We’re trying something new here at Respawning as we dive into the crazy world of professional wrestling. Outside of wrestling video games, we’ve never covered the likes of WWE, AEW and NJPW before. As of today though, myself and a few other wrestling obsessed nuts will be bringing you content as regular as possible. To start us off, I thought I’d let the readers get to know my particular taste in pro wrestling as I list my current top 10 best wrestlers on the planet right now!
I’ll be basing this off in ring work more than anything else but character and history will most definitely play a part as well. I’m sure every fans top 10 is completely different so make sure to leave yours in the comments below.
I once foolishly believed that Adam Cole was overrated. After seeing him fall flat on his face when making appearances for New Japan Pro Wrestling, I thought he may well be just another trend with a catchphrase. Though the more of his work I saw in Ring of Honor, the more I enjoyed his fast paced style and every time I’ve seen him wrestle live has been a massively fun experience.
The real shock (the system…see what I did there?) was when Cole made the move to WWE’s NXT in August 2017 alongside his ROH brothers Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong to form The Undisputed Era. He then went on to have arguably the best matches of his career. Usually when guys make the move to WWE they become a shell of their former selves (Balor, Bryan, AJ etc) but Cole has been the exception to the rule and has become the face and standard bearer of NXT in the modern era.
Recommended match: Adam Cole vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Takeover New York.
One of the biggest compliments I can pay David Starr is that he’s the only independent, non-contracted wrestler on this list and boy is he proud of that and so he should be. Managing to make a name for himself without the aid of a massive corporation, Starr has had countless 5 star matches, the best of them being with his long time OTT rival – Jordan Devlin. Sometimes in wrestling you get two guys who push each other to greatness (Rock & Austin, Okada & Tanahashi, Shawn & Bret etc) and that was undoubtedly the case for Starr and Devlin.
Not only were their matches in OTT some of the best of all time but thanks to Starr’s incredible way with words and OTT’s brilliant storytelling, their feud will go down in history as my favourite of all time on the independent scene. The story was so massive that it even bled into Progress Wrestling’s Super Strong Style event in 2019 where Starr would overcome Devlin to win the tournament in what was one of my favourite live moments as a fan ever.
Recommended Match: David Starr vs Jordan Devlin – OTT Fifth Year Anniversary 2019
As you can guess, Jordan Devlin and David Starr go hand in hand when discussing the best in the world. I’ve given Devlin the edge because although I respect the hell of Starr for staying independent, the fact that Devlin has been able to get out of the disastrous NXT UK brand and make a name for himself as the NXT Cruiserweight Champion in front of an American audience really can’t go ignored.
I once told Devlin that every time he’s on the card, you just know it’s going to be unquestionably the match of the night and to this day he’s never let me down. Although I’m about to recommend another Devlin/Starr match, I highly recommend checking out NXT: Worlds Collide to see Devlin win his Cruiserweight Championship and show the world what most of us in the UK and Ireland already knew – he’s one of the world’s best.
Recommended Match: Jordan Devlin v David Starr – OTT Homecoming 2 2019
Rey Fénix is a guy who can easily be forgotten about in a list like this as most of his fame has come alongside his real-life brother and tag team partner – Pentagón jr. Hell, if this was a tag team list then there’s a good chance The Lucha Bros may well be at the top!
What makes Rey stand out as a singles guy though is his scary raw talent. I genuinely don’t think there’s a move which Fénix isn’t capable of and his athleticism is off the charts. Having already had classics with the likes of Kenny Omega in Mexico for his AAA Mega Championship (which he held for 420 days), Will Ospreay in PWG and even a surprisingly awesome TV match on AEW Dynamite against fellow tag team expert – Nick Jackson.. it really feels like once Fénix decides to stop being one of the best tag team wrestlers in the world, then being the top singles guy is just the logical next step for this luchador.
Recommended Match: Rey Fénix & Pentagón jr vs The Young Bucks – AEW: All Out 2019
Before Hiromu Takahashi’s horrific injury in July 2018 against Dragon Lee, he was already being talked about as one of the best Juniors to ever come out of New Japan Pro Wrestling. This was a result of two stellar back-to-back Best of Super Juniors’ and an exciting feud with Kushida which also acted as a passing of the torch. The worry was that after 16 months out injured with a broken neck, he wouldn’t be the same when he returned.
His return match with Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom this year was for me the shining achievement of Hiromu’s career as he took back his Junior Heavyweight title in a match that big Dave Meltzer rated 5 and a half stars. Not only was Hiromu Takahashi back, but he’d some how managed to come back even better than before.
Recommended Match: Hiromu Takahashi vs Will Ospreay – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 (Day 1) 2020
Check out part 2 of the list right here!