EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR – 09/08/07 Live Report

We venture into deepest darkest Newhall to bring you a live report on the debut/return offering from EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR.Planes, Trains and Automobiles Report Vol. 11: EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR 09/08/07

by Paul Newberry and Jay Doring

Greetings and welcome to another edition of the Planes, Trains and Automobiles report. This time we will be taking a look at the debut (or would that be the return?) of EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR. It’s not quite EPIC, and not quite WAR, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. Would it be able to live up to the past? Let’s find out…

But first, for the benefit of for those who may be new to Southern California Indy wrestling, let me give you a quick run down of the histories of both EPIC and WAR:

EPIC Pro Wrestling was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world on June 16th 2002. At the time, they were considered a pretty big deal. They had their own 30 minute TV slot on KJLA, they used all of the top area wrestlers, flew in talent (both of which were fairly uncommon back then) including ex-ECW stars, and CZW wrestlers (before you start laughing, remember that this was back before CZW turned into an unwatchable self parody). The kicker was that the shows actually delivered, and were arguably the most well rounded events found anywhere in the states at the time. Really, EPIC was only an Amazing Red appearance away from being 2002 Indy utopia.

You may be saying to yourself: “That all sounds pretty great, what could have possibly gone wrong?” How about everything? The problem was all in the handling of it all. Little mistakes here and there all added up (for more detail on this, please keep an eye out for my upcoming article: “EPIC Pro Wrestling: Fucking up was only three quarters of the job” Coming October 2015)

It all finally fell apart in November of 2002, when EPIC was to have put on it’s biggest event to date, “Wrestle Roots 2002” (featuring the cool as hell sounding Ultimo Dragon Vs. Super Dragon Vs. American Dragon match). Hype for this show was building for months. Only… well, the promoter didn’t have enough money to pay for the venue and the event was canceled literally at the last possible minute. Leaving fans and wrestlers waiting outside wondering where their show and money had went. It could be called the biggest disaster ever in SoCal Indy wrestling. Some shortsighted fans had even declared that “SoCal Wrestling is dead” afterward.


(Lucky for me personally, I had gotten seriously ill the day before and wasn’t able to make the trip to LA. At first I felt terrible about having to miss it, until I read about what happened… then I felt strangely relived. So hooray for being seriously ill I guess.)

Overnight EPIC owner, Gary Yap had went from a well liked figure to something of a pariah. Angry fans and wrestlers formed mobs carrying pitchforks and torches, and staked out every Indy show looking to shake Yap down both for cash they were owed and just because it sounded like fun. In March 2003, Yap officially closed the promotion to the surprise of no one.

Nowadays, EPIC is more often remembered as the Goofus to PWG’s Gallant.

Time passed, as time always does, and November 2004 the circumstances appeared right for an “unofficial” reboot of sort. They “re-debuted” under the name “Pro Wrestling WAR” with a free show to attempt to make good with the fans. However, I got the impression that still not enough time had passed since the end of EPIC for WAR to be truly accepted, and had always sensed a good amount of animosity in the scene toward those running the promotion. A few of the stunts they pulled didn’t exactly serve to help matters either (Example telling us: “Gary Yap is gone! We swear!” Only for him to appear at the next show. This exact thing happened like three times. Not like it was a huge deal, but why lie to us?) Also I can’t go without mentioning the super annoying Juggalo guy they had as their spokesperson, who only served to further the negative image some fans had of the promotion.

While WAR consistently put on entertaining shows, the fans just never took to them for whatever reason. No matter what they did, who they booked or how little they had charged for the shows. The shows were always plagued by low attendance and general apathy, much like your average US election. For various reasons, WAR quietly ceased operations in early 2006.

This all leads us to September 8th 2007, where we will witness yet another relaunch, as EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR (a name they literally spent seconds coming up with) debuts! A little older and hopefully a little wiser. Will the third time be the charm? Or will I be writing another one of these things, when they relaunch again in 2009? Time shall tell.

This show will also mark my first ever trip to the famed SoCal wrestling mecca known as Newhall. If you are anything like me (and if you are, please get serious help now) you may be saying “Where the hell is Newhall?” My exact words after seeing the card to a GSCW show back in March 2003. Now over four and a half years later, I’ve finally learned the answer: the middle of fucking nowhere. Not knowing where the middle of fucking nowhere was, I decided to carpool up with Co-reviewer and noted terrible driver, Jay Doring. That way finding it would be his problem.

Roughly 80 hours later we finally entered the golden gates of Newhall. It was quite the life experience. Have you ever seen the scene in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” where Eddie Valiant first enters Toon Town? It was kinda like that, only with a billboard that read “Now entering Newhall: Home of Bo Cooper”

The Legion Hall itself is buried between a mix of residences and businesses. Some of the establishments surrounding the Legion Hall included: A pet daycare center with a clever name I am sadly forgetting, an Italian Deli (possibly the only one in existence named “Maria’s”), a florist, Billy’s skate shop and if you are looking for a good chiropractor I’m sure that Dr. Stanley P. Henderson right next door does a fine job.

The people seemed to be nice though. Right after we stepped out of the car, some guy just walked up and handed Jay a Shawn Michaels t-shirt. Which must be the traditional Newhallian greeting.

After waiting in line (by far my least favorite part of any show) for a while, the doors finally opened at around 8:05 and we were let in. Once inside, wow, the venue itself is really really tiny. This is a place I could see filling up very easily. So if you plan on attending one of these shows in the future, I’d recommend getting there early.

They had a pretty unique merchandise booth featuring a supply of WAR, BigPro and EPIC DVDs, and a weird selection of other items, including autographed WWE photos! So if you ever wanted to buy that elusive Dawn Marie autographed 8×10, they had it! Cheap Plug: Keep an eye out for reviews of WAR dvds right here on SCU in the future.

Gary Yap introduces the show, and much to my surprise, he was not immediately pelted with produce. Which I’d say was a good sign that fans have finally moved on. Our ring announcer tonight is Benjamin Tomas, a long time poster on the SCU board. He is no Midnight Thunder, but I thought he did a good enough job. I do miss that crazy Midnight Thunder though. Sigh…

We were informed that as a special treat for the fans, students of Tony Kozina and Davey Richards would be having their very first live match in front of the EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR crowd! What a treat indeed, and it wasn’t even my birthday… oh wait it was my birthday. It all makes sense now. I like that EPIC WAR is giving these guys a shot, I seem to remember a certain Kozina student that debuted at one of these shows and went on to pretty big things. Yes, of course I am speaking of Robby Lance. We could be seeing the next Robby Lance right here.

Dark Match:
Albino Thunder Vs. Johnny Chocolate

Paul: First out came a heavy set competitor nicknamed “Albino Thunder” Who was clearly not a real albino. Yeah, he was white, but not quite white enough to be called “Albino Thunder”. With that nickname I expected like a roided out Edgar Winter or something.

The second student was a skinny black guy going by the moniker of Johnny Chocolate. Later dubbed Bruce LeRoy by Dino Winwood (who was watching the show from a booth in the back of the hall). Tonight, LeRoy will be taking his first step toward achieving the glow.

Jay:The students proceeded to have an encounter that was more like a prolonged drill than an actual match, exchanging sharply executed basics in no real particular order.

Their sparring was rudely interrupted by…two guys no one’s ever seen before who received loud calls of “WHO ARE YOU?” They didn’t really give an answer, which I thought was pretty rude of them, quite frankly.

Paul: Well, overlooking that ending. I thought they both did fine considering the circumstances. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I’d say this was still a more enjoyable match than I’ve seen from a few of the featured talents here in SoCal. Though I was upset that Chocolate didn’t end up catching a bullet in his teeth.

Winner: No Contest


Paul: Then we were introduced to the commissioner of EPIC Pro Wrestling War, Diablo. He had previously served as the commissioner of both GSCW and WAR, and was last seen working the register at the AWS Store. Shadowing him was a strange man who looked like Cousin IT with a Mortal Kombat make over, The question of the night was “What the hell is up with that dude?” During the entire show, he did exactly jack shit. Diablo addressed the interference in the dark match by saying “I may take action, I may not” which of course translates into “I’m not going to do anything.”

Match One:
The Suburban Commandos (DJ Rizz, T-Rent and D-Unit) Vs. “The Natural” Charles Mercury, Biggie Biggz and Chimaera

Paul: The Commandos are a popular NorCal-based trio who have also worked for SoCal Bigfoot fed, UEW earlier this year. They are comprised of DJ Rizz, who is the smaller more Derek Frazier-looking one, while the bigger D-Unit and T-Rent (who I believe are twins) more resemble Death Match wrestler, Corporal Robinson. Sadly, Charlie Wilcox did not accompany them to ringside.

They will be facing off with an incredibly random trio of SoCal wrestlers:

Chimaera (who is still wearing those Quicksilver tights) was a 2006 SCU Rookie of the Year candidate (and what a class that was) and is currently plying his trade in numerous smaller promotions around the region and is soon to make his debut in Germany (don’t ask how, where or why, because I have no clue).

Biggie Biggz currently works for whomever will book him. He has an interesting history in WAR, having started out as a manager for the Human Tornado, then became a lackey for Gary Yap’s Team EPIC. After Team EPIC was fired for their completely inane attack on Jack Evans, Biggie earned his spot back in WAR after winning over the crowd in a losing effort against the Human Tornado in December 2005. From there, just when Biggie was finally set for a featured position in WAR, it closed shop. Recently, on EPIC WAR’s webshow, Biggie was shown being made to do menial tasks in order to get on this show (although if he had just looked at the flyer, he would have seen that he was not only already booked, but prominently featured to boot)

Rounding out the trio is Charles “Chuck” Mercury, who has abandoned his throne as “Prince of the Universe”, left the “Modern Day Warrior” moniker for dead, to pursue a Christopher Daniels-inspired gimmick as “The Natural” (complete with facepaint over his eye.) When last seen in WAR, Chuck was the number one contender for the WAR title, and had yet to ever receive a fair shot at the title.

Jay: While nothing standout, this was an enjoyable indy show opener with all the inherent positives and flaws. This had some really cool-looking spots, as Biggie busted out his FAT MAN OUTTA CONTROL DIVE, and the skinny Commando (DJ Rizz) used a knuckle lock to spring onto his partner’s shoulders and bust out a high-elevation tope con hilo to the floor. The Commandos also busted out a tandem suplex spot on all three of their opponents, which Biggie took directly on his head in a cringe-inducing moment. The flaws were nothing unusual in indy wrestling – there were several points where a Commando would wander in for no apparent reason, and stand around stupidly purely for the purpose of being hit with another spot. Charles accidentally hit Chimaera, which triggered his switch that changed him from “decent guy” to “total asshole.” He immediately walked out on the match, leaving his partners to be destroyed. Biggie took a Samoan Drop from one of the bigger Commando’s completely the wrong way on his shoulder, the other big Commando followed with a frog splash, and DJ Rizz piled on top for the pin.

Paul: Perfectly enjoyable match up. Nothing amazing or anything, but I had fun with it. One negative would be that the action moved so fast, that no one in particularly had a chance to stand out from the pack.

Winners: The Suburban Commandos

Paul: After the match, Chuck Mercury gets on the mic and says “Just as I thought, you guys couldn’t do it without me. Hell, I don’t even know why I was in this match, seeing as it was just a bunch of curtains jerkers. For those of you that don’t know, I am the number one contender for the WAR title, and they just gave it to some schmuck. I haven’t been beaten for my #1 contendership, and yet I’m out here with a bunch of yayhoos”

While I don’t approve of the use of the word “Yayhoos” I can’t say that I don’t agree with him.

Once everyone had cleared, Biggie was still laying motionless in the ring. A swarm of people rush to check on him. Eventually, Biggie is given a neckbrace, totally giving away that he wasn’t really hurt. I hate when promotions do things like this, if only for the “crying wolf” effect it has on the fans. When will they learn? Diablo tells us that these things happen, and to be patient while this is taken care of. Two people who are not patient however, are NWA World Tag Team Champion, Joey Ryan and his manager de jour, Lizzy Valentine, who come out while everyone is still attending to Biggie. Joey asks for the mic, and then runs down EPIC WAR for not having a cordless mic.

Joey then proceeds to verbally rip into the fallen Biggz, and says something to the extent of “Get well soon Biggie. we need you for security at the next Guerrilla show” and also that they “need him to pick someone up at the airport”. Ouch, that was cold… true… but cold. Ok, it was also pretty damn funny.

Joey has places to go, so he demands his match start now. Biggie is hauled out of the ring and our next match is on:

Match Two:
Joey Ryan w/ Lizzy Valentine Vs. Nikki

Paul: Joey has some unkind words for Nikki (such as “more people here would rather see me without my shirt, than you) and offers her the chance to back out of the match. But naturally, she doesn’t accept. You know, for once I’d like to see the other person just take off.

FUN FACT: Nikki and Lizzy once teamed as the New York Knockouts (tell me that doesn’t sound like the name of a struggling Double A Baseball team).

Jay: It’s fitting that a pro wrestler who once openly proclaimed his hero worship of Jeff Jarrett in a promo would degrade a women’s place in the grappling arena. However, the opening moments of this match proved that even though Joey might be a veteran of two Guerrilla Warfare matches, he might not be able to handle a Good Housekeeping match, as Nikki decked him with a HARD forearm strike early. (Christ that was a long-winded attempt at a humorous comparison… sorry guys.)

Nikki kept the offense on Joey, taking him down with some dropkicks and ranas, before timely interference from Lizzy Valentine (who I always thought was SUCH A NICE GIRL, I’m disappointed) allowed Joey to cheat his way into the advantage. Joey laid into Nikki pretty hard thanks to some more timely shenanigans from his valet but eventually Nikki made the comeback. There was a funny spot at one point where Nikki had Joey pinned in a frankensteiner, but after Joey rolled a shoulder he REFUSED TO LET HER GO, proving Joey truly does live his gimmick. Nikki had Joey pinned after a bodyscissors into a victory roll, but that darn Lizzy was enough of a distraction for Joey to plant her with a superkick for the victory.

Paul: Pretty entertaining match. Nikki seemed a little out of her element here, so a few things weren’t exactly crisp, but overall I thought it all came off well.

Jay: As far as intergender matches go, this was about the best you can do. There’s always some inherent clumsiness in these type of matches as some spots were blown and/or ugly looking, but intergender bouts are also an easy “crowd pop” so I understood its place on the card.

Winner: Joey Ryan

Paul: After the match, Biggie Biggz comes back to ringside, takes off the neck brace and attacks Joey Ryan from behind. Setting up a match between the two for the next show. I see that match being a pretty big test for both of them.

Match Three:
Kazuki and Mike Santiago Vs. Aaron Scott and BOLO

Jay: Santiago and Kazuki (who a fan noted looked like mini-Morishima) were the wrestlers who crashed the trainees’ opener, and along with their opponents are more advanced students of Davey and Kozina. While a fairly short encounter, this match was smart in that it had no rest periods at all, as these guys kept popping out spots at a brisk pace to keep the crowd engaged. Bolo (the current AWA Pinnacle Champion) in particularly got pretty over with the crowd. Santiago eventually pinned Scott due to some heel dastardliness (I don’t think that’s even a word) and I wouldn’t mind seeing these guys progress on these shows at all.

Paul: I totally missed this match. So I am just going to agree with whatever Jay said, and maybe add in that I loved BOLO’s work in Black Belt Jones 2. Though anything that starred Jim Kelly (not the Bills QB) was usually good. Someone in SoCal should book that guy for an special appearance, if he is not “too busy looking good” that is.

Winners: Kazuki and Mike Santiago

Match Four:
Tony Kozina Vs. Lil Cholo

Jay: An indy wrestling mainstay since the beginning of the decade, Tony Kozina has been popping in and out of the SoCal scene for a while (including two PWG appearances in the promotion’s first year of existence). His most notable stint south of Fresno was his high-profile feud in WAR with Austin Aries where he seemed primed to take the championship from the ROH superstar. When WAR folded in early ’06, Kozina seemed destined to vanish into SoCal lore like The UK Kid and Tony Stradlin. Until, in an unadvertised match in PWG against TJ Perkins, he took a header into a pile of chairs and earned a new lease on life.

Paul: One of my favorite WAR moments ever was in August 2005, when they had Tony Kozina give a passionate promo on his upcoming title match with Austin Aries. In it, he mentioned that he had been training just for that match all year, then he ends up missing the show for another booking. Ha… well I always thought it was it funny. When we last saw Kozina in WAR, he had come up short in another match against Austin Aries thanks to the interference of New Jack.

Tonight, he will be facing Lil’ Cholo. Cholo can best be described as the SoCal’s “workhorse”. Show in and show out, you can always rely on Cholo to deliver the goods. I’d go as far as to call him one of the more underutilized talents in SoCal.

The referee for this contest was Inoki Dojo wrestler, Eric Watts (no, not that Eric Watts). THOUGH I’m not sure if this was the best match to have him referee, seeing as he completely towered over both men. It was kinda comical.

Jay: Kozina puts in a solid performance here against unsung SoCal hero Lil’ Cholo, trading series of intense matwork reversals and strikes. At one point Cholo stated, “is that all you got, bitch?” prompting Kozina to hit him harder and lay in some headbutts. Following an exchange of big moves, each man narrowly escaped the other’s finisher, and got caught in a series of pinfall reversals until finally Cholo managed to hold him down for the three count. This ending was the only weak point in the match, as I would have loved for something more decisive to go down.

Paul: Post match, the usually sportsmanlike Kozina in the most unsanitary gesture possible, spits on Cholo after he offered his hand in respect (well, there is an even more unsanitary gesture, it’s just harder to set up), then stormed to the back while cursing out the referee. Not sure what to make of that ending, but otherwise I thought this was a solid match.

Winner: Lil’ Cholo

Match Five:
Davey Richards Vs. KAOS

Jay: Davey Richards is of course the current independent supernova, competing all over the world for promotions such as PWG, ROH, IWA-MS, wXw in Germany and Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan. Pro Wrestling WAR was where it all began though, as Richards came in on his own dime to prove himself as a complete unknown in 2004.

Paul:: If Pro Wrestling WAR’s initial run accomplished one thing, it was launching the career of Davey Richards. In December 2004, he debuted in the promotion and through his showings in WAR, he landed his spot in PWG, and through PWG, he landed his spot in ROH, and through them, he was able to fullfill his dream of wrestling in Pro Wrestling NOAH. In a way he owes a lot to WAR giving him that chance to show what he could do.

Here, he takes on the “Rock Superstar” Kaos, the notorious former XPW Television champion and star of several nationally released DVDs and most recently, XPW 2 (better known as Wrestling Society X). WSX served to somewhat revitalize Kaos’ mostly dormant career. Nowadays he can be seen competing for companies like the Inoki Dojo, Hybrid Pro, New Wave Pro Wrestling and in FCW (during the portion of the show the lucha fans commonly refer to as the bathroom break). He was also the final champion of the departed Newhall promotion, Battleground Pro.

Jay:I was particularly interested in this match because in a way it represented the “Past vs. Present” of SoCal indy wrestling. Richards here proved pretty decisively to be the dominant competitor in this match, basically kicking Kaos’ ass all over the ring with a wide variety of athletic and high impact moves. Kaos DID get a few chances to win, most notably when after some distraction from Jezebel, Davey hit knees on a Shooting Star Press and Kaos hit a big lungblower for a nearfall. The end came when Kaos tried for what looked like a powerbomb and Davey rolled through with a jackknife pin for the 1-2-3.

While it was a mostly one-sided match, I enjoyed this quite a bit. I always get really annoyed when message board fans describe Davey as a “charisma vacuum” because he has personality to spare…when he lets his real persona shine through. SoCal Davey is much better than “anywhere else” Davey, because in other places Davey tries to be KENTA or Dynamite Kid and it seems extremely forced. A more relaxed, natural Davey is one of the most fun to watch wrestlers out there.

Winner: Davey Richards

Intermission: Hey, Lizzy Valentine is taking Polaroids with fans at the merch table! I wonder if it would cost extra to take a picture with Lizzy while she was holding up the autographed Dawn Marie 8×10. Hmm…

Another thing I noticed, was that the bar seemed to be really cleaning up tonight. During every portion of the show there has been a steady flow of people entering the magical door way leading to the bar. Very often it was the same people going in and out several times. I don’t drink myself, but I’ve found that pretty much every holiday, social gathering, sporting event or day that ends in Y is one big excuse to go get wasted and rip off a ten speed. It’s the only a way a few people I know are even able to stand themselves on a day to day basis.

Also just where was the bathroom in this place? I was never able to locate it. Clearly these people were deposing of their excess liquid somewhere…. but where?

And did I mention that there was a big picture of Ronald Reagan hanging on the wall? Because there was. Just thought I’d point that out for the whole zero people out there that care.

Match Six:
Ryan Drago Vs. R2K

Jay: A graduate of both Northern California’s APW boot camp and PWI’s IRON academy, Drago has received training by such luminaries as NOAH superstar Bison Smith and “the best wrestler in the world” Bryan Danielson, Ryan Drago has only been an occasional guest on the SoCal wrestling scene. Drago and current lucha libre sensation Alex Koslov put on the clear Match of the Day at 2006 AWS/WPW Best of the West tournament, and at Pro Wrestling WAR’s final show, had a hard-hitting encounter with Davey Richards that received a standing ovation from the crowd (all 35 of them)

Paul: After his excellent showing at the BOTW (where for once, Drago wasn’t the Russian guy in the match), I fully expected SOMEONE to bring him back. I mean that’s only natural right? You have a good showing, you are brought back. Nope, not this time, no one ever did. Well, until now, that is.

Tonight Drago will be facing R2K. I haven’t seen much from R2K. I truthfully didn’t even remember which WPW guy he was until he came out. I was thinking he was the one who looked like a mini AJ Styles (Junior I think). But R2K turned out to be the one with the questionable Playboy bunny tattoo on his chest.

This was one of the matches that I was most looking forward to. Because from what I’ve seen, on any given night, Drago can easily tear the house down. Let’s see if that happens here…

Jay: Unfortunately, this was not one of those nights. The match didn’t begin on the best note either as a backbreaker spot was blown almost immediately. Also, R2K decided that the best way to begin the match was to stall as much as humanly possible.

Paul: This led to a chant of “pussy” from the booze fueled Newhall faithful, To which R2K replied “I am what I eat” Good comeback, though “yes, please” or “where?” would have also worked. Always next time…

Jay: Following the slow start, there were a few cringe-inducing bumps to wake the crowd up, as Drago was whipped into the stairs and R2K hit a suicide dive that took both wrestlers into the crowd. Shortly after an exchange of painful-sounding forearm strikes, R2K caught Drago in a cradle and used the ropes for leverage to get the victory. I have absolutely no idea why the ref didn’t break this fall as he was LOOKING RIGHT AT R2K HOOKING THE ROPES AS HE WAS COUNTING. Well, he’s still much better than WAR’s first referee.

Paul: The ending was pretty groan inducing, as the ref clearly saw him holding the ropes. I also thought Drago far outclassed R2K. So I really didn’t like this ending on a few different levels.

Jay: I also thought this match was a pretty big waste of Drago, who’s one of the more capable available wrestlers in California not used in too many promotions – a solid technical wrestler with an amusing wit and in-ring charisma. When matched up with the right guy (Koslov, Davey, Jay Lethal at the infamous FUSION show in New Jersey) he delivers, I’ll be very happy if he gets a better opponent at the next show (hint: L-T-P).

R2K lays out Drago with a DDT following the match and continued to beat on him, until an athletic Lex Luthor lookalike in a UCLA shirt interfered to make the save. Unbeknownst to us, it was actually Newhall local boy and former BiGPro wrestler “Wholesome” JT Hyatt, and after a kayfabe scolding from Diablo, a match was made between the two for the next show.

Paul: Just to play backseat booker for a second, I think it would have been better if they had done R2K Vs. Nikki and Joey Ryan Vs. Ryan Drago instead. Clearly, JT Hyatt would have had more of a reason to be outraged by R2K’s actions if it were Nikki he was beating on, rather coming to the rescue of… Ryan Drago? Who doesn’t make for the best damsel in distress. Additionally, there’s no doubt the extremely adaptable Joey Ryan would have made a far better showcase for the talents of Ryan Drago. Too late now I suppose…

Winner: R2K

Match Seven:
“Mr. Instant Replay” Matt Jackson (w/ Nick Jackson) Vs. “Mr. Newhall” Bo Cooper

Jay: Ladies and gentleman, I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of spectacular stuff live in my 15 years as a wrestling fan. I got to see an Eddie Guerrero/Rey Mysterio World Heavyweight Title Match two days after Wrestlemania 20. I’ve seen Paul London hit a shooting star press off a ladder cleanly in a 120-degree Philadelphia armory, and CM Punk rocket to superstardom against Raven. I’ve seen Mitsuharu Misawa wrestle live in front of 3,400 people.

I have NEVER though, seen an entrance quite like Brawlin’ Bo Cooper’s at EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR. Flying through the entranceway riding a mint-condition Harley Davidson FXST, flanked by underaged cheerleaders from the local high school doing splits, Cooper entered to a rapturous ovation from his hometown fans (600 of which suddenly appeared out of nowhere). Not only that, somehow Queen Sharmell was able to be there and announce “ALL HAIL BO COOPER” as he climbed into the ring.

Seriously though, he slipped on some spilled beer and fell the second he stepped through the curtain. But man, that entrance would have RULED!

Paul: Well, they say that timing is everything, and that had to be the most unfortunately timed slip possible for Bo. Once in the ring, Bo was cheered up by a member of his army of the inebriated, who handed him a beer. When he was done downing most of it, he just haphazardly threw it to the floor. Geeze man, isn’t that is how you slipped in the first place! Plus that beer is like $2.50 a glass (more if it was imported). Think of all the poor beerless children in the world, who would have killed for that quarter full plastic glass of the good stuff. For shame man.

Beer aside, tonight the pride of Newhall, will be taking on the normally babyface “Mr. Instant Replay” Matt Jackson, who along with his manager for tonight, Slick Nick, have been making waves throughout SoCal as a happy go lucky tag team. But here, they enter to a largely negative reaction and just go with it. Although I have a feeling even Santa Claus himself would be booed if he had to face Bo Cooper in Newhall, unless he was passing out free hooch or something.

Also, I have to mention that somehow referee Rick Knox had sat in some cake, and reffed this whole match with a hunk of cake attached to his backside! But since Rick Knox is awesome and likes Godzilla movies, we won’t hold that against him.

Jay: People who are used to seeing The Bucks as teenybopper babyfaces have no idea how effective they are as heels (their work in NGW proved that) and once they figured out, “hey, if we cheat, we can win!” they took the advantage away from the much bigger Cooper. Cheat they did, along with some creative offense (a handspring BACK RAKE~!) but Bo could not be kept down for long. The momentum swung back and forth a lot during this match, with a lot of false finishes. The Bucks managed to hit their finisher combo on Bo (which looked very impressive) but it only got a two-count. Bo caught Replay on the top and hit his Death Valley Driver, but Nick distracted the referee. This allowed Replay to hit a low blow and roll up Cooper for the cheap pin. This was solid, clean, classic indy wrestling, with a time-test match structure- the battle between the dominant face and the smaller, sneaky heel.

Paul: Bo outraged at the idea of losing in Newhall (that’s like beating the King in Memphis) demands to face the Young Bucks in a handicap match at the next show. Gary Yap informs him that the Young Bucks will not be at the next show (they will instead be at that Wrestlefest money pit thing in SanFran) BUT, they told Yap that if Bo was able to get past their crazy Uncle Dylan (aka the Necro Butcher) at the next show, Bo would get his match (yes, the Bucks had time to tell him all that the 15 seconds since they had left the ring). What a match that will be…

Winner: Matt Jackson

Main Event:
EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR title match
Markus Riot (c) Vs. Jack Evans:

Paul:If you have been following WAR’s website, you may have seen Markus Riot handed the WAR Title on the webshow (I’m guessing that Hardkore Kidd was too busy?). Which is not a move I am a fan of. Not when there are so many more satisfying options, such making this match with Evans the decision match for the championship, or having a 4-man mini tourney. ANYTHING! Now he is just some guy handed a title on a Google Video few people even knew existed. This probably won’t mean much in the long run, but it would have definitely made this show seem a little more special.

The story of this match is Markus Riot trying to prove that he deserves the title, and to do so he has to get by one of his mentors, Jack Evans, a man Markus could not defeat in two previous attempts. Will this time be any different?

Jay: This was a fitting main event for the relaunched EPWW. as both were storied characters in WAR with a great deal of personal history. Evans was the centerpiece of WAR, with his feud with Super Dragon often taking center stage, and he was involved in the infamous tag match that closed out WAR’s final show. Riot was a personal project of Yap’s in WAR, taking on not only Evans, but California’s measuring stick, Super Dragon. He also participated in the “Rocky Balboa” #1 contenders match at the Anniversary show, losing to Charles Mercury.

The hidden depth to this match, I think, was that Riot was thrust into the main event after being portrayed as a joke character nearly his entire career, in numerous promotions. He was mocked and beaten down repeatedly trying to join Vanderpyle’s stable in AWS, his WAR matches were often booked in a “wink wink, nudge nudge” kinda way, and in his national TV encounter with Jack Evans, he was kicked in the balls. The vignettes on the EPWW blog where he was “awarded” the title portrayed him as the ultimate lame duck champion, and I fully expected a title change here.

Jack Evans is one of the very few people on the independent wrestling scene who truly has the aura of a superstar. Overflowing with a natural charisma, his connection with any audience and breathtaking flying make him one of the few homegrown draws on the indy circuit. A card could be main-evented by Johnny Paradise vs. Enigma de Oro and I’d still go if Jack was on the show.

This was particularly interested because it’s one of the only times Jack has wrestled as the dominant heel in a match. He wiped the floor with Riot from every angle in the early going, and Riot seemed to have no clue how to counteract him. Riot eventually worked his way into the match, and countered out of many of Jack’s big moves to score nearfalls (he escaped the Ong Jack on his first attempt, and the first 630 hit knees). Jack escaped a top-rope backpack stunner attempt to hit Ong Jack, but didn’t get the win, and neither did a 630 splash. Riot hit an ace crusher off the top rope which knocked both men out, and after a tense 8-count turned it into a dragon sleeper. Jack escaped and looked to close the deal on Markus, only to get hit with Riot’s sick looking LA Riot finisher to retain!

Evans and Riot faced off before, both in WAR and Wrestling Society X (the latter was arguably the best full match in the promotion’s history, and yes I know that’s damning with very faint praise) so I expected it to be good. However, this turned into the best match of Riot’s career and definitely felt like a “big match” main event to close the show. This was a career-making performance that might finally make people take Markus seriously.

Paul: This was the match of the night for me. Markus did a good job hanging with Jack, as the sympathetic underdog. While I have never thought that Markus Riot was worthy of the outright overpush he has received in many promotions (including WAR) I do think that he may finally be starting to grow into that role.

Winner and still champion: Markus Riot

Paul: Afterward Charles Mercury storms the ring and gives Riot about 5 piledrivers and demands his title shot. Our eternally noncommittal commissioner vaguely suggests that Mercury may get a title shot at the next show. There is a YouTube video floating around on this attack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCHX5iZhJHs it’s a good recap of everything leading up to this.

But we aren’t done yet. Former XPW Champion Johnny Webb comes out of the crowd and asks commissioner Diablo the question everyone had been asking themselves all nights. What the heck is up with that “Creepy Guy”? Does he do anything? Had he ever seen Cliffhanger? Suddenly the Creepy guy attacks Webb and locks him in a cobra clutch to end the show.

Final Thoughts:

Jay: The relaunch of EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR was definitely one of the more interesting indy shows I’ve seen in SoCal. While the atmosphere was somewhat odd (at times it seemed more like a “party for da boys” than an actual wrestling show, and some fans looked more concerned about refilling their beer than watching the action) but quality-wise it was definitely a step above the standards set by most other SoCal promotions. Riot/Evans was the best non-PWG live match I’ve seen since the Zero One-assisted Inoki Dojo show in May, and Cholo/Kozina and Cooper/Replay were both highly enjoyable. One thing I also liked about the show was that they’ve established a clear direction from the get-go, booking effective, easy-to-follow feuds between Mercury/Riot, Cooper/The Young Bucks and JT Hyatt/R2K. While Evans, The Young Bucks and possibly Davey will be missing from the next show due to the Wrestle Fan Fest in San Francisco, the addition of the Necro Butcher makes the October 20th event a worthwhile excursion. Now that PWG is spacing its shows farther and farther apart, EPWW is a good fit for the current scene – a locals-oriented promotion that will bring in a couple high-profile indy stars and satiate SoCal fans’ desire to see more star-powered wrestling between Guerrilla events.

Paul: While it came off more as “Battleground Pro Wrestling WAR” than it did “EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR” (which is a good thing by the way) it was a very enjoyable debut offering. I think this promotion has a lot of potential. California has a lot of promising talent that isn’t being properly highlighted. I don’t see why EPIC WAR can’t be the place that collects all of these under appreciated talents and gives them a place to showcase their skills. If they make a concerted effort to give exposure to some of these deserving wrestlers, I truly believe that EPIC WAR could be the most valuable new asset that SoCal has seen in years. I don’t think that there is any better way to make amends with the past, than by providing SoCal with a solid base for the future.

EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR returns to Newhall October 20th with Necro Butcher Vs. Bo Cooper, Joey Ryan Vs. Biggie Biggz, Tony Kozina Vs. Kaos and more. For all the latest updates on EPIC WAR. DVDs of past shows and more please check out http://www.artoverlifestudios.com
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