The Rip Chord Invitational: MAW vs. The World
by Dan Mardayl, Pro Wrestling Hits Magazine

The Rip Chord Invitational 2007

In Mid Atlantic Wrestling's short history, two events have stood out from the rest; their anniversary show, "Where It All Begins Again", which in 2006 mixed a celebration of their first year in business with one of the highest quality wrestling events of any promotion, and their annual tournament, The Rip Chord Invitational. The first, held last January, really helped establish the company as a real force to be reckoned with, and featured heavily in the voting for Card Of The Year here at Pro Wrestling Hits Magazine. That night it was Mainstream Hernandez who came out victorious, winning the eight man tournament in style and establishing him as one of the hottest prospects in North America. In just a few weeks time, MAW will hold the second Rip Chord Invitational, and the second time around looks to be be bigger and better than the original.

Rip Chord, owner of Mid Atlantic Wrestling, held a press conference on January 5th in which he announced some of the details regarding the tournament. The motto for this year's event seems to be "bigger and better", and Chord seems to have taken that very literally. This year's tournament will definitely be bigger, as it has been expanded from an eight-man tournament to a sixteen-man version. To achieve the goal of being better, Rip announced that this year's event will also have the theme of "MAW vs. The World"; eight of the competitors will be MAW wrestlers, eight will be competitors taken from all around the world, giving the event a truly global feel. The legendary Rip also announced that each of the first round matches will be in that format, with a MAW wrestler competing with an opponent from outside of the company.

The selection of MAW wrestlers who have entered represents the cream of the crop from the promotion:

Steven "The Future" Parker: The current MAW champion, Parker is one of the brightest young stars around, and is rumoured to have caught the eye of both of the 'Big Two' in America, SWF and TCW.
Mainstream Hernandez: Mainstream won the original Invitational in 2006, and is now returning to defend his crown. Although he didn't manage to capture the MAW title in 2006 as he had hoped, he engaged in several show-stealing matches over the year, and has pinfall victories over both of the men to have held the company's top strap, Steven Parker and Mean Jean Cattley.
Mean Jean Cattley: Mean Jean was the first ever MAW champion, and is one of the cornerstones of the promotion. Since losing the title in the summer, he has been obsessed with regaining it, and will see victory in the Rip Chord Invitational as a sure-fire way to get another title shot.
Des Davids: Thought by many to be the brightest young prospect in MAW, the fan favourite Davids is currently the only undefeated wrestler in Mid Atlantic Wrestling. If he can continue that streak for four more matches, he will be walking out of the infamous Stanley Hall with the tournament trophy.
Natural Storm: "The Natural" Eddie Howard and "The Storm" D.C. Rayne are MAW's premier tag team, being two time (and reigning) tag team champions. Both have developed into dangerous wrestlers, and it'll be interesting to see how they fair in a rare venture into singles competition.
Erik Strong: "The Shooting Star" is one of the most exciting talents in Mid Atlantic Wrestling, and a former tag team partner of Mainstream Hernandez. He is something of a long-shot in this tournament, but will take heart in remembering that his ex-partner was also an outsider in 2006, but ended up winning it.
Antonio: Rip Chord's protege, Antonio probably has the longest odds to win the Invitational due to his recent form (he is currently on a three-match losing streak), but remains a threat due to his mastery of the infamous Rip Chord DDT finisher.

In order to give the tournament as much prestige as possible, Rip Chord scoured the world for the best talent around, and his reputation has helped him grab some extremely exciting names for this event.

From Mexico's MPWF promotion come two stars of the lucha scene, Electo and Mayan Idol. Electo is a former two-time champion of MPWF, and will be making his debut on US-soil with MAW. A huge star in Mexico, he is one of the favourites to win the tournament. The veteran brawler Mayan Idol is one of the most popular characters in lucha libre, and is a former champion of South Of The Border Pro Wrestling. The biggest of the sixteen competitors, he will pose a huge threat to anyone who faces him.

From Japan, Rip has secured the services of two of the hottest free agents around. Making their American debuts will be technical master SUKI and the rising Super Junior star White Samurai. SUKI, who is heavily rumoured to be joining Japanese giants PGHW soon, is seen by many as the 'next big thing' in the East, and will be looking to showcase his skills for a Western audience. White Samurai, protege of Scarlet Samurai, is a gifted high flier, who has been tipped to be one of the two wildcards in another of this year's big elimination tournaments, the legendary BHOTWG Best Of The Super Juniors event. Both men have what it takes to return home to Japan with the Rip Chord Invitational trophy.

Some of Mid Atlantic Wrestling's wrestlers have been appearing on USPW shows recently - the two promotions have become close, probably because of the friendship between Rip Chord and USPW owner Sam Strong - and this year's tournament will mark the first time that competitors will be making the reverse journey. Entering this year's tournament will be Darryl Devine and Nicky Champion. Devine is a former two-time USPW National champion, and is somebody who is on the verge of great things within wrestling. Nicky Champion, formerly Tom E Hawk, is a wrestler who Sam Strong is said to be particularly keen on pushing, and so he will be keen to make a good impression.

The final two competitors come from the independent scene. The first is Canadian worker "White Angel" Frankie Dee, a martial arts master who has been getting rave reviews recently. He will be looking at the Rip Chord Invitational as a way of adding to his name value, and perhaps getting a regular place on the roster. The final fighter is a well-known face to American fans, being former Total Championship Wrestling grappler Stevie Grayson. The former two-time Cruiserweight champion was released by TCW last year, and this is his first major appearance since. With more "big match" experience than anyone else in the tournament, Grayson may well be favourite to win it and put his career back on track.

The tournament happens in a few weeks, and with an impressive sixteen man line-up, it already looks set to be the first contender for 2007's Card Of The Year.