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What to watch WrestleMania weekend: 10 recommended non-WWE matches

Pro Wrestling

What to watch WrestleMania weekend: 10 recommended non-WWE matches

WrestleMania may have the biggest card ever, but this WrestleMania weekend is also shaping up to be huge.

Once again, WrestleMania weekend is nearly upon us. The rumors are suggesting that this year’s WrestleMania will have the most matches ever. This seems fitting since there are now more wrestling shows over WrestleMania weekend than ever before. There are 50 wrestling events in the New York/New Jersey area spread across six days, and that doesn’t include the eight WWE Axxess events. AIPT! have previously provided the details on these shows, including how to buy tickets and where you can watch them. The thing is, with this many shows it’s hard to know where to start and what to look out for. So here are 10 of the more interesting matches from 2019’s WrestleMania weekend.

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What to watch WrestleMania weekend: 10 recommended non-WWE matches

4/4/19 4pm GCW “Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport” – Josh Barnett vs Minoru Suzuki

Last year’s Bloodsport was one of the most beloved shows at WrestleMania weekend due to it’s short length and very distinctive style. The rules of Bloodsport are no pinfalls, no ropes and you can only win by knockout or submission. This year’s lineup sees new additions like Hideki Suzuki, deathmatch wrestler Masashi Takeda and ex-UFC fighter Frank Mir. The main event will see ex-UFC fighter and former New Japan wrestler Josh Barnett face ex-Pancrase MMA fighter and current New Japan wrestler Minoru Suzuki. Both men have strong wrestling lineages, with Suzuki being trained by Karl Gotch and Barnett being trained by catch-as-catch-can legend Billy Robinson. This will be a true heavyweight clash between two big, strong guys who can dish out nasty blows but are ridiculously proficient when it comes to grappling. If you want your wrestling to be closer to MMA, this is the event for you.

4/4/19 8pm DDT “DDT Coming to the USA” – Weapon Rumble: MAO vs. Sanshiro Takagi

The often eccentric Japanese promotion DDT announced a strong lineup for their first US show, using rematches of some of their best recent matches. The Weapon Rumble is a DDT original, a no DQ match where a random weapon enters the match like it’s competing in the Royal Rumble. Weapons can be physical items, other wrestlers or more bizarre things like a wrestler’s phone number or their wife! Sanshiro Takagi is the founder of DDT, the man who shaped a lot of the company’s weird humor. MAO is young, athletically gifted and has made a habit of trying to run over his boss with a van. In many ways he may be the spiritual successor to DDT’s greatest alumnus, Kota Ibushi. He also has an amazing nickname that I’m not allowed to write on this website. Expect humor, violence and the inappropriate use of plastic storage crates.

What to watch WrestleMania weekend: 10 recommended non-WWE matches

4/4/19 11pm Impact Wrestling “United We Stand” – Lucha Bros (Pentagon Jr & Fenix) vs Rob Van Dam & Sabu

Back in the mid to late ’90s, ECW’s Rob Van Dam and Sabu were arguably one of the coolest acts on the planet thanks to a mix of crazy moves, a reckless attitude and a cool aura. In many ways the Lucha Bros could very well be the modern day incarnation of this team. The hard-hitting Pentagon is one of the most charismatic wrestlers in the world, while his brother Fenix is an incredibly athletic high flier with possibly the best body control in wrestling. This will be a wild, action-packed spectacle full of madness and eye-opening aerial antics.

What to watch WrestleMania weekend: 10 recommended non-WWE matches

4/5/19 3pm RevPro UK “Live in NYC” – David Starr vs Tomohiro Ishii

Most of the matches that are on this list are here because they are intriguing, invoke nostalgia or focus on a specific style of wrestling. This one is here because it has the potential to be a fantastic match. David Starr is probably the best US wrestler not signed to a major contract. He is one of the best in the world when it comes to promos and his attention to detail and character work is just top class. Tomohiro Ishii might be the unsung hero of New Japan, churning out great matches year in and year out with his never say die attitude and hard-hitting offense. Ishii’s wrestling is the embodiment of someone fighting through the pain and trying to win through sheer force of will, which makes him one of the best underdogs in wrestling. This is a rematch from 2018 and both men will be wanting to prove just how good they are, especially since Ishii doesn’t have an announced match at the New Japan/Ring of Honor show at Madison Square Garden.

What to watch WrestleMania weekend: 10 recommended non-WWE matches

4/5/19 8pm GCW “Joey Janela’s Spring Break III Part 1” – Taka Michinoku vs Orange Cassidy

There will be a lot of comedy wrestlers at WrestleMania weekend, but there is only one Orange Cassidy. Cassidy is so laid back that he’s practically horizontal, somehow straddling the line between chilled out and just plain lazy. No one else can do perfect rolls while keeping their hands in their pockets. His opponent is the foul-mouthed veteran Taka Michinoku, arguably most famous for his late ’90s WWE run. While he is currently Zack Sabre Jr’s hype man in New Japan, he can still go and isn’t afraid to cheat if he needs to. He’s also not afraid to be a little ridiculous, at least that’s according to his very similar looking “cousins” Pepe and Piza Michinoku. On a card expected to be full of odd matches, this could be one of the oddest.

4/6/19 11am Wrestling Revolver “Pancakes & Piledrivers III” – Tag Team Title Gauntlet: The Rascalz (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz) vs. Lucha Bros (Pentagon & Fenix) vs. LAX (Santana & Ortiz) vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. Besties in the World (Davey Vega & Matt Fitchett) vs Teat Tremendous (Bill Carr & Dan Barry)

There will be a lot of multi-team tag team matches over WrestleMania weekend, but this is easily the biggest. Wrestling Revolver has put together a tag team gauntlet match featuring some of the best tag teams on the planet. I’ve already waxed lyrically about Lucha Bros. Viewers of Impact will know that The Rascalz are a fast paced, high flying team with some incredible double team offense. The same can be said for LAX, who have become one of the breakout acts on Impact and are one of the most innovative tag teams when it comes to double team moves. The UK based Aussie Open are, unsurprisingly, a great Australian tag team who rely on a mix of Mark Davis’s power and Kyle Fletcher’s athleticism. The Besties aren’t any slouches in the ring either, while Team Tremendous bring a mixture of fun and charisma. Pretty much any combination of these teams would guarantee a good match and few other matches will have as much action or variety.

What to watch WrestleMania weekend: 10 recommended non-WWE matches

4/6/19 12pm GCW “Orange Cassidy is doing something or whatever” – Yuletide Death Match: Ultramantis Black vs Nick Gage

This event was one of the last shows to be announced as it was a last minute replacement for Nova Pro Wrestling. In light of the two Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3 shows selling out, GCW decided to use the same formula and build a show around the unique, laid back style of Orange Cassidy. That seems to have paid off as this show has also sold out. The matches on this show are a mixture of the bizarre and the even more bizarre. There’s a match with a 1 minute time limit, a “5 o’clock somewhere last person standing match”, a 7 out of 13 falls match and Teddy Hart (Bret Hart’s nephew) doing a Reading Rainbow segment that may involve Hart’s cats. Despite all of that, the standout is Ultramantis Black and Nick Gage. Both men are charismatic and beloved, the former being a masked man known for his grandiose speech and mannerisms in Chikara while the later is a brawler with a checkered past. What puts this over the top is the stipulation: It’s a Yuletide Death Match. Yes, this is two men beating each other senseless with Christmas decorations in April.

4/6/19 7:30pm NJPW/ROH “G1 Supercard” – Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi

The G1 Supercard has had more ups and downs than any other event WrestleMania weekend. They sold out Madison Square Garden ridiculously quickly, but part of that seemed to be due to the popularity of Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks. After they jumped ship to AEW, there were reports of thousands of tickets being available on StubHub. Interest fell even more with the prospect of IWGP Heavyweight Champion Jay White in the main event and some unappealing matches from Ring of Honor. It’s only thanks to the last few announced matches that the fans’ interest has piqued again. One of those matches is Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi.

Naito is the leader of the popular Los Ingobernables De Japon stable, a highly talented renegade who does what he wants and loves to change gears between lackadaisical and breakneck speed. Ibushi is undoubtedly one of the most athletic wrestlers on the planet and now that Kenny Omega has left New Japan, it looks like it’s time for Ibushi to truly shine. These two have tremendous chemistry and if they decide to try and steal the show it promises to be a fast-paced, breathtaking match.

What to watch WrestleMania weekend: 10 recommended non-WWE matches

4/6/19 7:30pm NJPW/RoH “G1 Supercard” – NEVER Openweight Title & RoH TV Title: Will Ospreay vs Jeff Cobb

This match was meant to be Jonathan Gresham vs Masato Yoshino but work visa issues mean that no wrestlers from Dragon Gate will be in the US that weekend. While Gresham is very talented, I felt that his remaining matches weren’t of the same calibre. So instead, I’m recommending this match.
Will Ospreay is easily one of the top five high fliers wrestling today. That wasn’t enough for him though, and he is is already using 2019 to try and prove that he is one of the best in any weight class. Jeff Cobb is a true heavyweight, a former Olympian who might be better known to some as Lucha Underground’s Matanza Cueto. Cobb has ridiculous power and agility that someone his size shouldn’t have. This will be a battle of speed vs power, but don’t expect Ospreay to rely on just his high flying: This year Ospreay has managed to successfully lift Cobb up for his Stormbreaker. Then again, Cobb is strong enough to pick Ospreay up, walk out of MSG and throw him onto 8th Avenue.

What to watch WrestleMania weekend: 10 recommended non-WWE matches

4/6/19 11:59pm GCW “Joey Janela’s Spring Break III Part 2” – LA Park vs Masato Tanaka

Joey Janela’s Spring Break shows thrive on weird match combinations. One of the highlights of last years WrestleMania weekend was WALTER vs PCO, a match that helped to earn PCO an ROH contract. This match builds on 90s nostalgia as one of WCW’s most recognizable Mexican stars, LA Park (fka La Parka), takes on ECW’s Japanese legend Masato Tanaka.

LA Park might be older but he is still a rough, tough and charismatic brawler who had a bit of a renaissance in 2018. Meanwhile, Tanaka is still unafraid to put people through tables, get put through tables and take the kind of chair shots that people shouldn’t be taking. They may have a combined age of 99 years, but still expect a brutal, vicious brawl.

These are just a few of the hundreds of matches taking place during WrestleMania weekend. What has caught your eye? 

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