For those who missed it, one of the most insane weekends in independent wrestling has just passed. The second ever Scenic City Invitational has come and gone, and as I sit here on a Monday morning in my hotel room with my roommate soundly asleep, I’m still buzzing from all of the incredible moments and incredible people I was privileged to not only see, but talk to and meet. As I prepared to drive sixteen hours home, and return to the busy streets of Boston, I’m left with a feeling that I haven’t had in a while: fulfillment. I wouldn’t dare bore anyone with the details, but the past few months, personally, have not been very easy at all for me. In fact, I ended up quitting my old job as a general manager and moving on to a new career, just so I would have the opportunity to end up down in Chattanooga and take a vacation for the first time in a very long time. Before I get too far into talking about not only the tournament itself, but the entire weekend experience, I have to say thank you to two people.
First and foremost is our very own Mr. Al Getz. If you’ve never met Al, you need to fix that, immediately. Al went through an incredible amount of stress and I’m sure at least a few sleepless nights trying to get everything organized and make sure everything went off without a hitch. While the majority of us relished the chance to relax and enjoy our vacations, Al worked like a madman around the clock to not only produce and promote the event, but also to make every single wrestler he possibly could available to us, the fans, in some way shape or form. He organized a Q&A session that saw Chris Hero, Matt Riddle, Jimmy Rave, and more pop in for hours at a time just to come and talk to us, the fans. From the bottom of my heart, and from the rest of the staff, I say thank you Al. Without you, this weekend wouldn’t have been nearly as successful as it turned out to be. You deserve every bit of praise you’ve gotten for it.
Second up on my list, and certainly not least, is also another member of our staff team. Papa Hales was so instrumental in taking care of every single last person who made the trip to Chattanooga. Whether it was directing us where to go, setting up the hotel reservations for us, making the conference room available, giving us the ability to have dinner with some of the wrestlers, and more, Papa was, and is, an incredible human being. With so many things to say about Papa Hales, I think this one is the clear cut best: he welcomed us in like we were part of his own family this weekend, and I cannot begin to tell you how much that means to not only myself, but each and every single person who came here and was taken care of by Papa Hales. Thank you, Papa. You’re an outstanding human being, and I look forward to seeing you and the entire Hales Clan here again next year.
As far as the wrestling is concerned this weekend, not a single match (save for one, which I’ll get to in a minute) at Scenic City Invitational disappointed. The action was incredible all night long, and when it is available on DVD or VOD, you best believe I’m picking up a copy of it, and I encourage everyone else to do the same exact thing. The eventual winner of the tournament, Gunner Miller, did have a bit of an off showing during his first round match up, but he showed that he’s incredibly coach-able and took all of the criticisms in stride, and really righted and wrongs in my book that he had from Night 1 in both of his showings on Night 2. As good as the entire tournament, including the finals were, it would be one of the first round matches that ended up stealing the show. Lio Rush and Anthony Henry put on an absolutely incredible showing in their first round match. The aerial experts used everything in their arsenal from life-threatening outside dives to flashy in ring maneuvers that showed off their athleticism and their heart. Every single kick, punch, and moment of offense had me on the edge of my seat and took me on a drive I’ve never experienced before. If you’re not familiar with either of these men, you need to be, especially Anthony Henry. Henry did not disappoint in a single match he had during the tournament. Every single person on the card worked their ass off and made it a memorable first show for me. While the action was incredible, hard hitting, and fast paced, there’s a theme that overshadows it.
If you think this weekend was strictly about wrestling, then you’re wrong. What SCI did was incredible in terms of wrestling, but looking at the bigger picture, it brought an entire community of believers and fans together in one place. My memory is a bit fuzzy after the long weekend, but I believe that we had people travel from two Canadian provinces and sixteen different states to Chattanooga just to experience this. If that isn’t something special, then you tell me what is. Not only that, but an average fan like myself who knew NOTHING of independent wrestling until this weekend was welcomed with open arms not only by the fellow members of our community, but the wrestlers who I encountered during the weekend. I had the chance to talk to Chris Hero, Matt Riddle, and Donovan Dijak during the weekend, and I couldn’t tell you how amazing it was to talk to them. Not a single one of them tried to big league me or put me down for my lack of knowledge, they encouraged me to look for more independent wrestling and helped to make sure I had the time of my life.
I could go on and on about the incredible experiences I had during this weekend, from the hotel and the excellent cafe we were at that turned into a literal wrestling hot spot as fans and wrestlers converged and celebrated independent wrestling, to the welcoming and open arms of the Chattanooga faithful as we came in and had the time of our lives. How many other fandoms can you think of that have an opportunity like we did to not only meet their heroes and favorites, but to talk to them as actual human beings and experience a whole level of acceptance never before seen? I can’t think of many off the top of my head. One thing is for sure, if you have any doubts or questions in your mind about attending Scenic City Invitational next year, let me help settle it for you: Yes. This weekend, in so few words, was a religious experience for me, like finding God for the first time and having doors open for you that you never knew even existed. If you’re looking for an experience unlike any other, and one that will leave you buzzing for days, weeks, months, and years to come, Scenic City Invitational is that experience. As I return to my normal life up in Boston, I’m still left with a fuzzy feeling inside, and fond memories of Chattanooga that make me want to return sooner than later. Believe me, if I have it my way, I won’t ever miss this event.