Of course, I have not seen ALL of the wrestling in Canada this year. While it may seem ridiculous to be a completionist in this respect, in 2020 it was a much more attainable goal than any other year. Almost all of the wrestling listed here come from British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.
20. 365 Women’s Championship: Liiza Hall vs Riea Von Slasher
(365 Wrestling – October 17)
These are two of the best women’s wrestlers in Canada, and a really interesting style matchup: pure wrestling vs power wrestling. Riea has a cool look and a versatile moveset, strong strikes, effortless power moves, and sometimes a bit of sneaky lucha. Liiza has had a great 365 Women’s Championship run, managing to defend it more than any other women’s championship in Canada (At least to my knowledge). Riea is probably the biggest challenge of her title run, but Liiza matches strikes with the stronger Von Slasher, and has the submission bonafides to keep tougher competitors at bay. ****
19. IWTV Championship: Warhorse vs Mike Bailey
(Alpha-1 – February 16)
Warhorse showed off how stiff he can be, his lariats were great. Mike Bailey absolutely blistered him with every kick and knee he’s got in his repertoire. This is a great challenge for the champion as Warhorse really gets pushed to his limit, but always manages to keep pace with Bailey. They left no stone unturned, hitting everything they had in their arsenal. I think Warhorse’s 40+ defense IWTV title run is under-appreciated and this was a very impressive defense. ****
18. Alexia Nicole, James Stone, Puf, & Sexxxy Eddy vs Fight or Flight (Gabriel Fuerza & Vaughn Vertigo), Kevin Bennett & Pretty Ricky
(C*4 Snowpiercer – January 17)
A perfect showcase of some of the most talented and entertaining wrestlers on the East coast. Alexia Nicole is a really athletic charismatic wrestler, Sexxxy Eddy and Puf are a new but beloved comedy tag team, and James Stone is the tough guy and strong veteran hand on the upbeat team. Kevin Bennett is a great heel, and his finisher The Remix is admittedly cool. Pretty Rickky is an entertaining comedy wrestler, his character does it for me. Fuerza and Vertigo are a fantastic tag team, and great singles prospects as well. Vertigo went to England and Germany before the pandemic, and I hope he can return again, hopefully, Fuerza can as well.
Some of your enjoyment of this match will be hinged on how much you appreciate comedy wrestling. My rationale is that I grade matches based on what wrestlers are attempting to do, and how well they do it. These eight competitors wanted to put on an entertainment and comedy styled eight-person tag, and in this respect, they absolutely knocked it out of the park. It wasn’t solely comedic, given who is in here you would expect there was great athleticism, flying, wrestling and striking. Still, though, stuff like Puf trying not to fall off the apron onto the crowd, to the point where he’s doing the Matrix bend back; Pretty Ricky and Sexxxy Eddy giving each other a kiss that turns into them “brawling to the back” but they’re making out the entire time. The crowd was raucous for this one, and wrestling at its heart is about giving the crowd something they will like and remember, and this match had a lot of that going for it. ****
17. Mike Bailey vs Tyson Dux
(NSPW Kick Off 2020 – January 18)
Tyson Dux is a respected veteran, a deadly technical wrestler, and as seen here a certified ass-kicker. I got a lot of Steve Austin energy from Dux here and I appreciated it. Mike Bailey’s timing and spatial awareness are truly baffling in how accurate he is. Not a ton to be said here, just really exceptional wrestling from two tough competitors. Two of the best teachers Canada could offer testing their metal against each other. I have a lot of time for Tyson Dux after this, if you have any interest in becoming a wrestler, his 61 in 61 series on YouTube is the highest of priority viewing. I think you will learn something if you watch this match. ****
16. C4 Championship: Daniel Garcia vs Evil Uno
(C4 Snowpiercer – January 17)
I believe this was my first Daniel Garcia match. He is a fantastic professional wrestler, probably one of my favorite people I’ve found out about doing this project. The two start with a great crowd brawl, then Uno attacks the ankle. Garcia sold so well I thought he was genuinely injured. The segment of the match where Garcia tries to remove his boot and Evil Uno tears it off was great drama, and in lesser wrestlers hands would have been slow or clunky. Garcia’s comeback with all kinds of weapons was great. He absolutely beat the snot out of Uno between hard weapon shots and stiff strikes. The hero prevails in his first defense, scratching and fighting with one leg to overcome one of the heads of The Dark Order. ****
15. A1 Outer Limits Championship: Steve Brown vs Matthew Justice vs Eric Ryan vs Holden Albright
(Alpha-1 Deadly Encounter – February 16)
Holden Albright goes into the match as champion, he will show up later on this list as he is a great strong style wrestler. This is the first I’ve seen of Matthew Justice and Eric Ryan before but both impressed and worked the hardcore style here well. Steve Brown is a longtime wrestler for A1 but has never won a championship which plays into the story of the match. All four men grab chairs to sit in the ring for a strike fest. They go outside to brawl in the crowd and do it again. Four tough bastards.
The champ gets eliminated early so it’s a certainty that we’ll have a new champion. Brown holds his own with the GCW mainstays. A great plunder brawl, tons of weapons, chairs busted and doors broken. Brown shines with his big win, a nice story for a wild match.
14. 365 Global Championship: Travis Williams vs Liiza Hall
(365 Wrestling – October 17)
This had some of the highest stakes in Canadian wrestling this year. Travis has defended the belt several times throughout the year, he defended the title the month before against Hall. Travis defended last month via some ref trickery and a belt shot, preventing Hall from becoming Global Champion and holding a double crown in addition to her 365 Women’s Champion.
This is a submission match, and while Travis has had success with the sleeper hold in the past, he doesn’t have a large arsenal of submissions. Liiza Hall not only has a wider array of submissions in her moveset, but she also has The Pretzel Lock: A prison leg lock, several elbows and forearms to the face, and then applies a kimura. If Liiza locks in the toe hold it’s the beginning of the end, and Travis has it scouted throughout. These two have had several great matches together, the smart finish here really seals the deal to make this one of the best technical bouts I’ve seen in 2020.
13. Alex Zayne, Fergie, Shareef Morrow, & Jacky Lee vs El Phantasmo, Billy Suede, Tony Baroni, & Travis Williams
(ECCW Ballroom Brawl Night 1 – January 17)
Alex Zayne is incredibly athletic and I think all of his moves are really creative. Fergie is a fan favorite with a ton of charisma, great gear, and an unmatched crowd connection. Re:Loaded, Shareef Morrow and Jacky Lee are incredibly athletic, with cool lucha offensive tag team maneuvers, you’ll hear more about them later. El Phantasmo is one of the best heels in all of wrestling right now and I think the near-universal disgust of him from the wrestling critic bubble even further proves that point. The Wisemen: “Brilliant” Billy Suede, “Uncle Daddy” Tony Baroni, and “Golden Boy” Travis Williams (Accompanied by The Goddess Mandy) are a group you really love to hate. When I watched them here I thought of the Horsemen, in how they isolated Shareef and worked him over, making quick tags.
Everyone had moments to shine here, and they packed this match with absolutely insane highspots. At one point there is a Canadian Destroyer off of the top rope onto everyone on the outside. Phantasmo is a legend just for taking that and surviving alone. This more than any other multi-person tag this year felt like the big tag matches that you see on the last night of BOLA. Everyone put their most into this, while Zayne and Phantasmo had much higher profiles, it felt like everyone was on even footing and equally got the love or hate of the crowd. Eight wrestlers worth your time and attention, all of them either could or do show up later on in this list with matches they’ve had this year. Like the C*4 multi-person tag this is a great primer on the West Coast scene.
12. Violence is Forever (Kevin Ku & Dominic Garrini) vs The Buffalo Brothers (Daniel Garcia & Kevin Blackwood)
(C*4 Underground 5 – January 31 – Ontario)
This match was violent! This is something I really enjoy in wrestling. Stiff strikes, rugged matwork, bruising throws. Two great tag teams, both putting on great performances, following tag rules. Garcia is so talented at such a young age it’s scary. Violence Is Forever is one of my favorite acts in independent wrestling at the moment. To me, Daniel Garcia and Kevin Blackwood are Canadian wrestlers, despite being from Buffalo they have given their all to Canada, they seriously risked their lives to wrestle in this country, and they are always a welcome part of our wrestling scene. I hope the Buffalo Brothers go very far. Garrini and Ku deserve a lot of love as well, I hope to see them in Canada again (Please come to Vancouver, V.I.F). Every single wrestler in this match was American and put on one of the best tag matches in Canada this year.
11. I Quit: Judas Icarus vs Beef Boy
(ECCW Ballroom Brawl Night 1 – January 17)
This is probably my favorite story in west coast wrestling for the short time that I’ve closely watched the scene. Elliot Tyler and Judas Icarus have worked as a tag team in both BC and Washington state, be it as The Strays or The Breakfast Club, they have worked together a lot. When they go one on one though, Tyler can never beat Judas. I believe they had 8-10 singles matches against each other through 2018-2019 and Elliot would always come up short. A lot of the time it was due to Judas having help from people he was in other stables with. Many times Judas’ heavy Eli Surge would be Tyler’s and many other competitors undoing.
This felt big watching it live, they wrestled with animosity. Judas was so sure of himself, and Beef had the weight of every loss before this. Tyler put an absolute hurting on Icarus when he was on top though, this didn’t feel like a hardcore match but it had a lot of the trappings of one. Judas wrestles barefoot, and in spite of this, thumbtacks come up a lot in matches like this for him. He’s been a pin cushion countless times, including against Beef the previous October.
The greatest strength of this match for me is its finish. Which I won’t spoil too much, all I will say is that it’s hard for Judas to quit when he has a mouthful of thumbtacks. Check this out, two of my favorite wrestlers in the west. Best friends, better enemies.
10. ECCW Tag Team Championship: The Voros Twins vs Re:Loaded (Jacky Lee and Shareef Morrow)
(ECCW Ballroom Brawl Night 2 – January 18)
This had one of the best match entrances I’ve ever seen, and merits mentioning in and of itself. Jacky Lee and Shareef Morrow came to the ring under a Chinese dragon parade costume, very cool already, but then the two gentlemen who are usually under the dragon put it on, and put on an incredible dance performance I’ll never forget.
With that stated, DA VINKI? Yes, Re:Loaded are facing The Voros Twins of social media fame. The Voros brothers are heel here though, and with their manager Christopher Kassidy they won the championships the night before from G.O.D.S (Bishop and Sid Sylum) by nefarious means. They attempt to make their first defense against one of the fastest and most synchronized tag teams in the Pacific Northwest. Can any tag team be as in sync as twins though?
There were a lot of incredible displays from both teams, be that positioning, ring awareness, tag team maneuvers. The Voros Twins are great at getting a lot of work done behind the refs back. Shareef took Celtic Cross on the apron that must have absolutely sucked, but it was executed very well. Both teams are some of the best in the West. I think it’s only a matter of time for the Voros Twins to get a deal with a big wrestling company, and this match is a great indicator of why. Keep your eyes on Re:Loaded though, both Jacky Lee and Shareef as tag and singles wrestlers are definitely going to have great matches for years to come.
9. Aiden Prince vs Kobe Durst
(CBPW Family Day Feud 4 – February 15)
Two guys with bad attitudes who want to beat each other up absolutely belting each other all around the ring. Durst has great charisma, sells well, and I’m coming around to his Ram Jam gimmick. Prince puts on a stellar performance, I’m speculating, but based on his wrestling I would think he is inspired by wrestlers like Shinjiro Otani and Koji Kanemoto. These are two wrestlers to look out for in the future, and I think these two contrast each other so well it would be a big mistake not to run this match back a couple more times in the coming year.
They worked at a great pace, it felt like there was little downtime, and while Prince was largely in control, it never felt like Durst was out of it or outmatched. Durst fighting from underneath, trying to escape holds with a snarl on his face and a chip on his shoulder. When Durst got some space he would mix things up with dives and high-risk maneuvers, which contrasted well with Prince’s more orthodox style. Two worth watching in 2021.
8. ECCW Women’s Championship: Bambi Hall vs Cat Power vs Christina Von Eerie vs Liiza Hall vs Nicole Matthews vs Riea Von Slasher
(ECCW Ballroom Brawl Night 2 – January 18)
From what I’ve seen, this is the highest-profile women’s match in Canada this year. A six-way ladder match for the ECCW Women’s Championship. Nicole Matthews, who main evented The Summit with Nicole Savoy over Summerslam weekend 2019. Liiza Hall, 365 Women’s Champion and one of my wrestlers of the year. Christina Von Eerie has been a mainstay in independent wrestling for over a decade, Riea Von Slasher, a dynamic power wrestler, “The Joshi Slayer” Cat Power has won hair matches and championships in this venue in years previous, and Bambi Hall, a fantastic wrestler, goes into the match as the champion.
They took an incredible amount of risks in this match, ladders, tables, chairs, and skewers all came into play. It was one insane thing after another, but not in a way where anything gets lost, it felt like everything was given the appropriate weight. One thing I love about matches like this is seeing how characters interplay affects the match. There are running stories between Bambi/Matthews, Bambi/Liiza, Power/Liiza, Power/Slasher, Von Eerie looms overhead as a late addition to the match, and as heel authority figure’s pick to win. This match serves two purposes: Fantastic action from a great ladder match, and as a primer into who some of the most talented women’s wrestlers in the country are.
#7 – Josh Alexander vs Junior Benito
(C*4 Underground 5 – January 31)
Junior Benito appears to be the beloved young boy of Ontario wrestling. He doesn’t have a cage match profile, so I’ll assume he’s in his first couple years. He steps up against the Walking Weapon. He’s outgunned in every respect, a beloved underdog, he’s only got the support of the fans to will him through this beating. Alexander controls throughout, and gives Benito an incredible amount of punishment.
Junior will get little pockets of offense, using his little time to hit flashy, but not over-complicated moves. Junior is constantly trying to speed things up, maybe the only thing that can give him a slight edge. While his fate is almost certainly sealed, Junior Benito put on a fantastic performance fighting from behind. This is, to my knowledge his first really high-profile match. But after this match, it most certainly won’t be his last match against a big name.
#6 – Destiny Wrestling Championship: Mike Bailey vs Josh Alexander ©
(Destiny Wrestling Clash – September 15)
As seen here, Alexander and Bailey aren’t strangers to 4+ star matches. At present date, I can’t decide which of these two men is the Canadian wrestler of the year, each has stellar resumes within the country and them facing each other here didn’t clear things up either.
This is one of if not the first Canadian wrestling shows post-COVID. Just one match, in the Battarts parking lot. They’re outside, it’s a windy day, the crowd is hot for this. One lady yells “Let’s go daddy!” throughout (I presume at Alexander) it was funny and I won’t soon forget it.
Bailey’s kicks and Alexander’s ankle offense pair so well together. Josh towers over Bailey so the Flamingo Driver is out of the question, and while Bailey has speed and reversals to keep pace, Alexander can still rag doll with ease. The amount of spin on his tower hacker slam here is really something to behold. Alexander has to use everything in his arsenal, unlike the previous two matches where he’s always clearly ahead. This felt like an understated return, but an over-delivered match for Ontario wrestling. Canada’s two-star makers put on a clinic.
#5 – Josh Alexander vs Judas Icarus
(365 Wrestling – January 25)
The Benito match and this match are tied together, and while I put this one above it, both are perfect examples of star-making performances. Judas Icarus has been featured previously here, so he’s not a slouch as far as match quality. In January, after ending his feud with Elliot Tyler on the 17th, and winning a world championship on the 18th, Icarus flew across the country to face Brody King and Josh Alexander on the 24th and 25th respectively. What a month.
Judas is a slippery wrestler, relying on evasions, reversals and athleticism to get out of tight spots. Whenever Alexander gets a hold of Icarus, he powers him down with snap body slams, crash landing suplexes, and all manner of power moves that completely shut down the smaller Judas.
The scrappy, 21-year-old fights from underneath in such an engaging way. Despite his age, he’s got a kind of ring savvy that a lot of experienced wrestlers may not. At one point the second rope breaks, and Icarus is completely unphased. There wasn’t a single hiccup in this match, even when both men started doing spots in the corner or against the remaining ropes.
Alexander as the veteran and larger man played his role incredibly well, he absolutely blistered this hot-headed kid. The finish is abrupt in a good way, and hopefully sets up a rematch in the future. ****1/4
#4 – Aiden Prince vs Mike Bailey
(C*4 Snowpiercer – January 17)
I had never seen an Aiden Prince match prior to this. I was absolutely blown away. Obviously in some part due to Mike Bailey and his brutal offense, but Prince more than held his own. This felt as though both men wanted to do something on the level of a G1 match. Prince gave chops as good as he got, he put extra pepper on his brainbuster, and I was elated to see on the closing stretch Aiden hit a 450 to the back before attempting it properly. Real Tanahashi hours there, it was noted and appreciated.
Bailey hit every painful-looking move he had at his disposal. The banzai knees (especially on the apron) look like there’s no fun way to receive them. Bailey makes multiple attempts at the Flamingo Driver (The greatest move in wrestling) really adding some peaks to the match, because it’s an absolute certainty that if Bailey hits it that’s it.
There were no few stakes to this one other than pride. Aiden Prince wanted to show he could go toe to toe with Bailey and he did. Keep an eye on Aiden Prince, he feels like a necessary addition to any Ontario or Quebec shows right now, and when Canadians can more accessible wrestle in the US he should be considered. ****1/2
#3 – ECCW Championship: Bandido vs Artemis Spencer ©
(ECCW Ballroom Brawl Night 1 – January 17)
Artemis Spencer won the championship from El Phantasmo at the previous year’s Ballroom Brawl and has held it since. Having defended it successfully against Vancouver competitors all year, he’s back at the Commodore Ballroom to celebrate a year as champion by facing a fellow BOLA alum and current PWG Champion Bandido.
This match was fast from the jump. Both men are incredible athletes, Artemis has the more effective striking and submission game, but Bandido is on an incredible run and has beaten most of the big names on the independent scene. Each used everything they had in their vast move sets to put the other away, with only one notable exception from Bandido, who smartly saved some of his offense as he was wrestling the next night and wanted to give people a reason to come back. Masterful.
Artemis has enjoyed success in PROGRESS, PWG, and had an incredible run as DEFY Champion leading up to this, but this felt like his local Canadian crowd could receive some of the fruits of all his hard work abroad. A huge opponent, an incredible match, and the cumulation of a banner year for Spencer as the Ace of the Pacific Northwest of Canada and America. ****1/2
#2 – Cross-Body Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Championship: Mike Bailey vs Holden Albright ©
(CBPW Family Day Feud 4 – February 15)
The story of this match drew a lot of intrigue right away. Albright has held the CBPW Championship for 364 days, and if he defeats Bailey here, not only will he pass a year as champion, but he will become the longest-reigning champion in company history. There’s only one problem: he’s facing one of the stiffest wrestlers in the country, a man who’s tested his metal against wrestlers in Japan, Germany, and England earlier this year, Mike Bailey.
The venue is small, which means that not only is there very little margin for error on the outside. In spite of this, all of Bailey’s dives were crisp. Holden ran down the aisle and hit a flying clothesline where a LOT could have gone wrong, but it was seamless. Due to the venue’s size, it’s also a sauna, so over the course of this 20+ minute match, both men pour sweat throughout, more so than any other match I have seen this year.
Both men absolutely beat each other to a pulp. Bailey being the smaller man still hit most of his offense, but didn’t even attempt the Flamingo Driver, as he knew lifting Albright would be more draining than beneficial. The abrupt finish really was the icing on the cake. It felt like they left it all in the ring and that Holden Albright was absolutely a priority to watch in the future. ****3/4
- 100 Cheese-grater Deathmatch: MC Hardbody vs Warhed (DFC 1/1/20) ***3/4
- Judas Icarus vs Shareef Morrow (365 – 10/17/20) ***3/4
- Joshua Bishop vs Holden Albright (C4 1/31/20) ***3/4
- Elliot Tyler vs El Phantasmo (ECCW 1/18/20) ***3/4
- C4 Underground Championship: Kevin Blackwood vs Jonathan Rukin (C4 1/17/20) ***1/2
- GGW Championship: Bambi Hall vs Nicole Matthews (ASW 3/17/20) ***1/2
- Destiny Next-Gen Championship: Vaughn Vertigo vs Kevin Blackwood (Destiny 1/19/20) ***1/4
- Fergie vs Jaxon Stone vs Daniel Makabe vs Sonico (ECCW 1/17/20) ***1/4
- Eli Surge vs Artemis Spencer (ECCW 2/29/20) ***
- A1 Tag Team Championships: A1 Originalz (Cheech & Justin Sane) vs Sad Buds (Rickey Shane Page & Brett Michael David) vs Fight or Flight (Gabriel Fuerza & Vaughn Vertigo) vs Space Pirates (Space Monkey & Shane Sabre) (A1 – 2/16/20) ***
- Ivan Sullivan vs Lucas Cash (NSPW 11/3/20) ***
- Kylie Rae & Veda Scott vs The Punk Rock Pussycats (Allie Kat and Jody Threat) (A1 – 2/16/20) **3/4
#1 – 365 Wrestling Global Championship: Judas Icarus vs Travis Williams ©
(365 Wrestling – October 16)
This match couldn’t have landed anywhere but number one. I can only think of a handful of matches in Canada this year that went longer than twenty-five minutes; Judas Icarus and Travis Williams went to Broadway and wrestled for 60 minutes.
Judas is usually a heel everywhere else, but on his home turf of Vancouver Island, he’s here to defeat the mainland menace that’s held the title for the entire year. Travis has defended his title more than three times in 2020 prior to this, making it arguably the most prestigious title in Canada this year. Last year, their careers paralleled each other, Travis beat Artemis Spencer for the ECCW Canadian Championship, and a few months later Judas did the same, winning the ECCW World Championship.
Wrestling for an hour doesn’t necessarily qualify a match for greatness. What sets this match apart is how well-layered the match is, there was a lot of thought put into this. Building the first ten minutes of the match around Judas hitting Travis with a chop is excellent. Judas gets overzealous and accidentally chops the post on the outside, beginning a hand injury that would come up several times throughout. Both men do an incredible job of making their move sets last the entirety of the match. I don’t know if any big move from either man was hit twice. Judas doesn’t hit his frog splash, or his hammerlock lariat finisher until there are under 10 minutes of the match left. Carefully interspersing big near falls with big moves, but not their biggest moves.
You can see how red, how bruised, and how exhausted each man is. This was a Herculean effort, only something two people with top-level cardio and incredible ring acumen could accomplish. Travis Williams in this role makes me think of a Ric Flair or Nick Bockwinkle kind of territory champion. 365 promotes in BC and Ontario, so I hope Williams can defend it on the East coast one day soon. Judas is an excellent heel, but his hometown babyface performance, along with his engaging selling really made for a great story. The greatest match in Canada this year. One of the greatest matches I have seen this year.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope it piqued your interest in some of the best talent Canada has to offer. I intend to follow Canadian wrestling into 2021 so if you would like to follow along you can find me on Twitter @canuckgraps and YouTube.