Tales of a Buffalo Kid: Shining a light on Daniel Garcia

Daniel Garcia has quickly become a name to know in the world of professional wrestling. Having only been wrestling for four years, Daniel has quickly taken the wrestling world by storm. Last week alone, he wrestled CM Punk, Minoru Suzuki, Alex Shelley, and Davey Richards. For many independent superstars, a match with any of these wrestlers would be a success, let alone all four in consecutive days. For Daniel Garcia, this is just another week at the office.

In one of his first matches on AEW television, commentary touted Garcia’s schedule, having wrestled six matches in the previous seven days. He is a true workhorse in the world of professional wrestling, something that has become a dying breed. Since signing with AEW, Garcia has been partnered with the always entertaining 2.0 and has developed an interesting attitude that meshes well with the duo.

2.0 & Danny Garcia Arrive In AEW, Call Out Moxley, Kingston & Allin For Dynamite

While he is confirmed to have been signed to a full time contract with AEW, Garcia continues to showcase his skill on the independent scene. Continuing to wrestle with the best and become one of the best in his own right, has been a goal of Garcia’s since day one.

Daniel Garcia began training to become a professional wrestler in early 2017, beginning with the Grapplers Anonymous school in Lackawanna, New York. Born in Buffalo, New York, Garcia was familiar with the local school and began training as soon as he could. He trained under local wrestler Pepper Parks (now AEW’s the Blade), and would make his in-ring debut relatively early in his training. 

Garcia’s first match was in February 2017, for the Lackawanna based Nickel Championship Wrestling, where he would face Mikey Evernight. Garcia would face Evernight once again in April before making his debut for another Upstate NY based independent wrestling promotion, Empire State Wrestling, in June of 2017. 

Daniel Garcia wrestling for ESW in June of 2017

Garcia wrestled as much as possible while trying to balance his independent wrestling aspirations with his regular job and attending college classes. Even with this heavy workload, his dedication to his craft remained strong as he began traveling outside of the Upstate NY area to places like Ohio and Pennsylvania. During this time, he made his debut for the Ohio based Rockstar Pro Amped and the Pennsylvania based Pro Wrestling Rampage. 

Over the last year, Garcia has faced a number of dream opponents but early on he would face an interesting name as well. In September of 2017, Garcia teamed with Rob Sweet to take on Hurricane Helms and Randy Philbrick in a tag team match for Empire State Wrestling. Despite coming up short, it was a great opportunity for Garcia early on to work with a veteran in this capacity and gain some knowledge as a wrestler. 

In 2018, Garcia would make his first appearance internationally as an independent wrestler, traveling to Canada to perform for Smash wrestling. While in Canada, Garcia would have matches with several prominent names, including AEW’s Stu Grayson. During this time, Garcia would also wrestle fellow prominent Upstate NY names like Dick Justice, Kevin Blackwood, and AEW’s The Butcher & The Blade. 

Daniel Garcia wrestling for the Canadian based SMASH in 2018.

Garcia kept busy during 2018, working over 17 matches in the first six months alone. He was working a very consistent schedule wrestling a number of quality opponents and started to generate a buzz for himself. In July of 2018, Garcia would get his first opportunity to wrestle for a major company. It was only a short enhancement match against Drew Gulak on 205 Live, but was still a sign of things to come. After appearing on 205 Live, Garcia continued to perform for Smash in Canada and other prominent upper North East promotions. 

Durin this time, Daniel Garcia traveled and worked closely with a group of friends from Buffalo known as The Buffalo Brothers. This group consisted of Garcia, Kevin Bennett, Kevin Blackwood, and Puf. Garcia would have matches with notable Canadian independent wrestlers Evil Uno and Tyson Dux. His matches with Dux were pivotal in his growth, as Garcia credits Dux as being someone who helped teach him and influence him over the years.  

Garcia rounded out 2018 as a complete independent work horse. He wrestled a total of 30 matches over the last six months of 2018, keeping a consistent schedule working almost every weekend of the year. He remained primarily in the North East, at times traveling from New Jersey or Philadelphia to Ontario Canada in a matter of days to make dates for separate promotions.

While 2018 saw Daniel Garcia making waves in the independent scene, the next year looked promising. Unfortunately, January of 2019 started with an unexpected accident. While traveling back from a show in Canada, the car Garcia was traveling in would hit a patch of black ice and crash into a guardrail. Garcia was riding back with the rest of the Buffalo Brothers when the accident occurred. Fortunately Puf and Kevin Bennett only suffered minor injuries. 

Daniel Garcia and Kevin Blackwood however, would both be taken in for emergency surgery. Kevin Blackwood suffered two broken ankles while Garcia had a broken femur on one leg and a broken ankle on the other. The injuries kept both men sidelined, but the perseverance of both allowed them to return within six months. Garcia was working on his injured leg within a week of getting a rod put in his broken femur. 

Nine days after the accident Garcia posted a promo to social media. He was in his wheelchair, still in the hospital, and called out fellow Upstate NY wrestler Brandon Thurston. Garcia was set to face Thurston at an upcoming ESW event, but instead Thurston would be given a championship match with Pepper Parks due to Garcia’s injury. Garcia noted this and also noted that he wasn’t sure when he would return, but when he did, everyone in the Buffalo scene needed to step up or step out. 

In March of 2019, Garcia would appear at an ESW event and get face to face with ESW Champion Brandon Thurston. While getting in the ring, Garcia threw his crutches to the ground, showing the progress he had already made up to this point. Garcia continued to rehab until June, when he would make his in-ring return in Canada against Stu Grayson. He made his Buffalo return eight days later, challenging Thurston for the ESW Championship. Upon his return to the ring, Garcia hit the ground running. He would begin appearing for a number of new promotions including Beyond, Evolve, Cima’s OWE, and Walter’s WXW, the latter two during showcase events in Ontario, Canada.

Garcia would get to wrestle prominent independent names over the course of 2019 such as Tony Deppen, Christian Casanova, Fred Yehi, T-Hawk, and WALTER, to name a few. He also defeated Josh Alexander to become the C4 Wrestling Champion. Garcia closed out 2019 having wrestled 37 matches for over 15 different promotions. Even with the injuries he had suffered at the beginning of the year, this was only ten less matches than the young workhorse had wrestled the year before, in only half the time. 

His name continued to grow and 2020 looked to be promising for the young superstar, however it was once again cut short. Like basically everyone else in the world, Garcia saw his life completely change due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. He went from wrestling consistently to a complete halt. He wrestled 11 matches in the first three months of the year and looked to continue that workhorse pace, but due to his independent status and the uncertainty of wrestling as a whole, Garcia’s opportunities to wrestle were limited. 

Buffalo Brothers' recover from serious injuries, debut for AEW

His return to in-ring wrestling after once again being sidelined for six months, this time due to the pandemic rather than injury, was for AEW. Garcia and Kevin Blackwood appeared at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville for a taping of AEW Dark. There, they would wrestle Joey Janela & Sonny Kiss as well as The Butcher & The Blade, who trained both Blackwood & Garcia in enhancement matches. While it didn’t immediately lead to a deal, it opened the door up for both superstars to eventually return down the line. 

The opportunities to wrestle remained limited throughout the rest of 2020, but Garcia would remain as busy as possible. He wrestled for the New Jersey based Violence and Suffering in October, ICW in November, and Limitless in December. It wasn’t quite the busy year Garcia may have been expecting, but he still made the best of it. He would wrestle the likes of Kris Statlander, Shane Mercer, Calvin Tankman, Joey Janela, and Lee Moriarty throughout 2020. 

Garcia was one of independent wrestling’s rising stars and having appeared for both AEW and WWE television in the past, it was clear that people were paying attention. In early 2021, it looked as if Garcia would be signed by the WWE. Garcia appeared for WWE’s NXT program in early 2021, losing to Tyler Rust under the name Dante Rios. Shortly after this appearance, it was speculated that Garcia may have signed with WWE as they had trademarked the name Dante Rios. 

Former AEW Extra Works Tonight's WWE NXT Episode - Wrestling Inc.
Garcia wrestling Tyler Rust under the name Dante Rios on WWE NXT. Image courtesy of WWE.

Despite these reports, Garcia continued to wrestle on the independent scene, winning the Limitless title from Christian Casanova. He also wrestled on GCW’s Fight Forever event, as part of the Violence and Suffering promotion’s block taking on Atticus Cogar. Garcia appeared for GCW’s Collective event in April, where he would wrestle a total of seven matches for four promotions in three days. 

As independent wrestling opened up more in the beginning of 2021, Garcia would wrestle some other rising names he had yet to encounter. He would wrestle similar rising names like Lee Moriarty, Tre Lamar, and JD Drake. In May, Garcia would once again appear for AEW facing a familiar foe in Joey Janela, but also a completely foreign opponent in Lee Johnson. Garcia had wrestled Janela before and seen him on the independent scene, but Lee Johnson was primarily an Atlanta based wrestler before signing with AEW. 

While nothing immediately came of these AEW appearances, Daniel Garcia continued to grind. He wrestled additional shows on the independent scene, making his debut for AAW in Chicago, Paradigm in Indiana, and continuing to wrestle for VxS and Limitless in the Northeast. 

In August of 2021, Garcia would return to AEW alongside two recently released WWE NXT superstars Jeff Parker and Matt Lee, the tag team known as 2.0. They would wrestle Darby Allin, Eddie Kingston, and Jon Moxley in a six man tag at AEW’s Dynamite Homecoming. Despite losing, the trio still made their presence well known. The following week, Garcia would pick up his first AEW victory defeating Fuego Del Sol on the August 10th episode of AEW Dynamite. 

Daniel Garcia made a big splash in AEW, with his first singles match on Dynamite being against AEW star Darby Allin. This would be Garcia’s seventh match in just as many days, including a sixty minute time limit draw with Wheeler Yuta just three days before. Two days later, Garcia would wrestle Jacob Fatu, a week later he would defeat Matt Sydal in a match taped for AEW Dark Elevation. Two days after that, Garcia would appear in the main event of the highly promoted First Dance episode of AEW Rampage against Jon Moxley. Fun fact, Garcia also appeared on NJPW Strong on this night making his debut for NJPW in a taped match. 

This run would continue and hasn’t seemed to slow. Garcia has wrestled a who’s who in professional wrestling throughout the second half of 2021. He wrestled Davey Richards for AAW in Chicago, Tom Lawlor for Black Label Pro, Mike Bailey for C4 Wrestling, Jay White for NJPW, and Dalton Castle for 2CW. In October alone, Garcia has wrestled Davey Richards, Colt Cabana, Alex Shelley, Christopher Daniels, CM Punk, and Minoru Suzuki. 

Daniel Garcia has been on a magnificent run over the last year, becoming one of the top names in all of professional wrestling. On a recent episode of Evil Uno’s Vlog, Garcia confirmed that he has signed with AEW. Less than a week later, Tony Khan announced the signing on Twitter, complete with the “All Elite” graphic. He looks to have a promising future and having wrestled for just over four years, he has already accomplished more than many accomplish in an entire year.

From matches with Shelley to Suzuki, to main eventing AEW Rampage with Moxley and Punk, Garcia has had an insane year. It only looks to get crazier from here as he continues to be a force within AEW now holding a 7-10 record in AEW all time, 7-8 in 2021. Whether he continues to be a workhorse on the independent scene or one of AEW’s top rising stars, Garcia is poised to become one of, if not the best wrestlers in the world.