Pacific Cup 2006: TV, a Title and TJ Wilson.
Professional wrestling is a business. Whether we are talking local independent wrestling or global corporate wrestling, the promotional company needs to be able to make money in order to survive. In the land of indie wrestling, that can be a tall order at times. Any form of sport or entertainment will see profits grow or shrink based on the emotional heartstrings they are able to pull in their target audience. Societal trends also play a huge role. Just as when a pro sports team is on a winning streak they sell more merchandise and tickets to their games, it is somewhat the same for pro wrestling. When corporate wrestling on television is hot, there is a trickle-down effect that benefits independent wrestling as well. Conversely, when the interest in corporate wrestling is dwindling it is of utmost importance for an indie promoter to find more aggressive ways to market their product. People won’t be going out of their way to find wrestling so you have to make sure you put it right in their living room, both literally and figuratively. And if their was one tried and true method to getting people out to the matches it is television.
2006 wasn’t the greatest year for big wrestling companies. And they had TV already. When the opportunity arrived for ECCW to buy up another local wrestling group, Top Ranked Wrestling and take over the airwaves locally, they jumped at the chance. TRW had themselves a television deal with KVOS (channel 23 in Vancouver) that ran an hour of original programming every Saturday afternoon. When ECCW took the helm of the show they now had an amazing chance to show the local audience exactly what they had been missing in their own backyard.
The 2006 Pacific Cup was recorded to be a part of this television show, now called NWA-TRW. That being said, the tournament in 2006 wasn’t exactly what we had become accustomed too over the pervious years. There were only 8 contestants for The Cup and between the opening round and the semi finals they would have AMPLE time to rest. There was also an added twist to the tournament that year. The holder of the NWA-ECCW Junior Heavyweight title, Aaron Idol, relinquished his championship stating he was ready to step up to the head of the class and fight for the NWA-ECCW Heavyweight strap. So not only were these 8 men fighting for the bragging rights of being the first ECCW Pacific Cup champion to be crowned on television but, the winner would also become the new Junior Heavyweight Champion. The 8 men that stepped up to the challenge were three newcomers to the ranks of the mat wars, Gurv Sihra, Sid Sylum and Kyle O’Reilly as well as Nate Hardy, Bobby Sharp, Ice, Memphis Raines and TJ Wilson (you might have heard of him… though you might know him as former WWE Tag Team Champion Tyson Kid).
The Pac Cup tournament started on May 5th at the Bridgeview Hall in Surrey with two first round matches that I remember being there for. First up was Sid Sylum beating Gurv Sihra to advance to the semis. Then it was the long lost Hardy Boy, Nate Hardy vs Kyle O’Reilly. Now, being a huge fan of the Hardy Boyz for a long time, I had some mixed emotions when it came to Nate Hardy. The first time ECCW had a costume battle royal at their Halloween Hell event, a couple of guys dressed up like Matt and Jeff Hardy. It was Halloween. They did a great job with it. Nate Hardy however, was also dressed up like Jeff Hardy. But, it was NOT Halloween. And he was serious. After I finished rolling my eyes though, I remember watching him do some highflying stuff that I thought was rather neat-o. It seemed though, that all the ‘neat-o-ness’ in the world wasn’t enough as Kyle O’Reilly got the victory. So that was it for the Pacific Cup that night.
We pick the opening round matches back up on May 19th in Vancouver as Ice vanquished Monster Pro Wrestling’s Bobby Sharp and Memphis Raines took on TJ Wilson. Dreadfully I did not get to see this match. But if it was a fraction as good of a pairing as it is as it plays in my head right now, I wish someone would show me the match. It was on TV after all. Anyone have it on VHS? Memphis ended up beating the future Tyson Kid to advance to the semifinals. Now it’s time for another venue change…
Back to the Bridgeview Hall for the semis and the finals. The date was June 23rd 2006. About a month and a half after the tournament started, we were going to have our new champion. The first of the semifinal matches was Sid Sylum vs Kyle O’Reilly. With both men having just officially graduated from the ECCW Slam Academy wrestling school not even a month earlier, this would have been a match to watch. These to athletes went on to have tremendous battles on many a show. For them to be able to showcase their skills on television was a great opportunity. Despite Sylum’s best efforts though, it was Kyle O’Reilly who would advance to the finals against Memphis Raines who was able to topple Ice in their semifinal match. For a fresh face on the wrestling landscape like Kyle O’Reilly to make it to the finals of this tournament to square off against a man that had been fighting his way through the jungle of ECCW for 5 years, was quite a feat. However, try as he did, on June 23rd, 2006, Memphis Raines became the Pacific Cup Champion AND the National Wrestling Alliance’s Pacific Northwest Junior Heavyweight Champion.
But as we will see tomorrow, this was not the Last Stand of O’Reilly. 2007 would be a year to remember for the young irishman.
Don’t forget, time is quickly tick-tocking away for your chance to witness history as it happens. March 9th at the Russian Community Centre (2114 W 4th Ave. Vancouver). The doors open at 7pm with a special bell time of 7:30pm. Don’t wake up on March 10th to only hear about the action. Be there LIVE so you can join in on the conversation. Tickets are on sale online here at www.ECCW.com.