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Jae Watches Your Favorite Hidden Gem Wrestlers

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 A couple days ago I asked for some of your favorite unsung heroes of the lower card. I got about 16 names that I think would qualify. Lots of people I've never heard of.

I'll put their names into ULTRA RANDOMIZER 5000 and watch a few matches of each.

Feel free to comment on the matches too, and recommend some more cats for the list.


  1. Nick Comoroto

  2. Diamante

  3. Lee Moriarty

  4. Bear Country

  5. Silas Young

  6. Blake Christian

  7. Komander

  8. Serpentico

  9. Zack Clayton

  10. Angelico

  11. Aaron Solo

  12. Josh Woods

  13. Willie Mack



1. Leon Ruffin

2. The Workhorsemen

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The Ultra Randomizer 5000 has chosen Leon Ruffin as our first hidden gem to appraise. Let’s see what he’s got.



Match 1: vs. Bshp King, AEW Dark Ep. 163

From what I understand Ruffin worked as Leon Ruff before and still has that gear, but is going by his actual last name in AEW. So there’s a little branding descripency to start.


Ruffin is… very small and very skinny, but he looks to have a big, happy underdog personality that is endearing. Thankfully he seems to very aware of his size and makes it part of his style. You gotta be fast and crafty to beat the big guys, I dig his turnbuckle spot where he jumps from rope to rope trying to confuse King before escaping. It’s a good little tactic that helps tell a story – Ruffin does not want to be cornered – he needs open space to survive. Bshp King didn’t really look comfortable in his gear, I think his mouthpiece grill was getting in his way, and it limited his ability to get some heat.


Ruffin wins with a crufix bomb, which isn’t my favorite move. The way the guys taking it bump so hard for it always feels to forced.


Match 2: vs. Ethan Page, AEW: Elevation Ep. 72

Ruffin connects pretty instantly with the crowd which is great. I love him jumping into the opening headlock. He’s gotta fight for those things. Unfortunately he undermines it with a dopey “Can you believe I got him in a headlock guys!” I’d rather him be more tenacious than gee whiz. Work that head lock while you got it, you won’t get so many chances.


Page, righfully, tosses the whipper snapper off. Ruffin knows he’s gotta sell like everything is murder, which I like. It makes his matches feel like tightrope walks. When you’re giving up a size advantage the way he does, you can’t make mistakes, or it all goes downhill.


They do the turnbuckle spot and Ethan Page makes it look soooo much better than King did. He gets the timing and physicality of it. You have to go big trying to catch this mouse, you know? Also unlike the King spot, Ruffin uses the creative escape to get some offense in.


As Page comes back to get some more heat there’s some really good commentary between Mark Henry and Excalibur. Henry talks about the weight differential and how it’s really just too much for Ruffin, which is an obvious position coming from a super-heavyweight like Mark. Excalibur then counters with Darby Allin beating Ethan Page before, which makes Mark concede that there is always “a punchers chance.” This specific example does a lot of storytelling and what I can only refer to as worldbuilding. First, it gives the audience hope that even a guy like Ruffin has a shot, despite the size, because Ethan Page has blown it against a smaller guy before.. It also makes Darby feel even more special because he can overcome those odds. It’s adding to his lore and appeal. And for Ruffin it gives him a future goal. Can he achieve what Darby has? What will it take? Are we willing to watch him to see if he figures it out?


Ruffin makes a comeback using his speed and his big flying diamond cutter. I think that this looks even better in contrast to Page working a very lumbering style for this match. It kinda feels like Andre The Giant vs. a Tito Santana but on a smaller scale.


They go back to same turnbuckle spot from earlier, but this time Ethan does catch him and tries for his Ego’s Edge, but Ruffin escapes and gets a believable flash pin nearfall. I think this is the moment where this match becomes a confirmed success, because the audience bought in. Unfortunately Ruffin gets countered after going for a turnbuckle move once too many times, and Ego finishes the match.


Really good work, that made me invested in the wrestler. Page worked a really good match for Ruffin’s skill set and the guy didn’t disappoint.


Match 3: vs. Ethan Page, AEW Rampage 7/29/22

Unsurprisingly, that last match earned these two a televised rematch. Unfortunately this is a very different match that serves a different purpose. Ruffin decides to go straight at Page and is immediately overpowered. It’s a poor decision on his part, and even worse – Ethan Page is not fucking around. No more lumbering around and giving Ruffin space to breathe.


They do the bounce-about turnbuckle spot, and Ruffin stumbles, leading to Page again capitalizing. All the magic from the first match is gone for our plucky underdog, and he gets squashed.


Again, fans of Leon would be left wondering if he can evolve from here or if this is the ceiling.


Match 4. vs. Daniel Garcia, AEW Elevation Ep. 89

Heeeey he’s got his own shirt now!

Garcia is the smallest opponent for Leon in this playlest, so he gets to work some different spots, including some nice armdrags, and looking like he’s physically capable of being able to control Garcia. One of the new spots is Leon wrapping himself up in the ropes to avoid an irish whip. It’s kinda cutesy but I don’t know if it achieves much.


One, you’d think he’d want to hit the ropes because getting some speed is where he shines. Two, when he wraps himself up it leaves him vulnerable to an attack from Garcia, and now he’s in a worse position.


This match didn’t quite work for me. I don’t think we ever got a real moment to believe in Leon, and honestly I wasn't feeling what Garcia was bringing here.


Match 5. vs. Juice Robinson, AEW Dark Ep. 188

The tenacious headlock stuff is back but this time Leon is really trying to fight for it and work it. Instead of looking for people’s support in a “geewhiz can you believe it” he’s already earned it and uses it for fuel.

Juice pulls hair to whip him off but Leon uses a drop down trip to reapply it and shouts “I CAN DO THIS ALL DAY.” Fuck yeah, now this is a guy I can back up.

Juice again cheats, this time more violently, by racking Leon’s crotch on the top rope. Pretty classic storytelling here.

Leon’s bumping is still great, particularly his spill to the floor. I’m always a sucker for unique bumping.

Juice again trying to get some heat by doing damage by whipping Leon into guardrails and steel posts.

His cockiness gets the best of him and Leon gets a decent chunk to be in control, adding in a nice jumping neck breaker into his repertoire. I think this might be an important move for him, because he doesn’t have to do it as a counter. In this match he does it as apart of being in control. Juice is dazed so this is more insult to injury. It’s important to have moves that you just do because you’re winning, as opposed to all your moves being apart of some reversal sequence.


The corkscrew cutter is another example, with Leon trying to set it up by running his opponent towards the corner in a bulldog headlock, then letting go so he can run up the ropes and head it. I like this, but I think he needs to do a better job with that initial headlock to better explain to the audience what he’s doing. It’s an important setup, and he should probably milk it more.


There are still a lot of other improvements for Leon in this match. He’s added a striking combo that looks much better than what he was throwing against Garcia. And in general he just looks like he’s trying to hurt his opponent more.


Again this match is clearly a success because of reaction to Leon kicking out of a lariat. No one’s chanting your name if they can’t believe you can win. With the Ethan Page they accomplished it through Page’s carelessness. In this match it was accomplished by Leon actually looking like he can control a fight. It’s a big difference and a real leap for the character, that needed to evolve in this way.


Will definitely look for him in the future. Great recommendation.

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I'm not doing this every day. Probably more like once/twice a week. But today I was excited about what the Ultra Randomizer 6000 put in front of me.


Today we're looking at The Workhorsemen, who I believe I’ve seen exactly one time, when they got beat up by Danielson and Moxley. Let’s see how they do when they wrestle some non-superstars.


Match 1 vs. Varsity Blonds, Dark Ep. 141

There’s something kind of hilarious about a guy having “Henry” painted on the ass of his pants. Like it’s not my first choice for bad ass punk name.


JD Drake gets Pillman Jr. in the corner to work him over and literally yells “I hate you.” Between punches and chops. Again, fucking hilarious. I like talking shit, but “I hate you!” feels like something a child would say to his parents when they get him a nice parka instead of the Sega Genesis he put at the top of his fucking Christmas List. Just this one time, come through for me mom and dad. Mortal Kombat 2 is coming out!


Drake is vocal in a tactical way, yelling for Anthony Henry to throw a cheeky cheap shot during an Irish whip. I’m big on seeing tactics. I want to see that there’s a plan, not just you do a move and the I do a move.


They work over Pillman some more, with Henry taunting Griff Garrison to make a tag, while stepping on Pillman’s hand. Fun stuff, but, I gotta say Pillman isn’t coming through on the “face in peril” act. There’s just no energy in the bumps or selling. When he gets dropped he just kinda lays there like he’s tired more than he’s in pain.


Drake fucking says “IT’S VADER TIME!” before missing the Vader Splash, and I realize this guy is if your uncle became a wrestler. I remember in the late 90’s my uncle was obsessed with picking people up for the Lex Luger Torture Rack. And he’d just sneak up behind you and yell “LUGER!” and pick you up. That’s JD Drake. He’s the youngest sibling of your aunts and uncles and he wants to prove he’s tough.


I have no idea why he’s with Anthony Henry. Like maybe they were best friends in grade school, went down two different paths, and then ran into each other decades later at the pool hall. Realized life didn’t turn out the way they hoped and formed a tag team.


I should also say, it’s kinda clear that they’re running this match in a big way too. There’s one point where JD Drake cuts off Pillman in a “Hey, we’re setting up the finish gtfo,” kinda way, not in a “cutting you off to get heat” kinda way.


They, of course, put over the blondes, who are… not my favorite.


Match 2 vs. Oliver Sawyer & Manny Lo, Dark Ep 159

Fuck yeah MATCHING GEAR. So much better.

They start working over Manny Lo first, and I think I love Anthony Henry smugly taunting partners. It’s really sleazy. They squash these kids getting over their spots and offense, which is fun. All their shit looks solid. Drake does a cannonball into the corner and he gets a lot of height on it so he bounces off the middle and top rope. It just looks different than what, say Kevin Owens does.

Post match they do a little promo to try and get over their blue collar work ethic.

There is a comical spot where they go to do their catch phrase “WE’RE GONNA PUNCH IN… AND KNOCK OUT… THE WORKHORSEMEN.” and they’re not totally in sync with it. Like you can see Anthony Henry looking at Drake like “We’re gonna do that phrase we talked about earlier right?” And Drake kind of begrudgingly goes along with it.


It’s actually kind of endearing.


Match 3 vs. The Hughes Brothers, Dark Ep. 176

Booo 17 episodes later and Anthony Henry is back in his anarchist “Henry” tights and Drake has switched to black long tights. I liked the blue undies. Also Drake’s boots are terrible.


HOLD UP WAIT A MINUTE. Excalibur just said the Hughes Brothers are 2nd generation wrestlers. Are we saying they’re the sons of Mr. Hughes?!?! Could be awesome or awful, let's find out!


Drake lets the brothers get some shine in, bumping around for their armdrags and shit. Nothing special. At one point one of the brothers gets a little lost, and grabs a headlock so Drake can tell him what to do next.


I just realized that JD Drake’s wrestling singlet is a different shade of black(it’s more purple) than the pants he’s wearing, and both are different than they vinyl boots he’s working. I can’t even with this guy.


They go for the double tag spot and Anthony has to tell which ever brother he’s in the ring with to go make a tag so the spot works.


Honestly you get the impression the whole match that this is a chore with them and they’re kinda going through the motions. Even Anthony Henry’s soccer kick to the back is half-hearted.


They do a couple signature moves and clock out of this one.


Match 4 vs. Orange Cassidy & Danhausen, Dark Ep. 185

…… NEW GEAR AGAIN! So shiny so clean.

The opening bit is Henry and OC doing a bunch of quick counters. Pretty much your standard Orange Cassidy armdrag opening gambit.

Danhausen gets tagged in and calls for JD Drake. They do some tests of strength as Danhausen is delisional about his physical prowess, and we get another “I hate you” from Drake. Never stop.


Cassidy and ‘hausen do a cutesy little turnbuckle clothesline spot that ends with the ever popular OC Hands in the Pocket. Drake doesn’t let the people celebrate long, and cuts it off, following it up with a Hands in the Singlet taunt.


This the main event of the show so the Workhorsemen get to be in control for an extended period of time, and they just work really well together. Drake is really nimble for a guy his size too, he definitely stands out switching between lumbering big man stuff and doing more dexterous fare like a slingshot senton. I think my favorite move he did was a tossing Orange Cassidy into the ropes while they were outside, and then just clubbing the shit out of him as he came down.


There’s a good synergy to the team, as Drake has his own style, updating Bam Bam Bigelow with some modern athleticism, and Henry is kinda your prototypical indie guy from 2007-20?? that can do the fast pace pseudo lucha exchanges. Makes the team pretty versatile as they can work with probably anyone.


Fun match.


Match 5 vs. The Acclaimed, Dark Secial 03/04/2023


Whew they’re keeping the new gear. I’m glad. It looks like they invested in it…. but what’s this? Their jumbotron video has them in their old stuff? Gotta update those headshots guys.


When the Acclaimed wrestle it feels like a party that is “this” close to getting out of control.


There are a couple of miscues in this one, sadly, both involved typical Workhorsemen spots that the Acclaimed seemingly didn’t get the memo on. The first was the Russian Leg Sweep/Big Boot combo, that Max Caster needed to counter a little differently for the result to make sense. The other was the spot Drake did to Orange Cassidy in the last match the I loved, but instead of bouncing off the ropes – Anthony Bowen flew into the ring, and then had to crawl over to get punched in the face.


Both teams probably have a much better match than this one in them.



I like these guys enough. If they had a match I wouldn’t skip it, and if they wrestled a team I liked I’d probably seek it out. Is there an FTR match?


However, there are some moments where you can see their energy drop if shit goes side ways, and it lingers for a while. Something that a live performer really has to work out.


Good recommendation.

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I like JD Drake a lot.  In another era he seems like a guy whose Worldwide matches we would be gushing about.

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