Last week, I gave you five wrestlers you should have been paying attention to in 2012. Being that I'm a decent guy and want you to watch the best wrestling you possibly can, I'm going to give you the heads up on five more wrestlers that you really ought to pay attention to this year. It's the least I can do.
Why? Because you deserve to watch good wrestling and feel the excitement of watching someone break out, that's why.
1. Athena: This first entry might be cheating a bit. Athena has already gotten to some pretty high heights in her home promotion of Anarchy Championship Wrestling, where she's won the American Joshi Championship and the Queen of Queens Tournament. ACW is still pretty new to the national scene, and despite the best efforts of folks like myself, Brandon Stroud, and our erstwhile friend Sergio Hernandez, they've still got a bit of a ways to go before they get the recognition they deserve. Trust me though, you need to seek out their shows.
Then again, this isn't about a promotion, it's about a wrestler. Athena has not only been getting a chance to bust hussies in ACW, but also in SHIMMER, where she's been going head-to-head with some of the best the company has to offer. In 2012, she got the chance to butt heads with Sweet Saraya Knight, Mercedes Martinez, Kana, and Ayako Hamada.
The issue with Hamada is far from finished. When SHIMMER takes its show on the road for WrestleCon on WrestleMania weekend, Athena will get a chance to write a receipt for Hamada targeting her injured leg at the last show of 2012. This could be the launching point for a year when The Wrestling Goddess claims her place in the pantheon. There are eight more SHIMMER tapings to happen after the one in Secaucus. If at the end of the eighth one, Athena is the Champion, don't act surprised.
She also has probably the best-named and most dynamic finisher in wrestling, The O-Face.
2. Brian Cage: Pro Wrestling Guerrilla is known for being a West Coast playground for the top indie talent in America to visit when they want to get crazy. However, it's not just the Kevin Steens and Davey Richardses who make the promotion must-see. There exists a cadre of Southern California natives who don't really venture too far outside of the Inland Empire, but who usually end up becoming just as big within the PWG universe as the visiting stars from without. The old guard of these guys are either all too injured to continue on (Super Dragon, Chris Bosh, Scott Lost) or are off to greener pastures (Joey Ryan).
Thankfully, the scene is always self-replenishing. Whilst the original guard is on its way out, in comes a new wave of guys to come, like the RockNES Monsters, Willie Mack, and especially Cage.
This dude is pretty much what would happen if Vince McMahon got a chance to create a wrestler's appearance on a WWE video game, but left everything else to be filled in by a fan like you or me. He's CRAZY jacked, but he uses his muscles to become one of the most unique wrestlers in any promotion. I've seen this man do squat thrusts while holding an opponent in the Davey Boy Smith-style delay vertical suplex hold. He's also not afraid to fly, and he's got crazy equilibrium, as seen by his signature ring-in suplex where he stands balanced on the second ring rope.
Cage already took the first step within PWG towards asserting his dominance. After DDT4 (the annual tag tournament) where he and partner Ryan Taylor took the RockNES Monsters to their absolute limit, he answered Steen's open challenge in the locker room after the event and rocked the house in a fantastic brawl against the then-Champion at the next show, Death to All But Metal.
If he's not main eventing at least one show by the end of '13, then he's either injured or out of wrestling altogether. He's the real deal.
3. Mark Angelosetti: Listen up, nerds. The Chikarafied alter ego of Beyond Wrestling ace Mark Angel made immediate impact in the company upon his debut in February as the replacement for Sugar Dunkerton in the Throwbacks. It didn't take long before he shook the order of the company up, stealing Archibald Peck's girlfriend Veronica Ticklefeather for his own, winning the Young Lions Cup, and performing acts so heinous that even Worst in the World/Greatest Heel Who Ever Lived Icarus is becoming wary of his presence.
One might say he's already broken out and that we all should have been paying attention to him anyway. That point would be well-taken, but if you would believe it, good ol' Mr. Touchdown might just be getting started. Even though he and Veronica invited it upon themselves, his gal got slopped at Under the Hood by a vengeful Marchie Archie, who in 2012 had his gal stolen, his roster spot vacated, and even his avian companion Sapphire brutally compromised to a permanent end, all thanks to Angelosetti.
If Touchdown's receipt doesn't take too much out of him, he would also be a perfect candidate to be thrown into the Grand Championship race.
Not only is he a rising name in Chikara, he's even bled into Beyond Wrestling in a identity-bending story with his alter ego Angel as well as Nick Talent (Angel's close associate). You may have heard the name Mr. Touchdown a lot in 2012, but if you believe me, 2013 has the potential to be even huger for the jock in football pads calling you all nerds.
4. Davey Vega: It can be hard coming up through the central states. To the south, you have ACH and Rachel Summerlyn lobbing bombs in the air calling for attention to be paid to them. In St. Louis, you've gotta deal with sharing the spotlight with Pierre Abernathy, who has just the biggest personality in wrestling this side of Colt Cabana. In Chicago, there are no fewer than three promotions, all with their own egos to feed.
However, it helps when you excel in the ring to the point where your fellow wrestlers stand up and notice. Vega is a guy who may not even be the most famous Davey in the indies right now, but he's on the short list of guys who might be the best when it comes to wrestling aptitude.
The guy is so loose, and makes going to the mat or to the air look dreadfully easy. Every promotion that gets him gets a dude who is going to captivate an audience in the ring, which believe me, is harder than it sounds. He's turned in great performances even for those companies who let him languish on the bottom of the card. Specifically, his tag team with Mat Fitchett in Absolute Intense Wrestling, The Sex Bob-Ombs, was gaining grounds well before Fitchett got hurt.
But, even if the promoters don't give him his props, his peers, especially ones who mean something in the biz, most certainly do. Jerry Lynn, ACH, and Davey Richards are all guys who've gone toe-to-toe with Vega and turned in some spectacular results in the process. Usually, the wrestlers' wrestlers can be guys who end up transferring that bond with a strong, lasting bond with the fans, and when more people who book shows see what Vega can do for a crowd, his stock's only going to go up in the next year.
5. Bobby Fish: Fish is a guy who made his bones as a gaijin in the Japanese junior heavyweight ranks. Repatriated by Gabe Sapolsky in 2010 as part of his EVOLVE concept, Fish has taken to the American indie scene slowly but surely. His matches with opponents like Bryan Danielson and Sami Callihan have garnered critical acclaim, but it wasn't until his appearance at ECWA Super 8 where he showed the other component needed to be a big wrestling star... personality.
Fish hammed it up for the crowd, showing a heel presence that I didn't know he had in him. Fast-forward to the end of the year when he debuted in Ring of Honor as Kyle O'Reilly's new running buddy, and the potential for a breakout star in the company that straddles the line between indie ethos and televised corporate entity is right there for the realization.
Fish may have rankled a few feathers with his racially insensitive nickname, but his willingness to tread the line might make more of his character feel brilliant rather than tasteless. It's easy to be a heel, but it's hard to be an excellent heel. Fish has the potential to be the latter, and ROH could use the shot in the arm that he will almost certainly provide in the coming year.
There's your top five you should pay attention to in 2013, Cagesiders. Anyone you would like to add? If so, who and why? Sound off in the comments.