Back in late 2002, I traveled up to Northern California to APW and the Golden Gate Invitational for a couple of wrestling shows that included Southern California wrestlers like B-Boy, Super Dragon, and Lil’ Cholo taking on APW’s best such as Jardi Frantz and Bobby Quance. Also on the shows was Rising Son. On the APW show he had one of the worst matches I had ever seen him in. That night after the show he was down on himself and I spoke with him a bit. He talked about his future in wrestling and he mentioned he’d probably be forgotten in 10 years. SoCalUNCENSORED.com was not yet two years old at that point, but this conversation, hundreds of miles from SoCal, made me realize something about this website that never really crossed my mind before.
Before YouTube and most companies realizing how much money they are leaving on the table by not selling video of their shows, the main way to access wrestling not available in your area was through tape trading. I made an arrangement to trade some tapes with a guy I met on an XPW fan site named Franco. Since we were both going to be at an upcoming XPW show we decided to make the trade in person at the show. After the show I talked with Franco and some other people he knew for a bit. One of those people was Lonnie Hill, who was known for his posts on several local message boards. I quickly became friends with these guys, and even hosted an XPW fan site they created for them.
I kept running into Lonnie at wrestling shows and while we didn’t agree on everything (especially when it came to the Chargers vs. Raiders), we shared a lot of opinions on indy wrestling. One day in the Los Angeles Sports Arena parking lot, we had a discussion about creating a chat room to discuss wrestling in Southern California. At the time I worked for CCW and I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to do any sort of website that could cause a conflict of interest, but a chat room would be OK. We made plans to schedule guests and had big ideas. Two things helped to evolve our plans. CCW pretty much stopped running, so expanding the scope of the website was now on the table, and another website covering wrestling in Southern California was letting promotions dictate the content, even to the point of wiping the message boards when there was too many posts critical of a decision UPW made. It was at this point we decided that what the area needed was an independent voice.
When the website first went live we were really just having fun. We had no idea what direction we wanted to go in. We would publish articles that we thought were funny that probably would have no chance at getting published now, like a movie review by Samoa Joe (actually I’m sure we’d still publish a movie review by Samoa Joe, because he’s Samoa Joe). Slowly the website evolved to have more news content and show reviews and the site kept getting bigger. Even as the site grew, the main driving force was still friends having fun.
Eventually Lonnie decided to leave the site, and Franco and Scrub came on board. Franco didn’t stay on long, but Scrub became an integral part of the website, and I still feel the time when it was Scrub and myself running the website, with great contributions from guys like Justin Crast and Joshua Shibata, was the website’s first Golden Age, and the standard for us to reach for in the future.
Unfortunately things change, and there came a time I couldn’t devote as much time to the website as I would have liked, then Scrub moved on. Andrew (True Fan) and the mysterious Masked Destroyer did a lot to try and pick up the slack. Eventually Adair Cole, who I had known before the site ever was created and can honestly say if not for his work on helping to create socal-wrestling.com this site would never have existed, approached me with an idea for the site where he would take over as the administrator and Jay Cal would be the editor while I would remain on as the owner in an effort to improve the content and get everything up to date. It wasn’t a hard decision to make.
I didn’t mean to make this a history of the website. I doubt more than a few people care. So let me get back to my conversation with Rising Son in 2002, and how we are here almost 14 years later. My conversation with Rising Son made me realize that one thing this website does, that if it was gone would cease to be, is chronicle these wrestlers who go out and literally put their health on the line for little pay, sometimes in front of crowds of 30 fans. This website is here to tell their story, good or bad. When the history of wrestling in Southern California from 2001 on is written, this is where that history is stored and I knew that I owed it to the wrestlers who gave me so much enjoyment for little or no reward to make sure their story is preserved.
Sadly Rising Son is no longer with us. He never made it to the WWE or a big promotion in Japan. As of this writing he doesn’t even have a page on Wikipedia. However, his story is right here. You can search through the archives, read reviews of his matches, read interviews with him, learn about his feud with Super Dragon, and sadly read his obituary. As long as this website is here, his story is here. The story of wrestling in Southern California is here. It has been here for fifteen years, and as long as I’m able, it’s not going anywhere.
I’m not a big fan of doing thank yous in articles, but as it is an anniversary I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the website over the last fifteen years and helping to shape its voice. I also want to thank every wrestling promoter who had the courage to put on a show, no matter how successful it was, and to every wrestler who stepped into the ring. Even if we tore your match apart, know that I appreciate the fact that you had the guts to get in there and sacrifice yourself for someone else’s’ entertainment. Without you we’d be stuck talking about Saved by the Bell reruns or something.
I also want to dedicate this column to all of the people we’ve lost over the last fifteen years. People like Basil, Don “the Bomb” Hernandez, Tech IX, Dynamite D, The Drunken Irishman, Cincinnati Red, Paul Tokunaga, and Rising Son. I’m not purposefully leaving anyone out, unfortunately this industry just takes too many people from us too young for me to list them all. Your deeds will not be forgotten.
I’ll leave you with a link to the very first thing ever published on SCU, Uncensored by Lonnie Hill.