What Wrestlemania Should Be Part 2b: The 30-Boy Battle Royal
Akio v Bull Buchanan v Cameron v Charlie Sterling v D’Lo Brown v Drago v Famous B v Hiromi Mimura v Ho Ho Lun v HZK v Jack Sexsmith v Jody Fleisch v Joel Redman v Joey Mercury v Josh Bodom v Juice Robinson v Kaitlyn v Martin Stone v Nailz v No Way Jose v Otis Dozovic v Paul London v Saika Takeuchi v Sakada v Sick Nick Mondo v Scoop Slam Steve v Tajiri v Titus O’Neil v Tye Dillinger v YOSHI-HASHI
30-Boy Battle Royal to determine the inaugural WWE Boyweight Championship
2nd of April 2017
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, USA
The lads over at OSW Review define a “boy” as the following:
A BOY is a (generally not very talented) wrestler that didn’t achieve success, where there’s a bit of cringe factor admitting he was one of your favourites. You like/support him more than the average & what he deserved. Like my boy Test, or Heidenreich. He can’t have won a major world title as well (which actually cuts out Garvin, even though the rest of his career was very boy-worthy). The term ‘boy’ is also used in Japanese Dojos (for young trainees) and in general vernacular too (e.g. Will Ferrell’s boy Blue in the film Old School).
CRITERIA FOR BEING A BOY:
1. Unsuccessful – No WWE/WWF, WCW/NWA or NJPW world titles.
2. Unpopular – He must not be respected in general or have hope for the future. Think The Ascension.
3. Untalented – There’s a certain cringe factor. You have to be a little ashamed to admit you’re a fan. Heidenreich is the Golden boy, a paragon of Boyness.
In booking a Battle Royal to determine the inaugural Boyweight Champion of the world on the grandest stage of them all, we have undoubtedly taken a number of liberties. Some of our picks currently hold gold in their respective companies, or have done in the past, or are primed for the big time. Certainly there’s less shame here than the most dogmatic interpretation of boydom would require, but why should anyone be made to feel guilty for enjoying something so harmless as a slightly under-seasoned sports entertainer? The only hard-and-fast rule that underpins our selections is this: we have each chosen wrestlers in whom we emotionally invest a whole lot more than their current position in the grand global wrestling hierarchy would seem to justify.
So without further ado, here are our selections for the inaugural 30-Boy Battle Royal, the icing on the delicious cake that is our fantasy card for Wrestlemania 33.
HZK returned to Stardom in December as part of the Io Shirai heel turn storyline, and has quickly become a sidekick extraordinaire to the company ace. She has perfected the shithead smirk and once referred to Kairi Hojo as a “mic loving, big cheekbone grandma”. HZK currently holds trios gold in Stardom but its a reign conceived very much in the shadow of her group’s leader, and you’d be hard pressed to find a full-time member of the Stardom that isn’t currently some kind of champion.
Saika Takeuchi (above) is the protagonist of Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams’ 2000 documentary Gaea Girls, in which she is put through a series of increasingly brutal training exercises by joshi veteran Chigusa Nagayo and eventually gets to wrestle a young Meiko Satomura at Korakuen Hall. Nobody has seen much of her since, and her name is probably better known to stans of early-noughties BBC-funded documentary film-making than to the joshi puroresu community, but I’m bringing her back for a Wrestlemania payday. Watch the full thing on YouTube and you’ll soon understand why. Takeuchi is a deeply sympathetic character, willing to endure seemingly endless emotional and physical torment so that she can “shine” like her heroes. She clearly wasn’t the next big thing, but she’s one of my biggest boys.
Finally, two comedy mid-carders that have come to add a whole lot more value to their respective promotions than their status on the card would suggest: first up, Famous B, a season one jobber in Lucha Underground, came back as a wheeler-dealing manager and quietly managed to pull off one of my favourite feuds of season two , culminating in what is almost certainly the best stupid silly trash match in that company’s short history, a “Believer’s Backlash” match against Mascarita Sagrada. Second, here’s Jack Sexsmith stealing all our hearts as he announces his change of attitude to the Progress faithful last month. Jack may soon go on to bigger and better things but we’re catching him while he still has something of the boy about him.
My first pick is long-time New Japan jobber and current New Japan midcarder YOSHI-HASHI. An oft-forgotten fact is that when current company ace Kazuchika Okada returned from his foreign excursion with a new attitude and a still-ongoing megapush, YOSHI-HASHI was right there with him. Their first match back in Japan was against each other, at Wrestle Kingdom 6. It was bollocks. A month later Okada unexpectedly won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the rest is history, but YOSHI-HASHI bubbled under for years taking falls (often as Okada’s tag partner) and beginning to quietly impress people. 2016 was a real breakout year for him as he participated in his first G1 Climax, and shockingly emerged triumphant in his first match of the tournament, against eventual winner Kenny Omega. He’s not won so much as the six-man tag belts, but in the last couple of years he’s gone from being the guy with dodgy anime hair and Kilik’s pole from Soul Calibur to one of the company’s more reliable performers. This year he even made his UK debut, going over local standout Pete Dunne. Ah, RevPro.
Luke’s already extolled the virtues of one Stardom boy, but I’d like to throw my hat into the ring with another. Hiromi Mimura (above, on the left), along with Jungle Kyona and Momo Watanabe, is one of a trio of rookies for whom the company clearly has high hopes. Mimura is a relative latecomer to wrestling, with less than two years in-ring experience at 30 years of age, but she’s learned very quickly how to play an engaging underdog. It helps that she’s only 4’8. Her boy status was forever sealed in my mind last month by the promo she cut before a three-way match with Viper (220 pounds) and Shayna Baszler (very well-built herself and a former MMA stablemate of one Ronda Rousey) by saying “I’m going to use the body I’ve been given”, which was a lovely message and one she followed up on by using a host of crafty tactics to try and win by letting the two monsters destroy each other and swoop in to pick the bones. It didn’t work and she got squished, which made her all the more endearing.
Finally I’d like to talk about Cassandra Miyagi of Sendai Girls. I honestly can’t put my finger on what makes her a boy for me. Perhaps it’s her dedication to her gimmick – I’m not quite sure what said gimmick is, but it seems to involve a lot of headbanging, and her eye makeup is clearly an important part of it, seeing as any photos of the Sendai Girls roster in their casual wear have her eyes pixellated out, as if looking at them in their natural state would produce a reaction akin to when Semele gazed upon almighty Zeus. I’m nonplussed. Perhaps it’s that she’s something different in a promotion helmed by stoic hardass Meiko Satomura. Or perhaps it’s that she can bring quality in-ring work to the table when required, as with last year’s Sendai Girls title match against former amateur standout Chihiro Hashimoto. But really, a combination of these things Cassandra Miyagi does a boy make. Or something.
Otis Dozovic, he looks like that guy at your rugby club who just turns up on a Saturday to play with the 3rd XV and drink a couple of jugs of heavy. I love him because he’s got no neck and he’s not particularly handsome. He’s been chucked in a tag team with Tucker Knight. They haven’t won a match on NXT since they started tagging but you can still see that the whole thing is set up to get the 6′ 2″, 300 pound Tucker over: he’s more the prototype, muscly hoss that Vince McMahon loves to push. Dozovic is the Anvil to Tucker’s Hitman.
Now I’m not sure if D’Lo Brown fully qualifies as a Boy. I can’t say I’m the slightest bit embarrassed about liking him D’Lo is an incredible worker, but never seemed to get the push his in-ring ability deserved. As the WWF signed more and more stars (Jericho, Big Show, The Radicalz) from WCW to take up spots on their midcard. D’Lo slipped further and further down the card until he was eventually released, after being dressed in a turban with Mosh and Tiger Ali Singh (despite Tiger’s protestations) as part of Lo Down, but that’s another story.
No Way Jose might well be my favourite wrestler at the moment and I can’t remember the last time he won a match. The first time I saw him I feared the worst. Teased for weeks before his debut, to be introduced to a dancing Dominican with a “fiesta” gimmick. I hated it.
Bull Buchanan is one of those guys where you see right at the start that Vince obviously had a big hard on for him. Paired up with Bossman, the vet to show him the ropes. He got lots of time as a new guy and was great physically: big, strong, agile, but for whatever reason he didn’t take off.
It’s not unusual to hear the insult “You’re a pound shop version of…” berating someone for being unoriginal. But in the case of Scoop Slam Steve, this is no insult as he literally is a Poundland Big Show.
Since joining DotP, Steve has become something of a cult hero through his valiant, yet completely unsuccessful, efforts. His greatest…actually his only success to date was eliminating Ryback from the Christmas Day Battle Impossible 2016, before getting eliminated himself after his celebrations took him straight into the path of an RKO. This match was also the first time he entered with his funky and very fitting entrance music.
The problem with my first pick is that Tye Dillinger is not unpopular. In fact, the Perfect Ten is so incredibly popular that WWE booked him into the Royal Rumble so we’d have something happy to cling to, instead of the whole “Reigns eliminated Undertaker” thing. That said, it was a moment nearly a decade in the making, and the fact it’s taken ten years to get to this point speaks powerfully to his Ultimate All-Time Boy (TM) status as far as I’m concerned. He’s fun, he’ll get a cheap pop, and he’s a solid enough worker to handle some of the less technically-gifted competitors in this future classic match.
Kaitlyn is, I think, a far more clear-cut case. I miss her. She was a good promo who was carrying her end of a really interesting feud with AJ Lee when I first got back into wrestling. Now, I know AJ could make anyone look good in the ring, but Kaitlyn didn’t need it, because she could do this.
This is Goldberg-tier. I want her to spear the shit out of everyone on this card and then go on to spear other tiny people like Alexa Bliss on the way to a title match.
So when the suggestion for this article came up I was absolutely shitfaced and supplied a short blitz of names which I’m ordering here from most to least Boy-ish:
First up, my Head Boy, Nailz. I’m not really sure this needs any explanation.
However, for form: he’s a really terrible wrestler with a particularly shite gimmick during a period where the undercard was filled with ungifted people given ludicrous backstories: he’s a horrible bastard who clobbers folk then chokes them whilst foaming at the mouth; what’s not to love? Especially when they really live that gimmick.
Again, explanation is superfluous when this video exists. I forgive Cameron this and numerous other crimes because she always appeared to give it her all, and her future endeavours response got me right in the feels.
Across the Gulf of Talent we sail towards the land of wrestlers I love but aren’t top stars. Guys like The Guv’nor Martin Stone aka Danny Burch. RevPro is my local and Martin’s my RPW boy. I can’t quite explain why as while he’s a great worker, he’s got slightly above zero charisma. You can feel people wanting to cheer him but not having anything to latch onto. I’m really sad that RevPro booked him to fight Jeff Cobb in Florida not York Hall as that sounds like a dream brawl. Finally when it comes to his NXT run he basically has the same look, win/loss ratio, and moveset as Scoop Slam Steve so there’s a Battle of the Baldy Jobbers mini-storyline ready to go there.
Akio is someone I’ve always noticed in matches as a stand-out but I know nothing about him at all. In fact I needed to go watch his matches again just to remind myself what he looked like. Hallmark of Boy stuff. Knowing nothing about someone is one thing but in my inebriated state I completely forgot Joey Mercury’s name and nominated him as “That c*nt from J&J Security who was also in Straight Edge Society”, which says everything except really. If he came in a can it would be marked “100% premium Boymeat”, and the more I think about it he’s probably more deserving of the Head Boy badge than Nailz.
I’d probably also say that about Tajiri, who I honestly wish was my uncle and not just my Boy. He’s so cute with his Mortal Kombat walk/stance, and a face that hasn’t aged but kind-of looked old when he was young. I think loads of people love him and he was a stand-out in CWC against competitors half his age. I’m not sure if that makes him more or less worthy of Boyhood, however that dilemma pales in comparison with my last pick who’s far, far too talented and successful to be a Boy.
IMTDFSIS founder Big Vince Baker said once that the name for this site came from the fact that the Double Foot Stomp completely breaks his suspension of disbelief in a match as it’d clearly kill someone. That’s how I feel about Drago‘s costume and make-up; no matter how incredible he is in the ring, the whole thing with the wings and a creepy tongue thing is such a cringeful distraction that it takes me half the match to get over it (especially in the cut scenes with Dario Cueto in Lucha Underground’s first season). Then kayfabe adds more difficulty as he’s not a guy dressed as a dragon, but an actual fucking dragon.
Sure Aerostar’s story is arguably as crazy and if I’m honest, when they fight I actually want him to win over Drago but… that tongue!
(Bonus points: his AAA name before Drago was Alan. No surname or title. Whilst that is also my name, it’s also the least fearsome sounding name on its own.)
Dom Philp (The Away Supporter)
When I first heard of the Boy Battle Royale (with cheese) concept I immediately thought of Paul London. Let me take you back a simpler time, when independent wrestling was not dominated by homegrown stars who could draw a house for their home promotion. In 2002, the success of most independent wrestling companies depended on a promoter’s ability to book a well known, ex-WCWF talent to appear at the top of the card. Paul London helped to change that as the true MVP of Ring of Honor’s first year. London, in his first 8 matches in ROH won 2, lost 5 and drew 1; those are genuine boy statistics if I’ve ever heard them. However during this stint he won the crowd (and yours truly) over with stellar performances, most notably in the Street Fight with Michael Shane at Unscripted. Watch the full Unscripted match here
London went on challenge Xavier for the ROH Championship as arguably their most over babyface challenger ever. He lost, in true boy fashion before signing his development contract with WWE.
In several cases signing that contract spells a diminshed boy status for the “superstar” in question but as London was basically the first “Home-Grown” ROH star to get the call up he remained our boy all throughout his run with the fed.
Also, if you have 3 minutes and 12 seconds free, check out this boyalicious promo from The Pod.
In a similar fashion to Paul London my second entry in to the BBR was the most over babyface from the other Early 2000s Philadelphia indy troupe; Sick Nick Mondo from CZW. When I became burnt out on the WWE during the Ruthless Aggression era I went looking for any alternative I could find. I stumbled upon the Philadelphia independent scene through Limewire and immediately fell in love with Ring of Honor. I posted regularly on the ROH message boards, wore their merchandise and bought their DVDs. I wanted everyone to know about Ring of Honor and how much I loved it. CZW and Sick Nick Mondo on the other hand were my dirty little boy secret.
Mondo stood out from the other wrestlers on the CZW roster because he was relatable for most of their audience. He was a young, cool wrestling fan turned wrestler who was here at the shows to have fun and stand out. He was a true alternative to what you would see on TV because he was just like us. He based his offence on video games and children’s cartoons and coupled that with an unmatched ability to take ridiculous, dangerous and often contrived and pointless bumps. What could cement your status as a boy more to a group of fans who were trying to get away from Chris Masters and Snitsky on a Monday night?
Mondo also directed and produced a documentary about his own life story which includes some of his career highlights like taking a whipper snipper to the stomach and falling from high places. Check out “Unscarred” here
Jody Fleisch is possibly the most undeserving of boy status of them all. He should have been hugely successful as one of the most talented and balls to the wall high flyers to grace the squared circle. A beacon of light during the darker days of the UK independent scene, he always excites and thrills. Not to mention he has one of the coolest finishers in the industry, the 720 DDT.
Josh Bodom is my biggest boy. He gets nuclear heat, argues with and insults every member of the audience, wears velvet trunks AND YET still manages to put on exciting matches. His ability to be booed and entertain at the same time is hugely valuable for any promotion in 2017. I love him.
Charlie Sterling and Joel Redman are boys for two reasons. One is that Sterling entering with a beret and glasses to piss off the crowd and then working a clean babyface match cracks me up. The other is that they have the most over the top finishing combination in the history of tag teams. Stereo superkicks, second rope tombstone piledriver from Redman followed up by a Spiral Tap from Sterling.
Ho Ho Lun, The Sweetest Boy
Have you ever wanted to be a wrestler? If you’re reading this you probably have.
Ho Ho Lun wanted to be a wrestler. More than you. More than me. And he became one.
Ho Ho Lun didn’t have training. He didn’t have superior genes. All he had was YouTube and a desire to become a wrestler. And he did.
Ho Ho Lun is all of us giving a powerbomb to their unwilling little brother, standing over him as he cries and our Mums yell at us. He’s the everyman. He can’t wrestle for fuck and muscles evade him. He is the perfect boy.
When he came onto the scene in the CWC people mocked him, but fuck you, he made it as a wrestler. Yeah he has no style. He has no grace. He is a fucking disgrace. But he’s living his dream. Are you?
Who is Sakoda?
This isn’t a rhetorical question? Who Is Sakoda?
The long forgotten stable Kyo Dai [that wasn’t based on the Yakuza, who would later go on to fund Tajiri’s amazing wrestling company HUSTLE] was made up on three members:
Tajiri: The Japanese Shooter
Akio: The Standout from the Jung Dragons
Who is Sakoda? He is nobody. He is nothing. Type his name into the Network and you get zero results.
But Sakoda existed. He had no moves. He had no character. He didn’t even have a singles match outside Velocity. But he had one thing:
He was a boy
(editors note: it was almost impossible to find a photo of Sakoda for the Boyweight Championship line up at the top of the page so this explanation is completely spot on)