    Let's face it: The Young Bucks just work better as heels. The real-life brothers have hit a stride since they embraced their dark side, and AEW Dynamite is better because of it.

    The polarizing AEW world tag team champions reunited with Kenny Omega on the Apr. 7 episode, turning their backs on Jon Moxley. This is a return to form for the brash duo who dominated the NJPW tag division before helping to found All Elite Wrestling in 2019.

    Matt and Nick Jackson have put together a string of great matches this year, but their in-ring psychology and humor are vastly superior as antagonists. They look much more comfortable in the roles, which allow them to effectively elevate other teams like The Varsity Blonds.

    It's surprising that it took them so long to settle into this position because it suits them perfectly.

Roman Reigns

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    Roman Reigns has been the highlight of WWE programming since he returned to action last August at SummerSlam. The second-generation star is doing the best work of his career, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

    The Tribal Chief is a clever use of continuity and Reigns' Samoan heritage. It's a well-defined character with clear motivations, and he has thrived in this new heel persona. It makes you wonder why WWE took so long to let him do something so drastically different.

    SmackDown is currently the best WWE show thanks to his compelling character arc, and the Universal Championship is more relevant than ever. At the moment, it seems like the most prestigious world title in the company.

    Reigns' recent match with Daniel Bryan was masterfully executed. Banishing a fan favorite such as the leader of The Yes! Movement created a defining moment for this run as a top villain.

    The current conflict between Jimmy and Jey Uso over the latter's role as Reigns' "Right-Hand Man" has also made for some captivating television.

Shingo Takagi

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    Shingo Takagi had a breakout year in 2019 as the newest member of Los Ingobernables de Japon. It seems like only a matter of time before he wins the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.

    In January, he successfully defended the NEVER openweight title in a fantastic match with Jeff Cobb at Wrestle Kingdom 15. Then, he dropped the title in another belter with Japanese star, Hiroshi Tanahashi.

    The Dragon went on an incredible run in the New Japan Cup in March, advancing to the finals where he fell to Will Ospreay. During the tournament, the 16-year veteran bested the likes of Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Kenta and Evil.

    Takagi and Ospreay faced each other again in April at NJPW Wrestling Dontaku, where they had a stellar showing that will end up on many year-end lists. The former Dragon Gate stalwart was unable to defeat the leader of The United Empire for the IWGP world heavyweight title, but it added to an impressive stretch of matches this year.

Jon Moxley

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    Jon Moxley may have lost the AEW World Championship to Kenny Omega in December but he's still one of the biggest stars in the industry.

    This year, he has wrestled for AEW, Josh Barnett's Bloodsport and New Japan Strong in the U.S. No matter where he shows up, all eyes are immediately on him and you can tell he is having the time of his life.

    Who else can say they've competed in an Exploding Barbed Wire deathmatch with Kenny Omega and shared the ring with two Japanese legends in Kenta and Yuji Nagata all within the last five months? The reigning IWGP United States champion can, and he has looked like a bona fide superstar every step of the way.

    On Dynamite, he rekindled his friendship with Eddie Kingston and the two are magnificent together. Their backstage promos are always entertaining and they make for a fun tag team.

    It feels premature to say this is a legendary run for PWI's No. 1 wrestler in the world, but it's certainly one we won't forget.

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