More than eight weeks worth of qualifying matches will result Friday night in the crowning of a new United States Junior Heavyweight Champion at the New Experience Wrestling TV Tapings at the "Nightmare" Ken Wayne School of Professional Wrestling in West Memphis. Here is an overview of the championship, its resurgence and how four of N.E.W.'s top stars reached a one night, double elimination tournament for the gold.
The United States Junior Heavyweight Championship has a storied history. Some of wrestling's biggest names have held the title during its 50-plus year history including Memphis favorites such as Jerry "The King" Lawler, "Superstar" Bill Dundee, Stan Lane, Tommy Rogers, Koko B. Ware, Norvell Austin, Dr. Tom Prichard, "Nightmare" Ken Wayne, "Nightmare" Danny Davis and, this is not a typo, even Downtown Bruno in 1989. The last major run of the championship came in Continental Wrestling, based in the Southeast, in the late 1980's. The title resurfaced briefly as part of All Pro Championship Wrestling in Columbus, MS in late 2004 and early 2005. It was held by Ken Wayne. Jamie "J.C. Ice" Dundee briefly held the title defeating Ken Wayne in a match at Dave Lavender Coliseum in January 2005. That decision was overturned one night later at an APCW TV Taping when Wayne showed a loophole in the contract, which originally had him facing Scott Armstrong.
The championship was brought back into circulation for N.E.W. in early March 2009. Athletes must weigh less than 220 pounds to compete for the gold. Qualifying matches began on March 6 at N.E.W. events in West Memphis. The first four wrestlers to earn three victories in qualifying matches would go on to the one night, double elimination tournament. Here is a listing of the qualifying match results, week by week.
March 6, 2009
- "3G" Eric Wayne def. Dustin Ring
- Shawn Reed def. Justin "The Juice" Smart
March 13, 2009
- "Golden Boy" Greg Anthony def. Stan Lee
- Matt Justyce def. Greg King
March 20, 2009
- Greg King def. Dustin Ring
April 3, 2009
- Greg King def. Justin "The Juice" Smart
- Matt Justyce def. "Golden Boy" Greg Anthony
- "3G" Eric Wayne def. Shawn Reed
April 10, 2009
- Justin "The Juice" Smart def. Matt Justyce
- Dustin Ring def. Shawn Reed
- "3G" Eric Wayne def. Greg King (Wayne qualifies for tournament)
April 17, 2009
- Shawn Reed def. Matt Justyce
- "Golden Boy" Greg Anthony def. Justin "The Juice" Smart
April 24, 2009
- Dustin Ring def. Justin "The Jucie" Smart
- Greg King def. "Golden Boy" Greg Anthony (King qualifies for tournament)
May 1, 2009
- Matt Justyce def. Shawn Reed (Justyce qualifies for tournament)
- Dustin Ring def. "Golden Boy" Greg Anthony (Ring qualifies for tournament)
"3G" Eric Wayne, Greg King, Matt Justyce and Dustin Ring will all compete in the one night, double elimination tournament. Here is a review of each athlete and his storyline leading up to Friday's big event...
"3G" Eric Wayne
The third generation wrestler has remained undefeated in N.E.W. He's had an on-going battle with Kid Nikels, who weighed more than the junior heavyweight weight limit, as both men have been undefeated since N.E.W. started last fall. As the first star to earn three wins coupled with his undefeated streak and the fact that his father Ken was the last man to hold the U.S. Junior Title, Eric has to be Friday's favorite to win it all.
Greg recently completed his 1-hour graduation match to officially graduate from the "Nightmare" Ken Wayne School of Professional Wrestling. He has been involved in an angle with fellow trainee Matt Justyce dating back to the very first episode of N.E.W. He has become one of the promotion's most liked and popular performers.
Matt started out strong in the tournament qualifiers, quickly earning two wins. He then went on a short qualifying match losing streak before gaining the last, third win on May 1. And that victory was tainted as Justyce used a tights pull and Shawn Reed has his feet on the ropes, out of the view of the referee. Matt's storyline has been centered around his lack of focus and dedication to training, partially a shoot as Matt did not show up to training sessions at the wrestling school for several weeks. Now, he has become the first man to blatantly break the rules in the promotion.
Dustin has become one of N.E.W.'s surprise stars, showing a totally different side of himself than the "vampire" that many area fans knew first. After a losing streak, Dustin came on strong to gain his three qualifying wins.
Grudge Match Signed
In addition to the tournament, Friday night's N.E.W. show will feature a Grudge Match between "Golden Boy" Greg Anthony and Kid Nikels. On April 24, Anthony interrupted a Kid Nikels interview only to be chokeslammed for doing so. This led to Anthony losing a U.S. Junior Title qualifying match to Greg King. At the end of that show, Anthony jumped Nikels from behind following an Eric Wayne/Kid Nikels tag team victory. This led to a big pull apart to end the show. Last Friday, Ken Wayne reprimanded Nikels and Anthony during an interview. During Anthony's U.S. Junior Title qualifying match with Dustin Ring, Nikels came to ringside as Anthony went to the top rope. The distraction allowed Ring to take advantage and earn his third win.
The N.E.W. show featuring the United States Junior Heavyweight Title Tournament will be held Friday, May 8 at the "Nightmare" Ken Wayne School of Wrestling at 201 E. Jefferson in West Memphis, AR. Bell time is 8 p.m. For more details, call (901) 831-4198.