In today’s day and age, wrestling “experts” are everywhere but they’re all talking about the same talents. It should be noted though that not every great talent ever blew up in WWE, IMPACT Wrestling (TNA/GFW), ROH or NJPW. In fact, there are many talents who didn’t need one place to make their names known. Here are the Top Ten Most Overlooked Talents of the last 30 years.
Ultramantis Black, Mark Jindrack, Milano Collection AT, Ace Steel, Tyson Dux
– He was trained by William Regal, Larry Shapre and Al Snow and went on to become one half of the founding duos for Chikara. His talent is incredible and in the late 90’s rose to heights on the indies few have seen prior.
– He’d of made the actual list if it wasn’t for the fact he was the singular cause for never “making it”. Hart would be fired or black balled from every major promotion in the U.S., from the WWE, to ROH, to TNA to even AAA out of Mexico. He was the most talented of his family, but never could keep his nose clean.
– His talent is undeniable, but injuries plagued him worse than Rey Mysterio or Kevin Nash. Red was known for his amazing quickness but after two big stints in TNA, and a few X-Division titles, his lack of charisma hurt his run with the promotion and his future as a possible headliner.
10) Mike Quackenbush
– There’s a reason why Quack is 10 on this list, because most people do know who he is. What you don’t know is that Quack is one of the best, and most fluid pro wrestlers of his era. Opting to stick with his promotion, Chikara, since he started it in 2002, Quack has never wrestled in any major promotions at the time. While he competed for CZW and ROH, it wasn’t for long, and they didn’t have the same exposure as they do now. Trained by one of the ‘Honorable Mentions’, Reckless Youth and Ace Darling, Quack would be a foundation that few could ever rival. He and Youth would open up the Wrestle Factory and Chikara in the same year. After Youth departed, Quack would take Chikara into a new direction, focusing heavily on comic-book-influenced-lucha-libre. Quack would become one of the better wrestlers in Chikara, but would also train some of the best wrestlers in the world like Cesaro, Drew Gulak, Eddie Kingston, Jigsaw, Madison Eagles, Tim Donst and Tommy End, as well as a lot of Chikara mainstays like the Colony, The Throwbacks, Ultramantis Black and more. His reputation as a trainer even propelled the WWE to invite him over as a special guest instructor in 2016.
9) Sonny Siaki
– One of the more known names on this list is Sonny Siaki. Siaki was part of TNA’s early crop of future stars, along with Abyss, Monty Brown and AJ Styles. Siaki was a bigger wrestler for the X-Division, but still small and athletic enough to captivate audiences. After winning the X-Division and teaming with Puerto Rican star, Apollo, Siaki left TNA for a developmental deal with the WWE. Despite having charisma, an athletic style, and the ability to work with just about anyone, he retired at only 32. Why? To save his brothers life. Siaki denoted one of his kidneys to his brother Bernard, and was forced to retire from wrestling as people with only one kidney are not cleared for contact activity. His legacy in the ring will never be as prolific as his legacy as a man. After retiring a decade ago, he sat down and talked to The Miami Herald, where you can read more about his impressive journey. Siaki now works for UPS, and even appeared on Family Feud at one point in his post wrestling career. His brother Bernard, you ask? He’s doing well, living a full life in North Carolina, thanks to his hero of a brother.
8) Adam Pearce
– You might see a trend on this list. Adam Pearce, currently in the WWE as an agent, is one of the few wrestlers in the world who can claim he kept the NWA World Championship on a level of notoriety that few before him were able to accomplish. The five time NWA Champ, has held that title for a combined 1,078 days, beating out Jeff Jarrett, Terry Funk and Jack Brisco for 7th all time. His five reigns has him fourth all time, just behind Ric Flair, Harley Race, and Jarrett. His time with the belt was seen as a revival for the title to some degree. While no one will deny the belt was at an all time high with the then NWA-TNA promotion, prior to that venture it was nearly forgotten about. So following the departure of their deal with TNA, the NWA was desperate to make sure they found someone with the talent to keep things going; and Pearce did just that. No more notable though was his feud with Colt Cabana, which brought all the eyes of the internet onto their feud. For some reason though the NWA didn’t like Colt Cabana and didn’t want him with the title once Pearce dropped it. After a bogus tryout with TNA, who passed on him because they were ran by morons at the time, Pearce went on to the WWE and retired from active duty.
7) Sara Del Rey
– When we talk about the “Women’s Revolution”, it didn’t start in 2015/2016 in WWE, nor did it start in 2007 in TNA, no. It started in 2004 when the likes of Sara Del Rey, LuFisto, Daizee Haze and Mercedes Martinez were building women-centric promotions. Del Rey was the centerpiece of that grouping, working with Shimmer, the first major women’s promotion of it’s kind. She helped connect them with Ring of Honor, where Shimmer title matches occurred semi-regularly on the product. It also featured Del Rey with the Kings of Wrestling, as the Queen of Wrestling, alongside Claudio Castagnoli (Cesaro) and Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno). She even competed in intergender matches in Chikara, and won the Torneo Cibernetico in 2011. Del Rey rose to stardom not because of “model looks” or being overly funny or endearing; but for being the most brutal female wrestler of her generation. A Del Rey match would feature stiff kicks, fluid submission holds, and brutal action that few women in the ‘States could muster. The beautiful Del Rey would eventually sign with the WWE, but not as a wrestler, but as a trainer known as Sara Amato. Del Rey is the only woman alive who could rival Gail Kim as the best women’s-wrestler-of-all-time, but due to her essentially retiring in her prime, one can’t really consider her in that race.
6) Human Tornado
– One of the few active wrestlers who I’d even consider putting on this list, the Human Tornado blew up in the mid 2000’s and became the first real internet championed wrestler. While others like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson and Samoa Joe were considered “great mat technicians” (Punk, a mat wrestler…HA!), Tornado became known as the wrestler to look out for when it came to high flying or viral based move sets. He was one of the early PWG wrestlers who helped bring attention to the promotion when it was in it’s booking war with Ring of Honor, and would go on to win the companies top title, defeating El Generico for it. His star would hit an apex in 2006, as MTV’s Wrestling Society X called upon him, Jack Evans and Matt Sydal to help bring a distinct high flying style to the promotion. Tornado, also known for his dance off’s in the ring, would bring that gimmick to MTV, though in a 30 minute show, you can’t really flush much out. However, in 2010, he would retire from wrestling, opting to pursue a career in Hollywood. However, in 2012, Tornado returned to the ring and in 2013, began wrestling again regularly. He would go on to appear in “Nacho Libre” in 2006, which to date is his highest profiled acting credit.
5) Mikey Batts
– Most of you may remember Mikey Batts, but considering he was only with TNA during their infant years of 2004 and 2005, it’s worth reminding you of him. After TNA, he would go on to sign with the WWE and wrestled for OVW until 2006 when he was not only released but also opted to retire. Batts went on to fight three times in MMA before disappearing from the combat sports scene. Batts was one of TNA’s blue chippers in 2004, having high hopes for the ultra athletic Batts. However, Batts was fighting uphill against major names like Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Matt Bentley, Petey Williams and others. Batts nimble ability and speed made him stand out at only 21 years old, and was one of the younger wrestlers alongside Jay Lethal. He would come back for a brief return to pro wrestling in 2014, but wouldn’t return full time. Batts career will always be one of “what could of been”. He was young, nimble, had a great look and was in an era where his style was still unique enough to stand out.
4) Bob Sapp
– If you don’t know why Bob Sapp is on here then you’ve never seen his match with The Great Muta. Sapp, a former NFL player ended up in NWA:Wildside, the same promotion that AJ Styles got his start in. WCW soon contacted him, and brought him to the Power Plant to train with Buddy Lee Parker. Sapp was so impressive that the WCW Magazine did a write up on him shorty before their demise. Sapp would then go on to Japan, where he would become the most popular athlete at the time in the whole country. His unique blend of size and charisma made him one of the top earners in any company he worked for. Sapp would win the IWGP Heavyweight title, though this was when they were trying to be a hybrid MMA/Pro Wrestling company. Sapp would lose the belt in a legit shoot fight, and would never again be at the top of a wrestling fed. During his run in NJPW, PWInsider ranked him 24th out of 500 in 2004, and The Wrestlig Observer Awards named him the most charismatic in 2003. He’d go on to showcase that charisma in mid 2000’s remake of “The Longest Yard”, alongside fellow pro wrestlers Goldberg, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, and The Great Khali.
3) Taiyō Kea
– With the rise of New Japan the past several years, and the respect and lineage that men like KENTA and Kenta Kobashi established in Pro Wrestling NOAH, few people remember or even care about All Japan Pro Wrestling anymore in the states. However, you’d be wrong if you didn’t think they had talent worth talking about. Let me introduce you to Taiyō Kea. Kea was born in Hawaii and when he got into wrestling, he went over to All Japan Pro Wrestling and never really looked back. Wrestling over a thousand matches for All Japan, Kea accomplished a feet few have, winning the AJPW World Tag Team, World Junior and Triple Crown Heavyweight title, marking him the only man to ever hold those titles. He also won the World’s Strongest Tag Determination League tournament three times, as well as having a reign as IWGP Tag Team Champions with The Great Muta. Kea brought forth a hybrid style of wrestling at the time, utilizing kicks and grappling holds that few in Japan were doing at the time. He’s one of the fondest and most well respected Kaijin in all of AJPW, and despite a few minor stints with Wrestle-1 and Ōdō, has remained loyal to AJPW. In 2012 he went into semi-retirement to work on his business degree, but did return when TNA/IMPACT Wrestling went to Japan with Wreslte-1 for the Kaisen: Outbreak event.
2) Brent Albright
– There’s certainly an NWA trend here. Brent Albright started off in Oklahoma before wrestling some in the WWE, Pro Wrestling NOAH and then TNA. In 2004 he would sign on full time with WWE’s developmental program, Ohio Valley Wrestling, where alongside Bobby Lashley, the two became the top two prospects in the promotion. Albright became the first man to ever win the OVW Triple Crown (TV, Tag Team, Heavyweight), before getting called up about the same time as Lashley. Renamed Gunner Scott, he would show great in ring presence and was paired with veteran Chris Benoit, but was subsequently depushed and eventually released for reminding WWE officials too much of Chris Benoit, a wrestler they purposely wanted him to emulate, so he could fill his role one day. Logic. After the NWA split with TNA, Albright would go to the finals of the tournament to crown a new champion after Christian Cage vacated it. Albright would beat Claudio Castagnoli to advance to the finals against the eventual winner, Adam Pearce. After that he’d go to Ring of Honor, where hand Adam Pearce would steal the show on August 2nd, 2008. Albright would go on to defeat Pearce for the NWA World Title during it’s 60th anniversary. Following that, he’d take some time off before ending up in Oklahoma fed Impact Zone Wrestling (not to be confused with IMPACT Wrestling). Albright was regarded as one of the better workers of his generation, yet for whatever reason, was never picked up by TNA or again by the WWE. For his shooting ability, submission skills and brutal physical styles, one would think he’d of made a bigger name for himself.
1) Mike Rapada (The Colorado Kid)
– You may not remember him, and that’s for some good reasons. Despite wrestling a handful of squash and dark matches for WCW, and in 2002 for TNA, Rapada never got the main stream attention for his work. Rapada, who came to fame as a rookie at 30, was always passed by, probably for his (at the time) common look. He started out in Jerry Jarretts USWA promotion, where he was named rookie of the year and would go on to win the USWA Heavyweight title from Jerry Lawler. He looked like Kerry Von Erich, wrestled like Kevin Von Erich and moved like Dean Malenko. He was the NWA’s best worker for the mid-late 90’s, and even into the 2000’s where he defeated Jerry Lynn and then Sabu to win the NWA World Heavyweight titles on two occasions.