West Coast Pro 5: Five Year Anniversary Show
October 14, 2023
United Irish Cultural Center
San Francisco, California

Watch: independentwrestling.tv

West Coast Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Title Match
Titus Alexander (c) vs. Starboy Charlie

On May 10, 2019, West Coast Pro held their 4th show, “Ruthless By Law.” At the time, the wrestling scene in Northern California was pretty dire, going on two decades of irrelevance, with memories of the original King Of Indies way back in the rearview mirror and the days of Roy Shire, Pat Patterson, and the Cow Palace even further than that.

Early West Coast Pro was a different animal than what it would later become. Their big star was then West Coast Pro (WCP) champion Alexander Hammerstone, and the rest of the card was mostly made up of lower-level local talent. Even local fans were mostly unaware of the company’s existence at the time, with the shows not even making tape.

On that cool night in May, a blue chip prospect named Titus Alexander would make his WCP debut in a four-way with RJ Santos, Alonzo Alvarez, and Keita Murray. The son of longtime Sacramento veteran Big Ugly wouldn’t come out the victor, it was clear he was someone to keep an eye on.

The arms race had officially begun.

Who would be the first true homegrown star for this new promotion?

Would it be Titus Alexander?

Or would it be the other young prospect WCP was pushing… Derek Slade?

Two shows later, on July 9, a bluer, even chippier prospect would make his WCP debut. Starboy Charlie, then known as “Ring Crew Charlie”, made a surprise appearance, also in a four-way, against Tony Deppen, Jake Atlas, and a pre-powerhouse Will Hobbs.

Like Alexander, Charlie also came from a family of fighters. Unlike the Uglies, Charlie’s family came not from the wrestling world, but from the world of boxing, operating a gym in their hometown of Pacifica (the same building that would eventually house the West Coast Pro academy). At the time, Charlie was only 15 or 16 years old and was more of a novelty (albeit one with a lot of potential) than a complete wrestler. The tiny kid with the crazy flips went on to win the hearts of the WCP faithful that night and leapfroged both of his contemporaries Titus Alexander and Derek Slade, in one fell swoop.

Neither Alexander nor Charlie were new to wrestling at their time of their debuts. Alexander had his first match as a child way back in 2007, teaming with his father in Supreme Pro Wrestling in Sacramento. Charlie began his wrestling journey by lying about his age so he could sign up for wrestling school as a young teen. Both had wrestled in All Pro Wrestling, and had participated in the Gold Rush promotions Young Lion’s Cup tournament in previous years.

Immediately following his debut, Charlie—now known as Starboy Charlie—blew past both Titus Alexander and Derek Slade—who was starting to fade away—as the future of NorCal wrestling. A series of matches with Jake Atlas drove that point home even further, and earned him enough buzz to get booked out of Northern California and into the traveling circus of GCW.

After a year and a half-hiatus due to COVID, West Coast Pro began rerunning shows. Both Charlie and Alexander resumed their roles. Charlie would win a number one contenders three-way over Lee Moriarty and Trey Miguel on their first show back, while Alexander resumed his role as a talented but bland undercard babyface.

August 13, 2021. The night Alexander and Charlie’s paths would finally intersect.

After earning his title shot, Charlie finally got his chance against champion Alexander Hammerstone. Given the huge size and experience differences, it was almost not believable that Charlie could be considered a serious threat to the behemoth of a champion. Undersized and overmatched, Charlie refused to stay down. After a long battle, Charlie finally had Hammer down when Alexander emerged out of nowhere and slid in the ring, breaking up the pin attempt. The crowd was confused and angry, but it was the loudest reaction Alexander had ever received.

For the first time since his debut, the path was clear. With Derek Slade about to retire, the real race to the top was about to begin.

On September 10, Alexander and Charlie had their first singles match against each other on a show appropriately titled “I Hate You With A Passion”. Titus Alexander, no longer the white meat babyface, was driven by jealousy and insecurities, unable to stomach watching Starboy take the spot once thought to be his. Having to watch his enemy travel outside of NorCal to GCW, work main events, and get title matches, all while he was stuck in undercard hell having to participate in a seemingly endless string of multi-man matches. Starboy Charlie, the child sensation so close to tasting championship gold at such a young age, was robbed of the biggest prize of his young career by a narcissistic sociopath, who was driven by revenge.

Of course, Alexander couldn’t allow Charlie the satisfaction of defeating him on this night. It was clear that Starboy was still the superior wrestler, and that didn’t go unnoticed by Alexander’s father Big Ugly, who ran in the ring and attacked Charlie just as it looked like he was going to get the win. The match ended in a disqualification, not that Alexander cared, this was about sending a message, and truthfully, deep down he probably knew he wouldn’t have been able to beat him anyway. Just as things were looking bleak for Charlie, Jake Atlas, fresh off a WWE run, made a surprise return to help his former partner/rival, setting up a tag match.

That never happened. Not long after the match was set up, Ugly suffered an injury while training, and only ended up wrestling one match for WCP later before retiring. Jake Atlas decided to step away from wrestling, and never returned to WCP. Instead, Charlie defeated Alexander in a last-man-standing match, definitively proving that Alexander wasn’t on his level at this point, and had no chance without backup.

In October, Charlie suffered a devastating leg injury, snapping his leg on a GCW show, and putting him on the shelf for the next six months. During that time, Alexander saw the most significant growth of his young career, becoming a much better worker, and gaining a ton of confidence both in kayfabe, and real life. Alexander won and lost the Prestige championship to Alex Shelley, and wrestled Will Ospreay in the highest profile match to date, a match that saw him wrestle as a babayface once again, proving the fans deep down still respected him. Around this time, Alexander would also start wrestling outside of Northern California, making his PWG debut in July.

When he returned, it took Charlie a little while to knock off the ring rust. There were a couple of shaky performances against Adam Brooks and Mike Bailey before both he and Alexander entered the inaugural West Coast Cup. With both men on opposite sides of the bracket, a meeting in the final seemed inevitable.

To the shock of nobody, both competitors made it to the finals. Charlie still wasn’t himself, but Alexander was a man possessed, stealing the show against Nick Wayne in the semifinals, and getting busted open in the process. Alexander had never been able to get the better of Charlie to this point, but this wasn’t the same Titus Alexander. Before the injury, he was always behind Charlie in the race to the top of the WCP mountain, but now with Alexander the better wrestler, Charlie didn’t stand a chance. After a middle rope Sweet Time Driver(Michinoku Driver), Alexander defeated his rival for the first time to win the cup, and earn a championship match.

On October 8, Alexander received his first chance at WCP gold against champion Jacob Fatu. Just like Alexander, Fatu also comes from a (much more famous) wrestling family, and is a NorCal local. Unlike Alexander, Fatu was not a WCP homegrown star, as “The Samoan Warewolf” spent years wrestling in All Pro Wrestling before breaking out of California in Chicago’s AAW and MLW. There is nobody in wrestling quite like Fatu. When he is motivated he is an absolute animal, and one of the best and most insane wrestlers on the indies. The problem is you never know what kind of effort you get with Fatu, or if he will even show up. At this point, he was earning a reputation of being completely unreliable for those reason, and West Coast Pro had to get the title off him. It was time for Titus to take his place. Sixteen minutes and 52 seconds of Fatu on his A-game wasn’t enough to stave off the young challenger.

In the end, Alexander’s hand was raised. He had finally done it. He was officially ascended to the top of the West Coast mountain top. Titus Alexander was the champion.

The next month, West Coast Pro joined up with Pro Wrestling Revolution and held their infamous King of Indies show, which ended up being the worst WCP show of all time. In the first round, the brand-new champion lost to King of Indies legend Dragon Lee in a move that caused audible groans from the audience. Later in the night, Alexander and Charlie (who was not in the tournament) ended up on opposite sides of an atrocious six-man tag that was produced by PWR officials, so it can barely even be considered canon for their story. One interesting side note is one of Alexander’s partner’s was Kevin Blackwood (hey, foreshadowing).

Entering 2023, one thing was clear: Starboy Charlie desperately needed a new coat of paint. He was a crowd favorite, but how much more could he do as a “kid who does flips”? Charlie began the year down-cycled from the main event scene to the undercard, where he began reinventing himself. He made the controversial decision to swap his tights for jean overalls, which was met with mixed reactions. What was not met with mixed reactions were the quality of his matches, which were a drastic difference from his shaky performances of 2022. Charlie was significantly more muscular, and was doing a lot less aerial maneuvers than he ever had. He had ditched a lot of what initially got him over, but it all worked. Charlie became the most consistent wrestler on the WCP roster.

The same can’t be said about Alexander’s title run, which was very hit-or-miss. His reign has seen some incredible peaks, like the TLC match with Nick Wayne, and the match with Vinnie Massaro with the infamous Burning Hammer spot.

His reign has also included some very low valleys, including his 30-minute slog of a match with Wayne that was a bizarre mix of Ricochet/Ospreay spots and every NXT cliché imaginable. At Kid Zombie in June, WCP decided to get experimental with Alexander and present him as a “sports entertainer,” doing the old Jason Sensation bit, with local wrestlers Ringo Starlight and Jaguar Montoya getting squashed in title matches as Starboy Larry and Vincenzo Mozzarelli. It was a monumental waste of time, and the most embarrassing thing WCP has ever booked.

In October of last year, on the same show where Alexander defeated Fatu for the title, Charlie began a feud with Alan Angels, which carried into 2023. In January, Angles would convince Kevin Blackwood to turn heel, and the pair would be a thorn in Charlie’s side all year. In March, Charlie teamed with Bryan Keith to defeat the newly turned heel team, making them look like geeks. Angels and Blackwood being booked in this manner was head-scratching at the time, but in hindsight makes total sense, as they would align themselves with Alexander later in the year, becoming his lackeys, and bringing Titus and Charlie back together.

On April 7, Charlie would team with Vinnie Massaro and Jacob Fatu to take on the trio of Titus Alexander, Alan Angels, and Kevin Blackwood. The babyfaces came out on top, but neither Charlie nor Alexander were involved with the finish. The match was built around Vinnie Massaro, who beat Angels with his Snoring Elbow. After the match, Massaro challenged Titus for the title, which Charlie took umbrage with.

In June, on the same show that Starboy Larry received a title shot against Alexander, Charlie fell to Vinnie Massaro in a number one contenders match and failed to secure a championship match for himself.

In August, Charlie would be entered into the second annual West Coast Cup. Determined not to fall in the finals like he did last year, Charlie disposed of a debuting Derek Dillinger in the first round, and Jay Malachi in the second round.

In the semi-finals, Charlie would meet Alpha Zo, and that’s where this story takes a sharp left turn.

Earlier in the night, Alpha Zo legitimately injured his ribs when he took a back senton wrong from Shigehiro Irie. Zo got the win, but was struggling to breathe and was dry heaving on his way to the back. It looked like he wouldn’t be able to wrestle in the next round, but came out anyway after his music played for what felt like an eternity. Zo got a hero’s welcome, and the crowd was on his side. Smartly, Charlie decided to work the match heel, telling the story of how desperate he was to get his hands on Alexander one more time, even if Alpha Zo’s body had to be sacrificed the process. It didn’t take long for the crowd to turn on Starboy, serenading him with “fuck you, Charlie” chants. It was the first time the crowd had rallied against him.

In the finals, Charlie faced off against the heavy favorite, the man who fought alongside Charlie months earlier, Bryan Keith. After what we just witnessed Charlie do to Alpha Zo, and with Keith’s popularity, the crowd was almost 100% behind BK and against Charlie. To WCP’s credit, they didn’t attempt to fight the crowd. Starboy wrestled heel, and pulled off the big upset to the dismay of the West Coast faithful. After the match, with the ring filled up with other wrestlers, Charlie refused a handshake from Keith shoving him in the chest and berated him in front of his peers.

By winning the West Coast Cup, Charlie earned a title shot on WCP’s biggest show in October. But this couldn’t have been the plan right? The hated heel Titus Alexander vs a heel-leaning Starboy Charlie? What would happen next? There had to be a double turn coming?

A few days later, West Coast Pro released a video of announcer James Kincaid doing a sit-down interview with Starboy Charlie. Finally, Charlie would state his motives and continue his heel turn… or so we thought. Charlie did none of that, instead, he gave a sincere apology for his actions. What? Was WCP really going to ignore everything that happened at West Coast Cup? Of course not, it’s wrestling, and after all there was one final show before October—one more chance to the loose ends.

But it wasn’t even a guarantee that Alexander would still even be champ by October. In September, West Coast Pro made their debut in Los Angeles, with Daniel Garcia receiving a title shot. Sometimes the most painfully simple stories are the right ones. Charlie was going to show heel tendencies in his match against Shun Skywalker, and Alexander was going to lean face. Charlie would interfere in the main event, both allowing Garcia to avoid taking a clean loss, and setting up Charlie vs Titus in October.

None of that happened.

Charlie wrestled Skywalker as a pure babyface, and despite getting some boos, the only nugget of heeldom we saw happened when he refused to shake Skywalker’s hand after defeating him. In the main event, Alexander wrestled as a pure heel in a slog of a match that went to a 30-minute time-limit draw. Charlie never came out, never interfered. After going 30 minutes, the fans did the traditional “five more minutes” chant as Blackwood and Angels came out to try to convince Alexander to walk away. This is it, isn’t it? This is when Alexander proves he isn’t a coward and goes against his stooges wishes. But no, Alexander did not accept the challenge, instead, the trio jumped Garica. Just as they are piling on, Vinnie Massaro, Kevin Knight, and Starboy Charlie come out to save Garcia.

This is where they build to the October match between Alexander and Charlie. It HAD to be. There was no hint whatsoever of a double-switch on this night, but at least they can finish strong with a hot angle.

What will happen now?

Will Alexander and Charlie have to be separated?

Will they try to kill each other?

Will Charlie cut a promo talking about what he’s going to do next month?

What we got was… crowd participation ten count corner punches, and Charlie grinding his junk into Alan Angels’s face before the tenth punch. The show ended with the faces smiling and doing Garcia’s goofy dance. The only interaction Alexander and Charlie had during this segment was when Charlie dropped Alexander on his head with a Gotch-style Piledriver, likely establishing that as his new finisher. If you didn’t know Charlie and Alexander were enemies before this show, you likey didn’t know after the show ended.

A profoundly stupid and underwhelming way to lead into one of the biggest and most important matches West Coast Pro has ever had.

The stage is set. October 14. United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco. Starboy Charlie finally gets his championship match against Titus Alexander. It’s his first title shot since he wrestled Hammerstone all those years ago. Going in, there are more questions than answers.

Who will the fans support?

Will the bookers attempt to fight the fan reaction and have Charlie wrestle face?

Will they ignore what took place at the West Coast Cup?

Will it be heel vs heel, or will there be a double turn?

How will Titus Alexander wrestle without his stooges Alan Angels and Kevin Blackwood by his side?

Titus Alexander vs. Starboy Charlie is the most important feud in Northern California in years, and despite the bizarre recent booking, this match means a lot to the fans who have followed these two men from the beginning. No matter what happens, this will be one to remember. Prediction: Starboy Charlie   

Part 2 of the West Coast Pro Five Year Anniversary Preview will look at the remainder of the show:

“Speedball” Mike Bailey vs. Alpha Zo

Chikayo Nagashima, Johnnie Robbie, Rachael Ellering & Unagi Sayaka vs. Magenta (Maria & Riko Kawahata), Mio Momono & Sandra Moone

“The Crazy Cajun” Jiah Jewell vs Bryan Keith 

Masato Tanaka vs. Vinnie Massaro

Takumi Iroha vs. Masha Slamovich 

JT Thorne vs Timothy Thatcher 

Los Suavecitos (Danny Rose, Ricky Gee) & Adrian Quest vs Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin) & Ultimo Dragon 

West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson) Open Challenge