June 1, 2007
NWA title tourney set to begin
By FRED JOHNS - SLAM! Wrestling
The NWA Title Tournament, which officially kicks off Saturday, June 2, will finally give some of the wrestlers working on the independent scene what they have long craved: a shot at the prestigious NWA World Title. It's a shot many wrestlers believe is long, long overdue.
"One of the main marching orders that I got was that we had great wrestlers working in our territories and promotions who wanted shots at their world title," said Robert K. Trobich, the Executive Director of the National Wrestling Alliance. "I pledged that I would work for them and as the months went on and on it just got more and more frustrating."
In a video interview broadcast on the official NWA website, Trobich said he tried to get some of the NWA talent a shot at Christian Cage's title only to see "wrestlers who had been retired for five years get thrust into a title shot because they had a recognizable name and some nice face paint."
That didn't go over too well with many of the NWA regional champions, men like Adam Pearce, the current Heritage Champion, who believed that he at least deserved a shot. "A lot of people are talking about this championship," he said in his own You Tube video. "[The NWA Title] is the title that means everything to everyone in the wrestling business whether they want to admit it or not."
Trobich had no choice but to listen. "I started getting calls, emails and videos from the wrestlers themselves, demanding and pleading just to get a shot at the title. Something had to be done."
That's when the NWA split with TNA and the decision was made to hold a 16-man tournament to crown a new NWA Heavyweight Champion. "It could have been a 32-man tournament or a 64-man tournament with all the talent we have in these regional promotions," Trobich said, "but we just don't have time for that."
Trobich got on the phone with NWA promoters all over North America and the field was narrowed down to 16 men. "That was the hard part," he said. "We selected the 16 men who we think are on the top of the list." The tournament will run through the summer, with the semi-finals being held in mid-August. The location for the finals has not been disclosed as yet.
The consensus around the wrestling community seems to be that this tournament was the right way to go. "I see this as a huge opportunity for wrestlers who would otherwise only be able to compete for regional championships," said NWA's David Marquez. "Regional stars will now have the opportunity to fight for the most prestigious prize in our industry."
"To hold the NWA Title, there's no question it would be an honour," Nelson Creed, Bryan Danielson's opponent in one of the first round matches of the tournament, said. "The NWA Title represents something quite different than the WWE Title does. Yes, the title was a little sullied and tarnished with that whole WCW, TNA fiasco, but they're making a huge step in the right direction by making the wrestling important. It's the right direction. People have forgotten the legacy of the title and about those epic Flair vs. Steamboat hour-long matches but it will come back and that is really what the NWA is going for."
Adam Pearce, who faces Aaron Aguilera (JÚsus in WWE) in the first round, agreed with Creed. "It's about the prestige, tradition and honour. It's the title all the greats have worn in the past and the title the greats of the future strive to wear, including myself."
Other first round matches include Fergal Devitt vs. Mikey Nicholls, Damien Wayne vs. Chad Parham, Brent Albright (Gunner Scott) vs. Osamu Nishimura, Glamour Boy Shane vs. Fred Sampson, Roughneck Ryan vs. Sicodelico Jr and Pepper Parks vs. Claudio Castagnoli. Most consider "The American Dragon" Bryan Danielson to be the pre-tournament favourite.
Some of the names may be unfamiliar, but Trobich assured wrestling fans that they were all worthy of a title shot. "We are on the verge of a new day here in the NWA," he said. "We simply couldn't wait any longer."
Fred Johns is one of those pseudo-journalist types, you know the ones that think they know a thing or two about the West Coast wrestling scene. Feel free to argue with him -- email@example.com.