WEST COAST PRO WRESTLING
THE WORLD IS YOURS
SEPTEMBER 6, 2019
THE STATE ROOM
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
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Over the past few years we have seen wrestling explode on the west coast. Southern California has become a hotbed for some great professional wrestling. Defy has put Seattle on the map with their slick production and white hot crowds. Prestige Wrestling in Eastern Oregon is doing some cool things and is pretty underrated.
Then you have the Bay Area.
San Francisco is a classic wrestling city, and by classic I mean it feels like a relic from the past. While there are great things happening up and down the west coast, wrestling in Northern California will not evolve with the times. Promotions will not hesitate to tell you about past glory, the legends of Pat Paterson, Ray Stevens, and Pepper Gomez, about how the Cow Palace was once a wrestling mecca, and about how the battle royal revolutionized wrestling.
In 1999 the late Roland Alexander’s All Pro Wrestling gained notoriety when it was featured in the documentary Beyond The Mat. The next year they held the first King Of Indies tournament, which proved APW was ahead of the curve, as a majority of independent promotions were ECW clones at the time. In 2001, the second edition of the King Of Indies featured many wrestlers that are seen as the forefathers of modern independent wrestling, including Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson, Brian Kendrick, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Doug Williams, Low Ki, Frankie Kazarian, and Super Dragon. Gabe Sapolsky even credits that tournament as a major influence for early Ring Of Honor, which was founded months later making APW obsolete pretty quickly, even through they were still a really good promotion. APW never felt like it was part of the indie boom, and Roland Alexander never gets the credit he deserves for being the visionary he was.
Since that time, wrestling in Northern California has barely even been a blip on the wrestling map. The working standard is far below any other major scene, with shows that are targeted for families and often feature ex-WWE wrestlers and local veterans who are pushed ahead of young talent. That’s not to say that great talent hasn’t broken out; Bayley, Timothy Thatcher, Jeff Cobb, Karl Fredericks, Shotzi Blackheart, Jungle Boy, and Jacob Fatu have all emerged from the Bay Area to become stars. The thing is they all had to leave to break out.
On the other side of the coin, you can’t say these promotions aren’t doing a good job business-wise. APW regularly draws big crowds, Pro Wrestling Revolution in San Francisco brings in big lucha names on a regular basis, but both of those promotions are geared towards families and have a lot of kids in the crowds. Over in Oakland, Hoodslam has done a great job creating something unique and has cultivated a diehard fanbase.
But while a lot of promotions cater to families and Hoodslam brings a party atmosphere, there isn’t anywhere for “smarky” match quality nerds, like myself, to turn to. It’s a topic that has been discussed many times by fans I go to shows with, and quite frankly, it’s frustrating that Northern California is the one major area on the West Coast where Observer-reading, match quality dorks don’t have a promotion that we can call our own.
In June I received a text from one of my buddies about a newer promotion called West Coast Pro Wrestling in South San Francisco happening the next month. I had never heard of it, but they had booked all three Rascalz, so I ended up buying a ticket. My expectations weren’t super high, but I figured at least I’d get to see them.
WCPW (not that WCPW) is held in a venue called The State Room, which is this bizarre ballroom, somewhat similar to Eddie Deen’s Ranch (which you may remember from WrestleMania weekend in Dallas a few years back), with fake buildings against the walls and a painted skyline; it’s designed to look like you’re in the middle of a village in Mexico. APW holds their shows in the Pacelli Event Center, which is essentially a high school gym. PWR does hold their shows at high school gyms. Between the giant venues with high ceilings and the amount of kids and families, there is not much in terms of atmosphere. The State Room is small and intimate, and the atmosphere made me nostalgic in all the right ways, giving me serious Reseda vibes (not saying the crowd was at that level). The in-ring product was a big step up from any NorCal promotion I’ve ever seen, with the younger talent given the opportunity to shine instead of the local veterans taking the top spots.
Not only did this show blow away any expectations I had, but it ended up being possibly the best Bay Area indie show I’ve ever been too (not a high bar). The show was fine at best, but for the first time I felt optimistic about the future.
One big issue I did have with WCPW is the production, which is abysmal. Watching on Twitch the atmosphere was completely lost. The show is shot with a hard cam, along with a handheld that is essentially a second hard cam since the camera person just stands in the back of the room never moving. The video quality was terrible, the sound was terrible, and the music was really quiet. If this promotion is going to grow in any significant way it can’t look and sound like it was shot in 1998.
Production issues aside, I’m very excited about the direction and potential of this company. I guess it’s time to break down their next card.
Jake Atlas vs. Tony Deppen vs. Will Hobbs
This match was originally scheduled to be Atlas vs Deppen vs Trey Miguel. Unfortunately Trey is out and Hobbs is in. Hobbs is a guy with a lot of potential. He is a big, strong, tough-looking dude who looks like he will fuck anybody up for real. The problem is that I’ve been watching him for years, and while he looks tough, his ring work tells a different story. He is slow and plodding, his strikes are weak, and he lacks fire and intensity a lot of the time. At the last WCPW show, Cruel Summer, he defeated Trey Miguel in a match where Trey spent 10 minutes brutalizing him with stiff strikes, while Hobbs’s offense consisted of chinlocks. At the tail end he was finally able to find that fire, and murdered his opponent with a brutal lariat.
Atlas and Deppen are two of the breakout stars of 2019. While this is Tony’s Bay Area debut, Atlas is no stranger as he holds both the APW Heavyweight and Jr. Heavyweight titles and made it to the finals of this year’s King of Indies tournament. I’m not worried about either of these guys; they have proven that they are great workers and have even had a great match against each other earlier this year at GCW’s To Live And DIE In LA. The x factor is Will Hobbs. If he steps up and wrestles like the monster I know he can be, this can be a great match. If he doesn’t, he will get eaten up by his opponents and the match will suffer.
“Red Death” Daniel Garcia vs. Tyler Bateman
Of everything that was announced this has me the most excited; not only because Garcia is one of the hottest prospects on the US indies, gaining attention from wXw and Evolve, but because of what his booking represents. It is one thing to bring in the top indy names like Tony Deppen or the Rascalz, but to bring in someone who is on the verge of breaking out shows that WCPW has their finger on the pulse, which is something Bay Area indies have always severely lacked. This is the match that tells me this is a promotion to watch, and the future is bright and exciting. I’m getting fired up just writing this! About the match itself, yeah it’s almost guaranteed to be awesome. Both men wrestle very stiff and have a ton of intensity, it is my favorite style of professional wrestling. This is Daniel’s west coast debut and I’m sure he will be fired up to be here. Bateman has been wrestling almost as long as his opponent has been alive and has been a staple of California wrestling for almost two decades. I expect this to be intense and hard hitting. I can’t fucking wait. I don’t think Daniel Garcia has a shot in hell of winning, but a strong showing could mean more bookings.
Steven Tresario vs. Titus Alexander
Titus Alexander is the savior of NorCal wrestling.
Okay, that statement may be a bit hyperbolic, but what isn’t hyperbolic is that he is the best prospect Northern California has to offer. Titus is a 2nd generation wrestler (the son of Sacramento wrestler/promoter “Big Ugly” JD Bishop). He reminds me of a young Shane Haste in the way he looks, the way he moves, and he even has similar gear. While Titus doesn’t have a big moveset yet, he is smooth as hell and has the basics down; the dude is a natural. Steven Tresario I’m not as high on, but he has some potential as well. He has an “unhinged” gimmick, where he twitches and snaps his fingers to calm himself down. He honestly could use a video package explaining what he is all about. He is a solid wrestler with his best match (at least from what I’ve seen) against Marcus Lewis, Manny Faberino (WWE’s Mansoor), and Jungle Boy at APW last year. These are two guys who don’t get many big time matches because they are based in NorCal, but this one could help put them on the map. I think Titus wins this and starts working his way up the card. I’d love to see him start to get matches with fly-in talent after this.
Levi Shapiro vs. Killer Kross
Levi Shapiro is a guy I’ve been watching on Bay Area shows for years now, but have never been impressed with until recently. He is a three-time APW Tag Team Champion with Buddy Royal as the Classic Connection, but I always felt the team was a vehicle to get their manager, Wrestling With Wregret’s Brian Zane, over. The Classic Connection was a quasi-comedy act who were a parody of 80’s territory heels. I always thought Royal was the breakout star of the group and Levi was just the goofy, kinda out of shape guy who would always take cartoonish bumps. Last August Buddy left APW to join the New Japan LA Dojo, where he was one of Shibata’s four students before dropping off, and hasn’t been seen since. On his last night in APW, Levi cracked him over the head with a chair. Since then he has progressively dropped a lot of the comedy and gotten himself in tremendous shape. His best showing came at WCPW’s last show where he wrestled Steven Tresario and Johnathan Gresham and really held his own. I’ve only seen Levi work heel, but going against Killer Kross I think he is going to have to work face, which should he very interesting. I’m going to say Kross picks up the win in an extended squash, but Levi gains a lot of sympathy in losing.
Delilah Doom vs. Viva Van
I don’t know much about Viva Van to be honest. The only time I’ve ever seen her is in PCW where she managed War Beast (Jacob Fatu and Josef Samael). She was supposed to be on the last show, but ended up getting booked for AAA. I believe she is another Santino Brothers student, so I assume she is pretty solid. Delilah Doom is a ton of fun live. She is bubbly, adorable, and really good at wrestling. I’m picking Delilah in this one.
Facade vs. “The Futra” Dave Dutra
Another match where I have almost nothing to say. Dutra is a solid veteran, while Facade is also a solid veteran who does a bunch of wacky shit. I’ll say Dutra wins I guess.
Rik Luxury vs. RJ Santos vs. Matt Vandagriff vs. Slice Boogie vs. Derek Slade
Luxury and Slade are NorCal guys, while the rest are representing the SoCal. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t like Rik Luxury at all. He’s the kind of guy I hate to see at the top of cards, but in this situation it’s fine; he gets a ton of heat and him in an undercard match is the right way to use him. Derek Slade worries me. He is managed by Lucian D. Light (who is a pretty good manager to be fair), who is the storyline commissioner in WCPW. At the last show there were a lot of shenanigans that took away from his match. To me this match is all about two people: Slice Boogie and Matt Vandagriff. With less than a year in the business, Boogie is super impressive. His gimmick is that he is an asshole New Yorker, playing up every stereotype. At Cruel Summer a couple months ago, he was defeated by Titus Alexander in a basic, but very impressive contest. Vandagriff is the one to watch out for. He reminds me of Jake Atlas last year, where he is still kinda clunky, but you can tell he has some real talent; recently he has even been getting attention from GCW. I’m gonna predict either Slade or Luxury wins this. My biggest hope is the booking doesn’t get in the way, because if it doesn’t this should be a lot of fun. Honestly they should just go crazy here. I also 100% think this should open the show.