2. Lee Johnson
Quite possibly the performer with the most upside on this list is “Big Shotty” Lee Johnson.
And while some of the competitors on this list found wins in AEW in relatively quick order, Johnson took the long road.
Johnson made his AEW debut on March 26th, 2020 in a singles match against QT Marshall.
“Big Shotty” had his moments, but would fall to QT in his debut. Johnson would proceed to lose his next thirty matches in AEW in every way possible. He lost singles matches, tag team matches, and even battle royals during this stretch.
Yet Johnson never wavered. And his talent was not lost upon Cody Rhodes, who welcomed Johnson into the Nightmare Family.
This proved to be the move that turned Johnson’s fortunes in AEW around. So much so that Johnson’s first win came in a tag team match with Cody Rhodes as his partner.
Since winning that first match Johnson has built momentum, compiling a 19-9 record and turning heads in the process.
Lee Johnson has always been quick and competed with no fear in the ring, but since joining the Nightmare Family he has put on a good deal of muscle as well and turned into a more complete competitor.
So much so that he earned a TNT Title match against Miro, and was extremely competitive in the match.
As much as Cody Rhodes and the Nightmare Family have helped Johnson succeed, Johnson has returned the favor in spades. This was evident when Johnson stood up to one of the most intimidating competitors in AEW, Malakai Black.
Lee Johnson proved that he had no issue taking up the fight of the entire Nightmare Family in Cody’s absence. And even though he would be defeated by Black, Johnson won fans over with his determination and fortitude.
“Big Shotty” is still learning the professional wrestling game. But the amount of strides he has made in his time in AEW is extremely promising.
If this young talent stays healthy and continues to put in the work he will be a main event player for years to come.
1. Red Velvet
Number one on the list of talents to most benefit from their time on Dark and Elevation is Red Velvet.
Much like the other wrestlers on this list, Red Velvet was brought in to elevate her opponents and struggled to get in the win column in AEW.
But even in defeat, she was turning heads, and she turned an important head when she caught the attention of Brandi Rhodes.
Under the tutelage of Brandi, Red Velvet was starting to rack up wins on both Dark and Elevation.
As Red Velvet was busy racking up wins on the promotion’s YouTube shows, Brandi was busy setting up a program with her husband, Cody Rhodes, Jade Cargill, and Shaquille O’Neal.
Life would throw a curveball to that program though, as Brandi Rhodes soon after would announce her pregnancy.
Instead of scrapping the program, AEW turned to Red Velvet to fill Brandi’s role. And Velvet delivered in a big way.
Cargill was making her in-ring debut in AEW and Velvet did a great job in helping Jade through the match and ultimately putting Cargill over.
Velvet’s performance in this match led to her having shots at both the NWA Women’s Singles and Tag Team Titles, as well as a shot at the AEW Women’s Title, against Britt Baker.
While Red Velvet is yet to cash in on her title opportunities it is clear that the promotion is high on her chances to be a main event player in AEW for years to come.
And it is all thanks to the hard work of Red Velvet and the opportunities provided to her on both Dark and Elevation.