Steve’s View #114 – SoCal’s Internet history, Roddy Piper, XPW’s PPV, and more

One of the things that I think defines the SoCal wrestling scene is the Internet. If you go to pretty much any show in SoCal, you wont just see people from the general area, but from all over Southern California. And most fans are well informed to what’s going on all over the scene. Something that would be virtually impossible without the Internet. The Internet has lead to other things in the territory, some good, some bad, whether it being a local wrestler getting booked on the East Coast, or a fan getting beaten up at an XPW show for something said on a message board. I don’t think there is anyone who would deny the impact the Internet has had on the territory, which is probably a bigger impact than it’s had on any  territory.

Since the Internet has played such a big deal in Southern California’s recent history, I thought I’d take a look at where it began and how it evolved into what it is today.

The earliest talk about wrestling in the Southern California scene probably began on BBS’ (Bulletin Board Systems) or Usenet (newsgroups) The earliest examples of which can still be found today are people discussing Wrestlemania VII, which was held in Los Angeles in 1990. While there were indy federations in the area at the time, the Internet had only a little over one million users world wide at the time, so even finding another person who cared about SoCal indy wrestling to have a discussion with online would be hard to do.

By 1993 the internet had grown to over three million users, and with that increase of people, came an increase in talk about wrestling overall on the internet, and wrestling in SoCal with an increase in discussion on Usenet about WWF house shows, and the beginning of talk about indy wrestling promotions, such as Slammers.

The World Wide Web was rapidly increasing in size around this time, but it would still be a few years before it played any real part in the growth of Southern California’s Internet community.

In 1995 one of the biggest things to happen to the scene was the start of AOL.

With AOL not only did the Internet’s growth increase, but so did the discussion of the wrestling scene in Southern California with AOL’s Grandstand forums message boards.

AOL became the premiere place to talk about indy wrestling, and on AOL’s boards SoCal, and the rest of the West Coast began to get some publicity they were lacking due to all the wrestling magazines being located on the East Coast. The Bay Area’s APW became one of the first West Coast indys to garner
a lot of internet hype in part due to AOL’s message boards.

Slammers was the first Southern California promotion to really try to use the Internet to promote it’s shows, and in what would probably be surprising to most people now days, when the EWF was started in 1996 they also heavily promoted the promotion through newsgroups and the AOL board. I believe Slammers became the first local promotion to have their own official site, with opening in 1996.

By 1997 wrestling websites had started to become more and more popular, and in mid year WWF  opened up their official website. The AOL {fill} forums were still the best place for news and information on the SoCal scene at this point.

In 1998 a young timekeeper for SCCW named Adair Cole began promoting their shows online. Through the AOL board. Adair would meet Tom Walters, who was a regular at WPW, and Adam Marantz, who worked for CCW. Adair had the idea for a website that would be a resource for people who follow indy wrestling in Southern California, listing upcoming cards and results, as well as pictures and the occasional interview, much like “Whoo! Wrestling”, a website devoted to indy wrestling on the national

level. He asked Tom Walters and Adam Marantz to join him and “SoCal Wrestling” was born.

Around September of 1999 socal-wrestling was born, the first website devoted to indy wrestling in Southern California. The site started out on a free web host (angelfire) and three or four months after it started the domain was purchased.

Socal-wrestling was at first accepted by a few promotions that were running in SoCal such as UIWA, who would promote the site on it’s shows. Slowly the site began to grow, with the message board replacing the AOL Grandstand forum as the place to talk about indy wrestling in SoCal.

Adair Cole then allowed Aaron Hasson to join the site’s staff, and Aaron shortly there after actually bought the site from Adair, though Adair did stay on the staff. Around this time David Crane started a rival site to socal-wrestling, which was CAwrestling was supposed to be for the entire state of California, but due mostly to all the staff living in SoCal, Northern California didn’t get much press. CAwrestling was updated almost daily, which was far more than socal-wrestling was, but due to David Crane’s promotional tactics of trying to start a war with socal-wrestling, it never really took off as a website. It should be noted that CAwrestling was the only site similar to socal-wrestling that popped up, as “SoCal Dirt” was also created, but it didn’t last long at all, and it was more than likely someone from UIWA running it.

Socal-wrestling kept expanding, even adding Samoa Joe, who was then writing under the moniker SoCal J-Rock. There were tons of problems with the site however, as people complained about biasness. Further while some promotions would get a ton of coverage, others would get virtually none. “I remembered he asked me to write a column pimping shows, of course I was only seeing UIWA shows and like CCW because there guys would come up, and recap.” Said Joe; “So there would be complaints
about shows not being covered”.

“The content on the main page was usually just filled with promotions that Aaron Hasson [worked] for such as EWF and IWC (whichever one he worked for that week) and UPW. One example of this, was when Rev Pro was having all those really good shows in early and mid-2000, it was hard to get a lot of
coverage for on the main site because nobody else from the site went except me for the most part” says Tom Walters. “Plus in our year end awards, Master G won the “Manager of the Year” poll, because he voted on his kid’s school computers”.

A feature that was introduced on socal-wrestling (which was based on Whoo! Wrestling’s) were the rankings. Though the same problems with complaints of biasness and the rankings not being “fair” arose. According to Tom Walters, “A lot of people complained about the rankings being biased which
was pretty true for the fact that the panel of voters would basically just vote for their friends whether or not they deserved a high ranking.”

In late 2000, Lonnie Hill and myself were talking about something was going on over at socal-wrestling that we didn’t like. More than likely it was the EWF vs. IWC feud that was going on at the time that was driving people away from their message board. We decided that someone should create a new forum for people in Southern California to discuss wrestling. After some debate, we came up with SoCalUNCENSORED for the name of the site. One of the main things we were going to do with the site was set up a chat room where fans and wrestlers could chat and discuss what was going on wrestling wise, and whatever. That was the start of SCU.

We slowly worked on it, mostly just putting it on the back burner. The plan that we decided on was that we didn’t want to be an alternative to socal-wrestling or cawrestling, we wanted to be a supplement to them. You could go to those sites and get the news, and come to SCU and get opinions on the news
and have discussions about it. With two established sites covering things, we felt there was no reason to compete.

On March 10th, 2001 MPW had it’s debut show, in which Frankie Kazarian became the first MPW champion, Samoa Joe wrestled Cincinnati Red, The Ballard Brothers wrestled the Primetime
Players. MPW’s debut show was well received and was getting a lot of praise on socal-wrestling’s message board. Then UPW came up with a rule that would change a lot of things in SoCal.  UPW decided that wrestlers working with UPW, could only wrestle for certain designated promotions, and not within a week of UPW shows. MPW was not one of the promotions on this list. Essentially MPW’s champion was barred from wrestling on any MPW shows. A lot of people were outraged at the fact. Wrestlers, fans, other promoters, etc. And the main place they expressed their outrage was socal-wrestling’s message board. It was creating a lot of bad press for UPW. Up to this point UPW was most likely the most liked and most well respected promotion in SoCal, at least on the Internet. In one day they pretty much turned heel.

One of the longest threads in socal-wrestling’s message board’s history was going. It received about 100 posts in a day and a half. Then the message board was wiped clean of every post. To most people it was no secret some of the people working for socal-wrestling were working for UPW. Which was one of the major problems with socal-wrestling at the time. They pushed the feds they worked for and virtually ignored the others. SoCal J-Rock, who was also the wrestler that is known as Samoa Joe, who was employed by UPW and scheduled to win their heavyweight title on the next show took responsibility for the deletion of the board. When asked about it recently, Joe stated, “I pulled posts about me because I wanted it to be private but the whole board wiped because of a accident, due to me not understanding how to delete posts”. Even though the deletion of the board was said to be an accident, and fault was taken for it, this still didn’t sit well with most people.  Socal-wrestling never really had a no censorship policy. They had a forum where they moved posts into, but posts against certain wrestlers or promotions still got deleted from time to time. Lonnie and I had the site almost done at that time, and the mass deletion of socal-wrestling’s board rushed us. We also decided to add a message board at that point also.

SoCalUNCENSORED opened on March 13th, 2001. All that we had on the site was a message board, a chat room, and one column. At the same time socal-wrestling relaunched with an almost completely new staff. SCU stayed with our plan of being a supplement to the other sites and just offering opinions, and not news. But that had to change. Socal-wrestling’s relaunch fizzled out soon after it started. They rarely updated. So we picked up the slack and started posting lineups, results, and other news. SCU eventually took over from where the other sites were.

CAwrestling decided to shut down in late 2001, which was followed soon after by socal-wrestling. SCU however kept growing and evolving into the site it is today, which is more than likely the most visited wrestling website devoted to one territory there is.  In the last fourteen or so years, the Internet has

done a lot to change the scene. I can almost guarantee there wouldn’t be the number of promotions there are right now if it wasn’t for the Internet, and some of the promotions that did start wouldn’t have lasted very long. A lot of times people see the drama that has come with the Internet, with problems being aired publicly, and inside information leaking and don’t see the positives that come with the Internet, such as people in France or Australia knowing about Revolution Pro and it’s wrestlers, or someone in Bulgaria wanting to see a UPW tape. The Internet is growing at a rapid pace, and as the Internet grows, in theory the SoCal wrestling community should also (though WWE is doing everything they can to negate that by making fans lose interest in wrestling and not bringing in new fans). The Internet is the future of  wrestling, if you want to accept it or not.

The July 11th UPW show at the Grove in Anaheim will have a special Sneak Preview of “In The Pit with Piper,” featuring on the Grove’s big screens Rowdy Roddy Piper and UPW’s own Hardkore Kidd.

On July 6th there will be a pro-wrestling show at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar at 2:00 PM. I’m not sure what promotion will be running the show, as I’ve seen it listed several places as WPW, but the WPW we all know and love knew nothing about it when asked. Last year AWA ran a show at the San Diego County Fair.

WPW has said that a wrestler or two from Toryumon will be added to their “Best of the West” tournament on July 18th at the Anaheim Marketplace. The show will be taking place at the Marketplace’s indoor venue which is a pretty nice venue for wrestling, especially compared to the outside venue.

XPW is saying their pay per view will air beginning August 7th, but In Demand has a schedule up, as far as wrestling and mixed martial arts events go, that goes deep into August and XPW’s pay per view is nowhere to be found. There’s still a little over a month and a half before the scheduled air date, but with
as many times as this pay per view has been pushed back, I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets pushed back again or never airs. Just a follow up, In Demand did release the schedule for XPW’s pay per view after this column had already been written. It will air beginning at 8:00 PM August 7th on iN1.

I have heard that Masahiro Chono will be at the Toukon show at the Inoki Dojo on June 21st.

Damien 666 and Halloween will be on Revolution Pro’s July 19th show at Frank and Sons in the City of Industry.

Be sure to check out for Tony T’s pictures of wrestling events all over SoCal and Tijuana
and for Shane Michael Kidder’s photos from various shows around the area.

For those who don’t know we have a complete list of upcoming events in the SoCal area on our new events page. Also every Wednesday we will post a list of the week’s upcoming events on the main page of the site. The events page is updated almost daily.

I should be back on schedule with regularly weekly columns now, and will be back next week with a look at the Inoki Dojo show and Inoki’s plans for the US market.


About the Author
The authority on wrestling and MMA in Southern California since 2001.