The UK independent wrestling scene is alive and well. While NXT UK (and WWE in general) and AEW have been cherry-picking some of the most prominent names on the scene (Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Jimmy Havoc, Kip Sabian, to name but a few), and others are having major success in Japan (Chris Brookes, Millie McKenzie, and Chris Ridgeway among others) , don’t worry, Britain is still a hotbed of phenomenal talent, so let’s have a look at five of the best names on the scene at the moment outside of the two big US companies.
For those of you who watch Progress, Chuck Mambo will not be a stranger, and while his work as part of Do Not Resuscitate has been stellar, it is outside of that organisation where Mambo has perhaps shone most brightly. For example, in Brighton-based Riptide Wrestling (they will feature heavily as my local promotion) he is their first and current champion having put on absolute barnburners with the likes of TK Cooper, Spike Trivet, Jordan Breaks and Mark Haskins. Mambo is a ball of energy and charisma that lights up the room as soon as he enters. Although he operates as a natural babyface, Mambo has proven equally adept working heel up and down the UK. Having seen Mambo in the dark match at the first Progress Alexandra Palace show on September 2017, it is phenomenal the sheer improvement he has shown in that time, and I would expect even bigger things from him in the rest of 2019 and into 2020.
Waistcoats really aren’t a concept that curries favour with wrestling fans. Just ask Baron Corbin. However, if your goal is to be hated then combining that particular garment with an empty champagne bottle and an air of superiority and you could be on to something quite special. Spike Trivet has quietly carved out a niche as one of the most hated heels in on the UK scene. Like Chuck Mambo, you might be familiar with him from his role in DNR, but Trivet is so much more. There are few performers who I have witnessed in person whip a crowd into a frenzy in the way that Trivet can do, with a sneer and just a few words. Trivet knows his character inside out, and everything feels deliberate and measured. However, Trivet has also demonstrated his in-ring prowess in Riptide, Progress, Attack and plenty of others, but also his versatility while taking part in more deathmatch style outs for companies like Anarchy Pro. Trivet might be one of the more underappreciated acts on the British indie scene, and his character is certainly one of the more irksome, and that is what makes him such a great heel.
Some performers stand out because of their charismatic performances, some for their sheer work-rate, some because they do something to slowly re-define what wrestling is. Cara Noir is all of these. The Black Swan of professional wrestling is part grappler, part expressive art project. His style is electric and unorthodox for the industry and honestly unlike anything else. Don’t for a second think that I’m suggesting Cara Noir is all gimmick though. His match with PAC from Riptide recently garnered international attention, and while it may have been PAC that was the initial focus, it certainly showed plenty of folks why Cara Noir is one of the hottest properties on the UK independent scene. Creative, graceful, and utterly spellbinding but juxtaposed with a very physical, high impact style, Cara Noir might well be the future of British wrestling and beyond.
Until recently, I would have characterised The O.J.M.O as someone who perhaps has not received quite the amount of attention he has deserved, although he recently got a slightly bigger role with Progress and as a result, increased interest in his work. If you want to talk about versatility The O.J.M.O is your man. He can seemingly do it all. Strong style, high flying, submissions, brawling, he reminds me of a young Ricochet. The current Battle Pro champion seems intent on carving out a name for himself on the UK scene putting in incredible performances night after night. He stood out the first time I saw him at Riptide and he continues to shine at companies all over the UK and beyond. The one thing that marks out O.J.M.O is his sheer enthusiasm which translates brilliantly to levels of charisma that helps him connect with the audience he performs for, with aplomb. In short, The O.J.M.O feels like a star in the making and definitely one to keep an eye on in the coming months and years.
Of the names on this list, Jordan Breaks is perhaps the name you might not have heard of. At a mere twenty years old Breaks, a product of the much-revered Knucklelocks school, is one of the most technically proficient wrestlers on the UK scene. He recently had an absolute classic with Chuck Mambo for Riptide, a very physical encounter with Chris Ridgeway for Battle Pro but that is just scratching the surface. From my experience of seeing him, his style is a throwback to a more traditional British way of wrestling but he can mix it up with modern professional wrestler just as easily. Jordan Breaks has an air of believability about him and the way he carries himself which really helps make him feel like the real deal, and I would be stunned if one of the major companies don’t come calling for this bright young star in the near future.
The demise of the UK independent scene has been very much exaggerated, and with companies like Riptide, Battle Pro, Soul, Attack, and countless others it will almost certainly continue to thrive. In addition, reputable schools like Knucklelocks continue to train the next generation of potential international superstars the right way, meaning we are getting a steady influx of new, exciting talent on a regular basis and that can only be a good thing for the future of British wrestling.