Villman (11th ranked) versus Milky O’Hagan (19th ranked)
Villman’s last taste of gold was bittersweet as he lost the Open Light Heavyweight Champion to Kip Sabian just hours after cashing in his Sky’s the Limit contract on Brad O’Brien. Though the Norwegian has been able to rely on support from groups including the Midas Stable and the Kendo Dojo for much of his career, the lethal elbow which has allowed Villman to end so many matches out of the blue will be a very useful tool in this tournament. Meanwhile, his opponent Milky O’Hagan has stated his excitement at being involved in the tournament as the biggest opportunity of his career yet. The former Academy Champion has had very little chance to shine in recent years but has recently seen a renaissance, especially in the tag team division alongside Friends With Benefits partner Big J Johnson.
Jason Digby (24th ranked) versus Big J Johnson (25th ranked)
These two competitors have clashed several times recently over Big J Johnson’s challenge to the Academy Championship currently held by Digby. So far the title has remained firmly around the waist of the champion, perhaps thanks to the questionable friendship between Digby and WAW official Dean Hines. Hines’ involvement in many of the recent encounters between Digby and Johnson has raised questions over his ability to fairly officiate matches. This match gives both men an opportunity to advance their in-ring careers but Johnson will be especially keen to finally one-up the Academy Champion after narrowly missing out on capturing the belt himself on several occasions.
Alex Young (6th ranked) versus Ricky Knight (5th ranked)
Questions of loyalty will have been raised within Old School as group leader Ricky Knight finds himself against fellow member Alex Young. With the Chosen One’s erstwhile tag team partner, Ricky Knight Jr, choosing to leave the group back in May, could his days with the team of veterans be numbered or will he toe the line and lay down to allow the Rowdy Man’s progression into the second round without breaking a sweat? Regardless of their allegiance to each other, both men found themselves ranked in the top ten for good reason; Knight is a former World Heavyweight Champion and 30 year veteran while Young is widely regarded as one of the best cruiserweights in the country today. Whichever competitor progresses into the next round they will certainly be a strong contender to reach the final.
King Kendo (4th ranked) versus Bash (7th ranked)
The winner of this match will also be widely expected to go far in the tournament due to their high entrant rankings. Former European Heavyweight Champion King Kendo has long been a powerful force inside the ring and beating him would be a steep task for any of the 31 wrestlers competing in the tournament but Bash, ranked just three places lower, is one of the few who could provide an upset in this first round. Bash is no stranger to championship himself, and could be looking to add the World title to his collection with a convincing win over one of the favourites at such an early stage putting him in a prime position to claim the belt in December.
By Dan Nash