For most of 2020 major professional wrestling companies were unable to run events with live fans in attendance. And even when they could, it was either virtually via WWE's ThunderDome or with severely limited crowds at NXT's Capitol Wrestling Center and AEW's Daily's Place Amphitheatre. And yet, some promising young wrestlers still managed to connect with fans amid the chaos. Bianca Belair made her long-awaited jump to the main roster, Darby Allin finally defeated Cody Rhodes to finish out the year as TNT Champion, Jey Uso made the most out of a small opportunity and put on two great pay-per-view matches with Roman Reigns, Orange Cassidy went from being an inside joke to one of AEW's top draws and Shotzi Blackheart managed to stand out despite being in the middle of an incredibly stacked Women's Division in NXT. Of those five, who do the voters think had a stellar 2020 and will shine in 2021?
And the winner of the 2020 ComicBook.com Golden Issue Award for Best Wrestling Rising Star is...
At the start of the year, Cassidy still hadn't competed inside of an AEW ring. Indy wrestling fans already knew what he was all about, but on the national stage he seemed to be merely a comedy character who would pop up randomly backstage. That finally changed at Revolution in his match with Pac, where "The King of Sloth Style" proved his personality doesn't reflect just how intense he can be in the ring.
Over the summer Cassidy's stock rose even further thanks to a months-long feud with Chris Jericho. "Le Champion" and the rest of The Inner Circle kept finding new ways to bloody him and The Best Friends up, but Cassidy kept finding ways to shock the former world champion when they competed in singles matches. Their feud culminated at the All Out pay-per-view, which saw Cassidy punch Jericho right into a giant vat of mimosa.
Cassidy wrapped up the year with a few TNT Championship matches, and fans reacted to his increasing popularity by making him one of the best merchandise sellers in AEW. If he can keep this momentum rolling, there's a good chance he'll be locking horns with the likes of Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley for AEW's top prize by the start of the summer.
- Bianca Belair
- Darby Allin
- Jey Uso
- Orange Cassidy -- WINNER
- Shotzi Blackheart