Welcome to the NZPWI Twenty for 2013!
As with every year, we’ve attended the live events and studied the tapes to come up with a ranking of what we believe are the top professional wrestlers in New Zealand! The NZPWI Twenty and Female Five seeks to provide a definitive ranking of the best workers in the country, with the only pre-requisite being that wrestlers compete in a minimum of five matches in New Zealand over the calendar year.
The below ratings are not officially sanctioned or recognised by any New Zealand promotion; they are the opinions of NZPWI.co.nz.
NZPWI Twenty (2013)
#1: Travis Banks (IPW)
2013 was Travis Banks’ biggest year yet, both at home and abroad.
Banks began the year in Tokyo, Japan, finishing off a three-month stay at the Zero1 dojo. He would also spend three months in the United States of America, living and training with current TNA star Davey Richards.
All this international experience meant Banks returned to New Zealand better than ever, and was rewarded with the IPW Championship in 2013’s match of the year against Liam Fury and Kingi at A Decade of Impact. Banks also wrestled notable bouts against New Japan’s King Fale at IPW Genesis, and Vinny Dunn at Nightmare Before Xmas.
In addition to IPW, Banks wrestled for NZWPW and SCW in the first half of the year, making him one of the country’s most diverse athletes both in terms of appearances and skill-set over the course of 2013.
#2. Kingi (IPW)
Although it turned out to be his last full year in New Zealand, Kingi made a big impact in 2013.
Kingi began the year as the IPW Champion and carried the title into A Decade of Impact, which was scheduled to be IPW’s final event at the time. Kingi was then instrumental in IPW’s relaunch a few months later and took part in a fatal four-way for the vacant IPW Championship at Revival of the Fittest.
Kingi was next involved in a marquee match with New Japan’s King Fale in August, serving as a main event attraction regardless of his place on the card.
Wherever Kingi wrestles, his wealth of experience shines through and makes him one of the most respected wrestlers, by both fans and his peers, in the country.
#3. James Shaw (IPW & NZWPW)
James Shaw stepped up in a huge way in 2013 to perhaps become New Zealand wrestling’s most valuable player.
Shaw continued to travel south from Auckland and wrestle for NZWPW in the first half of the year, where his break-up and subsequent feud with Johnny Idol over the NZWPW Championship headlined events around the North Island, and ultimately led to Shaw winning gold after an increasingly captivating series of matches.
Upon IPW’s relaunch in July, Shaw was again involved in a title chase, this time gunning for the IPW Championship around Vinny Dunn’s waist with IPW audiences behind him every step of the way.
While Shaw didn’t taste IPW gold, he dominated the Hamilton and Wellington Armageddon Expos as a two-time Armageddon Cup Champion, and can be relied on to deliver an experience ticket holders won’t soon forget.
#4. Johnny Idol (NZWPW)
Johnny Idol spent much of 2013 as the NZWPW Champion, the perfect antagonist to James Shaw while Shaw chased the title.
Idol showed he had evolved significantly as a singles competitor as he and Shaw wrestled up and down the country, before eventually losing to, and regaining the title from, Shaw to conclude their series.
Now in his second NZWPW Championship reign, Idol was once again the perfect opponent for a new challenger, Ben Mana, to work against en route to Mana winning the title at Power Play.
In addition to his NZWPW work, Idol wrestled for SCW in the first half of the year, and appeared for both IPW and KPW in the second half of 2013, expanding his horizons as one of New Zealand’s most sought-after wrestlers.
#5. “Te Tahi” Vinny Dunn (IPW)
“Te Tahi” Vinny Dunn was absent from the New Zealand wrestling scene for the first half of 2013 but returned in a big way after IPW’s relaunch in July.
Dunn became the first IPW Champion of the new era and was given the opportunity to be the face of the promotion alongside the likes of Steve Wrigley and Emmy Driver.
While his public persona had changed significantly since his last title reign, Dunn delivered the same high-quality performances in the ring, representing New Zealand at a PWA event in Sydney, Australia, and turning in a memorable Fans Bring the Weapons bout against Travis Banks to cap off IPW’s year at Nightmare Before Xmas.
#6. Liam Fury (IPW)
One of IPW’s most exciting competitors, Liam Fury began 2013 as strong as ever with show-stealing performances in the IPW Eliminator and his triple threat bout for the IPW Championship against Kingi and Travis Banks at A Decade of Impact.
Fury seemed destined to hold a national title one way or another – and became number one contender to the NZWPW Championship in May – before he suffered a concussion and was forced to sit the rest of the year out, missing seven months of action to recuperate.
#7. TK Cooper (IPW)
Stealing many a show in 2013, Brother T adopted a new name in the second half of the year and made sure the New Zealand wrestling scene was aware of TK Cooper.
While the credit must be shared with Lil T and the Agents of Change for a series of tag team matches that were perhaps the highlight of IPW’s relaunch, standout performances under his Brother T moniker at Wellington Armageddon and a one-off NZWPW event give Cooper the slight edge over his peers.
#8. “The Shooter” Shane Sinclair (KPW)
After a quieter 2012, Shane Sinclair hit the New Zealand wrestling scene in a big way in 2013.
The former KPW Champion debuted a new name and a new attitude last year and didn’t let his title loss stop him from wrestling match of the year contenders with Juice and Marcus Kool at KPW events.
Sinclair was also the backbone of the Hughes Academy of Professional Wrestling’s first event, winning the inaugural eight-man tournament and introducing Auckland audiences to “The Shooter”.
Sinclair was rewarded with a KPW Championship win at the end of 2013, cementing his spot as the promotion’s top dog.
#9. Jakob Cross (IPW)
2013 began slowly for Jakob Cross, a new member of the IPW roster, but paid dividends in the later months.
While Cross didn’t appear on any IPW events in the first half of the year, sporadic appearances with NZWPW and at the Armageddon Expo kept the Beast of the British Isles busy.
The IPW relaunch in July and the clean slate it offered to everyone proved to be just the thing Cross needed to excel. His matches alongside Aaron Henry against TnT captivated crowds at IPW events and left them clamouring for more, while the Agents of Change were included in the formation of new super-group The Investment in December, cementing their spot as perhaps the best tag team in the country.
#10. Aaron Henry (IPW)
After years of solid performances in IPW, Aaron Henry finally found his niche in 2013.
The hard-hitting wrestler joined forces with Jakob Cross to form a formidable tag team, raising the standard for tag bouts in their battles with TnT in the second half of the year.
Henry stood out as the team’s grappler, drawing on his background in combat sports for a devastating array of suplexes and submissions that often bring fans to their feet.
As Henry continues to hone his skills, with The Investment surrounding him, the two-time tag team champion is on the verge of breaking out even further in 2014.
#11. “Rufguts” Roddy Gunn (NZWPW)
Always a key player in NZWPW, “Rufguts” Roddy Gunn expanded his reach in 2013 as the SCW Champion and leader of NZWPW’s main stable, the Nobodies.
A rough and realistic style makes Rufguts’ matches something to behold at every NZWPW show, and the SCW Champion did not shy away from voicing his opinions on a microphone over the course of the year, becoming one of the country’s most hated competitors no matter which promotion he appeared for.
Rufguts won NZWPW’s Right 2 Challenge and looks to be on track for another reign as NZWPW Champion, perhaps holding the title at the same time as the SCW Championship and becoming the country’s first dual-champ.
#12: Lil T (IPW)
A consistent member of the IPW roster since the promotion’s formation, Lil T broke out again in 2013 to become one of the most talked-about athletes of the year.
Lil T served as the older, and perhaps slightly wiser, member of TnT during the tag team’s title defence at A Decade of Impact and then title chase during the second half of 2013.
A familiar face to IPW faithful, Lil T calls on 10 years of experience to get the crowd on his side whenever he steps in the ring, and always leaves with their respect, regardless of whether he can leave with the win.
#13. Ben Mana (NZWPW)
A gruesome knee injury ruined Ben Mana’s journey to the NZWPW Championship in 2012 but set up for a fairytale return to the top of the promotion in 2013.
Mana returned to action to win the Over the Top Battle Royal and earn a main event match at Power Play. On a collision course with Johnny Idol, Mana became perhaps NZWPW’s most popular competitor and ultimately reclaimed his title at the promotion’s biggest show of the year.
As the NZWPW Champion, Mana was also part of KPW’s showcase event, Halloween Howl, where he joined forces with KPW Champion Shane Sinclair and SCW Champion “Rufguts” Roddy Gunn in a New Zealand first – making history again and again throughout 2013.
#14. Pat Schisk (IPW)
Pat Schisk turned more heads in 2013 with his unique look, in-ring style, and willingness to compete around the country. Schisk ventured to NZWPW at the start of the year to wrestle Rocketman in New Plymouth and Paul Sayers in Levin, surprising fans with his rare blend of speed, agility and power, not to mention his hairstyle.
In the later half of the year Schisk was selected to assist Steve Wrigley in running IPW live events, and wound up as part of The Investment at December’s Nightmare Before Xmas, suggesting big things are to come for the Bohemian bad-boy.
#15. Mason Daniels (IPW)
Since he first burst onto the scene at Wellington Armageddon, Mason Daniels has captivated audiences up and down the country.
Daniels impressed in his rookie outing and was soon added to the main IPW roster. His high-flying style made Daniels a fan favourite with IPW audiences, and his brief feud with Khan helped to establish him in the IPW pecking order.
Daniels shows experience beyond his years each time he steps in the ring and is worth keeping an eye on in 2014.
#16. Mikey (NZWPW)
Mikey reinvented himself in 2013 after his surprise return during NZWPW’s Over the Top Battle Royal.
Shedding his raver gimmick, Mikey adopted the persona of a 50s Greaser with a mean-streak and began feuding with former tag team partner Taylor Adams. While fans may not have appreciated his new attitude, they couldn’t help but respect his in-ring skill. He wrestled a standout bout with Taylor Adams at Power Play and took control of a tournament for the vacant He Toa Cup, which he would win in early 2014.
His methodical (and 50s) style could be Mikey’s ticket straight to the top as one of the cornerstones of the NZWPW roster.
#17. Curt Chaos (IPW)
Curt Chaos made fans sit up and take notice in 2013, especially during Auckland Armageddon when he won the Armageddon Cup, his first singles title.
He might not be liked but Chaos is capable of going toe-to-toe with almost anyone in the New Zealand scene, his mix of technical wrestling and a win-at-all-costs attitude making for interesting match-ups with anyone and everyone. Chaos was added to The Investment at the end of the year, setting him up for even bigger things to come in 2014.
#18. Charlie Roberts (KPW)
KPW’s Charlie Roberts made good on his “One to Watch” status from 2012 when he won the KPW Tag Team Championships at the start of 2013. From there, Roberts continued to wrestle as much as he could, appearing for Maniacs United, NZWPW and the Hughes Academy before the end of the year.
Roberts may be the man many fans love to hate, but more often than not it’s him they’re talking about at the end of the night, whether he’s wrestling as part of the Rodeo Drive stable of going it alone around the country.
#19. Kade Morgan (KPW)
Kade Morgan branched out in 2013 to have one of his busiest years yet, wrestling for all but one of New Zealand’s promotions. The third-generation star showed he was comfortable wrestling with or without the support of the fans, in anything from main event matches to undercard bouts on cards from Auckland to Blenheim and everywhere in between.
Morgan’s most notable match happened at KPW Halloween Howl 7, where he, Johnny Idol and Taylor Adams joined forces to take on a trio of New Zealand champions: Ben Mana, “Rufguts” Roddy Gunn and Shane Sinclair.
With experience in big match scenarios on his side, and the guidance of his uncle, KPW CEO Rip Morgan, Kade Morgan is on track for a big 2014.
#20. Taylor Adams (NZWPW)
Taylor Adams established himself in 2013, going back to his southern roots with a farming gimmick that elated fans and irritated his opponents.
With the crowd behind him, Adams began to build momentum in both NZWPW and SCW, specifically while feuding with former tag team partner Mikey in the later half of the year. Although Adams was unable to get the better of his rival, his popularity sky-rocketed with local audiences, making him one of the Wellington scene’s most exciting performers.
One to Watch: D-Mack (SCW)
D-Mack spread his wings in 2013 and ventured to both IPW and NZWPW as well as his home base of SCW over the course of the year.
Nelson’s home-town hero joined Paul Sayers early in the year in an ill-fated tag team title match before making an impact at Wellington Armageddon, which led to his IPW return over Auckland’s Armageddon weekend.
Now going by Brook Duncan and part of the IPW roster, this flamboyant young man has all the tools to turn heads and make an impression as 2014 continues.
Female Five (2013)
#1. Evie (IPW)
Evie tops the NZPWI Female Five again in 2013, keeping as busy at home as she was abroad.
Internationally, Evie made her debuts for SHIMMER and SHINE in the United States, as well as unifying her PWWA Championship with Madison Eagles’ title at Champions United in Sydney, Australia.
Back home, Evie remained the face of IPW’s women’s division even when her IPW Women’s Championship was made vacant and awarded to Emmy Driver in the second half of the year.
Leading “Team Kick”, Evie’s hard strikes and warrior spirit make her stand out whenever she steps in the ring, and have made her one of New Zealand’s most recognisable wrestlers around the globe.
#2. Olivia Shaw (IPW)
After ranking fifth on 2012’s Female Five, Olivia Shaw shoots up our rankings to claim the second spot in 2013.
Olivia wrestled the only female match of the year contender in the NZPWI People’s Choice Awards, taking on Evie for the IPW Women’s Championship at A Decade of Impact. Though unsuccessful, Olivia continued to turn in matches that had people talking for days at Wellington Armageddon, and throughout the rest of the year against Britenay and the rest of the IPW women.
With youth, enthusiasm, and her brother James Shaw behind her, the IPW Women’s Championship could be within Olivia’s grasp for 2014.
#3. Britenay (IPW)
Perhaps the backbone of the IPW women’s division, Britenay was there through thick and thin in 2013.
Starting the year trying to capture Evie’s women’s title, and ending it with matches against anyone from Evie to Olivia Shaw to Khan, Britenay showed she had potential to upgrade from the backbone to the face of the IPW women’s division.
With moves like the Extreme Makeover and Britenay Spears in her arsenal, Britenay delivered some impressive performances which set her on the right track to finally hold the IPW Women’s Championship in 2014.
#4. Misty (NZWPW)
Returning to the ring after a broken neck suffered in 2012, Misty once again asserted herself as the woman to beat in the Wellington wrestling scene over 2013.
Misty clashed again and again with Amy St Clere over the course of the year, helping the rookie grappler in an increasingly competitive series of matches. Misty also wrestled Amy, Angel and Krystal Kayne in a four-way bout at KPW’s main show of the year, Halloween Howl 7.
While her opponents may come and go, Misty continues to be a cornerstone of the Wellington wrestling scene and the most dominant woman to come out of the lower North Island.
#5. Amy St Clere (NZWPW)
The most active of New Zealand’s female wrestlers in 2013, Amy St Clere chalked up matches for IPW, KPW, NZWPW and SCW.
Fans would be forgiven for forgetting 2013 was Amy’s rookie year after she went toe-to-toe with Wellington wrestling veteran Misty again and again, developing her moveset and becoming more polished each and every time.
Outside of NZWPW, Amy appeared with IPW at both the Auckland and Wellington Armageddon Expos, leading her to eventually relocate to Auckland and become an official part of the IPW roster, going by Beatrice Priestley, in 2014.
One to Watch: Angel (KPW)
Angel, now known as Frankie Quinn, wrestled all over New Zealand in 2013, locking up with female foes from Auckland to Blenheim and several spots in between.
The high-flying fan favourite picked up wins for KPW in Tauranga and Upper Hutt over the course of the year, making new fans and showcasing new skills each time she stepped in the ring.
In addition to her KPW appearances, Angel was also one of four women entered in the SCW Queen of the South tournament in April, allowing her to test herself in front of an entirely new audience.
Assuming Frankie Quinn continues to keep as diverse a schedule as she did in 2013, fans across the country can expect big things from this little lady for the rest of the coming year.