So mania week was hectic huh? There was around 30 events and so I'm sure I'm going to miss some good matches, and of course what makes a good match is subjective. All that to say, I have watched A LOT of indie wrestling this last week, and there has been so much amazing wrestling that I wanted to showcase. So consider this list a guide as to big things that happened, who did well, who were standouts, and what shows you should start with. This covers all kinds of shows, and while I tried not to let it consume the article too much, I did get to gush about my love of deathmatch wrestling. So let's get started with the ironman performers of the week.
10 Match Club
I went into this assuming no one would even reach ten, and eight or so would be the highest, but two wrestlers managed to pull it off. They had very different weekends, but both wrestlers have a couple things in common. One: they each went deep into a tournament. Two: they were on both The Collective and Showcase of the Independents. Three: they didn't wrestle each other. I mention this last point because I really want to see it happen now. They both put on a great week and if you didn't already know how great they were, then you will now.
Nolan Edward: Nolan put in quite a few deathmatch performances over the weekend which is part of what makes this so surprising he put on ten matches. By Saturday night he was more bandage than mine, but it's hard not to root for him. Between his amazing match with Daniel Garcia(more on that later) and his tournament run to the semi finals of Battle of the Tough Guys, Edward had a huge weekend, but his biggest came at ICW No Holds Barred volume 12 in his rematch with Dan Maff. Their first match last year was an absolute barn burner(they were in an actual barn even!), and the rematch was hotly anticipated. The match lived up to the hype but the post match speech by Maff truly sealed Edward as a star of the weekend.
Lee Moriarty: Lee started his weekend defending his IWTV title against Edith Surreal in a great main event to Family Reunion part 1, and his week just kept going from there. He made it to the finals of Acid Cup 3, facing Calvin Tankman, Jordan Oliver, JJ Garret, and AJ Gray. He had epic fights with Lio Rush and Rich Swann. He wrapped it up with the Gray Sweatpants Battle Royal and matches with Steve Madison and Appollo Starr. What makes this even crazier is that Lee did this in only 2 days. Nolan did it over 4, but Lee cut that time in half. Moriarty absolutely showcased why he is the face of independent wrestling, and put on so many great fights.
5 Must Watch Shows
So, so, so many shows happened mania week, but I want to suggest five full shows you should take time to watch. Of course, I think there are many more worth watching, but these were my personal favorites top to bottom. Every show has must see matches, but these shows it was hard to even pick just two to suggest. Shows from Showcase of the Independents are on IWTV, while shows from The Collective are available for purchase on FITE TV.
IWTV Family Reunion parts 1 and 2 So this is kind of cheating, but since both shows happened back to back I'm treating them as one giant show with a one hour intermission. Taking place on the Thursday of Showcase of the Independents, so many matches felt like they could be a main event, due to the nature of the show. Almost every match was representing a different company that airs on IWTV, so each match felt like a main event for that company. We saw titles on the line, big grudge matches, multi person tag extravaganzas, and more. Part one stand outs include the Camp Leapfrog opener, the IWTV number one contender match between Adam Priest and Wheeler Yuta, Daniel Makabe vs Jaden Newman, and the incredible IWTV title match between Lee Moriarty and Edith Surreal. The IWTV match especially felt truly special as two workhorses showed their technical prowess in what I hope is not the last time they meet. In part two we had Billie Starkz vs Gary Jay, Cabana Man Dan vs Derek Neal for the New South Title and Daniel Garcia defending the C4 and Limitless titles vs Kevin Ku. Both these shows were incredible and must see.
Jimmy Lloyd's Degeneration F This show is just 2 plus hours of the next generation of wrestlers hungry to kick down the door. Young, Dumb, and Broke vs the Unguided, JJ Garrett vs Marcus Mathers, Atticus Cogar vs Tre Lamar, Jordan Oliver vs Everret Connors, and that's just some of the undercard. Nolan Edward vs Daniel Garcia and Jimmy Lloyd vs Starboy Charlie were the headliners. This show impressed the crap out of me and in general might be my favorite watch. JJ Garrett vs Marcus Mathers might personally be my favorite match of the entire week and was a true showcase of two bright stars of tomorrow.
Allie Kat's Real Hot Girl Shit: This show started off hot with Allysin kay vs Jordynne Grace and was headlined by Allie Kat vs Billie Starkz. After that was the Faye Jackson Grey Sweatpants Battle Royal which was of course tons of fun. Other great matches include Tasha Steelz vs Trish Adora and Holidead vs Dark Sheik. A personal favorite of mine from the show was Willow Nightingale vs Brooke Valentine with some excellent heel work from Valentine. Dark Sheik vs Holidead was well worth the wait and the great thing about this show is that almost every match could have been a main event. Billie Starkz truly looked like a main eventer here, and it's worth every penny.
Have Fun Be Sad: Part of Showcase of the Independents, this show had it all. AJ Gray vs JD Drake opening the show for the SUP Bonestorm Title, AC Mack vs Myron Reed, an unsanctioned match between Nolan Edward and Angelus Layne, and so much more. The show was co-promoted by Action and Southern Underground Pro and saw Adam Priest vs Matt Makowski and Jon Davis vs O'Shay Edwards in two very hard hitting fights. The main event saw FinJuice vs Violence is Forever in an incredible tag team match. There were a good number of names I wasn't super familiar with on the card, but everyone put on a good performance and the whole show just felt very special. Come for that completely unexpected main event, stay for an incredibly indie showcase.
Farewell to the Pawn Shop: This weekend was absolutely great for Deathmatch wrestling. I wanted to pick just one out of the 10 or so shows that happened and I settled on Farewell to the Pawn Shop(it didn't end up happening at the pawn shop due to famous weather issues) because it's just so special. We'll talk more about the opening and main event later, but Neil Diamond Cutter vs Tank, Orin Veidt vs Bobby Beverly, Satu Jinn vs Ruben Steel and more were all absolutely fantastic. We'll talk more about this show at best moment of the weekend, but if you've ever been interested in deathmatch you must see this show.
Over the weekend two 16 person tournaments happened. One took place as part of GCW's The Collective, and the other was part of IWTV's Showcase of the Independents. The two tournaments were quite different, and each is worth watching for their own reasons. They represent different styles of wrestling, and gave us very different winners. Acid Cup 3 from GCW was about traditional wrestling matches and showcasing talent of different generations and styles. It had multiple AAA wrestlers from Mexico, indie veterans, and bright up and comers. ICW NHB Pitfighter X Battle of the Tough Guys also featured a variety of new and older wrestlers, but didn't have a ring. The whole show took place in a cage with a floor and that was it. Some matches had weapons, some didn't, and a good deal of matches ended quick by ref stoppage or knockout. Very different but good tournaments, and the winners deserve to be applauded.
Dan Maff: The winner of Battle of the Tough Guys, it's hard to think of anyone who deserves it more than Maff. With over 35 championship wins, matches everywhere from CZW and ROH to NWA and NJPW, Maff has been wrestling since the late 90's and definitely earned this win. This wasn't just handing a big moment to the old guard either, Maff fought in four matches in the span of about 6 hours, and looked dominant in all of them. Maff is a tremendous talent and the fact that at this point in his career he is winning big tournaments and wrestling the crap out of people half his age shows that Maff is hitting another career high and that he's nowhere near done yet.
Jordan Oliver: Speaking of wrestlers half Maff's age, we have the winner of Acid Cup 3: Jordan Oliver. Oliver has been getting weekly attention because of MLW but he still absolutely rocks it on the indie scene. Outside of Acid Cup, Oliver fought everyone from Jimmy Lloyd to Everett Connors this weekend, and he really showed why he makes sense as a winner. Oliver is an incredibly talent wrestler, and one who we'll be talking about again in a second. Big Breakfast, the Clout Cutter, whatever you want to call this member of Young, Dumb, and Broke, he's a star that you can literally feel the excitement around. He's going to be a household name sooner rather than later, and this Acid Cup win just feels like a sign of that pending future.
Other Must See Matches
Of course, those weren't the only shows, so here are just five more must see matches.
Lio Rush vs Lee Moriarty-For the Culture: Two of the best in the world today just absolutely tearing it down. I knew this was going to be good, and it didn't disappoint.
Lio Rush vs Jordan Oliver-rSpring Break: One more Lio match, but technically this is Blackheart Lio Rush. When Lio busts out the blackheart persona everyone needs to watch out. To stand out on a Spring Break show takes a special performance, and these two went a solid 20 minutes. Oliver hits a beautiful suicide dive cutter but it's not enough. Blackheart gets the win in a great match.
JD Drake vs MV Young-Effy's Big Gay Brunch: One of the best matches of Effy's Big Gay Brunch saw these two frankly just try to outpunch the other one. MV Young has been absolutely dominating on the indie scene lately, and to take on an AEW star was wonderful for him and hopefully got more eyes on him.
Hoodfoot vs Casanova Valentine-Fueled by Spite: Not quite a deathmatch but still very hardcore. These two just beat the crap out of each other with chairs until one just can't stand anymore. It's a great fight, and Hoodfoot is quickly becoming one of my favorite wrestlers. Definitely watch this.
Faith in Nothing vs Besties in the World-Time Capsule: Rickey and Vincent recently fought in the tournament for tomorrow and at IWA Mid-South, but before that they hadn't teamed since 2011. When they wrestle together it doesn't look like they've been apart even one day. These two put on absolutely great clinic showcasing what a good tag team looks like.
Edith Surreal: IWTV gave her basically a mania entrance. It's truly something special as she enters through an art gallery of herself. It's a beautiful entrance and frankly better than anything from Mania.
Moxley attacks Gage: Even if you don't watch indie stuff, I know you heard about this. Jon Moxley attacked Nick Gage setting up their first match since 2010. The attack itself was brutal, but everyone is excited to see where this goes.
Maff/Edward Family promo OR Murdoch wins the ICW Title: I told you we'd come back to Farewell to the Pawn Shop. In the opening match, Nolan Edward won the big rematch with Dan Maff. The match itself was fantastic, but the promo after was truly something special. Maff gets choked up(I'm not saying he was crying he'd kill me) as he talks about Nolan and how special the kid is. He tells Nolan that ICW is his family. Nolan takes the mic, says family, and heads out. It was a special, beautiful moment you have to see. Later in the night, before the epic 15 month in the making rematch between Eric Ryan and John Wayne Murdoch, promoter Danny Demanto got in the ring and shocked everyone, including the fighters themselves, by unveiling the ICW American Deathmatch Championship. The match became even more special because of this, as two incredibly talented wrestlers fight for a beautiful belt.
Name to Look for
Billie Starkz: If you haven't seen Billie before, she absolutely shone this week. She main evented a ppv, fought Gary Jay and had another four matches, all while being a literal child and keeping a 4.0 GPA. She is a true joy to see wrestle and a wrestler to keep an eye on. If she's main eventing now, this kid has nowhere to go but up.
Tag Team to Look For
The Unguided: They only had one match as a team but Matt Vadagriff and Damian Drake are fantastic. The Future Stars of Wrestling Tag Team Champions only had one shot to make an impression as a tag team and they certainly didn't waste it. I will be keeping an eye on them that's for sure.
So that's just a sliver of mania week! So, so, so much happened. But I hope you enjoyed this look. I encourage you that after you see all the shows listed here to keep watching and see what matches are your favorite. Most importantly though, everyone gave it their all, and it truly feels like Indie wrestling is alive and well.