2019 was a year full of change. A new set of wrestling wars launched on Wednesday nights. Talent moved on. New names emerged… and the meme around the British scene was “is it dead yet?” – here’s how it looks in numbers.
8,162 Matches Seen: A huge leap up on 2018, with a lot more shows watched that we didn’t touch on. Trust me, I’d have gone insane covering a lot of weekly shows.
6 ***** Matches: A bit of a drop from last year, but when you consider that a) we stopped reviewing (US) Takeovers, and b) a lot of the top-tier talent reduced their scheduled greatly (Kenny Omega leaving New Japan for AEW in particular, although WALTER and Ilja Dragunov signing with NXT UK also reduced their bangers on the indies)
War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) vs. Aleister Black & Ricochet – NXT Takeover: New York; Shingo Takagi vs. Will Ospreay – New Japan, Best of the Super Junior 26 Final; Will Ospreay vs. Dragon Lee – New Japan; Dominion 6.9; David Starr vs. WALTER – OTT WrestleRama 3; Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne & Los Federales Santos Jr.) vs. Jay-AA (Jay Skillet & Absolute Andy) – wXw World Tag Team Festival Night Two; David Starr vs. Jordan Devlin – OTT 5th Year Anniversary
14 ****¾ Matches: another drop in the number of matches that gave us the proverbial fear. It’s interesting (to me, at least) how this list is largely dominated by New Japan and OTT – perhaps two of the more consistent promotions this year when it comes to the bell-to-bell stuff.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega – New Japan, WrestleKingdom 13;
Shane Strickland vs. Jordan Devlin – OTT, Unfinished Business;
Jordan Devlin vs. David Starr – OTT, Homecoming 2;
Rey Fenix vs. WALTER – wXw, 16 Carat Gold – Night Two;
Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito – New Japan Cup 2019 – Night Three
Jordan Devlin vs. WALTER – OTT, Scrappermania 5
A-Kid vs. Will Ospreay – WhiteWolf Wrestling, Total Rumble 9;
Bandido vs. Will Ospreay – New Japan, Best of the Super Junior 26 – Night Eight
Shingo Takagi vs. Dragon Lee – New Japan, Best of the Super Junior 26 – Night Eight
Will Ospreay vs. Kota Ibushi – New Japan, G1 Climax 29, Night Five
Shingo Takagi vs. Tomohiro Ishii – New Japan, G1 Climax 29, Night Sixteen
Will Ospreay vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – New Japan, G1 Climax 29, Night Seventeen
Super J-Cup 2019 – First Round: Amazing Red vs. Will Ospreay – New Japan, Super J-Cup 2019 – Night One
Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles vs. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) – New Japan, Destruction in Kagoshima
1 – Minus. Five. Stars: While maybe not a godawful match in the sense that other sub-zero matches, Su Yung vs. Tracey Smothers at Joey Ryan’s Penis Party just didn’t click with me. Add in anachronisms (you can guess who from), and this was a match from WrestleMania weekend that I could have done without.
Also from the same weekend: a Bird Box match, based on a movie that was popular at the time… but again, it just didn’t click. We went -3, and the scant reviewers of that show tended to agree. The only other match we’ve gone sub-zero on this year was from Super Strong Style 16, where Do Not Resuscitate looked to have been written off after losing to the “PROGRESS Originals”. Except it wasn’t a write-off, and they’ve been rebooted, remixed and reshuffled.
4 – Podcast episodes. Yeah, BackBodyDrop EXTRA has been more irregular than not, but we’re retooling and coming back in the New Year…
401 – Wrestlers Seen Live. Going to a variety of shows will do that for you, and while folks are still working their way up to the top, the fact that we saw more names live from fewer shows (349 wrestlers last year), tells two stories: one of a deeper, if not as experienced talent pool, and more wrestlers travelling to these shores for experience. I can only see that story continuing…
57 – Shows Seen. That’s a bit of a drop from last year, although curiously we saw a higher number of wrestlers in 2019 than in 2018. In terms of promotions, we saw 12 distinct promotions, including the obvious ones we cover all the time – PROGRESS, Rev Pro, wXw, EVE, along with New Japan’s UK debut. We also dropped in on a few new promotions to us: Breed, Clash and New Force, which is literally just down the road from us.
As for 2020, the landscape will undoubtedly continue to change. In the UK, with WWE moving all of their programming from Sky to BT Sport (including, as we found out, NXT and NXT UK…), we’re entering a bold new era… while the Wednesday night war will lead to many more pundits dissecting demographics and reading into just how AEW and NXT are shifting against each other. WrestleMania weekend will continue to be insane, with almost FIFTY shows announced thus far. There’s absolutely no way they’ll all be airing live, and it’ll be a RSI-inducing weekend for those trying to watch and cover it all. Oh.
2019 was a blast… here’s to a bigger and better 2020!