Where Professional Wrestling In Pittsburgh Was Saved, KSWA Celebrates Return To Moose

May 11, 2016
by Trapper Tom, Ring Announcer/Wrestling Journalist

(Wrestling returns to the Lawrenceville Moose on May 28. This is the first in a series)

When the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) debuted at the Lawrenceville Moose on August 14, 2004, the night signified an important benchmark in Pittsburgh sports history.

The KSWA was 22 events old. Since its origination in 2000 at Peabody High School, 19 events had been held at the Bloomfield VFW, while two more were hosted at the Candlelight Lounge in Lawrenceville. According to the KSWA Championship Committee, when it looked like the Bloomfield VFW was closing its doors, an olive branch of opportunity was extended from the Lawrenceville social club.

At the outset of the KSWA’s move to the Moose, “Dr. Devastation” Lou Martin was the KSWA World Champion, The Latin Assassin was the Golden Triangle Champion, Shawn Blanchard was the Tri-State Champion and the tag belts were vacant.

On the first night at the new venue, the KSWA held the only “Ray Mendez” Memorial Cup. By all accounts, Mendez was the patriarch of a family that truly supported the KSWA. His sudden passing left a somber feel at the beginning of the show and a moment of silence was observed. But energy in the night really picked up from there.

Back in those days, the KSWA was growing from an occasional promotion to one that was generating interest due to compelling drama and entertaining action. Slightly more than 100 were in attendance for “Mayhem.”

Dubbed “Mayhem at the Moose,” the 8-match event showcased a number of KSWA wrestlers, before they were called “Megastars.” The Latin Assassin defeated Shane O’Shea in the first match at the Moose, and advanced in the Mendez Cup tournament. Latin was then set to face Justin Sane, who defeated a “pre-King” “Single Threat” Del Douglas.

In an exciting “Mexican Hardcore Match,” Ali Kaida defeated La Lucha. Biker Al then won a Battle Royal and, as a stipulation, the KSWA tag team championships. As previously noted, the belts were abandoned. QB Blitzz & Sam Slej had won the tag belts in January of 2004 but leading up to August, bolted and vacated the titles. Once Biker Al had earned the titles, he chose La Lucha as his partner. With that designation, La Lucha became the first KSWA wrestler to be a two-time tag team champion.

Bosco Baracus defeated “Mr. Tenacity” Tommy Faime. “Mr. Puniverse” Bob Atlas defeated Shawn Blanchard for the KSWA’s Tri-State championship. Atlas, 369 pounds and from “Every Girl’s Dream,” was the first two-time Tri-State Champion.

Anthony Alexander defeated Lou Martin in single’s competition and the evening concluded with Justin Sane defeating the Latin Assassin for the Ray Mendez Memorial Cup. Over the next year, six more wrestling events were hosted by the KSWA, all at the Lawrenceville Moose. It’s interesting to note that the KSWA’s legacy at the Family Center predated FanFest.

For the next year, all KSWA events were held at the Moose. That impressive string was momentarily broken by the group’s first invitation to Millvale Days. The KSWA was recruited to help bolster the across the river community after Hurricane Ivan. The September, 2004 storm had ravaged Millvale, and the neighborhood was ready to come back. WPXI TV and reporter Yolanda Hawkins reported on the town’s rebound and showed a quick clip of KSWA wrestling action on news reports. (There’s no correlation to this report leading to Hawkins moving to Sacramento, California and working there as Lonni Rivera.)

In that first year as the home of the KSWA, the Moose featured no fewer than six title changes, starting with the Atlas beating Blanchard and Biker Al winning the tag belts that first night. Blanchard won the Tri-State Championship back on October 9, 2004, and Justin Sane won it from Blanchard during his very first title defense. The win was one of the only ones recorded by Sane over Blanchard to this very day. Anthony Alexander defeated the Latin Assassin on February 19, 2005 and Del Douglas and Tommy Faime won the tag team belts by defeating La Lucha (when Biker Al double crossed his partner, leaving him hanging out to dry) on August 8, 2005.

Next up, more details on the vaunted history of the KSWA at the Lawrenceville Moose, including how it became the historic “KSWA Arena.”

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