Originally this article was going to be about wrestlers I wanted to see debut at this year’s Battle of Los Angeles, similar to what I wrote last year. As the pandemic keeps chugging along it looks like BOLA won’t happen this year. So I decided to shift from BOLA to wrestlers I would like to see in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla—whenever it returns.
Note: I am fully aware we probably won’t see international talent in PWG for some time—if ever—but I’ve decided to include them anyway, and hopefully when/if borders ease up we see them down the road.
To me, Moriarty is the best prospect on the US indies. Over the past couple of years he has really made a name for himself in the Midwest, most notably in AIW where his three-match series with Alex Shelley has put him on the map. Their submission match at AIW Built To Last back in February is one of my top five matches of the year so far and was a great showcase for Lee’s technical prowess and budding ring generalship.
While US indie wrestling relies heavily on comedy and irony, Lee is a serious athlete who I can confidently say will become a huge star, and possibly one of the best wrestlers in the world down the line. There are several cool matchups I’d love to see in a PWG ring, a match with a returning Chris Hero is a wet dream for me right now, but I am also dying to see him and Johnathan Gresham go at it. There are a lot of people I want in PWG, but to me, Lee Moriarty is the one guy I need to see brought in.
Carter is one of those dudes you know is special after watching him wrestle for 20 seconds. The way he moves is unlike anyone else in wrestling. Everything he does has a certain type of explosiveness that you only see from guys like the Dynamite Kid or prime Austin Aries. Carter is a legitimate athlete, making the move front the UK to the US on a football(soccer) scholarship before training at Seth Rollins school. Carter is still a little green, but has been showing tons of potential, which midwest promoters are noticing, as he has made debuts in AAW, AIW, and GCW over the past few months.
So there is actually a reason my top three are my top three. Lee Moriarty, Benjamin Carter, and Tre Lamar are the next wave of US indie stars (well in the US scene anyway in Carter’s case). All three are incredibly skilled workers with immense potential who are serious athletes that don’t rely on comedy or irony. Tre comes from Ohio where he has broken out in AIW both as a singles competitor and as part of the 40 Acres trio with AJ Gray and PB Smooth. Lamar is a Johnny Gargano student, which you can see in his work. Tre is one of the most exciting prospects in wrestling and it seems inevitable that he shows up in a PWG ring at some point.
There has been a lot of talk about whether minors should be allowed in the wrestling business. But that’s a bigger discussion for another day. Honestly, I can’t imagine PWG would ever book a 17-year-old, so as for Charlie I’m advocating for him to be brought in after he turns 18 early next year.
That disclaimer out of the way, I gotta say Charlie is a personal favorite of mine. The scene in Northern California has made massive improvements recently, most notably due to Rik Luxury’s East Bay Pro Wrestling school, which is gaining a reputation as probably the best school in NorCal, and West Coast Coast Pro Wrestling, which is becoming one of the top promotions in the Bay Area.
Charlie is the top student of Rik Luxury, and the face of West Coast Pro, as his series of matches with Jake Atlas last year helped put the promotion on the wrestling map. His most notable booking thus far came in January of this year in his GCW debut in a six-man where his high flying instantly won over the LA crowd.
I said I was going to ignore the border issues, but I do have to bring up that Slex does have an ROH contract, which makes it significantly easier to bring him into PWG. Work visa aside, Slex is a personal favorite of mine, and the only wrestler to make my list two years in a row. Slex is a vet with well over a decade’s worth of experience(including NOAH experience) but over the past few years has put everything together both in-ring and the way he presents himself. Before leaving MCW a few months back, he was arguably the biggest star in the biggest promotion in Australian wrestling, having a catalog of great matches with Okada, Ospreay, and Adam Brooks.
It’s no secret at this point that PWG is a very lucha heavy promotion. They were the first US indie to bring in current PWG Champion Bandido and Aramis (who is currently receiving a huge push teaming with Rey Horus). AREZ is the arguably the best wrestler on the Mexican indies as well as the current RIOT champion. In the US he is best known for competing in GCW, most notably competing in a wild six-man last year, and giving Blake Christian one of the best matches of his career back in January.
AREZ is one of the more creative wrestlers going today, which is a double-edged sword, as he can be a bit sloppy at times, but overall he is a great wrestler with a really cool look.
It’s been very rewarding to follow Chris Bey’s career and to see how far he has come the past few years. Bey got his start in the Bay(Bey) Area, first getting his name out by winning Gold Rush Pro’s version of the Young Lion’s Cup, defeating Manny Faberino (WWE’s Mansoor), Jungle Boy, and Jake Atlas in the finals.
Since then he has worked his way up California and Las Vegas indies, eventually getting a real breakout by receiving a contract with Impact Wrestling. Bey has worked his way up from a spotty guy with some cool spots, to one of the most innovative and athletic high flyers going today.
“Airbender” Royce Chambers
This was going to be my sleeper pick when I was coming up with names but… Joe and Rich kinda stole my thunder many months back on the VOW Flagship, and then he got booked with DDT. Chambers is almost a combination of PAC (who if you remember was booked in PWG very early in his career) and a less muscular Peter Kassa (remember him?) With his mix of insane high flying ability and sneaky power. Once we are able to have shows in front of fans again and he gets to perform in front of DDT crowds I fully expect his stock to go way up.
I actually considered putting Gray on my list last year, but I felt he just wasn’t quite ready. In the months since then he won the GCW Title, he started getting booked everywhere and was the driving force behind the For The Culture show(which needs to happen the second shows are allowed to run). What really won me over is a match he had at West Coast Pro Wrestling early this year where he beat the living shit out if Will Hobbs. AJ is one of the biggest stars on the indies without a doubt and it feels like PWG is the next logical step.
“The Prize Bull” Sam Osborne
Sam Osborne is a tremendous athlete. The first time I noticed him was in a small Sydney promotion called FWA where he put on a grappling clinic with Matty Wahlberg. After doing some research I found out Osborne had only recently returned to Aussie wrestling after spending the past couple years training under Santino Marella at the Battle Arts Academy in Mississauga Ontario. When Osborne returned to Aussie wrestling he was your basic intense, no bullshit, workrate dude, which I love. So I was very skeptical when he made his PWA debut with a rich snobby gimmick. I was dead wrong. Since taking on the gimmick Osborne has proven to be one of the most charismatic and best promos on the indies. The “Prize Bull” gimmick is a guy who comes from wealth and enjoys the finer things in life, but when it comes to competition he is a serious athlete who can perform at a very high level.
“The Real Wrestler” Gavin McGavin
If you know anything about Australian wrestling, you know Robbie Eagles, Adam Brooks and Jonah Rock. You probably know guys like Mick Moretti and Slex (I mean if you don’t that’s weird since he was just featured above!). You might not know the name Gavin McGavin, but I would put him on the level of all of those guys. Gavin is one of the two most underrated wrestlers in the world in my opinion(Takumi Iroha being the other), and I am fully confident that if he lived in the US he would be a top name. He is really hurt by geography more than almost anyone on this list. Gavin comes from Perth, wrestling in EPW(Explosive Pro Wrestling), which most notably was the home of Shane Haste and Mikey Nichols. Gavin is one of the best smug heels going and has an extremely punchable face.
“Golden Boy” Emman The Kid
PWG was ahead of the curve when they started booking European talent. They were ahead of the curve when they started using Australian talent. It only makes sense for them to be curve once again and start using talent from Southeast Asia. The Southeast Asian scene has been rapidly improving over the past few years with promotions like Singapore Pro Wrestling, Grapple Max, Philippine Wrestling Revolution, Malaysia Pro Wrestling, and others. There are several wrestlers in that region that stand out. Chris Panzer, Trexxus, and Aiden Rex are names that have the potential to break out on a global scale. But the best wrestler from SEA is Malaysia’s Emman The Kid. Even though he is only 19 years old, Emman is a six-year vet, and has been seen as a prodigy for a number of years now, and the best prospect from the South Pacific. In 2019 Emman made the move from Malaysia to Melbourne to train with former MCW Champion Carlo Cannon. Shortly after he made his MCW debut at their anniversary show in an impressive showing against Jett Rouka and Royce Chambers. Emman’s best work has come in a series of matches Robbie Eagles, who has taken somewhat of a mentor role since then.
There are a lot of good wrestlers on the US indies, there are far less who exude superstar charisma. Slice is one of those guys who had the personality figured out from the get-go. Slice is a pure heel, using his real-life New York roots turned up to eleven, he is a schoolyard bully who will mug you for $5. What I love is Boogie works to the gimmick, he looks mean as hell, he wrestles angry, and works stiff.
Daniel Garcia was highly touted prospect very early into his wrestling career, even getting hype on VOW Flagship as someone to watch. Style-wise I’d compare him to a Timothy Thatcher or Drew Gulak, a technician who’s work is gritty and looks realistic. Right as his career was getting going it was almost taken away when he was involved in a devastating car crash that left him with two broken legs. After a miraculous comeback Garcia really started hitting his stride, getting booked in Evolve, wXw, and my hometown promotion West Coast Pro.
Last year I ended my list with an obscure Aussie wrestler (who ended up retiring shortly after), and I’m going to do the same with this one. Not only are Rig matches hard to find, I don’t even know if they exist, at least ones that showcase what he can really do. I’m going off pure potential here since the footage is so scarce. Headhunter Rig wrestles in two promotions for the most part, Newy Pro and PWA, both based in the Sydney area. In Newy Pro he is very gimmick heavy—a hunter from the Australian outback—and since it is a family-oriented promotion, he doesn’t really get to show what he can do. In PWA he has only had a handful of matches, and has been pretty much used as a jobber. Really there are two matches you need to watch; in a 6 way at PWA Once Upon A Time At Max Watts, and a four-way at PWA Colosseum 2019 Night 2 against Royce Chambers, Steph De Lander, and Big Fudge where he had a tremendous showing. While in Newy Pro he is a gimmick, in PWA the headhunter thing is more of an aesthetic and he is able to focus more on the in-ring aspect, and that is where he excels. Rig is a great prospect with a ton of upside, but with such little footage, it might be hard for him to break out.