And now, our favorite wrestlers from last year. Again we’re joined by our friends Thomas Holzerman from The Wrestling Blog, Jamie from Dramatic DDT, T.J. Hawke from Free Pro Wrestling, Ciara Reid of Angry Marks, Jae of iheartDG, Alyssa, Alex, Benjamin, and Senor Lariato. By Leslie, Greg, Chris C., Chris J., Sonny, Aoikougei, Sarah (and her brother), Steph, and Martin.
ACW, AAW, SLA, ROH, DGUSA, CHIKARA, Resistance Pro
Thomas: This man busted out of Austin in a big way this year. Dragon Gate USA only had the bright idea to book him at the end of the year. Ring of Honor had the chance to blow the doors off the arena in Chicago, but instead he was a sacrificial lamb for Kyle O’Reilly. I certainly didn’t love the treatment he got from promoters who apparently “know” wrestling, but this isn’t a gripe-fest. It’s a love-fest. What ACH was able to do this year was nothing short of revolutionize what wrestling was all about.
Whether as the standard bearer in ACW, a man who helped make Cleveland a destination for wrestling in AIW, or the forever-frustrated rival of Mark Angelosetti in Chikara, he did things only thought possible by dreamers who wrote matches for e-feds. Four-fifty splash from the second rope? Easy. Texas Cloverleaf big swing? Pfft, don’t trifle me with your doubts, son. He went 30 minutes with AR Fox, warred with Johnny Gargano, clashed with Willie Mack, and even helped put eyes on Kansas City through an excellent series with Jeremy Wyatt.
If ACH isn’t on your radar, you don’t watch enough wrestling, and if you watch enough wrestling and aren’t impressed by ACH, then good lord, man, you’re made of stone.
Photo Courtesy Joel Loeschman
Ciara: I can’t think of anyone else in Ring of Honor that has stood out for me in 2012 besides Adam Cole. Earlier last year, Future Shock disbanded with Kyle O’Reilly joining Davey Richards and Adam Cole aligning with Eddie Edwards. At ROH’s 10th Anniversary Show in March, Adam Cole scored an upset as he pinned then ROH World Champion Davey Richards with a Crossbody during a tag team match. Cole would go onto to defeat Kyle O’Reilly in a Hybrid Rules Match and defeat Roderick Strong for the ROH Television Championship in June. Cole has successfully retained his championship against Eddie Edwards and Mike Mondo and defeated Matt Hardy in a non-title match.
Adam continued his success over in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla as he won the 2012 Battle of Los Angeles Tournament to earn a shot at Kevin Steen’s PWG World Championship. In November, Cole defeated Caleb Konley for the Premiere Wrestling Xperience Heavyweight Championship. Adam has since won the PWG World Championship from Kevin Steen and formed the Dojo Brothers with Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong. I was already aware of Adam Cole’s work in Combat Zone Wrestling, but this past year he has really stepped it up and became one of my favorites.
Dragon Gate, DGUSA, Evolve, CZW, Beyond Wrestling, AIW, ISW
TJ Hawke: AR Fox is the surest bet in wrestling for getting an entertaining match right now. I’ve watched him in a variety of promotions, on tape and in person, and he always kills himself to put on the best match possible. Putting AR Fox on a card automatically makes me interested in said show.
In DGUSA and Evolve, Fox stepped up and delivered some of the best matches of the year with some of the best wrestlers in the world. In CZW, he became one of their best pushed talents, having a series of great matches with a variety of opponents. In Absolute Intense Wrestling, Fox had two thirty minute Iron Man matches with ACH. Both matches received rave reviews for their excitement and innovation.
In 2012, Fox became one of the most exciting wrestlers in all of wrestling. Over the next five years, I expect him to grow so much that people start referring to him as one of the best wrestlers in the world.
Photo courtesy Marvin Cespedes
Leslie: Ayako Hamada is Wrestler of the Year, Every Year. It’s redundant to talk about how great she is at this point, you just need to watch her. Watch her in Mexico. Watch her in Japan. Watch her in in the states (especially her SHIMMER match against Kana). Watch her, year after year, effortlessly put on amazing matches. Ayako Hamada is an international treasure and the best of her generation.
Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi
Lariato: In the first half of 2012 especially, Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi marked themselves as one of the best tag teams on the planet with a series of amazing matches in AJPW and home promotion BJW. Both guys are freakishly strong and I never tire of watching them in matches against other heavy hitting teams like Get Wild of Manabu Soya & Takao Omori.
Click here to watch 5 hours of Sekimoto & Okabayashi matches.
Dash Chisako and Sendai Sachiko
Sendai Girls, JWP, CHIKARA
Sonny: The Kanari sisters slowly emerged from the humongous shadow of Meiko Satomura in 2012, showcasing their great tag team skills versus a wide variety of opponents.
In May they debuted in CHIKARA, and defeated The Bravado Brothers. On June 25, they defeated Manami Toyota and Kyoko Inoue. In September they teamed with Meiko Satomura in CHIKARA’s King of Trios to defeat Green Ant, Red Ant and AssailAnt. In round 2 they defeated Jigsaw, Manami Toyota and Mike Quackenbush. In round 3 they lost to the team of The Young Bucks and Mike Bennett in what may have been the best match of the entire weekend.
PWG, BJW, CZW
Alex: Drake Younger’s 2012 has been a powerful journey to be able to watch, one that made him one of the best wrestlers of the year. A resolution to clean himself up led to him getting in the best shape of his life. That then led to a renaissance for Younger as a wrestler. In 2012 he delivered some of his strongest matches, including wars with Sami Callihan, B-Boy, Rickey Shane Page, Roderick Strong, and MASADA, peaking with an awe inspiring Iron Man with Sami Callihan.
Moving out to Los Angeles and finding another home with PWG turned out to be a great move for him, allowing him to show new audiences what the Combat Zone faithful already knew: Drake Younger is one of the most well rounded wrestlers in the world, able to deliver with a wide variety of opponents. An inspiration, in ring and out, making him a clear choice for this write up.
Ben: Forget the broken glass and death matches, Drake Younger can do it all, and regularly does. To me, he is the definition of a hybrid wrestler, and I love the diversity this brings.
Having changed his life this year (in more ways than one), and moved to California, a whole new horizon has opened up for him, including PWG, where he continues to have increasingly fantastic matches to sit alongside 2012 classics such as 60-minute Iron Man vs Callihan.
As I type this, he is completing his 4th tour of Japan, and has already signed a contract for his 5th tour. Every time he returns to the States following one of these tours, he seems to have grown again. It’s a pleasure to watch someone so humble, positive and joyful about their chosen craft, and long may it continue.
Featuring: ACH, Johnny Gargano, Eric Corvis, Jonny Mangue, Chase Brunett, Zane Silver, Matthew Justice, The Pitboss, The Hate Junkies, dany only, Strknyn, Arik Canon, Darin Corbin, Christian Rose, The Submission Squad, Evan Gelistico, Gary Jay, Pierre Abernathy, Dale Patricks, Remi Wilkins, Heidi Lovelace, Nate Stone, Reed Bentley, Tripp Cassidy, Davey Vega, Eric Ryan, The Kentucky Buffet, Alex Castle, Matt Cage, The Hooligans, Devin Cutter, Mason Cutter, Mark Angel, Drew Gulak, Aaron Epic, Pinkie Sanchez, Sugar Dunkerton, The Slaughterhouse, KJ Crush, Maserati Rick, Tony Banks, Rickey Shane Page, Dan Walsh, Johnny Cockstrong, RD Evans
Photos Courtesy Wayne Palmer
On the day that their purchase of Women Superstars Uncensored was confirmed, Beyond Wrestling ventured to Absolute Intense Wrestling’s stomping ground, Turners Hall in Cleveland, in Ohio. But instead of AIW, they had a different dancing partner, in the form of St. Louis Anarchy. The mid-west cousins of Austin’s ACW had perhaps their biggest platform yet for this show. Did Beyond and SLA dare to try and one up AIW on their home turf? Indeed, they dared.
1. Eric Corvis [+11], Jonny Mangue [+2] & Team Beyond (Chase Burnett [-7] & Zane Silver [-3]) vs. Matthew Justice [-1], The Pitboss [+7] & The Hate Junkies (dany only [+4] & Stryknyn [+2]) – Team Beyond versus Team Kill Everyone In Beyond, essentially. Pitboss is facing his former Doom Patrol stablemate, Jonny Mangue, with some new, more like-minded partners in Justice and The Hate Junkies. Prior to this Mangue had helped Pitboss and Chris Dickinson make life hell for Corvis, Brunett, and Silver, but the “Smooth Savage” changed his ways this year and worked with his former rivals.
The match started with a big brawl that spilled to the outside very quick. Team Beyond got the early advantage, but the storm was weathered, and dany only puts his team in control. The “Shitboss”… sorry, Pitboss (only reporting what was chanted) continued to work over Zane Silver, but after a few minutes, Silver made the tag to Eric Corvis. After losing the advantage, the wrestlers at ringside got Corvis back in it by singing the Rocky theme.
Later on Mathew Justice, Pitboss and the Hate Junkies found themselves stacked up together, when Zane Silver dropkicked off the top rope onto all of them in a unique moment. dany only then created another one by suplexing Burnett into a DDT on his own partner Silver. After another melee, Justice caught Corvis with a low blow, and hit two DVDs into the corner on him for the win. A good opening contest, a bit crazy in places, but it had a nice flow. Johnny Cockstrong noted on commentary that The Beasts had a 200lb combined advantage on their opponents, and it ultimately told.
2. Arik Cannon , Darin Corbin  & Christian Rose  vs. The Submission Squad (Evan Gelistico , Gary Jay [-2] & Pierre Abernathy [-1]) – Cannon’s team came out to B.o.B, which Rose noted was not the song they originally intended to come out to. The Submission Squad were looking for a great performance here, with two of the members on losing records going in.
Things were off to a rough start for the Squad when even the referee found himself bodyslamming Gary Jay. As this is a St. Louis Anarchy match, and therefore competed under Anarchy Rules, the match continued. Then there was gigantic showdown between “Big Daddy” Pierre Abernathy and “Ginger Madness” Darin Corbin, and then there was the the usual slo-mo sequence (which Robert Evans, on commentary, followed suit in slo-mo calling). The Squad then took control and Evan “Kick the World” Gelistico pretty much took Christian “Born to Hurt” Rose’s face off. Appropriate. Arik Cannon (the Dastardly Urban Fiend as Evans put it) put down his PBR long enough to come in and run riot all over the Submission Squad. Things then went bonzo gonzo, and Jay used a break in the confusion to pull Cannon’s tights for the pin, and earning a huge win for the Submission Squad.
3. School Of Roc Tag Team Sole Survivor Elimination Match: Dale Patricks , Remi Wilkins  & Heidi Lovelace  vs. Nate Stone , Reed Bentley  & Tripp Cassidy  – Availible in its entirety above, this was a sole survivor elimination match: once a team is completely eliminated, the remaining members of the other team must wrestle each other until there is one winner. A sort of mini Cibernetico. Continue reading
Featuring: ACH, Drew Gulak, Johnny Cockstrong, Nick Talent, Doug Summers, AR Fox, Brian Fury, Julian Starr, Mark Angel, JT Dunn, Steve “The Turtle” Weiner, Anthony Stone, Jonny Mangue, Sugar Dunkerton, Pinkie Sanchez, Aaron Epic, Mikaze, Mark Shurman, Darius Carter, Taka Suzuki
Upstart existentialist promotion Beyond Wrestling held their Crises Precipitate Change show over the weekend of November 19th and 20th, 2011 in North Andover, MA. As some of you may well be aware, Beyond Wrestling is built on the concept of wrestling for wrestlers – there’s typically no fans in the audience, only the other wrestlers on the card watching on as the wrestlers express themselves. In the months leading up this event, Beyond began its expansion into fan attended shows with About Time and Back In Flesh. Crisis was a return to the original formula. However many Beyond mainstays, like Chris Dickinson, Corvis Fear, and Team Beyond, were unavailable due to injury or retirement. This led to multiple new faces making their first appearances in the true Beyond environment, hence the title.
Another big change is that this is the first show in Beyond Wrestling’s new partnership with YouTube. The video is available On Demand for $9.99 there as well as on Smart Mark Video.
Note: Beyond Wrestling applies a ranking system for its wrestlers, which affords wrestlers certain privileges and perks for building up wins, such as making their own matches. I’ll be including each wrestler’s rank with their name, so if you see them with a +, they’re doing well, a – means they need to do better, so here we go…
Your announcer is the almighty Denver Colorado (the man, not the place).
AR Fox [-2] vs. Johnny Cockstrong [+12]
Cockstrong is the current leader in Beyond Wrestling. Most of Cockstrong’s offence involves him trying to stick Fox’s head in his trunks. No wonder he has such a good record. AR Fox comes in intimidated by “the cock,” understandably.
Fox pulls off a nice delayed stomp on Cockstrong. He follows it up with a sweet Skin the Cat into a dropkick in the corner. However, he soon runs into the “Cock of Steel”. Cockstrong spins Fox around in a chair, and then hits the Shining Cock on him. Cockstrong may well be one of my new favourite wrestlers. Fox jumps into the other ring in the building and hits a Tope Con Hilo out of it onto Cockstrong on the floor. Fox then leaps off the other ring, hitting a legdrop onto Cockstrong on the apron of the official ring. Why wasn’t World War 3 like this? Cockstrong shrugs off the Lo Mein Pain and hits the In The Pants Piledriver to put AR Fox away. Cockstrong moves onto +13 points, dropping Fox down to -3. Really fun opener, and I’m happy to see there’s another Cockstrong match later on this show.
Nick Talent [+1] vs. Doug Summers 
Sugar Dunkerton is so happy to be at Nitro… then realises it’s not the year 2000. Talent is a member of the Academy of Anatomy, with teammate Mark Angel seconding him at ringside. This is Summers’ Beyond Wrestling debut, I’ve previously seen him in a 10 person tag in CHIKARA that didn’t particularly impress me with the way it went, so let’s see how he fares here in singles competition.
Both men take time to figure each other out, and it’s Summers who utilises his conservative style to take the early advantage. Talent takes a couple of shortcuts to try and get ahead. Funny moment at this point – Dunkerton takes Talent’s entrance gear and puts it on to goof about. Summers hits a superkick on the outside, but in a bid to take control, Talent careers him into the ringpost, and then hits a facebuster on Summers to the outside.
Talent makes a lot of easy mistakes throughout this match, which Colorado puts down to not having Anthony Stone in his corner anymore, instead of the less experienced Mark Angel. However, Talent does take control, but it doesn’t last long, and Summers hits a Shining Wizard to put him down. Summers lays waste on Talent in the corner, but as the ref tries to break it up, Talent pokes him in the eye, and hits a spin out facebuster for the pin. Talent moves onto +2, dropping Summers to -1.