For A Decade, Battle Bowl Has Become PA Independent Wrestling’s Most Important Match
December 18, 2017
By Trapper Tom, Editor, KSWA Digest
On January 17, 2009, “The Enforcer” Shawn Blanchard was the lone survivor of the very first “Battle Bowl” at the KSWA Arena in the Lawrenceville neighborhood within the city of Pittsburgh. Through a selection process, Blanchard became the new #1 contender for the KSWA World Heavyweight Champion, then a 9-year-old trophy that had only changed hands 10 times.
“Double A” Anthony Alexander had won the KSWA Heavyweight Championship by beating then 4-time champion Blanchard on December 1, 2007, and was on a successful run. As is usual, Blanchard had championship stardom in his aggressive sights.
The second-to-last Megastar in the fray was “Dr. Devastation” Lou Martin, who (with a partner) earned an opportunity for the KSWA tag team championship. He chose Shane Starr, who had recently turned on his tag team partner and friend Kris Kash. Those belts had just been won by The Latin Assassin and Blood Beast, one of the most unique team-ups in KSWA history.
At the time a ruthless, anti-American International Thug, Ali Kaida was the third-to-last Megastar hurled over the top rope. He earned an opportunity at the Golden Triangle Championship. That belt was held by “The Mayor of Mexico City” and one of the KSWA’s most popular wrestlers, La Lucha. Just over a month prior, La Lucha defeated “Big” Mike Malachi for the strap at FanFest. Conversely, that title had changed hands 14 times since the KSWA’s inaugural season of the year 2000. Ali Kaida had never worn that title.
The winners were able to “cash in” their opportunities for KSWA immortality at any time in 2009 and they all did with success, based upon their Battle Bowl opportunities.
Over the years, the winners of Battle Bowl have earned opportunities at the most coveted titles in the Commonwealth, and over the past few years, the event has become one of the most highly-anticipated matches by the Krazies and wrestlers alike.
In 2010, Alexander won Battle Bowl, Alex Arcadian was second-runner-up and Blood Beast was third. In 2011, Lou Martin was victorious, Kris Kash in 2012, and Blanchard in 2013.
Returning Megastars—favorites and “not so much”—as well as debuting wrestlers have all made splashes over the years. Perhaps the most surprising and well-received was the return of “Big” Mike Malachi in 2014. In reality, the event has exploded in popularity over the past five years. Since Malachi’s win, Jay Flash (2015), Mitch Napier (2016) and Shane Starr (2017) have made meaningful statements with their wins. Both Flash and Napier would capture Pennsylvania’s most honored prize, and Starr would come close in front of friends and family in his hometown of Sharpsburg. That event would be the largest fundraiser in that VFD’s history.
There has been plenty of controversy over wins. Lou Martin cashed in his opportunity at the very last second of 2011 and defeated Napier, who had just gloriously won the title at was then the KSWA’s biggest single event, FanFest with George “The Animal” Steele in attendance.
And over time, the rules of the “win” have changed. Sometimes the winner automatically received the promise of a match for the Heavyweight Championship, while other years saw a “lottery” to determine which winner received what opportunity. In some years, the tag team belts are on the line, while in other calendars, those changes have been moved to the Joe Abby Memorial Tournament or other events. The wins have always been and remain steeped in intrigue.
Throughout the past decade, independent professional wrestlers from all over the region have desired a slot in Battle Bowl. Many have purchased tickets to sit in the crowd, just to see who comes out when. Each and every wrestler has also eagerly-waited for the call from the KSWA Championship Committee, just to step foot in the melee.
In 2016, Pittsburgh actor Curt Wootton, who injected himself into the wrestling fate of Justin Sane and Harley T. Morris, was a surprise entrant to Battle Bowl and received an over-hand chop clinic from none other than T-Rantula. KSWA Owner Bobby O and then KSWA Co-Owner Tommy Faime, referees and others were also in the mix.
In 2017, the KSWA opened the Battle Bowl doors wider than ever before. MV Young, Dennis Gregory, Gino Slice and others debuted. Young—who upon his departure from Pennsylvania earlier this year—said Battle Bowl was the largest North American crowd he had wrestled in front of throughout his young, but 14-state career. Gregory, a decorated veteran of many years, parlayed his entrance into a KSWA Heavyweight Championship opportunity and most recently—a front-row to the KSWA tag team championship.
Now the KSWA Championship Committee has focused on “Battle Bowl X.” Discussions have been underway and invitations already circulated to some Megastars: current, returning, debuting. All have their competitive energy focused on KSWA Heavyweight Champion Mitch Napier, new Golden Triangle Champion “Double-A” Anthony Alexander and new Five-Star Champion Bob Badfingers.
In 2018, the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance not only extends its history as the longest-running professional wrestling organization in the city of Pittsburgh, the KSWA also becomes the most-tenured organization in all of Western Pennsylvania (only Hatfield, PA—Montgomery County, PA’s WWWA and it’s 1981 lineage can be detailed as a longer-running brand currently based in the Commonwealth).
More details are sure to develop as the January 6, 2018 event takes shape