The Five Best Non-WWE Wrestling Shows Happening Mania Weekend

In the battle between Joey Janela vs. Great Sasuke, who will survive and what will be left of them?
In the battle between Joey Janela vs. Great Sasuke, who will survive and what will be left of them? Screengrab via
With New Orleans less than, on a good day at least, six hours away from Houston, it’s no surprise that more than a few wrestling fans from Space City will be heading east over the next few days to take in the sights of the Big Easy for Wrestlemania weekend. If you’re the type that’s only into the WWE product, you still have a pretty amazing few days ahead of you between the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, the big NXT show on Saturday, Wrestlemania itself, and the post-Mania episode of Raw, typically the most important night of the year for the show. Add a stacked lineup of matches at Axxess—this is all leading to WWN and Progress running at Axxess in the future, right?—and the WWE has all a wrestling fan might want for five long days.

But for some of us, that’s just not enough. Tens of thousands of wrestling fans will be descending on the city, and they want entertainment, and the various non-WWE wrestling companies are stepping up with big lineups featuring some of the best talent—WWE or not—from around the world. If you’ve got the money and the energy, you can not only see the finest wrestlers working the American independent scene but stars from Europe and Japan. With so many options on the table, what should you spend your money on? Start with these five indie shows that everyone will be talking about this weekend.
Honorable Mention: GCW Matt Riddle’s Bloodsport, April 5, 3 p.m.

The very first event of Mania weekend could very well be the wildest. Using a “no ropes, matches can only end by submission or knockout” framework, Bloodsport pits wrestlers with that “legit tough guy” mystique against each other in matches that will be less flips and more punches to the face. With the “interesting” rules set in place by the Louisiana Boxing and Wrestling Commission, this show could give a good look at what the rest of the weekend holds.
Impact Wrestling vs. Lucha Underground, April 6, 9 p.m.

Two brands with colorful, to say the least, histories face off in a show that should benefit all parties involved. While the gap between the WWE and the rest of the companies running in America is pretty wide, Impact and LU both have national TV shows, and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the end. It’s up against a stacked WWN Supershow and the WWE Hall of Fame, but will likely draw in more than a few folks interested in how these two promotions will bring things together.
ROH Supercard of Honor XII, April 7, 8:30 p.m.

The No. 2 wrestling company in the country might have a slightly underwhelming undercard, but the headlining matches all have the potential to be both entertaining and important. Headlined by Cody vs. Kenny Omega, this is a match that fans of Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling have been waiting for. What will it mean for The Bullet Club going forward? Who knows, but whatever happens will be talked about for weeks to come.

The Crash, April 6, Noon

While a lot of wrestlers with lucha libre connections will be in New Orleans, this is the show featuring the most interesting mix of Mexican lucha talent with modern American stars. Almost every single match on the card is a multi-man match, which means you’ll see plenty of mayhem and bodies flying. It’s also the only place, at this writing, you’ll get to see LA Park, and who doesn’t love the Chairman of the Board?

Wrestlecon Supershow, April 5, 9:30 p.m.

Outside of WWE, there’s no bigger story in wrestling right now than the reunion of The Golden Lovers, Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi. It’s one of the deepest and best-told stories in all of wrestling, something that, if it comes to a satisfying conclusion, could be something we hold up as a prime example of “wrestling is art.” There likely won’t be many chances for fans in this part of the world to see the Golden Lovers in action, which makes this event can’t miss.
GCW Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2, April 6, 11:55 p.m.

Yes, this takes place at midnight, but a show this bonkers has to take place in the middle of the night. While it does feature what should be a mat classic between Mike Quackenbush and David Starr, it also has Nick Gage vs. Penta El 0M in a match that has me cringing at the violence already and is headlined by Joey Janela vs. Great Sasuke in a battle between two men who can’t throw caution to the wind because they never had caution to begin with. And that’s just scratching the surface of what’s on the card.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia