Pro wrestling is a medium that encompasses several intersections of nerd culture—as evidenced by Xavier Woods’ and Asuka’s successful YouTube gaming channels, every piece of gear owned by one Johnathan Gargano, and rising indie superstar Big Game Leroy being able to deliver head scissors while working on an S Support with Dorothea in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. It’s no different outside the US: icons like Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask are based off of anime and manga characters, and Once In a Century Ace Hiroshi Tanahashi is a die-hard Kamen Rider fan. However, we have yet to see a satisfying combination of the One True Sport with giant robots. Hoping to push wrestling in the right direction, here’s a few mecha that should be piloted by wrestlers.*
*This list is definitive and final.
EVA UNIT 01 (Neon Genesis Evangelion): YOSHI-HASHI
Pairing New Japan’s perennial loser with one of the best regarded mecha anime in history may seem like a weird choice, but there are too many parallels that I can make between Shinji Ikari and YOSHI-HASHI for me to ignore. YOSHI-HASHI is a man burdened by existing—for him to exist is to suffer in every capacity. While not needing to meet the needs of a father figure like Shinji does, he is constantly at the whims of an audience who looks at him with disdain while he is outperformed time and again by his peers. His now infamous run-in to try to help Okada in 2018 comes to mind as a solid reminder of the Hedgehog’s Dilemma and how our attempts towards connection ultimately cause us pain. He’s also well suited for an Eva given that they’re clunky, difficult to control, and entrenched in despair, much like he is.
That being said I’d kill for YOSHI-HASHI to spend 8 minutes coming out to Komm, Süsser Tod.
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Gurren Lagann (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann): JON MOXLEY AND SHOTA UMINO
Jon Moxley in New Japan was one of the best things to witness last year, and what made that all the better was seeing him take budding Young Lion Shota Umino under his wing. Seeing Shooter get rolled up in the ever manic Death Rider’s proclamations of ass kicking and not really minding the trip makes it all the easier to compare their relationship to Gurren Lagann protagonists Kamina and Simon. Kamina, the older of the two, acts as a surrogate brother and role model to the timid orphan Simon while unknowingly encouraging Kamina with his own brand of bravery and determination. While more of a father/son headcanon, there’s no denying how Mox and Shooter stole the hearts of New Japan audiences with their brazen alliance and empowering of one another. Shota’s currently on excursion in England and I’m eagerly awaiting his return and to lose my mind when he modifies Moxley’s finisher to win his first belt.
Gundam EZ-8 (Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team): NICK GAGE
War is hell, and no series has a tougher time getting that point across in spite of their cool robots than Mobile Suit Gundam. The Cool Giant Robot of The 08th MS Team, the Gundam EZ-8, is a reconstruction of another Gundam—it basically died and came back to life, just like Nick Gage did that one time. In a franchise full of vibrant and elaborate mech variants, the EZ-8 stands out by being one of the more grounded Gundam designs that really conveys the experience needed to pilot a giant robot. Nick Gage’s simple ring gear and years of in-ring expertise only add to his electrifying persona, making the EZ-8 a perfect fit for the King of the Deathmatch.
Strelizia (DARLING in the FRANXX): HIROMU TAKAHASHI AND RYU LEE
I’m not gonna lie, this one I picked for sheer virtue of the fact one pilot has to bottom in the cockpit. Who’s the bottom in this pairing? Well that’s for them to figure out in the span of a 26 episode anime. See also: Kagetsu and Hazuki