In the history of pro wrestling, there is one independent promotion that has set the bar higher than any other.
The ECWA Super 8 tournament started in 1997 under Jim Kettner. His vision for the tournament was to showcase the best performers from the independent circuit.
Some of the past winners and wrestlers that have been in the tournament read like a who's who of indy wrestling. Past winners include: "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels (2000 & 2004), current ROH World Champion Davey Richards (2006) and Jerry Lynn (2007).
Today, in the tournament's 16th year, ECWA again will showcase some of the top talent from all over the country in an effort to crown the best of the independents.
Here are the Elite 8 participants entered in this year's Super 8 tournament.
"Greek God" Papadon is the current ECWA Heavyweight Champion.
Papadon is one of the best kept secrets on the East Coast, and it mystifies me how he is not a household name. He won the title from Mega on March 5, 2011.
Since then, Papadon has faced all challengers.
He earned his way into the tournament by defeating 2011 Super 8 winner Tommaso Ciampa at ECWA's 44th Anniversary Show on September 24, 2011. He is currently undefeated in ECWA.
Kekoa "The Flyin' Hawaiian" is a five-year pro and the current ECWA Mid-Atlantic Champion.
He brings a high-flying style with a strong technical base. Kekoa is one of the more popular competitors currently in ECWA.
2011 was an impressive year for him, and he looks to continue his winning ways all the way to the Super 8 trophy.
Bobby Fish is perhaps the most well traveled wrestler in this year's Super 8.
He has wrestled for Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan multiple times, Ring of Honor and Evolve. He mixes a hard-hitting technical style with a solid MMA influence.
He also made his pro MMA debut for Cage Wars in 2010 (he is 1-0). Whoever he wrestles in the tournament faces a tough test.
Just like Bobby Fish, the No. 4 entrant has worked for nearly every major promotion sans WWE.
Red made his debut in 1998 working in the IWA. Since then, he's won championship after championship.
Some of the major titles he's won include the ECWA Heavyweight title, the TNA X Division title, the Ring of Honor Tag Team title and many more regional championships.
Amazing Red is an early favorite to make it to the finals of the tournament.
Azrieal is a 10-year pro hailing from Argentina.
He is currently one half of the CZW Tag Team Champions (with fellow Super 8 entrant Bandido Jr).
Azrieal has competed in several independent promotions and now has a chance to make a name for himself in the oldest and most prestigious tournament in independent wrestling.
Gregory Iron grabbed headlines last November when he started an online petition to be one of the 30 men entered into the Royal Rumble.
Although his plea fell on deaf ears, he did gain the endorsement of CM Punk and has been entered into the 2012 Super 8 tournament.
Iron's story of overcoming adversity (he was born with cerebral palsy) is one that any wrestling fan can relate to. Besides that, Iron does bring a very solid mat and high-flying game to the tournament.
Kyle Matthews is the dark horse of the tournament. Although he's a nine-year pro and has wrestled a list of champions (including current WWE World Champ Daniel Bryan and ROH Champ Davey Richards), not much is known about him.
Perhaps he can use his low profile to sneak his way into the finals and into wrestling history.
The high-flying second generation superstar Bandido Jr. is the eighth and final entrant in the 2012 Super 8 tournament.
Bandido is an eight-year vet that was trained by Homicide, and the source of his inspiration is his father, Bandido Sr.
When he wrestles in ECWA, he wears a mask to honor his father. Bandido has quickly grown into one of the more popular wrestlers in ECWA, as he continues his march to the Super 8.
On April 7th, 2012, the ECWA proudly presents the 16th Annual Super 8 from the Greater Newark Boys and Girls Club in Newark, DE.
Also on the card is an "open invitational" over the top rope battle royal featuring some of the best talent on the independent scene. It's also been announced that the winner of the battle royal will also receive a title shot of his choosing in the future.
This year's edition of the Super 8 is shaping up to be the best one yet.
Keep up with ECWA at www.ecwaprowrestling.com.
I hope you enjoyed this preview. Thanks for reading.