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Who is the greatest UWA Elite Champion of ALL Time?

BY COLIN WEST

Nine men.
Of the over 120 competitors ever to step foot in a UWA Elite ring, only 9 of them have held the coveted UWA Elite Championship. In short, if you become a UWA Elite AllStar, you have roughly a 7% chance to one day become UWA Elite Champion.

The list reads like a “Who’s Who” of UWA Elite greats. In chronological order: Sean “Damage” McNelis, Vin Grayson, Kyle the Beast, Archadia, Bowes, Eric Corvis, Robbie Roller, “First Class” Brian Brass, and Hedges have held the coveted prize. 

When you consider the list of UWA Elite Hall of Famers and talent that HAVEN’T won the championship, the List of 9 becomes all the more impressive.

But lists are made to be ranked, and champions are made to be judged against one another - fairly or unfairly. And so, midway through the 7th season of UWA Elite Pro Wrestling, that one burning question begins to take shape...

Who is the greatest UWA Elite Champion of all time?

Arguments for each of the nine UWA Elite Champions can be made. Some will argue that the number of championship reigns means everything. Others will tell you it’s all about how many total days a wrestler has held a title. Still other fans look at the era in which a competitor was champion, and the title defenses each man endured.

The chances of getting all 9 current and former UWA Elite Champions in a ring to settle this debate aren’t just long, they’re ultimately futile. How could you claim the winner of a 9-way match was the best? And a tournament wouldn’t solve much, as it’s unlikely anyone would escape the fray without at least one loss, even if everyone wrestled everyone.

So all that’s left, really, is the good old pen-and-paper debate. Here are the arguments that can be made for each of the 9 UWA Elite Champions (so far) in this company’s history, in alphabetical order.

Archadia

The current UWA Elite Champion is the most lauded athlete in the promotion’s history, with more UWA and UWA Elite Year-End Awards than any man by more than double. A 2-time UWA Elite Champion, Archadia will have held the title for a cumulative 296 days as of Livin’ on the Edge 2017.

Archadia has defeated 3 UWA Elite Champions to win or retain his titles (Damage, Hedges, KTB). Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Archadia’s 2 championship reigns is that they came over 4 years apart (the first began on Aug. 18,. 2012; the second on Sept. 10, 2016). 

The greatest argument for Archadia’s championship legacy is that in his current reign, winning has become virtually expected. He has defended his championship against Damage, Hedges, TJ Blade, Kyle the Beast, Brandon the Bull and Matt Vertigo during his current run.

Bowes

Before the days of The Wretched, there was The Good Doctor John Bowes. The story of Bowes’ ascent to the UWA Elite Championship grew to nearly mythical proportions in 2013, as he won the Brawl for it All match and was finally the man to unseat Kyle the Beast from the longest single UWA Elite Championship reign in history.

Granted, Bowes did not have much time to celebrate with his title (as much of his 175-day reign was over an offseason), but look at the bigger picture. Bowes’ defeat at the hands of Eric Corvis began a series of events that created The Wretched Bowes we know today as the most violent force in UWA Elite.

While Bowes’ reign as champion might not be the most important title run of them all, the events that surrounded it might prove to be the most historically significant. 

Brian Brass

The 110-day championship reign of Brian Brass began in perhaps the most tumultuous way possible - at Luck of the Draw 2015. Brass had to claim victory in a multi-man tag match with randomly selected partners and opponents, then endure a grueling battle royal to claim the title, last eliminating Archadia.

Brass’ title reign is significant for several reasons. One, it “righted the ship” after Robbie Roller’s acrimonious departure from the company. Two, despite his rule-breaking ways, Brass never ducked anyone, facing (and defeating) the likes of Archadia and Joey Adams during his reign. 

All this being said, the numbers bear out that Brian Brass is the 8th longest-reigning champion in company history out of 9 total champions. Does that hurt his argument?

Eric Corvis

The 171-day UWA Elite Championship reign of Eric Corvis is impressive because it does not contain an offseason. Corvis defended his championship actively throughout his run as champion, serving as the face of the 2014 season as UWA Elite set up permanent shop in its current home at the Holy Trinity Church.

Corvis won the title on the 2nd show of the 2014 season and held it until Last Breath 2014, as the UWA Elite Army experienced rapid growth and expansion. Corvis defeated the likes of Kyle the Beast, Bowes, and Robbie Roller during his reign (Roller being his most notable opponent in that time period). 

Corvis is also one of only 3 UWA Elite Champions to lose his title in a multi-man contest (Kyle the Beast and Archadia being the others). While his reign was one of the more impressive in UWA Elite history, is his stock diminished by only having one reign?

Hedges

For 318 days (the second-longest single UWA Elite Championship reign ever), Hedges was unquestionably the man. After his 2015 Crossroads Tournament win propelled him to the title, Hedges defeated challengers of all shapes and sizes - primarily intimidating foes like Brian Brass, Bowes, Cory Dillinger and Magic.

But Hedges proved not only dominant, but resilient in his reign. Even being the victim of a hit and run by Magic and Jeremiah couldn’t keep Hedges down. Neither could a serious physical test from Nicholas Kaye. Finally, a shocking defeat at the hands of Sean “Damage” McNelis ended the historic reign.

While Hedges doesn’t have multiple title reigns, he is still 3rd overall on the list of total days holding the UWA Elite Championship, bested only by Kyle the Beast and Damage. Is his one reign enough to cement him as the greatest of all time?

Kyle the Beast

Kyle the Beast’s record-setting 2nd championship reign (435 days) might have been even longer had a serious illness not forced him to relinquish his first UWA Elite Championship after just 30 days. Be that as it may, from Sept. 15, 2012 to Nov. 23, 2013, KTB put together a reign of terror yet to be matched by any UWA Elite AllStar.

Kyle the Beast’s list of title retentions over the 435 days of his 2nd reign is monstrous, including the likes of Sean “Damage” McNelis, Archadia, Cypress, DynaMike Davis and Robbie Roller. It eventually took exposed ring boards and 3 opponents to end the Beast’s second reign as champion.

Recent attempts to regain the UWA Elite Championship have come up short for KTB, but his absolute dominance of virtually 2 entire UWA Elite seasons might just make him the greatest champion of all time.

Robbie Roller

Owner of the most controversial championship reign in history, Robbie Roller held the UWA Elite Championship from Last Breath 2014 until he vacated the title (and left the company) on March 28, 2015. Be that as it may, Roller’s 127-day reign cannot be ignored.

Robbie Roller’s victory came over longtime nemesis (and former champion) Eric Corvis and Michael Massacre in 2014’s Match of the Year. It also marked at least a temporary sea change for UWA Elite, as fans oddly gravitated to the cocky antics of the new champion, as he successfully defended the title against Crazy Ivan.

Roller’s potential greatness as champion may never be known, as his scheduled title defense against Archadia in February 2015 never took place, and his hiatus from UWA Elite began shortly after. 

Sean “Damage” McNelis

SDM holds the distinction of being the only man to hold the UWA Elite Championship 3 times, accumulating the 2nd most total days as champion in the process (418, second only to Kyle the Beast). Damage also lays claim to being the first-ever UWA Elite Champion, winning the title at Crossroads 2011 over Bowes, King Tek and TKO.

It’s interesting to note that Damage has defeated three different champions to win his titles (Bowes, Vin Grayson, Hedges). He has also defeated Archadia and Brian Brass to retain those titles, along with a litany of challengers. It’s also intriguing to note that Damage has never faced Eric Corvis one-on-one in UWA Elite.

Much like Archadia’s 4-year gap between title reigns, Damage’s 2nd and 3rd runs as champion came nearly five years apart (Nov. 20, 2011 to June 17, 2016). If you’re looking strictly at “most titles ever”, Damage is your guy. But do recent losses to Archadia and his career struggles vs. Kyle the Beast hurt that case?

Vin Grayson

At first glance, Vin Grayson’s UWA Elite Championship reign may seem the least important due to its length (50 days) and the fact he only competed against one other foe (winning from, retaining, and losing the belt back to Sean McNelis).

But to understand the significance of Grayson’s championship accomplishment is to look past the numbers. To date, Vin Grayson remains the ONLY competitor that was not a part of the original UWA (2001-2007) to win the UWA Elite Championship. Detractors may say Grayson was “hand-selected” by a then-more nefarious President Dave Swan, but a look at Vin’s whole career - a Hall of Famer and one-half of Swag Mean, the most notorious Tag Team Champions of all time - proves Swan’s foresight in the decision.

It remains to be seen whether or not a health-related interruption to Grayson’s career may have kept another UWA Elite Championship from “Vincredible”’s grasp - or whether Vin Grayson has a few more tricks up his sleeve.

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