Wrestling tournaments are a thing of beauty, and something that has become some of the biggest events for promotions around the world. From PWG Battle of Los Angeles to CHIKARA King of Trios, from wXw‘s 16 Carat Gold to PROGRESS‘ upcoming Super Strong Style 16, tournaments bring in world class talent for a chance to show regional areas some top quality wrestling. Larger promotions like NJPW thrive on tournaments, such as the G1 Climax, Best of the Super Juniors and New Japan Cup, while WWE has seen success lately with the likes of the Mae Young Classic and Cruiserweight Classic. In Canada, the biggest tournament of the year is in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with Smash Wrestling, with the tournament that has been rebranded this year as The Northern. This year’s edition will feature two parts, an afternoon and evening show, on Sunday June 3.
Formerly known as GOLD, this 16-person tournament started in 2014, just two years after Smash’s birth in 2012. The inaugural tournament was held to crown the first Smash Wrestling Champion and ended with a Fatal Five Way Elimination match featuring Matt Cross (LU’s Son of Havoc), Chris Hero (NXT’s Kassius Ohno), Josh Alexander, Kevin Steen (WWE’s Kevin Owens) and Takaaki Watanabe (NJPW’s EVIL), with Cross taking home the gold. Since its inception in 2014, it’s seen entrants reading like a who’s who of the indie world, such as Johnny Gargano, Dalton Castle, Candice LeRae, Biff Busick (NXT’s Oney Lorcan), Trevor Lee, Mark Haskins, Lio Rush, as well as homegrown Canadian talents like Rosemary, Mike “Speedball” Bailey, and Tyson Dux. This year, GOLD has changed the name to The Northern, but don’t expect the level of talent to dwindle. In fact, this year looks to be the biggest year yet. Who will join past winners such as Matt Cross (2014), Candice LeRae (2015), TARIK (2016) and Mark Haskins (2017) as tournament winners? Here’s a run down of the 2018 Northern competitors.
First woman to win a top men’s singles title in a major indie when she was crowned CHIKARA Grand Champion in 2015…Tag Team Champion with Cherry Bomb (Impact’s Allie) as The Kimber Bombs, in both SHIMMER and SHINE…Briefly competed in NXT as Abbey Laith, before making her return to the indies this year.
Scottish superstar who has competed for ICW, Defiant/WCPW, and various other UK and European indies…Calls Smash home in North America…Former WCPW World Heavyweight Champion…Returning from competing for Scotland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
A Canadian wrestling icon, with a near 20 year career in the business…Has competed for Impact Wrestling (was part of Team Canada), Ring of Honor, All Japan, and WWE, most recently representing Canada in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic in 2016…Is the longest reigning Smash Champion of all time, with a 435-day reign that recently came to an end.
A rising star on the international indie scene, with extensive work with Full Impact Pro (FIP), PWX, CZW, EVOLVE and most recently the revamped MLW…3x American Combat Wrestling (ACW) Tag Team Champion with Aaron Solow (from Extra Talented)…Latest tag team is Pop Culture, an intergender tandem with Veda Scott.
One of Smash Wrestling’s biggest heels…A Smash regular since 2015, he’s also the reigning Empire State Wrestling (ESW) Champion in his hometown promotion in Buffalo, New York.
One of Canada’s best kept indie secrets, “Banks is Money”…Represented Canada in the Qualifiers for the WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup in 2017, but lost in a stunning match against Speedball Bailey.
The new “Bad Boy” of pro wrestling and one of the next wave of indie wrestling’s biggest Superstars…One half of the intergender tag team Janelope (with Penelope Ford) and host of GCW’s Joey Janela’s Spring Break event every WrestleMania weekend…Current reigning AIW Intense Champion, as well as a 4x CZW Wired Champion, A1 Outer Limits Champion and HOG Tag Team Champion…Recently announced for Cody Rhodes/Young Bucks supershow ALL IN.
One of Impact Wrestling’s X-Division stars…Is a tourney veteran, having competed in such tourneys as PWG BOLA (2015), Impact Super X-Cup (2017), wXw 16 Carat Gold (2015), and CZW Best of the Best (2013-2015)…Made his Pro Wrestling NOAH debut this year…Formerly part of the Helms Dynasty in Impact with Shane Helms and Trevor Lee, recently debuted in a new team with DJ Z.
Smash’s resident big man is making a comeback after briefly stepping away from the ring for the birth of his child…A 6-year veteran of the Canadian indies and a Smash Original.
Recently crowned the new Black Label Pro Champion…A 6-year indie veteran, despite being only 22 years old…Has wrestled both women and men her entire career in such promotions as Beyond, IWA Mid South, SHINE, and WSU, as well as in the UK with Pro Wrestling EVE, OTT and more…One half of the powerhouse tag team Team PAWG with indie icon LuFisto.
One of Smash Wrestling’s outstanding rookies of 2017, he’s also a regular with Buffalo’s ESW…Recently turned heel and joined up with Scotty O’Shea in the faction Kill/Screen.
A 12-year veteran of the Canadian indie scene and a Smash Original…Wrestled for many of Canada’s top promotions, including Ottawa’s C4, Windsor’s Border City Wrestling, Great Canadian Wrestling (GCW), as well as appearances for CHIKARA, CZW and Ring of Honor.
The King of Bros, rapidly becoming a Smash regular after making his Smash debut late 2017…Current reigning EVOLVE Champion, and a former 2x PROGRESS Atlas Champion and PWG World Tag Team Champion with another Smash regular, Jeff Cobb, as The Chosen Bros…Another tournament specialist, he’s competed at PWG BOLA (2016, 2017), CZW Best of the Best (2018), wXw 16 Carat Gold (2017, 2018), CHIKARA Johnny Kidd Invitational (2017), PWX X16 (2016) and many more.
A product of the CZW Dojo who made his debut in 2015…Has emerged in the last year as one of the top emerging stars on the indie scene, working with MLW and Beyond…Making his Smash debut.
A 9-year veteran of the ring and one of the most popular women’s wrestlers in the world…A former Knockouts Champion in Impact Wrestling (then known as Jade), as well as a former SHINE Champion and Queen of Southside Champion in the UK…Made her WWE debut last summer as part of the Mae Young Classic…Just recently returned to the ring after suffering a leg injury at the end of 2017.
A 21-year veteran of the ring, he’s conquered the indies and worked for nearly every promotion available…3x WWE Tag Team Champion with John Morrison as part of MNM…4x MCW Heavyweight Champion, he also had a run in the original ECW as part of The Bad Street Boys/Young Blood with Christian York, was a member of Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black (Seth Rollins)’s Age of the Fall faction in Ring of Honor, CM Punk‘s Straight Edge Society in the WWE, and was part of J & J Security with Jamie Noble as part of The Authority in his last run on WWE television.