Written by: Brad Dykens from Online World of Wrestling
The legendary Eddie Graham is considered by many to be the founding father of pro-wrestling in the state of Florida, having promoted there regularly in the 60’s through the 80’s. Back in the 80’s, Graham’s Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) presented an annual event called “Battle of The Belts,” which featured super-cards jam packed with high profile matches including a main event appearance from the reigning NWA World Heavyweight champion. Full Impact Pro has decided to honor the Eddie Graham legacy by adopting the Battle of the Belts name and crowning the first ever FIP Florida Heritage champion. Mike Graham (Eddie’s son) kicked off the show bringing out the brand new Florida Heritage belt and talked about his father’s legacy in Florida. Dave Prazak and his associates (Jimmy Rave, Delirious, and Shingo) interrupted and stalked Mike Graham until FIP World champion Roderick Strong and ultra fan-favorite Erick Stevens made the save.
The tournament began strong with FIP World champion Roderick Strong challenging DP Associate Jimmy Rave – a main event match anywhere in the country. Referee Paul Turner immediately ejected Delirious and Shingo from ringside, but failed to do anything about Dave Prazak and Mr. Milo Beasley. Prazak and Beasley proved to be insignifcant as not even the power of numbers could help DP Associates secure victory. Roderick Strong began his quest to become a double-champion with an impressive victory over Jimmy Rave to advance to the second round ( 7 / 10 ).
“Sweet & Sour” Larry Sweeney came out bragging about his undefeated streak in Full Impact Pro, proclaiming that tonight was going to be HIS night and the Florida Heritage title was going home with him. Don’t sing-it, Larry Sweeney, bring it! Papa Sweeney’s first round opponent was FIP Tag Team champion Jay Briscoe, who I guess, was also on a quest to become a double-champion. I was shocked that Briscoe downed Sweeney after a Jay-driller to advance to the next round ( 7 / 10 ). Looking at the jacket for this DVD, I quietly predicted Larry Sweeney vs. Erick Stevens in the finals – I guess 1/2 of that prediction was shot down! If you ask me, it was kind of ridiculous to end Larry Sweeney’s undefeated streak in this manner – when it didn’t mean anything, there was no heat, and nothing was gained. Losing in the finals of the tournament would have meant something.
Match number three of the opening round featured DP Associate Shingo going up against cult favorite Erick Stevens. The sub-story of the night was that Dave Prazak had three clients entered into the tournament, and considered the chances of bringing the belt into his group pretty good. Jimmy Rave already lost his first round match, and Shingo was soundly defeated by Erick Stevens in this match ( 7.5 / 10 ). Delirious, Jimmy Rave and the rest of DP Associates attacked Erick Stevens until Mark Briscoe made the save and the chaos suddenly morphed into a match between Delirious and Briscoe.
The fourth and final match of the first round was Delirious desperately trying to become the only DP Associate to advance to the second round. His opponent was young Mark Briscoe and Delirious was successful in making his DP boss happy. Much to the relief of Mr. Dave Prazak, Delirious slid by the younger Briscoe brother to secure his spot in the next round of the tournament ( 7 / 10 ).
I guess So-Cal Val, Daffney, Lacey, Rain, Becky Bayless, and Lexie Fyfe were not available because the YRR (Chasyn Rance, Sal Rinauro, and Kenny King) came out with two random skanks that looked more like S.T.D. than Y.R.R. (my apologies if they were somebody’s real life girl-friends). After running their mouths for a while, the YRR was attacked by Seth Delay, Jerrelle Clark, and the returning Kory Chavis – thus setting up a big six man tag team match to waste some time later on.
Next up they showed a slick music video hyping the Florida Rumble 2006 DVD. This DVD featured a match between Erick Stevens and “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson that will blow you away. This new advertising strategy is a relatively new feature for Full Impact Pro DVDs and is a welcomed addition. It only makes sense to promote your other products – and using non-generic music makes it a lot more interesting for the viewer.
The second round began with a stiff contest between FIP World champion Roderick Strong taking on FIP Tag Team champion Jay Briscoe. Only one of these grapplers will continue on their “quest” to become the first ever double champion in FIP. Roderick used his trademark flurry of offense to finish off the older Briscoe to become one step closer to becoming a double-champion ( 7.5 / 10). After the match, the Briscoe brother addressed the “two crazy bastards” who stole their belts last month. The Briscoe boys challenged Madman Pondo and Necro Butcher to a Street Fight next month in Crystal River.
Erick Stevens, who is the biggest fan-favorite currently wrestling in FIP, had his hands full with the lizard man Delirious, who was Dave Prazak’s only remaining chance at bringing the Florida Heritage title into DP. It was a pretty long and exciting match, the best of the night so far. Erick Stevens crushed Dave Prazak’s dreams of managing a champion in FIP by defeating Delirious ( 8 / 10 ). After the match, some kid in the front row tied one of Delerious’ tassels to the guard rail and Delirious sold it like he was hand-cuffed. Very funny and very family-friendly so kootos to FIP and Delirious for that. Upon defeat, Dave Prazak suddenly proclaimed that the Florida Heritage belt was ugly and he didn’t want it anyway – but did make it clear that whoever won the tournament would have to deal with the DP Associates.
As the YRR (Chasyn Rance, Sal Rinauro, and Kenny King) came out with their two unnamed replacement valets, I wasn’t too excited with the idea of seeing them wrestle Seth Delay, Jerrelle Clarke, and Kory Chavis. I knew the match would eat up a lot of time to give Roderick Strong and Erick Stevens some time to recuperate backstage before their clash in the tournament final. Kory Chavis has changed his image, he’s considerably less “gangsta” now and wears a new blue and white singlet. Nothing terribly significant happened in this match, except for the YRR picking up another victory using some typical dirty tactics ( 4.5 / 10 ). I was left wondering how the YRR’s trio was going to divide their two dates or would it be one big party?
The finals of the tournament to crown the first ever FIP Florida Heritage champion came down to FIP World champion Roderick Strong and Erick Stevens. Stevens took a lot of Strong’s trademark offense, including some bone-crunching back-breakers, but miraculously kicked out after being hit with a Gibson-driver. Erick Stevens recovered and hit Roderick Strong with a Doctor-bomb and pinned him to end this amazing 20+ minute match ( 9 / 10 )! It quickly became apparent that this entire tournament was put together to solidify Erick Stevens as one of the top players in Full Impact Pro. Not only did he win a grueling tournament, but he defeated the FIP World champion in the finals, which automatically made him a future challenger for Roderick Strong. Mr. Mike Graham emerged from behind the curtain with the Florida Heritage belt and presented it to the first ever champion – Erick Stevens!!!
The celebration was cut short when DP Associates made good on their promise and attacked both Erick Stevens and Roderick Strong, however the two singles champions fought back and got rid of the DP crew. Mike Graham got involved and personally knocked Dave Prazak out of the ring to put an exclamation point on the Eddie Graham Memorial Battle of the Belts event.
Final Thoughts: Personally, I would have booked this show a lot differently. Erick Stevens would have won the tournament but he would have beaten Larry Sweeney in the finals. Roderick Strong wouldn’t have been in the tournament, he would have defended his FIP title against someone else – anybody for that matter. The Briscoes would have both lost in the first round, but also wrestled an impromptu match later defending their tag team titles, perhaps against the other two 1st round losers (DP Associates). I mean hell, the show is called “Battle of the Belts,” all of the belts should be on the line! That’s the way Eddie Graham would have wanted it. Amen.