MJF, Darby Allin, Sammy Guevara and Jungle Boy are the semi-official “four pillars” of AEW’s future. Original signings with the company and all 26 and younger when the company started, the four wrestlers have all traveled down different paths during their three years with the company. This article is the third in a series of four that will examine the current accomplishments and assess the future prospects of each “pillar” in AEW.
Perhaps nobody in AEW has experienced as tumultuous of a run in the company as Sammy Guevara (okay, with one very obvious exception) at different times tabbed as a potential world champion, and at other times receiving the nefarious “go-away” heat that no wrestler wants to draw. Guevara has become one of the most polarizing figures in AEW, with some fans insistent that he needs to be gone from the company.
At the start of his run, Guevara was less polarizing. An exciting young wrestler who had flashed a ton of talent on the indies, he was a logical talent to bring in as part of AEW’s original young core. Guevara was quickly given a huge break when he was put in Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle group, giving him a main event role in the company right as Dynamite hit the air.
Being presented as Jericho’s primary tag team partner and basically marketing him as Jericho’s understudy gave Guevara a front-row seat to watch a legend at work. Guevara thrived in the role and immediately became a stand-out on the early episodes of Dynamite, his athleticism and willingness to try anything in the ring made his matches exciting, and he flashed a level of charisma that wasn’t always seen on the indies, particularly getting a gimmick where he cut promos during picture-in-picture ad breaks by flashing note cards.
By the time Guevara was labeled as one of the pillars, he was an obvious choice for the role. With the exception of MJF, he was the most prominently featured young talent on the show, he was already a very good worker, and he had a potentially marketable look and his Hispanic heritage didn’t hurt either. If you were buying stock at the time, Guevara was a young talent on the rise and certainly caught your attention as a guy with potential.
Since then, Guevara has had an uneven path.
As the Inner Circle simmered down, Guevara began to struggle in a larger role. The storyline of the Inner Circle demanded that the group turn babyface, a difficult task with Guevara, who had only ever been a douche-heel on the indies and in AEW, and the fit was awkward. For whatever reason, fans just didn’t want to root for Guevara. Even if his matches were stellar and his big moves got over, fans found Guevara naturally hateable, and would frequently gravitate towards his opponents.
This became a tricky situation; coming on the heels of Cody Rhodes’ abrupt departure from AEW amidst general confusion over the direction of his character, Guevara, who wrestled Rhodes in his final AEW match, assumed that mantle as the wrestler who was working as a babyface, but seemed to be such a natural heel that it made his programs feel awkward.
Guevara would go out and do his normal schtick and wrestle hard, but the fans didn’t want to see him succeed. Scorpio Sky was never more beloved by fans than when he challenged Guevara for the TNT Championship, beating him in the process. Guevara’s character began to stutter and it was obvious he was dead as a babyface.
Also unfolding was the fact that Guevara was involved in a number of questionable instances. The first was during AEW’s relationship with Impact, where Guevara walked out of Impact after creative differences in 2021. Two more instances occurred this year, the first being a backstage incident with Eddie Kingston over something Guevara said during a promo, and the second a fight with Andrade.
In all three of these instances, you could argue that Guevara was not at fault. The Impact situation we never got a ton of details about, but it seemed like Jericho and Khan agreed that Guevara shouldn’t be working in Impact. Kingston has publicly apologized and admitted that he was wrong in the situation between him and Guevara, and Andrade hasn’t been seen since he punched Guevara, with some accounts stating that Andrade was attempting to get fired.
Still, where there is smoke there’s fire, and there is real concern that Guevara’s personality may be rubbing people the wrong way backstage, just like how he rubs some fans the wrong way. These incidents add up, and for some hardcore fans, can contribute to them disliking Guevara because they associate him with unprofessional behavior. During a period where AEW is already being saddled with the label of being a dysfunctional company, Guevara being a magnet for backstage incidents is a troubling look.
Over this past summer, Guevara formally turned heel, re-aligning himself with Jericho and the Jericho Appreciation Society. This allowed Guevara to at least get the desired reaction from the crowd, and he remains one of the most disliked figures on the roster. His work remains strong in the ring, and he is a valuable asset to AEW, but the failure of his babyface run and the stigma that he might be problematic backstage has made it feel like he already hit his ceiling and is now being slotted back down the card as a role guy in a heel stable.
Guevara has not proven to be a strong promo, something that is probably necessary for someone to be a top guy in AEW, which is a promo-focused promotion and asks it’s top stars to talk people into the building. He’s charismatic in the ring, and understands how to work a live crowd, something that he likely picked up while working in Mexico, and his act with Tay Melo gets great heat. It’s hard though, to see him ever headlining a PPV and seriously challenging for the world title in a major capacity.
Guevara is young and has plenty of time still left in his career to figure things out, but in his current incarnation he has a limited ceiling. He can’t just be the same Sammy Guevara and make it as a top star; we’ve seen that experiment and it failed. He will need to evolve into something different, and it’s possible that evolution might take place in another wrestling company than AEW.
While it may not be through any fault of his own, Guevara feels stale in AEW and could use a change of scenery to figure things out. Perhaps that is an extended run abroad in another company, such as NJPW or working more regularly in Mexico, or perhaps it is a few years in WWE. While Guevara will always be labeled as one of the pillars, the truth is his future is more uncertain than other young stars that have popped up in AEW since he was given that label, such as Ricky Starks and Swerve Strickland. While nobody doubts his talent, it will take growth and evolution for Guevara to get back on track as a future major star in AEW.