|Namaste! Kincaid is one of 16 luminaries in this year's SCI|
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
All 16 participants have been announced, and much like the last two years, it's a wide base of Southern guys with a healthy sprinkling of nationwide indie stars. The field includes this year:
- Joey Janela - Janela became a hot property around the indies last year when he took an insane bump in a deathmatch vs. John Zandig, and used that insanity to build a rep for himself up and down the East Coast/Near Midwest. This year, he took the next step and promoted the best goddamn show on WrestleMania weekend. His hype train rolls into Chattanooga as New Jersey's representative down south.
- Matt Riddle - This will be Riddle's second SCI. Last year he made it to the quarterfinals before falling to 2015 winner and 2016 finalist Jimmy Rave (who is missing this year for the first time in three years). No one is more white hot than he is on the indies right now, which seemed impossible when he was already the hottest thing last year. He's gotta be a favorite to win, bro.
- Arik Royal - Those who know what Arik Royal brings to the table will be excited, but those who don't, well, the dude is one of North Carolina's best exports. He's one of the rocks of CWF Mid-Atlantic, holding its Championship for a good bit before Trevor Lee's big epic reign. I'd hate to compare him to Big E, because it does both guys injustice. He's the goods in his own right.
- Gary Jay - Fans of Chikara and the Midwest scene know Jay as the hard-hitting ginger nudge of the Submission Squad. Over the last few years, however, he's developed into one of the it workers around the Southern States, including in Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment.
- Gunner Miller - Miller is in his third SCI, and he's looking to repeat as Champion. Last year, he bested a star-studded field that included Riddle, Rave, Corey Hollis, Lio Rush, Kyle Matthews, Chip Day, and Chris F'n Hero. A hard-hitting, old-school ex-football player, Miller is the powerpack who will more than likely go far again this year and provide some great moments along the way.
- Jason Kincaid - You may know Kincaid as the wild-haired weirdo currently rising up the ranks in EVOLVE, but he's got strong roots in the South, specifically in the Smoky Mountain region. He brings some eccentricity and aerial pyrotechnics to the field.
- Martin Stone - Better known to some as Danny Burch in NXT/WWE United Kingdom, Stone might as well claim double citizenship in the Southern indie scene. While he's mostly been used in an enhancement role in NXT since making his return there, Stone has become a huge deal, especially in Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment, where he unseated Rave as the Georgia Heavyweight Champion.
- Darby Allin - Allin is, well, all-in in EVOLVE as its next (first?) big homegrown star. The Eminem-lookalike with absolutely no regard for his own personal safety has spent the first half of 2017 feuding with Ethan Page in the hottest feud on the indies, and now, he'll get to show off his big bumps and high flying in an exhibition setting.
- Tank - The Strong Style Psycho is no stranger to SCI weekend, even if he's never competed in the tournament proper before. However, this year is special for him because he's retiring from pro wrestling this year. His nickname isn't given lightly; the man is sadistic and vicious and imposing to boot. Will he ride off into the sunset as the tournament Champion? To me, it's between him and Riddle.
- Curt Stallion, Joey Lynch, Matt Lynch, Torque, Anthony Henry, Shane Marx, and Jason Cade - These guys' names I recognize but I couldn't tell you a whole lot about them, except that they're mostly Southern mainstays who come with high marks from those in the know. Joey Lynch and Henry have been in the tournament before. In fact, Henry had one of the better matches of the tourney against Rave in the first round of '15. Some of these guys you might know from other parts of the country. Stallion is actually the Anarchy Championship Wrestling Champion, and Cade forms a successful tag team nationwide with Veda Scott. So it's not like the rest of the slate is filled with warm bodies. Even if I can't tell you what to expect with these guys, they'll more than likely deliver.