Editorial Columns

TWM’s Wrestling Football XI

With the Premier League beginning, Tom Walton creates TWM’s very own wrestling starting eleven.

It’s that time of year again where the best league in the most popular sport in the world starts up again.

No, I’m not talking about the NJPW G1, that’s finishing, not starting.

I’m talking about the Premier League, upon us once more, which means football (I will NOT call it the S word) is going to be taking over TV for the foreseeable future. As a big fan of both wrestling and football, I know I’ll be tuning into both as much as possible, whether that means catching up on Match of the Day while on the coach to the Electric Ballroom, or enjoying highlights of NXT during halftime of the Merseyside Derby.

With the start of a new season, I decided it’s a chance to create what I see as a ‘Dream Team’ made out of wrestlers I believe would be best suited for each role. I’ve tried to take into account numerous factors – speed, aggression, build, technique and current popularity. 

Also, this one is going to be men only. If you like this one, I’m going to attempt one for the start of the Women’s Super League at the start of September. This is just my take.  Everyone is going to have some differences with my picks, and that’s fine. If every team had the same players, it would be pretty boring to watch!

Goalkeeper – Mark Davis

I think I changed my mind on this position about 4 times until I settled on Mark Davis.  I always looked at wanting a big man with an unusual athletic ability in the ring for this position. The point to this is that he needs to be an imposing figure in the box with the ability to be able to dive into those far-reaching corners for last-ditch saves.  Recently seeing Mark Davis pull off a springboard sunset flip, I don’t know why I didn’t see him as my first choice from the start. The goalkeeper also needs to have stable hands that can pack a punch, and as someone who has been on the receiving end of a Davis high five (on numerous occasions) then we all know he would be able to punch away any ball halfway down the field!

Center Back’s – The Revival

CB’s need to have a sixth sense amongst each other.  They need to know exactly what the other is doing and where they’re going, which is why I knew straight away I wanted a tag team in these positions. Growing up in the ’90s with British football, I want my centre backs to be no-nonsense, clear the ball at any cost. The old saying ‘If in doubt, kick it out’ makes its way out of my mouth at least 5 times a game. Doesn’t that completely fit in with the mantra for the Revival ‘No Flips, Just Fists’? Their approach to wrestling is perfect for my centre back pairing. 

Full Back’s – The Young Bucks

Fullbacks need to have many different qualities. High levels of fitness, great awareness and decision making, being calm and composed on the ball and have fantastic communication are all important. You also want your fullbacks to have that attacking flair when they get the chance to rampage down that wing. The Young Bucks are perfect for these roles. They’re entertaining yet always have a sense of calm and composure in the ring. Communication isn’t a problem due to their history as a tag team and their decision making is brilliant, not just in the ring but on the business side as well.

Defensive Midfielder – Zack Gibson

I always look at your defensive midfield as someone who is always switched on. A player who will always lay in with the cheap tackles and do the dirty work that the rest of your team may not want to get involved with. When I started putting together this team, Zac Gibson was always going to fit in somewhere. The Liverpudlian is so passionate about wrestling and football that he had to make the team.  With his underhanded tactics in the ring, seeing some of these dark arts translate into the beautiful game automatically puts him into the deep midfield role. His tag team expertise will lead will into linking up easily with the centre backs.

Center Midfielder (box to box) – Will Ospreay

A box-to-box midfielder is someone who keeps on going above and beyond what is expected of him. Someone who can play the defensive role that might sometimes be needed, but also push up the field and attack the opposing team. With Ospreay’s transition from junior to a more heavyweight based attack style over the last 12 months, this mirrors those aspects of the role. This is someone who never fails to impress, doing what he can to help the team and puts in top performances doing so consistently. I’m sure when given time on the ball he’ll throw in some tricks and flips.

Center Midfielder (playmaker) – Kenny Omega

Centre circle marked out on muddy local football pitch with stud marks

This is the position I really struggled with. For the playmaker, you want someone who controls the flow of the game. Great vision, impeccable technique and unmatched creativity. All we need to do is look at Omega’s body of work of the last 5 years and it’s easy to see why I’ve leant towards him. From being the leader of Bullet Club, to winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, to being one of the leading players in AEW’s future, this is a man who will lead a company to great heights. Along with his midfield partner, he is looked at as one of the best wrestlers in the world today. He has immense technique and ability in the ring and his creative mind is up there with the best in the business. It’s my belief that he’ll be involved in most main storylines in AEW and will be pulling the strings for the company, which would make him the perfect playmaker.

Wingers – Ricochet and Kofi Kingston

Speed and technique. There are few things better than seeing a skilful winger running past defenders down the line, showing off skill moves lifted directly from FIFA then delivering an inch-perfect cross into the box. On one side you have Ricochet, who possesses all the speed and flamboyance of the great wingers in today’s game.  On the opposite wing, you have the current WWE Champion. I look at Kofi’s story of the pacy winger worker who slogged his guts out in the lower leagues (mid card) and finally has the chance he deserves in the best league in the world. Mirrors the story of Jamie Vardy at Leicester a couple of years back. 

Striker – Randy Orton

Cross into the box, outta nowhere (obviously), goal. Simple. Nothing else to say for this one, he can strike at any time.

Manager – Paul Heyman

In a time when managers don’t have as much prominence as they did in the past, there is only one name that comes to mind. If Heyman was a football manager, he would possess the business acumen to get the best players in. He would have the enthusiasm to energize players and fans alike. I see him as having the tactical knowledge of Pep Guardiola, the public appeal of Jurden Kloop and the ability to annoy opponents like Jose Mourinho.

So those are my picks. I’m sure everyone has their own version of this with many differences. What changes would you make? Would you change formation? If you could make the perfect bench, who would feature? Let us know.

I look forward to making the female version of this, I’m sure it’s going to be just as, if not more, difficult.

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You can find me on Twitter @TDWalton. Thanks for reading.

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