Creature vs Creature (CvC) Round 2
Robert Aitken vs Will J. Baker
(Here is a link to Will's article.)
Topic: Best European Wrestler Yet to Wrestle in the United States
Much like many remaining in this competition, this round's tasks were pretty difficult. There is not a whole lot of knowledge by many of us for international professional wrestling.
As a featured columnist, I know that I have avidly watched professional and independent promotions from North America, as well as some Asian and European promotions that have done shows in the United States.
This doesn't help whatsoever when the topic is to find the best European wrestler that is yet to wrestle in the U.S., where all of my wrestling knowledge has been centered.
I went from European promotion to promotion, looking for someone who has never wrestled in the United States. I eventually fell onto Irish Whip Wrestling, a relatively new promotion out of Ireland. The promotion began in 2002 and has toured exclusively around the country of Ireland.
The promotion has brought in such big names as AJ Styles, Kid Kash and Jake "The Snake" Roberts in their beginning days.
Eventually, the company would groom their own top stars, mainly a man who would end up being their head trainer and their first Irish Whip Wrestling International Heavyweight Champion. That man was Sheamus O'Shaunessy.
Sheamus would eventually move on to WWE with another former IWW champion, Drew McIntyre. The promotion was in dire need of their next great superstar. This is where Mandrake came into play.
The 28-year old Mandrake (real name Garth Kidd) has the potential to be one of the greatest men to ever come out of Irish Whip Wrestling. Billed at 5'10" and 215 pounds, Mandrake is not the most menacing man in IWW history, but he may be the most physically dominating.
Mandrake is billed from The Black Abyss, but calls Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland his real home. Mandrake is normally billed as the Black Heart Warrior, but has also adopted nicknames such as "The Sultan of Suffering," "The Prince of Pain" and "The Messiah of Misery."
Mandrake became involved in IWW in 2006, when he attended their Lock-Up training school in Dublin. The promotion worked out television deals at that time and began a tournament called Gym Wars.
Picture a tournament that WWE would have for their developmental wrestlers. Mandrake made it to the finals of that tournament, losing to Wayne Daly.
Shows would not take place weekly for IWW. In fact, the promotion would only have roughly 30 shows per calendar year. This meant that Mandrake's pursuit of the IWW International Heavyweight Championship would be spaced out throughout 2007 and into 2008.
On March 15, 2008, Mandrake finally won the championship over Vic Viper in a triple threat match that also involved former WWE superstar Eugene.
Mandrake would take on all challengers, including another former WWE superstar in Rene Dupree. Dupree would come out right after Mandrake won the title to ask for a shot at the new champion.
Mandrake would have notable names challenge for his championship during his reign. Among them were former WWE talents Dupree, Daivari, Doug Basham, Balls Mahoney, Big Vito and Kevin Thorn.
Mandrake also fended off challenges from the likes of Pro Wrestling NOAH's Bobby Fish, as well as UK stars T-Bone and Joel Redman.
Mandrake even kept his winning ways going outside of title defenses. Mandrake would win the Thomas Doyle Tournament, as well as the 2008 Dan O'Mahony Memorial Tournament.
Mandrake would even with the IWW Zero Gravity Championship (the promotion's secondary title) on Feb. 5, 2010, unifying the championships. On April 30, the Zero Gravity Championship would be reactivated when The Supermodel shocked Mandrake and won the International Heavyweight Championship from him.
In all, Mandrake held the IWW International Heavyweight Championship for a record 1,141 days, 58 days longer than all five of the title's previous reigns combined.
Today marks the 150th day that Mandrake has held the Zero Gravity Championship, except that his reign did not count until he lost the heavyweight championship. Mandrake currently is still the Zero Gravity Champion, having held the belt on its own for 66 days now.
Mandrake is a mat technician that can go up top as well. His offense has him do a variety of moves, from standing moonsaults to piledrivers.
His finisher is often a vicious spear to his opponent. Mandrake's offense is ruthless and fast-paced, yet it doesn't even speak to his greatest asset: his fighting style outside of the ring.
Throughout this entire time, Mandrake's in-ring ability does not even factor in his real-life fighting skills. Garth Kidd is a world-class Taekwondo artist. Competing since he was 13, Kidd has won 28 awards in Taekwondo competitions from 1995 until 2003.
Most of these were medals won in competitions in England, Ireland or Scotland, but came to Miami, Fla., in 2002 to take part in the World Taekwondo Championships, winning first place in free fighting and second place in form fighting.
Mandrake has also cross-trained into Judo, Kung Fu and Kickboxing. In time, Mandrake could be the most well-rounded professional wrestler that we have seen in some time.
What is the reason that you haven't seen him in America yet? It might be his lack of size, his marginal promo skills or simply his loyalty to the company that put his foot in the door. Regardless, Mandrake is probably the best Irish-born wrestler that you didn't know about five minutes ago.
Sheamus and Drew McIntyre could have put Irish Whip Wrestling on the map if they had not packed up and headed for WWE. Mandrake, on the other hand, could be the guy to do that for the promotion after all.