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Opinion

Elisa: The Rise Of Irish Wrestling

The last two matches at WrestleMania 35 were won by Irish wrestlers–see the rise of this region here!

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Finn Balor WWE WrestleMania Irish

After Irish wrestlers win the final two matches at WWE WrestleMania 35, Elisa takes a look at the rise of Irish wrestling as a whole.

I personally wanted to write this article to honor the Irish Wrestlers and trainers that have helped Irish wrestling grow into something more tremendous than I believe anyone could have ever imagined. But you cannot discuss the rise of Irish wrestlers in the WWE without discussing independent wrestling scene. What I mean is more specifically, Dublin-based wrestling company ‘Over the Top Wrestling’ or what we famously know it as OTT. OTT has become one of the hottest independent wrestling promotions in the world in recent months and it continues to grow into this huge spectacle that rivals all Indy wrestling.

It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of hearing an Irish accent in the super-charged, trash-talking world of WWE might seem a bit far-fetched. Pre-Conor McGregor in the UFC, the masters of verbal put-downs were predominantly American wrestling icons such as Ric Flair, The Rock and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. But much has changed in recent years. The likes of Sheamus, Finn Balor, Becky Lynch and Jordan Devlin have broken the mold by establishing themselves as major stars in NXT and the WWE while inspiring a new generation of young Irish wrestlers in the process.

The stepping stones to international stardom can now be found in Dublin. Having spent several years performing all over the world as ‘Luther Ward’, Dubliner Joe Cabray formed OTT with the aim of offering Irish fans a viable wrestling show that could compete with the level of independent wrestling he had experienced in more established markets like the UK, Japan and Germany.

What is happening now is a far-cry from when Joe and others were starting out in Ireland in the early 2000s. Since 2014, OTT has built an audience while regularly running shows at the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin, and in the last two years they have attracted audiences of over 2,000 for several shows at the National Stadium on the South Circular Road.

The quality of storytelling in OTT’s hype packages and the production of their live shows is continuing to improve as their audience grows, and this is all built upon a high-level in-ring product that features the best of the Irish talent mixed with top names from the international independent wrestling scene. Cabray is a big believer in developing a wrestling product that caters not only to the loyal, hardcore fan base but also those less familiar with wrestling who might not be interested in the physical aspect, but find more appeal in the theatrical elements of pro-wrestling.

Recently, OTT hosted ScrapperMania, which was INSANE to say the least and featured probably the biggest match in OTT history, Jordan Devlin vs. Walter for the OTT World Championship. The buildup and storytelling to this match was amazing and saw the classic David vs. Goliath theme match in hopes the good would overthrow the evil and it did in true Irish fashion. When Jordan Devlin pinned Walter to win the OTT championship, the crowd reaction was something you never saw before. And because of independent wrestling such as OTT, we see the rise of Irish superstars make a mark in the WWE history.

Not convinced? Well let’s list some of the greatest Irish wrestlers that came from the Indies.


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Sheamus

When you think about a successful Irish wrestler, it is impossible not to think about Sheamus. The Irish wrestler started out in ECW and made his way to Raw and Smackdown later. He has held numerous titles over the years and even defeated Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania in only 18 seconds! The only real negative surrounding Sheamus’ career is poor booking. Of course, this is not due to Sheamus, but more the WWE wasting this amazing man’s talent at times. Fortunately, he is now enjoying great success with tag team partner Cesaro, since the Bar is one of the more exhilarating tag teams on the Smackdown roster. You cannot argue the fact he is on the list of one of the best Irish wrestlers of all time.

Dave Finlay

Another wrestler known for his hard work and his storytelling ability is Dave Finlay. While you might remember him as “the man with the leprechaun,” Finlay is much more than that. Finlay has an impressive track record spanning back thirty years before he joined the WWE. He played a prominent role in WCW and even trained Kurt Angle and CM Punk. He was also in many Money in the Bank Ladder Matches. Nowadays, Finlay is no longer an active wrestler, but this does not mean he said goodbye to it. Currently, Finlay is working as an agent and producer for the WWE.

Finn Balor

One of the most successful wrestlers today is undoubtedly Finn Balor. Finn is one of the main attractions on Monday Night Raw, but his success extends much further than the WWE. Finn Balor has quite the impressive background in the Indies; this includes time as a tope star in New Japan Pro Wrestling. However, Balor also created his own wrestling promotion at one point; this happened just before he conquered a spot on the prestigious roster of New Japan, where he won multiple titles and created the famous Bullet Club. His extensive indie career including OTT and ICW has certainly helped to shape the wrestler we see in him today. He is the first WWE Universal Champion, who unfortunately had to relinquish the title in less than 24 hours due to injury and now a two time Intercontinental Champion. His worth ethnic, charity work, dedication and message of the Balor Club has given a positive message to the WWE and the WWE Universe. I am 110% certain that his legacy is already cemented into the history books in the WWE. I am hoping to see another WWE Universal or heavyweight championship reign in the midst for the future.

Becky Lynch

While we are talking about epic Irish wrestlers, we cannot forget to mention the Irish Lasskicker Becky Lynch. Like most female wrestlers who manage to earn a spot in the WWE these days, Lynch has an extensive track record in the Indies. She started her wrestling career as early as 2002 and has traveled the world before ending up in the WWE. Gaining experience in Europe, North America, and even Japan, it is obvious why Becky Lynch should be on this list. While she may be poorly managed at the moment, nobody can deny the stage presence, charisma, and skill of this fiery Irish lady. She has cemented herself into the WWE history books as one of the three women to main event WrestleMania and win both Raw and Smackdown championships. She has been truly an inspiring, delight to see in and off the ring. I am looking forward to what THE MAN has to offer this coming year.

Jordan Devlin

Jordan Devlin, who was trained by Finn Balor, is the other wrestler who I think could be a future star in the WWE. He wrestled in the WWE UK Tournament and had been on the WWE UK Tours. Devlin is a star on the Irish Indy Scene with yours truly, Over the Top Wrestling and is currently working with NXT UK. He is an extremely agile wrestler. I love his character and portrayal of a classic heel. Recently, as mentioned in the beginning of the article, he became the OTT Heavyweight champion by defeating Walter in Scrappermania in a classic match that saw all of Ireland behind him. Hopefully, Devlin will get even more attention from WWE in the coming months and we may see him in the main roster sometime late this year.

Paddy “Suicide Machine” Morrow

Not many people are familiar with Paddy however, he has contributed in so many ways to the rise of Irish wrestling in my opinion. He is such a talent. I saw a lot of his matches on YouTube and they were absolutely amazing. Not only has he been wrestling for 16 years, but he and Finn Balor were head coaches of a wrestling school out of their hometown of Bray Country Wicklow when there weren’t really any wrestling schools out in Ireland. An interesting fact is that one of his opponents in his career was OTT owner Joe Cabray, a classic rivalry. Now, he is a coach for the school of Irish Wrestling that recently opened and is doing amazing things to bring up the up and coming Irish talent. His experience and contributions in coaching talent in Ireland should be acknowledge heavily when it comes to discussing the rise of Irish wrestling.

Now that I mention some of these great Irish wrestlers, it is good to mention that recently the School of Irish Wrestling opened to help produce more Irish talent. Some of the coaches include not only Paddy Morrow, but Paul Tracy, Jordan Devlin and Sean Guinness. These coaches bring experience and expertise to the table as Irish wrestling opens another school to produce more talent. While the current generation of Irish wrestling talent is still making their name know, they are also assisting in helping the next generation to get even better.

Watching wrestling heavy this year, I have enjoyed so much how amazingly Irish Wrestlers are rising up and bringing in more diversity into the wrestling mix. They are providing excellent story lines, amazing promos and quality matches. Not to mention, headlining major events. I cannot wait to see what the up and coming Irish talent has to bring. In my opinion, the Irish are dominating wrestling all around and with that said, much respect out to them.

Until then fans, farewell.


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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