West Coast Pro 5: Five Year Anniversary Show
October 14, 2023
United Irish Cultural Center
San Francisco, California
Part 1 of the West Coast Pro 5 preview focused on the main event between Titus Alexander and Starboy Charlie. Read that preview here: https://www.voicesofwrestling.com/2023/10/09/west-coast-pro-five-year-anniversary-preview-titus-alexander-vs-starboy-charlie/
I feel like I say this every time I write a preview, but this is likely the biggest and most important show in West Coast Pro’s short history, and not for the reasons you might think. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing that we get to see a ton of talent from Japan (including an appearance from Kenta Kobashi), but what really makes this show special is the use of the locals and homegrown stars. Almost every match on this card features homegrowns in big spots, high-stakes matches, or stories built over years.
Takumi Iroha vs. Masha Slamovich
This is a rematch from night one of the West Coast Cup, where Takumi Iroha defeated Masha to win the title in the main event. Masha is actually 0-3 against Takumi, also losing twice in tags during the early days of the pandemic. Not only have both women had some of the best women’s matches in West Coast Pro, but both are integral to the relationship between West Coast Pro and Marvelous That’s Women’s Pro Wrestling (yes, that is actually the full name of the promotion). Takumi Iroha is both the ace of Marvelous and its president. She is also the reason the promotion exists in its current form, as it was a nostalgia show with musical acts before 2015 when she quit Stardom and began training with Chigusa Nagayo, convincing her to make Marvelous a legit Wrestling promotion.
Masha Slamovich also has an extensive history with Marvelous, and spent significant time training under Nagayo, living in Japan during the early days of COVID. Masha and Iroha have a lot in common, and not just because they are the only two wrestlers to hold the West Coast Pro Women’s Championship. Both take a lot of inspiration from All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling, even using finishers from that era; Masha uses Akira Hokuto’s Northern Lights Bomb as her third-tier finisher, and Takumi uses Chigusa Nagayo’s Running Three (running Crucifix Powerbomb) as her weapon of choice, a move passed down by Nagayo herself.
This will be Iroha’s 3rd title defense, defeating Johnnie Robbie in WCP’s LA debut, and Sandra Moone in Hokkaido, the first title defense outside of California. Not only is Masha the first WCP Women’s Champion, but she is also the first and only Queen of Indies winner, defeating Mio Momono in the finals in May. Both competitors wrestle a much more physical style than their contemporaries, Masha wrestling a more violent style than what you see on US indies, with an offense built around dumping her opponents on their heads with the Northern Lights Bomb, Ganso Bomb, and her finisher the White Knight Driver(half package piledriver). Takumi Iroha is not your typical modern Joshi wrestler, and works a much more physical style, with her offense being mostly kicks, forearms, and of course, the Running Three, which has been extremely protected in WCP. This should be hard-hitting, violent, and could be a modern classic, and unlike their previous match, they won’t have to perform in front of a dead crowd in an empty State Room on a Thursday evening. Prediction: Takumi Iroha
JT Thorne vs. Timothy Thatcher
I’ve always advocated for indie promotions creating their own stars, but West Coast Pro is flying dangerously close to the sun with JT Thorne’s booking. JT is the first graduate of the West Coast Pro academy, and despite only having a small number of matches under his belt, he has already wrestled Titus Alexander for the WCP championship, was an entrant in this year’s West Coast Cup, and quite frankly is winning way too much for his level of experience. To be fair, he has been doing a good job for his level of experience and is working everywhere in Northern California, but his booking is doing him no favors, and “student of the promotion’s school” has historically been a tough character to get over on the US indies.
I get the sense that we aren’t far off from the fans turning on Thorne if he keeps getting pushed the way he has been. That kind of already happened in LA when Chris Hero announced his match with Thatcher after it had already accidentally been announced on Twitter a few days prior, and JT had to pretend to act shocked. This is a Tim Thatcher match, so I’m sure it will be like every Tim Thatcher match ever: slow-motion grappling with loosely applied holds. I have no doubt that this will be a great learning opportunity for JT Thorne, and I understand Thatcher is a fan favorite since he is from Sacramento and has a ton of history in San Francisco because of his time in APW, but Thatcher is one of my least favorite wrestlers of all time, so this isn’t for me at all. Prediction: Timothy Thatcher
“The Crazy Cajun” Jiah Jewell vs. Bryan Keith
Jiah Jewell is the other graduate of the WCP academy, and unlike JT Thorne, he hasn’t been overbooked or given big-time matches yet, allowing him to progress and naturally get over on WCP undercards, quickly becoming a fan favorite. He also has experience prior to his time at the academy, originally training in Northwest Nevada under Reno Scum before relocating to Northern California.
Jiah is simply a more complete package than Thorne at this point—though he is also still extremely green—having his own signature move set built around surprisingly vicious chops, and a gator roll (of course) into a beautiful bridging suplex.
Bryan Keith has been arguably the MVP of independent wrestling in 2023, consistently having high-quality matches, and is one of the most over people on the WCP roster. He seemingly cannot have a bad match these days, and this should be a great test for the Modesto, Louisiana (which I believe is right next to Nashville, Italy) native. I don’t expect this to be a show stealer, but I think this will open a lot of eyes to the Crazy Cajun. Prediction: Bryan Keith
Los Suavecitos (Danny Rose, Ricky Gee) & Adrian Quest vs. Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin) & Ultimo Dragon
Los Suavecitos has been one of the best success stories to come out of West Coast Pro since their debut in Santa Cruz a year ago. Not only have they become a mainstay in the promotion, but they consistently get some of the best reactions on every show they’re on, often being serenaded by “fuck LA” chants as they enter the ring wearing Dodgers jerseys. Suavecitos are really interesting because they toe the line of being chicken shit heels, but never actually cross it, and are still able to come off as menacing. Their act feels fresh, and they come off as people you would actually meet in California (turned way up of course).
Ricky Gee is the better in-ring worker of the two, and Danny Rose is the charisma, getting under the fan’s skin any chance he gets. Earlier this year, the pair added longtime SoCal veteran Adrian Quest to their unnamed unit and added Johnnie Robbie a few months after that. Quest is a wrestler who’s been on the verge of a breakout for around a decade, but has never quite put it all together.
Their opponents are the Motor City Machine Guns and Ultimo Dragon. If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t thrilled when WCP announced Dragon’s name. Dragon has actually been a mainstay of NorCal wrestling for some time and is currently the Pro Wrestling Revolution champion, a title he has held for over five years. Ultimo has been in his greatest hits phase for about two decades now, so him being part of an undercard six-man tag is a really great use for him. I don’t think I need to go into much depth with Shelley and Sabin, but they are the glue in this match, bridging the gap between the young Suavecitos and the aging legend Ultimo Dragon. I expect MCMG to do most of the heavy lifting for their team, allowing Dragon to come in and get his pops. For the Suavecitos/Quest team, it should be very easy to get some really great heat, especially if they attempt to rip Dragon’s mask off, which is what I’m hoping for. Prediction: MCMG & Ultimo Dragon
“Speedball” Mike Bailey vs. Alpha Zo
Alpha Zo is the best pure babyface on the West Coast Pro roster. It sounds almost cliché to the point of being nausea-inducing, but West Coast fans truly have seen him “grow up” in front of our eyes. Zo has been very vocal on social media about overcoming his addiction to alcohol and turning his life around. Since becoming sober, he has become more focused, gotten in much better shape, and is putting in the best work of his career. He’s the last remaining member of The Conglomerate and is set to tour Marvelous in the next few months. At the West Coast Cup, Alpha Zo legitimately injured his ribs after taking a senton wrong in his match with Shigehiro Irie, which ended up being a blessing in disguise, making him even more of a sympathetic face. Smartly, WCP decided to capitalize on the injury by making his ribs his Achilles heel in the same vein as Matt Jackson’s back is for him. Zo is currently on a two-match losing streak because of his weak ribs, with Starboy Charlie and Lee Moriarty taking advantage, Moriarty even winning by TKO after Zo’s body gave out.
Kayfabe-wise, Mike Bailey is the worst possible opponent for Alpha Zo since much of Speedball’s high-octane offense is built around attacks to the abdomen, including his kicks, flipping knees, and his finisher, The Ultimate Weapon. Bailey is three and two against locals in his WCP career, defeating Starboy Charlie, Viento, and Serza in singles matches. His only losses to locals came at the hands of Jacob Fatu and Titus Alexander, the former being WCP champion at the time, and the latter on the verge of winning it at the time of their match. I expect Speedball to lean heel in this match, and Zo to get beat down for the majority of the match. Prediction: Mike Bailey
Masato Tanaka vs. Vinnie Massaro
It’s so crazy that Masato Tanaka is still wrestling—let alone alive—two and a half decades after his series of matches with Mike Awesome. They say time waits for no one, and it looks like Tanaka is finally starting to slow down, and that makes me so thankful that I get to see him while he still has some juice left. This won’t be Vinnie Massaro’s first time stepping in the ring with a puro legend, as he already has an impressive resume, including Misawa, Akiyama, Ogawa, and Ishii. Vinnie is currently on a two-match losing streak, and isn’t too far removed from his loss to Titus Alexander for the WCP title. This will obviously be an elbow match, Tanaka’s Rolling Elbow vs Massaro’s Snoring Elbow. Prediction: Vinnie Massaro
Mio Momono, Sandra Moone, Magenta(Maria & Riko) vs Chikayo Nagashima, Unagi Sayaka, Johnnie Robbie & Rachel Ellering
There is a lot to unpack here.
First off, this will be Chikayo Nagashima’s US debut after almost three decades in wrestling. Nagashima is a student of Chigusa Nagayo, and a member of the first GAEA rookie class along with Toshie Uematsu and Meiko Satomura, all three debuting on the first GAEA Japan show back in 1995. Nagashima is a two-time AAAW (pronounced “three-a-w”) Champion, and the only person to hold the title during its initial run as GAEA’s top prize, and after its revival in 2022 as Marvelous’s main title. Nagashima’s most recent title run ended earlier this year at the hands of one of her opponents in this match, Mio Momono.
Like Nagashima, Mio is also a student of Nagayo, and was part of the first Marvelous rookie class with Rin Kadokura. Mio was the first Marvelous wrestler to step into a WCP ring, defeating Queen Aminata in her debut, and months later came with seconds of winning the inaugural Queen Of Indies tournament before falling to Masha Slamovich in the finals. Maria is the third and final student of Nagayo in this match, part of the second Marvelous rookie class, which also included Mei Hoshizuki (now Mei Seira in Stardom), and Mikoto Shindo (now Kohaku in WAVE). Unagi Sayaka and Riko Kawahata were not brought up by Marvelous, but have been working in the promotion the past few months. Unagi began her career in TJPW, then jumped to Stardom before going freelance, and Kawahata began in Actwres girl’Z but left during the mass exodus in 2020 and eventually signed with Marvelous full-time, and began teaming with Maria as Magenta.
Johnnie Robbie and Sandra Moone are both coming off recent WCP title losses to Takumi Iroha, Robbie in LA, and Moone in Japan. This will be Sandra’s first match in West Coast Pro since touring with Marvelous the past couple months, and it will be interesting to see how much she’s improved. This might sound like a bold statement, but Johnnie Robbie might be the best prospect out of California, and has been getting rocket-packed since aligning herself with Los Suavecitos and Adrian Quest earlier this year. Robbie is a student of the NJPW LA dojo, and is about to make her debut for CMLL for their Grand Prix. There is a lot to look forward to here.
Still, for me the interaction I’m most excited about is the ultra babyface Mio Momono and the detestable heel Johnnie Robbie, and I hope this leads to a singles match between the two.
West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson) Open Challenge
If I’m honest, I have no idea who it will be. In the past, WCP has used Daniel Garcia and Francesco Akira as mystery opponents. I don’t know if it will be a team from AEW, Japan, Mexico, or an indie team making their debuts. I’d love it to be the Los Vipers team of Latigo and my favorite luchador Toxin, but my official prediction is Sinner & Saint (Judas Icarus and Travis Williams), who have been doing really great work in British Columbia and DEFY.