Special Report: CNWA National Title Tournament
-all research provided by Vance Nevada; based on article ‘Unified Front’ by Vance Nevada
Welcome MPW fans! The September 8th tournament to determine the inaugural CNWA National Title tournament was one wild night in Red Deer. The resulting shockwaves continue to ripple across the territories and the futures of both the bright and the vicious of Canadian independent wrestling. If you missed it… well, you must be really frustrated for details right now, but we can fix you up right here!
But first, a quick history lesson:
Canadian wrestling, like all of North America, has always recognized a territorial system of professional wrestling. Dating back to wrestling’s earliest origins more than 100 years ago, promoters recognized a region as their promotional radius, largely stuck to that zone and presented their brand with their own champions. For Canada, the territories were historically Vancouver (All Star Wrestling); Calgary (Stampede Wrestling); Winnipeg (a branch of the Minnesota-based American Wrestling Association); Toronto (Maple Leaf Wrestling); Montreal (International Wrestling); and the Canadian Maritimes.
Today, CNWA President of Wrestling Operations Vern May coordinated an alliance between eight promoters across the western half of Canada, with a single goal in mind – to unify the voice of Canadian wrestling in a meaningful way. This has included sharing of resources, coordination of schedules to allow for more coordinated talent sharing, and also efforts to create a more visible presence for independent wrestling in the country as a whole … of course, that also required to crown a champion.
For this tournament, entry was restricted to champions among the territorial circuits, and in accordance with that, invitations were sent out:
- All Star Wrestling (Vancouver, BC): Disco Fury – Cruiserweight champion
- Big West Wrestling (Kelowna, BC): K.C. Andrews – Television champion
- Canadian Wrestling’s Elite (Winnipeg, MB): Mentallo – CNWA Provincial champion
- Gold Dragon Wrestling (Moose Jaw, SK): Principal Pound – Heavyweight champion
- Maniac Wrestling Alliance (Prince George, BC): The Mauler – Heavyweight champion
- Monster Pro Wrestling (Edmonton, AB): Tyler James – Heavyweight champion
- Pure Power Wrestling (Lethbridge, AB): Bobby Sharp – Heavyweight champion
- Cauliflower Alley Club (Rolla, MO): Kyle Sebastian – Future Legend award winner
This was a powerful lineup to be sure, but as often happens in such a chaotic industry, promoters had one change to announce at the opening bell: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Gold Dragon Wrestling champion Principal Pound was unable to compete, therefore, a battle royal would open the card with the winner receiving the wildcard spot in the championship tournament. There was no concern about lack of signups for the royal. Many wrestlers from across the territories had made the trek with no guarantee of any spot on the loaded card. And when that window opened up there was a rush on the promoter’s clipboard to throw their names on the list.
Once the bell rang, the battle royal was fierce and packed. Cross-regional grudges began to bubble as styles clashed. The final minutes were controversial – as the popular Massive Damage appeared to have scored the win before being ousted in a referee-ignored sneak attack by A.J. Sanchez. However, Sanchez’ credentials are not controversial. The CWE tag team co-champion was recently announced as having earned a spot in Mexico’s AAA promotion for a tour later this fall, and was certainly qualified as a suitable replacement for the vacant bracket.
The tournament’s first round action got underway with the brash, outspoken K.C. Andrews surprising the audience on hand when he arrived accompanied by legendary Stampede Wrestling manager and former leader of the Karachi Vice, Abu Wizal in his corner. Andrews, who has declared himself the first CNWA champion since the tournament was announced in February appeared additionally confident as he headed to the ring against Edmonton’s Tyler James. James has had a momentous year in 2012, filled with a number of big wins including the inaugural reign as CNWA Provincial Champion. James started quickly and pushed his ‘Wild Child’ style to consistent advantages over Andrews’ epic aggression. However the experienced assist from Abu Wizal proved to be the crucial swing and Andrews advanced to the next round.
K.C. and Abu could now lay back and scout out the match to determine his next opponent. In perhaps one of the biggest contrasts in tournament pairings, ‘Future Legend’ Kyle Sebastian, a lean 217 pounder headed to the ring against the 285 pound Mauler. The larger man, best known for his participation in hardcore and unorthodox matches has seen success from coast to coast in Canada, at one time holding championships at both ends of the country simultaneously. Sebastian, lauded by the wrestling industry as a future legend, and who is best known for his appearance on the reality TV series “World of Hurt” with WWE Hall of Famer Roddy Piper, was considered an odds on favorite to go all the way by many fans. The match was surprisingly aggressive and couldn’t be contained in the ring. In the end, both wrestlers were counted out, eliminating themselves from the tournament. No doubt K.C. Andrews was smiling at this turn of events, giving him an easy bye to the tournament finals.
Action continued with 23 year old Bobby Sharp against the wildcard A.J. Sanchez. This was a challenge for Sharp, who had trained to meet Pound in the opening round. However, Sharp and Sanchez was one of the most evenly contested bouts of the first round, with both men seeming to be on the verge of victory a number of times through the bout. Eventually Sharp caught Sanchez in the turnbuckle and a top rope head scissor concluded the match … but not before Sanchez left a dire mark. Sharp hobbled to the back favoring his shoulder, later revealed to be a shoulder injury suffered midway through this contest.
The final match of the opening round featured a match up pairing two alumni of storied Japanese promotions. Mentallo has made nine tours of Japan in the past few years, primarily for SMASH Wrestling. And Disco Fury, himself a former NWA Canadian junior heavyweight champion, has starred in two tours for IWA Japan. The match up between the two proved to be a textbook display of Japanese mat psychology, complete with offense heavily based in kicks and acrobatics. Fans definitely revelled at the spectacle of technical one-upsmanship in this showdown, which ended with Mentallo, the current CNWA Provincial champion, scoring the win and officially closing the tournament’s first round.
The semi-final round opened with K.C. Andrews, who had the fortunate position to wrestle first and then draw a bye in the second round, cockily pulling up a chair next to Scotty Sweatervest at the t.v. table. From this perch K.C. could provide color commentary while also getting a look close up at both of his potential foes in the final round. Sharp came to the ring clearly favoring his left shoulder, a demonstrated vulnerability which was not lost on his masked opponent and the arm was quickly targeted for a variety of offense. Throughout the match, fans and industry insiders alike watched with keen interest … nobody daring to place a wager on the outcome. When it looked like Mentallo had the match all tied up, Sharp surprised him with a low bridge to bring his shoulders to the mat long enough to secure the required three count.
The fans were in a frenzied state when the two finalists took to the ring to decide the first National champion. The locker room emptied and the entire roster on hand stood on the balcony above the ring, knowing that the outcome of this match could have significance on their own careers and championship aspirations in the near future. Sharp, favoring his shoulder more than ever that evening came to the ring, greeted by trash talk from Andrews and a litany of indistinguishable slurs from his manager, Wizal.
The match that played out was a see saw battle which saw both wrestlers pull out all the stops – recognizing that either of them was just moments away from securing their place in wrestling history. Andrews went to work immediately on Sharp’s shoulder, as soon as the bell rang and through his own sadistic and methodical offence, as well as the frequent assist from his corner man on the outside, dominated the early part of the match up.
Sharp rallied, countering Andrews’ offense and evening the playing field by blasting Abu with a thunderous punch at ringside to neutralize his influence on the proceedings. The 23 year old Sharp would go on to conquer the arrogant Andrews and snatch the first CNWA National championship. As his peers, fans and CNWA officials poured into the ring to celebrate his success, Sharp’s nine year climb to the top of Canadian wrestling had been realized!
A fantastic display of sheer endurance for the lion warrior, but if Andrews’ attitude after the match is any indication, Sharp has just entered a whole new world of predators and prey. All gunsights unified and trained upon the reborn gold around Sharp’s waist. And that unified front is exactly what the CNWA brings to the modern starved wrestling fan.
-adaptations contributed by Johnny W.