(My first ever post under my new gimmick, hope it gets over.)
The WWE is the biggest wrestling company in the world; there’s no question about it. It seems that the man with the giant grapefruits has built a sports entertainment empire that cannot be rivalled in the modern wrasslin’ world. It’s where stars are made, the pinnacle, the big time, yet not everyone in the wrestling business is aiming to reach out and grasp Vinnie Mac’s brass ring. In fact, some are much better off without WWE, as evident by the likes of Colt Cabana, and more recently, Drew Galloway. Without including talent who have already had a considerable run with WWE, here are the top 10 independent wrestlers who are better off not signing with WWE.
10. Joey Ryan
Joey Ryan is independent wrestling; he is even one of the founders of California based promotion, PWG. These days, The King of Dong Style is best known for tossing foes around with his almighty penis (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, this will probably sound a little bit strange, but just go with it), yet for many years, he has been a familiar face on the American independent scene. If Ryan was hired by WWE, or was given a little run with NXT, he would have to drastically change his sleazy persona in order to fit in with the PG product- I can’t really see the likes of Roman Reigns jobbing to the YouPorn Plex (once again, if you don’t know what I’m referring to, I promise that this isn’t as homoerotic as it may sound, please continue to read). I don’t want Joey Ryan to change; I want to continue to see his god-like genitals destroy opponents in DDT and Lucha Underground. Besides, I don’t think Vince would allow Ryan to carry on his YouPorn Sports sponsorship anyway, and we all know how much money there is in porn.
- Silas Young
With his constantly disgruntled face, grizzly chest, and top lip hair that would be the envy of any 1970s porn star, Silas Young is basically your friend’s dad that you’re terrified of, if he wore knee pads. He looks like he’ll pin his opponent, then come down from the ring, and whip you with a belt for not doing the washing up.
Young was floating around the American indie scene for years before finally finding his footing as Wrestling’s Last Real Man, obsessed with teaching the true values of masculinity to both the fans, and his opponents. Since his manly transition, Young has gone on to be a regular in Ring of Honor, he was even one of Kevin Steen’s final opponents before leaving the promotion (what ever happened to that guy?).
Also, the honour of one of the most unexpected finishers in wrestling has got to go to the sport’s last real man. The PeeGee Waja Plunge (whatever the fuck that’s meant to mean) involves Young doing a fully vertical handstand on a turnbuckle, and then corkscrewing his body into a split-legged moonsault, something a little surprising from a man who has a better tash than your dad’s. Although he tends to favour his Misery finisher these days (a Fireman’s Carry Cutter), Silas will occasionally shock the crowd with this beautiful display of athleticism.
Wrestling’s last real man is a gimmick that can work in almost any situation, except for in WWE. Silas Young is a great wrestler with an entertaining character, yet if the big McMahon daddy was to get his hands on him, he’d most likely be another wasted talent lost in the shuffle. Besides, if you’ve listened to his appearance on Colt Cabana’s podcast, you will know that Young probably wouldn’t be all too happy following their strict wellness policy. Seems that the split-legged Moonsault isn’t the only thing Young has in common with RVD.
- Basically Every Member of the Chikara Roster
Chikara is bat-shit crazy. In fact, if you actually inspected a piece of bat shit, it would be probably contain a little lucha mask inside of it. If your five year old nephew started a wrestling company, it would be Chikara.
Here are just a few current members of their ‘unique’ roster: Arctic Rescue Ant; Ice Cream Jr; Flex Rumblecrunch; The Swampmonster; Oleg the Usurper; and last but certainly not least, probably my favourite name in the history of wrestling, The Proletariat Boar of Moldova. That’s exactly where the WWF went wrong with Mantaur- if I am watching a humanoid beast wrestling, I need to know precisely where they’re from, and what social class they belong to in their respective country’s capitalist society, before I can even being to start enjoying it.
Although they have had some incredible names walk through their doors over the years, including CM Punk, Cesaro, and Kota Ibushi, the majority of their mainstays are nothing to write home about, or in this case, write on the internet about. Chikara is just about fun, they even have a Director of Fun (where do I sign up?!) rather than the traditional general manager or commissioner. It doesn’t really matter if they have the best technical wrasslers or not, or if any of them are capable of getting five stars from Meltzer, all that matters is that they put a smile on people’s faces, and they should never change that.
- Chuck Taylor
Speaking of Chikara, here’s one of its most beloved alumni. Chuck Taylor is one of the greatest comedy wrestlers in the world; even The Undertaker would crack a character-breaking smile watching one of the Kentucky Gentleman’s matches. From trying to drown his opponent in a painting of a lake, or letting off an imaginary grenade in the ring, Chucky T can have any indie crowd roaring with laughter, any time he wants to.
Although I’m sure he could have the WWE Universe chuckling for longer than an average Triple H promo, unfortunately for Chuck, WWE doesn’t exactly incorporate comedy wrestling into its product all too often. Also, I don’t think Big Vince would be all too happy with Chuck’s tendency to threaten small children in the crowd.
- Pentagon Jr
One of the biggest stars to emerge out of the always interesting Lucha Underground is Pentagon Jr., a light tube waving, arm-breaking maniac of a luchadore. His series-long storyline with his unnamed master was an incredible piece of slow-burning storytelling, which ended with one of the most brutal hardcore matches broadcast on television since the days of ECW. After defeating Vampiro by launching him into a flaming table, the veteran pleaded for Pentagon to break his arm, after which it was revealed to the gasping crowd that he was in fact the master all along, and his student had passed his test. Although his mask was completely destroyed from the brutality of the war he had just endured, Pentagon’s exposed face was completely shrouded in blood, to the point where his hidden identity remained thoroughly intact. It was a phenomenal image that encompassed everything that Pentagon Jr is about.
The legacy of brutality he left on Lucha Underground introduced the Western world to a new star, gaining an almost cult-like following in the process. In 2015, he competed in PWG’s annual Battle of Los Angles tournament along with other debuting Lucha Underground talent, and I’m sure he will make many more appearances outside of Mexico in years to come, just not in the WWE.
Pentagon Jr. is simply far too anti-PG to step anywhere near a WWE ring- imagine New Jack, but in a mask, with much more wrestling ability, and probably not as much of a truly terrible person. I don’t want to see a watered-down Pentagon Jr., I want to see 100% Pentagon Jr. drenched in blood and dismantling WCW alumni. Despite the entertaining prospect of somebody attempting to break John Cena’s arm, Pentagon Jr. is much better off working in an environment that will allow him to display his talents for savage cruelty.
How can you not love Cheeseburger? Any man that names himself after an item on a fast food menu automatically has a place in my heart. Take one look at the skinny human sandwich, and you will automatically think, “He should not be a wrestler,” which is exactly why everyone adores him.
Weighing only 125 pounds, a whole 50 pounds less than wrestling’s biggest little man, Rey Mysterio Jr., Cheeseburger gets his name from the fact that he really needs to eat some more of his namesake. Despite his lack of size, strength, and athletic ability, fans around the world have been drawn to the beefy brawler for all of those reasons; he really is the ultimate underdog, it doesn’t get much more underdoggy than him (if that is an actual word, it is most likely a disgusting sex term that I’m too scared to Google).
At the start of 2016, Cheeseburger embarked on his first tour of Japan, and the Japanese crowds became completely enamoured with him, selling out all of his merchandise in the process. What’s more, Japanese legend Jushin Thunder Liger has taken Cheeseburger under his wing, teaching him his Shotei Palm strike, allowing him to use it as a finisher, and has even began to tag team with him. Over time, Cheeseburger is bound to gain more and more fans, both in the US, and internationally.
Sadly for Cheeseburger, his size, and lack of ability to overcome that size, will always keep him from reaching the shores of WWE. The chances of WWE putting him in anything except squash matches against the biggest wrestlers they have is very unlikely. Even if the McMahons did come knocking at his door, their insistence on adopting a wrestler with a brand spanking new name would automatically be his downfall. Can you imagine him being called anything but Cheeseburger? His name is what automatically draws people to him, plus the potential for merchandise and pun-based names for moves is endless.
Cheeseburger is much better off being independent wrestling’s favourite piece of grappling food, and I’m sure in-time, he will supersize his fan base, and add another patty to his bun of popularity.
Grado is the bum-bag wielding darling of the British wrestling scene. If you’ve never heard of him, just watch the BBC Insane Fight Club documentaries, and you will automatically become his biggest fan. Just like Cheeseburger, he’s beloved by many simply because he doesn’t look like the typical professional wrestler.
Not known whatsoever for his in-ring ability, Grado has captured the hearts of many wrestling fans simply for being absolutely hilarious. Grado is that guy you knew in school who always said he’d love to be a wrestler, except he actually went and gave it a go. He’s chubby, he’s hilarious, and Americans probably have an incredibly hard time trying to understand him, which is why we love him.
Grado is an entity that should not be controlled or tampered with in any way.
- Dalton Castle
Flamboyant, deceptively strong, and accompanied by two fan boys donned in peacock feathers, Dalton Castle is one of the most popular, and one of the most unique wrestlers in Ring of Honor, something he has achieved in a relatively short time. If Randy Savage and David Bowie had a love child, the result would be Dalton Castle.
Castle’s androgynous style and surprising strength that allows him to catch diving wrestlers in mid-air, as well dead-lift his opponents off the ground and into a bridging German suplex, has made him a star. There is no doubt that Castle is a future champion in Ring of Honor, however, would The Party Peacock be allowed to the flourish in WWE? Probably not.
Once again, Castle is another case of an eccentric personality that would not blend well with the WWE style. Yes, they could simply alter his gimmick, yet it just wouldn’t be the same. The Prince of Peacocks needs to spread his wings, and display his talents and general weirdness all by himself, something which is simply far too unlikely in WWE. Castle’s charisma and ability would no doubt be a hit in NXT, yet his flamboyant ways just wouldn’t transfer well to the main roster. Castle is better off displaying his beautiful feathery ways in places where they are properly appreciated.
- Kenny Omega
2016 is the year of Kenny Omega: he started the year as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion; went on to become the new leader of the most popular wrestling faction in the world, The Bullet Club; beat New Japan legend Hiroshi Tanahashi to become IWGP Intercontinental Champion; won the Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships twice with his Elite brethren; had the first ever ladder match in NJPW history against Michael Elgin (and what a match it was); completely tore the house down with a Match of the Year candidate with Tetsuya Naito; and to top it all off, became the first Westerner to win the historic G1 Climax tournament, with his sights set on a IWGP Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestle Kingdom 10. That’s one hell of a CV, and the year isn’t even over yet.
Prior to this year, he was already established as one of the biggest independent wrestlers, yet after 2016, he will be the most ‘elite’ wrestler on the planet, WWE or otherwise. Talented in the ring, on the mic, and even fluent in Japanese, Omega has mass appeal on so many levels, and is a personal favourite of mine. Whether he’s stealing moves straight out of the Street Fighter series, or putting on an exhibition with a little girl, Omega has garnered popularity around the world for his in-ring antics.
The Bullet Club leader is one of the biggest stars in NJPW, and not only does he speak the language, he also lives in Japan full-time, something which is uncommon with most gaijin (a term used for Western wrestlers in Japan). Omega is a mix of dastardly antics, foul language, amazing athleticism, video games, and wonderfully strange hair, something that should not be tampered with by anyone. On top of that, even if WWE allowed him to keep his name and persona intact, it looks like The Cleaner actually has no desire to wander into the land of PG. According to Omega himself, he has turned down WWE multiple times, and it’s easy to see why. Perhaps a few years down the line, Omega may change his mind, yet for now, I am more than happy to see one of my favourite wrestlers doing what he does best with his fellow Bullet Club members.
- Young Bucks
Arguably the biggest tag team in the world, The Young Bucks are a phenomenal act, the likes of which I have never seen before. They’ve taken the art of tag team wrestling, superkicked in the face, and Meltzer Drivered it into the ground. They are wrestling purist’s worst nightmare. If you ever wanted to make the likes of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard cry tears of despair, just show them a Young Bucks match. With bodies flying everywhere in unbelievable fluid movements, superkicks being thrown left, right and centre, and repeated screams of “SUCK IT!” mixed with DX-style crotch chops, Young Bucks’ matches are special. The Jackson brothers are the only guys who could make multi-coloured tassels cool again in the modern world.
Normally, you would probably find this tandem near the top of anyone’s list of wrestlers WWE must sign, so why are they at the top of my list for talent they shouldn’t sign? Because The Young Bucks are everything that WWE aren’t.
When a team wrestles against them, they wrestle a Young Bucks style match. Seeing Matt and Nick wrestling a WWE style tag team match would take away the magic that they bring to the ring. The WWE essence would not mix well with the Young Bucks’ formula, and conforming to someone else’s rules and regulations would limit their arsenal significantly. As evident with their outing in TNA, trying to contain the combustible flurry of superkicks by the Jackson brothers ultimately ends with disaster, and also results in them being called Generation Me, which is the worst name for anything in the history of everything. Not only do The Young Bucks main event shows around the world, they also sell a ridiculous amount of awesome merchandise whilst doing so. I don’t think they’re short of a few pennies right now. I may be a lone voice in a sea of cries, but personally, I don’t want to see WWE try to throw a superkick party any time soon.
As with almost every entry on this list, I want to see people succeed because I am a fan, however success doesn’t automatically mean being called up to ‘the big time’. We are all obsessed with our favourite talents going to WWE because we want them to do well, yet we all need to realise that some are much better off traveling to different organisations plying the trade and selling their wares. We need to accept that WWE is not the be-all-and-end-all of wrestling, and that some are better off showing what they can do in other places.
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