This is the second edition of The Best of Pro Wrestling 2012. This is the first part in a two part series that looks at the best of American Indie Wrestling. Highlighted below are the matches that didn’t quite make the cut for the best of the best.
Long gone are the years where Ring of Honor produced the very best independent wrestling imaginable. There is a lack of top end talent and intriguing storylines…but, that doesn’t mean the American Independent Wrestling Scene hasn’t produced top quality matches. Last year, the Indie scene provided 5 of my top 10 matches of the year. While 2012 didn’t deliver on that level, it provided an array of quality matches across several of the ‘States top Indy promotions.
The token superlatives…
Best Wrestler(s) – TRIPLE TIE! El Generico (Everywhere), Johnny Gargano (DGUSA/Evolve), and Akira Tozawa (DG) (He counts as an American…why? Because fuck you, that’s why.)
Most Improved – Michael Elgin (ROH)
Unintentional Awesomeness – THE SWAMP MONSTER!
None of the following matches made my annual Top 10 Best Matches of the Year, but consider these worthy honorable mentions as the Best of 2012 – Honorable Mentions: American Indies: Part 1
*These matches are listed in no particular order.
**Due to issues with availability around the ‘net, some of these matches will not come with a link. I would suggest you search’em out, pay for’em, whatever.
Adam Cole v. Kyle O’Reilly
Hybrid Fighting Rules
ROH Best in the World 2012
Every once in a while there are two middling mid-carders that just so happen to have something special. It is often random and out of the woodworks, but when they do, it ends up being must-see. Davey Richards little buddy, Kyle O’Reilly had gone throughout most of his fledgling career in pro wrestling as a man without much of an indentity besides being Davey’s bro-friend. Adam Cole, similarly, just your token up’n’comin’ babyface. O’Riles and Cole would tag team early in their ROH careers, without much fanfare or success. Then they would become “bitter enemies” (ooooooo!). They would have a bunch of matches that underwhelmed, including some real stinkers earlier in the year. However, they would come together at Best in the World 2012 under a stipulation of Hybrid Fighting Rules. what is that? Don’t worry about it. What happened though was one of the most unintentionally awesome matches of 2012. Cole would be busted open…no, not your typical shitty blade job…straight face busted wide open, gushing blood…Ric Flair would be jealous. After Cole’s face looked like a hatchet wound, the matches intensity just went through the roof. The crowd fell in love with Cole and by the end of the match, you realized you just witnessed a match that took both guys to another level on the card. It didn’t happen, but it doesn’t stop this match from being bloody brilliant work.
Kevin Steen v. El Generico
Last Man Standing
ROH Showdown in the Sun: Day 1
Kevin Steen and El Generico have feuded for what is going on three years now. They’ve gone from coast to coast and put on some of the best matches for the same three years. This would be year number three where these two put together a match worthy of being called “best of…” and with their match at Final Battle 2012 around the corner, these two might make it four-for-four. Anyway, Steen and Generico would meet for one final time in ROH earlier this year during WrestleMania Weekend in Miami. Just a brutal hard hitting contest that hit all of the right notes.
El Generico v. Richochet
PWG Death to All But Metal
For those that don’t check out Pro Wrestling Guerilla…you are missing out on perhaps, the Indie scene’s top promotion. It is the Left Coast’s top Indie promotion and it often delivers big several times a year. This year, one of their top events was Death to All But Metal. A great card with a top flight match between two rivals. The up and coming Ricochet is known around the world for his ridiculousness in the ring and Generico is perhaps the top Indie wrestler. As consistent as they come. Ricochet has really started evolving his cocky character and with it, he has had some of his finer matches. This is what you would have expected from these two, fun, fast paced, and everything done (even the spot-festiness) with a purpose. The end result was a great moment as Ricochet would finally give Generico the rest he earned in the ring. This match falls a little short of their great 2010 bout, but still a fantastic match.
Team ROH (The Young Bucks and Mike Bennett) v. The Spectral Envoy (Hallowicked, Fightmare, and UltraMantis Black)
CHIKARA King of Trios Night 3
I felt CHIKARA needed to be adequately represented on this list. They always deliver a lot of fun matches. But in their ridiculousness, they often throw in a match or two each year that really win me over. The King of Trios is their signature event featuring groups of three in a tournament held over several days. They take teams from all over…homegrown, other companies, old school groups, comic book groups…there really is no limit and the event always pops interest because of the teams they bring in. This match between The Special Envoy and Team ROH was this year’s finals. The build was fantastic over the course of three days. It was filled with lots of awesome shenanigans that really worked. UltraManitis Black finally would get his signature victory in CHIKARA, The Special Envoy would overcome tons of odds to win. Team ROH should get tons of credit for getting the immense heat they got all weekend. Terrific end for a tournament.
By the way, the entire event was great and was definitely CHIKARA’s best show of the year. This match is a tough find around the ‘net, so, if you can pay for it, you should.
Akira Tozawa v. Masaaki Mochizuki
Open the Ultimate Gate 2012
A great match by two great wrestlers. Akira Tozawa has really come into his own in the past year and a half. Consistently putting on one of the best matches on every show he’s in. He’s also really come into his own as a character. Mochizuki was often billed as a special attraction coming to the ‘States and the result was him often putting over talent. On WrestleMania weekend, these two put on the best match of the weekend for DragonGateUSA on a weekend where they were hitting on tons of matches over the course of two shows. Consistent 3* quality, but when these two got into the ring, they had something special. The end of the match was fantastic, putting over finishers and their psychology like a million bucks. This match was a mid-card match on their $1.99 promotional show on WrestleMania weekend. It was a big hit on iPPV and because of this match, made it the best value wrestling purchase of the year. As much as I love Tozawa and his work, it was Mochizuki that really stole the show.
No highlight reel or match online, but you can buy the PPV here:
Johnny Gargano v. AR Fox
Johnny Gargano has been perhaps the hottest American Indie wrestler today. He is DragonGate USA’s champ and has been so for the calendar year. AR Fox is considered the hottest up and comer in today’s Indie scene. A fan of RVD and Sabu, Fox delivers both for the high flying fans and he can brawl as well (as seen with his feud with Sami Callihan earlier in the year). This match would conclude with big spot after big spot and Johnny feeling completely at home doing so. This is your classic “no storyline” match, just two guys going in the ring trying to win. Sometimes those types of matches really hit home. Often they stink, but when you got two guys that show early on that it is all about winning, the match can get over like a million bucks and it did here. Everyone went over in this match and when that happens, its always something special.
Good luck finding this match around the ‘net…you can always head over to WWN Live and buy the whole PPV, if you want.
Part 2 will explore the rest of the American Indie Scene as well as some more superlatives, natch.