Wrestling Game StArcade: 4 Ideas for WWE Game Story Modes

by Alex Knapp

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Well, WWE 2K15 is upon us. Sure, the last-gen versions were released this past month, but really, with how beefed up the graphics are and the major addition of the MyCareer feature, the next-gen versions are the ones we really care about. That’s why I’m delaying my review of WWE 2K15 for the time being; seeing as how I don’t have a PS4 yet, I will be waiting until Christmastime to play it and Assassin’s Creed: Unity.  But as I’m anticipating playing 2K15 in between bouts of playing Assassin’s Creed: Rogue to tide me over, I got to thinking about the story mode that 2K15 marketed itself around.

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25 and Under: Dale Patricks at EPW Child’s Play

by Daniel Johnson

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Dale Patricks vs. Eddy Young

Dale Patricks is a wrestler from Indianapolis, Indiana trained under Billy Roc. Debuting in 2011, just months into his career he had already wrestled for some major independent promotions including Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), CHIKARA and AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined. This year Patricks worked for more than half a dozen promotions, but spent the bulk of his time in IWA: Mid-South and Evolution Pro Wrestling (EPW).

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MMA: Wrestling’s Distant Cousin 7

by Daniel Johnson

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He’s arrogant, provocative and incredibly charismatic. He is Conor McGregor.

If you locked TNA wrestler Rockstar Spud in a dungeon, forced him to work out, fed him nothing but PCP then entered him in a real life version of the movie Bloodsport you might get something close to Conor McGregor, but not quite. After all he still wouldn’t be Irish.

McGregor is a unique and dominating force in the octagon and on the mic so much so that during UFC 180 he was a major talking point for commentators Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg in a fight he had nothing to do with: Ricardo Lamas vs. Dennis Bermudez.

Rogan and Goldberg played up Lamas and Bermudez’s trash talk, claiming McGregor’s attitude was infectious. Whether there was legitimate animosity is debatable, but Lamas shocked Bermudez with a first round submission. Of course it would have looked even more impressive if there weren’t three other fights on the card that ended in the first round, but I digress. McGregor has a magnetism to him that most pro wrestlers, heel or face, could only dream of. This kind of aura also makes him a target

So who is going to be the one to finally shut McGregor up? Let’s take a look at McGregor’s would-be rogues gallery (would-be because McGregor is too much of a loudmouth to classify as a hero who would need a rogues gallery).

Dennis Siver

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Whether Dennis Siver will be the one to shove McGregor’s foot in his mouth remains to be seen, but he’ll be the next to get a chance at it. Scheduled to battle McGregor at UFC Fight Night in January 2015, Siver comes off a unanimous decision win over Charles Rosa. Earning the UFC Fight of the Night, this 35 year-old Russian-German 10 year veteran could make a much bigger name for himself with a win over the talkative Irishman. Certainly, Siver has come a long way since fighting in comparatively small venues in Germany and Sweden. That being said Siver doesn’t have the most impressive record with 9 losses, with three fairly decisive ones happening in the past five years.

Ricardo Lamas

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UFC could tell an excellent story in the build up with Lamas being the one to step up to loud mouths. Lamas has the personality of a soiled sofa seat so anyone looks more charismatic than him by comparison. Dennis Bermudez was no exception and came off like a captivating jerk leading into their fight despite Lamas having “The Bully” as his nickname. Up against Lamas, McGregor will look like the devil himself. This fight is a no brainer. On top of their polar opposite personalities UFC ranks Lamas fourth for featherweights and McGregor right below him. Lamas stands a good chance at being the one to put the kibosh on McGregor. He may not have nearly the momentum McGregor has been collecting, but Lamas’ only loss in nearly four years came at the hands of UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. And that was only by decision when Lamas went to the limit with Aldo after five rounds.

Cub Swanson

cubswansonOn July 6, 2013 Cub Swanson won by TKO for the third time within 18 months. Since then Swanson has yet to achieve another TKO, but I bet he’d like to add McGregor to his list of victims. Before he has a chance to do it, Swanson first has to go through Frankie Edgar at the next UFC Fight Night. If he can get passed Edgar, which is by no means a given, he could soon be the next UFC Featherweight Champion. Swanson would then become the target for McGregor. Having to possibly fight Aldo and McGregor within a year or so? It’s tough to be envious of Swanson, but if he defeats those two he’ll be well on his way to legend status.

Chad Mendes

chadmendesWhen Chad Mendes recently questioned McGregor’s wrestling ability, the quick witted Irishman came back with “I could rest my balls on your forehead.” If these two fight it’s going to get nasty and I’m not just talking about the pre-fight interviews. Mendes was Aldo’s latest challenger and while he didn’t walk out victorious like Lamas he went the limit with the champ. Unlike Lamas, Mendes would be undefeated in his professional MMA career if it were not for his two fights with Aldo. While Aldo seems to have Mendes’ number time will tell if McGregor does.

Jose Aldo

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If McGregor gets a shot at the UFC Featherweight Championship, Jose Aldo is almost certainly the man he will face. Why is that such a sure thing? Because the last time Aldo didn’t get his hand raised after a fight was on November 26, 2005. If McGregor is on a hot streak than Aldo is having a streak in danger of incinerating the planet. Just think of Aldo’s contemporaries with winning streams. Names like The Undertaker. No! Scratch that. I forgot, we’re talking about MMA here. Anyway, names like Jon Jones, Georges St. Pierre, even Anderson Silva before Chris Weidman put an end to him, all had their streaks start after Aldo’s. Even more impressive than the names are the shear numbers. Over a nearly 10 year period Aldo holds a record of 18 wins, 0 losses. Those 18 wins include 6 TKOs. To McGregor’s advantage though he has a longer reach, taller height and is even slightly younger than Aldo. Oh yeah, McGregor also is no stranger to winning by TKOs having racked up 10 of his own in less time.

Regardless of who knocks McGregor’s mouth shut, let’s hope this Irishman’s momentum continues for a while. The guy is just too entertaining to watch.

Photo Credits:

Photos 1-2, 4-6: en.wikipedia.org

Photo 3: sherdog.com

 

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Old School Flashback: Ivan Rasputin Wrestles Dick Afflis aka Dick The Bruiser

by Daniel Johnson

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Ivan Rasputin vs. Dick Afflis

If you’re into vintage beefy and tough wrestlers, but don’t have a lot of time then this clip preserved by Chicago Film Archives through the Russ and Sylvia Davis Collection, 1932-1970 is for you!

Ivan Rasputin was one of the original Soviet baddies as The Cold War was terrifying people worldwide. The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels by Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson has an informative and brief write-up of Rasputin. Unlike some foreign heels of the time, according to the book Rasputin had some legitimate roots as his parents had moved to the United States from Ukraine. Although actually born in Chelsea, Massachusetts and debuting in 1935, before The Cold War was even a thing, Rasputin with his broad, but untoned and hairy body and fearsome beard had a natural heel look for the era.

Before he was mangling up and comers in Detroit, Michigan, Dick the Bruiser, just went by Dick Afflis. While some wrestlers build up their bodies over the course of their career, Bruiser was not one of them. A former lineman for the Green Bay Packers one has to feel sorry for his mother’s womb because this guy was made out of granite.

Afflis may have been out brawling in the streets of Chicago before this match took place because commentator Russ Davis can’t help but notice the future Bruiser has a huge bruise on him. “This is a real grade a mouse, it’s almost rat size that he’s wearing on his left eye,” Davis jokes.

Given the slow pacing, fans at the Chicago International Amphitheatre are not on their feet for the whole encounter, but certainly seem up for a test of strength, which Dick easily wins. Shame. If Rasputin had studied more in Professional Wrestling 101 he would have known to kick Afflis in the gut. Although Rasputin clamps on the bear hug Soviet heels are so infamous for, Afflis escapes and then lets loose with a series of football tackles including one that nearly knocks the referee out of the ring. Go Packers!

Dick wins it with a flying body press and fans of  Fred Kohler’s NWA territory rejoice!

The full match can be seen right here:

For more in the Old School Flashback series showcasing wrestling from Chicago click here and here.

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Alex Alligator Interview

by Daniel Johnson

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Photo Courtesy of Alex Alligator

Interviewer’s Note: Alex Alligator is a young wrestler fighting out of Spain. He began his career in 2009 and first sought to become a wrestler while living in Cadiz. He was so determined to wrestle that he moved from the bottom of the Iberian Peninsula to Barcelona, nearly 700 miles away. In Barcelona, Alligator trained at Super Wrestling Alliance (SWA), the Spanish company which has a working agreement with ZERO 1 in Japan and is sometimes referred to as ZERO 1 Spain. Before he was known as Alligator, Alex had his first match with Zack Sabre, Jr. after a nine day training seminar. Since then Alligator has continued to grow as a performer working for five different wrestling promotions in Spain, most recently making his debut for Revolution Championship Wrestling (RCW). Other promotions Alligator has worked for include 3×4 Lucha LibrePro Wrestling Euskadi (PWE) and Consejo Intercontinental de Lucha (CIL). Alligator can be found on Twitter @alexalligator and his YouTube page can be found here. This interview was completed on September 29, 2014. In this interview Alligator and I focus on the topic of being a young wrestler today in Spain.

Daniel Johnson: What is your first memory of being a wrestling fan and how did you first get into pro wrestling?
Alex Alligator: Rey Mysterio vs. JBL on Smackdown, 2006 I think. After 10 years without wrestling on Spanish TV, WWE was coming back with Smackdown and Raw. I was 14 years-old at this moment.

Daniel Johnson: When did you decide you wanted to go from more than a fan and become a pro wrestler?
Alex Alligator: Maybe from the first time that I watched wrestling, I was thinking “I really want to do this.” But in July 2009 I decided to become this, thinking in something real. I traveled to Barcelona for a nine day wrestling seminar managed by Jorge Catalina with the participation of two top European wrestlers: Zack Sabre, Jr. and Andy Wild. After this training I made my debut against Zack Sabre, Jr. These nine days had been one of the best experiences in my life.

Daniel Johnson: How did you come up with the name Alex Alligator?
Alex Alligator: I didn’t have it in mind when I made my debut after nine days of training. However, I was booked on a show for the last day. My real name is Alex, but I needed something more for my name so my trainers decided to put me this “random” surname, Alligator. Alligator was so successful that I decided to stay with it.

Daniel Johnson: How is it training to become a wrestler in Spain, where did you train?
Alex Alligator: My first training was that nine days that I mentioned. I had to move from Cadiz to Barcelona, 1,100 kilometers. The following summer I decided to bring Zack Sabre, Jr. to Cadiz for 20 days. Another awesome experience with one of the best young European wrestlers of the moment! From 2009 to now I have been wrestling around Spain. In 2013 I was in the first ZERO 1 pro wrestling tryout in Barcelona, with Paul Tracey managing the training and castings.

Daniel Johnson: Are there a lot of wrestling schools in Spain? Are there any you would recommend other than the one you trained at?
Alex Alligator: I began my trainings with SWA, Spain, which currently has an agreement with ZERO 1, Japan. I totally recommend them from my experience. Then there are some more good wrestling schools, where I never trained, but ruled by very good wrestlers with whom I have had the pleasure of wrestling, like 3×4 Lucha Libre and Spanish Pro Wrestling (SPW).

Daniel Johnson: For someone who has never seen you wrestle how would you describe yourself as a performer in a few words?
Alex Alligator: Hit and Jump. I try to dominate with a good amount of kicking, and finish with my high flying arsenal.

Daniel Johnson: You have been wrestling since 2009. What are your memories of your early career and early matches?
Alex Alligator: The debut against Zack was so special, he was a top European wrestler at the moment and I was just a rookie. I got a feel what it is like working with a great wrestling performer and a great wrestling mind from my debut. My next matches against the best Spanish pro wrestlers were a big experience too, I had some good chances to define my style and show to the crowd who Alex Alligator is. I have many memories from these years.

Daniel Johnson: I first saw you wrestle in a match you had for PWE. How did you first get involved with this promotion? Also, is this the promotion you work for most often? If not then what is?
Alex Alligator: Pro Wrestling Euskadi was an awesome project based in Bilbao. The promoter and I had a friend in common, who talked to him about me. He saw some videos and decided to put me on the show against maybe the best Spanish pro wrestler from this generation, La Pulga. Sadly, the first was the last show too, PWE decided to stop running. In December 2014, it looks like PWE will come back with a campus managed by TNA superstar Doug Williams. I really hope they come back as strong as they looked at their first show. The promotion where I wrestle more often is SWA, Super Wrestling Alliance, which now has an arrangement with ZERO 1, Japan. That was my school and the place where I feel at home.

Daniel Johnson: How many promotions in Spain have you worked for so far and what have they been? Also are there any promotions you have yet to work for that you would like to either in Spain or beyond it?
Alex Alligator: I have worked for four Spanish promotions: SWA, 3×4 Lucha Libre, PWE and CIL. And this October 4 I will work with RCW, another big project with a very good look.

Daniel Johnson: I was curious do you think there is anything particularly unique about wrestling fans in Spain? For instance do they enjoy certain parts of wrestling more than other parts?
Alex Alligator: The Spanish fans are especially loud, it gives you the proper atmosphere to make things big. People like El Generico and Paul London have made very good comments about their feelings on Spanish crowds.

Daniel Johnson: Speaking more broadly of wrestling in Spain, aside from yourself I was wondering what other Spanish wrestlers there are that you think readers should check out?
Alex Alligator: In my opinion, there are four big names that you must know in Spanish pro wrestling: Bad Boy, La Pulga, Axel Salazar and Mascara de Leon. Guys from my generation, young wrestlers that evolved and worked very hard for years. I had the opportunity to face all of them and check how hard they trained to be top athletes.

Daniel Johnson: On a similar topic what do you consider to be your best match so far and why?
Alex Alligator: It is always difficult to answer, but I would say that my match against Bad Boy in Barcelona at SWA. I took part in a storyline to stop him, and I really needed to give my best to succeed. After all, I did.

Daniel Johnson: You have worked with some internationally known wrestlers like Zack Sabre Jr. and La Pulga. What has it been like to work with that quality of talent?
Alex Alligator: A big chance for learning. Professional people like them always make you better.

Daniel Johnson: On a similar subject I was curious who your dream opponent would be?
Alex Alligator: Big names like Daniel Bryan, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles are obvious. But there is a European pro wrestler that I really want to work with and his name is Tommy End. I am a big fan of his wrestling vision and to have a match with him is one of my big goals.

Daniel Johnson: This is kind of a random question, but I have not been able to see your more recent matches. I was curious do you still use this as your entrance music? Also, what made you pick that as a theme song?
Alex Alligator: Well, the truth is that this song is a joke. I have never really used it. A good friend of mine found this on the Internet and made me this video. I thought that the song was funny and I shared it. I used to enter to “Kill Humans” by Dubsidia.

Daniel Johnson: How do you feel you have grown as a performer since debuting in 2009?
Alex Alligator: I have a better athletic condition and more experience, but there is still a long way.

Daniel Johnson: Looking to the future what do you hope to accomplish in the remainder of 2014 and even looking forward to 2015?
Alex Alligator: The RCW debut is a big chance to make a new partner and work more often. I hope to keep this connection in 2015 and as long as I can. I really want to end 2015 traveling to England too.

Daniel Johnson: Before I get into my final series of questions I was curious if there was anything else you would like to say about the wrestling scene in Spain?
Alex Alligator: I ask for readers to keep an eye on Spanish wrestling, a young generation which is called to put Spain on the wrestling world map.

Daniel Johnson: I like to end each interview with five non-wrestling questions followed by a few more short questions. First, what is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Alex Alligator: The Shadow Out of Time by H.P. Lovecraft. If you like science fiction it is a must read.

Daniel Johnson: What has been your favorite movie to come out in the last year?
Alex Alligator: Guardians of the Galaxy.

Daniel Johnson: Along the same lines what do you enjoy watching on television these days?
Alex Alligator: With Utopia and Game of Thrones filming; I like to watch The Big Bang Theory, Family Guy or just something that makes me laugh.

Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out in the last year?
Alex Alligator: “Immunity” by Zomboy.

Daniel Johnson: Have you tried any new foods in the past year? If so what has been the food that you have enjoyed the most?
Alex Alligator: Boar chops, just awesome.

Daniel Johnson: Ending with just a few more wrestling questions who is one wrestler 25 or younger that you think readers should know about?
Alex Alligator: Mark Andrews, a British high flyer who is young, talented and even experienced.

Daniel Johnson: Ribs and road stories are almost always fun. Do you have any that you could share?
Alex Alligator: Maybe check out how scary Bad Bones is live in Barcelona.

Daniel Johnson: This may be a bit of an odd question, but I’m always curious to find out what people think about is weird. What, if anything, do you think is the weirdest part of being a wrestler in Spain?
Alex Alligator: When I’m asked the question, ‘Wrestling? What is this?’

Daniel Johnson: My final question is, is there anything you would like to add?
Alex Alligator: I would like to thank you and your readers for the interest, and ask them again to support Spanish wrestling and get a great surprise. If you want to know more about me and Spanish wrestling, find me on Twitter as @alexalligator and on Youtube as Alex Alligator. Thank you again and mucha lucha!

Check out Alex Alligator in action! In this match Alligator wrestles the man with a devastating package piledriver, Axel Storm, as part of the SWA King of the Ring 2010:

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25 and Under: Miguel Ramirez at NEW in Germany

by Daniel Johnson

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Miguel Ramirez vs. Adrian Severe

Don’t let the name fool you. Miguel Ramirez is an Austrian wrestler who debuted in 2011, but before he did he slapped on a mask and put together the first two latino sounding names he could think of. Regardless of how generic and inauthentic Ramirez’s name may be, this 5’7″, 160 lbs performer has a solid build given his small frame and is a beyond decent high flyer especially considering he is just 19 years-old.

In July 2013, Ramirez opened the NEW Deadline 2013 card for former WCW talent, Alex Wright’s promotion, New European Championship Wrestling (NEW). Ramirez’s match was also the first bout in the NEW Deadline Tournament 2013. The premise of this tournament was that 10 singles matches were held and limited to 10 minutes. The winner of each of these matches would then advance to a multi-person ladder match with the winner of that performance being the tournament winner.

For Ramirez’s match his opponent was Adrian Severe who at the time held the NEW World Heavyweight Championship. Despite just being 6’0″ Severe towers over Ramirez, which makes his agility all the more surprising. This allows for some nifty spots the best of which is when Severe springs off the middle of the top rope only to get super kicked. The move looks about as impressive as when Shawn Michaels blew away Shelton Benjamin with the same style kick on an episode of WWE Monday Night Raw many moons ago. Severe really gives Ramirez a chance to shine when he misses a frogsplash then eats a tilt-a-whirl DDT from the faux luchador.

As good as Ramirez looks in this match it ends with Severe performing a fallaway slam for the victory.

The full match can be seen right here:

The next NEW show will be NEW Internet Wars 2 on December 6 in Hessdorf, Bavaria, Germany. Click here for tickets (site is in German).

For the full results of NEW Deadline 2013 click here.

For more in the 25 and Under series featuring Europeans colliding click here and here.

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Site News 11/18/14

by Daniel Johnson

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Hey there! The Johnson Transcript is finishing up 2014, but plans to go out with a bang!

First, there is a brand new series I’ve put together entitled 6 Tremendous Wrestlers Under 26. The thought behind this series is that The Johnson Transcript is meant to highlight young talent, especially foreign and indie performers such as has been done with the 25 and Under series. I always thought a great and direct way to do this was to feature the matches and include some background/thoughts on them. The problem with that is not all talented young wrestlers have clips online or more often they might, but then the footage may have some issues with it. For instance, it may come from an unofficial source that can’t be posted here, be of poor video quality or have any number of other problems. Many of these videos also don’t stay up forever and get yanked down leaving write-ups on here confusing. So rather than just ignore these performers, 6 Tremendous Wrestlers Under 26 will give you the scoop on six stars a shot. These are not necessarily the six best indie/foreign talents out there, but rather six that may have been overlooked and are worth checking out.

In the debut piece for November 2014 listed in no particular order of skill are Fenix, Will Ospreay, Eita Kobayashi, Konosuke Takeshita, Astral and Chii Tomiya. Read it here!

A second series entitled Another 6 Tremendous Wrestlers Under 26 will also debut next week. The pieces are broken up for shorter and more enjoyable reads. Tentatively, each month a new installment of each will be published.

This brings me to my next bit of news, which is that daily updates for The Johnson Transcript are just not possible at this time nor is a set schedule. I am currently working to put together a consistent schedule for 2015. In the meantime that doesn’t mean updates will stop. Far from it! In fact, The Johnson Transcript has a slew of content slated for November, December and January! I’ll keep from giving away everything at once, but here are a couple of things to look forward to.

The first interview since October was posted yesterday. I chatted with IWF Heavyweight Champion, Ilya Malkin and he had a lot of neat stuff to say, so check that out here. Another interview is scheduled to be posted tomorrow! Look out for some more interesting reads with great talent soon!

In addition to interviews returning so will voting for The Johnson Transcript Surging Star Award! Voting will be held in January 2014 and close on January 31 at 1:00 p.m. If you never heard of The Johnson Transcript Surging Star Award or The Crown J then what you should know can be found in this post about last year’s award. Look out for a new post about this year’s eligible talent on December 1!

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6 Tremendous Wrestlers Under 26 November 2014

by Daniel Johnson

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November 2014 is a fun time to be a wrestling fan. Don’t get me wrong. WWE Survivor Series 2014 looks to be another lame duck special event just like Survivor Series has been for years now. Likewise, any news about TNA, such as the company moving from Spike to the considerably less popular Destination America looks to be a bummer. No, if you are looking to the American big leagues as your only source to have fun as a wrestling fan than you are limiting yourself something fierce. Especially since so much young and exciting talent has yet to appear in WWE or TNA. Mexico is producing some great matches and aside from the regular AAA and CMLL shows, Lucha Underground is an emerging and exciting product. Likewise, while NJPW may be getting the most attention among Japanese companies by far, there is just so many talented Japanese wrestlers it is worth looking at more than just one company. Lastly, indies the world over produce so much entertaining and engaging material that it is impossible for any fan to absorb it all. So, in no particular order, here are six tremendous wrestlers under 26 worth checking out!

6. Chii Tomiya

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Chii Tomiya aka Micro is a 23 year-old joshi wrestler. At her most active from 2009 to 2011, Tomiya wrestled over 100 matches. In recent years this 4’8″ wonder hasn’t been nearly as busy, but is far from retired. Trained by 1990′s joshi star Emi Sakura and the flamboyant Keita Yano, Tomiya got her start wrestling for the Ice Ribbon promotion. At Ice Ribbon, Tomiya held gold on two occasions. First as co-holder of the Ice Ribbon Tag Team Championship with Isami Kodaka in 2010 then as Ice Ribbon Internet Wrestling-19 Champion in 2011. Tomiya popped up for her first notable match in months at a 666 show on November 1 where she teamed with GENTARO against Kana and NENE mugen D.a.i. in a winning effort.

5. Astral

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Astral is the current holder of the CMLL World Mini Estrella Championship, which he won back in September in a two out of three falls match against Pequeno Olimpico. The nephew of 23 year veteran Pierrothito, who he has worked matches with, Astral has wrestling in his blood. Astral stands taller than his uncle, barely qualifying as a mini at 5’3″ and about 150 lbs. This month Astral has won a variety of tag matches in CMLL teaming with the likes of Ultimo Dragoncito, Electrico and Shockertcito. Astral also goes by the name Pequeno Oro, which means, “small gold” in English. If Astral keeps his work ethic up his current championship will not be his last. Perhaps one day he will be known as Mucho Oro.

4. Konosuke Takeshita

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Happy Motel is a stable which formed this year in Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) in Japan. The group is made up of 36 year-old experienced comedy wrestler Antonio Honda and the younger duo of Tetsuya Endo and Konosuke Takeshita. Still a teenager at just 19 years-old, the most junior member of the group, Takeshita debut in 2012 and has consistently demonstrated technical skill nearly unknown among newly budding performers. For the Tokyo Sports awards he was named rookie of the year in 2013 and nearly received the same honor from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards, but came in second, below Yohei Komatsu. Takeshita has wrestled exclusively for DDT since beginning his career and with the company he has held two titles. For seven days Happy Motel held the DDT KO-D Six Man Tag Team Championship. More recently in September Endo and Takeshita won the DDT KO-D Tag Team Champioship and their run continues to this day. As a singles performer Takeshita enjoyed success mere days ago when he nearly won the DDT Sumo Tournament Akibasho at Korakuen Hall before falling to the always powerful Shuji Ishikawa in the finals.

3. Eita Kobayashi

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Agile, athletic and unstoppable are just a few ways to describe Eita Kobayashi. The 23 year-old Dragon Gate (DG) wrestler is on course to wrestle over 100 matches in 2014, which will be his third year straight wrestling a number of matches in the triple digits. This dude has tremendous range excelling as a technician, but also capable of hitting hard. In July Eita won the DG Open the Twin Gate Championship with his Millenials’ stablemate, T-Hawk for the second time. Earlier this year Eita also had a 90 day stint holding the DG Open the Triangle Gate Championship with T-Hawk and U-T. While Eita has earned plenty of kayfabe prizes he has also enjoyed critical acclaim from fans of Japanese wrestlng throughout the world. In 2012 he notably achieve third place in the rookie of the year category for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards. In between the Observer honor and his more recent success Eita wrestled for over a year for the International Wrestling Revolution Group (IWRG) and has had various matches in notable companies like Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA), EVOLVE and even AAA. And no, he’s not related to WWE NXT’s Hideo Itami aka Kenta Kobayashi!

2. Will Ospreay

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Wrestling out of Rainham, Essex, England, Will Ospreay has been making a splash in 2014 particularly in the last few weeks. Ospreay has not been known to stay exclusive to one wrestling promotion so it should come as no surprise this year Ospreay has wrestled for more than ten companies. These are not small entites either, but rather some big names in the business like Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), Westside Xtreme Wrestling (WXW) and Preston City Wrestling (PCW). That is not to say Ospreay has only wrestled a match or two for each of the places he has worked. For instance, the United Kingdom’s Southside Wrestling Entertainment (SWE) is where Ospreay has worked most often in 2014 with over a dozen matches under his belt including some with some top tier indie talent. Just three notable names Ospreay has worked with include Christopher Daniels (as Curry Man), Roderick Strong and Zack Sabre, Jr. The 21 year-old Englishman also has some straps to carry around. On October 25 Ospreay won the SWE Speed King Championship. Less than a week earlier for England’s Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW), he won the RPW British Cruiserweight Championship in London from Josh Bodom in a match also involving Rich Swann. AJ Styles may have to watch his back because the 630 splash this high flyer delivers is simply phenomenal. Also, he is insane.

1. Fenix

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If Lucha Underground becomes a true force to be reckon with not just on the American wrestling scene, but in wrestling in general then Fenix’s career will only continue to soar. This Mexican 23 year-old will be celebrating his tenth year in the business in 2015, but with the pace Fenix sets for his matches it just makes sense he would still be so young while celebrating such a milestone. Fenix’s  highlight reel making moves like the Fenix driver and Spanish fly may be career risking in less capable hands, but this luchador looks to have a lengthy career. The man is a master acrobat. The baby brother of fellow AAA performer Pentagon, Jr. and journeyman wrestler Ikaro, Fenix has already had a small taste of AAA gold by winning the AAA Fusion Championship in 2013. Although AAA’s somewhat oversaturated title scene gave good reason for this title to be made inactive, Fenix continues to have action packed bouts. Fenix has also traveled a fair bit as in addition to the Lucha Underground Los Angeles tapings, in September 2013, Fenix wrestled 11 matches in less than two weeks for NOAH. Arguably the highlight of these showings was a singles match for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship with Taijiri Ishimori, which was also the final performance Fenix gave before returning to Mexico.

More wrestlers under 26 from around the world can be found here and here.

Photo Credits:

Photo 1: youtube.com

Photo 2: cmll.com

Photos 3, 6: en.wikipedia.org

Photo 4: dragonsystem.wikia.com

Photo 5: thebritishwrestlingrevival.wordpress.com

 

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Ilya Malkin Interview

by Daniel Johnson

ilyamalkin

Photo Courtesy of Ilya Malkin

Interviewer’s Note: Ilya Malkin is a Russian wrestler with seven year of in-ring experience. Malkin chiefly performs for the Independent Wrestling Federation (IWF) in Russia where he is the current holder of the IWF Heavyweight Championship. Malkin earned the title on January 25, 2014 when he defeated Ivan Markov at IWF Danger Zone 81. Aside from wrestling for Russia’s only major independent promotion, Malkin is an internationally traveled competitor and has had a particularly exciting 2014. This year Malkin has debuted for Beyond Wrestling, International Wrestling Cartel (IWC) and Vicious Outcast Wrestling (VOW), all of which are based in the United States. Malkin has also worked in Singapore for the first time in 2014 where he wrestled Zema Ion and Johnny Gargano in separate matches for Singapore Pro Wrestling (SPW). This interview was completed on September 15, 2014. In this interview Malkin and I focus on his current run with the IWF Heavyweight Championship.

Daniel Johnson: For those unfamiliar with you where and when were you born and how long have you been wrestling?
Ilya Malkin: I was born in Moscow, I have been a professional wrestler for seven years.

Daniel Johnson: Where did you train to become a wrestler and how long did you train before having your first match?
Ilya Malkin: I spent training in IWF in Russia. In fact, I very quickly mastered the basics of wrestling, because I very much like wrestling, wrestling to me is life! And it took me four months before I had my first match.

Daniel Johnson: I was curious, correct me if I’m wrong, but you started in 2007 and IWF has been around since 2003. Did you go to any IWF shows as a fan before becoming a wrestler. If so what were your first thoughts of the promotion and how did you transition from fan to wrestler?
Ilya Malkin: IWF began to carry out shows in 2002. I did not go on the show and was not a fan because I was a student in another city, I watched the IWF show on TV and the Internet for following foreign wrestling promotions.

Daniel Johnson: You are of course the current IWF Heavyweight Champion, but going back a little bit I was wondering if you remembered your very first match for IWF. Who was your opponent and what stands out from that encounter for you?
Ilya Malkin: It’s been a long time. I can only highlight the fear that I had the whole match. When I had the match, I was only thinking about one thing, act with dignity, but as it usually happens in the first few times nothing good was obtained lol.

Daniel Johnson: Cool, Getting to more recent times you won the IWF Heavyweight Championship in your first match this year for the promotion. This was in a singles match you wrestled against Ivan Markov who you have wrestled several times before. How did you think of how the match turned out?
Ilya Malkin: Yes, I fought with Ivan Markov. We have had a lot of matches for my championship. Every match with him is unique, and we have had matches with different rules and hardcore matches. He’s a great fighter, working with him is fun and winning a championship from Ivan Markov was a double pleasure.

Daniel Johnson: Do you consider Markov to be one of the wrestlers you have some of the best chemistry with? If so what do you think makes you guys click in the ring?
Ilya Malkin: Yes, yes, yes, I have great chemistry with him. Perhaps this is due to the fact that we have had a lot of matches. Because we are confident in the ring, at 100 percent in each other’s actions.

Daniel Johnson: Who are some other wrestlers you think you have great chemistry with, who you have worked with both inside IWF and beyond it?
Ilya Malkin: I have great chemistry with Anton Deryabin, Zema Ion, Johnny Gargano, Samuray Del Sol and CIMA. Working in the ring with them for me is a great pleasure and experience.

Daniel Johnson: Your first IWF Heavyweight Championship defense was against TNA’s Zema Ion at an IWF Danger Zone show. What stands out about this match for you and about Ion as an opponent?
Ilya Malkin: Yes, my first defense of the championship was against Zema Ion. My first match with him, was in Singapore, even then I realized that I had met in the ring with a true professional and a great talent. The championship match in Moscow against Ion was awesome. He is a TNA star, very popular with Russian fans, and they supported Zema. It was a memorable event, I got invaluable experience.

Daniel Johnson: The following month you wrestled another native Russian, Alexei Schukin. What did you think of how that match went?
Ilya Malkin: Alexei Schukin is a very strong and a decent wrestler, but in my experience and ability for him to help me in the game, I had no problems.

Daniel Johnson: Speaking of native Russian talent for fans that may not be familiar with the Russian wrestling scene so much who are some workers you would suggest they check out? Also, any particular matches you would suggest to a first time viewer of Russian pro wrestling?
Ilya Malkin: In the IWF I would advise to pay attention to Sergey Bely. This guy has recently made his debut, but has already shown a lot in the ring. He already has had matches against foreign stars. He was also on a tour of the USA with me. And of course I can recommend matches with Anton Deryabin and naturally me.

Daniel Johnson: Out of those talents you mentioned or even beyond them what IWF wrestlers are you most looking forward to defending the IWF Heavyweight Championship against in the near future?
Ilya Malkin: I will mention only two, and both of them are not from IWF. I want matches against AJ Styles and Austin Aries.

Daniel Johnson: You have defended the IWF Heavyweight Championship outside of the IWF, wrestling Johnny Gargano back in May. Do you have any particular thoughts that come to mind working this match and on Gargano as an opponent? I believe this was your first time working with him.
Ilya Malkin: Yes. We worked together, first time. Gargano is a great opponent. He has excellent skills and he is amazingly agile. He is an experienced wrestler and maybe I learned something from him.

Daniel Johnson: This is a little off topic, but how has it been working SPW? I know you have been there at least twice. Does this promotion being run by Vadim Koryagin, who also operates IWF, make the experience more comforting all?
Ilya Malkin: There is a difference between SPW and IWF. Different countries, different mentalities. Plus in Singapore it is just the beginning and it is a pleasure to be part of this new federation.

Daniel Johnson: Had you been to Singapore at all before working for SPW? What have been your impressions of the emerging wrestling scene in Singapore?
Ilya Malkin: I’ve never been to Singapore before my working for SPW. The Singapore wrestling scene has a great future thanks to the craziest fans in the world.

Daniel Johnson: Getting back to IWF stuff aside from your current reign you have been wrestling for IWF since your career began seven years ago. How has the promotion changed since you first started working there?
Ilya Malkin: Over the past seven years IWF has grown in quality and popularity. An example of this is some of the wrestlers on our shows have been Zema Ion, El Generico, Samuray Del Sol, CIMA and many others.

Daniel Johnson: Speaking of your IWF career, more generally outside of winning the IWF Heavyweight Championship, what has been your proudest moment in the company?
Ilya Malkin: It’s simple. I created the most influential and dangerous group in the world of pro wrestling.

Daniel Johnson: I know back in 2011 you also won a huge president’s cup 29 man battle royal. What are your thoughts on this match and on battle royals generally?
Ilya Malkin: I like to kick ass and then throw them out of the ring. And after it all I feel like a king of ring.

Daniel Johnson: I wanted to also talk with you a bit about your career outside of IWF. However, before we go on I was wondering if there was anything else you wanted to mention about IWF?
Ilya Malkin: No.

Daniel Johnson: I also wanted to talk a little about your career outside of IWF. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the first time you wrestled outside of IWF was for the Professional Wrestling League (PWL) another promotion based in Russia. How did this come about and what are your thoughts on this promotion?
Ilya Malkin: This promotion no longer exists. In Russia there is only one promotion and it is IWF.

Daniel Johnson: Speaking of your work outside of the IWF, 2014 has been a huge year for you so far. Another promotion you recently worked for, for the first time is the International Wrestling Carter in Pennsylvania. How did that experience come about?
Ilya Malkin: It was an honor to be part of the show, which was attended by such wrestlers as Bret Hart, AJ Styles, The Steiner Brothers and many others. It was a wonderful experience and I’d love to come back again.

Daniel Johnson: You wrestled two matches for IWC one in a three way taking on two of their top stars in Facade and Zema Ion. Another was a three way tag match where you challenged for the IWC Tag Team Championship teaming with Sergey Bely. What memories from these matches most stand out?
Ilya Malkin: I loved working with Jock Samson and great talent “Neon Ninja” Facade.

Daniel Johnson: While in the United States you also wrestled a match a piece for Beyond Wrestling and VOW. How did these opportunists come about and what are your thoughts on each of these matches?
Ilya Malkin: These matches have been in different styles. I took from these matches the best. They helped raise my own skills.

Daniel Johnson: To end interviews I like to ask five non-wrestling related questions followed by a few more brief wrestling questions. My first question in this series is, what is your favorite movie to come out in the last year?
Ilya Malkin: Transformers 4.

Daniel Johnson: What do you enjoy watching on television these days?
Ilya Malkin: Football and NHL hockey.

Daniel Johnson: What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Ilya Malkin: Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time.

Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out in the last year?
Ilya Malkin: None.

Daniel Johnson: Have you tried any new foods in the past year? If so what has been your favorite new food you have tried?
Ilya Malkin: Singaporean food: Hong Kong noodles.

Daniel Johnson: I’m always interested to hear ribs and road stories. Do you have any you would be able to share?
Ilya Malkin: I don’t have any interesting road stories.

Daniel Johnson: I’m also always interested to hear about things people find weird about their own situation. What, if anything, is the weirdest part of being IWF Champion?
Ilya Malkin: I don’t like this question and I’m not going to answer it.

Daniel Johnson: My last question is, is there anything you would like to add?
Ilya Malkin: Nothing.

Check out Ilya Malkin in action! In this match from IWF Danger Zone 76, Malkin takes on Samuray Del Sol, the man who would become Kalisto in WWE NXT a short time later:

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25 and Under: Ethan Wright at MFW

by Daniel Johnson

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Ethan Wright vs. Seth Allen

Ethan Wright is the younger tag team partner of Seth Allen and together they make up The Old School All-Stars. While Allen has been wrestling since 2003, the 25 year-old Wright is much newer to professional wrestling having debuted in 2010.

Wright, a native Ohioan was trained by Harley Race and started out in Race’s World League Wrestling (WLW) where he wrestled chiefly in the Midwestern United States. Before teaming with Allen, Wright held the WLW Tag Team Championship with The Cancun Kid. Since then Wright has traveled a bit and received some new exposure this year when he debuted for the International Wrestling Cartel (IWC) in Pennsylvania by facing Ashley Sixx in May.

Despite being partners Wright and Allen have wrestled each other on more than one occasion. The two have great chemistry and as such it is no surprise than in 2012 they were picked to open a card for Maximum Force Wrestling (MFW) in New York. For MFW Winter War the two got the crowd excited as they assumed opposite roles. Since Allen got more cheers that made Wright the de facto heel. Where Wright really shined is in how savage his shots looked. With how hard Wright appears to be walloping Allen it is a wonder Allen doesn’t start visibly bruising as the clip goes on. Allen not turning into a bloody pulp may prove Wright really knows how to work strikes, but only Allen knows for sure just how well Wright can work those hits.

As the match comes to a close Allen signals that he is putting Wright away, but Wright wiggles out of a fireman’s carry to pin Allen with a roll up. This was a great way to open a show and promoters around the Midwestern and Northeastern United States could still benefit from booking Wright and/or Allen in an opener.

The full match can be seen right here:

MFW is not currently promoting any upcoming shows. Yet, to check out a poster from MFW’s most recent show, MFW Soul Survivor 2014 click here.

For detailed coverage of MFW Winter War click here.

For more in the 25 and Under series featuring wrestlers with great chemistry click here and here.

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