Hello again folks. On this New Years Eve, I wanted to post something special that I feel passionately about. If you know me, you will know that I frequent many Texas wrestling shows (probably too many for my own good), and by doing so, I have seen a ton of great matches and an even greater amount of talented pro-wrestlers. Many people, including myself, once believed that Texas was an absolute deserted island when it comes to indie wrestling. But, the Lone Star State is finally being seen as an area where wrestling is thriving. However, many of the great talents that frequents the area are still unknown to many. So this post is all about spreading the word of the lesser known, but amazing people I have seen traverse the roads to show after show, that you need to know about. So let's start it off.
I’ve talked with other local fans of the Texas independent scene and we all agree that JoJo Bravo needs to become the next big thing in independent wrestling. JoJo is confident both in the ring and with his character, and the only way to describe him is entertaining. It has gotten to the point that when I see him listed on a card, I can guarantee that it will be a good match. He is very slick in the ring, has an amazing decorum with the fans both at shows and on social media, and he will constantly come up with something new that will surprise you. Whether it was dressing up as Yokozuna for Halloween or finishing off a Shiranui by walking on the ceiling of a small venue, JoJo is truly something that you have to see to believe.
2012 has definitely been a great year for the career of Bolt Brady, who is a local talent that any company would be lucky enough to have. He has consistently improved in the ring, show after show, and has established himself not only in Texas, but in places like St. Louis for St. Louis Anarchy, Louisiana for NWA Wildkat, and many more. This year, Bolt has put on many phenomenal matches, especially in ACW against the likes of Robert Evans, Jerry Lynn, Davey Richards, Arik Cannon, and most recently a show-stealing contest with indie wrestling standout ACH. As I mentioned before, any company would be lucky enough to have Bolt Brady in their locker room, both for his amazing work ethic and his ability to connect with fans young and old.
The biggest consensus when it comes to this local star is that Carson is the closest of anyone in both skill and in look to being on national TV. Only starting in 2009, Carson has already risen to become one of the top stars in the state of Texas, competing with Texas greats like Scot Summers, Jaykus Plisken, Mike Dell and more. Carson is the poster child for hard work and determination paying off, definitely being shown this year as he captured his biggest title to date, the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship, when he defeated the over 1 year former champion Shaun Tempers for NWA Houston. After winning the prestigious title, Carson has now had the opportunity to travel to other parts of the country, spreading his name further, as he gains more experience and knowledge every trip. One look at Carson and you can understand that this rising star truly gets it.
Barbi Hayden: @BarbiHayden
Just like many of the names mentioned before, the best adjective in which to describe Barbi Hayden is “well-rounded”. This up and comer has been showing recently that she can adapt and perform in any situation that is put in front of her. I have seen her perform as a phenomenally entertaining heel, truly encompassing the “Barbie” mentality, as well as a strong baby face who has grown a great following by not just adult males, but young girls who look up to her as a role model. But the key is to not let the blonde hair fool you. Many people look at Hayden and expect to see the type of “female wrestling” that you will see on television with those that would rather be called “Divas” than wrestlers. But then, she is able to immediately shut the nay-sayers up. She has been excelling in that aspect most recently for Anarchy Championship Wrestling, where she is the current American Joshi champion. A perfect example of this is the chain-wrestling contest she had with independent standout Portia Perez in the month of October, which made the Anarchy crowd realize that Barbi is one to be contended with. Always studying, learning and progressing, Barbi is one talent that is a plus to have on any show.
I suggest anyone reading this to pop in a Barrett Brown match of recent, then after watching it, get your head wrapped around the fact that he is only 18 years of age. It baffles me at times how much talent this athlete has for his age, as he wrestles like he is in his mid 20’s. The truth is Barrett has many years of experience wrestling and he is now getting a chance to show it. The three-way Barrett Brown had at the most recent ACW Lonestar Classic with ACH and JoJo Bravo is a must watch, and I have no doubt that Barrett Brown will be having more matches like it in the near future.
Jack Jameson: @JamesonsBeard
Jack Jameson has a sweet beard. He’s also a huge fan of the local convenience store chain “Buccees” (As am I and you should all be), and you will at times see him rocking a piece of clothing with the face of the Cookie Monster on it. But not to mention, he is also a great pro wrestler, and an especially dedicated one. You may notice the Jack Jameson of a couple of years ago isn’t the same Jack you see today. That is because around a year ago, Jack decided that he wanted to improve and not just be another wrestler on a show. He wanted to be better. So he packed up and went to the far off land of Canada to train with Lance Storm at the “Storm Wrestling Academy”, and he will be the first to tell you how much he has learned from the experience. Not only is he highly entertaining and can make me crack up every time he is in the ring, but he is always striving to be better. A man who is extremely goal oriented and constantly looking to improve, Jack Jameson is one to put on your radar.
Some may say that I could be impartial to Rudy since he is a fellow Corpus Christi native (Trust me, there is very few of us), but he definitely deserves to be mentioned on this list. From the events filled with very few to the events filled with so many, Rudy consistently delivers and puts on a show. From the first match I saw of his I was able to understand how much technical skill he has, and since that time he has never once faltered as far as I’ve seen. And trust me, I’ve seen a lot. With his work with various NWA affiliates, he has started to branch out and gain more success, which is great to see for someone with such clear talent.
This man radiates personality. Whenever Starks is either wrestling or jawing with a fan, you can tell that this comes naturally to him. Many times, it’s the little things about a wrestler that takes them from good to awesome in my book, and Ricky Starks is an example of that. He understands that you must tell a story from the minute you exit the back to the minute you enter back, and he does so with more than just the in-ring action, but his facial expressions and mannerisms throughout. He has gained a good amount of success, including getting a look on Smackdown with a spot in a handicap match against Jinder Mahal. I have a strong feeling that Starks will begin to be recognized more in 2013.
I’ve only been a fan on the Texas independent scene for about a year now, and one of the things I hear a lot is “Man, has Alex Reigns come a long way”. I have no idea where he started in his career, but if he continues the way he has been going now, Alex Reigns will soon break out and dominate the scene. He is succinct with his movements and provides a great sense of psychology in all of his matches that many people can learn from. Reigns shows that simple wrestling can be affective and entertaining. Look for more opportunities for him in the new year.
Jason Silver: @JasonSilverTX
Jason Silver is the true definition of a daredevil. He has gained a lot of opportunity this year in Anarchy Championship Wrestling, including a dog-collar match where he was literally hung from the balcony inside Mohawks, a ladder match melee where he was able to exhibit his risk-taking abilities and a hardcore war with Matthew Palmer which involved a great deal of innovative offense including the use of a television set. But that isn’t the reason Silver is on this list. In my opinion, the style of wrestling he does can either be done lazy or done correctly, and Silver performs it in the latter. He doesn’t try anything he knows he cannot do properly, and that is a small aspect that is overlooked by a lot of people. Also, I’m pretty sure he’s close to immortal as far as his encounters with stairs and concrete floors, so how can I not put him on this list?
Many people think me as an “indie wrestling fan”, that I only enjoy smaller guys who are quick and innovative. Not true at all. Take for example one of my favorite up and coming big men on the independents Killah Kash. My first big memory of him was after a match of his in ACW, where after winning, he became pounding on the mat and letting out a primal scream the likes of which I’ve never heard before. It took me back in a way that I didn’t expect it too. Since then, Kash has continued to deliver as an extremely intimidating figure, including being part of an intense war with Scot Summers that involved them abusing each other with thick cinder blocks. Kash has also noted recently that he is looking to expand beyond Texas, which I think is great to see. If any company is looking for a giant wrecking machine that will go full force, Kash is the one to pick.
I remember my first exposure to Kyle Hawk involved him being in a multi-man battle royal, which doesn’t always give full perspective of how good a wrestler can be. I’ve now begun to watch his stuff more often, and he is growing into one of my favorites. He had a surprisingly phenomenal encounter with Jaykus Plisken at a San Antonio event a couple of months ago (Texas Heat Wrestling) that really opened my eyes to this young talent’s potential. With the combination of his in-ring prowess, intriguing character and obvious hard work, Kyle Hawk is a great combination of what to look for in a wrestler.
Another impressive big man who is more than meets the eye is Bobby “The Lumberjack” Lambert. What at first glance looks to be a performer with an over the top gimmick is actually an imposing figure with a great ton of skill. He clearly understands everything it takes to be a great heel, going beyond just his great size and power, but also with how he interacts with the crowd. Lambert has all the tools to become an even bigger star on the Texas independents, and it is just a matter of time in my opinion.
Well there you have it. That's the list of people that I feel you need to know about if you do not follow the Texas area. And if you do, be sure to spread the word about these performers and all of these performers that you love. When people say "Support Independent Wrestling", its not just because it may be better than the stuff you see on television, but because many people do not know about these guys who wrestle around your state or area every month, and it is our job as fans to spread the word. If you know of anyone you think I missed or from another area that I should know about, please inform me in the comments below and let's get a conversation going.
*Photos Courtesy of Texas Anarchy Photography and Kelsey Sullivan Photography