I think it’s healthy to have competition in everything. I also think it’s good to have an opinion from a guy who’s been studying each and every move the WrestlePro roster has made over the last few months and heading into a busy 2 months there’s always room for a prediction/ranking system as seen by a commentator’s point of view.
On the Rise:
When you look at pro wrestling as a whole, what defines you as a “rookie”? Or in this case, “On the Rise”. In my opinion, if you are in your first 1-2 years with a company (WrestlePro), you’re still very new and are experiencing a lot and taking a lot of knowledge and experience in. With that being said, heading into the next 4 events (February 10th, 11th… March 11th, 30th) you have to have your eyes locked into a specific amount of guys that are trying to make names for themselves on the biggest of independent stages. Here are a few guys to look out for in the next coming months/year.
- Valerio Lamorte/ Maxwell Jacob Feinstein: In Wrestling you need a look, athleticism, a personality to succeed in the very early stages. These two are doing just that. Matt Macintosh (who i will get into more later), has taken these two under his wing and created the “Apple Corps”. 3 Guys with a very “Take no Sh**” from anyone mentality. They’ve had great outings the last few months and have definitely set themselves up for much success going forward. Don’t sleep on the Corps, they’re going to make some noise.
- Buster Jackson: He’s no “rookie” by any stretch but is a guy that has been through a lot in his earlier years in pro wrestling and now has found himself in a really good position heading into the next year of WrestlePro. Aligning himself with a mouth piece (Shining Edward Jackson), and 3 guys to back him up (The Heavenly Bodies and Chris Payne), Buster Jackson has set himself up for a lot of success. He’s always had the physical tools and ability in the ring and was always considered the smaller guy. However in recent months, his ability to get quicker, stronger, and bigger has set him up for something really exciting going forward. Look for Buster to make some noise in 2017.
- Nikos Rikos & Team Espana w/ Coach D: Nikos came onto the scene with a chip on his shoulder and Team Espana has been busting their asses for quite some time. With the addition of an obnoxious but very smart Coach D, Team “Espanikos” has ripped off a plethora of victories as of late. When you win matches, it’s always good for your character but even in losing efforts (Nikos losing to Dan Maff late in 2016), the team has gelled and have made quite the impression on the “Trios” division of WrestlePro. Look for more of this going forward. The work ethic has gone unmatched and noticed and it will pay off for them down the road.
- The Taboo Crew: (Craig Steele, Micah Jenkins, Gino Gotz): And finally to wrap up this quick “On the Rise” section is none other than another solid team on the up and ups and that’s the Taboo Crew. Craig Steele has been around the block. He’s endured plenty of success in his time as a professional wrestler and now he’s finding his youth again in teaming up with Jenkins. Jenkin’s is one of my favorites to watch in the ring. He has countless of moves, both wrestling and dancing. He likes to consider himself as “bad” and he’s the complete opposite. In fact; he’s really really good. Between Craig’s veteran ways and strength and you mix in the youth and quickness of Jenkins this team has A LOT of potential heading into a few big shows. Oh and let us not forget Gino Gotz. In fact, Gino is and will probably forever remain undefeated (Unless someone tells him to get his shine box then maybe we’ll see him in the ring again). Gino has brought back a lot of credibility to the term “manager” along with guys like Shining Edward Jackson, Coach D, and the newly diabolical Jay Enterprise (Jay, How could you?). Look for the Taboo Crew to piggyback off a very successful 2016 and take it straight to 2017 with a bang!
What We Already Know…
One of those sections where I can state the obvious but also make small predictions based on what I’ve seen in the last few months.
- Dan Maff: One thing I can say for this guy is that WrestlePro just woke up a sleeping monster. We looked at Maff for most of the first year of WrestlePro as a cornerstone. A guy who can get the crowd going. A guy that is a legit “Benjamin Button” of pro wrestling (If you don’t know what I’m referencing; he gets older but gets better). He’s seen plenty of success in his many years of pro wrestling. However, and I say this with total respect to him and his past; we may have not seen the angriest form of him yet. With a total screw job vs. Bobby Wayward for the WrestlePro championship, we may have pissed this monster off in the worst of ways. I pray for anyone who get’s in his way at this point. You don't poke the bear. He was having “fun” in wrestling for this company and now the fun has stopped and he’s pissed. Look for Maff to NOT stop this anger streak until he gets some answers or he just kills everyone and he’s the last man standing.
- Matt Macintosh: He’ll be the first to remind you that he is indeed, the first ever WrestlePro champion and I don’t see 2017 ending without him back in the title picture. He’s gifted and he knows it. There’s been times he’s been super frustrated with stuff but has always turned it into a way to become a better performer. Every time this guy gets in the ring, I find myself captivated by the way he makes things look easy. He’s aligned himself with two stars on the rise and I see nothing but good things for this guy this year. As long as he doesn't, “hot dog” it too much.
- Mario Bokara: One of my favorite people in this company. Why? Work ethic. The guy trains harder than anyone I know. Closing out 2016 with a huge win, he made a challenge to one, Cody Rhodes and it was accepted. One thing I can also never see enough of is his intensity. His intensity may have gotten the best of him this past month though. I think all Bokara wanted to do was welcome Lio Rush into the WrestlePro scene after Lio had scored an impressive victory in a 4 way match but in turn, Rush decided to disrespect one of the most respected guys on the roster in Bokara. Mario didn't take this lightly as he quickly turned a handshake into an all out brawl, leading to one of the most highly anticipated matches at the Starland Ballroom, Mario vs Cody vs Rush. I literally cannot wait to call that one.
- Grouping Together: The EJ 5 (The Heavenly Bodies, Chris Payne, Shining Edward Jackson): It’s simple, the EJ5 is the most dominant it’s ever been at this point heading into 2017. Yes, they were “DELETED” in November but that’s not stopping any of them. In fact, The Bodies, lead by their manager Shining Edward Jackson have taken that loss and used it as fuel to invoke their rematch clause for the Tag Team Championships and with a little help by a very angry Dan Maff, they are now, once again, the tag team champions. They’ve traveled across the nation, representing the company and themselves and have succeeded on so many fronts. Now that they’re the top dogs of the tag team division; they now have a target on their backs but I personally expect them to answer each and every challenge ahead. Chris Payne on the other hand finds himself as the “loner” of the EJ5 but has always been there to support his boys. Lately, Payne expressed more of an innovative offense his last few showings. He’s shown more aggression than I’ve personally seen in the 4 and a half years I’ve been around the guy. He’s looking to change the game this year and is showing that with the help of the EJ5 and his work ethic that I and others would not be surprised that if by the end of 2017, the EJ5 had all the gold.
Dave “D-Struction” Sturchio’s WrestlePro Rankings by Division/Contention:
WrestlePro Championship: Champion - Bobby Wayward
1. Anthony Bowens
2. Dan Maff
3. Mario Bokara
4. Matt Macintosh
5. Fallah Bahh
Watch Out For: Chris Payne, Delroy Alexander, And the Winner of the 5 Match Series between Habib/CPA
WrestlePro Tag Team Championship: Champion- The Heavenly Bodies
1. RyBuck - Pat Buck & Ryback
2. Taboo Crew (When not in Trios format)
3. Dirty & Durable (Donovan and Blake)
4. Reality Check (Craven Varro & Kevin Matthews)
Watch Out For: The Amazing Graysons
WrestlePro Trios Division: No Current Champions Yet
1. Taboo Crew
2. Team Espanikos
3. Apple Corps
4. The Beach Bums
Sleepers in 2017:
- Beefcake Charlie - Now solo, look for him to make his own noise starting with his 1 on 1 vs Moose in March!
- Bear Bronson w/ Jay Enterprise: Jay Enterprise shocked us all with his turning on Beefcake. Bronson was already on the rise, and the addition of a manager with Enterprise’s stature, watch out!
- Craven Varro: Missed most of 2016 with injury, Craven looks to turn up the volume in 2017 starting with a huge match ahead vs. a very pissed off Dan Maff.
- The Beach Bums: Already have established themselves in the trios division, look for them to gain experience and take it to the next level this year.
- Dirty & Durable: The experience, the anger, the aggression will pay off for these guys heading into 2017 and beyond. Their reborn, refreshed, and ready to take the tag team division by storm.
- Beatrice The Barbie Killer: The name itself speaks volumes. Look for more opportunities for he to show the aggression she just showed this past month.
I hope you enjoyed this little blog. I have a lot of fun writing about the guys and gals i'm closest with at WrestlePro. Look for more blogs, results, and predictions all here on www.wrestleproonline.com! Thanks for reading! Hope to see you all on February 10th at the Starland Ballroom, February 11th in Brooklyn… March 11th in our house, Rahway, NJ and March 30th as WrestlePro joins WrestleCon 2017 in Orlando, Florida!