One of the best ways to get noticed in indie wrestling is participating in one of the multitude of tournaments held around the world, from Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) Battle of Los Angeles, to CHIKARA‘s King of Trios, to East Coast Wrestling Association (ECWA) Super 8, to Smash Wrestling‘s The Northern. Tournaments are a great way to showcase emerging talent with established indie superstars, not to mention some fun with some nostalgic heroes making a return to the ring. This weekend, the fourth annual Scenic City Invitational Tournament takes place, as sixteen (16) wrestlers of various degrees of experience fight it out in what is becoming one of the indie wrestling world’s top tournaments. Originally started in Georgia’s Empire Wrestling Entertainment (EWE) in 2015, following the promotion’s closure in 2016, the tournament has gone on to become its own entity. Past winners include Matt Riddle (2017), Gunner Miller (2016) and Jimmy Rave (2015), with competitors including the likes of Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero), Moose, Lio Rush, Kongo Kong, Darby Allin and many more.
Here’s a quick run down at this weekend’s sixteen competitors for the SCIT.
2 COLD SCORPIO
Now entering his 33rd year in professional wrestling, the former WWE, ECW and WCW star continues to wrestle his aerial style that was a huge influence in the 90s. He cut his teeth early in his career at the NJPW Dojo, working for NJPW before being discovered by WCW. He would go on to notable stints with ECW and WWF (then known as Flash Funk), before heading back to Japan and working with Pro Wrestling NOAH from 2000 to 2006. A 4x ECW World Television Champion, WCW World Tag Team Champion and 2x GHC Tag Team Champion, 2 Cold Scorpio is still a thrill in his 50s.
Only a few years into his wrestling career, Tennessee’s own AJ Gray is already making waves, competing in promotions like Anarchy Wrestling, Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW), Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), IWA Mid South, Glory Pro, Black Label Pro and many more. He’s already competed in some top tournaments, such as AIW’s Back to the Future Cup in 2017 and this year’s JT Lightning Invitational, as well as IWA Mid South’s Junior Heavyweight title tournament and Black Label Pro’s BLP Championship tournament (where he made the finals). A win at SCIT would be a huge bump to his career.
A student of WWE Hall of Famer Robert Gibson of the Rock N’ Roll Express, Ike Cross is another emerging talent in Southern wrestling. He’s a regular with Southern Fried Championship Wrestling (SFCW) in Georgia, winning the SFCW Heavyweight Championship this past June.
This winter, Scenic City Invitational held the Scenic City Invitational Rumble, with the winner gaining entrance to the tournament, and Corey Hollis was your winner. A near 10 year veteran of the indie circuit, he’s spent much of the past six years with North Carolina’s Premiere Wrestling Xperience (PWX), as well as SFCW, where he’s a 3x PWX Tag Team Champion. He’s also wrestled a few matches for the WWE, appearing on episodes of NXT and 205 Live in the past couple years.
A 13-year veteran, St. Louis, Missouri’s Gary Jay won the Scenic City Invitational Trios tournament last fall, but this year his sights are set on singles glory. A veteran of multiple top indie promotions, like IWA Mid South, Glory Pro, AIW and hometown St. Louis Anarchy, the submission specialist is looking to add the SCIT winner to his resume.
Cain Justice is only 22 years old, but he’s emerging as star with Carolina Wrestling Federation (CWF) Mid Atlantic, the company he’s worked for since he was a teenager. He’s one half of the CWF Tag Team Champions (with Ethan Sharpe) and is a former CWF Rising Generation League Champion.
CYRUS THE DESTROYER
Standing at 6’8″, Georgia’s Cyrus the Destroyer is truly a monster in the Scenic City Invitational this year, although his first round opponent is “not human” himself – he’s slated to face current indie superstar PCO. A regular with Deep Southern Championship Wrestling (DSCW) and Georgia Premier Wrestling (GPW), it would be a huge step in this 6-year grappler’s career if he could shut down PCO in the opening round.
Arguably 2018’s biggest comeback story, “Not Human” PCO – formerly 3x WWF World Tag Team Champion Pierre Carl Ouelette – has returned to prominence in the wrestling world as one of it’s most maniacal bad asses. Win or lose, PCO unleashes a reign of terror in the ring, dishing out as much damage as he himself absorbs.
Another young emerging star, 22-year old Darius Lockhart started out with CWF Mid Atlantic, but has thrived the past few years with PWX, where he’s a 2x PWX Innovative Television Champion. Lockhart is ready to break out on the indies, after making debuts this year with Full Impact Pro (FIP), Limitless Wrestling, and IWA Mid South.
“WARHORSE” JAKE PARNELL
A regular with Chicago’s Pro Wrestling ZERO1 USA, where the 25-year old is the reigning and 2x ZERO1 USA Junior Heavyweight Champion, “Warhorse” Jake Parnell is another budding star who has cut his teeth in Glory Pro, IWA Mid South, Beyond Wrestling, Freelance and more.
Over the past year, Mance Warner has become one of the new faces of American hardcore, cutting his teeth in IWA Mid South (where he’s a 2x Heavyweight Champion), CZW, H2O, and others, but also managed to segway into more traditional indies as well, like AIW and Glory Pro. He was the 2018 winner of the CZW Tournament of Death and a finalist in the 2017 IWA Mid South Prince of the Deathmatches.
One of Georgia’s most highly rated indie prospects, Fred Yehi was a main event player in EVOLVE and FIP for years before becoming a regular with the rebooted Major League Wrestling (MLW). He’s also made debuts with PWG, RevPro, WrestleCircus and more in the past year, while holding the FIP World Heavyweight Championship an astounding 562 days. The former EVOLVE Tag Team Champion is one of the indie scene’s top young stars.
A Georgia boy, Joey Lynch works around the hometown region, working with Anarchy Wrestling, GPW, EWE (and continued work with SCI), while also finding work with EVOLVE, Freelance and others. This past June, under the name Steve Irby, he appeared on 205 Live in a match against Akira Tozawa. At last year’s SCIT, Lynch made the final Fatal 4-Way match but lost out to eventual winner Matt Riddle. Lynch may be the underdog to take it all this year.
Another Southern indie prospect who’s gaining momentum, is Texas’ Curt Stallion. An early regular with Anarchy Wrestling (and former Anarchy Champion), he’s become a regular star with Glory Pro and All American Wrestling (AAW) of late. He’s the reigning Glory Pro Crown of Glory Champion who’s looking to continue to make a name for himself on the indies.
Better known for his indie tag team The Carnies alongside Nick Iggy, Kerry Awful is an accomplished singles grappler in his own right. An early star with Pro Wrestling Freedom (PWF) in Kentucky, he’s always worked through IWA Mid South, AIW, CZW, and CWF Mid Atlantic, to name a few. A 4x tag team champion with the Carnies, Awful will be looking to start building a singles trophy case for himself.
One of the last standing originators of American hardcore, Nick Gage has become a legitimate indie star in his latest run, following years of controversy. The 4x CZW World Heavyweight Champion left the company in 2015, allying instead with Game Changer Wrestling (GCW). Nick Gage’s career has never been hotter. He’s making the rounds in other indies, like AIW, Beyond Wrestling, Black Label Pro and others – he was AIW Absolute Champion for 245 days. He’s the current reigning GCW World Champion and IWA Mid South Heavyweight Champion.