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. On Setepmer 26-27th sixteen men will come to Port Richey and Brooksville, Florida to try and join those names. Could this year’s winner be:
Hometown: A Far
Pro Debut: October, 2002
Tournament History: Chikara World Tag Grand Prix 2005 (w/Icarus), Chikara Tag Team Title (Feburary 2006), Chikara Trios Tournament (February 2007)
Where have you seen him: Chikara (member of F.I.S.T), Combat Zone Wrestling, PWE, PWX, Full Impact Pro, IWA-Mid South, Ring of Honor, WXW (Germany) Championships held: PWE Tag Team titles w/Icarus defeating Mike Quackenbush & Hallowicked (July 12, 2005); CHIKARA Pro Campeonatos de Parejas (Tag Team titles) w/Icarus defeating The Kings of Wrestling (November 17, 2006);
Alan Wojcik: What does being part of the 2008 Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup mean to you and what did you know of Jeff before you were invited to be part of the event?
Gran Akuma: I’m incredibly proud to be part of this year’s JPC. These there are a ton of tournaments, but the JPC still always manages to stand out. I learned more about Jeff Peterson after I started my training, but due to following Mike Quackenbush prior to training under him, I’d seen Jeff wrestle.
Alan Wojcik: According to your bio you were trained by Mike Quackenbush and worked along side 2003 Winner “Reckless Youth” Tom Carter and last year’s winner Chris Hero. Please talk about the training process.
Gran Akuma: Training at CHIKARA has evolved over the years. When I first started there was a day Mike taught,a day Tom taught and a day they both taught together. When Tom left the school it was all Mike until Chris Hero came on as a trainer. In those days Mike and Chris would often assume the role of a student when the other was teaching. I feel like I was fortunate in having very well-rounded training. Mike’s very big on having students progress at their own speed and he’s very careful about making sure everything is solid before they advance to the next stage of training. Some people take longer than others and some don’t make it at all, but when one of Mike’s students finishes training they’re ready to be a wrestler.
Alan Wojcik: Where did the character of Gran Akuma come from and why did you decide to wear a mask?
Gran Akuma: I knew from the start that I wanted to wear a mask. The wrestlers that influenced me the most in the beginning were the 90’s era junior heavyweights,so I actually designed my mask by combining different elements of the masks of guys I watched for years before training. If you look at my old mask closely you’ll see elements of the masks of Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Super Delphin, Rey Misterio Jr.,Tiger Mask and the Great Sasuke. I researched Japanese mythology and decided on Akuma because he was the high flyer of the Japanese Gods.
Alan Wojcik: Your home promotion of Chikara is unlike any in America. After visiting their website (www.chikarapro.com) I am curious how you would describe it to fans who have never attended a show or purchased a DVD?
Gran Akuma: CHIKARA is a weird animal. On one hand I think we have very solid wrestling in a lot of different styles. We have high flying luchadores, hard hitting strikers, suplex monsters, technical wizards and everything in between. The stories we tell couldn’t be more old school. On the other hand, CHIKARA looks like it’s from another planet. We have wrestling ants, ice cream cones, soccer playing goats and a video game guy that can be paused by pushing a button on his shorts. I think CHIKARA has done as well as it has because it appeals to such a broad spectrum of people. Wrestling fans come for the wrestling sometimes in spite of the wackiness. Non-wrestling fans come for the wackiness, sometimes in spite of the fact that they’re really not that into wrestling.
Alan Wojcik: During the research process the group known as F.I.S.T. (Friends In Familiar Tights) kept coming up, with your partner Icarus. Is there one team you have faced that you would consider your favorite and why?
Gran Akuma: I’m not sure I could narrow it down to just one. My favorite opponents are the ones that constantly push me to the next level. I like to think that wrestling is progressive, that it’s constantly moving forward. With that in mind I think it’s between the Colony and Cheech and Cloudy. Every time we step into the ring with those guys, I know we’re going all out and that’s what I got in this for.
Alan Wojcik: You lost the mask to Shane Storm in November 2005. Was this something you wanted and how was it the first time you wrestled without it?
Gran Akuma: It was a mixed bag. On one hand a lot of people really liked me with the mask and being a “regular guy” in CHIKARA sounded like suicide to lot of people. On the other I think it helped me to stand out and has been good for me in the long run. I’m much better at being me than I am at “playing a character”. Now what people see is what they get. The first time without it wasn’t really that different for me,other than the fact that I didn’t get NEARLY as overheated. I’m still not sure where I got the bright idea to wrestle with my head wrapped in velvet and vinyl…
Alan Wojcik: Full Impact Pro fans will be familiar with you. What are your thoughts on the promotion and wrestling in Florida?
Gran Akuma: I’ve always had a great time at FIP. Great people behind the scenes, great fans and they put me in the ring with some top notch talent. I can’t wait to get back to Florida!
Alan Wojcik: Another member of the ’08 tournament is an old opponent of yours, Jigsaw. Tell the fans what to expect from him and would you like to face him at some point in the tournament?
Gran Akuma: I think Jigsaw’s a guy with a lot to prove. A lot of people don’t get why he took off the mask and have soured on him. I think the JPC is a perfect opportunity for him to make a statement and knowing him that’s exactly what he’ll do. As far as facing him, I’m hoping against hope that it happens. We’ve had a lot of interactions in various forms of tags, but I can only think of three times we met one on one. Beyond that we not only trained together but were in the same class…so there’s a bit of a rivalry there. We’ve both moved on, we’ve both grown in different directions and we’ve both been pretty successful. I’m interested to see who’d come out on top.
Log onto http://jpc2008.com for tickets, profiles on the other competitors and much more!!