American wrestling needs an emergent tide of youthful stars as much as ever before.
"It's a show for young people" is a common rebuttal to earnest criticism, though young people are those wrestling is failing the most. WWE has shed over 50% of viewers aged 18-34 across the last 12 months. An unprecedented 88% of female teenagers tuned out between hours one and three of the 27 July 2020 episode of RAW, and 52% of males. AEW's audience skews younger, Dynamite regularly trounces NXT in these demographics, and the show continues to smash pre-launch projections, but it needs to keep pushing forward to regularly finish in the top five every week.
Key to stopping the grey rot is pushing and promoting younger wrestlers whose best years are in the future, not the past, so these demographics can follow their careers and remain fans for decades - much like the 50+ group has with Vince McMahon's ageing part-timers. Fortunately, both promotions are stacked with options.
Only wrestlers aged 30 and under are applicable here. Most performers don't peak until after then, so it seems an appropriate cut-off point. Five from WWE, five from AEW, ranked in no particular order...
WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A fan since 1992, still geeking out for everything from WeeLC to mid '80s Jim Crockett Promotions. Give him a follow @andyhmurray. You'll have a great time. Maybe.