Well hello there! It’s nice to meet you all. I am the new kid on this block, so introductions are in order. I’m Ben Senter, but you can call me Bif. I currently fight out of Cleveland, Ohio. I am a married 33-year-old guy and I am crazy about this thing we call professional wrestling!
I have been a massive fan since I was in middle school. I was hooked by it from watching Fully Loaded ’99 at my best friend Paul’s house. It was Triple H and The Rock fighting it out in a Strap match. It captured my heart and has yet to let go. I went from there to become a massive fan of everything wrestling. I watch everything from WWE, NJPW and yes, even Impact, to indy companies like AIW (a Cleveland based company), Evolve, Chikara, PWG and so many more. I also LOVE British companies like Progress, ICW, and RevPro. If good wrestling is to be found, I will find it.
The format of my column is very simple; each week I will bring you a new Top 5 list. I am a big High Fidelity fan and top 5 lists just make me happy. The topic will bounce around from week to week, but there will always be a list. So, why don’t we get started?
This first list covers the things that are getting me most jazzed about wrestling at the moment. There is so much great stuff out there, it can be overwhelming at times. When I see people bitch and moan online, I have to shake my head at it. Why? We are living in a wonderful world of wrestling! So here are five things that stand out to me…
5. Andrade “Cien” Almas
To say that the former La Sombra’s first year in NXT was a bit underwhelming is an understatement. This guy came to NXT and was treated like a big deal. As he should have. La Sombra was a big talent in CMLL and New Japan that had the wrestling world a-buzz. Then he showed up to NXT with suspenders (sans shirt) and a hat with a large feather in it. And the crowd went… mild. He just didn’t click as a baby face. At all.
But when he turned on Cedric Alexander after their loss in the Dusty Classic, you could start to see the wheels turning. This guy is such a natural heel. He just looks like someone you want to hate. His ring work has never been below great, but his character needed a major overhaul and he did it. He has his ducks in a row and he is killing it. His match with Oney Lorcan was AMAZING. If you haven’t seen it, run don’t walk. And with the possibility of him getting paired with a valet, the sky is the limit for this guy.
4. Women’s wrestling
What a time to be a wrestling fan! Gone are the dark days of Bra and Panties’ matches and here is the age of women wrestlers that put on some of the best matches on any card they are featured. We are now seeing these women, who have been busting their asses for a fraction of the respect their male counterparts get, finally be treated as the assets and stars they are.
From WWE finally figuring out how to showcase female athletes in a respectful and non-degrading way (for the most part. I’m not saying we don’t have a long way to go… See Alicia Fox and her storylines…), to NXT being a breeding ground for the next wave of amazing female superstars. I think we can all agree Sara Del Ray deserves a HUGE amount of credit here. She brought her vast knowledge and talent to NXT and she has shown she is one of the best minds in the business. The work that her former students do in the ring is outstanding and it’s clear she is a huge assets to Triple H.
Couple that with the up coming WWE Women’s Tournament this summer and the rise of indy companies like Progress (who are soon to crown their first women’s champ) treating women like valued members of the roster, you have a boom in women’s wrestling the likes of which we have never seen.
3. Shinsuke Nakamura
I mean… how can I not? The man has taken the WWE by storm. From the day he stepped into NXT last year, to two weeks ago with Dolph Ziggler on SmackDown Live, the guy has been booked as a star. He is far and away the most exciting part of WWE right now. Everything he does is magic. If it sounds like I am a gushing mark, I am. I am a loyal subject to the King of Strong Style.
2. WWE United Kingdom Network Show
The WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament was almost perfect, in my eyes. I personally would have had Pete Dunne win and be the monster heel and face of the brand. I love Tyler, but at the moment he has not developed his persona as much (which makes sense, as he only 20 FREAKING YEARS OLD…what am I doing with my life…).
The idea of UK guys getting a show on the Network makes me very happy. It is clear that some kind of partnership has been reached between WWE, Progress, and ICW (and possibly RevPro too).
If we have learned anything from the Cruiserweight Classic or 205 Live, it’s that sometimes a drastic shift in presentation is a bad move. The setting of the UK Tournament was pitch-perfect and the weekly WWE UK show should try and imitate that earlier success.
This could be something absolutely magical. The roster they could have would make it must see weekly TV and could lead to WrestleMania-stealing matches. Get excited mates, get excited.
1. Access to wrestling from across the world
This is by far the most exciting thing about wrestling right now. We live in a time where you have access to so much wrestling content in any given week, it will make your head spin. The WWE Network has become an absolute goldmine of amazing new content, fantastic archives and Holy Foley ( I’m sorry, I tried to watch it. I love Mick Foley with all my heart but yikes, that was just all bad).
If WWE isn’t your bag or you if you want to expand your horizons, you are in luck. Highspots Network, FloSlam, Chikaratopia, Demand Progress, ICW Demand, New Japan World and there is more. You literally do not have enough time in the day to watch all this amazing content. It is so easy to explore the vast world of wrestling and find what you are into.
And that’s amazing! It’s through this that I found promotions like Progress, Evolve, AIW and New Japan. WWE can frustrate people at times and it’s nice to have options. Since the death of WCW, it can seem like WWE is the only game in town, but his is far from the case. If you care to and have the extra money (Hey FloSlam, you don’t have the goods to charge $20 when I get every WWE/ECW/WCW for $9.99. Stop it!) you can have all the wrestling you will ever need.
So, there is my first list. Of course I could do a top 50 about what makes me excited. And I would love to hear what you think. What makes you excited about wrestling? Agree or disagree with my list and thoughts? Let me know! Follow me on Twitter at @SenterClub or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week, remember, you’re the tops!