If there’s anything that pro wrestling fans love, it’s to 1.) Envision dream matches that are unlikely play out in the ring, and 2.) Imagine how they would book a better show than whatever product they regularly watch.
It’s undeniably fun to fantasize about your ideal roster, what pieces you would use to put together a winning puzzle. Why else would Fantasy Sports be so popular? The NFL season is over, and by now, most NHL and NBA teams know whether they’re getting a high or low draft pick. This is the time of year when team personnel and fans, alike, start dreaming up the perfect selections in the upcoming drafts.
The Geekiverse’s resident pro wrestling nuts, Jeff Pawlak and Austin Brunner, have come together to do something similar to that. In a perfect world, where every last wrestler currently able to perform was a free agent, and either Jeff or Austin were starting their own promotion with an unlimited amount of resources, here are the ten male wrestlers, and the ten women’s wrestlers they would recruit to make the best promotion possible.
Jeff Pawlak’s Picks
1. Kenny Omega – There’s no one better when it comes to in-ring ability right now, both for how clean he performs his moves, and for just how masterfully he sells. Omega can have a great match with literally anybody and make them look like stars in the ring. He’s very eloquent on the mic, too, and you have to appreciate a man who speaks fluent English and Japanese.
2. Shinsuke Nakamura – Few command the presence that Nakamura does. His body language and demeanor are straight charisma, captivating audiences without the need for him to even speak. That hard-hitting Strong Style further allows him to tell a great story nonverbally.
3. CM Punk – His in-ring work (especially his selling) was always great, but where Punk truly excels is on the mic. He’s about as good a tweener and heel can get, able to deliver a provocative promo no matter the subject matter.
4. Seth Rollins – Rollins’ edgy persona makes him more interesting than your average babyface, and when he’s a heel, it makes him simply top of the heap. He effortlessly generates heat for his promos and heelish actions, but then gets himself over for his ridiculous agility and athleticism in the ring.
5. AJ Styles – One of the most well-rounded talents in the business. Styles is compelling whether he’s a babyface or a heel, and, similar to Omega, his selling ability ensures that he’ll always make his opponent look good.
6. Tetsuya Naito – Like Nakamura, Naito doesn’t need to have a command of the English language to get his messages across. His persona is universal, and his many quirks have helped make him one of the most intriguing personalities in the business.
7. Finn Balor – The Demon gimmick, alone, makes Balor a must-have for a promotion that’s trying to deliver interesting characters without being silly. An aesthetic like that makes a talent instantly recognizable, and perfect for marketing in this pop-culture-crazed era.
8. Ricochet – I’d argue that Ricochet is the single most athletic professional wrestler going today. The spots and combinations that this guy is able to pull off would be invaluable for a promotion that wants to flaunt an exciting in-ring product.
9. Chris Jericho – Even if he would be a part-timer, Jericho is a treasure. He’s an extremely recognizable figure, willing to put young talent over, and captures fans’ attention with his promos whether he’s a babyface or heel.
10. Will Ospreay – A wrestler who loves superheroes and moves like one in the ring? I’ll take that all day, especially as the ideal kind of talent to bring prestige to secondary championships.
1. Charlotte Flair – The total package; Charlotte is easy to root for as a babyface, and a wonderfully-ruthless heel. Tall, lean, and built, she is physically impressive, or imposing, depending on the presence you want out of her. She’s proven to be a skilled performer in the ring, carrying a dose of fearlessness that drives her to execute some truly crazy high spots.
2. Kairi Hojo/Sane – No one since Macho Man Randy Savage has performed a better flying elbow, and I’d wager that Kairi’s actually looks more painful. All of Kairi’s moves look painful. She displays Strong Style as well as anyone, moving with a pace in the ring that very few can equal.
3. Becky Lynch – Becky has such potential for one of the most recognizable looks among women’s wrestlers, with that blinding orange hair, a solid, muscular build, and especially if she would bring back that Steampunk gimmick. WWE definitely abandoned that too early. She’s perfect to employ a bruising technique in her matches, with powerful throws and a brawling mentality that isn’t incorporated enough in the women’s divisions.
4. Io Shirai – Provided that no further neck issues manifest themselves, Io Shirai would be another Japanese star who’s fluency in the ring is a must-have for any women’s division. Having wrestled at the very top of the heap both in Japan and Mexico, in World Wonder Ring Stardom and CMLL, Io is no indy performer; she’s a veteran practitioner who would bring credibility to a promotion stressing in-ring performance.
5. Alicia Fox – I’ve always believed that Alicia Fox has been criminally underused by the WWE. She’s a delightfully-villainous heel, and she can play the “crazy Alicia” gimmick perfectly. Her in-ring work is underrated, too; her long limbs and athleticism could lend to her expanding her arsenal of moves greatly if she were so allowed.
6. Billie Kay – One of the better female talents from NXT, in my opinion. Billie Kay makes a great heel (that glare could cut a hole through you) who excels in the role of the conniving partner but could easily thrive as a singles competitor, or as the leader of a team, as well.
7. Tenille Dashwood/Emma – WWE goofed when they let her go. Tenille flourished as a heel with a positively nasty attitude and proved her mettle in the ring through entertaining matches both on NXT and the main roster.
8. Dakota Kai/Evie – She’s the ideal babyface, someone who exudes energy, positivity, and is just plain lovable. She’s physically up to the task to play the “heroic” kind of babyface, ala Hogan or Cena, with her hard-hitting strikes and surprising strength (just watch her nail her GTS-like finisher, TTYL).
9. Asuka – I personally think that the undefeated streak currently going is a bit unwarranted and has actually overrated her, but Asuka is undeniably exciting in the ring. She’s proven that her athleticism and physical prowess speaks universally, able to get over with crowds without the need of a promo.
10. Mandy Leon – Having watched her perform in person, I’m a believer in Mandy’s in-ring ability. There’s a lot of potential for her as a great heel, and I think the hints of the occult that she’s incorporated in her character could work as a full-blown gimmick.
Austin Brunner’s Picks
1. Kenny Omega – You simply can’t find me someone more talented in the ring right now. His moves look legitimate, he sells to make the other performer look legitimate, and his mic work isn’t anything to sneeze at either. If there’s anyone who is the “complete package” right now, it’s The Cleaner, Kenny Omega.
2. AJ Styles – It’s tough to put him so high because of his age, but that is literally the one thing holding him back. This guy is right on par with Omega as far as in-ring ability, but he’s been doing it a lot longer. At some point, AJ is going to slow down, but if I’m starting a promotion right now, it’s gotta be the house, that A-J Styles built!
3. Finn Balor – Once again, another talented wrestler you can’t help but put at the top of your list. Finn Balor, and Demon Finn Balor are two characters for the price of one. It’s a shame WWE hasn’t put him back in the main event, because he always seems to deliver when it comes to high profile matches. If I’m starting a promotion right now, you’ve got to think of Finn immediately. Oh, and he’s OVER.
4. Shinsuke Nakamura – I’ve been impressed with Shinsuke since day one. His one weakness in WWE is promos, but they’ve started to dial that back to some extent. Let this guy do what he does best: entertain. He’s good in the ring, and he can get the crowd behind him pretty easily because he’s comedic, but not too silly. Look at any of his NJPW matches, and you know why people are stoked for AJ vs. Shinsuke at Wrestlemania.
5. Kazuchika Okada – I can’t keep him off the list much longer. His matches with Omega were two-fold because both performers stood out so well. And he’s the current longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion. He’s slowly grown into a legitimate performer and champion and he’s only 30 years old. I’ll take Okada to start a promotion any day.
6. Tetsuya Naito – I have Pawlak to thank for this one. I never knew much about this guy until Pav expressed how good he was. And he is that damn good. He’s a character but you can’t pigeonhole him into a “character wrestler” because he puts on 5-star matches. His match with Tanahashi at the G1 Climax was legit. Naito is due for a bigger star soon, and if I’m starting a promotion, let’s get him in there immediately.
7. Cody Rhodes – This one is strictly a business move. The guy has become a superstar outside of WWE, mostly because of his own doing. He set out to prove he was his own man, his own wrestler, his own entertainer, and he’s absolutely done it. Even if Bullet Club helped grow his star, he did a lot of that before coming part of the Biz Cliz. Cody would be a solid building block to start with for any promotion.
8. Seth Rollins – The knee problems are obviously worrisome, but you can’t deny the ability and talent. He wrestled the entire match at Royal Rumble and it wasn’t as bad as the crowd reaction gave it. Seth can absolutely go, and he’s reinvented himself each time he’s been asked to. He’s got all the talent in the world, his promos are solid, and he can play both sides of the coin. Start a promotion, then BURN IT DOWN.
9. Braun Strowman – Every promotion needs a big man right? Braun is the cream of the crop for big men right now. He’s athletic for his size, his promos would probably be better if he were able to let loose a little, and he’s got massive crowds behind him each time he wrestles. WWE needs to push him to the top soon, or risk people losing interest in him. In my promotion, he gets opportunity immediately.
10. The Young Bucks – 10 was the hardest of them all, but I’m putting the Young Bucks here. The Bucks of Youth are spot monkey’s for sure, but they have such a cult following that it’s hard not to put them here. What they’ve become on their own through social media and Youtube can not be denied. I want the Young Bucks in any promotion I begin. Let’s make it a SUPERKICK PARTY.
1. Charlotte Flair – Can’t argue here. She’s athletic, powerful, and a pretty solid worker in the ring. Not to mention she has the name power behind her with the Flair brand. Her promos on the mic have improved over the years, and she can play both sides of the coin (although I prefer heel Charlotte). I’ve been a Charlotte Flair fan since she debuted, and I cant think of a better woman to start a promotion with.
2. Kairi Sane – Damn it Pav. Everything he said is true here. Her in-ring work is impeccable, and she doesn’t need to get on the microphone to entertain. I’ve just now been introduced to her thanks to the Mae Young Classic and her subsequent work in NXT, but man is she good. If the don’t get Kairi Sane merchandise on the WWE Shop soon, they’re missing a money opportunity.
3. Asuka – The undefeated stuff is getting to be a bit much. However, you can’t deny the fact that she is a fantastic wrestler. Strong Style is alive in Asuka. Her transitions into some of her submissions are downright impressive. When she does lose, it’ll be shocking and will create another superstar instantly. As much as I dislike the storyline right now, they’ve built something off her star, and that is good booking (potentially. WWE could mess this up easily too).
4. Peyton Royce – I absolutely love Peyton Royce. Her in-ring work has skyrocketed in NXT the past year. I think she is destined to be an NXT champion if she doesn’t get the call-up soon. The whiny, annoying character she plays is fantastic, and it has a spot in any promotion. Peyton Royce is going to make anywhere she goes simply ICONIC.
5. Ember Moon – She’s versatile. She can sell. She has a great offense. And she’s entertaining as hell. Her matches with Asuka were superb. She made Shayna Baszler’s armbar look legitimately ridiculous for MINUTES on end. She’s got a lot of the tools needed to be a future women’s champ in WWE, as she settles into that role in NXT.
6. Becky Lynch – They need to let Becky be Becky in WWE, and then I think she will shoot off into the sky. The steam-punk thing works well but quit with the silly gimmick stuff outside of that. Becky is a fantastic wrestler, she can cut decent promos, and she has the look of a champion. I’d put Becky on any card and just let her do her thing in the ring.
7. Dakota Kai – Another one I just learned about thanks to the Mae Young Classic, and I absolutely love her. She’s so good in the ring, she has her character, and she knows how to work the crowd behind it. Give her some time in the ring to tell a story, and I absolutely see her doing that.
8. Sasha Banks – Another one I think WWE has somewhat ruined for the time being. Sasha is a 4-time Women’s Champion, but she can’t seem to hold on to that title more than 5 minutes. Give her some time to make her stamp as a champion, and I think Sasha delivers every time. Sasha is one of those who needs to be motivated to get the best work from her. Give her the brass ring and see what she does.
9. Nia Jax – I absolutely think there’s a place for Nia Jax in any promotion. She’s powerful and can be a true monster in the ring if booked that way. She’s nearing Big Show status already where it’s hard to believe she will win any match. Nia absolutely should have been an NXT champion, and then moved to the main roster with an impressive win streak. Let her beat up people and she will deliver.
10. Tenille Dashwood/Emma – Hard not to put her on the list after seeing what she can do when given the right character. Evil Emma was superb. Bubble popping Emma was still a fantastic wrestler. Emmalina and that bologna was a waste of time. It’s all about her, and she’s proving that now that she’s moved to ROH to become her own talent. I’d take her in my company any day of the week.
The Geekiverse covers all things pop culture, and team members Jeff Pawlak and Austin Brunner make sure that includes professional wrestling. Jeff’s monthly column Strong Style For All goes in-depth on what’s happening in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and Austin regularly hosts our wrestling-centric podcast, Geeks Talk Wrestling. You can follow them on Twitter @JeffreyPavs and @AustinJBrunner.
If you want to see more fresh Geeky content, support us through our Official Patreon Page & simultaneously earn perks & exclusive rewards.
Be sure to keep up with The Geekiverse across social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. Watch The Geekiverse on YouTube and listen to The Geekiverse podcasts on Soundcloud or iTunes today!