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Which AEW Star will make the greatest strides in 2023?

With a bevy of young talent, AEW has a lot of potential future stars, but which one will emerge as the breakout name in the coming year?

Ricky Starks has been rising recently within the ranks of AEW and appears poised for an huge 2023

As AEW enters its fourth year of existence, one thing has always rang true of the promotion: It's never been afraid to feature undiscovered talents. In the case of Tony Khan's promotion, it was essentially built by a roster full of names that were rising stars on the indie level. From the outset, Khan said that he had 'four pillars' that represented All Elite Wrestling's long-term future. Those performers were Darby Allin, Jungle Boy Jack Perry, Sammy Guevara, and the current World Champion, MJF. While each of them has progressed and become an asset for the organization, they're not alone in terms of upside. The youth movement continues on down at Jacksonville headquarters. Much like the NFL's Jaguars, AEW is always looking to draft new talent to fortify the roster. And while MJF may be the captain of the team right now, he can't do it alone. He's going to need a solid supporting cast around him. As we head toward 2023, it looks like that's exactly the plan in place. Over the last few years, new competitors like Wardlow, Ricky Starks, Powerhouse Hobbs, and (now, suddenly) Action Andretti have taken huge strides forward. The Acclaimed have exploded in popularity and are nearly six months into their reign as the AEW World Tag Team Champions. Meanwhile, both Top Flight and The Gunn Brothers look like they have gold in their futures, as well.

In other words, the cupboard is stocked with exciting, up-and-coming athletes. That was evident on this week's episode of AEW Dynamite, which heavily featured their faces and included them in most of its important storylines. It will be interesting how much more focus they are given when the show is given its new coat of paint on January 4th.

It doesn't stop with the male side of the equation, either. Dr. Britt Baker may have established herself as the face of the women's division, but the rise of Jade Cargill, Jamie Hayter, and Toni Storm is toughening up a once-soft aspect of the programming.

All of the names mentioned are worthy of any accomplishment that Khan & Company throws their way. Many of them have stood by and waited for the right opportunity. With the dawning of a new year, the promise of 2023 for AEW should be a shift toward what lies in the future.

We've seen the exploits of names like Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, and Jon Moxley for years now. At some point, the newer, fresher talent must be phased in slowly. Out of that group, a select few will eventually replace the legendary names, to go on and become legends themselves.

Call it pro wrestling's version of 'the circle of life'.

Of all the aforementioned talents, it looks as if 'Absolute' Ricky Starks is the one best positioned to make that leap right now. He's already been engaged in a high-profile bout, and a couple of entertaining promo battles, with MJF, and the pair seem to have unfinished business.

During their interaction, Starks showed he could match wits with the current master of the microphone. The Champ actually appeared flustered a few times, which is rare for Friedman.

Starks certainly has all the intangibles that you look for in a mega-star in sports entertainment. He's got a bit of The Rock's rap, Stone Cold's swagger, and Slick Ric's style. He looks and acts like he's somebody, and that's a trait that you can't really measure with metrics. That 'it' factor isn't something that you can't teach someone. They're either born with it, or they're not.

Whatever 'it' is, Ricky Starks has got it. He has a presence and an aura. He also has the ability to put on a lights-out match to go along with all that charisma. That's a winning combination for Tony Khan and AEW. One they should take advantage of in 2023. And beyond.

While the other names on this list will surely accomplish great things in the next twelve months, right now appears to be Starks' time. He's worked his way up the ranks, paid his dues, and shown that he can be the face of this franchise. Sooner, rather than later.

So, is there a good chance that Ricky Starks can become the AEW World Champion in 2023? Absolutely.

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