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Chattanooga tournament to spotlight local independent wrestling talent

The latest evidence of the thriving independent scene is the ambitious plan by promoter Scott Hensley to run a 16 man professional wrestling tournament called the Scenic City Invitational on August 7th and 8th in Rossville, GA that will spotlight the area's local talent.

Gunner will prove that there's life after TNA at the Scenic City Invitational.
Gunner will prove that there's life after TNA at the Scenic City Invitational.
Photo by Mike Kalasnik of Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Despite the current interest lull in WWE and the ongoing uncertainty in TNA's future, independent wrestling seems to be thriving in North America and Europe. The latest evidence of this is the ambitious plan by promoter Scott Hensley to run a 16 man professional wrestling tournament called the Scenic City Invitational on August 7th and 8th in Rossville, GA, on the outskirts of Chattanooga, TN, that will spotlight the area's local independent wrestling talent.

So far, 14 wrestlers out of the field of 16 have already been announced. Being unfamiliar with the region's wrestling scene, I asked my friend Dylan Hales to give me brief descriptions of all the competitors we know of so far. Here is what he had to say:

  1. Gunner Miller: "Former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football player. Probably the most over guy in the local Chattanooga wrestling scene. Good look and freakish athlete. WWE has had some talks with him despite the fact that he is really green."
  2. Moose: "I assume you know Moose from ROH. What is notable here is that he is even working the show. Indies in this area rarely bring in names on the rise, so his inclusion feels like a big deal."
  3. KT Hamill: "Excellent local talent. Works all over the North Georgia/East TN indie scene. Very good as both a face and a heel. In Empire (technically the host promotion for the SCI) he mostly works tags with his brother Keith, but I actually think he's better as a singles wrestler. The kind of guy who would be viewed as a really good talent if he was working anywhere else in the country.
  4. Jimmy Rave: "I assume you know Rave, but he's having a HELL of a year, including a [match of the year contender] with [AJ] Styles from Pro-South several months back, a match around that same level v. KT Hamill, and being a big star in the new Atlanta based AWE group. He's become something of a mentor to a lot of the guys in the region and his influence will be felt in the tourney. Worth noting that in some respects he was the biggest star to come out of the Georgia indie scene other than Styles, and maybe Gunner."
  5. Joey Lynch: "Another local guy. Has a solid look, could easily fit in on the CZW, ROH, or Evolve rosters. Hard worker. Hasn't necessarily put it all together but has had some very good matches. Could easily 'break out' with a big performance in this tourney if the tourney gets taped/distributed."
  6. "Modern Day Viking" Gunner: "Of TNA fame. Came up through the indies in the North GA/East TN area. Much better worker on the indies than you would guess if you only knew him from TNA. Another 'name' for the tourney, and an interesting one given that this could be his first big booking since leaving TNA."
  7. Mark Vandy: "I know little to nothing about Vandy. Seen a few matches of his online, including one with Kongo Kong that I thought was good."
  8. Chip Day: "Extremely underrated guy who is one of the bigger stars in the Southern indie universe, working PWX, Rampage when they were still open, AWE in Atlanta and Empire regularly. Part of the White Rose heel group in Empire here, he is the (good) lead promo guy. Was part of the Jimmy Rave Approved group with Rave, Hollis, and Mike Posey which was a very in demand and solid act on regional indies a few years back. He has an awkward body type, but otherwise there is no good reason he isn't a bigger star than he is and he's been on the verge of breaking out for a few years."
  9. Kongo Kong: "Awesome, monster heel, and one of the best big men and indie workers in wrestling. To my knowledge this is the first time he's worked the area. Coming off a lengthy run as IWA-MS top title holder. Total throwback gimmick, but he's also a freakishly good athlete. Probably the guy I'm most excited to see live of the named talent so far."
  10. Jason Collins: "One of the most improved guys in the Chattanooga area. Went from being a guy I dreaded watching, to a guy I really enjoy even though he's still heavily flawed. Teamed with his brother Brandon a lot who I think is injured right now. Has a long, lankyish frame which hinders him some, but I could see him having a future if he continues to improve. Tournament is a big test for him."
  11. Tank: "Elder statesman of the Chattanooga indie scene. Most known to fans outside that region as a death match worker, who got over as a very good one working in IWA-MS. Was also part of an infamous Wildside and regional tag team in the South with Iceberg. Freakishly good athlete for a guy his size and age. Super entertaining live wrestler who has an aura about him and always gets over."
  12. Corey Hollis: "Been on the brink of being an indie star for several years. I assume [that] size is the only thing holding him back. Regular star on Anarchy which is the one Southern indie with a long term episodic television presence. Was part of the aforementioned Jimmy Rave Approved [stable]. Has teamed with Jonathon Greshem on a few ROH shows this year and had good matches. Star in the Carolina 'super-indie' PWX. Done well in the ECWA Super Eights recently if I"m not mistaken."
  13. Anthony Henry: "Incredibly underrated Southern indie guy to the point where I often forget about him. Excellent look, and a real 'workrate' style guy so I have no clue how he isn't already working in a place like ROH, CZW, Evolve, etc. Can be frustratingly indie at times, but also has had legitimately great matches over the last few years. I could see him being the guy that blows people away."
  14. Chrisjen Hayme: "Hayme is a guy who has been around for a while. Hardworking guy, underrated, probably should have gotten breaks sooner. He's worked almost every name East Coast indie, always looked good, but never got a major push. He's worked the area before, but is not the known regional commodity that Hollis, Rave or even Hamill are."

The expectation is that Henley still has a big name left to announce for anyone on the fence about attending this event to cap off what is already a stellar line-up of performers, and that the shows will be taped for DVD release.

When asked why readers at Cageside Seats should take an interest in this tournament, Hensley pointed towards the history of the area as a wrestling hotbed, an aspiration that these cards could lead to a renewed popularity in the local wrestling scene, and the quality of the talent involved, who could very well be some of the stars of the future:

"Our region has been growing with interest in professional wrestling with a rich heritage of the Nick Gulas/Harry Thornton days of promoting followed by WCW a couple of hours south, Smoky Mountain Wrestling a couple of hours to the northeast, and then TNA a couple of hours north. We are approximately 2 hours from cities like Nashville, Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, Huntsville, Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia so we believe we have a great geographic location as far as being able to attract top area talent and fans. The Chattanooga, Tennessee area is popping up on more and more lists lately as a great place to live and work, so hopefully 'a great place to wrestle' can be added to that list as well.

The talent we've announced so far includes guys of all sizes, styles, and experience. They share a passion for competing to become recognized as one of the best, as many of them do attempt to branch out and obtain bigger and better opportunities. Our talent have competed in every major promotion all over the world and we're looking forward to seeing those guys showcase their abilities right outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee in nearby Rossville, Georgia on Friday, August 7th and Saturday, August 8th."

For those wishing to find out more about the Scenic City Invitational, they should check out Hales' recent interview with Hensley for and like their Facebook page at Hopefully a few Cagesiders will attend the tournament. We'd love to hear your experiences there.

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