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It has become tradition for independent wrestling companies to run Wrestlemania weekend in the vicinity of WWE’s activities throughout the week. In fact, for some, it’s where they can draw their best houses, and wrestlers can pick up a lot of work and get noticed over a few (long) days. This year is no exception, as the Orlando area will be teeming with pro wrestling options for those fans who come for the bright lights of the Ultimate Thrill Ride (and those who come for the wrestling, but bypass WWE’s offerings all together). Because of the number of fans who are deciding what shows to go to, there is an attempt to make the cards stand out with unique match-ups to get people talking. And, to draw them away from competitors.
Not every card has been announced by each indie running over the next week, but as usual, there are some fresh, intriguing, and yes, even odd, matches being offered. Of the ones announced thus far, I’ve compiled ten that stand out to me as being particularly interesting:
Matt Riddle vs. Dan Severn in an MMA Superfight, March 30, GCW Presents Joey Janela’s Spring Break: I have no idea what to expect in this match, yet it jumps off the page as one of the more curious bouts set for this upcoming week. Riddle’s talent and charisma is undeniable. This match could be played any number of ways and will certainly test the 58 year-old Severn.
Ricochet vs. Keith Lee, March 30, Evolve 80: Lee made waves when he left ROH for EVOLVE. It’s one thing to leave ROH for the greener pastures of WWE, but his decision opened some eyes as to the state of ROH behind the scenes. He takes on Ricochet in what will be interesting because of the contrast in sizes. For a man his size, Lee can move, and there’s no doubt about the athleticism of Ricochet.
Joey Janela vs. Marty Jannetty, Janela’s Dream Match, March 30, GCW Presents Joey Janela’s Spring Break: I wanted to select no more than one match from each card, but how can I pass up Janela vs. Jannetty? I admit to being a mark for Jannetty, something I apparently have in common with Janela. If nothing else, Janela’s creative marketing strategy for this show via social media has worked: It has gotten me to take notice.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Penta el 0M, March 31, Rev Pro: The former Pentagon Jr. and Pentagon Dark is one of the stars recognized in America thanks to Lucha Underground. His persona struck a chord with the audience. Sabre, a master at body part manipulation, meets the man who breaks arms for a living. As the old saying goes, something’s gotta give.
Bobby Lashley vs. Jeff Cobb, March 31, Wrestlecon Supershow: Cobb wrestled in the 2004 Summer Olympics for Guam. Lashley is a two-time NAIA wrestling champion and MMA fighter. This should be an exhibition ulike few others this week. Unlike other matches, which could be deemed a clash in styles, this one is for any fan who likes amateur wrestling in his or her sports entertainment.
Pete Dunne vs. ACH, April 1, WWN Supershow: This is one of a number of PROGRESS vs. EVOLVE matches scheduled for the show. As of now, Dunne will walk in as PROGRESS Champion. He has impressed in the limited exposure he’s gotten in WWE thus far. ACH seems like a great choice to play off of the dastardly heel Dunne and have a memorable match in the process.
Gabi & Santana Garrett vs. Chelsea Green & Taeler Hendrix, April 1, Wrestlecon Women’s Supershow: This may not be a contender for match-of-the-night, but the backgrounds of these women make for an interesting foursome. Gabi Castrovnici was a Tough Enough competitor who spent time in TNA as Raquel. Garrett has appeared all over the indies, as well as spots in TNA and WWE. Green is doing great work in Impact as Laurel Van Ness and is another TE alum. Hendrix has also made the indie rounds. This will be a test to see how much Gabi has improved.
Matt & Jeff Hardy vs. The Young Bucks in a Ladder Match, April 1, ROH Supercard of Honor 11: If rumors are to be believed, The Hardys could be joining WWE not long after this match. It’s a ladder match, the kind the Hardys were known for in WWE. The Young Bucks feature some of the craziest spots on every show they’re a part of, and now add a ladder into the equation? Intrigue will also surround how the Hardys play their characters.
Ember Moon vs. Asuka, April 1, NXT Takeover: Orlando: Asuka has shown little in the way of fear or slippage in her time dominating the women’s division in NXT. Since Moon made her debut, it was thought that she woudl be in line to give Asuka the champion’s toughest challenge yet. Will Moon take the title here and end Asuka’s Goldberg-like unbeaten streak?
Austin Theory vs. Caleb Konley, April 2, FIP #BrokenTailgate: It’s the veteran versus the rookie, as 33 year-old Konley faces Theory, who has just under a year of wrestling under his belt. Theory is a name wrestling fans will want to become familiar with over the coming months and years. This weekend is a place where a guy like Theory can use it as a launching pad for himself.
Greg Parks joins Wade Keller on the PWTorch Livecast a couple times a month, usually after WWE Smackdown. Read additional columns from him at PWTorchVIP.com. Follow him on Twitter @gregmparks. Comments, questions and feedback are welcome, and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.