NWA Smoky Mountain Blogs
Dylan Sizemore's Top 5 under 25
The Mountain Empire is filled to the brim with amazing talent of all sizes, ages, and wrestling styles… however in the blog, I’m going to focus solely on one group: the top 5 wrestlers under the age of 25.
In no particular order, and in my sole opinion, those wrestlers are Chase Owens, Johnny Knieval, Skylar Kruze, Zac Vincent, and Bryan Kyle.
Chase Owens, at the age of 22, has already had a career with a more impressive resume than most veterans. The high school ranks is where Owens began to chine, learning the foundation of what he would go on to implement inside of the squared circle and become one of the top wrestlers the mountain empire has ever seen... As a pro, having competed for Ring Of Honor, CHIKARA, top NWA promotions, and even WWE Friday Night SmackDown, Owens is being regarded as one of wrestling’s fastest rising stars. He has competed against international stars such as Davey Richards, Jimmy Rave, Tony Kozina, Chris Hamrick, Sonjay Dutt, Jerry Lynn and numerous others… Owens does everything he can to earn the respect of everyone he competes against.
Owens is just 5 days away from the biggest match of his life, when he faces Kevin Douglas for the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship in a rematch from Fire On The Mountain. However this time… there are more important stakes: if Owens does not win the World Jr. Heavyweight title, he has vowed to never compete in the mountain empire again!
History will be made one way or another this Saturday night: either Owens will become the first ever World Champion from this area, or he will never compete here again. Those are stakes that would be tough for anyone, much less a 22 year old on the verge of stardom.
Another competitor I rank in the top 5 wrestlers under 25 in the Mountain Empire, is newcomer to the area, Ohio’s ‘Super Natural’ Zac Vincent. Vincent made his Mountain Empire debut at this year’s Smoky Mountain Cup by winning his first round match against Jeff Connelly and advancing to the finals. Immediately, I, NWA Smoky Mountain staff, and wrestling fans alike knew that there was something special about this man.
‘Super Natural’ doesn’t even begin to describe Zac Vincent’s in ring style. Vincent combines acrobatics with a strong mat based game and a high flying arsenal that could defeat anyone. Don’t mistake his wrestling style for a lack of toughness, however, as he held his own for nearly 20 minutes with one of the toughest men in wrestling Tony Kozina, receiving multiple piledrivers before being jumped by Darren Dean and the referee stopping the match.
While this weekend will only mark his fourth and fifth matches in the area, he has already made a name for himself, even earning a spot in the Contender’s Ring. He has opted to cash in his spot in the ring to challenge Jason Kincaid for the NWA Smoky Mountain title this Friday in Rogersville, TN in a contest sure to be in the running for match of the year.
Speaking of the Contender’s Ring, the next man we’ll talk about is a man challenging for a spot in the ring this Saturday night: Skylar Kruze. Kruze recently returned to the ring in the mountain empire earlier this year competing in one impressive contest after another.
Skylar has quickly became a favorite in the area after contests against men like Alyx Winters, Sigmon, Richard Wellington, Chase Owens, Kyle Matthews, Menace, Thorn, Tony Givens, and Jason Kincaid… and shows no sign of slowing down. This last run however isn’t the only accomplishments in Kruze’s career.
Before taking time off and then resurfacing onto the scene, Kruze was a regular roster member for the Championship Wrestling Alliance (NWA Smoky Mountain’s former name) teaming with his Air America partner Gavin Darring and even branching off to become a CWA Television Champion. Kruze looks to take another huge step forward in his career Saturday night in Kingsport, TN as he challenges Zac Vincent for a spot in the Contender’s Ring.
When talking about the area’s top wrestlers, whether under 25 or not, the name Johnny Knieval can’t be left out. At just 20, Knieval has become a fan favorite anywhere he’s ever competed. Knieval, alongside his brother Josh Crawford comprise the NWA Tennessee Tag Team Champions after defeating The Illuminati in a near year long feud that many say was the growth period for Knieval. After starting the year out on a sour note suffering an ankle injury, Knieval battled back to join his brother, only to face another career threatening injury at the hands of The Illuminati’s Tony Givens when Givens nearly broke the neck of Knieval in July.
Johnny also became the final PWF Television Champion in promotion history when he won the title at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium. The title was renamed the NWA Southern Television title this past month after the merging of PWF and NWA Smoky Mountain. This makes Knieval, at just 20 years old, a double champion under the banner of professional wrestling’s oldest governing body.
Johnny has a huge weekend ahead as he defends both titles on back to back nights. Friday night his NWA Southern TV title is on the line against Matt Conard, while Saturday he teams with Josh Crawford to defend the NWA Tennessee Tag Team titles against Legit Dynamite.
The final man rounding out the list of the top 5 wrestlers under 25 is Legit Dynamite member Bryan Kyle. For anyone that is a fan of high impact, rough and tough, ground and pound, hard fought tag team action, this is your man. Alongside his brother Derik Billings, Legit Dynamite held the NWA Smoky Mountain Tag Team titles for 155 days defeating any team put in front of them. Not only have they dominated tag team wrestling in the mountain empire, they have also conquered the tag team scene in the West Virginia area as well.
While they haven’t been in action in the area for a couple of months, rest assured that Kyle and Billings both are geared up for their return this Saturday night. They have a NWA Tennessee Tag Title shot against Johnny Knieval and Josh Crawford where Kyle has a chance to become a two time NWA Tag Team Champion at the young age of 22.
Again, in no way is this a ranking of these men, and in no way are these five the only competitors under 25 in the mountain empire worth taking a look at.