by Daniel Johnson
December 2014 was not a fun time to be a fan of mainstream American wrestling. Ring of Honor (ROH) put on a solid show with ROH Final Battle 2014 as did other smaller companies with their respective big December events. When it come to the so called big leagues though there was not so much going on. Fans who think any WWE pay-per-view held in December has been the pay-per-view of the year are bound to be few and far between. Rather than breaking the mold of subpar December pay-per-views, outside of some exciting moments, WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs…and Stairs (2014) was more of the same. At best it could be described as good, not great, and that’s only if you are an incredibly postie person. I’m talking Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation positive. What TNA put out this month is not worth discussing because there has been zero new actual wrestling from them since October. Yet, those aforementioned smaller companies are filled with young talent worth checking out. They’re not all in the United States either! Now, in no particular order, here are six tremendous wrestlers under 26 worth checking out!
6. Bestia 666
Bestia 666 is a second generation luchador who began wrestling in his early teens and the 25 years-old has stuck with it. Bestia is the son of former WCW undercard talent Damian 666. If all you know about Damian is his work in WCW then all you have is a fraction of a glimpse into his talent. Damian made a name for himself in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW), a promotion known for its hardcore matches, before heading back to North America to wrestle extensively for AAA, CMLL and of course at one point WCW. Bestia has his father’s same dedication for traveling and tends to not stick in one place for too long. The most notable tenure Bestia has had for one promotion was Mexico’s International Wrestling Revolution Group (IWRG). Bestia regularly tags with his father and at IWRG it was no different. Together with X-Fly the father/son team represented the notorious cross promotional stable, Los Perros del Mal and held the IWRG Intecontinental Trios Championship. Bestia can never be accused of just living off of his father’s name and shined as a solo star holding the IWRG Junior de Juniors Championship for over 100 days. Bestia is also arguably more athletic than his old man ever was. Some of Bestia’s more noteworthy appearances in the United States have included working for Extreme Rising (ER), the NWA sanctioned Vendetta Pro Wrestling (VPW) and WildKat Pro Wrestling (WildKat). In fact, last month Bestia captured the WildKat Revolution Championship.
Kotoka is an interesting cat who wrestles a hybrid style that blends incredible high flying spots with technical wrestling. True, that description sounds like how a lot of fans put over their favorite American indie wrestler, but there is something special about Kotoka. He has been wrestling for Dragon Gate (DG) since 2009 and outside of his rookie year he has wrestled at least 100 matches per year from every January to December. Although Kotoka doesn’t have much to show on paper in terms of accomplishments like titles and tournament wins, these feats pale in comparison to simply sitting down and enjoying a Kotoka match. This young man has won his fair share of bouts and has a sick diving double foot stomp. Outside of what Kotoka does on the mat he is apparently adventurous outside of the squared circle. After all not that many Japanese wrestlers travel to Russia to wrestle for the Independent Wrestling Federation (IWF). Kotoka joined the ranks of those select few in 2013 when he traveled to the country and wrestled Russian native Freddy Martello for the IWF Lightweight Championship.
4. Risa Sera
Risa Sera has been wrestling in front of crowds for just over two years, but has already enjoyed some worthwhile success. Sera wrestles mainly for Japan’s Ice Ribbon promotion, but has made stops at all the usual high profile joshi places. Some companies Sera has worked for include Pro Wrestling WAVE, Stardom and Universal Woman’s Pro Wrestling REINA (UWWR or REINA). Sera and partner Maki Narumiya won the Ice Ribbon Tag Team Championship in March and late last month had a successful defense against Cherry and Meari Naito. An interesting tidbit is that while Sera is just 5’6″ and 132 lbs she can hit some pretty impressive power moves. Although it is true enough that some of her opponents have been teenage girls south of 100 lbs. Not to take away from Sera’s athleticism, but it has to be said that she is not exactly slamming King Kong Bundy.
Flamita started his career in 2009 for Desastre Total Ultraviolento (DTU). If the wrestling scene in the Mexico of today could be compared to the wrestling scene in the United States of the 1990s, DTU would kind of, sort of, not really be like ECW. Okay, they would be a tiny bit like ECW. While ECW brought the likes of Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero to a sizable American audience before pretty much anyone else, DTU has gone a long way to develop some homegrown Mexican talent. Unfortunately, there is no longer a WCW to steal wrestlers like Flamita away. To get more prestige and most likely a better paycheck, Flamita and others are instead going abroad. Flamita was impressive enough to land a gig in DG in 2013. This year Flamita is on track to wrestle over 100 matches for DG. Aside from becoming a regular, Flamita also won the DG Open the Brave Gate Championship in March when he defeated the unusual, but captivating Genki Horiguchi HAGeeMee. Flamita had a notable defense earlier this month when he defeated Ryo Jimmy Saito in a bout that went 17 minutes.
2. Kento Miyahara
Kento Miyahara started his career in 2008, mostly wrestling for NOAH and their developmental territory Diamond Ring (DR). Although Miyahara wrestled for DR right up until the promotion became inactive earlier this year his allegiance has changed to AJPW. Miyahara began wrestling the bulk of his matches in AJPW starting in 2013 and he has gone onto prosper there. After joining the Xceed stable Miyahara won the All Asia Tag Team Championship with partner Kotaro Suzuki, an old hand from NOAH who has wrestled since 2001. Miyahara also made it to the finals of the AJPW Real World Tag League 2014. For this endeavor Miyahara did not team with Suzuki, but rather another stablemate, Go Shiozaki. This tournament lasted nearly three weeks and ended earlier this month when the Xceed team lost to Burning Wild consisting of Jun Akiyama and Takao Omori in a match that lasted over 27 mintues. In addition to this recent activity Miyahara also had some notable tag team success in teaming with Katsuhiko Nakajima in NOAH and DR. As a singles performer Miyahara’s accomplishments have been more modest, but he has had some achievements. This month he opened the AJPW Kyohei Wada Referee 40th Anniversary and 60th Anniversary Show by defeating Yuma Aoyagi.
1. Arisa Nakajima
Arisa Nakajima is a regular for Japanese Women’s Pro Wrestling Project (JWP) and is the reigning JWP Openweight Champion having won the title way back in December 2013. This year she defended her title against Leon (JWP), Dash Chisako and Kyoko Kimura. Nakajima also currently holds the REINA World Tag Team Championship, having won this honor in November. Nakajima’s partner in this run is Kana, who is eight years older than her. Nakajima coincidentally started wrestling eight years ago and first worked for JWP back in 2006. This young star is no stranger to tagging with more experienced wrestlers as she has formed the team, Hysteric Babe with 40 year-old Sachie Abe, a joshi performer who has been wrestling for 18 years. Although Nakajima may benefit from having the experience of older workers rubbing off on her she doesn’t team exclusively with performers with a lot more ring time than her. Case in point Nakajima tried to add more gold to her collection this month when she teamed with Hanako Nakamori, who is just a hair older. Together they wrestled Kimura and Command Bolshoi for what are technically two titles: The JWP Tag Team Championship and the JWP Daily Sports Tag Team Championship. Although Nakajima did not win further gold, more significant is her work ethic, which has been demonstrated by the amount she wrestles. In 2013 and 2014 she has wrestled over 40 matches per year for just JWP. She doesn’t just laze about the ring either and instead pulls off some nifty moves.
Photos 1, 3, 5-6: en.wikipedia.org
Photo 2: wrestlingfederation.ru
Photo 4: luchaworld.com
Categories: Wrestling Lists