The Future of the Industry: Chris Bey
Updated: Nov 8, 2020
Whilst the wrestling world can often rely on past superstars and legends to draw audience numbers and attention, there are numerous young wrestlers waiting to break through the proverbial glass ceiling throughout the business; an array of talents that need to seize the notorious 'brass ring'. As WWE audience numbers have dipped, a variety of alternative promotions have emerged. With loyal fanbases and stellar in-ring work found across the globe, Vince McMahon's monopoly on the industry appears to be waning. In 2020 (prior to Covid-19), there are various routes that young wrestlers can take to establish prominence and gain exposure, and the WWE is no longer the "only" option.
Let's scour the wrestling world in search of young talents that seem ready to take that step up to the next level. Let's take a look at the future of the business:
The number of superstars who have wrestled for Ring of Honor (ROH), Impact Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) during their careers is limited. The number of wrestlers to compete for all three promotions in the space of a year is even lower. The number of wrestlers to do this in the infancy of their careers is just one: Chris Bey. Debuting for WWE on October 11th 2019 on the 205 Live brand, Bey went on to officially sign for Impact Wrestling shortly after. Now, as this absurd pandemic-filled year comes to an end, Bey has been announced for his New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) debut during the 2020 Super J-Cup. At 24 years-old, The Ultimate Finesser seems poised for a big 2021, but this may prove to just be the starting block for the Virginia native. Seemingly apt that Bey was trained at Future Stars of Wrestling, few superstars have seen their star shine brighter than Bey this past year. Despite All Elite Wrestling (AEW) previously scouting Bey, their loss has been Impact's gain as the "dashing" one continues to make an 'impact' on the industry.
It would be incorrect to suggest that Chris Bey is a well-known name in all wrestling fan quarters. After all, Impact's viewership pales in comparison to both AEW and industry titan WWE. That said, Bey will have no concerns about slipping under the radar; a talent as good as Bey will always shine. At 5"9 and 165 pounds, the undersized Chris Bey is everything Vince McMahon ignores in a wrestler. But, and this is stated with complete honesty, Bey has the potential to carry a promotion on his back. Few wrestlers have the charisma, the ability, the flair and the personality of Bey. To go one further, I challenge any wrestler on the WWE roster to make wrestling look as easy as Chris Bey does; the finesse of the Ultimate Finesser is nigh on unrivalled. A smooth, skilled African-American wrestler in the mould of early Shelton Benjamin and Kofi Kingston, believe it or not, Bey is more athletic. Charismatic with an attitude in the mould of Hollywood Rock and the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, Bey has an aura that not just permeates but crashes through the screen. But, what is Bey's ceiling in Impact Wrestling? Despite its struggles throughout both the Total Nonstop Action (TNA) and Impact years, one area in which the company has thrived is its revered X-Division. A high-risk, high-flying, fast paced wrestling division, the likes of Samoa Joe, Low Ki, Christopher Daniels, Jay Lethal, Austin Aries and AJ Styles have reigned atop the X-Division to much fanfare. The latter, in fact, is credited with establishing TNA/Impact as a creditable company. However, as Styles' career progressed past the trouble company, Impact was left crying out for a replacement. Impact is still left crying out for a replacement. But if they look to their current roster, Bey is the man to take up that mantle and run with it. Is this high praise? Of course. Is this a lofty expectation to place on a 24 year-old's shoulders? Of course. Is this unrealistic? Not at all. Bey is already a former X-Division Championship, and given his age, could be a fixture for Impact for years to come. In fact, the similarities to Styles are numerous. Styles was the inaugural X-Division Champion after just turning 25 years-old. Bey won the title aged 24. Styles won the title within his first 6 months with the company, so did Bey. Styles wrestled for WWE without being offered a contract, so did Bey. Styles carried the company on his back - not withstanding the likes of Kurt Angle, Abyss and Christopher Daniels - whether Bey can do that remains to be seen.
Whilst we can look at the respective careers of Styles and Bey to analyse comparisons, their in-ring work should be our main focus. Sharing the same fluidity and smoothness, the same fearless athleticism and the same purpose of movement, Styles and Bey are 'exceptional workers'. Despite the growing concerns over professional wrestling becoming more choreographed, both Styles and Bey have the ability to maintain fans' suspension of belief and make their moves purposeful, deliberate and blatant. And this, this is the greatest compliment you can give to Chris Bey; Bey is no "spot-monkey". Consider this, if Bey is this flawless, effortless and immaculate in the ring now, how good can - or should - he become?
Impact Wrestling has seen somewhat of a renaissance during 2020 following an influx of talent from WWE. Stalwarts EC3 and Eric Young returned, as did Brian Myers (Curt Hawkins) and the debuting Heath (Heath Slater). Add knockout Deonna Purrazzo to the mix and Impact is gaining deserved traction amongst wrestling fans. And this traction will bring more eyes to the product. This traction will bring more eyes to Chris Bey. And what will fans see? A charismatic athlete that is also a stellar storyteller when it comes to in-ring psychology. Whether taking a bump, selling a bump, selling an injury or adjusting his style to combat that of his opponent, Bey can illicit sympathy from the audience despite his arrogant and cocky persona. This separates the good from the great... Bey is the latter. As the Ultimate Finesser has advertised, "Bey is Bae" and the whole wrestling industry should be on "Bey-Watch".