For four years, AEW spoke about the Four Pillars. Those Pillars are MJF, Sammy Guevara, Jack Perry, and Darby Allin. These four men were the focus of AEW programming and were meant to be the company’s future. Now that four years have passed since AEW’s introduction, perhaps it is time to anoint “New Pillars.” This article will focus on four “New Pillars” and include honorable mentions. The criteria to designate at Pillar will be: young, potential for longevity, and crowd connection/reaction.
Pillar #1-Nick Wayne
The first “New Pillar” will be Nick Wayne. Wayne officially signed with AEW on July 12, 2023. This 18-year-old wrestler, since signing, has appeared in programs with Darby Allin, Swerve Strickland, Christian Cage, and Adam Copeland. Trained by his father Buddy Wayne and Nick’s mentor Darby Allin, Nick Wayne has been wrestling since the age of 12. Nick wrestled for DEFY Wrestling, GCW, and performed on the card for Ric Flair’s Last Match. Coming to AEW was an easy fit for Wayne because of his connections with Allin and Strickland.
The way Wayne has seamlessly connected with the AEW crowd since his debut has been a testament to his relatability as a character. The slow metamorphosis from underdog baby-face with Darby to the smarmy heel with Christian has been a fun development for him. There is a possibility Nick Wayne will win a title in AEW by July 2024. This would mean he would become a title holder within one year of his debut. Barring any serious injuries, Nick Wayne will be in AEW for a long time and it would make sense to focus stories around him.
Even though Hook has been in AEW since November 2020, this 24-year-old can still be a “New Pillar” of AEW. With a career record of 38 wins and 2 losses, Hook has already solidified his position as a fan favorite. Not only through his matches, but Hook’s personality has captivated the AEW audience as the “Cold-hearted Handsome Devil”, as Excalibur calls him. Hook was trained by Cody Rhodes, QT Marshall, Brian Meyers, and Pat Buck but also learned a lot from being thrown onto television with the other wrestlers in AEW.
Hook is still in the early stages of his career. Only being a wrestler for about three years, Hook has a long career ahead of him. With his look and charisma, Hook can be a crossover star competing in the ring and starring in movies or on television. Assuming he does not make the jump to WWE, Hook has the potential to be a long-reigning FTW champion and collect other titles along the way.
Pillar #3-Julia Hart
The past year has been stellar for 21-year-old Julia Hart. Julia spent time training at the Nightmare Factory while making her debut in 2021 as the valet for The Varsity Blonds (Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman Jr.). During her time with The Varsity Blonds, Hart was a bubbly cheerleader rooting on her stablemates and having matches of her own sporadically. Fans wanted to see something more happen with Hart because of the progression she made since her debut. It wasn’t until May 29, 2022, at Double or Nothing that fans saw a huge change in character.
Double or Nothing marked Julia Hart officially joining The House of Black. With her new dark character on screen, the audience noticed a change in her in-ring as well. She was not only a manager for Buddy Matthews, Malakai Black, and Brody King, but also a full-fledged member of The House of Black. In recent months, whenever Julia Hart had a match, Kind would serve as her manager on the outside of the ring. Considering how far she has come since her debut, it is safe to say that AEW sees Hart as someone to invest their time and effort into.
Pillar #4-Billie Starkz
A rising star of ROH, Billie Starkz has been doing amazing work as a minion (number 400,237 ¾) for ROH Women’s Champion Athena. Starkz, 19, trained by Raul LaMotta and Rudy Switchblade, wrestled on the independent circuit since 2018. She made her debut for AEW on Dark against Red Velvet in December 2022. Since her debut, she has competed in multiple high-profile matches like facing off against Jade Cargill for the TBS Title, participating in the Owen Hart Foundation Women’s Tournament, and competing against Athena for the ROH Women’s Title.
Though, as of this writing, she is not on the official roster page for AEW, Starkz has been a pivotal part of ROH. If AEW can sustain the momentum with Billie Starkz, there is no way she will not be a champion in AEW within the next two years. She has a long career ahead of her and already has become a fan-favorite with the online AEW crowd. Starkz has room to grow as an entertainer and also sharpen her in-ring skills while being in ROH and AEW. Billie Starkz rounding out the “New Pillars” makes sense because of the effort put into her presentation.
I would feel remiss if I did not include some honorable mentions. First, Willow Nightingale is someone a company should get behind. The audience loves her, and she is a delight to watch wrestle. The second wrestler would be Wheeler Yuta. Though his in-ring work has not had to change much, his character work has been great since his debut and the Yuta Heads have been eating good recently. The same goes for Daniel Garcia, the third honorable mention. His Garcia Dance has become a high point of any show he is on. Speaking of high points, Skye Blue has been a great staple to the women’s division over the past few months. She has showcased her in-ring abilities and also grown as a character in front of the fans. There are still plenty of talented people who can be considered a “New Pillar” for AEW, but these are the top names on my list.
The “Pillar” system has always been a laughable one to me. A company benefits more from building around more than just four people. I wrote this article to follow the “rules” established by the online community, MJF’s promo, and Tony Khan himself. In my opinion, a company should not and cannot be built around one group of people. This is a fun way to bring light to younger talent and a great conversation piece. Who do you think are the “New Pillars” of AEW? Do you agree with my picks?