10 Wrestlers With The Most Breakout Star Potential Right Now

Roman Reigns, CM Punk and Sasha Banks are the true needle-movers. Who replaces them?

Paige VanZant

Who in wrestling has the most potential to break through into the elusive "superstar" bracket?

This isn't necessarily a list premised on who might one day become the best wrestler on the planet, though this obviously informs that question to a significant degree in this modern era. The working standard is so high that a bad wrestler with the potential to not be sh*tty won't even get a look in. This is compounded by the fact that, in a digital age wherein virtually every indie is filmed and accessible to all, there's no hiding - only exposure, in the best and worst definitions.

John Cena in 2022 would be written off as a mechanically rotten worker who couldn't get through a five minute NXT 2.0 match without people saying he isn't and probably won't ever be ready in a cursed system. Cena's "workrate" isn't what made him a star. He impressed Stephanie McMahon on a tour bus with his freestyle ability, which informed his breakthrough 'Doctor of Thuganomics' character.

But would he even make it on the bus now?

A star nonetheless has to project star quality, they have to make fans interested in what they do the next week and the week after that, they have to impress in 18-49 quarter hours, they have to - to use a succinct reference point - do that which MJF has done since October 2019.

Who's going to move the needle?

10. Ricky Starks

Paige VanZant

Jim Ross had an old maxim he was fond of using when b*llocking wrestlers who weren't getting over in his old, fondly-remembered Ross Report column.

A charming haven of clichés and euphemisms, Ross used to write "[X Wrestler] needs to add a little "sizzle" to their "steak"", which was was a barely polite way of conveying "This feller is as dry as a nun's tw*t, and if there's any charisma in there at all, he better locate it very soon, quite frankly".

He also used to write "[X wrestler] needs to maximise their minutes", which was Oklahoma code for "This one has slightly more potential, but he's squandering it by being lazy and or thick".

Ricky Starks maximises his minutes.

He's a great visual storyteller, even in short backstage segments, because he knows the currency of the GIF. He doesn't just wear shades because they're a shortcut to looking cool; when he takes them off, to register how appalled he is when his threats are bantered off, he knows he'll shortly appear in Twitter replies. He's a great in the ring - one of few wrestlers to grasp how to do cool showboating work in character - and he sold Jungle Boy's Snare Trap finisher by literally scratching and clawing his way towards the ropes.

"Make sure they remember you" is the most valuable and difficult lesson on the wrestling curriculum. Starks has learned it, and he's not even the babyface everybody wants him to be yet.


Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champion Kenny Omega, present AEW World Champion MJF, and surefire Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!