The Rise of AEW's Hook from Team Taz Mascot to Breakout SensationDecember 30, 2021
If you are a pro wrestling fan, it's doubtful you've made it this long without hearing about the future legend known as Hook.
All Elite Wrestling has managed to do something rare with this 22-year-old. Not only is he already one of the most popular stars on the roster, but he has reached that level in one year with only two matches under his belt.
Some of you might be asking "Why is this kid so popular?" It's a fair question, too. He is brand new, has never given a promo, has had less than 10 combined minutes of ring time and rarely changes his facial expression.
However, all of that feeds into his mystique. Whether all of this was by design or a happy accident is unclear, but that doesn't matter when he is selling more merch than CM Punk.
Let's look at Hook's journey in AEW so far and how his booking has helped to create a mysterious and engaging figure.
A Slow Introduction
Before we ever saw Hook on television, his name was mentioned by Cody Rhodes during a segment with Taz on November 25, 2020. He asked the ECW legend why his son was training with him at The Nightmare Factory instead of with his own father.
This line sent Taz into a rage that saw him choke the current TNT champion out in front the world. A few weeks later, several students from the Factory appeared, including Hook. Taz got involved again, but this time he took his son with him.
As soon as he said "Let's go, Hook," fans were curious. We knew he was Taz's son and he was training to be a pro wrestler, but that was it. In every other way, this kid was an enigma.
Over the next few months, Hook would appear with Team Taz in backstage segments and at ringside for matches involving Ricky Starks, Powerhouse Hobbs and Brian Cage. He almost developed into the unofficial mascot of the group with his silent presence and cool demeanor.
The way he was used led to fans becoming more curious about him, and with that curiosity came a desire to see if he could live up to his father's legacy. Hook had already captured our attention with a minimalist approach, but it would take more than that to make him a star.
The Shoutout that Created a Catchphrase
For several months, Hook was the silent member of Team Taz. He never spoke and rarely got physically involved in any of the business involving the other members of the team unless it was absolutely necessary.
Then, CM Punk came along. With two simple words, he began a small social media movement nobody could have predicted. When he was talking about the people he would fight, he told Taz to "Send Hook."
That was just a few months ago, but it has already become an unofficial catchphrase on his newest shirt. It is so synonymous with Hook that when WWE tweeted out "Send Veer" on Monday, hundreds of fans responded to it by mentioning Hook.
By expressing a desire to face the newcomer, Punk created more intrigue around his character. If somebody like Punk has his eye on him, then there must be something special about this kid, right?
An Effective Debut
On December 10, Hook had his first pro wrestling match ever, and he did it on national television. That kind of pressure can get to seasoned performers, but Hook played it off like it was just another day at the office.
His first victory was over Fuego Del Sol in decisive fashion. In just a couple of minutes, he had the masked superstar tapping out to a version of the Tazmission.
In that short amount of time, Hook showed off impressive athleticism, technical ability and tempered charisma. In his second bout with Bear Bronson, he displayed surprising power by suplexing the big man with ease.
With these two matches, AEW has quickly established Hook as someone to watch in 2022. Even in a year when we saw the return of CM Punk to the business, Bryan Danielson's AEW debut, Minoru Suzuki's U.S. tour and Hangman Adam Page win the AEW title, Hook still managed to stand out with minimal screen time.
Granted, these are short performances. We have no idea what kind of match he could have against someone like Danielson or Kenny Omega, but there is plenty of time for Hook to grow into whatever AEW needs him to be.
Even Jim Cornette, who is one of AEW's biggest critics, praised Hook's first two outings. If he can win over a veteran of the business like Cornette this quickly, there is no limit to what Hook can accomplish.
AEW Let Everyone Else Do the Work
Instead of creating endless video packages to hype his debut or having him deliver a series of scripted promos, AEW just sat back and let wrestling fans market Hook themselves.
What started as a meme quickly became genuine curiosity. Fans wanted to see if Hook could live up to the hype we had built for him through endless jokes and tweets. Was our fandom misplaced, or was he the real deal?
The more people talked about him, the more other people wanted to know what he was all about. It was a pure word-of-mouth campaign that led to Hook's debut becoming one of the most heavily anticipated events of the year.
When he managed to impress in his first outing, his supporters were empowered to be even louder about their love for the floppy-haired fighter. He's the Popeye's chicken sandwich of the wrestling world. Once somebody likes him, they will tell everybody else about him.
AEW has certainly fed into this on social media, but Hook stans are the ones who have pushed him from being just another prospective talent to being one of the most talked-about people in the entire company.
With a strong debut and follow-up match already in the books, Hook now must focus on keeping that momentum going.
The first thing we need from this kid is a promo. Taz has done all of the talking for him, but at some point, Hook needs to prove he can speak for himself. It doesn't have to be too long, it just needs to be effective.
Nobody is expecting him to be the best talker in the business right away, but holding his own against someone with more experience in a verbal exchange is all he needs to do in order to keep things moving in the right direction.
After he has a few more easy wins under his belt, a real rival needs to emerge. Hook needs his Peter Pan, and there are a lot of people on the roster who could fill that role.
If he is going to be a heel, having him battle somebody like Jungle Boy, Lee Moriarty or Sammy Guevara would put him on the map. If he works as a babyface or tweener, Daniel Garcia or Kip Sabian would be a good choice.
Another option would be forming a tag team with Ricky Starks. As two of AEW's brightest young stars, they could add something new to the division that has been dominated by FTR, The Lucha Bros and The Young Bucks in 2021.
With Starks having the edge in experience, he could help carry the load in the ring until Hook is more comfortable giving longer performances. Or better yet, if AEW introduces a set of Trios Championships, they could team up with Powerhouse Hobbs.
Whatever he does next, Hook already has the support of AEW fans. If he can remain healthy, keep improving and take the time to listen to the veterans who surround him in the locker room, he will be a very valuable member of the AEW roster moving forward.