After a delay of over four years, the grandest one-night tournament in the history of Pacific Northwest wrestling returns.
The Pacific Cup is finally back up for grabs – this time under the All Star Wrestling banner – on Saturday, April 22, inside Vancouver’s Maritime Labour Centre.
Established in the year 2000, the Pacific Cup’s name of winners is the best of the best to ever compete in the region.
From current international stars like Kyle O’Reilly (2007), El Phantasmo (2008), Artemis Spencer (2009) and Nicole Matthews (2017) to local legends like Scotty Mac (2003), Billy Suede (2008), Bishop (2012 and 2014) and Kenny Lush (2013) – the blood, sweat and tears from tournaments in the past has formed the foundation of the PNW scene.
It takes skill, endurance, perseverance and some luck to capture the Pacific Cup and even greats like Bryan Danielson, Christopher Daniels and Davey Richards have come up short in their quest to win the trophy.
The Pacific Cup, originally designed as a cruiserweight showcase, was one of the signature events for Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling for many years, but with the demise of that company it was veteran wrestler Azeem Mohammed (aka: Azeem the Dream) who approached management with his hopes to bring the event back.
He competed in the tournament several times in ECCW and said there was always something special about the event – for performers and fans.
“It was always such a huge thing and not just for the other company but for all the wrestlers involved,” Mohammed said. “I remember Dave Republic [former ECCW owner] saying that he would constantly be getting emails and messages from guys all over that wanted to be part of it. It helped elevate guys to the next level of their career, like a Kyle O’Reilly.”
Mohammed stated that the event caused every wrestler on the card to step up their game and created both a sense of urgency and pressure in every tournament match.
“As a wrestler the winner is looked at as pretty much the next guy to help carry the company,” he said of the Pacific Cup winner. “We’re looking for the next guy to be the man and this tournament may determine that.”
There have been several different formats of the tournament since its inception 23 years ago. The initial tournament in 2000 saw 12 men compete with six first-round matches, three semi-final bouts and a triple-threat final.
The next tournament in 2002 saw 10 men battle in five opening round bouts, two semi-final matches and a one-on-one bout. The lone Pacific Cup tag team tournament occurred in 2004.
A big format change took place in 2012 as the event transformed into a two-night 16-man tournament with no weight restrictions. The 2014 event featured eight former Pacific Cup champions battling it out with Bishop conquering all and becoming the only wrestler to be a two-time winner.
The evolution of the tournament continued in 2017 when Nicole Matthews was the first woman to capture the cup. The most recent Pacific Cup in 2019 saw emerging star Judas Icarus defeat Elliot Tyler.
The 2023 edition of the Pacific Cup is a return to the event’s roots as the top local cruiserweights will compete. The 12-man tournament sees four wrestlers receive first round byes – Shawn Murphy, Battle Wasp, Steve Migs and Billy Suede. Murphy and Battle Wasp are young talents hoping to break through, while Suede is a former Pacific Cup champion. Migs, a veteran Seattle-based wrestler, is making his Canadian debut at the event.
Migs stated that while he does respect the history of the tournament, this event is an opportunity for him to make his mark in British Columbia.
“For me, it means that I have a chance to cement my legacy in the PNW scene,” Migs said. “I look forward to leaving with that trophy in hand and I plan on doing whatever it takes to do so. I plan on winning and winning quick. They will get their money’s worth just by seeing me step out of that curtain and into that ring.”
Scheduled first round matches include: Dance Daddy Denero vs. Justin Cider, Maxwell Benson vs. Elliot Tyler, Jacky Lee vs. Shareef Morrow and The Gambler vs. Payday Pesky.
Denero was a member of the ECCW roster from 2008 to 2015 and never received the opportunity to compete in the event. He returned to the local squared circle in 2021 and he said wrestling in the Pacific Cup is a major career achievement.
“It means everything,” Denero said, of the chance to wrestle in the event this year. “Every year I was there I had wished to be a part of the Pac Cup, that was my ultimate goal. The fact that I never was part of any of them over those years was one of the major factors for me leaving.”
He said the 2009 event was a memorable one for him because he saw his friend El Phantasmo use the event as a launching pad to an outstanding career competing all across the globe.
“I’m going to show the world why I deserved to be in the Pac Cup years ago as well as this year,” Denero said. “I’m going to show everyone that after all these years I can still go out there, tear the place down and entertain the fans at a high level.”
His round one opponent Justin Cider said he is thrilled for a shot at the Pacific Cup and will not let this opportunity pass.
“To take part in the same historic tournament as the legends who paved the path is an honour beyond words,” Cider said. “The resurgence of the Pac Cup is a gift from the wrestling gods, and a gift that I respect, that I am thankful for and a gift that I shall not let pass by.”
Cider said he will use his tournament win as a stepping stone to bring his blossoming career to new heights.
For Elliot Tyler the Pacific Cup is an opportunity at redemption. He rode a hot streak in 2019 and advanced all the way to the finals by defeating both Billy Suede and local champion Travis Williams, but ultimately came up short to Judas Icarus – a night he considers one of the best in his career. The 2023 tournament is his chance to right that wrong.
“I love one-night tournaments and I am also a huge fan of the legacy built around this trophy,” Tyler said. “It definitely means a lot to be involved in this tournament, a standard has been held for this tournament for many years as sort of a work rate wrestler’s dream. The tournament puts a stamp of approval on almost every wrestler that goes through it.”
The Shareef Morrow vs. Jacky Lee bout will also be an interesting one as the pair comprise one of the top tag teams in the PNW – Re:Loaded. The duo have won tag team titles in several promotions and that could be a show-stealing match.
Mohammed said ASW is considering several different formats for the Pacific Cup moving forward and want to keep the tournament as an annual event. He hinted at opening up the Pacific Cup to all weight limits or possibly running a women’s tournament. He also confirmed that the winner of the 2023 event will receive a future ASW Cruiserweight title shot – that championship is currently held by Danni Deeds.
He said he likes both Shawn Murphy, Steve Migs and Billy Suede as wrestlers who could walk away with the trophy.
“Everywhere he goes he is turning heads,” Mohammed said of Murphy. “He was trained by Seth Rollins and this kid could be something. He’s one to watch in this tournament. Migs has pretty much done it all in Seattle and this is his first time in this territory – I think he could do well. And obviously Suede is a former champion and knows what it takes to win a Pacific Cup.”
The new Pacific Cup winner will be crowned on Saturday, April 23, 2023, with a bell time of 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit allstarwrestling.ca.
PAST PACIFIC CUP WINNERS
2019 – Judas Icarus
2017 – Nicole Matthews
2016 – Ethan HD
2015 – Alex Plexis
2014 – Bishop
2013 – Kenny Lush
2012 – Bishop
2011 – RICK
2010 – Artemis Spencer
2009 – El Phantasmo
2008 – “Brilliant” Billy Suede
2007 – Kyle O’Reilly
2006 – Memphis Raines
2005 – Aaron Idol
2004 – Major Hardway
2003 – Scotty Mac
2002 – Black Dragon
2000 – Asian Coogar
- June 30, 2011: RICK — just RICK — a unique Pacific Cup champion
- June 9, 2008: Suede not a gracious Pacific Cup winner
- June 5, 2008: Pacific Cup a showcase of West Coast talent
- Feb. 18, 2004: Pacific Cup: A History
- Feb. 18, 2004: Pacific Cup a chance for talent to shine
- Mar. 7, 2013: Pac Cup brings Richards, Kozina back to B.C.