Saturday, 15 July 2017

12 Wrestlers on the Rise

When I first started regularly attending live #BritWres shows over a decade and a half ago, the chances of seeing a wrestler that was very good and yet virtually unknown was incredibly slim.  While the industry for the most part was still in the doldrums and the internet was still in it's infancy, the dearth of wrestlers meant that anyone with a modicum of talent was quickly found.  These days, in a thriving industry, there are so many talented wrestlers developing all over the country that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep track of them all.  It is no surprise, fans' attention is split between an inordinate amount of promotions and there just is not enough time to attend all of the shows and watch all of the footage available.

I'm no different, I've attended my fair share of shows this year (36 at the time of writing this) and have watched plenty on tape, and yet there are still huge swathes of the country I have not even seen any wrestling from.  I imagine it is the same for most fans, few will remember a time that Travis Banks was a virtual unknown on the scene, however when he made his PROGRESS debut in Camden, it seemed like few except a contingent of northern fans had seen him before or recognised who he was (even though he wasn't wearing his Timmy Mallett hat).

So, in an effort to keep informed on the up and comers, the under appreciated, the blue chippers, the can't misses, I'm writing this article.  Hopefully it'll be the first in a series and will force me to get out further a field and watch more new talent.  Ideally, it'll spark some discussion (hit me up on Twitter - @CLinay) and people will come forward with new wrestlers for me to check out.

To get things started, I'm going to talk about twelve wrestlers that I have seen live recently and that I think deserve more eyes on their work and more opportunities to do said work.  Now obviously, this is based on the shows I have seen this year so it is heavily skewed towards Manchester, the West Midlands and Wales.  In the next instalment, I'll aim to focus on other places.


12. Abel Stevens (@TheAbelStevens)

For someone that only started wrestling on shows this year, Abel shows an incredible amount of poise and presence in the ring.  His effeminate persona walks a difficult line in the modern day but I’ve never seen it used in a cheap or negative way which is highly commendable both to him and the promotions he wrestles in.  He is very good at getting and sustaining a reaction from the crowd, wrestles well within character and has already shown off a few unique moves.  Definitely one to keep an eye out for on upcoming Futureshock shows and on their YouTube Channel.

11. Jumpin’ Jimmy Jackson

Grand Pro Wrestling's long reigning British Champion is an athletic and acrobatic high-flyer that has a myriad of flips and twists in his locker. He brings an abundance of energy to his performance but arguably hasn't had the need to show more depth in character than that thus far.  Personally, I'd like to see him get some matches outside of Grand Pro in the second half of this year and against some people from outside of his regular rotation.

10. Big Joe

A charismatic youngster that has hit the ground running in Grand Pro Wrestling with a character that seems to draw on equal parts from Crash Holly and Scrappy Doo.  Joe has already proven to be great at interacting with the live crowd, working within the confines of his character during matches and possessing great poise on the microphone.  This should not overlook his wrestling ability though, as it was readily apparent that in a recent tag match against involving Bubblegum that 'Gum worked at a much higher and harder pace with Joe than with anyone else and that Joe managed to hold up his end of the work.

9. April Davids (@AprilDavidsLT)

With the continuing growth of women’s wrestling in the country, it should not be long before April Davids beings to get some shots in the larger and more recognised promotions.  A regular in Futureshock, where she is currently a champion, and a number of other northern promotions, this hybrid mixed martial artist and pro wrestler has an aura that belies her diminutive stature.  Davids excels as a no nonsense, no frills heel, attacking in a relentless and vindictive manner and definitely deserves more opportunities than just her three minute encounter with Kay Lee Ray at ICW’s Manchester show earlier in the year.  Her appearances in Lucha Forever appear to be the beginning of her ascent up the chain.

Recommended: Vs. Lana Austin (Highlights)

8. Big T Justice (@bigtjustice)

At seven feet tall, the imposing Big T Justice is never going to struggle to find work in professional wrestling.  At worst he can always serve as the hired muscle for some loud mouthed heel or the big buddy of a blue eye in need of a friend but Big T appears to have much loftier goals.  Easily recognised at training schools throughout the country, Big T has already appeared for some of the bigger promotions in the country, including PCW, IPW:UK and PROGRESS' Freedoms Road shows in minor roles.  It surely will not be long before this hard-hitting giant finds himself on the main shows as the centre of attention.

7. Sexy Kev (@SxyKevLloyd)

While it would be easy to just write Sexy Kev off as a silly male stripper gimmick, there is a lot more substance to the wrestler than that.  Working as a single or a tag (with 'Gentleman' John McGregor), as a blue-eye or a villain, I've never been disappointed with one of Kev's matches.  With a few tweaks, the character could easily go from kid friendly to more serious for the bigger promotions, like a modern day Rick Rude or Val Venis.  If you can track it down, his outing with Damon Leigh in  Futureshock at Underground #19 was very good.

6. Elijah (@ELIJAHWrestler)

This hard-hitting, no-nonsense, Dragon Pro trained wrestler has quickly established himself as one of the top prospects to watch out for in the UK.  A statement only clarified by the fact that he is the replacement for Travis Banks in the #CCK team in the upcoming King of Trios tournament later this year. Upswing will definitely continue as he is a mainstay in ATTACK! and the other promotions in that clique and if PROGRESS do a male Natural Progression Series this year, I would not be surprised to see him in it.  It'll be sooner rather than later that everyone in BritWres will find out, what happened to the passion?

Recommended: Vs. Ryan Smile (Highlights)

5. Philip Michael (@PhilipMichael98)

A technically gifted youngster that has been a part of two stellar matches this year, against Colt Cabana in the first round of the Kris Travis Memorial Tournament and against Martin Kirby at a Preston City Wrestling Academy show.  Both myself and Ben Corrigan (@BritWresAwayDays) have independently likened him to Zack Sabre Jr when Zack was at the same stage of his career.  Has an upcoming match with Doug Williams that should be well worth catching and will hopefully help propel him onto more shows outside of the Preston catchment area.

4. Drew Parker (@drewparker_97)

Perhaps best known for his portrayal of various ECW stars through his 'Extremely Confused' gimmick in ATTACK!  Drew has established himself as a deft hand at the comedic side of pro wrestling.  Disappointment struck at the second night of the Dream Tag Team Invitational where Drew got injured before his match could truly begin but he more than made up for it with a highly entertaining, no holds barred match with El Ligero in Lucha Forever.  With his talent, build and incredible flowing hair, the only way is up for Drew.

3. Matt Brooks (@OperaMattB)

Imagine if Weird Al Yankovic was obscenely ripped and sang in an operatic manner on the way to the ring, if you can picture that, you're not far away from picturing Matt Brooks. OperaMania is truly running wild and Brooks delivers great comedic and character driven matches.  Brooks' presence and charisma has quickly propelled him on to main cards for a number of northern promotions and it will not be too long before he is getting wider recognition.  But, hey, don't just take my word for it...

2. Omari (@OmariM4x2)

Positioned as the standout Young Lion in Fight Club Pro, Omari has been on a tear as of late and has been involved in a number of great matches including a prominent performance in the six person match on the first night of the Dream Tag Team Invitational.  The rangy wrestler's star has only continued to rise in Lucha Forever where he has recently secured big victories over David Starr and Jigsaw.  Already looks perfectly at home with the upper level of talent on the scene and another person that I would not be surprised to turn up in the Natural Progression Series at some point.

1. Soner Dursun (@SonDursun)

More than anyone else on this list, Soner Dursun has been proving on a consistent basis that he is ready to make the next step up on the #BritWres scene.  His 'Dursun vs. The World' run in FutureShock has seen him involved in but not limited to a great match with Flash Morgan Webster and two barnburners with Travis Banks.  Hard-hitting and high-flying Dursun would easily mesh with the top end talent on shows throughout the country and is talented enough to work as either a blue-eye or a villain.  His upcoming match with Mark Haskins in TIDAL will likely be another statement match in his continuing ascent up the ranks and is one that you definitely should not miss.

Recommended: Vs. Travis Banks 2 (Full Match)

And that's all for now.  Hopefully this has given people an insight into some wrestlers that they have not yet heard of or have not yet had the chance to check out.  If you have any thoughts on the piece, any comments on the list, on who made it, or who hasn't made, feel free to contact me on Twitter -

1 comment:

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    Pablo from Argentina