Tuesday , 22 July 2014
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Power Ranking: Top 10 Wrestlers On The American Independent Circuit

Everything has to begin somewhere.

Not so long ago professional wrestling was an ensemble of miniature territories, operated by promoters in different regions of not just North America, but the world. Jim Crockett Promotions would inevitably become World Championship Wrestling, Eastern Championship Wrestling would become Paul Heyman and Todd Gordon’s revolutionary Extreme Championship Wrestling, and Vincent K. McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation whom tore the territorial system to shreds in the earlier 1980′s, signing North America’s top stars to deals at the time who some found indescribable.

Throughout the 1990′s the territorial system was all but dead, but as a Phoenix rises from the ashes, from it rose a new circuit for young stars to hone their craft, labelled the independent wrestling circuit. These promotions initially sought to revive the feel of old school territorial wrestling after former territories either went national or went out of business.

Modern day independent wrestling lacks exposure, whereas back in the territorial or regional systems local television access was easy to come by, nowadays a promotion is lucky to gain a weekly television slot even in their local area. Most promotions survive off word of mouth, social media outlets such as YouTube and Twitter or their respective websites.

Some independent wrestling promotions to have garnered some essence of reputation include Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, renowned for its comedic supershow titles such as “PWG Sells Out,” “PWG Free Admission (Just Kidding)” and their top event, “PWG Kurt RussellMania,” invitational tournaments which features world renowned talent and explicit content.

Combat Zone Wrestling gained notoriety for its comparisons to Extreme Championship Wrestling, even at one stage promoting itself as “the prodigy” of Paul Heyman’s product, before labelling themselves as an “ultra violent” promotion. Combat Zone Wrestling operates predominantly in the Philadelphia region; it was also featured in the highly acclaimed film “The Wrestler,” which features Mickey Rourke’s character facing CZW stalwart Necro Butcher.

Other independent promotions to find success include CHIKARA who offer a comedic brand of PG rated performing, Jersey All Pro Wrestling which has now been steadily holding one show a month for fifteen years, having held matches including the likes of Christian, Booker T, Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Rob Van Dam, and Dragon Gate USA which is operated with a cross promotion from Dragon Gate Japan, by Gabe Sapolsky.

The most prominent independent promotion in modern day professional wrestling is North-eastern based Ring of Honor. Some argue that Ring of Honor isn’t even an independent promotion anymore; most consider it a modern day regional territory, as it operates throughout the North-eastern side of the United States. It can be seen in 23% of American homes and is owned by a national parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group.

All these promotions have one thing in common however – they produce top quality professional wrestlers. Everyone has to begin somewhere, as a football player would begin with a hometown team, a wrestler begins with an independent wrestling promotion or wrestling school – unless they’re from a wealthy background or have a wrestling lineage.

Current mainstream wrestling stars Antonio Cesaro, Kassius Ohno, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Austin Aries, Kenny King, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Doug Williams, Evan Bourne and CM Punk are but a few stars whose backgrounds are forged through several of the independent wrestling promotions noted already.

And as they continue their rise, two recognized as current World Champions and two others being former World Champions, the generation of wrestling stars tomorrow continue honing their craft, stealing the show and building backgrounds of their own in which they can be proud of. We are about to look at the stars of tomorrow with my ranking of the top ten independent wrestling stars of today.

10. Chuck Taylor
If Chuck Taylor has anything going for him it’s a promising career ahead of him. Hailing from Raccoon City, Kentucky, 26-year-old Taylor has been becoming more-and-more impressive with each passing year, truly breaking out in 2010 as a member of the EVOLVE Wrestling roster.

Prior to this Taylor was a regular of CHIKARA and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, still featuring regularly for both promotions as well as Dragon Gate USA.

Gabe Sapolsky has nothing but positive words to say in-relation to Chuck Taylor, stating in a 2011 interview with SlamSports.com, “Chuck Taylor has a natural connection to the crowd and a natural charisma.Some guys either have it or don’t. He has it,” Sapolsky said. “He is a very athletic wrestler capable of many different styles, a very versatile performer. Chuck is a lot of fun to watch wrestle.”

During the CHIKARA invasion of Ring of Honor in the early months of the year, which featured  cross promoting iPay-Per-Views, in an online poll hosted by ProWrestling.com on which CHIKARA star fans would most like to see in Ring of Honor, Taylor won with 42% of the vote, the nearest to him being Mike Quackenbush, with 21%.

9. Adam Cole
If his name and likeness seems familiar, all you got to do is scroll upward and look to your right and you’ll notice my upcoming interview with the man who takes the number nine position on my ranking, current ROH World Television Champion, Adam Cole. Just behind Jon Moxley, he is the best product Combat Zone has produced.

Adam Cole has shown potential since his very first match for Combat Zone Wrestling, competing primarily for CZW, Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Cole has been able to amass an impressive career for someone who is still only 23-years-old.

As noted, current ROH World Television Champion, former CZW World Junior Heavyweight Champion, CZW Best of the Best X tournament winner which featured notable independent names such as Sami Callihan, Kyle O’Reilly and Johnny Gargano, plus Wrestling Observer Newsletter 2010 Rookie of the Year.

Speaking of Kyle O’Reilly, Cole also managed to earn himself an early Match of the Year candidate with their impressive and unique hybrid fighting rules match from Best in The World 2012, which many feel is the match people will look back on in years to come as the one which truly made Adam Cole a performer to be reckoned with.

8. Sami Callihan
With an extensive repertoire of treacherous maneuvers, the sky’s the limit for the crazed “New Horror.”

Callihan first gained notoriety in Combat Zone Wrestling when he won a battle royal on his debut, going on to capture every singles title CZW has to offer, even winning the most recent Best of the Best tournament, and since then, he’s taken EVOLVE/Dragon Gate USA by storm.

“The Callihan Death Machine” recently formed a team with Arik Cannon and Pinkie Sanchez called the D.U.F. (Dirty Ugly F***s) and have become legitimate threats in DGUSA. Callihan’s best known for his deadly Headlock Snapmare finisher the Headlock Driver, and at the rate he’s going, the wins shouldn’t stop for this dormant competitor.

Callihan has featured for several top independent promotions including Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Syndicate, as noted Dragon Gate USA/EVOLVE and Jersey All Pro Wrestling. Seemingly adaptable to all styles, Callihan can fly with the best of them, brawl with the most rugged you can find and hit harder than Mike Tyson on the set of The Hangover.

And to top it all off, Callihan is one of a number of names WWE and Triple H‘s new development department have reportedly been taking a vested interest in, during recent months.

7. The Briscoe Brothers
#DemBoys.

What can be said about Mark and Jay, The Briscoe Brothers? Controversial, loud mouths, entertaining, talented, eye catching, loyal, these two believe more than anybody else that Ring of Honor is where it’s at, they are arguably the best tag team in professional wrestling right now from an overall perspective, I’m talking character, speaking ability, in-ring prowess, you name it.

Mark and Jay have been in Ring of Honor since day one, they are the team that nobody seems capable of prying away from the black canvas of honor.

On several occasions throughout the years reports have surfaced that WWE are interested in The Briscoe Brothers, and each time a report surfaces, “#DemBoys” from Lourel, Delaware take their video camera, head out to the barn and make sure everyone knows where their allegiance lays.

Other than an 18-month absence from August 2004 to February 2006, the brothers have been focal points of the company throughout its history, feuding with some of their biggest stars and holding the ROH World Tag Team Championship a record seven times as a team.

Mark and Jay came close to signing for WWE in the winter of 2009, participating in a tryout before a Smackdown tapings and visiting Florida Championship Wrestling, but much like most things, when The Briscoe Brothers don’t like what they’ve seen, they get their video camera, Uncle Jeffro and tell the world how “#DemBoys” feel.

“Reach for the sky boy!”

6. Joey Ryan
As of late Joey Ryan may be more known for his leadership of the “87%ers” against the “farce” which is Total Nonstop Action Wrestling’s Gut Check segment featured on their Open Fight Night themed monthly show.

But before this and for more than a couple years, Joey Ryan has been one of the most entertaining characters featured on the American independent circuit.

Ryan is one-sixth owner of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, not for nothing, he also reigned as the longest PWG World Heavyweight Champion, featured for several independent promotions including a brief stint in Ring of Honor. And now “Legalize Sleaze” has became one of the most marketable and supported names on the independent circuit, riding a wave of momentum created by his appearance in the Gut Check segment.

Ryan isn’t one of the most gifted performers in the ring, but he is smart.

Joey Ryan knows how to push himself, his name and his slogans, having trended worldwide on Twitter three times now – ignore your personal opinion of Twitter in wrestling, it’s called smart business – selling hundreds of “Legalize Sleaze” t-shirts and working an angle with a mainstream wrestling promotion, Ryan may soon not feature as a top independent talent and instead as a top mainstream talent.

5. Davey Richards
Despite several factors including his recent shoot interview with Highspots, the incident involving three independent promoters which you can read about here, and his recent admission that he edges closer to retirement, Davey Richards talent is still unquestionable, no matter how poor his attitude gets.

Richards’s reputation and high praise stems not from his impressive microphone ability, his look or his presence, but from what he produces inside a wrestling ring. His style may come under criticism, but when you look at it realistically, Davey Richards could be argued as one of the best wrestlers on the planet right now.

A former ROH World Champion, Richards is no stranger to gold, holding a title belt in every company he’s competed for, not for nothing, Davey is also a tag team specialist, the team of he and Eddie Edwards gained high praise for their performances throughout the independent circuit working under the name “The American Wolves.”

Sadly Richards career is dwindling to a close, as Davey plans to retire in the summer of 2013 in-order to pursue a career as a fireman, he’s turned down a WWE contract offer in the past, admittedly unable to work their rigorous schedule despite being a fan of their product.

4. Colt Cabana
Remember Scotty Goldman? Yeah, me neither, WWE signed Colt Cabana to a deal previously, picking up his contract shortly after the main roster debut of best friend CM Punk.

Cabana was poorly used and implemented in an unfitting position, despite this Colt has been able to attract a passionate following that support him no matter where he competes.

Cabana is an odd combination of comedic ability, charisma and genuine in-ring ability.

Several times during his time with Ring of Honor opponents attempted to take his light hearted personality and exploit it as a weakness, only to be flabbergasted as Cabana out wrestled them no matter what style they utilized.

Colt has featured for damn near everybody who can put on a good show. Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Combat Zone Wrestling, Full Impact Pro, Ohio Valley Wrestling, Juggalo Championship Wrestling and was most recently the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, losing it back to previous holder Adam Pearce on July 21st.

Cabana is a name performing on the independent wrestling circuit recognized throughout America by professional wrestling fans, he’s appeared several times at WWE events ringside supporting best friend and former tag team partner CM Punk, hosts the Art of Wrestling podcast which obtains over a million listeners and is currently venturing into comedy. Not bad for a guy who could only feature on WWE’s website.

3. Johnny Gargano
If you’ve not heard the name Johnny Gargano, you’ve been living under the rock for the past year and need to leave Patrick Starr and get on with your day.

Gargano is one of the hottest prospects currently walking the Indies, competing primarily for Dragon Gate USA and CHIKARA, Gargano most recently made headlined due to interest shown from the boys in Connecticut.

Johnny has the look, he has the talking ability and the walking ability, at 24-years of age and almost a decade of experience already under his belt Johnny Gargano can’t go anywhere but upward as he strives to prove he isn’t just hype.

Gargano describes his in-ring persona as, “someone lacking self awareness and living in his own deluded little world”. Gargano is the current Dragon Gate USA Open the Freedom Gate Champion, as previously noted, he defeated former partner Chuck Taylor last weekend in an “I Quit” match which gained high acclaim from wrestling critics and fans alike.

And post match, Gargano would take to the microphone and much like others have to their respective independent promotions, announce he’d turned down a WWE contract offer and would be resigning with Dragon Gate USA.

2. Sara Del Rey
When you think of women’s wrestling chances are the first few names heard would include Beth Phoenix, Trish Stratus, Lita, Gail Kim, Awesome Kong and others.

When in actual fact there has been a female performer tearing up the independent circuit for several years now, earning the acclaim of just about everyone as the single best female wrestler in the world, some stating, of all-time.

Sara Del Rey is 31-years-old and has performed throughout the world, she isn’t just limited to females, on an upcoming show Del Rey will challenge for the CHIKARA Grand Championship, currently held by Eddie Kingston, some may frown upon a woman challenging a male performer for a company’s top prize, but when you’re as good as Del Rey is you can pretty challenge whoever you damn well wish.

Sara may soon be, much like Joey Ryan, exempt from this list if I were to re-evaluate the rankings next month. Sara seems poised, if not destined to voyage into the world of mainstream wrestling when she completes her independent wrestling dates later this month and joins World Wrestling Entertainment, where she won’t simply perform, but train the Divas of the WWE, some things they desperately need to know.

Trained by Bryan Danielson, Del Rey is an asset to independent wrestling promoters throughout the globe and her loss will be felt for some time to come later this month, but before she leaves, she still has dates to work for Ring of Honor, and as noted, CHIKARA.

1. Kevin Steen
Only one man could headline this list, there is a reason Kevin Steen has amassed a cult like following, not only has he received praise from stars such as The Rock and Jim Ross, but he has been labelled one of the hottest things in professional wrestling right now, currently reigning as ROH World Champion and leading the stable S.C.U.M.

“Mr. Wrestling” doesn’t respect authority and it showed in 2011. Unceremoniously dismissed from ROH after losing to partner-turned-rival El Generico at Final Battle 2010, Steen took extreme measures to get reinstated.

Steen then won a match against Steve Corino at Final Battle 2011 to do just that and confronted then ROH World Champion Davey Richards and guaranteed to become ROH champ in 2012.

The big man has made good of his word, winning the title in his home nation of Canada at Border Wars in May, continuing to ride his wave of momentum for as far as it can bring him. Steen has seemingly taken all variables into account, whereas in the past Ring of Honor fans turn on their World Champion once he holds the belt, Steen wants you to hate him, so how can you turn he who doesn’t care?

Ring of Honor’s World Championship isn’t the only title Steen currently holds, also reigning as the PWG World Heavyweight Champion and 2CW Heavyweight Champion. Despite his large frame Kevin Steen’s most admirable feature may be his willingness to go high, having moves such as a Springboard Moonsault, 450 Splash and his Steenalizer, a Fallaway Powerbomb onto the apron.

Kevin Steen is currently “the man” on the independent wrestling circuit, and considering he just turned 28-years-old, it may be a question of how long until you begin chanting “Kill Steen Kill!”

Honorable Mentions
Adam Pearce, World’s Greatest Tag Team, Eddie Edwards, Eddie Kingston, Jigsaw, Steve Corino, Kyle O’Reilly, BxB Hulk, Michael Elgin, El Generico.

Make sure to keep up with all my latest postings from here on WrestleEnigma.com and WrestlingINC.com by following my official Twitter account @DragonSagaWE

About Jason Patrick

Jason Patrick is an Irish Journalism student, the current head administrator for WrestleEnigma.com and a writer for PWPonderings.com and ROHWorld.com. Jason has conducted interviews with the likes of Adam Cole, KENTA, Harry Smith, Mike Bennett, Bobby Fish, Davey Richards and many others, he can be followed @JasonPatrickWE where you can ask him anything at all and get a response.
  • Javert

    Joey Ryan is good. As is Del Rey and Callihan, the rest suck though.

  • SiD

    AWESOME. STUFF. RIGHT. HERE. But seriously, excellent job, loved this article. 

  • http://twitter.com/E__RAGE Eric

    Just like Ryan, this taught me about guys that I’ve never seen but know the name. And Joey Ryan likes it, so it’s good in my book

  • hatingsince87

    Willie Mack? Michael Elgin? Drake Younger?

    • https://twitter.com/DragonSagaWE Jason “Dragon Saga” Patrick

      Give Mack a couple more years and I’m sure he could be featuring, I do enjoy watching him when I can, but he doesn’t come close to those I’ve personally ranked. Michael Elgin is following me on Twitter actually, we talk from time-to-time, one of my favorite young wrestlers, but again, has done well to gain an honorable mention. And yeah, Drake Younger would be included if I’d done like Top 25, doesn’t edge the top 10.

  • JacobStachowiak

    Just saw the Brisco video. God damn John Laurentitis. Fucking idiot………gonna go rewatch Cornette’s shoot on him now. haha

  • https://twitter.com/Haybaby1993 Bryan C. Hayden

    Great job on the article. Found it very informative and an interesting read. Never read a top ten list on indy guys before and if you get Joey Ryan’s seal of approval you don’t need anything else man, everyone else can fuck off. Great list and props on it, hope you get more credit from it. I tweeted it to Steen and Del Rey.

  • Spazzmann

    Where in the hell is Steve Demarco in this poll and why is he not rated in the Top Spot? This man is the current GCPPW Heavyweight Champions and the TASW Heavyweight Champion. Talk about a bunch of Makrs that have no respect much less any knowledge on what they base their little poll on.

    • https://twitter.com/DragonSagaWE Jason “Dragon Saga” Patrick

      I watched a couple matches of Demarco from Booker T’s promotion actually, nothing impressive. Average at best, believe he appears for TCW too, right? Again, nothing impressive. He’s fairly along the line too, at least mid-thirties.

      Thanks for airing your opinion though, much appreciated.

    • https://twitter.com/Haybaby1993 Bryan C. Hayden

      If an actual wrestler whose appeared on national television, owns his own company that has featured some of the best talents in the world and who has genuine experience in the profession compliments the article as a “Good read,” then your negative perspective is irrelevant. Who the fuck even is Steve Demarco? The names on this list are known for their talents, come back when that guys actually done something.

      • JacobStachowiak

        Haha, exactly what I was gonna say. 

  • http://twitter.com/PhenomenalRyan Ryan Frye

    Nice read Jason. Taught me a lot about some of these guys I’ve heard about but never really gotten the chance to watch. 

  • Judas Thundersteel

    I’ll just comment on the wrestlers I know. Independent wrestling is something that’s not as accessible as say finding work from an obscure band nobody’s ever heard of (Jumpin Jesus’? German Death Metal, funny name). Plus I’m pretty lazy to look into other indy promotions not named ROH (and SHIMMER).

    1.) Adam Cole, yes, interview with him, that should be fun. I had just found out through the CZWmania videos that Cole was in that promotion. That’s pretty weird to me, of course being far and away better than some of the guys there. His rise to stardom seemed to have started at Young Wolves Rising, as he pinned world champion at the time, Davey Richards, with a crossbody. Then following that up a few months later with the breakout performance in the hybrid fighting rules match. For sure, I came off that match liking Cole more, liking O’Reilly less. Adam Cole has done interviews and he’s referenced CM Punk as an influence. Man, CM Punk is an oldie now. In all seriousness, Cole’s a pretty exciting wrestler. Not so much of a high flier or anything, more of an amalgamation of styles with a good deal of explosiveness. As evidenced at Best in the World, connectability with the fans. That will only grow as he continues on in ROH. The TV title had to be a reward for said performance in the Hammerstein Ballroom.

    2.) CZWmania taught me that Sami Callihan and Dean Ambrose were a tag team there. I have seen some of this guy, mainly in ROH. As far as CZW, something Botchamania showed a lot was the air horn thing. Every time Sami smoke, an air horn went off, which is really annoying. I’m surprised he hasn’t flipped out on a regular basis to that ignorant crap. It’s as bad as “What?” Anyways, another interesting thing is apparently he was a chubber back then, being 300 pounds at one point. Supposedly he lost over 100 pounds or something. That’s what I heard in ROH commentary. Whatever the case, he moves really well, jack of all trades when it comes to wrestling ability. I have read about him being under WWE’s radar. I’d like that to be a reality. Sami Callihan, makes me think of Harry Callahan.

    3.) AH! The latest episode of ROH on TV had an interview with the Briscoes. Mark Briscoe looked to the camera and was frozen still, as if wondering what facial expression to make. It was funny. Recently I saw a video they did addressing Kenny King’s ROH departure and hyping up the tag team tournament, which featured Uncle Jeffro. From Sandy Fork by God Delaware. As far as every single tool in tag team wrestling, I agree that they are the best. Not really playing a gimmick, just being themselves. Rude, crude, comical on the mic. Very talented and versatile in the ring, keeping themselves on the cutting edge for so many years. 10 years of ROH existence, I’m pretty much down with them staying in their home. Although it’s fun to think of how Booker T would commentate on these guys. Awww mah goodness, from Sandy Fork Delaware dawg, with a plate of biscuits! No matter what tag team comes through the promotion and make their marks, they always seem to have some of their best matches with The Briscoes, speaking highly of how they floated around the division. Not in the sense that they just dominated. They’d do the jobs and hover around, making 7 total title reigns in 10 years of history, rather nice. Steen/Generico, their best matches were against Briscoes. So far to me, World’s Greatest Tag Team’s best ROH match was the 9th Anniversary show against Briscoes, Punk/Cabana’s shining moment as a tag team came when they took the titles from the Briscoes, the team of Austin Aries and Roderick Strong had some doozies. Jack Daniels violence! They are also great as singles guys, with neither man really being clearly better than the other. They are equals. Not like say, The Rockers?

    4.) Who wants a mustache ride?! That’s what would be said before some 70s music gets to playing when Joey Ryan enters an ROH ring with Prince Nana by his side. The good ol’ days. I had a good idea of who Ryan is when he made his TNA debut. If it wasn’t for Ric Flair not following the script, Ryan would be a regular on TV now. However, turning a negative to a positive, a nice angle going on right now that makes the term “87%” now popular. I even see that in WWE events, which must be good self promotion by Joey Ryan, via Twitter. Good for him. Rocking such a 70s sleazy look, having oodles of charisma and character. In the ring, I think he’s pretty solid enough to hang with a lot of guys. From what I read, this angle is building to him vs. Al Snow. Errr, as long as Joey Ryan wins. His debut match can be against Devon, and he wins the TV title. Please?

    5.) OH MY GAWD! Jason Patrick penned that story on Richards, O’Reilly, and Tony Kozina. Mark out! Wait a second, Richards is a fan of WWE? Wait a second, you’re kidding me right? Huh, well, he has taken to a mic in some ROH shows and take some shots on the mainstream companies, particularly WWE. Coming across as the ROH golden boy, all those criticisms Kevin Steen levied towards him in their promo battles. Obviously not being exposed to indy wrestling news, I did not know about his retirement plans. Richards is a work in tolerance. Certainly that story paints Richards, O’Reilly, and Kozina as a bit unreliable to do business with. I got rubbed the wrong way when Richards rubbed a Kevin Steen shirt on his crotch and threw it back to a fan, at Best in the World. That was a bit rude. Basically, I get the impression that he comes off like a douchebag, and that’s where tolerance comes to place. Tolerating that and noting that he’s an extremely talented wrestler, even though his kick happy offense can be a bit overbearing. When compared to Eddie Edwards, Richards might be the better wrestler, but Edwards is a hell of a lot more likeable. Almost as if more of a natural face than heel. He’s had some awesome matches. I’ll name some: one of Bryan Danielson’s final ROH matches was against him, the Wrestlemania 25 weekend show with KENTA, Tyler Black in Canada 2010, Final Battle 2010 with Roderick Strong, him and Edwards at Best in the World 2011, him and Elgin at Showdown in the Sun Night 2. His most recent match with Steen in the Ballroom. He’s more than proven himself to be a great worker, but jeez man, sometimes the other elements can cloud judgement. Seems he will work with Kyle O’Reilly. Pass the torch? Seems to be the plan, should make for some good matches.

    6.) I guess a good description of Cabana is cult hero? Cult icon of the independent wrestling circuit. Not working for TNA, insignificant run in WWE, his craft honed in the indy circuit, his longlasting impression on fans all traced to the underground practically. He also seems to be a self made success as getting a strongly listened to podcast, getting his name out there from fans who attend WWE events, I bet he’s a hit on Twitter, been there, done that in every indy promotion that has a drop of salt to their name. Rather amazing. It’s sad he wasn’t given an opportunity in WWE, because he’s a loveable guy. PG friendly too really, he doesn’t seem like a guy to curse a lot, always smiling, can communicate with any age group that wants to have a good time. He’s a proud professional wrestler, but I think he’s more than that, being a genuine entertainer. Always one to make me laugh, but cut it so damn well in the ring. Pretty strong character to have in lighthearted stuff, but I think he can work heated feuds. Certainly recalling a feud with Homicide in 2006, being tormented and abused by the Notorious 187. Only to gain some sweet vengeance, taking fans on the ride to that glorious result. He’s a guy one wants to win basically, and he’s basically a face too. He goes beyond a wrestler I’d like to meet. He’s a wrestler I’d like to hug. For real.

    7.) I never read about the guy until reports of WWE having interest in him recently surfaced. One website linked to a Youtube video: a hype package for Gargano’s match with Ricochet, marketed as the final show in the famous ECW Arena. The package showed higlights of both wrestlers, and only from there, I got a tiny idea of what he brings to the table. So essentially, I have been living under a rock. He’s staying with DGUSA? Good for him. At 24 years old, he has all the time in the world, if you know what I mean.

    8.) AWW SHUCKY DUCKY QUACK QUACK! That picture of her looks hot, and I’m serious too. Turning red now, I need a couple minutes. While watching ROH stuff gave me a good idea of what Sara Del Rey can do in the ring, I got a clearer idea from watching her work in SHIMMER. Obviously a promotion that featured more women’s wrestling, to the point of long winded contests, Del Rey would have some doozies that made me impressed. Matches that would go above standard Knockouts time, and even venture past 15 minutes here and there. Specifically some battles with Mercedes Martinez, another talented performer supposedly on WWE’s radar. D-Bryan was one of her trainers, sure, allowing her to use the nickname “American Angel.” Also tagging with Claudio and Hero, getting the tag “Queen of Wrestling.” I do believe she’s the best female wrestler in the world, and would hope her future in WWE is one where she’s a trainer and wrestler, and highlighted a good deal. It can be discouraging knowing how up in the air the whole divas division tends to be. I’m not a fan of the doom and gloom, so I pray she finds success there. Detailing her ability, she’s a mix of technical wrestling, powerhouse, and potent striking ability. She can pull out some mean kicks to the head, toss some chicks around, and go heavy on the mat. So the mention of her facing a male wrestler in Eddie Kingston (who isn’t a slouch himself) is rather sensical, and nice. She’s a dangerous woman, and she good looking too.

    9.) I’m still surprised that he’s only 28 years old. He looks like someone in his 30s. Strange too that he would say in promos that he waited 12 years to be ROH champion basically. I guess really meaning waiting 12 years to be the kingpin of a prominent wrestling promotion. Whatever the case, Kevin Steen is the best wrestler not in WWE and TNA. If I were to rope together a Fave Five in all of wrestling, he’s definitely on it. He’s an all tool player, to the point that it’s rather interesting to note that, in an indy wrestler, and not a “superstar.” He’s definitely a superstar in my eyes, being rather proficient on the mic, can be a funny fellow, but most important, cuts it in the ring. Having a pretty hard hitting, brawling style, but varying it up to show that he’s a very athletic big boy. As ROH champion with a new creative direction, he’s set to be a long term world champion. That, and the stipulation being implemented that every match he will have will be a title match. Following ROH TV, he’s got matches set up against Homicide and Eddie Kingston, and I assume El Generico (at least I hope). Did he really get praised by JR and The Rock? Damn! Steen’s legit. He does comes across as an anti-establishment guy, one who loves to go against the grain. Certainly going by common stereotypes in wrestlers, Steen doesn’t follow those trends. He’s an overweight guy, pale, plain, everyman. However, give him a mic and/or a wrestling ring, he delivers.

    Some nice honorable mentions. Corino looks to have lost a good deal of weight, and I’m so damn high on his commentary, coming off his work in the Best in the World main event. El Generico has a loveability factor I mentioned in Colt Cabana. Adam Pearce is more like an old school wrestler, nothing flashy or anything, as if coming straight out of the 80s NWA. Jigsaw should be in TNA >.>. As evidenced in recent outings for TNA on TV and PPV, he sure can get a crowd going, a polished high flier with a lot of variety. Eddie Kingston is practically a brawler, and a great one at that. Eddie Edwards is a likeable individual with a ton of wrestling ability. Personally, holds me over better than Davey Richards. World’s Greatest Tag Team seem to gave been living a rejuvenated run in ROH, coming across as credible heels now. Especially Charlie Haas, dubbing himself “The Outlaw.” How cute, and with fans chanting “Fuck you Charlie,” it’s working for him. Errr, O’Reilly. Errrrrrr, still coming out of that hybrid fighting rules match, sort of like Richards in the personality department. Talented performer in the ring, but mannnnnnn. Ok, lets move on. BxB Hulk, barely saw stuff from him, I think he had one or two ROH matches. What I saw, rather impressed. Michael Elgin is a true standout in every sense of the word. A big, heavy, powerhouse of a wrestler that has such grace and fleet footed movements. He’s a current example of the phrase “one of a kind.” Of course, his match with Richards will go down in the books, having the 5 star Meltzer rating, and for being an overall fantastic bout.

    Well a list easy for me to comment on, since I know a lot of the candidates, but good explanations on all of them. As well as a great overall look at the independent circuit. You’re definitely a better scout than Booker T. Just think back to his commentary in some of The Ryback matches. He would say some of the jobbers were tearing it up in the independent circuit. Always made me laugh hard.

    That Sara Del Rey picture…I’ll say it again. Aww shucky ducky quack quack!!!

  • Jason L.S.

    One thing that ticks me off with this…is no TJP???  Not even in Honorable Mention!!!  If it’s best “WRESTLER” I think he should be at least mentioned, that fact that you, much like ROH aren’t acknowledging how great he really is.  

    • JacobStachowiak

      Is Perkins bigger in the US or Japan? That might be a reason why he’s not on here, but he definitely deserved to be mentioned. 

    • https://twitter.com/DragonSagaWE Jason “Dragon Saga” Patrick

      We’ve interviewed TJ Perkins actually on the site, check out the interview section. Plus I’ve spoken to TJP through email a few times, mostly concerning Ring of Honor stuff and ROHWorld. I respect him and his talents, and realize he is a phenomenal athlete and a very promising performer, but is he currently one of the best? No.

      It’s like taking the perspective of WWE, John Cena is a decent in-ring wrestler, Tyson Kidd is a great in-ring wrestler, anyone who does a list ranking the top ten superstars in WWE would be a fool not to include John Cena in their rankings.

      Again, I respect TJP and your opinion that he should be added, duly noted.

    • http://twitter.com/PhenomenalRyan Ryan Frye

      I’d have to agree. Then again, I’m a bit biased since I kind of interviewed the guy. Lol. 

      • JacobStachowiak

        Mark Ryan is a mark. haha

        • http://twitter.com/PhenomenalRyan Ryan Frye

          Damn right I’m a mark, haha. 

  • http://twitter.com/SAVE_US_GSM Graham Mirmina

    Facebook’d by Joey Ryan himself! Congrats!!

  • JacobStachowiak

    STEEN’S NUMBER ONE!!!!!!!! FUCK YEAH!

  • JacobStachowiak

    Haha, just rolling with the Ring of Honor/Indy articles now.

  • Sean Linhares

    Booooo Cabana should be #1!

    #Mark

  • Charlie G

    And with the title saying, “Top 10 Wrestlers On The American Independent Circuit” does that mean you’ll be doing an international one too? :)

    • https://twitter.com/DragonSagaWE Jason “Dragon Saga” Patrick

      Very good catch, I plan to an international one on the International wrestling circuit, but not their indy circuits. Couldn’t find their indy promotions even if I wanted haha

      • Charlie G

        Nice… Looking forward to the international one

      • whataboutKaizar

         I’ll be waiting.

        Great job, sir.

  • Charlie G

    I always like seeing lists like these. They introduce me to some new, fresh and young faces as well as promotions at times. It’s a good list & I’ll be sure to look into those guys I don’t really know about.

    I’m curious about your thoughts on Scorpio Sky/Mason Andrews. Also, have you seen Willie Mack? He’s been seen in PWG & NWA Hollywood. I think he’d be a good addition to this list someplace. 

    • https://twitter.com/DragonSagaWE Jason “Dragon Saga” Patrick

      Yeah I recognized him when he popped in for the Destination X tournament. I’m not too over on him, for a high flyer he can be quite sloppy and he isn’t all that charismatic. I like Willie Mack, he picked up a lot of big wins in the early part of his career in PWG, great match of him versus Chris Hero on YouTube, pretty good when speaking too.

      Speaking of NWA Hollywood, I’m pretty over on Johnny Goodtime. He isn’t as polished as guys on the list above but he shows a lot of potential and some pretty good ability when speaking, he’s a lot like Joey Ryan, charismatic look to him.

      And another name I like on the indies who has a relationship to TNA is Tony Nese. Watched him in EVOLVE before he signed with TNA, they used him very poorly and what makes it worse is the fact now that the X-Division is so thin, he’s gone. He’s back doing well for himself on the indys anyway, but the fact Zema Ion is X. Div Champion and Nese was wasted really leaves me speechless.

      • Charlie G

        Yeah, I like Sky/Andrews much more in NWA Hollywood as an arrogant heel. Even then though, he needs a manager (Or his entire crew, “The Experience”) to bring out the charismatic side of him.

        I was impressed by Mack the first time I saw him (Courtesy of PWG). Great athlete for a guy his size & a pretty good speaker, like you said. He’d definitely be an interesting case if TNA were to do away with the “weight limit” in the X-Division. (I’m not even sure if it’s still in place since Samoa Joe had a title match @ Slammiversary…)

        I haven’t seen much of Goodtime, but I hear a lot of good things about him. Isn’t he (Or wasn’t he) Joey Ryan’s tag team partner at one point? Either way, I should invest more time in ‘em…

        Goddamn TNA & goddamn Tony Nese…. They just couldn’t let him go to Japan for that show or whatever. He could’ve been great in the X-Division but wrestled all of 4 matches during his time in TNA. Really bad handling there. I hope that, one day, he could return & actually be treated fairly in the X-Division