Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Pro Wrestling Truth Awards Part 3 - Independent Wrestling & New Japan Year in Review

2014 was another amazing year for Independent Wrestling. The scene continues grow and promotions are drawing some of their biggest numbers yet. With mainstream wrestling not what it once was, many people have turned to independent wrestling (and puroresu/japanese wrestling) for their wrestling needs. I honestly can't say I blame them because ever since I began watching the Indies, I've been hooked.

None the less, this year in Independent Wrestling & Puroresu saw The Young Bucks & ReDragon bring tag team wrestling back to prominence by dominating every major promotion. From ROH to New Japan Pro Wrestling - these two teams had classics across the world against each other and just about any other team they stepped foot in the ring with. Matt & Nick Jackson and Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish were on another level this year.

Meanwhile, Uhaa Nation & Brian Cage continued to revolutionize what it means to be a big man in pro wrestling by showcasing a combination of power & agility that isn't often seen. Nation made waves in Dragon Gate & Evolve and saw his first taste of PWG action while Brian Cage had some setbacks in the form of injuries yet still provided fans with some memorable performances, made his return to TNA, and closed out the year with a huge win in PWG over Uhaa himself, Tomasso Ciampa, & Biff Busick. The days of muscular men solely performing power moves are over.
Speaking of revolutionizing, there are two women on the Independent scene that transcended stereotypes by delivering two equally awe-inspiring performances on the same night. In July, Candice LeRae and Veda Scott took to the ring in two different matches for two different promotions and left EVERYONE talking. Veda Scott (pictured above) went to war with Gregory Iron in a Steel Cage Match for Absolute Intense Wrestling and came out on top despite bearing the proverbial crimson mask.

Over on the west coast, Candice endured the same fate as she took everything The Young Bucks had to offer in the form of a piledriver on the floor & a thumbtack filled superkick yet she still came back for more and BEAT them! It was certainly a crazy year for women's wrestling.

While spotfests & flips are what some people think of when the Indies come to mind, technical wrestling made a huge resurgence this year thanks to the likes of Biff Busick, Drew Gulak, Timothy Thatcher, Zack Sabre Jr, Kyle O'Reilly, & Jonathan Gresham.

Drew Gulak & Kyle O'Reilly locking up at PWG's Battle of Los Angeles Tournament
Photo credit: Devin Chen
Whether it be Biff Busick & Drew Gulak creating this generation's Bryan/McGuinness rivalry in the Combat Zone, Evolve booking technical dream matches between many of the aforementioned names, CZW's World Triangle League that saw Jonathan Gresham & Zack Sabre Jr wrestle to a time limit draw or PWG's Battle of Los Angeles tournament where Kyle O'Reilly, Zack Sabre Jr, Drew Gulak, & Bobby Fish put the hybrid style on display - technical wrestling is evolving and has become one of the most popular styles of wrestling once again.

As you can tell by the paragraphs above, it's been a groundbreaking year for Independent Wrestling thus why I took the time to prepare this article. Here you will find the entire year in Indy Wrestling recapped in the form of Top 10 lists and detailed descriptions of the top stars in the game today. Beyond that, you will also get a glimpse at New Japan Pro Wrestling as I look at the Top 10 Best Matches and Wrestlers of NJPW from the past year.


This article is not only for fans of independent wrestling and puroresu world wide, it's also for fans that are new to these outstanding alternatives. If you've only been watching WWE and want something different, I hope you will take the time to skim through this article and see if anything peaks your interest. Independent Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling is at an all time high and now would be the perfect time to join the fanbase!


As for fellow members of the Indie wrestling family, I hope you will enjoy reading this article and looking back on 2014 just as much as I enjoyed writing and putting it together. So without further a due, let's get started by looking at the Top 10 Independent Wrestlers of 2014!

Top 10 Independent Wrestlers of The Year:


1) Ricochet

Ricochet after winning the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles Tournament.
Photo Credit: Devin Chen 
Ricochet took the wrestling world by storm in 2014 by not only dominating nearly every promotion he stepped foot in, but also by providing numerous awesome matches. He started the year off competing in PWG's DDT4 Tournament where he & partner Rich Swann faced off against AR Fox & ACH in a match that was so fantastic that it has to be seen to be believed. By the time March rolled around, Ricochet was back in Dragon Gate Japan where he defeated Masato Yoshino to become the Open The Dream Gate Champion which he held for several months before dropping it to YAMATO. In April, Ricochet returned to the Dragon Gate USA promotion and defeated Johnny Gargano to become the Open The Freedom Gate champion thus breaking his two year long title reign.
Ricochet putting his DGUSA and HOG titles on display.
Ricochet then headed to New Japan in May for the Best of The Super Juniors tournament which he ended up winning by defeating Rysuke Tagachi in the semi finals and KUSHIDA in the finals. Winning the Super Juniors tournament was enough to put Ricochet in the running for wrestler of the year, however he was no where near done. In August, Ricochet entered PWG's Battle of Los Angeles tournament and defeated Chris Sabin, TJ Perkins, Kenny Omega, Roderick Strong, and Johnny Gargano to become the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles Champion. So in this calender year, Ricochet won two of the biggest tournaments in pro wrestling today - that's an astonishing feat. Beyond those huge accomplishments & title wins, Ricochet had multiple matches that every wrestling fan needs to see because they are simply amazing. I've listed them at the bottom of this article and I highly recommend you checking them out. In recent years, Ricochet has become a more well rounded competitor and in 2014 it came full circle as he proved himself to be one of, if not, THE best wrestler in the world.
Here's to another mindblowing year of outstanding performances from The Future of Flight!
 Must-see Ricochet matches from 2014:
  • Ricochet & Rich Swann vs. ACH & AR Fox - PWG DDT4 2014
  • Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano - DGUSA Open The Ultimate Gate 2014
  • Ricochet vs. Chris Hero - Evolve 25
  • Ricochet vs. KUSHIDA - NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Tournament Finals
  • Ricochet vs. Uhaa Nation - Open The Dream Gate Title Match - Dragon Gate - 6/3/14
  • Ricochet vs. Kenny Omega - PWG Battle of Los Angeles Night Three
2) AJ Styles
When it was announced at the end of last year that AJ Styles would be leaving his home promotion, TNA, many people shook their heads in disbelief. But after only a few months away from Impact Wrestling, Styles proved that his decision was definitely the right one. However before we get ahead of ourselves, let's start from the beginning. Styles came into 2014 as the TNA World Champion and held it through January before dropping it to Magnus and returning to the Independent Scene and New Japan. Soon after making his return to New Japan he joined what is the most popular stable in wrestling today, Bullet Club, and defeated Okada to become the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Styles held the title for several months before dropping it to Tanahashi. Meanwhile in America, Styles competed across the Indies in companies such as ROH, PWG, 2CW, & House of Hardcore and had outstanding matches against the likes of Kevin Steen, Kyle O'Reilly, Roderick Strong, Adam Cole, & many others.
After a few years of not making much noise in TNA, Styles career hit another peak in 2014. He is going into 2015 as one of the best and most popular wrestlers in the world. This year solidified him as quite possibly the best wrestler to never have a WWE run. I can't wait to see what Styles accomplishes in 2015 because his 2014 was simply phenomenal.

AJ Styles' best matches of 2014:
  • AJ Styles vs. Michael Elgin - ROH TV - March 29th
  • AJ Styles vs. Michael Elgin vs. Kazuchika Okada - ROH:War of the Worlds
  • AJ Styles vs. Minoru Suzuki - NJPW: G1 Climax - Day 7
  • AJ Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada - NJPW: Back to Yokohama
  • AJ Styles vs. Adam Cole - ROH: All Star Extravaganza 6
  • AJ Styles vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - NJPW: King of Pro Wrestling
 3) Kyle O'Reilly
2013 was a breakout year for Kyle O'Reilly and he continued that trend this year by tearing it up across the world. Kyle started out the year with two phenomenal matches in PWG, one a four way and the other, a bout against Johnny Gargano that led him to getting a PWG World Title shot against Adam Cole. O'Reilly's first big victory of the year came in that World Title match as he ended the longest World Championship reign in PWG history by defeating former partner Adam Cole for the title. Meanwhile in ROH, O'Reilly and partner Bobby Fish took part in an unforgettable series of matches against The Young Bucks which they ultimately won by defeating them on two separate occassions, once to regain the titles and once in a 2/3 Falls to retain them. To close out the summer, O'Reilly successfully defended his PWG World Title against Chris Hero prior to entering the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles where he had a technical masterpiece of a match against Zack Sabre Jr before being attacked by Roderick Strong which left him unable to compete in the rest of the tournament. O'Reilly would get his revenge however by defeating Roderick Strong at PWG's "Untitled II" event to retain his title. After settling the score with Strong, O'Reilly headed to New Japan with partner Bobby Fish where they won the Super Juniors Tag Team Tournament by defeating Bushi & Mascara Dorado, Forever Hooligans, & The Young Bucks. O'Reilly & Fish then went on to NJPW's Power Struggle event to defeat Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA to become the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Kyle's epic year ended on a mixed note as he retained his ROH World Tag Team Title on live PPV in a second victory over the Timesplitters however he lost his PWG Title to Roderick Strong in a Guerrilla Warfare Match. O'Reilly looked strong in defeat though as he defeated Ricochet in an incredible match prior to going to war with Roddy in an impromptu match that ended up costing him the title.
ROH, PWG, and New Japan were the most notable promotions that Kyle competed in this year. Therefore, that's where he saw most of his success. They aren't the only places Kyle wrestled however. Throughout the year, Kyle competed across the American Independent scene in companies such as AAW, AIW, and IWA Mid-South along with Canada's Smash Wrestling. No matter how big the crowd or how popular the promotion, Kyle still delivered the same high quality performance that he's known for.
Just by looking above at all of O'Reilly's accomplishments this year, you can tell how groundbreaking of a year it was for him. One thing I've always liked about O'Reilly is how well rounded of a competitor he is and that was put on display this year as he achieved major success in singles AND tag team competition. It's an impressive feat for someone to be that dominant in two different styles of wrestling. Beyond his wide range of accomplishments, Kyle continued to improve his in-ring game this year and while I have considered him one of the best in the world for nearly a year now, I think the majority of people are finally coming to that realization as well.
O'Reilly is closing out 2014 with the two most prestigious tag team titles around his waist and a reputation of stealing the show every time he's in a singles match. He's headed into 2015 red hot as he will be on worldwide PPV just days into the new year where he & Bobby Fish will be defending the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles against three other teams. I have a feeling that O'Reilly will Axe & Smash his way to a #1 ranking on this list in 2015!

Must-see Kyle O'Reilly matches of 2014:
  • Kyle O'Reilly vs. Johnny Gargano - PWG: Mystery Vortex II
  • Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish vs. The Young Bucks - ROH: War of the Worlds
  • Kyle O'Reilly vs. Alex Shelley - AAW: Point of No Return
  • Kyle O'Reilly vs. Adam Cole - PWG: Sold Our Soul For Rock N Roll
  • Kyle O'Reilly vs. Zack Sabre Jr - PWG: Battle of Los Angeles Night Three
  • Kyle O'Reilly vs. AJ Styles - ROH: Death Before Dishonor
  • Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish vs. Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA - NJPW: Power Struggle
 4) Adam Cole
Adam Cole started out the year on top of the Independent Wrestling world as the reigning and defending champion of the two top Indie companies in America, ROH and PWG. After some successful title defenses, Cole hit a slump in May-June as he dropped the ROH Title to Michael Elgin and the PWG Title to Kyle O'Reilly. Cole got back on his game during the late summer however as he competed in two high quality matches at PWG's Battle of Los Angeles Tournament and took AJ Styles to his limit at ROH All Star Extravaganza 6 in a bout that many are calling a MOTY candidate. The Panama City Playboy also headed to New Japan where he & Mike Bennett defeated Jushin Liger & Captain New Japan in a tag team match. To close out the year, Cole won the 2014 Survival of the Fittest Tournament by defeating Matt Sydal, Roderick Strong, Tomasso Ciampa, Hanson, & Adam Page.
While Cole may not be #1 on this list like he was last year, he's still among the best wrestlers in the world. Whether he was in PWG with his Mount Rushmore stablemates or in ROH being the head man of the Kingdom, Cole was the best character in our corner of the wrestling world in 2014. Unfortunately, he will be sidelined for several months to start out 2015 which is a bummer, but I'm sure he's going to come back better than ever because after all, he is ADAM COLE BAY BAY!
Must-see Adam Cole matches of 2014:
  • Adam Cole vs. Chris Hero - ROH: 12th Anniversary Show
  • Adam Cole vs. Jay Briscoe - Ladder War - ROH: Supercard of Honor 
  • Adam Cole vs. Kevin Steen - ROH: Global Wars
  • Adam Cole vs. Zack Sabre Jr - PWG: Battle of Los Angeles Night Two
5) Michael Elgin
Despite losing his popularity among much of the IWC, Michael Elgin still had one hell of a year in 2014. After chasing the ROH World Title for nearly two years, he finally achieved his dream by defeating Adam Cole at ROH's first ever live PPV Best in the World in June. The road to that match wasn't easy however as Elgin had to go through a grueling trilogy of matches with AJ Styles that proved to everyone that Elgin is the real deal. Elgin's run as World Champion didn't quite go as he expected though. In September, he lost the title to Jay Briscoe which made his reign one of the shortest in ROH history. Regardless of that, Elgin still had a landmark year as one of the top talents in Ring of Honor.
ROH wasn't the only place that Elgin competed at in 2014 however as he had quality matches across the Indepedent Scene throughout the year. From his AIW matches with the likes of Drake Younger, Josh Alexander, & Tim Donst to his awesome PWG bout in August against Tomasso Ciampa - Elgin had many outstanding encounters across the US that reiterated the fact that he's one of the best workers in the country.
"The Men of The Year" Michael Elgin & Ethan Page as AAW Tag Team Champions
In AAW, Elgin had an outstanding year as he held the tag team championships with partner #ALLEGO Ethan Page for the majority of the year. They delivered quality matches every time they stepped in the ring to defend their titles thus making them arguably one of the best teams to ever grace an AAW ring. Unfortunately, their reign got cut short in September due to Elgin's visa problems.
While the year didn't end quite as awesome as it started, Elgin still is one of the best independent wrestlers in the world today. Every wrestler hits road bumps in their career and sadly, Elgin hit a huge one in the midst of the best run of his career. Hopefully he can recover and have a big 2015.
Must-see Michael Elgin matches of 2014:
  • Michael Elgin vs. Drake Younger - AIW: TGIF
  • Michael Elgin & Brian Cage vs. Ricochet & Rich Swann vs. AR Fox & ACH - PWG: Mystery Vortex II
  • Michael Elgin vs. AJ Styles - ROH TV - May 17th, 2014
  • Michael Elgin vs. Adam Cole - ROH: Best in the World
  • Michael Elgin & Josh Alexander vs. Josh Alexander & Jake Crist - Ladder Match - AAW: Day of Defiance
  • Michael Elgin vs. Tomasso Ciampa - PWG: Battle of Los Angeles Night 1
6) Jay Briscoe
Briscoe as ROH World Champion.
Photo Credit: ROH Wrestling
Jay Briscoe is a man who has garnered mixed reactions from alot of fans this year. Many dislike the fact that he's ROH Champion and say he's overrated however his accomplishments this year prove otherwise. For starters, Jay went through his second year of being undefeated in singles competition. ZERO losses in TWO years?! That's unbelievable. On top of that, he became only the second person to ever hold the ROH World Championship on two occasions. As if Briscoe's wasn't already a future ROH Hall of Famer, there's no doubt that he is now because not only is he a part of the quite possibly the greatest tag team in ROH history, he's now in a class of his own when it comes to singles competition. Jay did still team with his brother on several occasions this year, most notably against Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson at ROH's War of the Worlds event in an unsuccessful attempt to win the IWGP Tag Team Titles. The best story that he & his brother were apart of however was their short-lived feud with ROH's newest tag team, War Machine. The Briscoes went to battle with Hanson & Raymond Rowe on an edition of ROH TV which ended in a chaos as tables were broken and the match ended in a no contest. Unfortunately the rivalry never got to continue because Rowe suffered a serious injury, but I certainly think we've seen the end of Briscoes vs. War Machine.
Heading into 2015, Briscoe is on one hell of a hot streak however he also has a target on his back considering that he's been undefeated for two years and is ROH World Champion. Can anyone stop him or will we see Briscoe go three years without a loss? That's the question many Ring of Honor fans are asking heading into what could be ROH's biggest year yet, 2015.
Must-see Jay Briscoe matches of 2014:
  • Jay Briscoe vs. Adam Cole - ROH - February 8th
  • Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson - ROH: War of the Worlds
  • Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Hanson & Raymond Rowe - ROH TV - August 30th
  • Jay Briscoe vs. Michael Elgin - ROH: All Star Extravaganza 6
  • Jay Briscoe vs. Adam Cole - Fight Without Honor - ROH: Final Battle 2014
7) Biff Busick
Busick as the CZW World Champion.
If you don't dig very deeply into Independent Wrestling, you may not know the name Biff Busick, but the truth is, you should. I got my first taste of seeing him compete this year and he certainly impressed me. In a Indy scene filled with the typical flippy guys that do superkicks, Biff Busick brings an old school approach to the ring with his vast technical prowice and vicious strikes. The best way to describe his offense is highly effective with no wasted motion. He can go hold for hold with nearly any wrestler in the world although he can also take to the air when he needs to as well.
Now that you're somewhat familar with his style, let's take a quick look at what made him one of the best & most successful wrestlers of 2014. I first heard of Biff Busick because of the awesome matches he was having with Drew Gulak so I think that's the best place to start. Busick had a great series of bouts with Gulak which ended with him becoming the CZW World Heavyweight Champion in May. Busick held the title for five months before dropping it to Sozio.
Outside of his CZW success, Busick was at the centerpiece of the Rhode Island promotion Beyond Wrestling throughout the year as he had many MOTY candidate bouts there. Some standouts include a Fans Bring the Weapons match against Matt Tremont that showcased that Busick could brawl just as well as he could take you down on the mat. Busick closed out the year with a showstealing performance at Beyond's "Alive and Kicking" event against Mike Bailey that left everyone talking.
One of Busick's most notable moments came in August when he debuted for PWG. He competed there during the Battle of Los Angeles weekend and left enough of an impression to be brought back through the remainder of the year. The Reseda crowd has taken to him quite well and rightfully so because he's been tearing it up in matches against the likes of Tomasso Ciampa, Uhaa Nation, & Brian Cage during the latter part of this year.
I think 2015 will see Busick have his biggest year yet. I honestly have no idea how or why he isn't booked in Ring of Honor. If they're looking to make their company more well rounded, Busick would be a perfect fit. None the less, I can't wait to see what the future holds for The Star Destroyer, Biff Busick!
Must-see Biff Busick matches of 2014:
  • Biff Busick vs. Drew Gulak - CZW: Deja Vu
  • Biff Busick vs. Matt Tremont - Fans Bring the Weapons - Beyond Wrestling: Uncomfortable
  • Biff Busick vs. Timothy Thatcher - Beyond Wrestling 4/13 Secret Show
  • Biff Busick vs. Tomasso Ciampa - PWG: Untitled II
  • Biff Busick vs. Mike Bailey - Beyond Wrestling: Alive and Kicking
8) Uhaa Nation
If you've been keeping up with the world of wrestling outside of WWE, there's no way you haven't heard the name of Uhaa Nation. He came to notoriety through both the DGUSA and Dragon Gate Japan promotions and he still competes in both promotions to this day.
Uhaa is a one of a kind athlete that is leading the pack of the new generation of big men in wrestling. He proves every time that he steps in the ring that there's much more to men with a muscular build than just power moves. Uhaa Nation's combination of agility and power is what sets him apart.
While many have known how talented he is for several years, he really began to garner some buzz in 2014. Whether it was his bouts with Ricochet & Johnny Gargano in Evolve & Dragon Gate or his PWG debut, Nation blew away every crowd that he performed in front of.
Uhaa closed out the year in a big way by achieveing alot of success in the UK's premier independent wrestling company, Preston City Wrestling. He had some great matches against the likes of Tommaso Ciampa & Michael Elgin and went on to defeat former WWE Superstar Chris Masters & hard hitter Dave Mastiff to win the PCW Championship.
I have a feeling that 2015 will be even bigger than 2014 for Nation. He's going into the new year with alot of momentum and it's rumored that WWE has his eye on him. If Uhaa continues to perform on the level that he's become known for, we may be seeing him on our TV screens sooner rather than later!
Must-see Uhaa Nation matches of 2014:
  • Uhaa Nation vs. Johnny Gargano - Evolve 27
  • Uhaa Nation & AR Fox vs. Trent & Tony Nese
  • Uhaa Nation & Ricochet vs. Michael Elgin & Ethan Page - AAW: The Chaos Theory
  • Uhaa Nation vs. Ricochet - Evolve 35
  • Uhaa Nation vs. Dave Mastiff vs. Chris Masters - Preston City Wrestling
  • Uhaa Nation vs. Michael Elgin - Preston City Wrestling - November 30th
9) ACH

If you've ever watched an event that ACH is performing on, you've most likely heard that chant many times. ACH has a knack for getting over with the crowd immediately pretty much anywhere he goes and once you've seen him compete, you'll see why.
ACH has been climbing the ranks of the Independent Wrestling world for several years and I think 2014 was his best year yet. He tore the house down every time he stepped foot in PWG with MOTY candidate bouts against the likes of Kenny Omega & Ricochet as well as outstanding tag matches teaming with AR Fox. Meanwhile, he did the same thing in ROH by working his way into the TV Title picture and taking Jay Lethal to his limit in a remarkable 30 minute time limit draw over the summer. Although ACH wasn't able to capture the title, he still continued to capture the support of the fans by delivering awesome matches every single night. ACH closed out the year by teaming with The Young Bucks in a show-stealing six man tag at ROH's Final Battle PPV.
I think ACH may be the brighest star heading into 2015. He instantly gets over wherever he wrestles, but somehow has yet to attain a title. Somebody put some gold around this man's waist! I think 2015 will be his year. Whether it's in ROH or elsewhere, the time is now for ACH. 
Must-see ACH matches of 2014:
  • ACH & AR Fox vs. Ricochet & Rich Swann - PWG: DDT4 2014
  • ACH vs. Louis Lyndon - AIW: Gauntlet for the Gold
  • ACH vs. Rich Swann - AAW: Path of Redemption
  • ACH vs. Jay Lethal - ROH TV - August 9th
  • ACH vs. Kenny Omega - PWG: Battle of Los Angeles Night Two
  • ACH & The Young Bucks vs. Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, & Cedric Alexander - ROH: Final Battle
10) Zack Sabre Jr
Originally, I was going to give Sabre the "International Star of the Year" award because of how much of an impact he made in three different areas of the world. However, I soon realized that the best place for him was among the Top 10 Best Independent Wrestlers in the World because he belongs in that category. So here we are!
Zack Sabre Jr is a guy that I had heard about, but never seen compete until this year. He's honed his craft for years in England and Japan, competing mainly for NOAH. Needless to say, I wish I had discovered him way before now because he blew me away.
For those who have never seen him compete, I'll say right off the bat that you need to because I've honestly never seen anyone like him. His unique blend of the british style and classic old school technical wrestling really makes him stand out. He can lock his opponent in an armbar from multiple positions including using only his legs. It's something that has to be seen to be believed.
This year, Sabre made an impact across the world against a wide variety of opponents. This summer he faced off with New Japan standout Shinsuke Nakamura in Revolution Pro in the UK in what has been praised as a MOTY candidate bout. Sabre went toe to toe with the king of strong style and proved himself to be on Nakamura's level.
Sabre's next big match came against Prince Devitt in Progress Wrestling which was a dream match on paper and it certainly lived up to expectations. Once again, Sabre proved that he could more than hang with one of the best in the world in the form of current WWE NXT Star Finn Balor. This match is available on YouTube and I highly recommend checking it out.
After facing off in his home country against a puroresu star and the former leader of Bullet Club, Sabre headed to the United States where he made his debut for PWG in August. Sabre wrestled three matches in one weekend and all of them were MOTY candidates. He faced off with fellow Team Suplex members Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly respectively in two of the finest pieces of art I've ever seen in a professional wrestling ring. Sabre's match with O'Reilly in particular showcased wrestling in it's purest form as the two men who master the cross arm breaker went to war. While Sabre came up short, he certainly made his name by putting in an outstanding performance and going 2-1 during the weekend by earning big victories over Adam Cole and The Young Bucks.
Sabre's stay in the US didn't end with PWG however as he made his return to Evolve a few weeks later. Once again, we got to see several dream matches come to fruition as he faced off two of the best wrestlers in America, Biff Busick and Timothy Thatcher. Both matches recieved high praise and are easily among the best matches that took place in 2014. Needless to say, Zack Sabre Jr left his mark on America and fans are clamoring for him to return.

After his stay in the US, he returned to his homeland where he would won the IPW UK's Super 8 Tournament by defeating Marty Scrull, Dave Mastiff, & Will Ospreay. Meanwhile in Japan, Sabre returned to NOAH and challenged Daisuke Harada for the GHC Heavyweight Title, but came up short despite having a great match.

The impact Sabre made during his time in the US and his matches with Devitt & Nakamura solidify his spot on this list. It was a groundbreaking year for the and I look forward to seeing him compete in the US more often in the coming years.
Must-see Zack Sabre Jr matches of 2014:
  • Zack Sabre Jr vs. Kyle O'Reilly - IPW: UK - Royale Rewards
  • Zack Sabre Jr vs. Timothy Thatcher - Evolve 34 - Evolve Match of the Year
  • Zack Sabre Jr vs. Adam Cole - PWG: Battle of Los Angeles Night Two
  • Zack Sabre Jr vs. Jonathan Gresham - CZW: World Triangle League Night 1
  • Zack Sabre Jr vs. Daisuke Harada - NOAH: Global League 2014

Honorable Mentions:
11) Drew Galloway

Galloway returned to the Indies in late July and immediately began collecting championships. He won the ICW Championship by defeating Jester and the Evolve Championship by defeating Chris Hero on October 8th. Galloway defended the Evolve title multiple times throughout the year in several outstanding bouts against the likes of Roderick Strong, Rich Swann, & Tony Nese. Galloway also defended the title outside of Evolve against names such as Stevie Richards & Jimmy Rave and he even took the title to England where he defended the title against Davey Boy Smith Jr. Galloway did a TON in the five months he was on the Indies and I'm sure he made WWE regret letting him go. Can't wait to see what he does in his first full year back on the Independent circuit.

12) Kongo Kong
The current IWA Mid-South Champion and arguably one of the most dominant in history. Won the title in May and has been undefeated since. Successfully defended the championship against the likes of BJ Whitmer, John Wayne Murdoch, Dale Patricks, Shane Mercer, Hy Zaya, & others.

13) Caleb Konley
Konley held both the PWX and Wrestleforce championships simultaneously early in the year. He had a fantastic rivalry with Cedric Alexander over both titles which rocked the Carolina Indy scene. Currently, he's one half of the DGUSA Tag Champs with Tony Nese and they went 4-0 defending the DGUSA Tag Titles at WWN China. Konley has been in DGUSA for a few years and now he's one of their most reliable stars. It's going to be interesting to see where that leads him in 2015.

14) Ethan Page
Competed prominently in AIW & AAW where he had many must-see matches against the likes of Johnny Gargano & Eddie Kingston. His singles efforts were remarkable however he also was part of two outstanding tag teams during the year. The first being his team with Michael Elgin called "Men of the Year". He & Elgin held the AAW Tag Team Titles for the majority of the year before having to surrender them due to Elgin's visa problems. Meanwhile, Page teamed with Josh Alexander to form Monster Mafia. He & the #WalkingWeapon not only debuted for ROH in a showstealing performance vs ReDRagon, they also had a fantastic cage match with The Young Bucks in IWL. After years on the Indies, Page is really starting to break out by having awesome matches where ever he goes. Now is the time to get on the #ALLEGO bandwagon!

15) Roderick Strong

Roddy has been a talent that Indie promoters could count on for quite some time however in recent years, he hasn't attained a lot of success despite delivering consistently great matches. This year that changed as Strong worked towards winning the PWG Title nearly all year and finally did just that in December by defeating Kyle O'Reilly at "Black Cole Sun" in a Guerrilla Warfare Match. Outside of PWG, Strong worked with alot of young talents in ROH such as Cedric Alexander & Adam Page which resulted in some fresh first time matches that put both men on the map. With the PWG Title around his waist, the sky is the limit for the 14 year veteran in 2015. 

Top 10 Tag Teams of The Year:

1) The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
For the second consecutive year, The Young Bucks take the honors as the #1 Tag Team of the Year in the Pro Wrestling Truth Awards. Last year was great for The Young Bucks, but this year was even more monumental as they held the ROH, PWG, AND IWGP Tag Team Championships all at the same time! That's never been done before and I doubt it will ever happen again. That accomplishment alone makes them the best tag team of the year, but beyond their multiple championship victories, The Bucks were involved in several classics this year. The first being their hardcore war with Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae in PWG. The second being their unforgettable series of matches with ReDragon in ROH. On top of those, The Bucks tore the house down in New Japan multiple times throughout the year against the Time Splitters & Forever Hooligans and they also faced off with legendary teams such as The Hardys and The Dudleys in two must see matches. Not to mention they defeated two Japanese legends in the form of Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask IV at the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. That's an unbelievably impressive resume.
Beyond the ring, The Young Bucks' unique charisma and mannerisms reached new levels of popularity. You can't walk into a indie show nowadays without seeing ATLEAST one Bullet Club or Young Bucks shirt. You also can't walk into an indie show without seeing multiple people throwing up the "too sweet" or doing the crotch chop. These are things The Bucks have been doing in PWG for quite some time and with their rise to fame, their mannerisms have caught on with everyone in the wrestling community.
Some say "The Young Bucks & Bullet Club are copying the Kliq" when in reality, The Young Bucks have brought back something that was popular in the 90's and made it the hottest thing in wrestling once again. They've made it their own simply by just having fun & being themselves which is what makes them such a special and popular team. From their in ring antics to their hilarious posts on social media, they are a one of a kind duo. I'd even argue to say that they're the most influential team in the history of Indepedent Wrestling because of how many teams try to imitate what they do nowadays. On the independent AND mainstream levels. Everyone throws superkicks, more and more are beginning to wear flashy ring gear, the word "over" is used prominently. Despite all this, there's only one Young Bucks and no one does all these things better than them.
So as you can see, 2014 was arguably the Bucks' biggest year yet. Then again, I said that last year. It's gonna be hard for The Young Bucks to top everything they accomplished in 2014, but if anybody can do it - it's them.
Must-see Young Bucks matches of the year:
  • The Young Bucks vs. ReDragon (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) - ROH: Raising The Bar Night Two
  • The Young Bucks & Kevin Steen vs. Cedric Alexander, Trevor Lee, & Johnny Gargano - PWG: Sold Our Soul For Rock N Roll
  • The Young Bucks vs. Timesplitters - NJPW: Dominion 6.21
  • The Young Bucks vs. The Hardys - Northeast Wrestling: Under The Stars 3
  • The Young Bucks vs. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian - PWG: Battle of Los Angeles Night Two
  • The Young Bucks & Adam Cole vs. Chris Sabin, ACH, & Brian Meyers - PWG: Battle of Los Angeles Night Three
  • The Young Bucks vs. Da Hoodz - Beyond Wrestling: Tournament for Tomorrow 3
  • The Young Bucks & ACH vs. Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, & Cedric Alexander - ROH: Final Battle
2) ReDragon (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish)
Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish have been teaming for a few years in ROH, however this year they really solidifed their legacy as one of the best teams in ROH history. In 2014, O'Reilly & Fish earned a rep for tearing the house down every single time they stepped foot in the ring. Whether it be against Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian or their epic series of bouts against The Young Bucks. ReDragon were accountable for several MOTY candidates this year thus proving that they are one of the best tag teams in the world. Beyond ROH, ReDragon made their debut as a team in PWG & Beyond Wrestling this year in two outstanding efforts. They also made their debut in New Japan Pro Wrestling where they had a remarkable contest with Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA before enterting the Super Juniors tag team tournament which they ended up winning by defeating Bushi & Mascara Dorado, Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero), and The Young Bucks.
O'Reilly & Fish then went on to challenge for the IWGP
Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles which they ended up winning by defeating Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA. ReDragon closed out the year by defending their ROH Tag Team Titles successfully against the Timesplitters live on PPV at ROH's Final Battle.
They are heading into 2015 with the two most prestigious tag team championships in the world around their waists and just four days into the new year, they will be on world wide PPV defending their IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Titles against four of the top teams in the world - The Young Bucks, Forever Hooligans, & Time Splitters. 2014 was their year, but I have a feeling they are just getting started!

Best ReDragon matches of 2014:
  • ReDragon vs. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian - ROH: Best In The World
  • ReDragon vs. Biff Busick & Drew Gulak - PWG: Battle of Los Angeles 2014 Night Two
  • ReDragon vs. The Young Bucks - 2/3 Falls Match - ROH: All Star Extravaganza 6
  • ReDragon vs. The Young Bucks - NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Tournament
  • ReDragon vs. Timesplitters - NJPW Power Struggle
  • ReDragon vs. The Briscoes vs. Matt Sydal & ACH vs. Christopher Daniels & Kazarian - ROH: Tag Wars
3) Timesplitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA)


Many people know Alex Shelley from his time in TNA and have been wondering what he's been doing since then, well, here's you answer. He's a part of yet another groundbreaking tag team that is very similar to his team with Chris Sabin. He & his new partner Kushida are the Time Splitters.

They've been teaming for 2 years and have made a huge impact in New Japan Pro Wrestling by winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles as well as the Super Juniors Tag Tournament in 2012.

This year saw Shelley & KUSHIDA defeat The Young Bucks to become the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions for the second time in a phenomenal match up. They held the titles for several months before dropping them to ReDragon on November 8th which led them to returning to Ring of Honor for the second time in 2014 at Final Battle. The Time Splitters challenged ReDragon for the ROH Tag Team Titles on live PPV on December 7th and while they came up short, they undoubtedly delivered one of the best matches of the evening.

Must-see Timesplitters Matches of 2014:
  • Timesplitters vs. The Young Bucks - NJPW Dominion 6.21
  • Timesplitters vs. The Young Bucks vs. Forever Hooligans - ROH: War of the Worlds
  • Timesplitters vs. ReDragon - NJPW: Destruction in Kobe
4) World's Cutest Tag Team (Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae)
When Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae began teaming together in late 2013, it came as a shock to many people as the two have been feuding off and on in PWG for years. With that being said, I doubt anyone expected them to have the success they've had as a tag team.
2013 saw Candice LeRae reach new heights of popularity and that continued in 2014 as she made headlines thanks to her performance in she & Joey's match against The Young Bucks at ELEVEN. The whole purpose of Joey & Candice coming together was to stop The Young Bucks and at PWG's ELEVEN event in July, they did just that.
The two teams squared off in a Guerrilla Warfare Match that saw Candice take a piledriver on the floor and a superkick with thumbtacks which left her a bloody mess. Meanwhile, Joey took a superkick with thumbtacks in his mouth, among other things. However in the end, Candice & Joey would prevail and end The Young Bucks' reign as the PWG World Tag Team Champions. It was a classic match that really put Candice & Joey at the forefront of Independent Wrestling. They went on to defend their PWG Tag Team titles throughout the latter half of the year against the likes of Ricochet & Rich Swann, Chuck Taylor & Johnny Gargano, and Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian.

PWG isn't the only place the two found success 2014 though. The two also had reigns as the Dreamwave Tag Team Champions and the Fighting Spirit Pro Tag Team Champions. Beyond championship victories, the two can also lay claim to victories over Tommy Dreamer & Ivelisse Velez and Christina Von Eerie & Carlito.
The World's Cutest Tag Team is closing out the year with the PWG World Tag Team Titles and the FSP Tag Team Titles around their waists. This means they are going into the year as one of the top tag teams in the world and with PWG's annual tag team tournament seemingly right around the corner, the competition will be steep, but after what we saw Joey & Candice go through this year, I'm sure they can handle it!
Must-see Joey & Candice matches of 2014:
  • Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae vs. Chuck Taylor & Trent? - PWG: Sold Our Soul for Rock N Roll
  • Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae vs. The Young Bucks - PWG: ELEVEN
  • Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae vs. Chuck Taylor & Johnny Gargano - PWG: Untitled II
5) Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
 The two powerhouses of the Bullet Club had quite the year in 2014. They started the year off on January 4th at New Japan's Wrestle Kingdom 8 where they defeated Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer) for the IWGP Tag Team Titles. This was the start of a dominant run as the tag team champions. They would hold on to the titles in the coming months by defending them successfully against Hirooki Goto & Shibata, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe, Okada & Yoshi-Hashi. Gallows & The Machine Gun finished the year off by going 5-2 in their block of the World Tag League only to be defeated in the finals by Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata.
6) The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian)

 Formerly known as Bad Influence in TNA, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian made their return to the Independent Scene this year and they certainly came back with something to prove. The dynamic duo made their big ROH return on live PPV at Best in the World where they challenged Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish for the World Tag Team Titles. They were unsuccesful however they proved they could still go despite their talent being underutilized in TNA.

The team would become known as The Addiction and went on to have many memorable contests throughout the year against the likes of ReDragon, The Young Bucks, and Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae. While they weren't able to get any gold around their waist, they certainly provided with fans with the action they desired. Now that they've settled back into the Independent scene, I think it's only a matter of time before these two begin racking up championships once again.

7) Juicy Product (JT Dunn & David Starr)
If there's one team that rivaled The Young Bucks in the "over" and gold departments this year, it was JT Dunn & David Starr - Juicy Product. At one point this year, Dunn & Starr held the CZW, FIP, WSU, & NYWC Tag Team Titles at the SAME TIME. That's an unbelievable feat, especially for a team that's only been together for just under two years. Beyond their championship success, Juicy Product exhibits an aroma of charisma that sets them apart. Their "Over as Fuck" catchphrase has caught on across the Indy scene and that combined with their in-ring ability has led them to new heights in 2014. Many people have compared them to The Young Bucks which led Juicy Product to a match with The Bucks at Beyond Wrestling over the summer. The Bucks were victorious, but Juicy Product proved that they could hang with the best tag team in the world.
With the amount of success The Juice & The Product have reached in such a short time, the sky is the limit for what they can accomplish in the coming year. While the future of their team is in question after some happenings at a recent Beyond Wrestling event, I'm sure fans across the country are hoping things remain the same and we see these two tear it up together for atleast another year.
Must-see Juicy Product matches of 2014:
  • Juicy Product vs. The Young Bucks - Beyond Wrestling: Americanrana
  • Juicy Product vs. Beaver Boys - CZW: To Infinity
  • Juicy Product vs. Team Tremendous - Beyond Wrestling: Tournament For Tomorrow 3
8) The Hooligans (Devin & Mason Cutter)
I think it's safe to say that these two are the most underrated and unique tag team going today. In this age of highflying spotty tag teams, The Hooligans may not fit the bill when you first see them however if you stick around to watch their match, I'm sure you will find that they can damn well hold their own. They hit hard however they can also do their fair share of flying around the ring despite their size. I, for one, was blown away when I first saw them compete. The agility of the self proclaimed "Bearded Bullies" is something you HAVE to see for yourself.
The Cutters had quite the year in 2014 as they simultaneously held the Zero 1 USA Tag Titles, Proving Groud Pro Tag Team Titles, and JCW Tag Team Titles at one point in the year. They also made their debut for multiple promotions including AAW, AIW, Dreamwave, & JAPW. On top of all of that, The Hooligans can also lay claim to a victory over the best tag team in the world today as they defeated The Young Bucks for St Louis Anarchy on July 25th.
The Hooligans not only put their abilites on display in the US this year. They completed four tours of Mexico and made quite an impact in the process. That's just one example of how quickly the word of this tag team is spreading throughout the Independent Scene. From America to Mexico, Devin & Mason Cutter are well traveled and continue to hone their craft by working wherever they can. 2015 is sure to be a big year for The Bearded Bullies!

Best Hooligans matches of 2014:
  • The Hooligans vs. Michael Elgin & BJ Whitmer - IWA Mid South: King of the Death Match Tournament
  • The Hooligans vs. The Young Bucks - St Louis Anarchy - July 25th
  • The Hooligans & Necro Butcher vs. Viking War Party - JAPW
  • The Hooligans vs. Homicide & B-Boy vs. Team IOU - IWA Mid South: 600th Show
  • The Hooligans vs. Jollyville Fuck Its - AIW
9) Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent?)
Over the years, Chuck Taylor has had an array of tag team partners, but this year he found the perfect counterpart in the form of Trent Baretta. The two began teaming in PWG in late 2013 which led them to entering the 2014 DDT4 Tag Team Tournament which they ultimately won by defeating the RockNes Monsters, Kevin Steen & Adam Cole, and Ricochet & Rich Swann. It was arguably the biggest accomplishment of both men's careers. They challenged The Young Bucks for the PWG Tag Team Titles in March, but came up short despite a valiant effort in a great match. They went on to have an outstanding contest against Michael Elgin & Johnny Gargano at PWG's ELEVEN which they won and in turn became the #1 Contender's for the PWG World Tag Team Titles. Unfortunately, they never got their title match because Trent? got injured while they were teaming in a match at Beyond Wrestling in Rhode Island. The two didn't team up during the second half of the year due to Trent's injury, but the dynamic duo didn't go away. In early September, Chuck Taylor & Trent got their own talk show "Poppin Dogs & Talkin Hogs" thanks to They filmed several episodes during PWG'S Battle of Los Angeles Weekend, all of which are hilarious and showcase part of what makes the Best Friends the most entertaining tag team in the world today. So, go pick up a few copies of "Poppin Dogs and Talkin' Hogs" and get ready for the in-ring return of the Best Friends in 2015!

Standout Best Friends Matches of 2014:
  • Chuck Taylor & Trent? vs. Kevin Steen & Adam Cole - PWG DDT4 2014
  • Chuck Taylor & Trent? vs. Ricochet & Rich Swann - PWG DDT4 2014
  • Chuck Taylor & Trent? vs. Johnny Gargano & Michael Elgin - PWG ELEVEN
  • Chuck Taylor, Kenny Omega, & Zack Sabre Jr vs. The Young Bucks & Adam Cole - PWG Battle of Los Angeles Night One
10) The Decade/The Forgotten (BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs)
Early on in the year, BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs joined forces in Ring of Honor to form a group known as The Decade. They began taking young talents under their wing as a way of teaching respect and how to come up the right way. Adam Page is one talent who stayed with them throughout the year and they definitely impacted his career.
Beyond their work with Page, Whitmer & Jacobs competed in many tag matches together against the likes of Christopher Daniels & Kazarian, The Briscoes, & ReDragon. They didn't find any success in challenging for the tag team titles, but they put forth many impressive efforts.
While they weren't able to capture the ROH Tag Titles, they were able to capture some gold outside of Ring of Honor. In AIW, Whitmer & Jacobs teamed under the name "The Forgotten" and won the AIW Tag Team Titles by defeating the Jolly-ville Fuck Its at Absolution IX on June 29th. They held the titles for several months and defended them against all comers.
With ROH talent rumored to be barred from competing in other promotions in 2015, it's going to be interesting to see how Whitmer & Jacobs fare. Will they push forward and win gold in ROH as a team or will they disband? It's certainly something to keep an eye on.
Top 10 Female Wrestlers of The Year:
1) Candice LeRae
LeRae was the focal point of PWG for the majority of the year. She & partner Joey Ryan defeated The Young Bucks in a match that saw her shed blood thanks to a piledriver on the floor and a thumbtack filled superkick. The match put Candice's toughness on display as she fought on and is to this day, one half of the PWG World Tag Team Champions. She also held the Dreamwave Tag Team Championships & the FSU Tag Team Championships with Joey Ryan during the year. Her last big victory of 2014 came when she defeated Ivelisse to become the FWE Women's Champion in October. With that win, Candice is headed into 2015 with three layers of gold around her waist.
2) Ivelisse
Ivelisse was undoubtedly the workhorse of women's wrestling in 2014. She had an awesome reign as Shine Champion during the year in which she defended the belt successfully against Su Yung, Allysin Kay, & Mercedes Martinez. The most notable part of that reign came when she wrestled Serena Deeb to a 60 minute draw at SHINE 20 in a remarkable match up. In the fall, Ivelisse defeated former WWE Diva Maria Kanellis to win the FWE Championships although she lost it later in the night to Candice LeRae. In November, Ivelisse made her AAA debut in November and went 2-1 in the promotion competing solely in tag matches. She was ranked #7 in the PWI Female 50.
3) Cheerleader Melissa
 Melissa dominated the world of Women's Wrestling throughout the year with a combination of success and consistently awesome matches. Accomplishments include holding the Shimmer Championship, the APW Women's Championship, and the PWR Women's Championship. She was ranked #4 in the PWI Female Top 50 in 2014.
4) Havok
The only woman on this list to make a huge impact on both the Independent Scene while also making her name on mainstream wrestling is Havok! All during this calender year, she made her long awaited debut for Shimmer, held the WSU World Championship, AND debuted for TNA Impact Wrestling, winning the Knockouts Championship quickly after. Havok continues to stand out from the pack and it brought her alot of success this year.
5) Mia Yim
Yim really came into her own in 2014. She won the NWA FUW Women's Championship and the Shine Tag Team Championship w/ Leva Bates. Closed out the year winning the Shine Championship by defeating Ivelisse at WWN In China in arguably the biggest victory of her career. Ranked #20 in the PWI Female 50.
6) LuFisto
Lufisto spent most of the year as WSU Champion. She won the title on May 10th by defeating Athena. Held the title throughout the year defending against the likes of Allysin Kay among others. Current Lucha POP Women's champion and NSPW Champion. Ranked #5 in the PWI Female Top 50 in 2014.
7) Kimber Lee

Competed in multiple outstanding intergender matches throughout the year. Most notably her match with Drew Gulak at Beyond Wrestling. Held the WSU Tag Team Titles with Annie Social which they won by defeating Jessica Havok & Sassy Stephie at WSU Mutiny in February. Formed the tag team Kimberbombs with Cherry Bomb and competed with her across the Indie scene in Smash Wrestling, SHIMMER, & SHINE. Ranked #28 in the PWI Female 50.
8) Kay Lee Ray
One of the fastest rising female stars in wrestling today. Made it to the finals of TNA's 2nd annual British Boot Camp. Won the SWE Speed King Title in August by defeating Martin Kirby in an outstanding match that is nominated for the UK Match of the Year award in Fighting Spirit Magazine. Has held the Scottish Women's Championship for over 600 days defending against the likes of Leah Von Dutch, Nikki Storm, & Sammii Jayne.
9) Veda Scott
Made headlines thanks to her bloody Cage Match with Gregory Iron at AIW's Battle of the Sexes event. Worked for ROH throughout the year accompanying RD Evans & Moose although she eventually turned on him live on PPV at Final Battle.
10) Christina Von Eerie 
Won QPW's "Trouble With Angels" Tournament by defeating Joey Ryan, Heidi Lovelace & Kahmora in the same night. Defeated Cheerleader Melissa & Savannah Riley to become the Pro Wrestling Revolution Women's Champion and has held the title since by successfully defending it against the likes of Sumie Sakai, Kianna Rivera, & La Furiosa. Ranked #29 in PWI's Female 50 list.
 Top 10 ROH Matches of The Year

Ring of Honor has been the top independent wrestling promotion for quite some time however they are quickly taking strides towards becoming more than that. This year they made their live PPV debut in two great efforts in the form of their "Best in the World" and "Final Battle" events. Their partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling was also a major highlight in the year as they produced two must see events, "Global Wars" and "War of the Worlds". 2015 looks to be an even bigger year for ROH as they continue to grow and will return to PPV in March for the 15th Anniversary show.

1) The Young Bucks vs. reDRagon (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) - War of the Worlds
2) Jay Lethal vs. ACH - ROH TV - August 9th
3) reDRagon vs. The Young Bucks - Raising the Bar Night 2
4) AJ Styles vs. Kyle O'Reilly - Death Before Dishonor
5) reDRagon (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs. Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA) - Final Battle
6) Adam Cole vs. AJ Styles - All Star Extravaganza 6
7) reDRagon vs. The Young Bucks (2/3 Falls) - All Star Extravaganza 6
8) Kevin Steen vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - War of the Worlds
9) Adam Cole vs. Jay Briscoe (Ladder War) - Supercard of Honor
10) The Young Bucks & ACH vs. Cedric Alexander & The Addiction - Final Battle

Top 10 PWG Matches of The Year

Pro Wrestling Guerilla had yet another year full of fantastic shows. Since 2009, PWG has been must-see. Before that time, they were great however in the past five years they've been on another level. The atmosphere in Reseda is unlike any other and that combined with the freedom talents have to simply be themselves makes for the best wrestling in the world. Last year, Kyle O'Reilly & The Young Bucks dominated PWG with MOTY candidate after MOTY candidate and by looking at this list you'll be able to tell it was the same this year. O'Reilly & The Bucks weren't the only ones on fire in 2014 in PWG though, Candice LeRae, Ricochet, & Trevor Lee are just a few others that had an amazing year in Reseda. None the less, if you for some reason haven't seen any PWG shows this year, here are the 10 best matches of 2014 and the ones you HAVE to check out.

NOTE: This list does not include any matches from their last event "Black Cole Sun" because it has not been released on DVD yet.

1) The Young Bucks vs. World's Cutest Tag Team (Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae) - Guerrilla Warfare Match - ELEVEN
2) Kyle O'Reilly vs. Johnny Gargano - Mystery Vortex II
3) Ricochet & Rich Swann vs. AR Fox & ACH - DDT4 2014
4) Kyle O'Reilly vs. Zack Sabre Jr - 2014 Battle of Los Angeles Night Three
5) Ricochet vs. Kenny Omega - 2014 Battle of Los Angeles Night Three
6) Adam Cole vs. Kyle O'Reilly - Sold Our Soul For Rock N Roll
7) The Young Bucks & Adam Cole vs. Chuck Taylor, Kenny Omega, & Zack Sabre Jr - 2014 Battle of Los Angeles Night One
8) ACH vs. Kenny Omega - Battle of Los Angeles Night Two
9) Cedric Alexander vs. Andrew Everett vs. Trevor Lee - Mystery Vortex II
10) Ricochet & Rich Swann vs. Michael Elgin & Brian Cage vs. AR Fox & ACH - Mystery Vortex II

Follow PWG on Twitter @OfficialPWG!

Support PWG by buying their DVD's at

Top 10 New Japan Wrestlers of the Year

New Japan Pro Wrestling soared back into the mainstream this year with arguably the best G1 Climax tournament yet. It was so epic that some are even calling it the best tournament ever in professional wrestling period. It's a bold statement, but I find it hard to argue with it. Beyond the G1, New Japan's Best of the Super Juniors tournament and the 2014 World Tag League were epic as well. The names you will see on the list below are the talents that made every New Japan show a must-watch. These men are among the best professional wrestlers in the world and deserve your attention.

1) Shinsuke Nakamura - Delivered consistently amazing performances throughout the entire year. Made the IWGP Intercontinental Title feel just as important as the IWGP Heavyweight Title. Held the IC Title on three different occasions throughout the year and is closing out the year with the title around his waist.

2) Kazuchika Okada - The Rainmaker solidified his spot as the future of New Japan this year by winning arguably the best G1 Climax Tournament in history. He held the IWGP Heavyweight Title for several months and will get his chance to regain it on live PPV against his arch rival Hiroshi Tanahashi on January 4th.

3) Katsuyori Shibata - Didn't have a bad match the entire year. Delivered an impressive performance at the G1 Climax by annihilating nearly everyone in his path. A dominant year for Shibata despite not winning any championships.

4) AJ Styles - Took NJPW by sudden storm in 2014 by returning and joining the Bullet Club stable. Defeated Okada to become the IWGP Heavyweight Champion in May. Much like many of the men on this list, he delivered MOTY candidate bout after MOTY candidate bout throughout the year. He held the IWGP Heavyweight Title for half of the year before dropping it to Tanahashi in an amazing match at King of Pro Wrestling in October.

5) Hiroshi Tanahashi - Held both the IWGP Heavyweight Title and Intercontinental Title on two separate occasions during the year. Dethroned AJ Styles to become the IWGP Heavyweight Champion in October. Will headline NJPW's biggest PPV of the year as he defends his championship against Okada.

6) Kota Ibushi - Dominated the Junior heavyweight division by defending the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title against all challengers including the winner of the Best Of The Super Junior's Tournament, Ricochet. Ibushi increased his weight and entered the heavyweight division in the latter part of the year before announcing his intentions to win the Intercontinental Title. Ibushi will begin 2015 with a big test as he faces Shinsuke Nakamura for the IC Title.

7) Bad Luck Fale - Member of the Bullet Club. Defeated Nakamura for the Intercontinental Title only to drop it back to him a few months later. Closed the year out with an unsuccessful attempt at winning the World Tag League.

8) Takahashi - Helped AJ Styles become IWGP Heavyweight Champion thus joining Bullet Club in the process. Won the NEVER OpenWeight Championship on June 29th and held it until October.

9) Hirooki Goto - Started the year with a big victory over Shibata in his return to New Japan which led to the two forming a tag team. Goto & Shibata challenged Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows for the IWGP Titles early in the year and were unsucessful however they would avenge that loss by winning the World Tag League, defeating Anderson & Gallows in the finals.

10) Kushida - Accomplished the rare feat of holding the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title at the same time.

Top 10 New Japan Pro Wrestling Matches of The Year 

With New Japan's recent rise back to world wide prominence came a ton of must-see matches. It was extremely hard to narrow this list down to 10 matches, but with the help of a few friends, I was able to do so. There are many more matches that took place in New Japan in 2014 that are worth your viewing, but I think it's safe to say that these are the best of the best.

1) Kazuchika Okada vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - G1 Climax 24 - Day 12 Finals
2) AJ Styles vs. Minoru Suzuki - G1 Climax 24 - Day 7
3) Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - Destruction in Kobe
4) Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW New Beginning in Osaka
5) Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Katsuyori Shibata - Power Struggle
6) The Young Bucks vs. Timesplitters - Dominion 6.21
7) Ricochet vs. KUSHIDA - NJPW Best of The Super Juniors Finals
8) AJ Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada - Back to Yokohama
9) Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW G1 Climax 24 - Day 7
10) Kota Ibushi vs. Ricochet - Dominion

Top 10 CZW Matches of The Year

1) AR Fox vs Mike Bailey vs Andrew Everett - Best of the Best 2014
2) AR Fox & Rich Swann vs OI4K - Prelude to Violence
3) Drake Younger vs BLK Jeez vs AR Fox vs Chris Dickinson - 15th Anniversary Show
4) Drew Gulak vs AR Fox - High Stakes 2014
5) Biff Busick vs Mike Bailey - New Heights
6) Masada vs Jun Kasai - Tournament of Death
7) Shane Strickland vs Devon Moore - Tangled Web 7
8) Juicy Product vs Beaver Boys - To Infinity
9) Drake Younger vs AR Fox - Best of the Best 2014
10) OI4k Vs Juicy Product - Dayton OH September 2014

Follow CZW on Twitter @combatzone!

Top 10 IWA-Mid South Matches of 2014

1) Kongo Kong vs Danny Cannon - Derby Madness
2) Shane Mercer vs Hy Zaya - Steel Cage Match - Heartbreak
3) Kongo Kong vs Hy Zaya in the IWA Title Finals
4) Reed Bentley vs Chris Hero in a Knockout or Tap Out Match
5) John Wayne Murdoch vs Davey Richards
6) Mitch Page vs Suicide Kid - King of the Death Match Tournament
7) Jewells Malone vs Thunderkitt - Queen of the Death Match Tournament
8) Kyle O'Reilly vs Christian Rose vs B-Boy vs Drake Younger - Sunday Bloody Sunday
9) Michael Elgin vs Danny Cannon
10) The Hooligans vs Viking War Party - Street Fight

Follow IWA-Mid South on Twitter @IWAMidSouth

Support IWA Mid-South by buying their DVD's at the following link:

Top 10 AIW Matches of the Year

Absolute Intense Wrestling is a company based out of Cleveland, Ohio. They've produced some of the biggest stars in wrestling today, most notably, current WWE star Seth Rollins who got his early start in AIW. Daniel Bryan is another big name that has competed there in the past as well. However, this isn't about the past, this is about the present and AIW has had one hell of a year. Talents such as hometown hero Johnny Gargano, Ethan Page, Josh Alexander, Matt Cross, Tim Donst & Michael Elgin made AIW a promotion worthy of checking out. From pure hybrid wrestling to brutal hardcore matches, AIW gave fans a taste of everything they had to offer in 2014. Below you will find a list of the 10 best matches that took place in AIW this year so if you're looking to get into their promotion, this would be a great place to start.

1) Josh Prohibition vs Matt Cross - Absolution IX
2) Ethan Page vs Johnny Gargano - Absolution IX
3) Michael Elgin vs Tim Donst vs Josh Alexander - WrestleRager 
4) Veda Scott vs Greg Iron - Steel Cage - Battle of the Sexes
5) Eddie Kingston vs Ethan Page - Dog Collar Match - Hell On Earth X
6) Tim Donst vs Danny Havoc - Death Match - TGIF 
7) ACH vs Louis Lyndon - Gauntlet for the Gold
8) Josh Alexander vs Rickey Shane Page vs Tyson Dux vs Tim Donst - Hell On Earth X
9) Michael Elgin vs Drake Younger - TGIF 
10) Tim Donst vs Josh Alexander - WrestleRager

Follow AIW on Twitter @AIWrestling

Support AIW by buying their DVD's at the following link:

Breakout Star of the Year: Trevor Lee

I don't think there was any bigger surprise in 2014 than the sudden success of Trevor Lee. He made his first big burst on the scene in March when he debuted for PWG at their Mystery Vortex II event. He was the least known of the three men in his match as the crowd chanted "Who are you?" when he entered the ring. However, by the end of the match, the crowd knew exactly who he was as "TREVOR LEE! TREVOR LEE!" chants rang through the legion hall in Reseda. This was the start of a huge year for the 21 year old from North Carolina. But let's not get ahead of ourselves because Lee was tearing things up on a smaller scale before he debuted for PWG. In February, he faced off with Andrew Everett in CWF Mid-Atlantic in an amazing 2/3 Falls Match that has to be a dark horse candidate for Match of the Year.

I'm not sure what led PWG to discovering him, but if it was that 2/3 Falls Match, I can definitely see why they decided to book him. None the less, he debuted for PWG and although he lost his debut match, it was the start of something special because he would go on to capture the support of arguably the best crowd in wrestling today, the PWG fans. This led him to a huge match with Kevin Steen at "ELEVEN" where he shocked everyone by defeating Steen with a roll up. The crowd had a mixed reaction to this victory however the current WWE NXT star Kevin Steen would get on the mic and attest those boos by saying "Trevor Lee beating me isn't bullshit, it's the future."

Lee's perservance shined through in that match as he kicked out of Kevin Steen's package piledriver which is something that not many have been able to do. This undoubtedly earned Steen's respect.

Despite getting that big win, some fans were unsure of whether or not Trevor Lee was the real deal. I mean, everyone gets lucky once in a while, right? Well, at the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles, Trevor Lee proved that his win over Steen wasn't luck because he advanced to the semi-final round by defeating Cedric Alexander and then ROH World Champion Michael Elgin in an impressive performance.

By the end of August, it was clear that Trevor Lee was a force to be reckoned with in the world of Independent Wrestling as the fans began clamoring for him across the country. This led to Lee debuting in CZW in a great match against Caleb Konley and it also led to his debut for one of the fastest growing Independent companies today, Beyond Wrestling. Lee teamed up with The Young Bucks, Brian Cage, & Chuck Taylor to represent Team West Coast/PWG against Team East Coast. Lee and his team came out on top thus making his debut in Beyond Wrestling a successful one.

Meanwhile in PWG, Lee closed out the year with a bang as he earned victories over Adam Cole AND Chris Hero. Both former ROH & PWG World Champions.

In a world where there are a number of awesome workers, Trevor Lee stands out. And the fact that he's only 21 years old is mindblowing because the possibilites for his future are endless. I can only imagine how awesome he will be 10 years from now considering how good he already is at such a young age. I do know one thing for sure, he's a future star and 2014 was his breakout year. So if I were you, I'd check out some of his matches and make sure to hit up a show the next time the Carolina Caveman is in a town near you!

Follow Trevor on Twitter @TLee910.

Top 10 Beyond Wrestling Matches of The Year

Beyond Wrestling is a promotion out of Rhode Island that has really began to create some buzz in the past year. They bring in the perfect mix of well known stars and lesser known talent which results in many awesome matches. Aside from the in-ring action, the atmosphere at Fete Music where Beyond hosts many of their shows is one of a kind. Some people have even referred to Beyond as the PWG of the east coast which is a HUGE compliment. They do alot of unique things to set them apart such as hosting "Secret Shows" and giving away many matches for free on YouTube which is a great way to garner new fans because that's actually how I discovered them. Heading into 2015, Beyond looks to continue making an impact in the wrestling world by hosting a #BoycottRaw event in which they are teaming up with multiple Independent promotions and will be streaming the best Indy matches of 2014 to give wrestling fans an alternative to WWE. I foresee big things on the horizon for Beyond Wrestling and hope they become as successful as they are bound to be. One of the best least talked about independent promotions in America. Check out the matches listed below and you'll see why.

1) Biff Busick vs Matt Tremont - Fans Bring The Weapons - Uncomfortable
2) Biff Busick vs Mike Bailey - Alive and Kicking
3) The Young Bucks vs Da Hoodz - Tournament For Tomorrow 3
4) The Young Bucks vs The Juicy Product (JT Dunn & David Starr) - Americanrana 2014
5) Drew Gulak vs Tommaso Ciampa - Submisson Match - Critical Acclaim
6) Chris Hero vs JT Dunn - Uncomfortable
7) Kimber Lee vs Drew Gulak - Unbreakable
8) Jay Freddie vs Brian Fury - Alive and Kicking
9) Anthony Stone vs Dave Cole - Alive and Kicking
10) Pinkie Sanchez vs Brian Cage - Tournament For Tomorrow 3

Follow Beyond Wrestling on Twitter @beyondwrestling and check out their YouTube channel for free matches:

Support Beyond Wrestling by buying their DVDs at the following link:

Top 10 Evolve Matches of The Year

1) Zack Sabre Jr vs. Timothy Thatcher - Evolve 34
2) Johnny Gargano vs. Rich Swann - Evolve 33
3) Roderick Strong vs. Drew Galloway - Evolve 35
4) Ricochet vs. Uhaa Nation - Evolve 35
5) Drew Galloway vs. Rich Swann - Evolve 34
6) Uhaa Nation vs. Roderick Strong - Evolve 34
7) Zack Sabre Jr vs. Biff Busick - Evolve 35
8) Caleb Konley vs. Rich Swann - Evolve 29
9) Ricochet vs. Caleb Konley - Evolve 34
10) Matt Sydal vs. Johnny Gargano - Evolve 31

Final Farewells - A Tribute to the Talent's Who Said Goodbye to the Indies in 2014:

Every year there are bittersweet moments on the Indie scene where we have to say goodbye to long-time workers who have made the Indies such a special place. This year, we bid farewell to two men who did exactly that as both Kevin Steen & Drake Younger ventured into the world of WWE.
Drake is best known for his deathmatch work although he has proved in recent years that he can do much more than hardcore matches. That's not to damper on his deathmatch work though because it's phenomenal on its own, the point is that he's a well rounded worked. Whether it was his early run in IWA-Mid South, his success in CZW, or his more recent work in PWG, Drake won the hearts of everyone he wrestled in front of. Thanks for putting your body on the line for our entertainment for so many years, Drake!

As for Kevin Steen, ROH & PWG is where he called home for years although he also had stints in CZW, AIW, & AAW, among other companies. His unique in-ring style and charisma set him apart so it's no surprise that WWE finally picked up on him and gave him a chance. He helped make PWG what it is today and his contribution to the world of Independent Wrestling is something that fans will never forget. I wish Kevin all the best in WWE as he joins Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan & Cesaro in showing the world that the best wrestlers come from the Indies!

The Indie scene isn't the only place that had to bid farewell to several of it's top names this year. The world of japanese wrestling lost two big names to the WWE this year as well in the form of Prince Devitt & KENTA.

Devitt is best known for founding the Bullet Club and his many epic junior heavyweight encounters against the likes of Kota Ibushi, Kenny Omega, and KUSHIDA. He honed his craft in Japan and England for years and him getting signed to WWE just shows that hard work pays off.

KENTA is well known around the world and may be best known for his run in Ring of Honor where he had argubaly the greatest match in ROH history against Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) at Glory By Honor V. Although, KENTA experienced most of his success in his homeland of Japan competing primarily in NOAH and it's where closed out his career in Japan by teaming with Naomichi Marufuji to defeat Katsuhiko Nakajima and Takashi Sugiura.

While we said goodbye to many top names this year because they got signed to WWE, there was also a farewell of a different kind as Adam Pearce announced his retirement in late December. Pearce may be best known for his work in ROH although he experienced most of his success in the NWA as he is a former five time NWA World Champion. He also played a major role in the early days of PWG where he was the second ever Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World Champion. Pearce had a major impact on the California Independent scene over the years and that's where he finished off his career at Sunday's Championship Wrestling Hollywood TV Taping in a reportedly awesome match against fellow Chicagoan, Colt Cabana.

Stars to Watch in 2015:

Kenny Omega

Kenny Omega has been tearing it up in DDT in Japan for quite some time and before that, he made a name for himself in PWG. In 2014, he made his PWG return with three impressive performances and also returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling by joining the Bullet Club. Omega is a one of a kind performer and I think there's a chance that he will end up being the wrestler of the year next year. He's going to be in front of a bigger audience than ever before now that he's signed with New Japan and will be appearing on their PPV on January 4th which will be broadcast in America and Japan. On top of that, he's part of the most popular stable in wrestling and may begin appearing for PWG on a more regular basis again. With all this taken into consideration, I'm extremely pumped to see what's in store for Omega in 2015. When you put in an outstanding wrestler on a huge stage, it's a recipe for greatness. I can't wait to see the Haudoken live on my TV for the first time when watching WK9 in January!

Heidi Lovelace

Lovelace is one of the fastest rising stars in the world of women's wrestling. This year, she won the 11th Annual Young Lions Cup, defeating Missile Assault Ant, Kimber Lee, Eddie Smooth, & Will Ferrera among others, had an outstanding series of matches with Jordynne Grace in IWA-Mid South including a must see Falls Count Anywhere bout. She made it to the semi final round of the Queen of the Death Match tournament, defeated Matt Cage to become the AAW Heritage Champion and retained it in a bout against Davey Vega before dropping it to Christian Faith in November. Based off her success and impressive performances in 2014, she's a woman that I think will reach a new level on the Independent Scene in the coming year.

Jonathan Gresham

If I was giving out an "Underrated Wrestler of the Year" award this year, it would go to this guy, Jonathan Gresham. I honestly have no idea how he's not booked on every top Indy show in America. Zack Sabre Jr even said it himself after wrestling him to a 20 minute time limit draw at CZW's World Triangle League in the fall. Gresham is one of the finest technicians on the scene today and he's traveled across the world honing his craft. With impressive outings in companies such as CZW and Beyond Wrestling this year, I think next year will be the year he finally begins getting the recognition he deserves across the Independent Scene in the US.

Jordynne Grace

There are only two women on this list and ironically, they had an awesome series of matches together in IWA-Mid South this year. I mentioned Heidi Lovelace earlier and this is the woman she faced in that series of bouts, Jordynne Grace. She's one of the newest faces on the Independent scene in 2014, but has certainly began making a name for herself. From her big victory over Heidi Lovelace in a Falls Count Anywhere Match in February to defeating Mickie Knuckles at IWA Mid South's "Out with the Old, In With the New" event to making her debut for Beyond Wrestling, she's certainly proved to everyone that she's the real deal even if she hasn't attained a ton of success yet. At just the young age of 18, she's got one hell of a career ahead of her if she continues delivering on the level that she did this year. With that being said, she's someone I'd definitely keep an eye on heading into 2015.

Brian Cage

I mentioned Brian Cage earlier in this article when discussing how he & Uhaa Nation are transforming the role of big men in pro wrestling however I felt inclined to mention him once again. Cage had a good year this year although some injuries kept him from competing in one of the biggest shows of the year, PWG's Battle of Los Angeles tournament. The F'N Machine returned after BOLA however and delivered two jaw dropping performances to close out the year which resulted in a huge victory over Uhaa Nation at PWG's Untitled II and an even bigger win over Uhaa Nation, Biff Busick, AND Tomasso Ciampa in a four-way. I think we will see Cage rise back to the top of PWG in 2015, solely based off how impressive he was to close out the year. Mr GMSI is looking better than ever and I wouldn't be surprised if we see him with some gold around his waist come this time next year.

Well, there you have it. The 2014 Indepedent Wrestling & New Japan Year in Review. I hope you enjoyed going through and reliving the year that was 2014. Feel free to tweet me your thoughts on this article @EthanPWT or @ThePWTruth on Twitter and be sure to follow me along with this blog to keep up with all of my future columns & reviews. You can also "like" us on Facebook by clicking here.

I'd also like to give a special thanks to all the people who helped me put some of the lists in this article together. So below, you will find a list of who helped with that so be sure to follow them as well as myself on Twitter. Once again, thanks for reading and have an awesome 2015!

DISCLAIMER: I do not claim rights to any of the photos used in this article. They all belong to their respective owners.

Lists compiled by:

Ethan (@EthanPWT) - Author of all the paragraphs in this article. Owner of this blog. Columnist for WrestlingHeads & PWMania. Helped compile all the lists in this article except for the CZW, Beyond, & AIW lists.

Gavin (@LordRollins) - Helped compile the New Japan lists.

Brian (@BrianRichterTV) - Helped compile the New Japan lists.

Travis (@PhenomenalLTD) - Contributed the IWA-Mid South list and helped with the Top 10 Independent Wrestlers list.

Cory (xxVaughan247xx) & Nikki (Harley__Quinns) - Compiled the Top 10 Beyond Wrestling Matches of the Year list.

Thomas (@theTomRichards) - Compiled the CZW & AIW lists. Co-host of the Uncle Mike & Tom Show.

Tom (@Horse_bot3000) - Helped with compiling the Top ROH Matches list.

Mark (@AnsoniiSan) - Compiled the Top 10 Evolve Matches of the Year list.

Also, be sure to support the Indy Power Rankings by following them on Twitter @IndyPowerRankin and tuning into their three-day reveal of the IPR 100 on 12/29, 12/30, & 12/31. All the info about them can be found below:

The 2nd Annual IPR 100 takes place on 12/29, 12/30, & 12/31 from 9 PM to 11 PM EST on Weekly Wrestling Podcast! The 1st Annual Tag Team Top 50 takes place on 12/30 on Filling the Void Radio Network from 3 PM to 5 PM EST! Don’t miss these huge shows!! RSVP on Facebook here:
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