by Daniel Johnson
November 2014 will be remembered as a historic year for wrestling fans. After all Sting finally debuted onscreen at WWE Survivor Series 2014. While it is unknown when Sting will wrestle or how many matches he will wrestle some things are more certain. Many young performers are continuing to wrestle, some over 100 matches a year, well outside of the confines and security of WWE. These performers are not limited to the United States either, but have their homes in places like Japan, Mexico and…Denmark? That’s right Denmark has a small, but healthy wrestling scene. The spectacle of an event like Survivor Series is tough to match and even more difficult to surpass. Yet, if all you are looking for is one big spectacle in pro wrestling you are missing out big time. November has been historic, but future histories may be even more exciting. These stories will be told by the up and comers of today. So, in no particular order of talent, here are another six tremendous wrestlers under 26 worth checking out!
6. Michael Fynne
Michael Fynne is a 20 year-old Danish wrestler who debuted in 2010 and has mostly stuck to wrestling in Denmark where he is a big fish in a small pond. At 6’2″ and weighing close to 190 lbs Fynne is slender, but looks big enough when next to other Danish wrestlers since the current scene in Denmark is not all about pushing hulking and massive he-men. A trademark that makes Fynne unique is his braided hair, which looks out of place as again this guy almost wrestles exclusively in Denmark. The first exception came when he began traveling to Sweden in August 2012. In that country Fynne has wrestled for Svensk Wrestling Syd (SWS) and GBG Wrestling. Fynne also debuted in Germany this past March for Maximum Wrestling (MW). In his homeland Fynne has enjoyed his greatest success, wrestling for Dansk Pro Wrestling (DPW) and Wrestling.dk (WDK). In February Fynne won the DPW Heavyweight Championship and was briefly a dual champion as he also held the WDK Championship from April to August. This month Fynne unsuccessfully attempted to regain the WDK Championship in a four way ladder match. While he lost that match, in the opener of the same event, WDK ZombieSlam IV, he defeated Lars Schjotler, a nine year veteran of the Danish wrestling scene. By the way, Fynne is perhaps even more successful in his day job as a rapper.
5. Mayu Iwatani
Mayu Iwatani is the reigning Wonder of Stardom Champion, which is kind of like being the WWE Intercontinental Champion of Japan’s Stardom promotion. Iwatani debuted at the start of 2011 after training with Fuka, a joshi star who travels a lot and never seems to stay in the same place for long. Perhaps inspired by her mentor, Iwatani has had a lot of one-off appearances performing for places like ZERO 1, WRESTLE-1 and Japanese Women’s Pro Wrestling Project (JWP). However, Iwatani always comes back to Stardom. In May she traveled abroad for the first time wrestling in two eight men tag matches for Toryumon Mexico and LEGEND Promociones, respectively. Although this month Iwatani has mostly wrestled in tag matches she also had a chance to defend her singles championship successfully against Miho Wakizawa.
4. Io Shirai
Io Shirai has become a real fixture in Stardom since debuting with them in August 2011. At 24 years-old this amazingly agile joshi star is already a seven year veteran having originally trained unter Tomohiko Hashimoto, a man known for wearing a variety of hats in the wrestling industry. Shirai is on track to wrestle her most matches for Stardom in one year in 2014, breaking the record of 42 bouts she had with the company in 2013. These matches include those held for the World of Stardom Championship, which Shirai had a remarkable 468 day reign with. Although Shirai mostly stays in Stardom, wrestling at or near the top of the card, in May she was another Stardom talent on the trip to Mexico. There she worked for Toryumon Mexico, LEGEND Promociones and Women Wrestling Stars (WWS) in a show held in conjunction with Stardom entitled WWS/Stardom MexJap All Stars. Currently, Shirai is the reigning NEO High Speed Champion having won the strap in May from Natsuki Taiyo. Shirai continues to impress as she opened this month teaming with Yoshiko in an attempt to capture the Goddesses of Stardom Championship.
3. Yosuke Santa Maria
When one pictures Yosuke Santa Maria his over the top attire and flamboyant personality may get in the way of his skill. Especially with all the faux sensual spots that punctuate his matches. There is some real early Goldust-esque stuff in this young man. Make no mistake about it Dragon Gate (DG) has a reason for keeping him around as he just keeps working and wanting to succeed more. In fact, Maria had his most matches in one calendar year in 2014 and he still has more than a month left to perform. Maria is sometimes stuck in dark matches, but DG saw enough promise in him to have him work back to back dates for Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA) in February. In July, Maria explored more new ground by working in a six man tag team match in the main event of an Osaka Pro Wrestling (OPW) card. As he finishes up his fourth full year in the wrestling business Maria goes into 2015 looking strong.
2. Sho Tanaka
Sho Tanaka started his career two years ago this month and is already a critically acclaimed talent. In 2013 he came in fourth place for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards rookie of the year. With good reason too as when he was just 23 years-old he was already appearing on major cards for NJPW. Tanaka has not always been prominently featured and has even lost to Captain New Japan. Still, in an industry where wins and losses are far from everything Tanaka continues to hone his craft. At the beginning of the month Tanaka wrestled Bullet Club members The Young Bucks, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson as well as Yujiro Takahashi in a match also involving Japanese veterans Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Tiger Mask IV. In fact lately Tanaka has wrestled a lot of American talent with opponents including Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Rob Conway. This experience should prove to be invaluable to Tanaka and make him a more versatile performer. Tanaka is a hungry competitor who keeps clawing to break out and 2015 just might be the year he does it.
1. Titan (CMLL)
Titan, wrestling mostly for CMLL in Mexico, may have a generic name, but he is hardly a run of the mill performer. Also, this guy has some work ethic! In 2013 he wrestled over 100 matches and accomplished the same feat this year in September. Although like many lucha libre stars Titan has had his share of tag team matches, he has also stuck out from other CMLL stars by being a featured singles performer. Titan won the the Mexican National Welterweight Championship in December 2013 from 19 year veteran, Averno and had his most recent defense just days ago against Polvora, another talent more than a decade his senior. That’s right, this luchador is just 24 years-old and can probably bust out more moonsault variations than birthday cakes he has eaten. Also, if you think this man limits himself to Mexico then think again! In January 2013 Titan debuted for NJPW and came back later that year for NJPW Best of the Super Junior XX.In 2014 Titan returned to NJPW and worked with experienced stars like TAKA Michinoku, Jedo and Gedo among others. With roughly seven years experience under his belt and a ton of gas left there is no telling where the ceiling is for Titan or if this high flyer even has one.
Photo 1: danskprowrestling.dk
Photos 2-3: en.wikipedia.org
Photo 4: dragonsystem.wikia.com
Photo 5: ign.com
Photo 6: mediotiempo.com
Categories: Wrestling Lists