by Thomas Leturgey

Jay Flash stood in the center of the ring, holding a Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) microphone. In mid-October, well over 200 fans of Pittsburgh professional wrestling, lovingly called “The Krazies,” listened as Flash laid down a challenge to Bobby Badfingers, a Chicago-bred, wise guy who just so happens to hold the prestigious Golden Triangle Championship. Flash, who hails from South Beach, Fla., had significant weight behind his demand.

Jay Flash (Courtesy Photo/ Howard Kernats)

Earlier in the year, the quick and resilient “South Beach Soldier” earned a shot at the Golden Triangle Championship, to be cashed-in at any time he pleased in 2011. His Oct. 15 directive was for an opportunity at the belt at KSWA FanFest, traditionally the biggest event in modern Pittsburgh professional wrestling. “The Flash Addict Army” is extremely vocal when he lays down the edict.

This year’s edition of FanFest is expected to be the largest in the organization’s 11-year history. In addition to Flash’s chance at history, Jr. Heavyweight Champion “Ice Man” Tony Johnson faces his most daunting challenge to date and the legendary George “The Animal” Steele returns to Pittsburgh.

KSWA FanFest/Toy Drive will be held on Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lawrenceville Moose, 120 51st Street. Ticket prices are reduced to only $5. “Krazies” are encouraged to bring a new toy for donation to Allegheny County’s Holiday Project. In past years, thousands of toys have been donated by the KSWA and its fans to needy children through Children, Youth and Families (CYF).

Johnson won his title by defeating five other Megastars—including Flash—at last year’s FanFest in a “Six Pack Gauntlet.” An agile and accomplished athlete from St. Louis, Mo., the “Ice Man” has defended his strap against some of the fiercest competitors around. He’s only had one hiccup as he briefly lost his championship in Sept. at Millvale Days. Johnson had lost to Millvale’s hometown anti-hero “The King” Del Douglas, but regained his belt the very next afternoon during Millvale’s annual three day celebration.

Johnson will defend his championship against a litany of wrestlers who weigh-in at the pre-requisite 200-lbs or less. “Diamond” Dave Diamond, a “rock star” with guitar picks, drum sticks and charisma to spare, will enter at some point. Other participants include Pittsburgh’s high-flying Kris Kash and Sharpsburg’s technical pro Shane Starr, who primarily work as a tag team, but have also found a certain degree of success in singles competition; the regal and egotistical Douglas and his ward, the off-kilter Jester all enter the Gauntlet. The rules are: two men will start and wrestle until one man is pinned. Then another entrant will immediately face that winner. That process continues until there is one survivor.

“I’ve wrestled all of these men before and while this is a challenge, I am ready for it,” said Johnson, who earlier this year graduated from West Liberty University and publicly extolled the virtues of education and family to fans while inside the squared circle.

Badfingers, along with his stable of running mates, known collectively as “The Legion of the Apocalypse,” are lead by “The Mayor of Parts Unknown,” Mayor Mystery. Badfingers began the year in the fan’s corner but when he wrestled for the Golden Triangle belt, he took cheap shots to win. Then, in one of the most heinous moments in KSWA history, Badfingers viciously attacked his then-friend Flash. Flash says that Badfingers has been dodging his advances for a title shot ever since.

On Nov. 5 it looked like the FanFest card would be in an upheaval because it appeared that Flash had won the KSWA World title. Ultimately, it wasn’t meant to be when Badfingers administered a cowardly attack near the locker room and received a one-match suspension for the infraction.

“I went to the Championship Committee and demanded that this match never take place,” said Badfingers.

“I think FanFest is the perfect place and time for this rivalry to end,” countered a still-battered Flash.

Making a huge event even more epic is the return of much-celebrated George “The Animal” Steele to Pittsburgh. Steele, who made his name as a villain wrestling Bruno Sammartino in the ‘60s and ‘70s, later became a turnbuckle-chewing hero and one of the most popular wrestlers of the ‘80s. His arrival is one of the most-anticipated in the annuals of the KSWA.

The KSWA heavyweight title will be defended by current champion Ali Kaida in a Fatal Four Way match. Kaida, the “Afghani Assault Weapon,” takes on “The Latin Assassin,” who he beat for the belt; as well as five-time former champion “The Enforcer” Shawn Blanchard; and the number one contender for the belt, Mitch Napier. Napier won the 2011 Joe Abby Tournament back on March 26, when Studio Wrestling hero Bobby “Hurricane” Hunt was inducted into the KSWA Hall of Fame.

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