After completing a tour of Japan just a couple days ago, international sensation Colt Cabana prepared to headline National Pro Wrestling Day with a bout against Mike Quackenbush, founder of local organization CHIKARA and the man responsible for Feb. 2’s festivities.
“We’re both two wrestlers who let it be known that we see ourselves as artists in the ring with the way we perform our craft,” Cabana said. “Heck, my podcast is called the ‘Art of Wrestling.’ We both have a very distinct style.”
Fans flocked to the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory Saturday, Feb. 2 to witness the first National Pro Wrestling Day.
Twenty-six independent wrestling companies around the country were represented in an afternoon show as well as an evening show, presenting 10 matches each.
In order to offer fans a taste of each promotion, both shows were free.
Filsinger Games, producer of tabletop cards and dice games, sponsored the historic event.
“The purpose is to showcase wrestlers and independent promotions that often get overlooked as well as bringing fans together to celebrate the sport we all love,” owner Tom Filsinger said.
“These people work hard at their craft week in and week out and deserve to be recognized,” Filsinger said. “We will be releasing a commemorative pack of game cards for some of the wrestlers that are competing today.”
The Briscoes, Ring of Honor Tag Team Champions, kicked off the day with a title defense match against former champions, S.C.U.M.’s Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs.
“Corino and I were approached by Ring of Honor officials to represent the company,” Jacobs said.
“Steve, the Briscoes and I have all been with ROH for the better part of a decade. So we all take pride in our roles,” Jacobs said.
Despite several pin attempts by the villains, the Briscoes extended their eighth title reign and held S.C.U.M. off until they meet again on March 2.
Although Corino verbally trashed the city, diehard fans know the four-time world champion actually resides in Philadelphia.
“The fans may cheer the Briscoes, but I am the one that was a part of Philadelphia wrestling,” Corino said. “It didn’t matter if it was the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance in a car dealership parking lot, the NWA at the Philadelphia Civic Center or the ECW Arena, Philadelphia wrestling is the center of the American wrestling universe.”
Originally, the grappling festival was scheduled to be held at the Derby Ink Gardens on Eighth and Spring Garden streets. However, the venue switch was announced two days prior to the double header.
“Derby Ink Gardens has or had a major issue with the fire sprinkler system,” Bob Magee, wrestling journalist of PWBTS, said.
Derby Ink Gardens did not return calls for comment as of press time.
For fans unable to attend the event, Internet pay-per-view provider Smart Mark Video On Demand charged $14.99 for both shows or $9.99 separately.
In other matches, 25-year-veteran 2 Cold Scorpio won a fatal four way, Harlem Globetrotting Sugar Dunkerton led his team to victory and ECW icon Tommy Dreamer returned to his old stomping grounds in dominating fashion.
Various promotions including EVOLVE, Women Superstars Uncensored and the International Wrestling Cartel were represented during the night show.
Cabana received an award from legendary pro wrestling journalist Bill Apter for being the ambassador of independent wrestling.
“This whole project is a new concept, and I’m a firm believer,” Cabana said.
“When I was a kid, I dreamt to be like my wrestling heroes. To come full circle and get an award for giving something back means the world to me. I do my best to be a positive ambassador for indie wrestling,” Cabana said.
Longtime fan Matthew Scott was attending his first live event and didn’t want to leave.
“I’ve always watched on TV and couldn’t skip the chance to see international talent for free,” Scott said.
“After this experience, I plan on making it out to a few more shows in the area. These fans were going bananas for even body slams,” Scott added.
In the most anticipated match of the card, Cabana and Quackenbush exchanged holds, reversals, and even some British comedy bits until Cabana caught Quackenbush in a forward roll for the three count.
With a show-stealing victory and an award for his contributions, Cabana remained humble during his hero’s welcome home.
“This event is a wonderful thank you to all those who support indie wrestling,” Cabana said.
John Corrigan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.