Kenny Omega Defeated "Outlaw" Adam Knight
Won: September 18th, 2003 - PCW's Back To School Bash! - Stratosphere Nightclub - Winnipeg, Mb
Lost: November 26th, 2003
How: Defeated by Rawskillz
Length: 69 Days (15th Longest)
By mid 2003, PCW was in turmoil both in the ring and behind the scenes. Launching in March 2002 with a record-setting and critically acclaimed event at the University of Manitoba that drew over 1700 fans to see such legendary wrestlers as The Honkytonk Man, Brutus Beefcake and Eddie Guerrero, the in-ring success belied a tumultuous corporate roller-coaster.
PCW had been formed with a vision developed by Mike Davidson, a business plan written by Andrew Shallcross and the financial backing of John Nguyen. As the owner and President of PCW, Nguyen employed liberal use of both the carrot and stick motivational tools creating a stressful work environment for Davidson and Shallcross.
John had initially cautioned the optimistic young duo to expect losses for at least the first year. But following the rousing success of Commencement of Cool on March 3rd 2002, John demanded more success, more often. He'd often encourage them to plan large events and then threaten to pull the financing.
At one point, in summer of 2002, Nguyen considered cancelling the first Boiling Point event at CanWest Global Park featuring The Legion of Doom & Buff Bagwell. But buoyed by their efforts in planning such a monumental event, John offered to let fate decide. He rolled two dice, asking them to choose over or under. In an instance, Davidson called over, the dice rolled 7 and PCW continued to operate.
To their credit, Shallcross & Davidson kept the boardroom politics largely a secret. To the outside world and especially the competition, PCW continued to be financed by a multi-millionaire, worked out of luxurious offices in Winnipeg's South End that housed a state of the art Graphics Design division and had numerous local industry-leading live events planned. In reality, PCW was virtually completely self-financed by Davidson & Shallcross since Commence of Cool, though they continued to use office-space at Nguyen's building.
By late summer 2002, even that came to an end with Nguyen locking them out and announcing he was officially pulling out of all obligations and interest in the company. In November, after a complicated negotiation, PCW announced they had been purchased by a new company owned by Davidson, Shallross and local businessman Tom Manos who's holdings included PCW's main venue the Stratosphere Nightclub. Manos also worked for PCW as Commissioner.
The ownership change meant a new direction for the young company, one that could finally move forward creatively. Weeks after the purchase announcement, PCW crowned their first ever Heavyweight Champion, Chi Chi Cruz.
Cruz had defeated Shane Madison in a unique concept called the Quest of the Best which included a Battle Royale, a One Night Tournament, a Wild Card Rumble and a Best of Seven Series to determine the new champion. The Best of Seven Series took place across all of PCW's regular weekly venues, an unprecedented work-load that saw the company showcased to fans all over Winnipeg.
Cruz was the perfect inaugural champion for the young company. He was a renowned veteran, respected across the continent and held titles in multiple promotions. He provided stability, experience and respect to PCW at a key time in their history. And he was a fighting champion, defending his title in numerous intense, high profile feuds!
He had notable championship programs with Chris Stevens, elevating the young talent to the position of bonafide top tier talent. He fought with his old Real Action Wrestling nemesis Mad Man Williams in a feud that saw them battle from the Prairies to the Maritimes and back again! He brawled with Darren "The Bomb" Dalton who had been recruited into Davidson's "Dynasty" clique and engaged in perhaps the most violent rivalry in PCW's young history, with "Outlaw" Adam Knight!
As Cruz took on all comers, there was one young superstar that was quickly capturing the attention of fans and industry insiders alike, Kenny Omega!
From the outset of PCW, Omega was inextricably linked to history, defeating his mentor Mentallo in the opening match of the official company launch, Commencement of Cool on March 3rd 2002. He continued to be one of the most electrifying young "junior heavyweights" in the country, routinely having the match of the night with the likes of Mentallo, Rawskillz, Chad Tatum and Ryan Wood.
Omega was seemingly poised to finally capture championship gold as he fought relentlessly over the PCW Junior Heavyweight Championship, but a serious knee injury suffered on Halloween derailed his efforts. As 2003 began, Kenny's rehabilitation was nearly complete as detailed in a series of documentary episodes aired during live events.
Kenny had dedicated himself to returning to action bigger, stronger & better than ever. With a return date set for February, Davidson & Shallcross met to discuss the plan for Kenny's future. As Creative Director, the call was ultimately up to Davidson but as PCW's inaugural year had come to a close, Shallcross began asserting his opinion more often.
Davidson was not known to be very close to the so-called "juniors" and while he routinely bragged about their talent in media opportunities, the talent that made up that division felt under-appreciated. Shallcross explained that to Davidson and noted that Omega was larger and more muscular than he had been before his injury.
Davidson replied by suggesting that Kenny return to the junior division where he'd be, in Mike's estimation, a "division killer". Shallcross resisted the suggestion feeling that Omega was the future of the wrestling industry, something very special and should be elevated to a featured position.
Davidson listened..and agreed, stating that should Kenny earn the opportunity, he'd be positioned as a challenger to Chi Chi Cruz and the PCW Heavyweight Championship by years end.
Omega returned to PCW in late February in the main event and received a standing ovation. He faced, and defeated, "Red Hot" Ryan Wood in a tremendous match to prove he had not lost a step. In March, he fought PCW Junior Heavyweight Champion Rawskillz to a time-limit draw in the main event of a Rookies Sports Bar event and captured the regional Transcona Championship. He faced number one contender "Outlaw" Adam Knight, narrowly losing on March 15th in Portage La Prairie and winning via count out five days later at the Stratosphere, fully cementing himself a legitimate threat in the heavyweight division.
On March 27th, Omega teamed with long-time friend and training partner "Vicious" Donny Dicaprio to defeat the team of Woody & Ronnie (Ryan Wood & Ronnie Attitude) and in the night's main event, won a #1 Contender's Battle Royale to earn a PCW Heavyweight Championship opportunity.
One week later, Kenny received his title shot against Chi Chi Cruz and the assembled masses at the Stratosphere realized they were seeing something special and historic - the veteran vs the future, But the unrepentant Adam Knight marred what was a great main event by attacking both men to stake his claim as top contender.
Four days later at Rookies Sports Bar, Kenny defeated Shane Madison and then, back at the Stratosphere, teamed with the PCW Heavyweight Champion Cruz to defeated Knight and "Canadian Idol" Chris Stevens.
Omega continued his sizzling hot streak with victories over the likes of Woody, Mentallo & Stevens before winning another Battle Royale, this one a Rumble, to challenge Cruz again, suffering his first defeat in weeks in front of a capacity crowd in Portage La Prairie.
The championship match was tremendous and showed just how far Omega had come...but he still hadn't been able to upset the veteran Cruz. But the relationship between two was now clearly established as one of respect. When Knight assaulted Cheech and stole the Championship belt, it was Omega who made the save and then defeated Knight via count-out once again.
In May 2003, "Showtime" Robby Royce finally made his long-awaited PCW debut and traded upon his sterling legacy as one of the most decorated champions in Canadian wrestling history by immediately targeting Cruz. Again, Omega was there when the champion needed an ally and the two defeated Knight & Royce on May 8th.
Omega & Cruz teamed again, this time defeating Dynasty members Darren Dalton & Ronnie Attitude and were now firmly established as perhaps the best tag team in PCW.
That summer, PCW announced Boiling Point II would take place at the Avenue Nightclub in Winnipeg and feature former WWE Intercontinental & European Champion D-Lo Brown in the main event! As to who would be Brown's opponent, Royce graciously accepted an offer that was never made, assuming his reputation as the best big match performer in the territory made him a lock for the envious spot.
But PCW announced that the opportunity to wrestle Brown would go to Omega in something of a dream match between the experienced, highly athletic and hard-hitting Brown and the fast-riding Omega. Royce was incensed and vowed to make his presence known at the event. But he would not have to after all.
In late June PCW revealed that the Avenue Nightclub had reneged on their contractual obligations and cancelled the event, inciting outrage among the fanbase and management. Instead, PCW would present Beat The Summer Heat live at the Stratosphere on July 10th and Royce could prove his proclamations of superiority over Omega by facing him at that event while PCW Heavyweight Champion Chi Chi Cruz defended the title against Knight.
It was standing room only at the Strat for the big event, In the first half of the double main event, Royce defeated Omega and claimed that as good as Kenny was, he wasn't good enough. Royce agreed that Kenny might be the heir apparent to the throne of "Showtime", but the King wasnt ready to abdicate just yet.
In the other half of the double main event, Cruz finally over-came the exceptionally difficult challenge of Knight, beating the "Outlaw" in a bloody & violent 15-Foot Steel Chain match. Cruz took some much deserved time off while Omega rebounded by defeating Royce in the rematch two weeks later.
Cruz returned two weeks later to beat Knight again while rumours swirled of major corporate upheaval happening behind the scenes. It was true that the two young owners of PCW, Mike Davidson & Andrew Shallcross, were not seeing eye to eye on the direction of the company. Both men threatened to quit but it was Davidson who finally walked away following the August 7th event at the Stratosphere.
Several PCW Superstars loyal to Davidson, including Madison, Damon & Knight, abruptly quit the company as plans were hastily begun to start a new promotion and continue Mike's original vision.
Surrounded by turmoil, unbeknownst to each other, both Omega & Cruz approached Shallcross offering their assistance with running PCW and suggesting competing visions for the direction of the company. No one in PCW knew it at the time, but Cruz was being heavily recruited by Davidson to join his new promotion....if and when it ever got started.
Shallcross immediately pivoted creatively, announcing that the PCW Junior Heavyweight Championship would be discontinued later that year and creating a Best of Five series between Omega & Royce to finally settle the argument between them (and many fans) of who was better. The winner would also become undisputed number one contender to the Heavyweight Championship and each match would have a different stipulation randomly drawn by the fans.
Royce got out to an early 2-0 advantage, beating Omega in a Lumberjack Match and then an I Quit match. The veteran who was arguably in the prime of his career, clearly utilized his superior experience in stipulation matches to surprise the young Omega who was forced out of his comfort zone by the unique format of the series.
At a career crossroads, Omega rose to the occasion, beating Royce in three straight matches to win the series and become number one contender. It was the first time since his rookie year so many years earlier that Royce had lost three strait and he proudly shook his young challenger's hand, though Royce knew his time wasnt over yet. He'd be back.
Meanwhile, fans were thrilled at the prospect of Omega getting another shot against Chi Chi Cruz for the PCW Heavyweight Championship. Their previous two matches were tremendous, the first ending in a No-Contest when Knight interferred and the second ending in a successful defense for the champion. But Omega improved seemingly daily and momentum appeared to be on his side. Would he finally shake off the label of "future champion" and cement the new vision of PCW?
Perhaps, but there was only one problem. Chi Chi Cruz refused the match.
It was a shocking development considering Cheech had been a fighting champion since he first entered the company, even facing down Adam Knight with a broken wrist. But ever since that incredible Steel Chain Match, the champion had begun hearing some discourse from the fans. He had returned from his vacation seemingly with a chip on his shoulder and condescendingly referred to the "kids" wanting his spot, a dismissive term for the likes of Omega, Mentallo, Rawskillz and others.
Perhaps Cheech saw what everyone else did - a sense of inevitability surrounding Kenny Omega, a destiny that could not be denied. And like so many old school veterans before him, Cruz was not about to lose his spot as the top guy without a fight, even if it meant dodging the rightful challenger.
Behind the scenes, former PCW Creative Director Mike Davidson, who had quit in August, was preparing the launch of his new promotion, Action Wrestling Entertainment (AWE). With the likes of Madison, Knight, Dicaprio, Woody and even young wrestlers Chris Raine & Shaun Houston either publicly or privately committed to leaving PCW and joining AWE, rumours were rampant about who else might leave. And it became clear that Davidson was negotiating with Cruz to be his feature talent.
The only thing delaying AWE's launch was their preferred venue, Coyotes Nightclub, was under contract to rival Canadian Wrestling Federation (CWF) to provide a weekly wrestling live event.
The wrestling business in Manitoba was truly in a state of upheaval. PCW had been the established top promotion since their inception a year and a half earlier but was now under the direction of the relatively inexperienced Shallcross, one of PCW's founders and the man behind the initial vision, Mike Davidson was starting his own promotion, and the long-running CWE, owned by then-NWA President Ernie Todd, had secured a strong weekly paid guarantee to run the popular Coyotes Nightclub which was also a chief rival to PCW's venue, The Stratosphere.
The landscape appeared poised for a new wrestling war.
But PCW and Shallcross were undeterred by the competition, impending competition and rumours. They were focused on the Back to School Bash and event designed to showcase the new vision, and Shallcross' leadership, for PCW. And Shallcross was determined to give the fans the main event they wanted - Chi Chi Cruz vs Kenny Omega.
Cruz continued to balk at the match, publicly challenging Omega's close friend Rawskillz to face him instead. Cheech claimed Kenny wasn't yet ready for a match of that magnitude, an absurd claim since Kenny had earned the opportunity as a result of his impressive victory over veteran Royce, and the fact Omega had challenged Cruz twice previously - one match ending in a No Contest and the other a narrow victory for the champion.
It seemed clear Cruz was more concerned about the challenge Omega represented than he was willing to admit. And he had agreed to join Davidson's AWE as featured performer, but Mike wanted him to jump from PCW to AWE as PCW Champion and, due to the CWF's deal with Coyotes Nightclub, it was feared AWE would not launch until the end of 2003.
Cruz was determined to place his title in as little jeopardy as possible with the intention of taking the PCW Heavyweight Championship to the rival AWE.
On September 11th, 2003, one week before the Back to School Bash, Shallcross met with Cruz and demanded he fulfill his championship obligations. Cheech finally relented, objecting vehemently to the match but agreeing to defend the title against Kenny Omega on September 18th.
A few days later, Shallcross telephoned Omega and explained his sense of dread, feeling that Davidson was plotting to screw them out of the match but Kenny was optimistic. He explained that he had spoken with Cruz himself and the champion had vowed to be at the Back to School Bash and, in the spirit of competition, would let the best man win.
On September 18th, the Stratosphere was packed for what many called PCW's revival. While much of the summer had seen dwindling crowds and lackluster reaction to the live events, the new vision following Davidson's resignation had seen a slow but steady rise in attendance. On this night, at the Back to School Bash, the fans turned out strongly to witness the new direction of PCW.
Shallcross and the entire roster knew this might be their only chance to showcase their vision and cement their position in the marketplace especially with the CWF competing weekly in the same neighborhood and the impending launch of AWE.
As the Stratosphere filled with people, a palpable enthusiasm was evident in the locker room with one notable exception - Chi Chi Cruz had not arrived.
Cruz had previously never missed a date and never been late. He had always been a consummate professional. With the champion still not in the building at bell time, Shallcross reached out by telephone. Cruz answered, expressing surprise that it was show day and explaining that he had a terrible flu.
"Do you really need me?" he asked.
An incredulous Shallcross emphatically responded affirmatively.
"Okay then," Cheech replied. "Ill be there."
That was the last Shallcross heard from Cruz that night. He quickly with Omega, relating Cheech's message but adding that he did not think the champion would show up. 'Its a conspiracy', an angry Shallcross said. He strongly believed, and it was later confirmed, that Cruz no-showed out of loyalty to Davidson. The fix was in. Cruz intended to show up at AWE, whenever their first event might be, as PCW Champion.
Adding to the intrigue, during the event, a clearly flustered Shallcross was pulled aside by Adam Knight who had conspicuously arrived to watch the event as a fan. He asked how the show was shaping up and when Shallcross explained that Cheech had no-showed, potentially ruining the main event, Knight said he had his wrestling attire in his car and was willing to take the spot.
It was potentially an ingenious move on the part of Adam Knight. In return for wrestling that night, he asked for money he believed was owed to him by PCW when Davidson resigned in August. And of course, should he be victorious, the Davidson plan to bring the PCW title to AWE would be on again.
But was a match the fans deserved to see. Knight had spent much of 2003 as the undisputed number one contender, pushing Cruz to his limits in a steel chain match and he had faced Omega twice that year - a pinfall victory and a count out loss. Omega had never before pinned Knight. The "Outlaw" was confident, Kenny was determined to overcome an opponent he had never beaten and Shallcross was determined to give the fans a worthy main event
Prior to the main event, Shallcross met with PCW's Commissioner Tom Manos and he agreed with the plan. Manos entered the ring and informed the crowd that Chi Chi Cruz had not arrived for the championship match and was therefore stripped of the title. He further ordered that the #1 Contender Kenny Omega would face the #2 Contender Adam Knight to determine a new champion.
If PCW management was concerned about the crowd being disappointed, their fears were unfounded. The audience reacted very enthusiastically to the new match and knew it would be tremendous. They were correct.
Omega & Knight tore the house down and when the smoke had cleared, the inevitable had happened - Kenny Omega was the new PCW Heavyweight Champion, kicking off a run as top talent that would eventually lead to WWE, Ring of Honor and the main event at the Tokyo Dome for New Japan Pro Wrestling! It cemented PCW's new vision as being one based on athleticism, talent, hard work and earning every opportunity.
As Omega explained to Shallcross when discussing the new direction, "it wont matter what any other promotion does or how many people they draw or how much money they make, we'll always have the better wrestling show".
There is one intriguing footnote to this wild story. Three days after the Back to School Bash, Cruz telephoned Shallcross, expressing his regret in not being able to attend the event. But he agreed to show up the following week to face finally face Omega. Cruz was true to his word, challenging the new champion in his first title defense.
It was a heated and thrilling contest, and Kenny Omega won when Cruz submitted to the Figure Four Leg Lock, restoring the lineage of the PCW Championship for good.
The incredible story of the wrestling scene in Winnipeg was only just beginning. While PCW felt Omega's victory ensured their championship would never be taken to Mike Davidson's AWE, in fact, the PCW Championship was defended at AWE's inaugural event when Kenny himself showed up with the belt.
And while Omega's first major championship began with such celebration and promise, it would end only 69 days later when he was upset by his friend Rawskillz, shocking the audience but reiterating PCW's new mantra that every wrestler had the same opportunity for success if they made the effort.
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