Rawskillz Defeated Kenny Omega
Won: November 26th, 2003 - The LID Nightclub - Winnipeg, Mb
Lost: January 21st, 2004
How: Defeated by Kenny Omega In A PCW Title vs CWF Title Unification Match
Length: 56 Days (19th Longest)
September 18th, 2003 - PCW's Back to School Bash - perhaps the most critical date in the young history of the promotion, a true cross-roads between what PCW was, to what it could be, starkly represented by the ascension of Kenny Omega as PCW Heavyweight Champion!
When PCW began in March 2002, it was with more promise than any Manitoba-based promotion previously. A multi-millionaire financial backer John Nguyen, a vision by an acclaimed & experienced creative director Mike Davidson, a great regular venue secured by Andrew Shallcross, the most talented roster ever assembled in Winnipeg and a fanbase clamoring for great professional wrestling!
Their debut event, Commencement of Cool, drew over 1700 fans, a record that still stands, to witness such wrestling legends as The Honkytonk Man, Brutus Beefcake and the incomparable Eddie Guerrero! The sky was the limit for PCW!
But as the Back to School Bash approached over 18 months after their inception, PCW was very different. Nguyen had lost interest, pulling his financing, locking management out of their South Winnipeg offices and tying the company's future up in a tense months-long negotiation.
PCW followed up Commencement of Cool with Boiling Point, an event that drew an incredibly impressive 1200 fans to a professional baseball park featuring The Legion of Doom & Buff Bagwell, but one which was creatively disappointing and financially disastrous, especially for Davidson & Shallcross who were personally financing the company. By summer 2003, crowds to their weekly live events at the Stratosphere Nightclub were dwindling and the creative vision was being questioned.
In August, Davidson quit the company, taking several wrestlers with him as he planned to start up a rival promotion called Action Wrestling Entertainment (AWE). This left the relatively inexperienced Shallcross running PCW and supporting the company financially and creatively on his own.
The one steadying constant for PCW was their Heavyweight Champion, the veteran Chi Chi Cruz. Cruz brought legitimacy and respectability to the promotion but even he was beginning to hear boo's from the fans as they yearned for change. Worse yet, Cruz had secretly agreed to jump from PCW to Davidson's AWE for their as-yet unscheduled inaugural event, taking the title with him and potentially dealing a death blow to PCW.
In the midst of so much uncertainty was the young and impressive star widely believed to be the future of the wrestling industry, Kenny Omega. When PCW announced Davidson's resignation, Omega was the first person to reach out to Shallcross with words of encouragement and a plan for a new vision for the company.
But Kenny would be handed nothing. Even before Davidson quit, Omega was quickly climbing the ranks in PCW, earning two previous championship matches - a No Contest and a narrow pinfall loss to Cruz. With Shallcross now in charge, he challenged Omega to push himself even more, engaging in a Best of Five Series with "Showtime" Robby Royce - up to that point the standard bearer by which all other wrestlers in Manitoba were measured - ultimately winning and becoming #1 Contender.
With Cruz determined to keep his promise to Davidson to bring the PCW Heavyweight Championship to AWE, he balked at defending the title against Omega at the Back to School Bash. When pushed to commit, Cruz finally relented but then no-showed the event, leaving Shallcross and PCW Commissioner Tom Manos with little choice but to strip him of the championship and award the title to the winner of a hastily arranged #1 Contender vs #2 Contender match between Omega and "Outlaw" Adam Knight.
Kenny won a thrilling contest and the Omega Era - and PCW's new vision - had truly begun.
Shallcross continued to put his stamp on PCW's new direction, announcing that the PCW Junior Heavyweight Championship, a title that had been the cornerstone of the promotion, would be retired following the Halloween Special event on October 30th 2003. But the upheaval in the wrestling industry continued.
Davidson's AWE had plans to launch but their preferred venue, Coyotes Nightclub, was locked into a contract with the Canadian Wrestling Federation (CWF), run by then NWA President Ernie Todd. The CWF was the longest running promotion in Winnipeg at the time but Todd had a very acrimonious relationship with other promoters, especially Davidson.
The CWF running Coyotes weekly was a declaration of war on PCW as it was direct competition and operated at a venue, Coyotes, which was a direct competitor to PCW's main venue, The Stratosphere. With AWE's launch date undetermined, the pending war seemed to be between PCW and the CWF.
And to tip the odds in the CWF's favour, The Stratosphere was scheduled to close down on November 1st for extensive renovations, giving the CWF several weeks of live events with no competition. However, one cannot underestimate Ernie Todd's tendency to get in his own way.
The CWF's weekly live events under performed at Coyotes and Todd accused Davidson and his allies such as Shane Madison of sabotaging his success by attending the shows and unfairly criticizing them. Coyotes asked Todd to renegotiate their financial arrangement and when Todd refused, Coyotes dropped them, paving the way for AWE to finally debut in November.
With PCW still on hiatus while their main venue was undergoing renovations and the CWF cancelled, it created the perfect scenario for AWE to make a splash and grab market share unimpeded by competition. Davidson announced AWE's inaugural event would be called November Pain and would feature Dan "The Beast" Severn and Buff Bagwell as the headliners.
The issue that had caused such consternation and controversy for PCW in September - then-champion Chi Chi Cruz refusing to defend the title against Kenny Omega as he had promised Davidson's he'd jump to AWE with the title - seemed settled when Omega won the PCW Heavyweight Championship.
But with PCW on hiatus and Omega's rising status as the future of the wrestling industry, Davidson, seemingly obsessed with snuffing out his former promotion, attempted to lure him to AWE. Kenny long had a desire to expand his vision for wrestling and was open to appearing on the show, but would not in any way disrespect PCW.
Omega was proud to be champion and wanted to proudly defend the title against all challengers. With that condition, Kenny agreed to defend the PCW Championship at AWE's November Pain against an old rival, "Red Hot" Ryan Wood.
Davidson scheduled the match to open the show, correctly assuming it would be a hot start to AWE. In fact, it was the match of the night and Omega was victorious. The event was met with conflicting reports as to it's success with some saying it under performed financially and creatively and others claiming Coyotes management was sufficiently impressed they offered AWE a deal to provide weekly live events. That offer, if the rumours were correct, was declined by Davidson who said his vision included only large "big show" events.
The renovations of the Stratosphere were finally complete and it re-opened one week after AWE's November Pain, now called The Lid Nightclub! The new venue was a hit with the local University-aged crowd and was wildly popular and continued to be the best regular venue for wrestling in the city.
While Omega's successful foray to AWE was something he was proud of, Shallcross did not share his feeling and was concerned that the rival promotion would continue to run shows and try to lure their talent away. But Shallcross respected Omega and respected the lineage and legacy of the PCW Heavyweight Championship. Whatever happened, he wanted the future of the title decided in the ring.
With that in mind, at PCW's return on November 26th 2003, he put Omega in an unenviable position - defending the gold against one of his closest friends, either Rawskillz or "Canadian Idol" Chris Stevens. Those two would face each other early in the night with the winner receiving a title shot against Kenny in the main event.
Both Stevens & Rawskillz were certainly qualified. The "Canadian Idol" spent much of 2003 pursuing Chi Chi Cruz and the PCW Heavyweight Championship while also engaging in a feud with Commissioner Manos resulting in Stevens even temporarily earning control of the company for one week.
Coincidentally, both men had early success in tag team wrestling. Stevens was a former PCW Tag Team Champion, with partner Ronnie Attitude, although their reign was only fourteen days. Stevens had been a last-minute replacement for Ryan Wood and thus became an associate-member of Mike Davidson's Dynasty clique.
Rawskillz had begun his career in the tag team Assisted Suicide with Chad Tatum and the duo was highly successful, winning multiple CWF & TRCW Tag Team Championships. The combination put forth a jaw-dropping performance at PCW's inaugural event, Commencement of Cool, defeating Perfect Balance in a TLC Match in front of over 1700 fans. That match was even watched back-stage by WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero who remarked "I have to follow those guys?", a significant compliment to be sure.
While Stevens quickly rose to the heavyweight ranks following his tag team reign, Rawskillz became the standard bearer in the Junior Heavyweight division following his break-up with Tatum. Skillz won three PCW Junior Heavyweight Championships in his career and became one of the most respected - and popular - wrestlers in the company.
As Stevens & Skillz prepared to square off on November 26th 2003 at PCW's return to their home venue, Omega watched intently. He was close to both men, training regularly with Rawskillz and, in fact, having aligned with Stevens at the previous live event on October 30th when new PCW Tag Team Champions Antonio Scorpio & Mentallo joined Omega & Stevens in re-forming Parys Wrestling International with future PCW Hall of Famer "Class Act" Chris Parys!
Stevens had the size, power & impact advantage while Skillz was technically superior though not by much. Both men were highly athletic and gifted but Skillz likely had the advantage in pure wrestling knowledge. Fans were buzzing for the match and provided several ovations for both men throughout the battle.
Perhaps in a bit of an upset, Rawskillz was victorious, shrugging off any thoughts that he was too small to compete for the top spot. When he challenged Omega in the night's main event, it was truly the embodiment of the new vision for PCW, where talent and effort trumped everything else.
It was a display of wrestling skill not often seen in Winnipeg previously as arguably the two best wrestlers battled for the top title. Omega's title reign had been an historic event but was not historically lengthy as he was defeated - upset as many said - by Rawskillz on this night.
When the smoke cleared, Skillz was the new PCW Heavyweight Champion and the classy Omega strapped the belt around his waist.
The post script to this exciting development was the fact PCW's fear of a competitive attack from AWE drove them to create a challenging environment for their champions, but it was the CWF that would lure Omega away and test his loyalties. Whatever "cold war" existed between the two promotions exploded into a violent conflict to end 2003 and wouldn't be resolved until one man united both the PCW & CWF Championships!
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