In this edition of Real Talk, I talk a brief look at the history of professional wrestling in Los Angeles after seeing a quote in an article on LAWeekly.com. Also, after the amazing response to the (unofficial) SoCal 50, I bring everyone two more lists to care about, as I present the (unofficial) SoCal 51-75, as well as the (unofficial) SC-UGH 25! Enough bullshit, time to drop some knowledge on you mother fuckers.
A Brief Look At The History Of Professional Wrestling in Los Angeles
It’s 299 degrees in the asshole of the Eastern part of the San Fernando Valley area in Los Angeles, and my neighbor’s baby is banging on the glass door that leads to the balcony. Here win my air-conditioned bedroom with a shared wall that houses this little demon bastard, my computer screen is on LAWeekly.com reading an article by film critic Michael Nordine about Lucha Underground‘s upcoming third season. The banging continued as I was reading this article, followed by loud cries for attention from this neglected child next door to me. This might seem like a contrived and pretentious way to start off an article about professional wrestling because it is. I mean, if the professionals who write for corporate news media do it, I’d have to do it as well, right?
Step 1: become film critic
Step 2: gain editors' trust
Step 3: convince editors to let you write about pro wrestlinghttps://t.co/QiqpxW5OUM
— Michael Nordine (@slowbeard) August 31, 2016
As I was reading this article which you can all read here, I thought “this really seems like a Lucha Underground puff-piece for their upcoming season by some guy who probably likes wrestling but doesn’t know enough to educate people on a platform like this.”
It pretty much was just that. As I was reading this article, one particular quote stood out.
“Together, Lucha Underground and PWG are helping to make Los Angeles something it’s never been: an indie-wrestling hotbed.”
Now, let’s not take credit away from Lucha Underground and PWG, they’ve pretty much solidified themselves as two of the top promotions here in Southern California. BUT, they’re not making Los Angeles an “indie-wrestling hotbed.” LA has always been a wrestling hotbed. The only difference between now and the last 20 years is the growth of technology has been able to spread the word of PWG’s existence and Lucha Underground coming around. Aside from that, Los Angeles has always been a “wrestling hotbed” (fuck the indy/indie/independent tagline, pro wrestling is pro wrestling), and this article really dropped the ball on making that point clear. I understand that the article was just a puff piece for Lucha Underground since private corporate media outlets like the Voice Media Group don’t really care about educating and informing their readers. I simply feel that Michael Nordine, who writes for Voice Media Group, should’ve briefly acknowledged the history of this territory and the importance of Lucha Libre in Los Angeles.
The first thing that came to mind while reading this line written in Michael Nordine’s article was how exactly does PWG and Lucha Underground make Los Angeles a wrestling hotbed? By holding good shows all the time? Sure, that could be an answer, but it’d be a wrong one. Not just a wrong one, but one that undermines the history of professional wrestling in Los Angeles that dates back all the way to the 1910s and 1920s with events promoted at places like the Exposition Park Armory, the Philharmonic Auditorium, and Washington Pallpark promoted by Louis Elias Daro, who with his brother Jack, would end up running the territory until 1941.
It also undermines the years in which The Grand Olympic Auditorium played host to major events with the biggest stars passing through the doors of the legendary sports venue. Names such as Gorgeous George, Freddie Blassie, John Tolos, Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, Chavo Guerrero Sr., Hector Guerrero, Mando Guerrero, Harley Race, Mil Mascaras, Rocky Johnson, Lou Thesz, El Hijo del Santo, Gory Guerrero, Pedro Morales, Terry Funk, and Andre The Giant. Along with the big stars, the Olympic Auditorium played host many major events that would regular draw 10,000 people, as well as holding the legendary battle royals every January (before the Royal Rumble ever existed) with past winners including Harley Race, Rocky Johnson, Bruno Sammartino, Black Gordman, Victor Rivera, and Andre The Giant.
Los Angeles has also had a rich tradition of televised wrestling before Lucha Underground came around. The amount of local television stations that use to broadcast matches in the early days of Los Angeles wrestling were plentiful, with KTLA airing matches form the Olympic Auditorium, KTSL airing matches from Hollywood Legion Stadium, KLAC airing matches from the South Gate Arena, and KECA-TV airing matches from the Ocean Park Arena just to name a few. It is also said that the first wrestling telecast ever were held on a sound stage at Paramount and was said to have been called by legendary wrestling announcer Dick Lane. As generations went by, Los Angles would play host to several more television shows by smaller promotions such as the American Women;s Wrestling Federation, Herb Abrams’ UWF, Women Of Wrestling, the infamous Xtreme Pro Wrestling, MTV’s Wrestling Society X, as well as other smaller ventures in later years and up to today.
After the closure of NWA Hollywood Wrestling (not to be confused with Dave Marquez’s NWA Championship Wrestling From Hollywood brand and television show) in 1982 after being in business since 1958 (originally named the North American Wrestling Alliance, then renamed Worldwide Wrestling Associates in 1961, and then later becoming NWA Hollywood Wrestling after rejoining the National Wrestling Alliance in 1968) the Los Angeles wrestling scene would be carried by events featuring major Lucha Libre stars from Mexico. On July 18th, 1987, the Olympic Auditorium played host to the legendary Mask vs. Hair match between El Hijo Del Santo vs. Negro Casas, promoted by Mexico’s WWA (not to be confused with the WWA of the 1960s that ran in the Olympic Auditorium and was later renamed NWA Hollywood Wrestling). Later in the 1990’s, the WWA would run several major shows at Cal State Los Angeles, including a co-promoted event with Japan’s FMW in 1992. In the July 13th, 1992 edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer reported that Mexico-based promotion AAA drew what may have been the largest gate for an independent wrestling show in the United Sates, with AAA in conjunction with local promoters drawing 5,400 fans, and also reportedly turning away 1,000 people at the door. These shows would eventually lead to Mexico’s AAA holding major events at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, including the legendary “When Worlds Collide” pay-per-view. These events would also outdraw WWF and WCW house show events on many occasions.
Towards the turn of the century, the Los Angeles area would see the new generation of wrestling in the area when promotions with television deals such as XPW and Women Of Wrestling in 1999/2000 starting to become noticed noticed by the wrestling world (although not always for the best reasons). Orange County’s Ultimate Pro Wrestling also began running shows that drew good crowds with WWF and ECW talent appear at shows, as well as many UPW talent being signed by the WWF/WWE. Saturday nights on KJLA in 2000 provided a three hour block of pro wrestling with WWF Jakked, XPW TV, and ECW Hardcore TV airing back-to-back-to-back. In 2002, Lucha VaVoom began running shows a the Mayan Theater in Downtown Los Angeles where they have been selling out events that are attended by various celebrities. During 2005, Full Contact Wrestling ran the final set of wrestling events at the Olympic Auditorium before it was purchased and converted into a Korean church. Those events would regularly draw between 4,000-6,000 fans to see El Hijo Del Santo. On September 5th, 2008, the Japanese-based promotion Dragon Gate held their United States debut event in Bell Gardens. A few short years later, Wrestlereunion would hold several conventions in Los Angeles featuring promotions like PWG, Ring Of Honor, and Dragon Gate-USA holding events in front of large crowds.
I really don’t expect Michael Nordine to read this article, and if he did, I’m sure he’d (understandably) try to defend his article and position. Maybe he’d try to claim I took his quote out of context, but I digress. I saws what I saws. While it is fair to say PWG and Lucha Underground are bringing in world-class talent and putting on critically acclaimed shows, Michael Nordine was factually wrong about Los Angeles being a hotbed for professional wrestling, much less independent wrestling. Look people, we need to stop pretending like the South, New York, and Philadelphia are the only places in America (not counting Puerto Rico) to have strong wrestling histories and tradition. Los Angeles never stopped being a hotbed for wrestling of any kind. It always has been, and it always will be.
As I mentioned, this was a BRIEF look at the history of wrestling in Los Angeles. If I were to even write a summary of the history of Los Angeles wrestling, I’d turn that shit into a fucking book and try to make some cash off it so I can buy pounds and pounds of weed. Right now I’m thinking of doing a project that looks at LA’s wrestling history, but maybe I’ll do it later. Till then, here’s some links with tons of information on Los Angeles’ amazing and interesting wrestling history.
Brief looks at various territories in the Pacific, including the Los Angeles one.
wrestlingscout.com’s summary of the history of LA wrestling.
Legacy Of Wrestling: Los Angeles Territory article.
Legacy Of Wrestling: Lou Daro Wrestling History article.
Legacy Of Wrestling: The Daro Era article.
Legacy Of Wrestling: Cal and Aileen Eaton Wrestling History article.
Legacy Of Wrestling: Los Angeles Wrestling Television History article.
WrestlingClassics.com thread discussing Los Angeles Lucha in the 90s, featuring old Dave Meltzer reports from Wrestling Observer Newsletters by Steve Yohe.
The SoCal 51-75
After so much praise from the Southern California wrestling community for the inaugural (unofficial) SoCal 50, I figured I’d put together a second list, the (unofficial) SoCal 51-75!. This list mostly comprises of the people who would’ve made a SoCal 100 list cause I didn’t remember any of these people. So, to everyone who made this edition of the (unofficial) list, congrats!
51. Ryan Kidd, 52. Heather Monroe, 53. Brody King, 54. Enigma, 55. Max X,
56. Chaz Herrera, 57. Guy Cool, 58. Biagio Cresenzo, 59. Brandon Gatson, 60. Dicky Mayer
61. Terex, 62. Shayna Baszler, 63. Darwin Finch, 64. Laura James, 65. Hoss Hogg,
66. Datura, 67. Blake Grayson, 68. Super Boy Jr., 69. Ashley Grace 70. Misterioso Jr.
71. Hudson Envy, 72. Genio Del Aire, 73. Anthony Idol, 74. Devin Sparks, 75. Mariah Moreno
Congrats to everyone who made the list! Here’s a special song dedicated to you all!
The SC-UGH 25
The first ever (unofficial) SC-UGH 25 is a list that takes a look at the people in SoCal wrestling that make us (well, more like me) go “UGH” while watching them perform.
1. Lady Lee, 2. The American Oni, 3. Sasha Darevko, 4. Mr. California, 5. Jervis Cottonbelly
6. The Hobo, 7. Justin Ryke, 8. Billy Blade, 9. Eric Cross, 10. Sami Callihan,
11. Ruben Iglesias, 12. Steven Andrews, 13. Gino Rivera/Seville Alvarez, 14. Bulletproof, 15. Jared Vargas
16. Jacob Tarasso, 17. Methius Starky, 18. Levi Shaprio, 19. Razor Rizzotti, 20. Sin Limites Jr.
21. Simon Lotto, 22. Hellkid. 23. Cedric The Hitman, 24. Captain Revelation, 25. Pac 3
So yeah. Thanks to all of you for making us (me) go “UGH” while watching something you’ve done in wrestling. The cringe-worthy promos, botched spots, shitty matches. Thanks for all that.
But seriously, I know what a lot of you are thinking. Yes, I know. Mr. California was ranked too low, right? Right. He should be #1 in some people’s eyes, but the names above him, and for good fucking reason. While the people on this list are all either bad or complete shit, the Top 3 on the list legitimately set our scene back. Lady Lee is awful, the American Oni is almost as bad, and you can read the other shit I’ve wrote about the fake-Russian douche in other articles. That’s really all I gotta say about that.
If you didn’t make the list, congratulations and thank you for being better than them. If you didn’t make the SoCal 50 or SoCal 51-75, at least be happy you didn’t make the SC-UGH 25.
Match Of The Column
This edition’s Match of the Column comes from the Santino Bros. August 7th, 2016 event featuring Eli Everfly vs. Guy Cool vs. Koto Hiro. These guys put on a fun sprint that’s worth checking out. Koto Hiro looks to have a lot of potential.