|Ricochet returns to PWG for BOLA this year|
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Starting out with the MYC, five names have been formally announced for the field in the last week or so, four by WWE and another confirmed independently by Squared Circle Sirens. They are Rhea Ripley, Sage Beckett, Kay Lee Ray, Ayesha Raymond, and Julia Ho. Ripley is the name given to Australian super-phenom Demi Bennett, who recently signed with the company after taking the Melbourne wrestling scene by storm. She comes highly regarded as the latest Aussie/Kiwi female wrestler in a long line of excellence from Down Under. Beckett has been known in the past as both Rosie Lottalove and Andrea. She's been signed the Performance Center for awhile, and brings some more heft to the fray. Ray is perhaps the biggest name of the quartet. She's been all around the world, but most people may recognize her from her work in British indies and in SHIMMER. Raymond is a name I'm unfamiliar with, but she too has made the rounds in England and comes with high marks as well. Ho is a Performance Center signee who recently made her debut on the Florida house show circuit. Her background is in MMA and modeling, and those who've seen her approve. They join Piper Niven, Toni Storm, Abbey Laith, Princesa Sugehit, Lacey Evans, Taynara Conti, Vanessa Borne, Bianca Belair, Jazzy Gabert, Dakota Kai, Kairi Sane, Sarah Logan, Tessa Blanchard, and Kativa Devi as confirmed participants, bringing the number up to 19.
So, who are the other 13 that will comprise the field? They will be announced tomorrow night on WWE's Facebook Live page. Thanks to Squared Circle Sirens, some of the mystery surrounding the rest of the field may be lifted, as the team over there has reported on a number of wrestlers heading to Orlando for medical evaluations. Assuming all of them passed or weren't there as transportation or whatever, you can feign surprise but totally say you saw it coming if the following wrestlers to be announced tomorrow night:
Rachael Ellering, Jessica James, Nicole Savoy, Mercedes Martinez, Lei'D Tapa, Santana Garrett, Marti Belle, Renee Michelle, Miranda, Barbi Hayden, Deonna Purrazzo, Shayna BaszlerThat's a murderer's row, at least of the names who are known. Martinez alone would be worth the price of admission. She's one of the greatest American women's wrestlers in history, having competed all over the country for every promotion that matters. She's an incredible brawler and has top-level instincts, so if she's in, I'm all in on this. The only names I don't recognize on there are Miranda or Renee Michelle. The other names are all familiar to readers of TWB or wrestling fans in general, but for those who don't know, a refresher.
Ellering is a no-brainer name as her father, Precious Paul, is a WWE Hall of Famer and current manager of the Authors of Pain in NXT. She's reportedly improved by leaps and bounds over the last year, mainly competing in SHINE. She's a graduate of the Storm Wrestling Academy as well. James and Hayden are veterans of the Austin/Texas indie scene, and believe me, you want to see them in this tournament. Their work in places like Anarchy Championship Wrestling and Inspire Pro Wrestling alone should get anyone excited for their inclusion. Savoy is currently an up-and-coming wrestler in SHIMMER. Based in Northern California, her in-ring game is like the next evolution of Martinez's. She's coming off a torn ACL though.
Tapa is a veteran of Impact Wrestling/TNA, and is similar to Nia Jax in that she's a big Pacific Islander who works as a monster heel in the ring. She's also the daughter of The Barbarian. Man, if only WWE could sign the Guerrillas of Destiny and do intergender wrestling, it'd have a monster Next Generation Faces of Fear trio all lined up and ready to go. Garrett is no stranger to NXT, as she's done a lot of enhancement work. She's also a veteran of the Florida indie scene and has competed in Impact/TNA before. Speaking of Impact veterans, Marti Belle is fresh off her stint. She's also done tours of Women's Superstars Uncensored, and I can vouch that she'd be a great addition. Purrazzo is the current IT girl among the unsigned. Trained by *sigh* Rip Rogers, she's done NXT enhancement work as well as some tours in Ring of Honor and, you guessed it, Impact.
Finally, Baszler has already been leaked by Becky Lynch in an interview with the Hindustan Times, but her inclusion in the medical screenings all but confirms that prior leak, I guess. She's perhaps the biggest female star on the indies due to her past associations with the MMA Four Horsewomen and the subsequent proving of that hype to be justified with her runs in promotions all around the world. She also has an in in WWE, as she's trained with WWE superstars before like the Bella Twins.
If all those women are in, that leaves one spot as a mystery. My guess is the wrestler who fills it will either be a Performance Center body or it will be the biggest announcement, one that WWE has gone to great lengths to conceal which means an alumna of the old Divas division. Serena Deeb has been rumored in the past, but she retired due to injuries which could preclude her from passing a physical, let alone competing strenuously. Either way, everyone will be waiting with bated breath.
In one more bit of MYC news, Alundra Blayze/Madusa has been added to the broadcast booth. She'll join Jim Ross and Lita in calling the action. She doesn't have a ton of broadcast experience, but any other voice that can join in and perhaps call Ross on his bullshit is fine by me.
Speaking of absolutely stacked tournament fields, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla concluded announcing names for the Battle of Los Angeles last night. When last TWB left off with reporting the names, Donovan Dijak was informing PWG he found out about his booking via vanity searching. Since then, the following names have been announced by the company's official Twitter:
Zack Sabre, Jr., Sammy Guevara, Mark Haskins, Jonah Rock, Brian Cage, Rey Horus, Marty Scurll, Michael Elgin, TK Cooper, Matt Sydal, Sami Callihan, Matt Riddle, Ricochet, Penta El Zero MThose 14 names have a lot to unpack. Sabre's inclusion makes the most sense since he'll be looking for a way to get a shot at the PWG Title he lost over the weekend to Chuck Taylor. Guevara is a veteran of the Austin/Texas indie scene who has made a name for himself with high-flying aerodynamics as well as a hot head backstage. Haskins will be making the trip over for his second consecutive tournament. Cage, Scurll, Elgin, Sydal, Callihan, and the former Pentagón are all no-brainer entrants as they're all PWG regulars. Riddle's inclusion means that any bad blood from his double-booking last month was only temporary. Horus is an exciting competitor who has just begun to be booked by PWG. You might know him better as El Dragon Azteca Jr. from Lucha Underground.
Ricochet is a former BOLA winner and a PWG regular, but his appearances there have been scarce lately for obvious reasons (Lucha Underground/New Japan). However, I'm glad he's in the tournament because it means multiple matches from one of the best wrestlers in the world. TK Cooper will join his South Pacific Power Trip tag partner Travis Banks in the tournament. I wonder if the folks with the pencil will pair them together, either in the first round or sometime later down the line. Jonah Rock is the wild card here, a name that came completely out of the blue for most observers. However, he's got mileage in promotions like Pro Wrestling NOAH, and he's actually the guy that Mikey Nicholls and Shane Haste (or Nick Miller and Shane Thorne as they're known now in NXT) would call upon to make The Mighty Don't Kneel a trio. He's also built like a goddamn dumptruck, so he'll fit in right well with some of the HOSS quotient in this tournament.
The 14 announced names will join Flamita, Desmond Xavier, Banks, Walter, Keith Lee, Dijak, Jeff Cobb, Flash Morgan Webster, Trevor Lee, and Rey Fénix in the fray. The tournament will take place September 1-3, presumably in Reseda, CA, although again, a venue has not been announced yet. Honestly, I think this field is both extremely exciting but a little disappointing for the names not announced. I would have loved to have seen some of the EVOLVE grapplefuckers come over like Tracy Williams or especially Fred Yehi, and Rey Mysterio would've been a home run of a special attraction. However, it's hard to see which names one might take out to insert those wrestlers. Overall, PWG has gotten me excited for its annual big tourney.
Speaking of tournaments happening from September 1-3, King of Trios, which will be happening in Wolverhampton, England, has two more teams announced for the shindig. Team Fight Club Pro is the latest in the company taking advantage of its host country's rich indie scene. The team will consist of Omari, Millie McKenzie, and Kyle Fletcher. While I don't have a handle on any of those three wrestlers, FCP has sent over representatives in the past, and Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews, among others, call it home. Finally, Merlok, The Cajun Crawdad, and current Young Lions Cup Champion Hermit Crab will comprise House Seven Seas. I expect this team to kick off a run of Chikara native trios that will conclude with the 15th trio before the final, "hammer" team is announced.
So, with all that news out of the way, the time for anticipating news about the tournaments is over, and anticipating the tournaments themselves is nigh, especially the MYC and BOLA. This summer is heating up for wrestling, and the true winners here will be the fans.