Top 10 for 2016--#5 to #1 The Legacy Continues As Everything From #200 To ABC News & Incredible Matches All Year Long

January 1, 2017
By Trapper Tom, Editor, KSWA Digest

From an epic championship series to a mysterious new comer, to a record-breaking night, to International coverage and the most important card for Pittsburgh wrestling in years, 2016 had a little bit of something vested in the KSWA.

Number 5: Best of Five Series between Napier and Kaida

At the outset of the new year, Mitch Napier was gloomy, quick-tempered and the Five Star Champion. In an unusual way, that formed a kind of brotherhood between him and the gloomiest and most quick-tempered KSWA Megastar of all time: Kaida. Napier won Battle Bowl and earned a chance at the KSWA World Title. Kaida had an opportunity at the 5-Star championship and lost. He took the chance to challenge Napier to an unprecedented “Best of Five” series of matches and conceded that first lost. Napier, who never backed down from a fight, gladly accepted. The rest of the series was hard hitting, and the men even formed a warrior’s bond. The series came down to a winner-take-all 5th contest. During the match, Battle Bowl opportunist Harley T. Morris cashed in his chance. That didn’t matter in the Triple Threat, as Kaida made the final pin. Kaida was the new 5-Star Champion.

Unfortunately, during the match, Kaida injured his shoulder and was forced to relinquish the title. Quietly, Kaida entered retirement. Morris would later win the 5-Star championship, and Mitch would surprisingly return to the “All American” Mitch Napier of hero status, and win the KSWA’s top prize at FanFest.

Number 4: Who is Ice Machine?

On September 10, KSWA Owner Bobby O and Kommissioner Gentleman Joe Perri entered the ring at the Teamster Temple. He introduced a new signing, one who comes to the KSWA with an impeccable International record: The Ice Machine. The masked Ice Machine then came to the ring. Almost immediately after that, KSWA Owner Tommy Faime arrived on the scene, claiming that “Ice Machine” was in fact, Tony Johnson, “The Ice Man,” who Faime had fired in the Spring. Bobby O called Faime’s claims “ludacris.” Faime was so upset that he had an opponent already waiting for Ice Machine. That turned out to be “King” Del Douglas.

The fans instantly took to “Ice Machine.” They started what became the most entertaining chant of 2016. The match been Machine and Douglas were a grueling one, as the two Megastars felt each other out for the very first time. Machine ended the match with a version of Johnson’s “Ice Kick.” Machine said the move was an homage to Johnson. Johnson, in Florida at the time, would later say he was insulted by the move.

Throughout the rest of the calendar, Ice Machine would be a thorn in the side of Tommy Faime. Ice Machine defeated Lou Martin and Sniper before capturing the 5-Star Championship from Harley T. Morris at FamCon on October 2. Two weeks later at the Teamster Temple, Faime used his ownership role to strip Machine of the title and hand it back to Morris when the champion wouldn’t unmask and prove that he wasn’t Tony Johnson. Ice Machine then defeated Morris in a non-title matchup. Machine then ended 2016 at FanFest when Faime had put his ownership on the line. Had Morris won the match, Machine was forced to unmask. During the contest, Morris did pull off Ice Machine’s mask, only to find another one underneath.

At the conclusion of FanFest, Tommy Faime was a former owner and Ice Machine continued his undefeated streak.

Number 3: KSWA 200

When the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) debuted in Pittsburgh in February, 2000, few would have guessed that the promotion would define professional wrestling in Pittsburgh 16 years later.

From its beginning at Peabody High School on February 18, 2000, got continually stronger in each passing year. From being honored by Pittsburgh City Council for its 10th anniversary, and by the Mayor’s office on its 15th anniversary, to its tenure as the city’s longest-running promotion by the Governor and U.S. Senate, the KSWA has provided unparalleled philanthropy and family-friendly professional wrestling for 199 events.

On March 26, the KSWA not only hosted its annual Joe Abby Memorial Night and Hall of Fame, but it also presented its 200th event. In the Main Event, the Joe Abby Memorial match—Tommy Faime, Jay Flash, Bobby Badfingers and Vinnie Stone defeated Shane Starr, Tony Johnson, Jack Massacre and Mike Malachi. The win was the second in a row for Team Faime.

It was also interesting to note that the long-held feud between Justin Sane and Harley T. Morris officially came to an end when Sane and his Party Gras teammate (Lord Zoltan), along with The Jester defeated Morris, David Marbell and local actor Curt Wootton (who had also participated in Battle Bowl).

Also during the event, then-KSWA Champion Kris Kash defeated Del Douglas. In more than 16 years, and 200 events, only 12 men had held the Commonwealth’s most prestigious title.

Since that time, the KSWA held 16 more events in 2016, and already has eight planned at Spirit Lounge, the former “KSWA Arena” and “Lawrenceville Moose.” On January, 14, the KSWA will host its 9th annual Battle Bowl at the venue that originated the over-the-top-rope Battle Royal in 2009.

Number 2: Brawl Under The Bridge 2/ABC News Stops By/Martin v. Starr The second annual Brawl Under the Bridge in Homestead was to begin like expected. International legend Nikolai Volkoff, who proudly boasted that he once lived in Pittsburgh as a member of the Mongol family in Studio Wrestling, made his debut in the KSWA. He even made the girders under the Homestead Grays Bridge reverberate with his musical rendition of “God Bless America.”

During Volkoff’s match alongside Lord Zoltan and Doink the Clown against the Mercenaries and Mayor Mystery, “Mike on a Bike,” ABC News’ Michael Koenigs, arrived on the scene. Koenigs had been bicycling across the state, on his way to Philadelphia. He began his trip in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention, and he peddled his way through Pittsburgh to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He swung by Homestead and took a vote while in the ring about who the massive crowd wanted to win in the Presidential election.

Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton appeared to be the overwhelming choice of the admittedly blue collar town. Koenigs also interviewed Volkoff and Homestead Mayor Betty Esper, who held the KSWA World Title as she spoke to the ABC correspondent. Koenigs later talked with T-Rantula, who came to the ring riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

In the Main Event, Shane Starr challenged “The Face of Pittsburgh” Lou Martin to a rematch from the inaugural “Brawl.” This time the match was for the Golden Triangle Championship. And it was an Ambulance Match. The loser was shut away in an Emergency Vehicle.

[Editor’s note: this portion was submitted by KSWA Head Referee David Fedor: At the inaugural "Brawl Under the Bridge" last year, then-Golden Triangle Champion Lou Martin defeated Shane Starr in a vicious Street Fight to retain his championship. This year at "Brawl Under the Bridge II," it was only fair that the stakes were raised as these two KSWA stalwarts met once again in Homestead. This time it was Shane Starr heading into the match with the Golden Triangle Championship around his waist, and again there was a no-holds-barred stipulation added to the bout. Starr and Martin squared off in an Ambulance Match where the victor was the man who was able to stuff his opponent into an ambulance. The brutal match was appropriate for the setting, as the two brawled out of the ring to the concrete road where everything became weapons. Martin and Starr pulled out all the stops to inflict damage to their opponent, including using steel fences, stop signs, tables, chairs and even the ambulance itself! Lou Martin again made the mistake of getting into the face of Homestead Mayor Betty Esper. This year she delivered a heavy-handed slap across the "Face of Pittsburgh." The end of the match saw Champion Shane Starr launching Lou Martin into the ambulance and slamming the door shut. The sirens blared as "Dr. Devastation" was driven away into the night, leaving a victorious Starr to celebrate in the ring with Mayor Esper and his Golden Triangle Championship in one of this year's most memorable moments.]

Number One: FanFest 2016

Each and every year, KSWA FanFest/Toy Drive gets bigger and better than the year before. An unparalleled never-more-important card, and fan-favorite wrestling “legends” that everyone could enjoy.

In the first big-shocker of the night, the KSWA Golden Triangle Championship changed hands as “Mr. Tenacity” Tommy Faime defeated Shane Starr. Exactly five years earlier, Starr had defeated Kris Kash for the Jr. Heavyweight Championship in a Gauntlet Match (then a staple of FanFest). Tommy Faime was still in retirement and more than a year away from being inducted into the KSWA Hall of Fame as the first “Original.” This year, however, Faime walked as Golden Triangle Champion and (at least then) as an Owner of Pittsburgh’s professional wrestling organization.

Another historic match took place next as KSWA Owner Bobby O and Party Gras took on the Mercenaries and “King” Del Douglas (with Mayor Mystery) in a “Loser Must Retire” contest. The match, which included participants with more than 120 years of combined experience in the squared circle, was hard fought. In the end, it was “Nasty” Nick Crane, a long-time veteran who’s KSWA career dated by to the organization’s second event in May, 2000, was pinned in the center of the ring. Following the loss, Crane was berated by Mayor Mystery as being the “weak link” of the Mercenaries—which also included Sniper. Crane had had enough, and he socked the most decorated manager in KSWA history. In the end, Crane’s music played and the fans cheered “Canada’s National Treasure” who had one of his greatest in-ring moments when he took on “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan at FanFest in 2014.

Jack Massacre defeated Mike Malachi in a Bodyslam Match before the capacity crowd of more than 500. The battle of the big men had been brewing all year, even before Malachi turned on his former tag team championship partner. It took seven years in the making, but the VIPs—Shawn Blanchard and Lou Martin—finally had a chance to face Demolition—Ax and Smash—again. The two teams matched up just once, in 2009, and Demolition walked away the KSWA tag team champions. That blemish on the VIP record has bothered Blanchard and Martin more than any other defeat. This time around the two teams put on another classic contest, and it was looked pretty good for the VIPs at one point. Then, referee Shawn Patrick is knocked down and Head Referee David Fedor rushes in and makes the pin. The winners once again were Demolition. After the match, the VIPs get into an argument, but end hugging.

Another of the biggest matches scheduled for the night was next. Harley T. Morris with David Marbell at his side, is to defend Tommy Faime’s ownership stake in the KSWA against Ice Machine. This was one of the most important matches of the evening. When Faime entered the contest, and joined Marbell to attack Ice Machine, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat surprised the crowd and came to Johnson’s aid. He chopped both Faime and Marbell to the explosive delight of the Krazies. Ice Machine pinned Morris and ended Faime’s ownership in the organization.

The Jester and T-Rantula defeated the Spear Asylum (with Mayor Mystery) for the KSWA Tag Team gold in a feud that lasted most of 2016.

And then the momentous matchup between former KSWA Champion Kris Kash, Number One Contender and Battle Bowl opportunist Mitch Napier faced reigning title holder Jay Flash. The Krazies stayed throughout the evening to see this unbelievable contest between three of the KSWA’s most successful, most ardent and athletic Megastars. In one of the KSWA’s top moments of all time, Kris Kash dove from the mezzanine onto Flash and Napier, who were battling near the bar area. Kash recovered and was put through a table as Flash crashed through with Napier sprawled on the wood. In the end, it was Napier who reclaimed the KSWA Championship he won exactly five years earlier. The Krazies talked about the dive, and Napier’s win, for weeks.

Thus, ends the Top 10 moments in the KSWA for 2016. Next up: the first-ever KSWA Megastar of the Year!

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