In May 2003 IPW Hardcore promoters created the JEFF PETERSON MEMORIAL CUP in tribute to the fallen cruiserweight star who passed in 2001 after a long battle with cancer. Since then the event has garnered a list of international stars who supported the event and honored Jeff’s memory by putting on five star caliber bouts. The previous winners were “Reckless Youth” Tom Carter, Justice, Chris Sabin, Milano Collection AT and Chris Hero. This weekend sixteen men will come to Port Richey and Brooksville, Florida to try and join those names. Could this year’s winner be:
“The Natural” Kenny King
Hometown: Queens, NY
Pro Debut: 2002
Tournament history: 2007 Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup (withdrew due to injury)
Where you have seen him: WWE (Tough Enough 2 finalist), Ring of Honor, TNA Wrestling, AWF, NNW, Full Impact Pro (member of the YRR with Jason Blade, Chasyn Rance and Sal Rinauro), SCW, D1PW and MXPW to name a few.
Championships held: AWF Universal (Florida and Heavyweight) champion (defunct), FIP World Tag Team champion (w/Jason Blade)
Alan Wojcik: You were supposed to have been part of the ’07 event but due to a knee injury you had to with draw. How hard was that for you to do and what is your current health status?
Kenny King: It was very hard for me to do. In mine and a lot of peoples minds, The JPC is one of the top tournaments in the country. So having to withdraw really sucked. I waited until the last minute to see if my knee would hold up, and it didn’t. Unfortunately for all the other guys in the tournament this year, I’m 100%.
Alan Wojcik: Like last year your fellow YRR member Sal Rinauro is in the tournament. What did you think of his match from last year against Matt Cross and are “all bets still off” if you match up during the event?
Kenny King: I had Sal Picked to win that match last year. Matt Cross got lucky. Look Sal and I are both outrageously talented. You know it, we know it. The YRR is about winning. So in the event that we end up in the finals, then yes, all bets are off. We will give each the fans the best match of the tournament. Then, we will party with some females and share a $3000 bottle of Louis XIII.
Alan Wojcik: Through much of 2007 the YRR feuded with both the Heartbreak Express (Sean & Phil Davis) and the Black Market (Joey Machete & Shawn Murphy). Talk about working two teams that are polar opposites in look and ring style.
Kenny King: Black Market and HBX polar opposites? Maybe ring gear wise. These are 4 of the toughest bastards walking God’s green Earth. Any time you step into the ring with either of these two teams your ass had be ready to fight. The YRR went to war with these guys culminating with the Cage of Pain 2. Anybody who saw that match knows that none of the 8 men that walked into that match was ever the same after. We gained a lot of respect after that match because we proved that we could stand toe to toe with those 2 tough as nails teams and give as good as we got.
Alan Wojcik: September 2007 saw you and the YRR debut with Ring of Honor (defeating Mitch Franklin & Alex Payne.) Your thoughts & memories of that debut night which also saw you take on Bryan Danielson in singles action.
Kenny King: It was an amazing experience. Chasyn and I were at the top of our game and quickly took care of Franklyn and Payne. I wasn’t ready or prepared to face Dragon, but he challenged so I accepted. It was truly an honor to face him on my very first night in ROH. The ROH fans are so emotionally invested in the action that goes on in that ring. All in all one of my fondest memories in wrestling.
Alan Wojcik: On September 19th your tag team scramble match (YRR will take on Ruckus/Jigsaw & TBA vs. the loser of the Briscoe/Jacobs & Black bout on 9/13 in Tokyo) will be taped for a future ROH PPV. Do you think ROH can compete on the PPV level with WWE, TNA and the MMA promotions that seem to rule these days?
Kenny King: Everybody knows that the WWE is the juggernaut and is difficult to compete with.The only thing that ROH is missing is the money behind it to make it a nationally mainstream show. The product is top notch. It is truly the best wrestling that you can find today. TNA started very similar with PPV’s and look at the success they’ve achieved. Based on the product that is produced, then I think given a level playing field, ROH could compete very well.
Alan Wojcik: The next evening you will be wrestling ECW legend Jerry Lynn in the former ECW Arena (now called New Alhambra Arena). What are your thoughts on wrestling in that venue and taking on Lynn.
Kenny King: Talk about a personal dream match. Either wrestling at ECW Arena or wrestling Jerry Lynn would be amazing but to do both?!? I’ve always respected Jerry, and had the chance to get to know his wrestling mind when he would agent my matches at TNA. Needless to say we are going to tear the house down in Philly.
Alan Wojcik: In November you and Jason Blade became the FIP World Tag Team champions. What was that moment like and what does Blade bring to the YRR that might not have been there before his arrival?
Kenny King: Any time you can say that you beat the Briscoes is an accomplishment in itself. To be able to say you beat the Briscoes for the belts is really saying something. It was an incredible moment for us. Especially because that was actually our first time teaming up. Jason Blade is an incredible athlete just like the rest of us. He brings an incredible ring presence. Jason and I have been taking tag teams apart over the last year, and he always seems to be where I need him and vice-versa. We have hit our stride, and no one is taking these belts from us.
Alan Wojcik: 2007-08 saw the debut of two Florida based promotions, GEAR and Pro Wrestling Riot, both of which you have worked for. Talk about these two promotions and how you feel they will do in the future?
Kenny King: Gear and RIOT, while taking different approaches, have the same goal in mind. That is to bring top notch wrestling to the fans of Florida. I enjoy working for both of these companies. The locker rooms in both are amongst the best in the country, every person just wants to see the product succeed. There is no reason why these two promotions won’t be around for a long while.
Alan Wojcik: You attended the University of South Florida before becoming a pro wrestler. Were you surprised at the sudden national emergence the football team made last year and do you think they can keep it going this year?
Kenny King: Well I was a football player at USF long before I was a wrestler. The one (and only) good thing I will say about Coach Leavitt is that he has an incredible will to win, and he passes that on to his players.
Alan Wojcik: Fellow Tough Enough alumn John Morrison attended USF with you. Give your thoughts on his current status in the WWE?
Kenny King: I couldn’t be happier for John. What a lot of people don’t know is that John and I used to break dance together at clubs in Tampa. He’s a great dude that has a great work ethic and deserves all the things that he’s achieved. Maybe one day we can knock each other around a WWE ring.
Alan Wojcik: In a recent radio interview you were asked about your time in WWE and TNA. Do you watch either product and if you do, please comment on their current talent rosters.
Kenny King: I don’t watch a whole lot of wrestling. I will say this about TNA though. If you look at their roster, you will see some of the best wrestlers in the world. They have every bit as much talent as the WWE does. Unfortunately the bullshit you see on Impact doesn’t reflect that.
Alan Wojcik: This year’s Peterson Cup field features some allies and enemies. Is there someone you want to face in the opening round and who is your biggest obstacle to winning the whole thing?
Kenny King: Look, every one who was picked for the tournament is capable of winning it and deserves to be there. That said, not everybody in it is capable of beating me. There are a few matchups I would like, A first time ever with CJ O’Doyle could be interesting. A Bruiserweight rematch with Jon Davis would be epic. And I would like to show the world that my win over Erick Stevens was no fluke and that I can do it again. No obstacles, just interesting scenarios.
Alan Wojcik: I found it amazing to read that you have been wrestling for seven years. Assess your career for the readers, what are the shining moments and if anything what would you change?
Kenny King: I have been extremely fortunate in my career. Wrestling has taken me many places in the U.S. and all over the world other than that whole bullshit Tough Enough Finale thing, I wouldn’t change anything. I would just like to thank all the fans everywhere who have ever bought a ticket to see me wrestle. Come to the JPC 2008 to see the best wrestling that you will see in Florida this year.
The 2008 Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup will be held Friday September 26th in Port Richey and Saturday September 27th in Brooksville. FL. Tickets and show information is available on http://jpc2008.com