Who do you think is the best second generation wrestler in AEW?
Back in the day before wrestling exploded worldwide, it was a small, tight knit community. Before the like of Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and John Cena took over the world as the top stars in wrestling, there was very few ways to get into the wrestling business.
Nowadays, aspiring wrestlers have a host of avenues to break into the business. Wrestling schools are popping up weekly across the country, with all the major wrestling companies have their own training school. AEW is partnered with Dustin Rhodes “Rhodes Wrestling Academy” as well as “The Nightmare Factory”, and WWE has the gold standard with their Performance Centre facility.
However, prior to these developments, it was a lot, lot harder to break into the business. In a kayfabe world, wrestlers were reluctant to even mention the fact that they were working with their opponent in a wrestling match. To get them to admit it was all fake AND agree to train you was nigh on impossible.
Wrestlers from the past have spoken out about how they broke into the business. Bret Hart was not told it was all a work until he was well into his training, and Hulk Hogan had his leg broken during his first training session, to test his resolve in the ring.
Keeping it in the family
One way to break into the business was if you had a family member in the business. Bret Hart, as previously mentioned, was trained by his father despite not being clued into the business until well into his training. His entire family were involved in the wrestling industry, and controlled the sport in their hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Being a second generation wrestler is one of the quickest ways to get a foot in the door. However, it is no guarantee for success. While there are a number of successful second, third and even fourth generation superstars, some rode their parents coattails too long and soon fell out of the business. The name David Flair immediately comes to mind.
Coming from a wrestling family does not guarantee success. While some wrestlers like Randy Orton seem to have all the talent right out of the gate, that does not get you anywhere. Talent without hard work is the same as having no talent. Eventually you will be found out and kicked out of the business once and for all (once again, David Flair).
Some of the biggest stars in WWE have come from famous wrestling families and worked their way to the top. Wrestlers like the Rock, Randy Orton and Cody & Dustin Rhodes are all the children of wrestling legends, and have managed to carve their own career to sometimes equal or even surpass that of their parents.
AEW Second Generation Wrestlers
AEW has put in a concerted effort into helping mould the next generation of wrestlers. They clearly have a clear plan on helping build their young stars to help fuel the business for the next 10 to 20 years. While Tony Khan has already turned the likes of Darby Allin, Jungle Boy and MJF into full fledged main event stars, they have also signed a number of second generation wrestlers who have the potential to be main eventers for years to come.
Brian Pillman Jr
Brian Pillman Jr is one second generation superstar who has fully embraced his fathers legacy, but has not allowed it to overshadow his own. He has a number of homages to his father, the late Brian Pillman, in his name, attire and tag team.
He currently tags with Griff Garrison as “Varsity Blondes”, a clear reference to his fathers tag team with Steve Austin “The Hollywood Blondes”. Pillman Jr wears his fathers signature mullet and of course keeps the Brian Pillman name, the same as his father.
Pillman Jr has been built up slowly but surely in AEW. He has mainly featured on AEW Dark, but has been given opportunities on AEW Dynamite against the Young Bucks, even challenging for the AEW Tag Team Championships at one point.
HOOK is the latest second generation talent in AEW to have the public take special note of. He debuted this past Wednesday on AEW Dynamite, wowing fans with his incredibly smooth transitions and legitimate presentation. He came out looking like a star with his own licensed theme music by Action Bronson, and immediately looked like a huge star straight off the bat.
Hook made his debut on Dynamite, with Hook vs Fuego Del Sol becoming one of the most watched AEW matches on Youtube. It introduced the world to Hook, who is the son of ECW Legend and AEW manager and commentator Taz. You could see a lot of Taz in the swagger and arrogance of Hook in the ring, and he seems to be headed in the right direction.
Colten & Austin Gunn
The Gunn Club (AKA The Ass Boys) have recently come onto the scene on AEW Dynamite as a top heel tag team. They have been tagging together for months on AEW Dark, with Colten Gunn boasting one of the longest undefeated streaks in AEW history.
Christened “The Ass Boys” by everyone’s favourite vampire wrestler Danhausen, The Gunn Club are one of the best up-and-coming tag teams in AEW. With their father, legendary tag team wrestler Billy Gunn with them, they have an air of legitimacy about them. Billy Gunn had a lengthy run with Road Dogg in the New Age Outlaws (and Voodoo Kin Mafia but lets not talk about that), and despite being 58 is as good as he ever was.
AEW have done brilliantly building up all of their second generation superstars, with HOOK looking like the pick of the bunch. It’s exciting to see where he will go in the future, despite only have on TV match and six practice matches in his whole career.