It’s a fraught time to be a wrestling fan right now.
Between the return of Vince McMahon, a difficult time on both sides of the camera for AEW, and a certain staleness setting in for New Japan, it’s all too easy to feel cynical about the sport of kings.
But this is a brand new year, and the perfect opportunity to think positively. Amid the madness of 2022, plenty of wrestlers had a great year - and are poised to go one better this time around.
From up and coming stars to performers hitting their stride, and even industry veterans who’ve never looked better, 2023 is set to be a year in which plenty of wrestlers find their career-best form. These are the stars primed to grab the zeitgeist, who have the best storylines in the business, put in better work than anyone else, or are simply having a moment right now.
There’s nothing in wrestling more exciting than seeing a star grab the proverbial brass ring and take their game to the next level. These are the superstars whose rides you need to be on.
Let’s start with an obvious one, because if MJF doesn’t have the best year of his career in 2023, something has gone horribly wrong.
To say the wind is in this young man’s sails would be an understatement. He’s AEW’s World Champion, and you’d bet on him keeping the big Burberry belt for the rest of the year. He’s a proven ratings draw whose every move is met with acclaim (if you can get Jim Cornette praising Tony Khan’s project, you’re doing something right).
What’s remarkable is that the homegrown talent already feels like a special attraction. Rightly, MJF doesn’t wrestle much. Instead, he runs his mouth on TV until his every match feels unmissable. First on the docket this year may be an hour-long Iron Man bout with Bryan Danielson - yes please.
It’s safe to assume that most of AEW’s creative brainstorming sessions concern MJF’s long term future, and if that’s not necessarily a good thing for the rest of the roster, it’s paying dividends and then some for Maxwell.