The world of independent professional wrestling [indie] is jam-packed with matches of all shapes, sizes, and colours. Every night of the week, promotions across the world run shows for audiences of all sizes, and literally, anything can happen. That level of unpredictability is why I love indy wrestling (and Indi Wrestling but that’s another story) and why I want to spotlight some of the matches that I think other wrestling fans should check out. Here are some of my favourite independent wrestling matches from the week of January 1-8, 2023.
Leon Slater vs. Nick Wayne | Game Changer Wrestling: 56 Nights
At 17/18 years old, most of us weren’t spending New Year’s Day achieving our professional dreams. Instead, we normals were dreading the end of winter break and the restart of high school, putting it out of our minds by getting blitzed in the basement of our buddy’s house one last time. However, we are not either of sub-20-year-old wrestling prodigies Leon Slater or Nick Wayne. Both Slater and Wayne spent their first day of 2023 by putting on a display of youthful athleticism that should shame the over-30 crowd into never getting that elusive New Year New Me gym membership.
The in-ring action was exhilarating in this teenage dream match, including both men somehow landing on their feet while attempting simultaneous Spanish Flies/Russian Leg Sweeps. Neither stood on their toes for long, as both men unleashed a series of devastating kicks and leaps throughout the match. The similar size and skill set of Wayne and Slater gave this match some excellent symmetry, and plenty of explosive moments. Wayne effectively targeted Slater’s leg during the bout, which paid off in the end. Wayne, who is already signed to an AEW contract, won the match with a duo of Clout Cutters, an explosive move in which Wayne flies off the ropes and yanks his opponent’s head to the mat.
Hailing from the United Kingdom, Slater is becoming a GCW fan-favourite just as quickly as his sudden offence. Slater was not able to connect with his signature 450 Swanton during this match, but the fact that he has the ability to execute such a breathtaking move is impressive. Barely a year into his career, Slater has risen to incredible heights with matches against international industry stars like Konosuke Takeshita, Speedball Mike Bailey, and Zach Sabre Jr.
After having the pleasure to meet Nick Wayne several times, I can say that his high level of skill is only surpassed by his humility. The son of Pacific Northwest wrestling legend Buddy Wayne, Nick has tremendous agility and instant connection with any crowd he performs for. Expect to see Nick on AEW programming as soon as he graduates from high school. Wayne’s high-flying skills and growing ring knowledge make him one to watch in 2023 and beyond, and a similar statement can be made for Slater.
Wayne’s big week continued, as he was spotlighted during the Samoa Joe-Darby Allin TNT Championship match on the 1-4-23 episode of AEW Dynamite. He also teamed with Jordan Oliver to take on the reunited H8 Club of Nick Gage and Matt Tremont for one night only in Chicago.
Bryan Keith vs. Black Taurus | West Coast Pro Wrestling: Can You Work Fridays
As soon as the opening notes of “Still Tippin” by Mike Jones, Slim Thug and Paul Wall ring out, you know two things: Bryan Keith is in the building and you’re about to see a banger of a wrestling match. Keith has been on fire lately, and his hot streak continued in the hoss fight against the fearsome Black Tauru. While both men possess an impressive power game, this match began with fast-paced Lucha libre-style action. Taurus hails from Mexico and Keith from Texas, so both competitors were familiar with the quick style. Eventually, the match turned into an absolute slugfest, as both men traded big shot after big shot.
The Bounty Hunter Bryan Keith faced a fierce opponent in the black bull-masked Black Taurus. Taurus is one of the most fearsome luchadores in the world, both because of his intimidating mascara and his combination of speed and strength. Taurus hit Keith with a terrific backbreaker into a pop-up Samoan drop that exhilarated the crowd and viewing audience on IWTV. Taurus is a regular competitor for IMPACT Wrestling and is worth checking out if he appears near you.
As for Bryan Keith, the Texas veteran is gaining country-wide notoriety. Just hours after his match with Taurus, Keith competed in the PWG Battle of Los Angeles tournament and was a breakout star of the competition. Keith was able to pick up the win in this match with a bone-crunching Emerald Tiger Power Bomb, putting down his powerful prey once and for all. The West Coast crowd were so appreciative of the contest that they tossed money in the ring, one of my favourite shows of respect in wrestling. Keith is decidedly next up in the world of independent wrestling.
Keith will team with Starboy Charlie against Kevin Blackwood and Alan Angels at the March 4th West Coast Pro show, in what should be a terrific tag contest.
Titus Alexander (c) vs. Alec Price | West Coast Pro Wrestling Championship Match
While not featuring wrestlers quite as young as Leon Slater and Nick Wayne, this match did showcase two young competitors whose wrestling knowledge and ability surpass their ages. This battle of West (Titus Alexander) and East (Alec Price) Coast prodigies was full of brilliant risk-taking and hard-hitting violence. Both men are known as brash and bold shit-talkers, but each has the moves and resume to back it up.
The East Coast Beast Alec Price has become a personal favourite, as his intensity and drive is second to none. Plus, I appreciate a wrestler who utilizes a kick-based offence, and The Prize’s leg strikes are more than deadly. In this match, Price flew around the ring, delivering his signature moves including a nasty double stomp while Alexander was tied up in the ropes. Price has a tremendous motor and stamina level, which was needed in this clash, which lasted just under 30 minutes.
The first defence for Titus Alexander was eventually a successful one, but he certainly had to earn the retaining victory. Usually despised by even his hometown crowd, Alexander did have the crowd’s love, likely because Price repeatedly referred to the crowd as gah-bage in his thick Massachusetts drawl. Alexander kept his composure in this countering Price’s aggressive nature over and over.
Alexander’s fluidity as a wrestler is maybe his most impressive trait, as he always seems to be in perfect position to make his move, including a momentum-shifting German Suplex to Price on the ring apron. Alexander followed his German with a combo of breathtaking high-flying moves. Alexander’s Sweet Time Driver was enough to get the win, only after both combatants unloaded their clips.
Alexander’s next defence will be against Nick Wayne, a matchup that has a great chance to make a future edition of this list.
If you have an independent wrestling match that you thinks deserves to make this list, comment below or let me know @NoAverageJoel on Twitter.