Ever since word began to trickle out late Monday night that former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville had possibly walked out on the WWE during Raw and requested his release, the internet community and wrestling world has been a buzz with the intrigue. Reports have varied from source to source, but things definitely seem to be pointing to the fact that Neville did indeed walk out in apparent frustration. Whether he’s granted his release or things are smoothed over this week still remains to be seen. At the time of writing, neither the WWE nor Neville himself have issued any comment on the situation.
But should Neville find himself “future endeavoured” or “mutually” granted his release from the WWE, it opens up a floodgate of opportunities for the man formerly known worldwide on the indies as PAC. Granted, back in 2012 when PAC signed with the WWE, he was considered one of the great high flyers in the world. But in 2017, the indie landscape has exploded with opportunity – just ask former WWE Superstar Cody Rhodes – and his native United Kingdom’s wrestling scene has become an international sensation, thanks to the likes of PROGRESS, ICW, Rev Pro, OTT, WCPW, IPW:UK and many, many more. PAC in 2017 stands to make a lot more money on the independent scene that 2012 PAC ever did.
With a storied indie career prior to joining the WWE – he’d been wrestling for eight years on the indies before heading to NXT – Neville, as PAC, could revisit some legendary feuds with old foes (or friends), most of whom have emerged as bigger stars now than they themselves were in 2012 and earlier. Unlike Cody, he wouldn’t need to create a random list of dream opponents (although he probably could) – a whirlwind visit through his past could easily produce a solid year’s worth of matches that would be amazing stuff for old and new fans alike. Here’s a look at 11 possibilities we would love to see happen should Neville return to the indies as PAC, “The King of the Indies”, based on if he was granted his release by November 1st (which would mean his no-compete would expire on February 1, 2018).
#1. NJPW BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIORS 2018
Neville was just entering his prime when he competed in his first NJPW Best of the Super Juniors in 2012. This annual showcase tournament has become one of the most prestigious and anticipated tourneys in pro wrestling, featuring wrestlers, ironically, in what would be akin to the same Cruiserweight Division he just left in WWE. But in NJPW, the Junior Heavyweight Division is treated with far more respect, by the fans, media and wrestlers alike. As PAC, Neville did extraordinarily well for his first time, making it to the final four of the field of 18, that included Prince Devitt (aka Finn Balor), Low Ki and eventual winner Ryusuke Taguchi (who defeated PAC in the Semi-Finals). But his first BOTSJ ended up being his final one, as he joined the WWE later that year. With the tournament running through May and June of 2018, Neville would be more than able to return to the tournament, where he could have some dream match-ups with the likes of Will Ospreay, Dragon Lee, or 2017’s winner, KUSHIDA.
#2. PWG BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES 2018
Much like NJPW’s Best of the Super Juniors, Neville only ever competed in one of PWG‘s Battle of Los Angeles events. And while today it’s another of the most highly regarded indie tournaments in the world, when PAC entered BOLA in 2007, it was only the company’s third BOLA in their short history. While he wrestled sporadically with PWG over six years (2006 until he joined NXT in 2012), he spent nearly a full year with the company from late 2006 through 2007, facing the likes of Kevin Steen (aka Kevin Owens), El Generico (aka Sami Zayn), AJ Styles, and Joey Ryan, winning PWG World Tag Team gold with Roderick Strong, and challenging for the PWG World title on two occasions, both in defeat, against Chris Hero (aka Kassius Ohno) and El Generico. But BOLA in 2017 is a far bigger deal that it was back in those formative years, and Neville returning for 2018’s in the early days of September would be a delicious treat to see him interact with a lot of the indie’s top emerging stars.
#3. wXw 16 CARAT GOLD 2018
While a top UK star in the late 2000s, one of PAC’s frequent destinations was Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw), which has now emerged as one of the most recognized major indie promotions in Europe. One of its tournaments, 16 Carat Gold, has earned the same kind of prestige in Europe that BOLA has in North America and like BOLA and BOTSJ, Neville has tasted it once before. PAC was a part of the field for the 2007 16 Carat Gold, but fared poorly (in comparison to the other two), losing in the opening round elimination match against rival El Generico. But he still found great success in wXw, as a 2x wXw Light Heavyweight Champion, which included a solid rivalry with Tommy End (aka Aleister Black). His no-compete clause with the WWE (should he get released by November 1st) would give him a month to get into ring shape, as wXw’s 2018 edition is in March.
#4. DEFIANT WRESTLING
With WhatCulture Pro Wrestling (WCPW) about to rebrand and separate from WhatCulture as Defiant Wrestling in December of this year, they’ll be working extra hard to promote itself just a little bit more, as it will be without the safety net of WhatCulture’s stability. Adding a homegrown talent like Neville – WCPW frequently uses Neville’s hometown of Newcastle, England as one of their main stops – would give Defiant a major boost in international presence with a UK indie legend with current mainstream appeal. He’d easily fit in programs for any of the titles, from the World Heavyweight to the Internet to the Tag Team, and potentially facing off against new opponents like Gabriel Kidd, Joseph Conners, Martin Kirby and Joe Hendry is an exciting prospect. Not to mention, he has history with El Ligero, going all the way back to 3CW in 2006, and veteran Doug Williams.
#5. MARK HASKINS, MARTY SCURLL & ZACK SABRE JR.
In the years leading up to this departure to the WWE, Neville was a frequent tag partner of Mark Haskins in battles against a brash upstart tag team called the Leaders of the New School, featuring young stars Zack Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurll. But while PAC became Neville in the WWE Universe, the other three have become three of the top UK wrestlers in the world. Haskins has gone on to become PROGRESS World Champion and hold the top titles in OTT (ireland) and Smash Wrestling (Canada). “The Villain” Marty Scurll is a 2x PROGRESS World Champion, ROH Television Champion, RevPro British Heavyweight Champion and the current reigning WCPW World Champion, not to mention one of the most popular members of the Bullet Club. And Zack Sabre Jr. has become one of the world’s top technical wizards, the reigning 2x RevPro British Heavyweight Champion and EVOLVE Champion, former PWG World Champion and a member of Minoru Suzuki‘s Suzuki-Gun faction in NJPW. The scenarios with the four of them would be endless – PAC and Haskins also feuded as well as partnered – and could span countless promotions across the UK and Europe.
Barring the rumours of Ricochet heading to the WWE around the same time Neville’s no-compete would expire, these two could tear it up anywhere on the planet, from NJPW to Ring of Honor to PWG. And they have history too, going back as far as 2007. They first crossed paths in CHIKARA in 2007, but their rivalry didn’t get high gear until they both landed in Japan with Dragon Gate from 2011 through 2012. For nearly a year, they fought each other, in singles and tag team action, including tag team wars between PAC’s WORLD-1 (with BxB Hulk and Masato Yoshino) against Ricochet’s Blood Warriors (with CIMA and Naruki Doi).
#7. MATT CROSS
One of Neville’s earliest rivals was none other that “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross, back in 2007 and 2008. They two fought across Europe in Fighting Spirit Federation (FSF) in France, Rings of Europe (RoE) in Austria, New Wrestling Entertainment (NWE) in Italy, IPW:UK in England, and Asociación Española de Wrestling (AEW) in Spain. Their last match together was a Fatal 4-Way alongside El Generico and “The Canadian Destroyer” Petey Williams with Resistance Pro in Chicago in 2012, shortly before he joined NXT. Since then, Matt Cross has become a crossover star in Lucha Underground as Son of Havoc and is one of the hardest working guys on the indie scene – and still touring across Europe and beyond. This feud could take place nearly anywhere in the world.
#8. AUSTIN ARIES
It would be kind of fitting and a poke in the eye of WWE creative if Neville faced off against his former 205 Live rival Austin Aries in a longer, indie style match-up. The two clearly had chemistry, but the limitations from WWE’s creative and television made it feel less than it should have. Austin Aries similarly left the WWE over seeming frustrations with the lead ceiling he had in the Cruiserweight division just a few months ago himself. Let these two loose in PWG, House of Hardcore – well, anywhere really that isn’t WWE – and it could be a potential Match of the Year.
#9. BULLET CLUB
Yes, it’s becoming a bit of a punch line with everyone leaving any promotion being offered a spot in Bullet Club, but Neville could actually be a decent addition. He has history with Marty Scurll and he could possibly form a team with Scurll in NJPW battles against Scurll’s former partner Zack Sabre Jr. and Suzuki-Gun. Scurll at least seems interested in that idea…
#10. WILL OSPREAY
If PAC returns to the Best of the Super Juniors, it would be inevitable he’d encounter Will Ospreay, who’s arguably been the highlight reel of the last two BOTSJs. But this battle of the English fliers would hardly be contained to simply NJPW. Ospreay is a regular with WCPW (soon to be Defiant Wrestling) and countless other UK promotions, including Ospreay’s own Lucha Forever. Should #9 come true – of PAC joining Bullet Club – it could also lead to Bullet Club vs. CHAOS match-ups in NJPW and ROH. And it seems this match-up is something that Ospreay is already pondering.
Good lord, could you imagine PAC vs @WillOspreay?
Yes I could. https://t.co/9U6TdMsFTX
What if indeed https://t.co/aqLyc4IOmp
#11. BRYAN DANIELSON
If – and that’s a big IF – Daniel Bryan indeed leaves the WWE next year when his contract runs out and he does indeed return to wrestling, there’s a very real chance that we could see these two collide. After all, they have tangled twice before, long before either were in the WWE Universe. The first encounter was during a brief stint PAC had in Ring of Honor in 2007, when he fought Bryan Danielson at Caged Rage. They fought the second match two years later, with IPW:UK in England in 2009. Danielson is 2-0 against PAC, but PAC could hold the advantage this time, being in better ring shape. This would be a dream match for any promotion, but it would be ideal for a Ring of Honor event, like say Final Battle 2018 or SuperCard of Honor XIII in 2019.
So what would be some of your dream matches if PAC returned to the indies? Let us know in the comments below!