Nothing can stop this momentum. LGBTQ people are everywhere in wrestling, and we don’t give up ground easily.
The same tenacity buried within us that fuels our continued fight against cultural and political attack is what makes all of what we are seeing in the pro wrestling space possible. The art of queer pro wrestling is crafted by the hundreds of in-ring artists using their bodies to move us. That is why this task gets more difficult every year, and why I welcome it.
It means we’re winning. Welcome to the 2023 Queer Wrestling Index 200.
110. Andey Ripley
While Ripley is the powerhouse of C.R.E.E.P.S., that doesn’t mean that they don’t feed into the delightful oddness that embodies the team. They and West did plenty to make themselves nationally known, logging appearances with Paradigm Pro Wrestling, Labor of Love and Full Queer, while keeping their profile high back home at TWE Chattanooga and ACTION Wrestling. “They-Hulk” made history for trans/non-binary wrestling in Georgia, battling Saraya Saber in the first match featuring multiple trans wrestlers in the state’s history and challenged for singles gold against fellow out wrestler Rose Gold. Despite throwing fists, always remember that C.R.E.E.P.S. loves you.
109. Ron Bass Jr.
The “Son of a Son of a Bitch” paid tribute the wrestling lineage he now embodies with a year full of triumphs. After starting the year as Paradigm Pro Wrestling Tag Team champion with Daniel Starling, known collectively as First Class, Bass built himself into a force at New Jersey-based Hardcore Hustle Organization. He both teamed with and fought deathmatch icon Matt Tremont, won the H2O Tag Team titles with fellow out wrestler Sawyer Wreck and defended his WNRN Internet championship. The Shooters Don’t Die member continued in Paradigm Pro before making his EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch debut, taking the fight to Parrow during the Twink Gauntlet.
108. Richie Coy
You may often see Richie Coy sprawled out on the floor in their post-match Instagram drops, but that’s because they give everything in the ring. Coy rose in profile throughout California over the last year, wrestling for both Santino Bros. and EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch during WrestleMania weekend in Los Angeles. They made debuts in Full Queer, Hoodslam and Underground Wrestling Alliance while maintaining a reputation in East Los Lucha and Oasis Pro Wrestling. Coy became the inaugural Hybrid Pro Wrestling Six Shooter champion, nearly added gold in Full Queer and formed a rising tag team in PrideStyle Pro with Damian Desire, challenging for the IZW Tag Team titles at Wrestle Drag.
107. Ace Perry
Ace Perry remains one of the most dynamic talents coming out of Indiana, and he has the prizes to prove it. Perry found tag team success in Wrestle Arts, teaming with Josh Crane and Dale Patricks, known collectively as The Dragons, winning the company’s Global Tag Crown titles. He added the White River Wrestling championship, challenged for titles in Summit Pro, Hybrid Championship Wrestling and Wrestling Theology Fellowship and earned wins over top indie stars Matt Cross, Jake Something and Hoodfoot.
Amongst the blooms in the Pittsburgh pro wrestling scene only one can call herself unwilting. Tatiana established herself as a top name at 880 Wrestling, forming The Wilde Flowers tag team with Nix Wilde and battling Ziggy Haim and Derek Dillinger for the Enjoy Wrestling Tag Team titles. She held women’s championships in Victory Pro Wrestling, WDWA and 1CW and vied for the 880 Wrestling championship in a chaotic ladder match. The budding star added appearances in AAW and Enjoy Wrestling to round out another great year.
105. Alex Maze
Alex Maze kept highkicking his way into the hearts of Canadian pro wrestling fans in 2023 during multiple matches at C4, Beauharnois Championship Wrestling and Northern Championship Wrestling. He added Federation Monteregienne De Lutte to that list before teaming with Kristara as Amazingly Sweet to win the International Wrestling Syndicate Tag Team championships.Their rivalry with Casanova Productions defined their reign and led to Maze earning a shot at the IWS Canadian title later in the year. Maze’s highest non-title mark came in his EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch debut against Ashton Starr and Pha’Nesse, adding to his GCW debut earlier in the year.
104. Donnie Primetime
Donnie Primetime lived up to his name this year, building on a years-long foundation in the Southeast. The New South Pro Wrestling regular did plenty of damage in the Alabama-based promotion, reaching the quarterfinals of its annual HOSS tournament and building an intense rivalry with Akuto Death Squad. Elsewhere, Primetime continued his feud with Cabana Man Dan in Pro South Wrestling, added multiple appearances for GCW and helped solidify the Retinal Wrestling tag team division with Hard Targets partner Stunt Marshall. He made his way to New Texas Pro Wrestling for the second consecutive year as well.
103. Piper Niven
The strength and potential of Piper Niven within WWE found renewed footing over the course of 2023. Niven stepped in for Sonya Deville following her knee injury to become WWE Women’s Tag Team champion with Chelsea Green, being built as a powerhouse within WWE’s women’s division. The title represents her first non-24/7 title reign since joining the WWE main roster. She added a Royal Rumble appearance and a series of challenges for the WWE Women’s championship to fill out the year.
102. Covey Christ QWI Debut
Christ is a key part of the revitalization currently underway in the Canadian Maritimes pro wrestling scene. The founder, owner and trainer at Kaizen Pro Wrestling crafted an environment where inclusion is paramount and helped develop two key out talents in the area: Justine Ward and Cody Orion. He still saved time to ply his craft in the ring, though, claiming championships in Kaizen Pro Wrestling, Innovative Hybrid Wrestling and Atlantic Pro Wrestling while delivering intense battles with both Ward and Orion. Maybe he isn’t a bad guy after all.
101. La Diva Salvaje
Las Shotas member La Diva Salvaje brings 20 years of experience to the ring yet is still somewhat unsung for her contributions to the evolution of queer acceptance within Mexican lucha libre as compared to her peers. Salvaje made multiple appearances with AAA, The Crash and Invasion Indy while teaming with Las Shotas to challenge for trios gold in multiple promotions. She won multiple lucha de apuestas bouts and challenged for the RGR Lucha Libre Exotico championship, continuing the empowering message behind the exotico faction she helped build.
100. Jamie Senegal
Having a full year in the ring proved that Jaime Senegal hasn’t lost a step after missing a chunk of 2022. She did so in multiple promotions across the country, returning to the deathmatch confines of Florida’s No Peace Underground to defeat Nate Webb and Best Bros and battling Tommy Purr in a memorable Cat Collar match at Las Vegas-based promotion Big Valley Wrestling. She won the Sanctuary Fight Club championship in Pennsylvania, starred at Wrestle Drag in Arizona and made her Wrestling Revolver debut in Ohio. Senegal challenged Bryn Thorne for the IZW Women’s and Party Hard Wrestling Legacy titles, showing that Jamie Senegal isn’t going away any time soon.
After making her unexpected return to pro wrestling last year after retiring due to a neck injury in 2017, Saraya became a focal part of AEW’s Women’s division in 2023. Her Outcasts trio with Toni Storm and Ruby Soho wreaked havoc on the rest of the division, culminating in Saraya winning the AEW Women’s World championship at Wembley Stadium. She didn’t hold the title long, but that moment marked a key event in Saraya’s comeback after thinking she’d never wrestle again.
Mamba helped elevate Las Shotas for a consecutive year to one of the most relevant in-demand factions throughout the Mexican lucha libre scene. In addition to challenging for titles alongside her stablemates, Mamba found herself embroiled in a feud with D’Luxe that culminated in a lucha de apuestas victory for the out wrestler. She made multiple appearances with AAA, including a win over Dragon Gate stars SB KENTo and Takuma, and won the RGR Tag Team championship with La Diva Salvaje. Beyond the ring, Mamba uses her platform to promote LGBTQ inclusion culturally and remains one of the top exoticos in the country.
97. Logan Black
Black put together another solid year with multiple promotions throughout the Northeast. After opening the year with a street fight against Manders, he brought his smashmouth talents to Blitzkrieg Pro, Pro Wrestling Grind and Interspecies Wrestling. The “King of Chaos” performed well at Pioneer Valley Promotions, earning a PVP championship match as a result. What remains most endearing about Black is his commitment to developing wrestlers, many of whom are queer, in his role as trainer at T2T Brooklyn. He led a number of those talents into battle at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch 7 in Chicago and built up even more back home, including Chas D’Amato, Chris Ryan, Charles Stunning, Jay Kharma, Nick Pierce, Judith Henry and Kwesi Asante.
96. Charles Cassus
Charles Cassus gave everything he could in what would turn out to be his final year in the ring. The Southwest U.S. wrestling veteran reigned as Wrestle Drag and IZW Heavyweight champion simultaneously for most of the year, defending both belts against formidable opponents in Da Shade, Bryce Saturn, Damian Desire and Project Wes. He added appearances in Versus Pro, Hoodslam, Big Valley Wrestling and Millennium Pro Wrestling while challenging for the United Wrestling Network Heritage championship. He had chances to team with his Final Destination stable mates before retiring in the ring in November, ending a decade-long career in which he represented the LGBTQ community in a powerful way and contributed to the widening agency of how queer pro wrestlers present themselves. Thank you, Charles Cassus.
95. Nick Radford
“The Poet Laureate of Pro Wrestling” continued to be a menace in the Pacific Northwest independent scene in very fun ways. Radford made history in Portland, becoming the first out wrestler to win the DOA Pro Wrestling Grand championship in opportunistic fashion. He and The Academy teammate Thom Alman reigned over SOS Pro Wrestling’s tag team division, holding the SOS Tag Team titles for most of the year. Radford also shined at POW! Pro Wrestling and DUSK Pro Wrestling, and turned in perhaps the only feud spawned from the theft of a Pokémon card with Jaiden. How unbecoming.
94. Joey Scott
“Hot Shot” Joey Scott may be the busiest man in British pro wrestling. The founder of Full Force Wrestling found the time between running a promotion to wrestle more than 100 matches in 2023 and claim the LDN Capital, 4FW Junior Heavyweight and Wrestling In Hinckley Adrenaline championships, holding all three simultaneously. His rivalry with Jason Jacobs over the FFW British title stood out as Scott teamed with Jason Joshua as The Big Shots and challenged for additional titles in Royal Imperial Wrestling and Phenomenal Elite Wrestling. His quest for the LDN British Heavyweight championship still hasn’t come to fruition thanks to Chris Tyler, but it's only a matter of time before it falls into his grasp.
93. Benjamin Harland
Mark 2023 as the year that Benjamin Harland and Act Two tag partner Jack Knudsen solidified their names among the top up-and-coming tag teams in Britain. The duo turned in their most high profile matches to date, battling Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster for the IMPACT Wrestling Tag Team championships and holding a candle to BUSSY at TNT Extreme and GCW’s joint event. Act Two also held court over FUTR Wrestling’s tag team division as champions half of the year and tried valiantly to recapture their Saints of Sacrifice titles. They added appearances at Wrestle Carnival and Purpose Wrestling, and Harland himself made a splash on his own by entering the Rainbow Rumble at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch U.K. before securing a FUTR Destiny title shot against Lucia Lee.
92. Satu Jinn
It takes a large amount of bravery to step to Satu Jinn, one of the top names in deathmatch wrestling. His penchant for panes of glass and carving opponents’ foreheads brought him success in Horror Slam Wrestling, defeating Remington Rhor for the Horror Slam Deathmatch championship. Jinn reached the finals of multiple deathmatch tournaments, including Primos’ Slave to the Deathmatch 14. He found himself battling fellow top deathmatch names Matt Tremont and Hootfoot, facing the latter for the American Deathmatch championship. The bloody butcher added title matches in Flophouse Wrestling and Ruthless Pro Wrestling, and left a mark in ICW No Holds Barred and Borracho Pro
91. Lucia Lee
Lucia Lee stretched her reign as the inaugural FUTR Destiny champion to over 430 days over the course of the year, adding to the promise she showed in 2022. Lee turned away challenges from Nightshade, Benjamin Harland and Jack Knudsen to hold onto her title, but she made noise outside of FUTR Wrestling as well. After challenging Dani Luna for the Southside Women’s title at Revolution Pro, Lee entered the Rainbow Rumble at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch U.K., turning in a great performance. She appeared for a dozen other British independent promotions, earning title shots in Sovereign Pro, Black Country Championship Wrestling and No Mercy Wrestling.
90. Da Shade
Da Shade is one of the more charismatic names to come out of the Las Vegas area, and he brought his trademark mix of power and party to multiple states in 2023. Shade made appearances along the West Coast with Versus Pro, Amped Up Wrestling, North West Pro and Pride of the Desert. His most intense battles came closer to home though, challenging for the Wrestle Drag championship and watching a partnership descend into disdain in his IZW feud with Project Wes. The highlight of Shade’s year came during WrestleMania weekend, returning to EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch as part of Team West Coast in a queer coastal fight for dominance.
89. Chris Crunk
I'm just a notch in your bedpost, but you're just a line in a song... pic.twitter.com/IEuEVgnx1A— Chris Crunk (@chriscrunk) March 5, 2023
Another New South Pro Wrestling favorite, Chris Crunk solidified his place as one of the best tag team wrestlers in the company’s history. Crunk and Akuto Death Squad partner Kevin Ryan won the New South Tag Team championships twice in 2023, with one of those victories coming against top independent tag team MSP. The wins made Crunk a three-time New South Tag Team champion. He nearly added singles gold, challenging for the New South championship, but found it in the form of the Renegade Championship Wrestling title. Crunk entered the ring for GCW, Retinal Wrestling and Southern Honor too, but nothing topped his tag team battles with Infrared, Hard Targets and The Heartbreak Killers.
88. Victor Analog
Analog entered the year as a double champion, holding the ZERO1 USA Junior Heavyweight and PWA Regional Heavyweight championships. It set a precedent for the year he would go on to have. He wrestled for notable independent promotions Black Label Pro, St. Louis Anarchy, F1RST Wrestling and Naptown All-Pro, finding success solo and with NOBODY partners Dylan Cole and Anakin Murphy. Analog and Murphy won the Unsanctioned Pro Tag team titles, while Analog defeated former TWE Chattanooga champion Merc at Woah! Hey! It’s Wrestling!. Perhaps the most interesting match for Analog came at F1RST, where he wrestled his partner High Voltage Kat. The couple that wrestle each other stay together. That’s how the saying goes, right?
Can't you see that you're lost without me... pic.twitter.com/5P8Ca39zXJ— Abadon_AEW (@abadon_AEW) November 5, 2023
Abadon has a way of striking fear into the heart of anyone, but that doesn’t prevent them from serving as an inspiration for many. The only out non-binary star on the AEW roster, they earned an AEW Women’s World championship match against Hikaru Shida during Halloween season (if only they were featured every other day of the year). Beyond AEW, Abadon made appearances at independent promotions in the U.S. and Canada, earning wins over Dark Sheik, Vanessa Kraven, MJ Santana and Morgan Mercy. They added a casket match to the mix at Wrestling Revolver and a win over International Wrestling Syndicate favorite Cecil Nyx at fellow AEW star Evil Uno’s Mystery Wrestling event in Quebec.
86. Jessy Ventura
Her name may sound familiar to wrestling fans, but Jessy Santana is carving a path all her own through Mexico. The Las Shotas member reached career highs in 2023, holding the IWRG Intercontinental Welterweight title, challenging for trios titles and making multiple appearances with AAA. Ventura logged appearances with numerous other promotions, including The Crash and Invasion Indy, but her lucha de apuestas hair vs. hair match against legendary exotico Pimpinela Escarlata delivered an emotional crowning moment above all others. Ventura defeated Escarlata, taking the icon’s hair as a trophy and showing honor to one of the luchadors that paved the way for her. With all that Ventura has already accomplished, it's easy to believe that her future bodes much brighter heights.
85. Remington Rhor
Another deathmatch maven out of the Midwest U.S., Remington Rhor brings a passion for violence and a machete to the ring every night. It’s fitting that he opened the year winning the Friday The 13th Deathmatch tournament and its prize, the Horror Slam Deathmatch championship. Rhor would go on to defeat deathmatch icon Mickie Knuckles for the AWR Revolutionary title and add the Ruthless Pro Wrestling Kamikaze and Flophouse titles to his collection. His battle with Matt Tremont at ICW No Holds Barred brought the kind of honor only equaling a legend could, and he carried that with him to Bloodstorm Pro Wrestling, WrestleRave and Cincinnati Pride’s Power! Pride! Pro Wrestling! event.
Pimpinela’s legacy and impact cannot be measured with any amount of words I put down here, but to see the legendary trailblazer continue to entrance crowds 35 years into his career is exhilarating. Pimpi added the RGR Exotico title and the Corona Pride to his long list of accolades en route to another jam packed year on the Mexican independent scene. He endured battles with Las Shotas, took the hair of Zumbido and scored wins over fellow out exotico Larry Miranda Jr. and Las Toxicas. In the U.S., Pimpi returned to EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch in Chicago, teaming with IMPACT Wrestling star Sonny Kiss to defeat EFFY and Allie Katch, collectively known as BUSSY, in the main event. 35 years in, Pimpinela doesn’t seem ready to call his days in the ring done, and fans should relish the chance to see this bridge between eras of LGBTQ acceptance in pro wrestling before he makes that decision.
83. Armani Kayos
Armani Kayos made 2023 absolutely Kaytastic throughout the Northeast U.S. independent wrestling scene. Kayos bookended his year with title reigns in Chaotic Wrestling, holding the CW Pan-Optic championship early in the year and winning the CW Tag Team titles as part of God’s Greatest Creations. The good deacon challenged for the American Wrestling Council Heavyweight title, built himself into a favorite at Wrestling Open and notched appearances at Create-A-Pro and Focus Pro Wrestling. He also brought his Rad Pro Wrestling alter ego Stefon King to life, securing multiple wins at the 90s-themed throwback promotion.
82. Joey Mayberry
One of the leaders of the Chicagoland queer wrestling community, Joey Mayberry continues to show why his mix of sass and viciousness is in demand. He built formidable partnerships with “Bombshell” Shelly Benson, Moondog Murray and his manager Jillian, winning the All Heel Wrestling Tag Team titles with Murray and bringing the whole crew to EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch 7 to defend the Midwest’s honor. Mayberry and Murray also feuded in POWW Entertainment while he captured the Northland Journey championship. The Chicago Style Wrestling regular wrestled in Wisconsin and Florida as well, winning the PWA All-Star Jackpot and earning a shot at the PWA All-Star title. Closing the year with a rivalry culminating hardcore match against Doom Montgomery was solid, but it adds to Mayberry’s work with Ring The Belle and Golden Era podcast, promoting queer voices in wrestling media.
81. Max Zero
Max Zero is very handsome, but don’t get distracted by his features lest you miss the fist coming at your jaw. Zero was a force at Paradigm Pro Wrestling, capturing the PPW Heavy Hitters title en route to the finals of the company’s UWFi Rules Grand Prix tournament. He formed a rivalry with former New Japan Strong Openweight champion Tom Lawlor, challenged for the PPW Tag Team titles and went to war with CC Boost in High Tension Wrestling. His tag partnership with Travis Huckabee, known as Kingsglaive, brought intensity to multiple promotions, earning an Invictus Pro Tag Team title match, while Zero challenged for more singles gold in the form of the Unsanctioned Pro Hardcore title and entered Naptown All-Pro’s Midwest Championship chain tournament. Throw in appearances with Wrestlers’ Lab, Dropkick Depression and Labor of Love and you have a solid year.
Come back tomorrow for the next 30 2023 QWI 200 honorees.
Also check out regular conversations with LGBTQ wrestlers on the LGBT In The Ring podcast.