Monday, June 8, 2015

The Battle of Tennessee? Empire Wrestling Presents the Scenic City Invitational

Gunner will be coming home to roost for the next big tournament on the indie landscape
Photo Credit: Lee South/
Nothing is better in pro wrestling than a tournament, at least in an aggregate, average sense. Tournaments tend to provide the best combination of in-ring action, random excitement, and story building, and when they're held in an independent setting, they have the potential to be the most titillating and satisfying events in a given year. Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Absolute Intense Wrestling, Chikara, and Combat Zone Wrestling are among the companies whose bracketed action stands as stalwarts on the calendar, and a new challenger has emerged from the South. Empire Wrestling Entertainment, arguably the Chattanooga area's most prominent and best indie promotion, will be jumping into the fray with the Scenic City Invitational.

The tourney will happen over two nights in August, the 7th and 8th to be exact, at the Empire Arena in Rossville, GA, which is just over the border from Chattanooga. Sixteen wrestlers will throw their names into the ring in hopes of taking home the first ever tournament title, and seven have been announced already. The grouping is a mix of both nationally renowned talent and some local Georgia guys who are just aching to be noticed by the rest of the country. The list of talent so far is as follows:
  • Gunner Miller - Not to be confused with TNA superstar and the former Phil Shatter Gunner, Miller is probably the entrant I know least about. But he'll be able to test  his mettle against some fine opposition, like...
  • Moose - Moose is rapidly becoming the Kevin Bacon of indie wrestling, in that he's working everywhere. Not only is he on the fast track to the Ring of Honor main event, he's being booked at various places around the country like AAW Vanguard, EVOLVE, Global Force Wrestling, and the Wrestle-1 American tour. The former football star is among the most improving and charismatic wrestlers around, so having him for the tournament is a huge coup.
  • Gunner - Speaking of the TNA superstar and former Phil Shatter, he will be a part of the proceedings as well. Gunner may have been the premiere wrestler in the Georgia scene before being scooped up to go to TNA, and while he may not have been able to show his talents best for the flagging national company, any time he slides back into a local Georgia promotion, he delivers.
  • KT Hamill - He's one half of the Double Dragons tag team with his brother Keith, but unless you follow the Georgia scene, you may not know a whole lot about the guy. Any time  he pops up on YouTube, he's a sure bet to have at least a decent match. He's a classic, Southern-style worker with great fundamentals who could have several standout matches in this thing before it's all said and done.
  • Kongo Kong - Kong is in the weird position where he's wrestled extensively everywhere EXCEPT for the big money areas (Northeast, Chicago, SoCal). He's a monster heel who has owned IWA Mid-South for the last year. Folks from the Maritimes in Canada may know him too due to his excursions up there. He comes very highly regarded, and he could be the next breakout star on the scene once he gets his opportunity in one of those hotbeds. For now though, he will be an imposing force in the SCI.
  • Jimmy Rave - Rave has been around forever and has worked for everyone. He's a needed veteran presence in the tournament, and he's perhaps the biggest name draw to be announced so far. Rave has kept active mostly in the Georgia-area promotions, but he hasn't lost much on his fastball since he was a regular in ROH.
  • Chip Day - Day is starting to get more and more exposure. He started out as mostly a Georgia homebody working for companies like Rampage and Platinum Championship Wrestling. But he's branched out into North Carolina, which pretty much has become the newest hot area for indie wrestling. He has a solid background and can work well with a variety of opponents.
Nine more wrestlers are yet to be announced. Empire's native pool is pretty deep (Shaun Tempers, Keith Hamill, Andrew Alexander, Kyle Matthews), but it'll be interesting to see what other guests come in, and from where they are imported. Plenty of Georgia heads are still out there to be booked who haven't really gotten to Empire yet like Fred Yehi or Black Baron (who recently worked ROH). However, it'll be interesting to see if more marquee outsiders in the fold. Regardless, the SCI has the potential to put Georgia and Eastern Tennessee indie wrestling on the map, and it's something that you, yes you, should be paying attention to.