I love this time of year in wrestling – it feels like everywhere is gearing up for big spring and summer shows, and for those who have promised to make 2019 their year it’s getting towards being the time to put up or shut up. From a fan’s perspective this is great because it means that everyone you see in the ring is looking to impress, and barely a week goes by without a major show from one of the top indie promotions.
Defiant Wrestling is no exception. As I write this, we are just a couple of weeks removed from one of the best events in the company’s history: Lights Out in Leeds (watch it here) was one of those events where you could make a case for any of perhaps 5 or 6 contests being the match of the night, with something for everyone: PAC won his third consecutive match in the promotion with a win over El Phantasmo that was everything you’d imagine it would be, Mark Haskins and Robbie X confirmed their reputations as two of the best in the country, and Gabriel Kidd and David Starr brawled all around the building. The top men’s and women’s titles both changed hands too: the former returning to the waist of the peerless Rampage while the latter was won by Lizzy Styles, whose obscenely obnoxious behaviour has made her a magnet for the ire of the fans since she arrived a few months ago. Say what you will about the One Woman Army, but she has definitely made her mark in a short space of time.
The attention of everyone in Defiant is now on the 3rd annual No Regrets rumble match (get tickets here), which takes place in Manchester on May 25th. This is one of my favourite shows of the year because, y’know, who doesn’t love a rumble?! It’s also one of the trickiest from a commentary perspective, by the way – there’s so much action going on in all corners of the ring that it can be difficult to make sure you keep the viewers abreast of everything that’s happening, especially if the cameras miss an elimination or some other key moment. Nonetheless, I love the unpredictability of those matches and they have produced some great moments in the past two years. Last year is notable for the in-ring debut of Simon Miller, to one of the loudest ovations I’ve ever heard on a Defiant show, so it’s fitting that his pay-per-view return will be at this year’s event after almost nine months sidelined by injury. Could he win it all?
Elsewhere, at the time of writing we are just hours away from another highly unpredictable show some 1000 miles to the east as the German Wrestling Federation gears up for its 2019 instalment of Mystery Mayhem tonight. This show is based around a great concept: four wrestlers have each earned envelopes containing an opportunity at one of the GWF championships, but neither the envelope holders nor the champions know who will face whom until the event itself. This gives the show a huge number of possible twists in the tale: any one of the four men in possession of those envelopes could leave as world champion, but equally they could end up lumbered with the brilliant Loserweight title, awarded to the “worst” wrestler in the company. That distinction would be particularly embarrassing to former world champions Michael Kovac and Pascal Spalter, both of whom hold envelopes, and also to John “Bad Bones” Klinger who is one of the biggest German exports of this golden era. The fourth man with an envelope is my wildcard for the whole show: Justin Wylde was not even alive when some of those other guys started their careers and he’s only on his third GWF show – imagine if he struck it lucky and had the chance to leave tonight as one of the youngest world champions in wrestling history. It’s not impossible, you know! I’ll be providing English commentary for the whole show, which will be available to view in the next few days at wearegwf.com.
Speaking of Wylde, I’ve been delighted in the past few weeks to add his home promotion Hungarian Championship Wrestling to the list of companies for whom I provide commentary. HCW is one of European wrestling’s hidden gems, and I loved calling their recent Vendetta show (watch here) which saw the villainous Zafar Ameen unseat Croatia’s Kris Jokic as champion. Those two are set for a rematch on May 18th in the company’s first ever I Quit match, which I’m sure will be a compelling violent spectacle. HCW has been churning out talent at an impressive rate in recent years: Wylde follows the likes of the Arrows of Hungary (Icarus and Dover) and Benji (not the Defiant one) to GWF, and many of the HCW guys are also headed further afield now too. I know that Benji is headed to OWE in China very soon, for example. Keep an eye on central Europe: it’s teeming with talent that a lot of the big promotions are yet to fully discover.
I won’t be in Budapest on May 18th though, because I’m headed back to Wrestlegate Pro in Nottingham to call their third show having missed the March event due to a scheduling clash with Defiant. I’ve caught up on what I missed though, and I can’t wait to get back: the card at Lions Spirit is genuinely jaw-dropping and presents a major opportunity for everyone involved, most notably Robbie X who is rewarded for his win last time around against Ilja Dragunov by being placed in a three-way showdown with PAC and the legendary Jody Fleisch. I’m also intrigued to see Chris Ridgeway versus Sean Kustom – both men have been right at the heart of the first two Wrestlegate shows but both suffered defeats at the March show against visiting Dragon Gate stars. Only one can regain their momentum on May 18th, and it will be at the other’s expense. If you want to be there to see it, get your tickets here.
Loads of other reasons to be excited in the coming weeks too: I’m really pumped to call Frontline Wrestling’s upcoming anniversary show on June 14th (tickets here) and NGW have their 11th Annual Destiny Special on 8th June at Hull City Hall (tickets here). Oh, and as a fan I’m ridiculously excited to see debut AEW show Double or Nothing on May 25th, not least because several good friends of mine will be getting a well-deserved opportunity to shine in that global spotlight. Also, Cody’s recent promo for his match against his brother Dustin is legitimately mind-blowing: if it doesn’t give you goosebumps then you might want to go and see your doctor. Check it out here if you somehow haven’t seen it already.
That’s all for now!