With WrestleMania only one week away, it is easy to see its impact on the world of wrestling outside the walls of WWE, almost becoming a special occasion to “dress up for” even if you aren’t technically invited to “the dance”.
While not everyone can say they are booked to compete on the “Showcase of the Immortals”, many can take the heavy focus given to professional wrestling and turn WrestleMania week into both a lucrative and career changing opportunity as just about every relevant promotion imaginable is holding independent shows that sometimes offer better matchups than the actual WWE card itself.
Today we take a look at a few intriguing matchups happening over the course of this week and the competitors and promotions who are making them possible. All across the country, the most important few days of the year (dubbed Wrestlemania season by most) is in full effect as fans purchase tickets for events, travel and hotels, hoping to see something special and potentially rub elbows with some of their favorite competitors.
For those of you on the go and looking for some great match-ups; fear not, Fightbooth is here to point you in the right direction. Be sure you check out all of this week’s festivities and goings on in Orlando, FL as pro wrestling prepares to take over.
1) Dan “The Beast” Severn vs. Matthew Riddle: GCW “Joey Janela’s Spring Break”: 3.30.17
Similar superstars with an age gap nearly 3 decades wide. Riddle has proven to be one of the best newcomers in recent memory, while Severn keeps ticking after all these years, much like an “energizer bunny” capable of breaking your bones. In a “dream match” I didn’t even know I wanted, the two highly regarded MMA fighters turned pro-wrestlers will square off in a contest that is guaranteed to provide a grappling clinic, as the multiple time UFC champion takes on pro wrestling’s future in a “once in a lifetime” occurrence.
2) Keith Lee vs. Ricochet: Evolve 80: 3.30.17
Sometimes you can look at a matchup and see that it is a pre-cursor to something much bigger. Both of these guys are the clear cut future of the sport and are both capable of making this one “match of the year” on the independent circuit. Lee has been described as a better, more athletically sound version of “Big E” and I believe it to be true after seeing him work in person. Ricochet is no slouch either, providing some of the internet’s most dazzling highlights, which makes you wonder if this is a matchup primed to be repeated in a few years in front of 90,000 people in a WWE ring.
3) Mercedes Martinez vs. Candice Lerae: Shimmer 91: 4.1.17
Two of the most prominent women in Shimmer will collide and headline a stacked card that also provides and interesting Santana Garrett/Shayna Baszler bout and also has Lufisto, Dulce Garcia (Sexy Star), and Leva Bates all competing. With a mixture of veteran and new talent, Shimmer always seems to send fans away happy and fulfilled, as they have consistently given us show after show full of great matchups and have been a long time ambassador for women’s wrestling. Get ready to add another great one to the list.
4) Punk Pro Wrestling: “Punk Goes Wrestling Vol 1” 3.29.17 & “Live Young, Die Fast…A Love Story” 3.31.2017
Boasting great cards of young upstarts and independent circuit talent, Punk Pro Wrestling takes the word “ballsy” to a whole new level by not only having their debut show during WrestleMania week, but by hosting a second show with only a day in between them, showing that they are out to make a cannonball splash into the vast ocean of independent circuit promotions that would usually succumb to the deep waters and drown under such pressure. Why do I think Punk Pro Wrestling can pull this off? These guys have done their homework. Instead of making the same mistakes many promotions do and banking on one or two big names, they have instead spread themselves out, and given wrestlers a step away from being “bigger name” indy workers a chance to shine at the perfect time of the year.
Names like Arik Cannon are enough to get a knowledgeable wrestling fan through the door, but through and through, there are some solid names of young guys I have been looking up that are quite impressive and warrant your time, even if you have never heard of them or seen them in action. Also, unlike many promotions you can get tickets to one of their shows for a low price, which makes you more willing to take the risk on a show you may not be familiar with. From the looks of it, you will not be disappointed, as the low price tag makes this situation “Low risk, high reward” on paper. They have also stated this won’t be a “PG” wrestling show, which is music to the ears of those who get enough of that and welcome a more adult product. Give these guys a look! I know I will be keeping an eye on them.
5) Joey Ryan vs. Shayna Baszler: Wrestlecon Women’s Supershow: 4.1.17
Easily the most intriguing matchup of the weekend as Joey Ryan looks to send Baszler to “Boobplex City” in a matchup that will without a doubt entertain you. The idea of a Wrestlecon Women’s super show is absolutely phenomenal and who better to headline the whole thing than Joey Ryan; a man who sleazes up the ring in character but is one of the kindest people outside of it, making him one of the most booked wrestlers on the indy circuit. I cannot wait for this matchup and immediately regret my decision to skip an Orlando trip this year. Baszler is a seasoned MMA veteran who is making waves between the ropes and Ryan is a proven entity. Missing this matchup will result in one big face palm.
6) The Hardy #BrokenTailgate Party: 4.2.17 (Hosted by Matt and Jeff Hardy) 10am-6pm
“Delete your plans!” screams the flier. As I read it, I can’t help but do so in Matt Hardy’s voice. This is possibly the coolest thing going on during WrestleMania weekend and I can’t stress enough that the Broken Hardy’s just being in Orlando with rumors of WWE offering them a deal surrounding the pair makes you wonder if they will show up later on in the evening during WrestleMania. Whether they do or not, the “Broken Tailgate” is a fine way to spend your entire day leading up to the big Mania event, as a $30 charge gets you BBQ meal with a drink, access to both an ACW (American Combat Wrestling) and Impact Wrestling events (11am and 2pm), as well as photo and autograph opportunities with the Hardy’s and their affiliates. All I have to say about that is “Shut up and take my money!”
7) Drew Galloway vs. Matthew Riddle: Evolve 80 & Drew Galloway vs. Lio Rush: Evolve 81: 3.30.17 & 3.31.17
Evolve is not messing around; that fact is boldly stated by pitting Drew Galloway in back to back matches against two of the best young superstars in the world right now. Evolve books better than most, and have somehow discovered a way to surpass their own standard in this case. My prediction is someone goes over Galloway in at least one of these matches, giving them a big win on their resume. I am calling it now.
Information, tickets, and any questions you have regarding the majority of these events (and even more events) can be found at MoreThanMania.com. I sure hope some of you are going out to Orlando and not sitting at home, kicking yourself like I am this year. For more articles, stories and wrestling goodness, be sure you follow me @NicholasGrooms on Twitter.