This Saturday, pro wrestling fans in central Illinois will gather in Springfield to honor the memory of "Toga" Steve Fisher with PWA's third annual TOGA Memorial Tournament.
I recently discussed the tournament and more with Pinfall Wrestling Association's part owner and former referee, Tim Givens.
Can you provide readers with some background info on Pinfall Wrestling Association? When was the company founded? Who were the founders?
Tim: PWA is the only dominant provider of quality family entertainment in the tradition of classic professional wrestling around central Illinois. Our goal is to take the best of classic independent wrestling of the past and add it with the flair and entertainment of the 21st century.
Pinfall Wrestling Association was founded in 2011 by Antoine Archie and Les Mickey Thomas. They wanted to start an independent wrestling company in their hometown of Springfield, IL. After being at a live sold out wrestling show in February of 2010, they knew wrestling fans could support such an event. They were part of previous independent wrestling companies in the area, but they didn't last. So they decided to start PWA in May of 2011 with the first ever event called "The Grand Wrestling Spectacle." They said about a month before the show: "If you build it, they will come."
Saturday, April 30th marks the third annual TOGA Memorial Tournament. Could you discuss this memorial for Steve and what he did for PWA?
Tim: Steve was a pioneer in this business and was always there to lend a helping hand. He never stood with his back to anybody or against anybody. Steve was one of the founding fathers of The New SOB and the leader of Derek Moss and Schlitzy. He was a great wrestler, friend and family man. I myself never wrestled Steve in the ring, but I knew him through the business and watched many of his matches. I worked 2 shows with Steve in 2014 just before he passed. We all here in PWA and the surrounding area keep TOGA Steve's memory alive each year with the Toga Steve Memorial Tournament.
Who won the past tournaments and who will Steve join as he is in inducted into the PWA Hall of Fame?
Tim: The winner of the first tournament was "ZeroHype" Guy Smith, and the second winner was "The Young Thriller" Derek Moss.
Here's a list of the PWA Hall of Fame inductees:
- 2013 - Ray Lytle
- 2014 - Irish Revolution
- 2014 - Rip Mystic
- 2015 - Jason Wells
- 2015 - Antoine Archie
- 2016 - TOGA Steve
- 2016 - Eric Logan
What made you want to be a referee?
Tim: I came to my first PWA show in January 2013 called "New Beginning's" as a fan and reporter like you, but for Ringside News. I came back in February and Bryan Ealey had asked me if I could ref the show since his ref bricked on the company. Well, guess what, I got stuck in that role for almost 2 years reffing EVERY show. Thank god for the Academy. I took the reffing job and ran with it. This was the closest I'd get to wrestling. (That's another story for another day. Stay tuned, you might be surprised soon though.)
What has been your favorite match or moment you’ve experienced in the ring?
Tim: I've been part of some of the greatest things in PWA history, including being one of the founding fathers of the Pinfall Academy. I've reffed many great matches and lived out my dream as a wrestler as well. I've also worked with a lot of great talents from the indys, as well as WWE, TNA, Ring of Honor, etc.
I know you currently watch WWE. With that said, what was your favorite match from WrestleMania 32?
Tim: Yes, I watched WrestleMania 32, but I didn't have a favorite match because it was one of the worst Manias in history.
Can you name your all-time favorite match(es) or wrestler(s) since becoming a wrestling fan?
Tim: I grew up watching WCCW, NWA, AWA, WCW, WWF, USWA, everything. I have a lot of favorite matches: HBK vs. Razor at WrestleMania X, Sting vs. Flair, Steamboat vs. Savage, Steamboat vs. Flair, Dusty vs. Flair, etc. I was a fan of Flair, Rhodes, Sting, Benoit, Bret and Owen Hart, Stone Cold, Steamboat, Eddie, I mean the list just goes on and on.
Do you have any advice for aspiring wrestlers that are trying to break into the business?
Tim: If you really want in this business then make the time to GET TRAINED AND TRAINED RIGHT. This isn't a weekend warrior sport by any means, this is a tough sport. Mentally, emotionally, physically. This business will eat you from the inside out. It takes a toll on your family life as well, and unfortunately, I've witnessed this first hand.
If you want in, then sit down, hang on and pay attention because it comes fast and will take your head off. Most people have been doing this for over 30 years, while others are in their first 10, and some are just starting out. Pay attention and learn cause you learn each and every day in this business and you never stop learning. If you're wanting in as wrestlers, managers, or just behind the scenes, enjoy it because it's a world of fun and world of sh*t all wrapped into one.
And for those interested in joining the Pinfall Wrestling Academy? How can fans sign up to participate?
Tim: Pinfall Academy is the training grounds for PWA - "It's Where The New Crop Begins." We were looking for new talent for PWA because we all can't be here forever, so we opened our doors in May 2014. Our first class came in opening night with fifteen, and I graduated three.
We are running training three days a week. Our head trainer was trained by WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race. We are the cheapest training school around. We have graduated Rosko Lander, Harley Knucklehead, Brent Dunn and some referees.
You can contact me via Facebook for more info, or get your a** in the Academy!
Lastly, what can fans expect from PWA in the near future?
Tim: PWA is growing fast and expanding every day. We are running shows now in 6 towns: Springfield, Auburn, Jacksonville, and Beardstown, with Decatur and Athens coming up later this year.
We brought the legacy of pro wrestling back to Lanphier High School and we plan on continuing that. We don't step aside for anybody and never will. We are stretching out to even more places and things. We have a few more things up our sleeves for this year, but shhh!
The 3rd Annual TOGA Memorial Tournament takes place at Lanphier High School in Springfield this Saturday night at 7 PM. Doors open at 6:30. Tickets for adults cost $10, kids ages 6-12 cost $6, and children under five get in free.
It has been revealed that this year's tournament will feature tag teams. The Carnival has been confirmed to participate.
Follow Tim Givens on Facebook HERE.
“Like” Pinfall Wrestling Association on Facebook HERE.
Follow me on Twitter @cj_blaze24.