On Saturday, April 7th, the ECWA (East Coast Wrestling Association) will present their 16th annual Super 8 tournament. Last year, I finally witnessed my first Super 8 that was held in Voorhees, New Jersey. I’ve always been a fan of the independent wrestling promotions because that’s exactly where the new stars of tomorrow will come from. Lately, I’ve gotten into the Delaware promotion that was home to the Super 8 tournament. I kept up with the happenings of ECWA through the years with Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the like. But, for some reason, I never got around to checking out a show. Even after what I felt was a phenomenal Super 8 last year, I still didn’t check out a show until January 7th of this past year. Ironically, the card was titled “New Year’s Resolutions” and was one of the best times I had at a live event in years.
It seems like it’s a good time to “Become a fan all over again” (as goes ECWA’s motto). There are four shows coming up in 7 weeks starting on March 3rd. In the middle of all this action, is the 2012 Super 8. I love tournaments in wrestling. I think the King of the Ring was a great way to get over talent. Heck, the first WWE Pay Per View was a Tournament called “The Wrestling Classic”. The night ECW was born was after the NWA title tournament. Tournaments are a part of wrestling history. It just seems to me that over time the major promotions got away from doing them. I don’t really get why, but as a fan, I miss that aspect of the show.
One of the oldest running tournaments in wrestling history is the Super 8. Past winners include Christopher Daniels, Low Ki, Paul London, and a virtual who’s who of independent wrestling. The tournament has helped launch the career of Daniel Bryan, A.J. Styles, Austin Aries, and last year’s winner, Tommaso Ciampa who landed in Ring of Honor after his march through the Super 8. As such, the prestige and the importance of this event can not be understated.
This year’s Super 8 participants are an exciting mix of top independent talent. Looking at past tournaments, I can honestly say that this is one of the best lineups of talent in the tournament’s history.
The first participant named was the current ECWA Champion, “Greek God” Papadon. After seeing him compete through the wonder of Youtube, and in person against an equally talented Alex Reynolds, I am truly excited for the possibility of seeing the Champ wrestle a possibility of 3 times in one evening. He has a very stiff style, and has some of the best technical wrestling I’ve seen in some time. Not only that, but uses great ring psychology before, during, and after his matches. He has a rare ability in this day and age of telling a great story inside the ring. He easily creates some of the most dramatic matches I’ve seen.
Next announced was the ECWA Mid Atlantic Champion, Kekoa, “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” I’m not totally sold on Kekoa yet. He certainly has the talent as his matches with Adam Cole set the independent scene ablaze. Kekoa brings an great high flying offense coupled with a very solid mat game. He is honestly a dark horse to win the whole thing, or at least be a finalist.
The third entry was quite honestly a new name to me, but Bobby Fish is an exciting grappler best known for his work in Ring of Honor. The guy is a legit fighter who also has fought in one professional MMA fight winning by TKO against Justin Pierpoint. Like I stated, I don’t know much about him. However, from watching the videos on YouTube he looks to be a serious contender.
The fourth man announced was Amazing Red. He’s probably one of the most well known names in the Super 8, and his presence brings a great deal of legitimacy to the tournament. That’s not a knock on the other guys, it’s just that Amazing Red has been a champion where ever he has gone. He’s a former ECWA Champion, 3 time TNA X Division Champion, and a ROH Tag Champion along with a trunk load of regional championships that he’s held. His offense is fast paced and hard hitting, and I’m looking forward to seeing him live in action.
Azrieal is the fifth man entered. He’s currently one half of the CZW Tag Team Champions with Bandido, Jr. From what I’ve seen of him, Azrieal is an exciting high flyer with an unique offense. Here’s a clip made during his travels in JAPW (Jersey All Pro Wrestling).
The sixth man named is the “Handicapped Hero” Gregory Iron. Mr. Iron gained recent headlines when he went to twitter in an attempt to get a spot in the 2012 Royal Rumble. While ultimately he did not get a spot in the Rumble, he did gain the attention and admiration of WWE Champion CM Punk. At a small show for AAW, CM Punk showed up and put over Iron in a memorable shoot (this during Punk’s “Summer of Punk”).
But, besides the feel good story of Gregory Iron (he has cerebral palsy) overcoming the odds and being in the Super 8 at all, he brings some skills to the table as well. He’s an inspiration. You have to respect someone who has to overcome the sorts of obstacles that he’s had to. In additon, just imagine trying to break into a business as cut throat as wrestling while being disabled. Everyday he overcomes the odds, and it will be a treat to see him live.
The seventh wrestler in is the 9 year pro, Kyle Matthews. He’s a bit of an undiscovered gem in the independent scene. He recently wrestled ROH Champion at a PCW show in front of perhaps 20 drunk fans and perhaps the most annoying commentators who blared their inane comments over the PA. While the presentation of the match needed a lot of work, what it was is undeniably one of the best matches you’ve never seen. What’s more apparent after viewing the match is Matthews should not be taken lightly.
Last but not least, the incomparable second generation star, Bandido, Jr. I’ve become quite a fan of this traditional high flyer and look forward to him honoring his father’s legacy by competing in the Super 8. Bandido is my personal favorite in the tournament. He’s going places, and being in the Super 8 should only allow him to reach the next step in the wrestling world.
There you have it. The eight men who will compete to win the 16th Super 8 tournament. Each possible match up is a treat to behold. I really can’t say who the favorite to win the tournament is. All I know is April 7th, 2012 will be a night to remember.