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Inside The Ropes ’30 Under 30′ 2021

Inside The Ropes 30 Under 30

Forbes’ ’30 Under 30′ list is an internationally recognised ranking of the “brightest young entrepreneurs, leaders, and stars” in the world all under the age of thirty. The ’30 Under 30′ is the professional world’s equivalent to the ‘Golden Boy’ award in football or the NFL’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ award.

Inside The Ropes’ ’30 Under 30′ looks to analyse and evaluate the 30 most influential and highest potential athletes in professional wrestling under the age of 30 each year, with the aim of helping to introduce fans to a range of incredibly talented performers – some of which they may be unfamiliar with.

The criteria for the Inside The Ropes ’30 Under 30′ are as follows.

Wrestlers were considered based upon the following five criteria:

  • Only wrestlers under 30 by the end of August 2021 are eligible for the list, this means that names such as Alexa Bliss who turns 30 on August 9th, 2021 are not eligible.
  • Overall ability, including but not exclusive to in-ring ability and character work.
  • Prominence of work, value was added to performers who hone their craft to a larger audience/fanbase.
  • Importance to the product, value was added to performers who are a larger and regular part of their promotional product/branding.
  • Accolades and achievements, including but not exclusive to championship wins, prominent programmes and individual awards and accolades.

Each name on the Inside The Ropes ’30 Under 30′ has been selected because they have incredible potential or abilities within the wrestling industry despite their young age and because they reflect the best of the best in the industry within their age bracket.

There are several names that just missed out on the top 30 itself and these can be found in the honourable mentions below, these names are still incredible performers who it would not be surprising to see at the top of the wrestling industry in five years time.

Honourable Mentions:

  • El Hijo Del Vikingo
  • Aoife Valkyrie
  • Humberto Carillo
  • Trey Miguel
  • Tegan Nox
  • Brian Pillman Jr
  • Nash Carter
  • Zoey Stark
  • Ortiz
  • Mayu Iwatani
  • Maki Itoh
  • Angel Garza
  • Shotzi Blackheart

The range of talent and established names under the age of thirty within the wrestling industry is at an all-time high and reflects a promising future for the wrestling business, with promotions from WWE, AEW, ROH, IMPACT, AAA, NJPW and more having an incredible array of young talent available to them it has never been a better time to be a wrestling fan looking forward to the future.

30 – Jade Cargill

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29-year-old Florida native Jade Cargill made her AEW debut earlier this year teaming with international icon and NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neil to take on AEW EVP Cody Rhodes and fellow Floridian Red Velvet during the March 3rd edition of AEW Dynamite.

Despite only competing in eight televised matches, Cargill has gripped the imagination and excitement of the AEW fanbase and performers alike with WWE Hall of Fame Inductee Teddy Long calling Cargill “highly intelligent and very calculated” during a 2021 interview with Wrestling Inc. Cargill trained under the tutelage of Long alongside former WWE and current IMPACT Wrestling star Heath Slater at the Face2Face Wrestling Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.

Cargill’s impressive physique and presentation are major factors in the hype surrounding the 29-year-old alongside impressive moments in limited showings on AEW Dynamite, Dark and Dark Elevation.

Comparisons to Chyna are natural when matching up Cargill with previous performers within women’s wrestling due to the similarities in size and physique between the two and these comparisons are not something Cargill is unaware of as she named both X-Men character Storm and Chyna herself as her character inspirations.

The future is bright for the AEW sensation, who can only move up this list as they continue to grow and develop a back catalogue of work and matches that allow fans to truly see what Jade Cargill is capable of inside the ropes.

29 – Tay Conti

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Number 29 features another future key star of AEW’s ever-growing women’s division Tay Conti, formerly Taynara Conti in NXT, who’s shocked fans and critics alike with her sensational in-ring ability and natural charisma both on the microphone and on social media.

The 26-year-old Brazilian athlete has made waves since moving to AEW following her 2020 WWE release. During her time in NXT, Conti had limited exposure on weekly TV but strong showings against the likes of Candice LeRae allowed the blackbelt to garner a cult following with fans both in-person and online.

Thus far in AEW, Conti has shown significant development in-ring with a more reliable and smooth style of wrestling as well as a more character defined in-ring presence. Matchings against cornerstones of the promotion’s women’s division such as former AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida have allowed Conti to learn through experience and sharing the ring with some of wrestling’s best.

Large stints between AEW Dynamite appearances and a still-developing in-ring ability prevent Conti from being ranked higher this year, however, regular matches on AEW Dark and Dark Elevation, as well as a possible prevalence on the upcoming AEW Rampage broadcast, will allow Conti to be a prominent member of this list for years to come.

28 – Omos

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Not many performers get to make their in-ring debut at WrestleMania, however, the 7’3 giant of the WWE, ‘Big Jordan’ Omos was one of the lucky ones honoured with debuting for the WWE at WrestleMania 37. The 27-year-old teamed with modern legend AJ Styles to take on WWE’s “Greatest Ever Tag-Team” The New Day for the RAW Tag Team Championships with Omos responsible for picking up his team’s decisive victory.

Since his impressive debut, Omos has become a regular feature of Monday Night RAW alongside Styles. Much like Jade Cargill, Omos has impressed in limited in-ring opportunities wrestling just eight matches in the WWE thus far. However, his impressive size, charisma and athletic capabilities make him arguably the most exciting name on this list as the future is limitless for Omos in the WWE. Until the Nigerian-born WWE Superstar has more time to shine in-ring without Styles though, it’s hard to gauge just how capable he truly is.

One thing is for sure when it comes to Omos, he has the backing and support of Styles who stated that he believes Omos “will be a huge star” whilst discussing his pairing with the newcomer during an appearance on Corey Graves’ ‘After the Bell’ podcast.

27 – Leon Ruff

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25-year-old Leon Ruff is one of the surprise packages of the pandemic era of professional wrestling, shocking the world by defeating Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship back in November of 2020 with a little assistance from now-RAW star Damian Priest.

Ruff is a former EVOLVE Tag Team Champion, however, in November of 2020, his role in NXT appeared to be as an enhancement talent trusted to bump for larger performers such as Jaxson Ryker of ‘The Forgotten Sons’ with the intention of helping get those performers over. However, natural charisma and contagious personality soon allowed Ruff to shatter his apparent ceiling and enter into a well-received feud with both Gargano and Priest acting as the natural face in the feud to the more heelish antics of his counterparts.

Enhanced by his fast-paced and unique athletic offence, Ruff stands out from many performers in the NXT locker room and creates the perfect opponent for larger more powerful opponents such as Karrion Kross, Josh Briggs and Bronson Reed.

Arguably Ruff’s stand-out match in NXT saw him take on current NXT North American Champion Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott in a critically acclaimed fast-paced affair alongside his involvement in the well-received Gauntlet Eliminator match at NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver.

Ruff’s stature and physique may harm his chances in a WWE system that traditionally prefers larger athletes however in NXT and elsewhere Ruff’s incredible personality, work rate and in-ring ability could see him reach the top of many promotions in the world with the right support and guidance.

26 – Chris Bey

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Bullet Club’s newest member looks set for his breakout year in professional wrestling as he becomes one of IMPACT Wrestling’s most exciting young talents, scouted and hand-selected by Jay White [more on him later] Chris Bey could be in for a monumental showcase across IMPACT & NJPW USA as we enter the second half of the year.

A former X-Division Champion, Bey has benefited from exposure and consistent screen time as part of the IMPACT Wrestling roster helping him to develop a machismo and in-ring style most comparable to 27-year-old AJ Styles breaking down barriers in TNA back in 2004.

Exposure to a wider wrestling audience is the key for Bey, something that can hopefully come as part of his new partnership with Jay White. As COVID becomes a thing of the past, Bey may well find himself a participant in NJPW’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament, a platform that has elevated names such as Kushida, Will Ospreay and Hiromu Takahashi to new heights.

25 – Tyler Bate

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This is possibly one of the more surprising entries lower down in the 2021 Inside The Ropes ’30 Under 30′, many fans may have expected a much higher placing for the former NXT UK and NXT Tag Team Champion with the world seemingly at his fingertips back in 2018/19. However, an extended break away from wrestling and lack of any real development in NXT UK has stagnated one-third of British Strong Style’s development.

Still an incredible in-ring technician, the 24-year-old NXT UK Superstar has plenty of time to refind his footing and rise up the ranks of the wrestling world once again. In many ways the pinnacle of the modern in-ring style, Bate combines an incredible athletic ability with unrivalled proportional strength and the technical prowess to create the skill pool needed to adapt in-ring to a plethora of opponents and match styles.

Following in Pete Dunne’s footsteps and taking the permanent jump to NXT is the clear next step for Bate, as he will compete against a new roster and fight for a place in one of the most competitive locker rooms in wrestling as opposed to his current role in NXT UK which sees Bate a key part of the brand’s week-to-week operations.

24 – Jordynne Grace

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Jordynne Grace combines the presence of Minoru Suzuki with the in-ring ability and stylings of Tomohiro Ishii and, despite being just 25, Grace has built up both a considerable portfolio of work and reputation within the industry.

Currently dominating in IMPACT Wrestling, the record-breaking powerlifter has held both the Knockouts World & Tag Championships in IMPACT as well as featuring in prominent feuds against such names as Deonna Purrazzo and the former Taya Valkyrie.

Not only is Grace incredibly unique in contrast to the large majority of well-known female athletes in wrestling but interviews and social media conversations have shown that Grace has an understanding of the intricacies of professional wrestling well beyond her years.

IMPACT Wrestling is a great locker room to hone her abilities in, competing as part of arguably the most competitive women’s locker room in North America, with the added bonus of a working relationship between IMPACT, ROH and AEW allowing Grace to be featured on a range of platforms to a variety of audiences when the time is right.

23 – Ilja Dragunov

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Ilja Dragunov is primed for success in wrestling with an incredible foundation of wrestling ability, work ethic and desire to succeed everything is in place for ‘Unbesiegbarto rise to the top of the wrestling industry. A former WxW World Champion and WALTER’s challenger for the NXT UK Championship at NXT TakeOver: 36, Ilja is the prime example of the importance of exposure and prominence in the rankings within this list.

Dragunov is undeniably an incredible in-ring performer with a critically acclaimed match against WALTER in NXT UK further evidence of this, however, simply put at current Ilja simply does not have enough eyes on his product to rank higher in this list. Limited NXT appearances [ahead of his TakeOver: 36 appearances] have prohibited the casual North American audience from becoming acquainted with Dragunov.

With fellow WxW alumni Axel Tischer FKA Alexander Wolfe going on the record and stating Ilja has no desire to move to the United States, it remains to be seen how much this will influence the trajectory of his career however greater exposure and a new array of opponents could lead to Dragunov rising to the top of the WWE NXT in the next year.

22 – Dragon Lee

dl-returns

The first Ring of Honor wrestler on this list, Mexican sensation Dragon Lee currently steals the show as a part of one of North America’s most prestigious wrestling promotions, wowing fans with a combination of Puroresu and Lucha Libre style wrestling.

A two-time ROH Television Champion and former ROH World Tag Team Champion, Lee is no stranger to success in Ring of Honor, however, the 26-year-old is yet to truly make a mark on the main event scene of ROH.

Lee has benefited massively from his time working in NJPW, successfully capturing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship on one occasion and putting on a range of wrestling clinics against names such as Hiromu Takahashi, Shingo Takagi and Will Ospreay. Lee’s three years working with NJPW have allowed him to gain international recognition for his abilities, making Lee one of the few names on this list to be praised in America, Mexico and Japan.

Dragon/Ryu Lee is restricted, however, due to his lack of substance in any major promotion and his lack of prominence in the wrestling industry overall as of 2021. A major programme against current Ring of Honor World Champion Bandido as well as a prominent return run in NJPW could elevate Lee to new heights internationally and especially in the United States. Until then Lee holds down the number 22 slot on the 2021 ’30 Under 30′ list.

21 – Wes Lee

Wes Lee

Any one of The Rascalz could have qualified for this list with Nash Carter and Trey Miguel being only 27 & 26 years old respectively, however, Lee is the only one of the three incredibly talented individuals to make this list.

Wes Lee, formerly Dezmond Xaver or Dez, is currently one half of the NXT Tag Team Champions alongside long time tag partner Nash Carter teaming under the MSK name.

Incredibly athletic and aerially unrivalled, Lee is a standout in the occasionally criticised NXT Tag Team division, the most recent PWG Tag Team Champion, Lee has an incredibly unique physique to match his in-ring ability alongside a natural charisma that has helped MSK separate themselves from the NXT Tag Team roster since their debut in January of 2021.

MSK and therefore Lee are not always essential NXT TV performers competing in only 11 matches since their debut on January 13th, however, an incredible back catalogue of work and good showings on NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver has allowed Lee to become one of the most exciting prospects in the NXT locker room.

20 – Indi Hartwell

Impressive-Indi-Hartwell

Indi Hartwell’s recent run in NXT has helped establish the Australian born WWE Superstar as far more than simply ‘Impressive’, learning under the tutelage of NXT veterans Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae has allowed Hartwell to develop a deeper understanding of character diversity and development. InDex has become one of the most organically over storylines in recent NXT memory and has felt a throwback to the peak of NXT’s run when the FullSail crowd would help drive new stars and storylines to the very top through sheer crowd support. Just 24, Hartwell has a plethora of time left to develop her skills and showcase her in-ring ability and hopefully, NXT will soon see the Melbourne native in a fleshed-out serious feud allowing Hartwell to showcase more of her serious side, potentially a feud against former matriarch of The Way – Candice LeRae.

19 – Austin Theory

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From LeRae’s ‘The Way’ understudy to Gargano’s, Austin Theory has established himself as a future NXT Champion despite being just 24 years of age. Similarly to Hartwell, ‘The Way’ provided Theory with a platform to feature prominently on NXT weekly and to help him redefine himself in the eyes of the WWE audience following a strange main roster run featuring a WrestleMania appearance. ‘The Way’ looks to be on ‘The Way’ out of NXT and this should provide Theory with the momentum needed to go into an interesting and new direction as a singles star, either as the less intelligent but muscular face or as a cocky arrogant heel similarly to Adam Cole’s NXT run. In-Ring Theory is one of the most underrated in NXT and with the look of a traditional WWE Superstar, a refreshed singles run in NXT should help see Theory back to the attention of the WWE main roster in no time at all or potentially NXT Champion within 12 months.

18 – Bandido

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Ring of Honor World Champion and PWG Champion, Bandido has captured the attention of fans all across North America due to his incredibly fluid and high tempo in-ring style and his natural charisma and charm. Former ROH World Champion Matt Taven recently called Bandido our generations Rey Mysterio and it’s clear to see why, a unique aesthetic even amongst mainstream Luchadores, an unrivalled understanding of modern hybrid wrestling and Lucha Libre combined with an incredible marketable history in wrestling, Bandido has it all. Prior to the pandemic and becoming ROH World Champion, Bandido worked the British Independents and wXw and increased his fan support tenfold with every show he had the opportunity to shine on, including wXw 16 Carat. Now as the new face of Ring of Honor, the platforms Bandido has to shine will only rise and a potential future outside of ROH or crossing through ‘The Forbidden Door’ to appear in the likes of NJPW & AEW will only help to provide Bandido with more mainstream attention, attention that he will be sure to capitalise and convert every new pair of eyes into a new fan when given the opportunity to.

17 – Ricky Starks

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Simply put, Ricky Starks is the personification of machismo. Similarly to when fellow AEW Superstar MJF first broke onto the scene, Starks’ has all the attributes of a natural top-level heel. Ranging from his incredible ability on the microphone to something just naturally dislikeable about him and with an on-screen presentation that accommodates those traits, the future in AEW is very bright for Ricky Starks. Now feuding with Brian Cage, Starks has finally become the focus of his on-screen time in AEW no longer being on the edge of attention Starks is now front and centre every week on AEW Dynamite. Starks’ unfortunate injury took a lot of momentum out of the Louisiana sensations, however strong rebooking from AEW has helped place the 27-year-old in a strong position to recover and rise again heading into AEW’s monumental All Out PPV event.

16 – Liv Morgan

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Liv Morgan is currently one of the most naturally charismatic and likeable performers in the world, regardless of if you are a WWE diehard watching SmackDown every week or if you are a fan of other promotions who simply looks at the WWE from the outside in, everybody has nothing but good things to say about the 27-year-old. I believe the reasoning for this is simple, fans respect hard work and nobody on this list has put in more work over the past two years to defy outlined expectations and shatter glass ceilings than former Riott Squad member – Liv Morgan.

Morgan is the last remaining Riott Squad member in the WWE with Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott both being released from the company with Riott [now Ruby Soho] reportedly set to be on her way to AEW imminently. Morgan is yet to feature in a prominent and effective WWE storyline [ignoring the Lana/Bobby Lashley saga] and has not had a major featured run yet within the company, at just 27 Morgan has plenty of time to be afforded these opportunities and to run with them and could very well find herself on a similar path as the once overlooked Becky Lynch if she continues to gather incredible levels of fan support.

15 – Ace Austin

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Ace Austin’s inclusion on this list was inevitable, a two time X-Division Champion and future IMPACT World Champion Austin has all the tools needed to reach the very top of the wrestling industry. Breaking out onto the scene in 2019 when he captured the imagination of the IMPACT faithful, Austin has taken the discipline and work rate he developed training under the Wild Samoans and has made the IMPACT X-Division his own, not too dissimilarly to AJ Styles who comparison with are only natural and also a very good sign of what’s to come from Ace.

Austin would be a natural fit to dethrone Omega for the IMPACT World Championship and outside of a Josh Alexander victory is possibly currently the most likely as Austin pursues lMPACT Wrestling’s history books aiming to become the youngest IMPACT World Champion/TNA Champion in the companies history.

As the world returns to normal post-COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities globally will open up for Austin and afford the former two-time X-Division Champion new opportunities to expose himself to a wider wrestling audience, opportunities such as the NJPW Best of the Super Juniors tournament and a plethora of dream matches in AEW spring to mind immediately.

 

14 – Kay Lee Ray

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Soon to be 29-year-old Kay Lee Ray has shattered all expectations in the WWE so far and looks to continue to rise to the top with new reports suggesting the Scottish NXT UK Superstar was stateside at the WWE performance centre ahead of a possible move away from NXT UK following her defeat to wrestling legend Meiko Satamura.

When the ICW Superstar made her way to NXT UK many fans were unsure as to how far the Paisley born sensation could ascend to in the global juggernaut of the WWE, however, after featuring prominently in NXT during the build to the Women’s WarGames match and becoming the face of NXT UK as a whole regardless of gender, KLR seems to be on her way to the very top of professional wrestling and one step closer to that dream match against Sasha Banks.

 

13 – Toni Storm

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Toni Storm may only just be making waves as part of Friday Night SmackDown, however, ripple effects of her presence in the WWE have been felt since her WWE Mae Yong Classic victory back in 2018. Since defeating Io Shirai in the Mae Young Classic Finals the two have gone on to have very different career paths in the WWE, Shirai became a staple of the NXT brand and has cemented her legacy as one of the greatest female performers in the history of NXT joining the likes of Sasha Banks, Asuka and Bayley on the NXT Women’s Division Mount Rushmore. Storm on the other hand was utilised to establish and expand the NXT UK Women’s Division, defeating inaugural champion Rhea Ripley to provide the UK brand with a more constantly available champion and freeing up the Australian to become a megastar on NXT and now Monday Night RAW.

On the mic is undeniable an area of weakness for Toni Storm however the presence of a manager would correct this issue instantly and allows Storms dynamic and high impact in-ring style to shine with a look and marketability that is perfect for the WWE main roster.

12 – Dominik Mysterio

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Dominik Mysterio may just be the first WWE match stipulation to also become an active wrestler, from his routes as the ‘prize’ for the legendary ladder match between Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio to a former SmakDown Tag Team Champion, Dominik has made an instant splash in the industry dispute his short amount of time in the forefront of it.

Debuting in-ring at Summerslam 2020, Dominik would immediately impress during his Street Fight against Seth Rollins, since then Dominik has become a consistent feature of the weekly WWE product and has made over 40 match appearances in just under 12-months despite WWE currently operating with no live events due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

It feels lazy to make the comparison, but Dominik is incredibly reminiscent of his father from an in-ring perspective both in his classic Lucha Libre approach to movement and transitioning across the ring but also in his incredible ability to come in fresh off a hot tag and rile up crowds with his dynamic aerial offence.

In recent weeks we have begun to see an evolution of the 24-year-olds character and this is crucial to his development as an overall performer, further finesse and capabilities inside the ropes will come with time and experience however the focus over the next 12-16 months should be on establishing Dominik as more than just the son of the legendary WWE Cruiserweight.

11 – Deonna Purrazzo

In just over a year ‘The Virtuosa’ has reinvented her image by dominating IMPACT’s Knockout’s Division and establishing herself as the bar for technical wrestling across the industry. Confident, Charismatic and Composed the future is bright for the 27-year-old who is set to take on WWE women’s wrestling icon Melina at NWA EmPowerrr. Purrazzo’s domination and cross-promotion visibility is reminiscent of AEW’s Cody Rhodes’ path following his WWE release, increased exposure on a platform such as AEW can hold help ‘The Virtuosa’ as a wider audience can set eyes on her incredible technical ability, on the mic talents and overall complete package performances.

10 – Cameron Grimes

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Cameron Grimes’ transition into the Million Dollar Caveman has given him a new lease of life in NXT, with an organic comedic ability reminiscent of R-Truth & Orange Cassidy there is a place at the very top of wrestling for the 27-year-old. Grimes’ future and uncertainty caused by the rumoured changes to the NXT programme are a concern, however, anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing the former Trevor Lee perform both in-ring and in segments knows that he would make a world-class addition to any roster in wrestling be that WWE, AEW, IMPACT, ROH or even over in NJPW.

9 -Sammy Guevara

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Although Sammy possessed incredible talent prior to signing with AEW, the global platform and opportunity have allowed ‘The Spanish Sex’ God to shine showing off his natural charisma and incredible in-ring capabilities, it should have been clear to the AEW audience that Guevara was destined for greatness in AEW when he was a part of the AEW Dynamite debut match taking on the iconic Cody Rhodes. The 28-year-old is likely a future AEW World Champion and there is no rush for him to reach that ‘pinnacle’ of his career, however, a major storyline and deep singles run will help Guevera achieve this incredible feat in years to come.

8 – Jay White

 

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Although the past year has been quieter compared to Switchblades usual standards there is no denying the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion is one of the most complete performers in the industry right now under 30! NJPW fans have on many occasions witnessed White deliver phenomenal and convincing promos following defeats to the likes of Okada and Tanahashi. Now operating from NJPW Strong and IMPACT Wrestling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no greater time for White to show why the Forbidden Door can’t stand in his way and show US audiences just how truly talented a performer he is.

7 – Jungle Boy

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Jungle Boy is one of AEW’s greatest successes and is going to be one of the most important performers in the companies future. Phenomenally talented with an incredible foundation in wrestling, Jungle Boy will be AEW World Champion it’s just a matter of when.

AEW has done a phenomenal job of building Jungle Boy as a credible performer and threat without putting him into the title picture too early into his career, teaming with the impressive Luchasaurus has allowed the 24-year-old to generate fan support and momentum whilst also pursuing singles action on occasion to remind the audience that he is also a credible title challenger.

6 – Darby Allin

 

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Darby Allin is on a highly anticipated quest to become ‘The Best in the World’ and he’s already made incredible progress towards this! Comparisons to Jeff Hardy are instinctual due to his incredibly marketable look and unique in-ring style, however, breaking onto the scene at just 26 [now 28] has afforded Darby a development period to adapt to the live television format and the demands of a broadcasted product. A possible paradigm-shifting match against CM Punk at All Out could be a career-defining moment for Allin placing the Washington native in arguably the shows most anticipated match without the involvement of AEW Championship required.

5 – Pete Dunne

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The man many thought would become the UK’s first WWE Champion, Pete Dunne has crafted and honed a vintage character that appeals to many of wrestling more purest fans utilising a legitimate and grounded technique to differentiate himself from the far more high flying and high tempo stylings of the vast majority of wrestlers in 2021.

Dunne’s WWE future is currently up in the air with discussions of contract issues and NXT’s reported repackaging, however, much like Cameron Grimes, Pete Dunne is a guaranteed main event level talent in any promotion in the US but additionally, his technical base and presentation would make him a phenomenal match for NJPW’s Junior Heavyweight division clashing with the likes of Takahashi and his long time rival Zack Sabre Jr.

4Rhea Ripley

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Rhea Ripley is the latest success story of the NXT Women’s Division and its incredible ability to develop phenomenal competitors with complex skills and well-established characters, even if they are not always utilised well following their NXT run.

‘The Nightmare’ benefits incredibly from her unique presentation and aesthetic, following the WWE release of Ruby Riott WWE has lacked any female talent with the alternative presentation of Ripley allowing the Adeliade born WWE Superstar to develop an impassioned and loyal fan base within the WWE.

Ripley’s WWE RAW career may be off to a shaky start from the POV of a portion of the WWE audience, however, regardless of that Ripley has appeared on WrestleMania in consecutive years most recently capturing the RAW Women’s Championship at just 24 years of age, making her the joint youngest RAW Women’s Champion in history alongside ‘The Boss’ Sasha Banks.

3 – Will Ospreay

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When you are considered by many of your peers, critics and fans to be the best in-ring performer in the world and have captured one of the most prestigious internationally recognised World Championships all before you turn 29 it is rightfully predictable that you are considered one of the best performers in the world under thirty.

Ospreay’s former in-ring style left him isolated from a large portion of the wrestling community support due to its divisive nature, however, following his shift from the Junior Heavyweight division to the Heavyweight division of NJPW, Ospreay has seen his acrobatic based offence reduced in favour of a more high impact and high tempo in-ring style. This presents Ospreay as a more palatable/marketable product for promotions across the globe and allowed Ospreay to be ‘elevated’ to all new heights in Japan and achieve the incredible feat of becoming IWGP Heavyweight Champion in 2021.

2 – MJF

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MJF is undeniably the greatest speaker in professional wrestling in 2021 and is without a shadow of a doubt one of the industries greatest heels, a future AEW Champion and industry GOAT, MJF is truly perfect his role as ‘The Salt of the Earth.’

It takes a generational athlete to appeal to both Jim Cornette & Dave Meltzer and with Cornette heaping praise on MJF going as far to acknowledge that he is better than he himself was on the microphone, speaks volumes for the recognised talent of the 25-year-old.

Much like Jungle Boy, MJF becoming AEW World Champion is just a matter of when and following his mammoth victory of Chris Jericho, MJF has heaps of momentum as AEW heads into one of wrestling biggest calendar events of the year- All Out.

1 – Sasha Banks

Sasha Banks

Number One in the inaugural ITR 30 Under 30 is none other than ‘The Boss’ Sasha Banks. What speaks volumes for the quality of Bank’s product both in-ring, on the microphone and in her presentation is that many fans are shocked upon realising that Banks is only 29 years old. ‘The Boss’ has been such a focal point of the WWE Women’s Division that Banks has established herself as a future WWE Hall of Famer before she turns thirty in 2022, a feat that very few performers in wrestling history can match.

In 2021 Sasha Banks would again make history ‘main eventing’ WrestleMania [Night 1] with the equally incredible Bianca Belair and it again speaks volumes for Bank’s calibre and talent that she was the experienced and veteran competitor within that match despite Belair being three years her senior.

The Sasha Banks brand and fan community is an international phenomenon with Sasha Banks fan accounts making up around 50% of wrestling-related Twitter accounts it seems in 2021 and her importance and positioning on a WWE product viewed and adored by over two million viewers a week makes her the perfect #1 for the inaugural ITR 30 Under 30 award.