Champion Kris Kash Earns Respect, Readies For Pittsburgh Wrestling's "Next Chapter"

February 27, 2016
by Trapper Tom, Ring Announcer/Wrestling Journalist

A remarkable moment occurred immediately after the rematch for the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) World Title on Saturday, February 20, 2016. After champion Kris Kash defeated the Megastar he pinned for the Commonwealth’s premier single’s title at FanFest, Shawn Blanchard extended his hand.

No one in the world of professional wrestling covets a World Title more than Shawn Blanchard does the KSWA Heavyweight Title. When there was no World Champion on television for several months last year, the now-former 6-time KSWA Champion stood tall as the sport’s standard bearer. He called himself the only World Champion in the wrestling world that matter. No regional champion on the planet stood up against that claim, and no statistic anywhere could match it.

When Kash pinned Blanchard at the apex of the “Championship Cavalcade” at FanFest 2015, it was a survival of the fittest contest with newly-crowned tag champs Kash and Starr, Golden Triangle titleholder Lou Martin and 5-Star kingpin Mitch Napier all the Main Event. When Kash won, the standing-room-only crowd at the Teamster Temple exploded. KSWA Owner Bobby O, Shane Starr and special enforcer The Latin Assassin all celebrated together. It was the top moment of the KSWA’s historic and record-breaking 15th year in Pittsburgh, as voted by the Championship Committee.

After a decade of fighting, clawing and battling, Kris Kash was new KSWA Champion. Over the past 15 years, the KSWA has built itself through hard work, dedication, talent, experience and recognition by leaders in the industry, as one of the top independent professional wrestling organizations anywhere. Long ago, the KSWA proved itself the most important promotion in Pennsylvania. When the organization was featured on the front cover of the Wall Street Journal in June of 2014, the bar of expectation and recognition rocketed skyward.

And Kris Kash is now its standard-bearer.

At the beginning of the February 20 event, the Main Event between Kash and Blanchard was a standard, one-on-one contest with a 60-minute time limit. As the evening progressed, controversial KSWA Owner Tommy Faime enforced a stimulation making it a no-disqualification, no-time-limit affair. There must be a winner between Blanchard and Kash. Blanchard reportedly had the amendment in his back pocket. Kash didn’t hesitate to accept the new condition.

It’s been a long and oftentimes gratifying road to the top of the heap for Kris Kash. Originally part of the “Lost Boyz” tag team with long-time friend “The Future” Shane Starr, Kash had to wait until he was 18 to compete in the KSWA. He and Starr debuted against Blanchard in a handicap match on August 20, 2005 at the KSWA Arena.

Over the past decade, Kash has wrestled in nearly all of the 162 events the KSWA has held. Only Justin Sane, Del Douglas, Lou Martin and Blanchard have participated in more matches over that time.

Blanchard and Kash have faced each other on many occasions, including 15-times in one-on-one competition. It’s interesting to note that Kash has eight victories in head-to-head matches and Blanchard has seven. By contrast, Blanchard’s other longtime foe, Justin Sane, has a 1-16 record against the Enforcer.

Before the December 5, 2015 switch, KSWA title has changed hands 11 times (four to Blanchard) since Kash joined Pittsburgh professional wrestling in 2005. Kash won the KSWA’s second biggest prize on May 2, 2009 when he defeated the wrestler then known as Ali Kaida. He would lose it to Douglas about 45 days later, and then regain it back on July 3, 2009. One day later, Kris Kash won the “Lord of the Lake” 6-man tag team match at Lake Latonka resort. In one of the most talked-about moments in recent KSWA history, post-match, Kash chased Lou Martin into Lake Latonka.

On June 12, 2010, Starr and Kash won their first KSWA Tag Team Championship against Vinnie Stone and Ric Rumsky. And in dastardly fashion, manager James J. Dillon turned on the Lost Boyz during their title defense against Martin and Blanchard at FanFest, 2010.

On December 8, 2012, Kash won the “6-Pack Challenge” to become the second 5-Star Champion in KSWA history. He would go to lose it in August 2013 to Mitch Napier (to currently hold that strap). Since that time, Kash has battled just about every ne’er do well in the KSWA. Although ticking in at barely 150 pounds in the ring, Kash has taken on all comers. He has always been the near the top of the championship crop, trading crushing chops with Blanchard and Martin dozens of times over their decade alongside one another.

When Starr briefly traded sides and joined the villainous VIP’s, he turned on Kash. Only a few years later, the two life-long friends joined back up and redefined what was yet to come in the KSWA.

Kash has stumbled. Kash was victimized by Blanchard in the infamous “Sharpsburg Screw Job” at the 2nd Annual Mario Ferrarro Sr., Memorial Tournament in 2014. A year later, on November 7, when Blanchard was riding high as the most important champion in professional wrestling, the champion had never looked more dominate. Unfazed by the Triple Threat Match against Kash and Sane, Blanchard looked unbeatable. One week later at the St. Raphael’s School fundraiser, Kash was to challenge Blanchard one-on-one. Kash fell ill and was replaced by Shane Starr, who nearly upset Blanchard in front of a capacity crowd.

However, by FanFest, Kash had regrouped. The newly-rebranded “Lost Boyz” took all of that pent-up angst and defeated Mayor Mystery's stable of The Mercenaries—“Nasty” Nick Crane and Sniper—for the titles in front of one of the wildest, most enjoyable crowds in KSWA history. And later that night, with the cards stacked against him in the “Championship Cavalcade,” Blanchard faced the new tag champs, the Golden Triangle and 5-Star titleholders in one swoop. With the Lost Boys winning gold earlier in the evening, the Championship Cavalcade featured 34 title reigns between the combatants with Shawn Blanchard (12), Lou Martin (8), Shane Starr (6), Kris Kash (5) and Mitch Napier (3).

When Kash pinned Blanchard (after a clothesline from The Latin Assassin), three days prior to his 29th birthday, he became only the 12th man to wear the KSWA’s top prize. It took him 10 years, three months and 15 days to reach the pinnacle of both the tag team and heavyweight ranks. It was a feat that’s never been accomplished in the KSWA before and most likely never will again.

It was with that respect that Shawn Blanchard, upon failing to gain the belt for a record-extending 7th time, simply took the 10-pounds of gold, looked it over, and extended his hand to Kris Kash after the rematch. Kash reluctantly accepted the gesture and the grizzled vet exited the ring, allowing the champ to soak in the jubilation.

Now the duo might never be friends, but it was an exemplary move for Blanchard to accept the defeat with class and aplomb. He’s deserved the adulation and reverence, but Blanchard realized that the next chapter for the KSWA is in the capable hands of Kris Kash, World Champion.

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