AS I SEE IT 4/26: Honoring a hero of the heart ('All American' Jeff Peterson)

by: Bob Magee

"Hero. A four letter word rarely used to its proper context in today's world full of chaos and turmoil. What characteristics does a true hero possess? Strength, perhaps? Courage in the face of severe adversity. The ability to put on a smile though the heart is aching...

Since he was a toddler, all Jeffrey Peterson ever wanted to do was wrestle, nothing more and nothing less. Nearly three years ago, his uncle and ECWA promoter Jim Kettner awarded him to opportunity to live a dream. On March 21, 1998, WrestleTech's first student, 'All-American' Jeff Peterson made his pro-wrestling debut. The then-sixteen year old was a picture of charisma, a true underdog who had overcome the odds to achieve his goals.

On February 27 of the following year, Jeff was allotted the chance to live another dream, wrestling in the annual Super 8 tournament. On that very night, Peterson wrestled Christopher Daniels in a match that will forever be remembered by many as the greatest in tournament history....

One year later, he did it again, battling Florida independent star Jet Jaguar in a classic, high-flying game of chess... A month later, Jeffrey was dealt a curve ball that a normal teenager would get caught looking at, to borrow a line from baseball. But not Jeff, not now, not ever. Jeff Peterson was diagnosed with cancer. Months passed with Jeff receiving treatment after treatment and going in and out of the hospital in his home state of Florida...

...Jeff is fighting his horrible illness with dignity and unheard of bravery. He has spat in the face of adversity. Jeff Peterson is a hero of the heart."

NWA Florida will present the second annual Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup, a two night Cruiserweight tournament on June 4th and 5th at Brandon All Stars in Brandon, FL on June 4 and the St. Petersburg National Guard Armory on June 5 (an afternoon and an evening show).

The tournament is dedicated to the memory of northeast independent wrestler Jeff Peterson, who died as the result of a 2 1/2 year battle with lymphoma in 2002.

Peterson was held in the highest regard by all those with whom he worked; in his uncle's ECWA, Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling, IPW Hardcore Wrestling in Florida, California's All-Pro Wrestling, and elsewhere. He was trained by Lance "Simon" Diamond and Too Cold Scorpio at the Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling/ECWA affiliated WrestleTech wrestling school, working such independent mainstays as Reckless Youth, "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels, as well as Florida's OG Scarface and Frankie Capone.

Peterson wrestled in the 1999 and 2000 ECWA Super 8 tournaments, losing in 2000 to Jet Jaguar, as part of a program between the two that ran in Florida five years ago, a set of matches that helped Florida independent wrestling gain greater notice across the country.

Jeff received chemotherapy for his lymphoma beginning in April 2000. He had a difficult time of it, with one remission, then a return of the cancer. He also missed being in and around wrestling and his extended family in the ECWA...which seemed to him to be the biggest hurt of all. In July 2000, while still battling his cancer, he came back to a ECWA show to be inaugurated into the promotion's Hall of Fame; and to help his uncle, promoter Jim Kettner, get over the angle that would result in the ECWA's biggest moment to date: the November 25, 2000 show at the Bob Carpenter Center, which drew over 2,200 fans far and away the largest crowd in the promotion's history.

My favorite thought on Jeff Peterson comes from one night back in 1999 at an ECWA show down at their homebase of St. Matthew's in Newport, Delaware. It was at the end of another of the traditional style matches Kettner favors. As the end of this tag team match approached, my younger brother and I played armchair booker and tried to guess the finish. Then, one heel stood on the apron holding one of the babyfaces with his arms pinned waiting for the inevitable punch; so we said out loud "rollup, or...".

Immediately behind us, chirped this voice (in a carny stage whisper) "skiz-ool-biz-oy", with a grin on his face. It was Peterson, who was back in the crowd being a fan, after he'd already worked earlier in the evening.

The brackets of those participating in this year’s Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup is as follows:

Block A
  • Sedrick Strong (NWA Florida) vs. Roderick Strong (NWA Florida)
  • Jimmy Jacobs (IWA Mid-South) vs. Alex Shelley (IWA Mid-South/CZW)
  • Homicide (Ring of Honor/Jersey All Pro Wrestling) vs. Black Tiger
  • Chris Hero (IWA Mid-South Wrestling) vs. Striker (Pro Wrestling World-1/ECWA/3PW)

    Block B:
  • Petey Williams (Border City Wrestling/CZW/NWA-TNA) vs. Naphtali (NWA Florida)
  • Justice (NWA Florida) vs. Damian Adams (3PW)
  • Teddy Hart (CZW/NWA-TNA) vs. Azrieal (Jersey All Pro Wrestling)
  • Mikey Tenderfoot (NWA Florida) vs. Puma aka Pinoy Boy (New Japan Inoki Dojo/Pro Wrestling Guerrilla)

    These independent talents have also been signed by NWA Florida for non-tournament matches on the Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup shows:

  • CZW's Nick Berk and NWA Wildside’s Z-Barr
  • EWA/New England's Dr. Heresy, Andre Lyons and Chi Chi Cruz
  • Jersey All Pro Wrestling's Slyk Wagner Brown and April Hunter
  • 3PW's Blue Meanie, CJ O' Doyle, and Jasmin St. Claire
  • Ring of Honor's Colt Cabana
  • Southern Championship Wrestling/Florida's Chasyn Rance
  • NAWF/Georgia's John Brooks
  • NWA Wildside's Jacey North
  • Former WWE superstar Zach Gowen

    Additionally, the acrobatic Jack Evans has challenged NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Champion Jerelle Clark to a battle of the 630's.

    NWA Florida Vice President Ron Niemi said, "I am not sure it will be possible to live up to expectations after the amazing tournament last year but we are going to do our best to honor the name of a young man who meant a hell of a lot to all of us. Jeff Peterson was a true class act and like a little brother to anybody that met him in this business and we are proud to be able to present a tournament in his name once again this year and hope the fans will come out and pay tribute to a friend that we all miss dearly."

    NWA Florida owner/President Joe Price said "This will truly be the independent event of the year, and suiting of the memory of a great individual like Jeff Peterson, over the next few weeks we will continue to announce additional names for the non-tournament matches that will have fans from all over the country coming to this charitable event!"

    Portions of the proceeds from both nights will be donated in Jeff Peterson's name to the Tarpon Springs Cops and Kids program. Tarpon Springs, FL Police Chief Mark LeCouris and NWA Florida have worked together for 2 years to benefit the Cops and Kids program.

    Tickets for the Jeff Peterson weekend can be purchased and donations made online at this link.

    Ticket Prices are:

  • Adult VIP Package - VIP Tickets get you into all 3 shows, free commemorative program, Peterson Cup T-Shirt, and meet and greet with all the shows stars for $ 50.00

  • Kids VIP Package - All 3 shows (No Shirt or Program) Adult VIP Ticket $ 50.00/Kids VIP Ticket $15.00

  • Regular GA Tickets - Adult: $12 advance/$15 at the door, Kids 12 and under: $ 5.00 advance/ $7 at the door each show

    If you're in Florida or can travel there, come honor a hero of the heart this June with the Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup.

    Until next time...


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