NOTE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wrestlers may be removed from shows due to positive COVID-19 tests or exposure, so cards may be different than what is previewed below.

I love Independent Wrestling TV. I loved it when it was Powerbomb TV and many of us were skeptical it could last (because of COURSE FloSlam), but here we are many years after its inception and it not only is THE place to go for most independent wrestling in the United States, but Europe, Australia, Canada and hell, even Japan.

In the past year or so, beyond being a place to catch many no-crowds shows and allowing small indie promotions a chance to do something creative and get their name out there while unable to sell tickets, they’ve also made it a point to license and upload many classic independent promotions of yesteryear. CHIKARA, JAPW, NWA Wildside, ECWA, Mid-American, IPW Hardcore and more are providing fans like me to witness an indie scene they weren’t around for for the first time.

That is all to say as I write this, that independent wrestling has changed. Many will argue for the better. It is more inclusive, diverse, and working more and more to eliminate predators and creeps. Many will argue that the in-ring product has changed to that of “meme” wrestling, that the evolution in the wake of Janela’s Spring Break, the many exoduses of top talent and the rise of the GIF have killed the “basics” by which wrestling is based. I don’t know where I stand. I can’t lie and pretend that there is an indie promotion right now that is pumping out matches as high in quality as 2015 AAW, PWG, or Evolve. But I CAN absolutely say that with the help of IWTV I’ve had the opportunity to watch wrestling shows taking place in more areas around the world than I ever thought possible, and for me, even if the in-ring product isn’t as good as it once was (to be clear, I don’t think it’s dead and gone), I still get more joy watching random indie shows in 2021 than I do watching a New Japan, All Japan, NXT and more. 

The “Family Reunion” two-fer opening up IWTV’s “Showcase of the Independents” on Thursday is essentially a crash-course in the streaming service’s many faces and current promotions – featuring championship matches from promotions not running their own shows, inter-promotional wars and more. There is a definite mix of stuff on these two cards, with some potential to set the stage for big-time breakouts.

IWTV Family Reunion Part 1
Thursday, April 8
12:00 PM (Noon)
81Bay Brewing – 4465 Gandy Blvd #600

Watch: IWTV

Hoodslam Presents
Johnny Butabi, D-Rogue & James C Vs. Funnybone, Nurse Ratchet & Super Beast

Even when I lived in Oakland, Hoodslam was one of those things you heard about in hushed tones. I was at the peak of my anti-wrestling years, but hearing about this crazy party that took place in the East Bay sounded super fun. The focus was never on wrestling, but the characters, the crowd interaction and a bit of shock value. Hoodslam does have a handful of shows up on IWTV, but I regret to tell you that I haven’t actually taken the time to watch any of them and am thus unfamiliar with one side here beyond cursory google searches. However, being a Pacific Northwest resident, I am relatively familiar with Funnybone, Nurse Ratchet and Super Beast, 3 larger-than-life characters that come across as Batman villains if nothing else. Super Beast, in particular, has been getting some bigger bookies in places like Bloodsport, but the dude for real looks like Bane. I expect this match to just be a fun time, with a handful of cool spots to pop the crowd, but mostly just to set the stage and warm everyone up. Expect the masked and painted team to take the win here.

Paradigm Pro Wrestling Presents
Dominic Garrini Vs. Robert Martyr

At this point, if you are reading this preview it is likely that you are aware of Dominic Garrini. Over the years, Dom has worked hard to become one of the better wrestlers on the independent scene. He primarily worked a grappling, jiu-jitsu style and still does, but over the past 2-3 years in particular has really developed into one of the better brawlers out there. He’s even got his own show this weekend, with his tag team partner Kevin Ku. Martyr is probably less familiar to most people, being a relative newcomer, but he has been showing up pretty regularly on recent Paradigm shows. PPW, for it’s part, has become one of the more talked about indies over 2020 and 2021 with their focus on shows that involve different, unique rulesets (don’t get me started), and Martyr has been a bit of a standout on their more UWFi-based shows. An undersized guy, he nevertheless has this mean streak in him, throws good strikes and has this fiery personality that I really enjoy. Expect Dom to wipe the floor with him when it’s all said and done, but Robert will be sure to get some shit in.

IWA-MS Heavyweight Championship
Jake Crist © Vs. John Wayne Murdoch

It’s impossible to keep up with IWA-MS unless it’s about the only promotion that you watch. Still, in 2021, they will run a show (or 2!) just about every week, and usually hovering around 2 hours. I’ve tried to watch some this year, but the volume with which they run is too much for me for it not to just be a promotion where you have to find the diamonds in the rough. Jake Crist, the one who is still around, has been champion for about 250 days and he makes it a point to defend his title on basically every show. John Wayne Murdoch is an IWA-MS and death match legend, and while he may not quite be as exciting as he was 5-6 years ago, he is nevertheless still one of the best brawlers and death match workers in the midwest. Not being up to speed on the current booking, I expect something violent (and hopefully, bloody!) here, but ultimately Crist will pull out the win.

Olde Wrestling Presents
Will Wrestle vs. Judge Hugo Lexington Black

I own an Olde Wrestling DVD and yet I totally forgot they exist. It’s a funny gimmick that works in theory more than in practice for me, but I guess I’m a bit happy they are getting a little showcase match here on this show. For those unfamiliar, Olde Wrestling is basically a promotion that Marion Fontaine runs like once a year, where independent wrestlers from all over adopt different OLDE TIME gimmicks and pretend they are putting on Depression-era (or earlier) shows. They may run shows outside with a county fair-like setup. It’s a good time, where wrestling is second place to the gimmick. Judge Hugo will likely win this one.

IWTV Title Contendership
Wheeler Yuta vs. Adam Priest

I’ll admit that I was a Yuta hater for years. The kid looked too nice & performed too soft for my liking. He had most of the mechanics down, but was a wrestler where you could witness the gears turning in his head, that he was overthinking things and often times was getting a bit too ambitious for his skillset. People with more experience than me saw something though, because Yuta has been booked against & with some of the best in the biz for years. In 2020, he made slightly bigger waves by debuting in ROH and having a BANGER of a Pure Rules match with Jonathan Gresham. He bulked up, got shredded and has really honed in on a technical side that works. His recent work in the Beyond Wrestling Round Robin tournament has been great too. Priest is someone who went from being nowhere to being everywhere real quick. A short, buff dude who loves to hit hard and comes across like a genuine asshole (in the best way possible), Priest recently won the New South Wrestling HOSS tournament, and has been working just about every Southern and Midwest indie in 2021. I really like his presence, and the combination of styles will be fun to see. Don’t expect this to be the match of the card, but don’t be surprised if it somehow ends up being that either. Toss up for who could win, but hopefully this match is the beginning of bigger things for both dudes.

Camp Leapfrog Presents
Boomer Hatfield, Boar & Erica Leigh Vs. A Very Good Professional Wrestler, Travis Huckabee & Matt Makowski

In the NOTCHIKARA match of the night, you have a classic NOT CHIKARA 6-person tag with some plucky babyfaces on one side and some very serious wrestlers on the other. I really have enjoyed the Camp Leapfrog shows a lot. I don’t think really anyone else at VOW would, but the handful that have run have been silly all-ages affairs that really do distill a lot of the spirit of the now defunct promotion. Expect some great hope spots with Boomer, Boar and Leigh, but the team of AVGPW, Huckabee and Makowski is FIERCE and should breeze to victory.

Scenic City Invitational Presents
Daniel Makabe Vs. Jaden Newman

Welcome back, the man Dan! Happy to see mine, yours and everyone’s favorite dude Dan Makabe back on the stage for the weekend and getting some showcase matches. As a past winner of the SCI, he’ll be playing the babyface role to the very angry and snotty Jaden Newman. Newman is someone who I strongly disliked for a long time, but has really grown into this heel role well, getting genuine heat around the South. Expect this match to be mostly technical and based on the mat, where Dan will have the advantage and ultimately walk away with the victory.

IndependentWrestling.TV Championship
Lee Moriarty © Vs. Edith Surreal (fka Still Life with Apricots & Pears)

These two had a really fun match a handful of weeks ago for Enjoy Wrestling that showcased what these two wrestlers do really well: work a visually pleasing, fast-paced technical style.

Neither are Jonathan Gresham or anything, but new IWTV Champ Moriarty and newly crowned Cassandro Cup winner Surreal bring something that not many other wrestlers on the independent scene do. We have heaped praise on Moriarty here at VOW for years, and through the latter months of 2019 and most of 2020, the dude established himself as perhaps the single most consistent worker not signed to a big company, whereas Surreal has been quickly establishing herself in the wake of the demise of CHIKARA. This is the perfect first defense for Lee and will offer something different than other “technical” matches on this card or most other offerings through the weekend. Both wrestlers are highly influenced by Dragongate and the llave style of mat-work, both have obvious influences from CHIKARA, both are delightful personalities outside of the ring and have tremendous looks. It is unlikely that this will be hard-hitting, violent or heated, but it is highly likely that these two will go at it counter-for-counter and with a crowd actually cheering them on, show that they are two of the very best on the scene. Excited for this.

Powered by RedCircle

IWTV Family Reunion Part 2
Thursday, April 8
12:00 PM (Noon)
81Bay Brewing – 4465 Gandy Blvd #600

Watch: IWTV

Big Starkz Brand Presents
Bryan Keith vs. Alex Kane 

If y’all want to see two big dudes beat the piss out of each other, then this is the match for you. Keith, who primarily is seen in New Texas Pro has one of my absolute favorite looks in wrestling. He comes out in a western poncho and wide-brimmed gambler hat, before disrobing to black trunks and gloves and just ready to fuck people up with his strikes. Alex Kane, for his part, has maybe the single biggest and quickest upward trajectory on the indies right now. He is known as the “Suplex Assassin” and does just that. Unbelievably strong, the dude really works that low-key Taz or Kurt Angle style where he can brawl, go technical but really just can throw just about anyone on their damn head. I don’t necessarily think this will be the best match on the show, but it is perhaps the single match I’m most excited for on this show, as the dudes have everything to show and the drive to do so. I expect Kane, who has some big bookings through the weekend to get the win here, but am just hoping for something brutal.

St. Louis Anarchy Presents:
Gary Jay vs. Billie Starkz

Perhaps the single biggest bummer for me in the wrestling landscape of 2020 was the cancelation of SLA’s “Spirit of Spaulding” tournament. A truly ambitious effort that many were skeptical of anyway, it showed clearly that we were and still are deep into this fuckin’ pandemic. For their showcase match of the weekend, SLA is sending Billie Starkz and Gary Jay to do battle with one another, and while their promotion for this match has been good (because SLA is good), I can’t say I’m too excited for this matchup. Jay, for his part, isn’t someone who I personally connect with a ton, but when he’s in there with the right opponent can have the match of the night on any show. Starkz, for her part, is someone I just can’t get behind. It’s not for me. I hope for the best and she’ll be working with a competent worker in Jay, so I’m hoping to be surprised, but I don’t have high hopes for this. 

New South Heavyweight Championship
Cabana Man Dan vs. Derek Neal ©

Get hyped for this one! CMD is the former New South Champ, is on a tear, showcasing a new mean streak and right now looks like a million fuckin’ bucks. For real, Dan looks like a major league wrestler right now and in the last handful of months has been wrestling like it too. I’ve compared him to Tomohiro Ishii before and look I don’t care – Dan is one of the single most consistent, hard-hitting and awesome wrestlers in all of indie wrestling. Neal, another veteran has really turned up the character work and provides this “looked-over veteran” tough guy thing that just fuckin’ works for me. Hike up the trunks, show off the chest, and chop the fuck out of each other. I expect Neal to retain and I expect this to be great.

New Texas Pro Championship
Mysterious Q (c) vs. Ryan Davidson

I’ve only seen one Ryan Davidson match, and it didn’t impress me a ton, but it is hardly anything to judge a wrestler by. Mysterious Q is this big, buff dude in a Hayabusa mask that uses both power moves and high flying that when it works, is fuckin’ awesome, but it doesn’t always work. This should be fun, but I expect it to be a little sloppy here and there, which could work for it in a way. I hope they bring heat, if nothing else. Q has been champ for awhile and expect him to retain here. Expect to see some cool moves and some neat spots for these big dudes.

C*4 Championship
Daniel Garcia (c) vs. Kevin Ku

I hit this point the other day while watching Kevin Ku beat the shit out of the Bitcoin Boyz where I realize this guy might have the highest floor on the indies right now. He might not be the best wrestler in the world, might not have the historical highs or showcase matches of some of his colleagues, but every single time this guy is in the ring, he works his ass off and puts out a banger. It doesn’t have to be a “notebook” match, but it will always be a high effort and likely be truly brutal. Daniel Garcia, on the other hand might actually be considered the best independent wrestler in the world before the end of the year and with the matchups he’s been placed in through the weekend, has gotta be the front-runner for potential MVP. This is going to be a workhorse match, one in which the two guys try to kill each other, work at a frenetic pace and leave us, the viewer, exhausted at the end. I’m not messing around when I say that when all is said and done, this could be THE match of the weekend.

Jigsaw, Arik Cannon, Lucky 13 & Dan Champion Vs. A Very Good Professional Wrestler, Daniel Makabe, Tre Lamar & Wheeler Yuta

In a classic indie booking trope, the stars of yesterday take on the stars of today in something that can either highlight people in the twilight of their careers or highlight the next generation. I don’t love every wrestler in this match, but most people here are smart wrestlers who have worked a lot of multi-person matches and will plan something that tells a story, if nothing else. Expect big showcase spots for Lamar and Yuta, but also expect those vets that can still work solidly to bust out something surprising. This is the type of match that will send the crowd home happy after likely 4+ hours of wrestling and truly embodies the show’s name. Unlikely to be the best match on the show, but the perfect way to close out the event.

As you can see, even with the landscape changing, IWTV has created a bunch of exciting matchups for WrestleMania weekend. It is highly likely we see things that are well-booked, well-worked and a couple of matches that could absolutely steal the weekend when all is said and done.