WrestleMania Weekend: Previewing the indies


Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ll be aware that it’s WrestleMania weekend – but despite WWE’s best efforts to ensure that they are the only game in town, there are plenty of other shows ongoing that you’ll be able to watch in person and online.

Just in case the three-hours of NXT, six-plus hours of WrestleMania as well as the Hall of Fame isn’t enough, we’re taking a quick look at some of the other events going down across the weekend – some of which will be recapped over on BackBodyDrop.com once the dust has settled.

WWNLive.com is going to be based from Eddie Deen’s Ranch in Dallas with no fewer than six shows available to stream, with their standard tiered pricing structure avalable for all shows; $9.99 to see the show live (and live only), $14.99 to see the live and on-demand stream, whilst the EVOLVE and WWN Supershows have an extra option, where $24.99 will get you live, on-demand and a physical Blu-ray disc of the event as well.

Friday April 1st, at 5pm ET (6pm CT) we see EVOLVE 58 – the first of two shows from that promotion. Headlining with Timothy Thatcher defending the EVOLVE title against former UFC fighter (and perhaps a future WWE prospect, given the two promotion’s relationship) Matt Riddle. Elsewhere, Johnny Gargano and current-TNA champion Drew Galloway defend their EVOLVE tag titles against Tony Nese and Caleb Konley, with a stipulation seeing the challenges unable to team again if they lose.

The hotly-tipped Zack Sabre Jr. takes on New Japan-bound Will Ospreay in a battle of the Brits, whilst Marty Scurll, Sami Callihan and Ricochet also appear on the card.

Verdict: If you’re up for a long Friday night of wrestling, this show will be done and dusted before NXT Takeover: Dallas gets underway – although I’d pay the extra five bucks and get the on-demand version as this card looks to be a keeper!

Straight after the EVOLVE show sees a Combat Zone Wrestling event (8pm ET start), headlined by no-rope barbed wire match between Masada and Matt Tremont, whilst Sami Callihan pulls double duty here, wrestling for CZW against the former Bull Dempsey. There’s also women’s action on the card, as ex-TNA star Jessicka Havok defends her WSU title against the recently-signed-to-TNA Cherry Bomb.

Verdict: If you’re into CZW, you’ll probably want to catch this, but otherwise it’ll probably be at the bottom of your WrestleMania weekend watchlist. As a head’s up, these follow-up shows aren’t likely to start on time, so if you’re on a tight schedule, you may want to consider paying a little more for the on-demand capability.

Friday night ends really late, with Kaiju Big Battel starting at 12.55am ET (that’s just before one in the morning), with a six-match card. I’ve not seen much of Kaiju, so I can’t really pass judgment either way on this. If you’re into wrestling that could pass as a Godzilla movie, then give this a try. If you’ve never heard of them, then perhaps hunt down some of their stuff on YouTube before making a decision.

Verdict: Like CZW, if you’re a fan of Kaiju, then this’ll be on your hit list, else it’ll be below CZW on your watchlist.

Saturday April 2nd starts with another EVOLVE show, with a 1pm ET start for EVOLVE 59. This show is themed with a USA vs. Europe challenge series, as we have four matches for bragging rights – Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay, Timothy Thatcher vs. Marty Scurll, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Matt Riddle, TJ Perkins vs. Tommy End. That quartet alone is worth the iPPV money, and will be firmly on my watchlist.

Verdict: A must-see – if only for the chance to see so many names that are being talked about on the indy scene in the same place at the same time.

Straight after EVOLVE 59, sees SHIMMER 80 (5pm ET start) – with the all women’s group having a twelve-woman, one-night tournament to crown their first ever Heart of SHIMMER champion. The entrants have all been confirmed, with the bracketing/matches to be determined, but the likes of Cheerleader Melissa, Nicole Matthews, Kimber Lee, Cherry Bomb, Jessicka Havok, Leva Bates and Veda Scott are all involved as they look to put on another memorable SHIMMER event.

Verdict: thumbs-in-the-middle – it’ll be on my to-watch list, but most likely after the weekend has concluded. Your milage will vary!

Wrapping up Saturday night (9pm ET start) is the WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising. Going head-to-head with the WWE’s Hall of Fame, this’ll probably find its way onto most fans’ “watch later” piles; but the card itself should ensure that this’ll be a pre-WrestleMania watch, with a mouth-watering six-man tag as the main event, featuring Kota Ibushi, Johnny Gargano & TJ Perkins taking on the European trio of Will Ospreay, Tommy End & Marty Scurll.

Elsewhere at Mercury Rising, Zack Sabre Jr. takes on Chris Hero, Timothy Thatcher defends his EVOLVE title (if he still has it) against Sami Callihan, whilst the women’s group SHINE sees Taylor Made defend her title against Ivelisse, and the Full Impact Pro group out of Florida will also have Caleb Konley defend his heavyweight title in a four-way against Maxwell Chicago, Gary Jay and Jason Cade. There’s also going to be an in-ring ceremony to honour the career (and multiple retirements… I kid) of Terry Funk. Angle alert?

Verdict: possibly the sleeper hit of the weekend, but save for the main event, there’s little that’ll grab you into watching this live. Unless the Hall of Fame stream breaks down badly…

WWN is avoiding hosting iPPVs on Sunday, instead opting for a tailgate party with Terry Funk (yes, that’s a real thing, and yes, I wish I could be there). That’ll free your time up for WrestleMania, particularly as ROH and WrestleCon’s events aren’t going to be streamed live. However, WrestleCon’s supershow – also running head to head with the WWE Hall of Fame – will feature a PROGRESS title match, between Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr, with both men hot-tailing it a mile across town from Eddie Deen’s Ranch to the Hyatt Regency in time for their match.

Elsewhere on the WrestleCon show sees Matt Hardy take on Lance Storm, a lucha trios match as Tigre Uno, Jack Evans and Bestia 666 take on Drago, Fireball and Aerostar, whilst there’s also a ten-man tag captained by Joey Ryan and Jeff Jarrett respectively. The announced main event, thus far, is a five-way Monster’s Ball match, featuring Abyss, AR Fox, Andrew Everett, Trevor Lee and Jeff Hardy. Whilst not live, that particular show will be appearing on the HighSpots.com on-demand subscription network in the near future.

Verdict: Wait and see. This is a show that offers something for everyone, but could also be a major bust. The Scurll/ZSJ match will also be available on the Demand PROGRESS subscription service – so if you’re a PROGRESS fan who is only after that match, you’re already covered. Elsewhere, try and avoid the spoilers, but see what the general feeling is like.

Finally, Ring of Honor will also be at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, with their “Supercard of Honor” shows. Friday night’s show is headlined with a tag match between the Young Bucks and the recently-reformed Motor City Machine Guns, whilst Jay Lethal defends his ROH title against the winner of this year’s Top Prospect Tournament: Lio Rush. Saturday’s show is headlined by Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly in a no holds barred match, whilst there’ll also be a four-way tag match to determine number one contenders, with The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian) facing the Briscoes, the Motor City Machine Guns and the Young Bucks.

Verdict: Wait and see. Night one looks a lot better on paper, but the beauty of these shows being on-demand only mean that you’ll be able to pick and choose.