WATERLOO, Iowa – PWG World Champion Chuck Taylor added yet another accolade to his list of accomplishments Friday night at the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame weekend, besting seven others to become the inaugural Impact Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Classic winner.

The tournament, an addition to the traditional afternoon evaluation and evening Impact Pro Wrestling shows, is part of the increasing number of events that lead up to the Waterloo, Iowa, based hall of fame’s induction ceremony.

Hall of Fame Classic

The Hall of Fame Classic featured eight of the most highly regarded independent wrestlers in the country, with the first round taking place Friday afternoon. Former WWE Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin, ACH, Curt Stallion, AJ Smooth, Penta el Zero M, and Myron Reed joined Taylor as the first competitors in the tournament.

Wade Keller of the Pro Wrestling Torch, JJ Dillon and Stan Hansen during a podcast. Photo by Kari Williams

The first-round saw Stallion defeat Reed and ACH go over Penta el Zero M. Taylor secured victory over Smooth and Strickland bested Benjamin via countout.

The semifinals kicked off the IPW show Friday night, where Stallion, a competitor in the 2017 Ring of Honor Top Prospect tournament, came up short against Taylor, and Strickland triumphantly battled with ACH.

Taylor ultimately bested Shane Strickland in the finals, receiving a plaque for his efforts. The Kentucky Gentleman said it’s “a little bit interesting” that he won the tournament.

“When you think of ‘Hall of Fame Classic’ and all the guys that are inducted over there [at the Dan Gable Museum], and all the memorabilia they have, I don’t think many people would associate me and my style with that,” Taylor said. “So to be given the opportunity — it was super fun.”

Pro Wrestling Evaluation

Wrestlers from around the country made their way to Waterloo, Iowa, to compete in “tryout” matches for WWE talent scout Gerry Brisco and WWE Hall of Famers Jim Ross and JJ Dillon.

An improvement from years’ past, wrestlers hoping to get on WWE’s radar had entrance music this time around.

Men and women traveled from as far as Colorado (“The Norse Nightmare” Hunter Grey) for the chance to get on WWE’s potential list. This year was the first in recent memory that women participated in the seminar, as well. Sierra Avery faced Brooke Valentine, with the winner of that bout (Valentine) facing Ms. Frankie Jay. The evaluations also featured a tag team bout.

Pick Your Podcast

Legends of the ring served as guests on two podcasts over the course of the weekend. Friday afternoon, Stan Hansen and JJ Dillon participated in Wade Keller’s podcast for PWTorch. Hansen and Dillon covered a variety of topics, ranging from their Texas wrestling roots to sharing stories about the likes of Ernie Ladd, Abdullah the Butcher and the Von Erich clan.

Saturday morning, a local podcast, Pro Wrestling Iowa, held a live broadcast with the Killer Bees, Jim Brunzell and Brian Blair.

Kyle Klingman, centre, the Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, with WWE stars Jason Jordan and Chad Gable. Watch for an interview with American Alpha by SLAM! Wrestling’s Kari Williams in the coming weeks. Photo courtesy Kyle Klingman

Continuing coverage

Keep checking back to SLAM! Wrestling for coverage of an independent wrestling panel discussion, which featured PW Torch writer Bruce Mitchell, Gerry Brisco, Wes Brisco and IPW star James Jeffries, and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Paul Orndorff, Dusty Rhodes, Magnum T.A. (Lou Thesz World Heavyweight Championship Award), Stan Hansen (Frank Gotch Award), Mike Van Arsdale (George Tragos Award) and Scott Williams (Jim Melby Award) make up the 2017 Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame class.