A pillar of a community is usually someone who is reliable and essential to supporting the community. On an episode of Dynamite in 2021, MJF roughly defined a pillar within AEW as “a handful of young (wrestlers) who’ve been here from the beginning that will keep pushing this company forward for the next couple of decades”. He then named himself, Darby Allin, Sammy Guevara, and Jack Perry as the Four Pillars of AEW. Should that be what defines a pillar in a wrestling organization and should there only be four of them? If the fans assume that this is the proper definition, then are the four named by MJF seen as the pillars by the fans, or are there other candidates?
One person that did speak about this idea was the Owner of AEW Tony Khan. In an interview with Rasslin’ with Brandon F. Walker, Tony Khan not only mentioned the aforementioned wrestlers as pillars but also stated that there are not only four pillars. Mr. Khan named Orange Cassidy, Britt Baker, Ricky Starks, and Adam Page as being vital young talents that would fall under the banner of being a pillar. Fast forward to 2023, AEW had a pay-per-view that had a focus on The Four Pillars of AEW (Darby, Sammy, Jack, and MJF) and came full circle from the MJF promo from 2021. Leading up to the Double or Nothing pay-per-view, there was a lot of chatter online about who should and should not be considered a member of The Four Pillars. The problem with all the chatter was, no one was able to agree on the criteria for what makes a pillar.
Taking the definition given by MJF in 2021, The Four Pillars that AEW highlighted do make for good pillars of the company. Also, the other four wrestlers that Tony Khan highlighted would also make for good pillars. Given the definition from the opening sentence, The Four Pillars would look a lot different. There would be more pillars but also the wrestlers would not just be younger talent and would be seen as more experienced. Wrestlers like Chris Jericho, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, and Jon Moxley would all fall under the initial definition on the men’s side of the roster and Hikaru Shida, Jade Cargill, Nyla Rose, Riho, and Emi Sakura would also be great additions to the conversation when talking about the women’s roster.
Should there be specific people with the designation of being a pillar? Should fans, and even those in the company, place such a label on wrestlers? If fans step back and look at the pressure that could come with being a pillar, it could actually do more harm than good for a wrestler. The Four Pillars of AEW are held to a higher standard by wrestling fans than other wrestlers who have been in the same situation in both length and ability. Two particular names from the pillars that stand out are Sammy Guevara and Jack Perry. Perry has openly spoken about his feelings towards performing promos, which many have viewed as a characteristic needed to make a well-rounded wrestler. Sammy Guevara, on the other hand, has been very good on the microphone and highly skilled in his in-ring ability but has had trouble with a constant connection to the audience. Even MJF himself has had backlash from fans for “not wrestling as often as he should” yet when he is in a match, his in-ring ability definitely shines and his promo skills are far above others in AEW.
Personally, I feel The Four Pillars do in fact have a lot to offer to the wrestling world. They have been portrayed to have pivotal roles in AEW since the early days but so have many others. Yes, in years to come MJF, Sammy, Darby, and Jack will be on top of AEW or any company they want to be at but there are still many things they will need to work on and fine tune. Currently, MJF is standing head and shoulders above the other three but over time they will get to that level with him, it just takes time and will depend on each person. No one grows at the same rate and some attributes may take more time to improve on than others.
So why do fans put so much stock into the term pillar? Is it because fans always want to determine who is keeping a company strong or is it more because AEW used the term over the course of two and a half years and then had a pay-per-view that had a lot of focus around their Four Pillars? Fans can all agree that there are stars and future stars in every company but there is no need to put a full-on label such as a pillar for a wrestler. For the most part, every wrestler is essential to a company and plays a role in the success of other wrestlers and the company itself. Perhaps it is time to retire the term pillar and just focus on the collaborative effort of all the performers.