March 25th, 2017 saw AWS hold their 15th anniversary show. I remember the first AWS show. Well, I don’t remember the show itself, because I ended up not going, but I remember the weekend of the show, as the first AWS show was sandwiched between what was at the time two of the biggest indy shows of the year so far in Southern California.
The night before, on Friday night there was a big Revolution Pro show that was their first real show in almost 5 months that featured a matchup between the 2001 rookie of the year TJ Perkins and the runner up in Shogun (TJ Perkins was unable to make it and Joey Ryan who came in 3rd in the ROTY voting faced Shogun instead) and 6 man tag elimination match featuring Super Dragon, Disco Machine, and Excalibur going against Mr. Excitement, Rising Son, and TARO. Also on that Revolution Pro show was B-Boy going against Lil’ Cholo. The B-Boy and Lil’ Cholo match ended up being so good, it was decided to book that exact same match up the next day at the joint FMLL/AWS show that would kick off AWS’ history as a wrestling promotion in Southern California.
On Saturday evening was MPW’s big 1st anniversary show that also featured a six-man tag elimination match that featured TECH IX, Super Dragon, Samoa Joe, B-Boy, Frankie Kazarian, and Messiah who won the MPW heavyweight title. At that time MPW was basically equivalent to what PWG was five years ago, and the show even featured an XPW sanctioned match with Dynamite D.
On that Saturday afternoon of March 23, 2002 was a small joint show between FMLL, which had become the biggest lucha promotion in Southern California and the Alternative Wrestling Shop, which was the go to place to get wrestling tapes and merchandise in the area. I had originally planned to go to the show before the MPW show, but opted out the day of as Revolution Pro went late and I decided to catch up on sleep instead. Little did I know 15 years later AWS (and FMLL) would still be going strong and be part of the backbone of professional wrestling in Southern California.
The most talked about thing coming out of the debut show was the sound system not working leading to no one being announced for any of the matches. The first match in AWS history was The Hardkore Kidd (Aaron Aguilera) defeating King Jackal. The rest of the show saw B-Boy defeat Lil’ Cholo; Profeta and Dr. Muerte defeat Principe Unlimited and Acero Dorado; Essa Rios defeat Piloto Sucida; and a main event where La Parka and Shocker defeated Super Boy and Capitan Oro.
For their 15th anniversary show I actually brought my cousin who lives in Hawaii and his friend with me. Neither is familiar with indy wrestling, with my cousin having not been to a show before and his friend having only been to Lucha VaVoom. With them attending I was able to get some perspective from non-hardcore fans as well.
The show started pretty much on time and the venue was packed with standing room only. There were less chairs than normal, but it allowed for a bigger standing area near the entrance.
Los Luchas (Zokre & Phoenix Star) over Human Tornado & Adrian Quest [9’35]
This was a fun opener with lots of high spots throughout. As soon as everyone started hitting dives the non-wrestling fans I was with started going crazy. Everyone was able to showcase a lot of offense and Tornado was able to do his comedy spots. The match did get a little sloppy at times though. Still, it was a fairly quick match full of action that was a perfect opener.
Rating: ** 1/4
Buggy Nova over Gabi Castrovinci [6’05]
Buggy Nova has a lot of charisma in the ring and has been really solid over the last year, especially in AWS. This was my first time seeing Gabi live. There were a ton of miscues in this match and a lot of Gabi’s offense came off really slow. Buggy has so much natural charisma and is really fun to watch wrestle. I think Buggy may have had some issues with her wardrobe as well that didn’t help matters but the match wasn’t very good.
SoCal Crazy over Suede Thompson, Eli Everfly, and Mariachi Loco to retain the AWS Lightweight title [12’22]
This was a really good fun match. It was just wall to wall action and crazy spots with the occasional funny moments from Suede Thompson (who is super under rated in the area). There was a pretty crazy moment where Mariachi Loco flipped Super Crazy into a dive to the outside and he took out Eli and Suede. At one point Suede chopped Eli and called it his fly swatter. SoCal Crazy eventually won the match with a Michinoku Driver. This was tons of fun.
Rating: *** 1/2
Brody King over Jeckles the Jester [12’45]
Before the match Jeckles the Jester scared some poor kid so bad it he is probably scarred for life. Melissa Santos and Jessica Renee had to comfort the kid. This match was really good and stiff. Brody and Jeckles were trying to destroy each other. There was one point where Jeckles knocked Brody silly, then sat him on his leg and acted like Brody was his puppet. Fortunately for the traumatized kid Brody hit a Michinoku Driver on Jeckles to get the win. This was good.
Rating: *** 1/4
B-Boy & Lil’ Cholo over Brian Cage & Willie Mack to retain the AWS tag-team titles [13’02]
Despite facing each other on the first AWS show B-Boy and Lil’ Cholo have been a long time team in AWS, winning the AWS tag-team titles for the first time back in 2002. This match was really good. There was a lot of crowd brawling early on, but I’m pretty sure they managed to brawl through every part of the venue so no one missed anything. Brian Cage and Willie Mack are both so athletic for their size. B-Boy and Cholo looked solid as always. Cholo was really on fire in this and his offense looked great. This match was really good.
Rating: *** 3/4
Tito Escondido & Rico Dynamite over Blue Meanie & Biggie Biggz [13’07]
This was a comedy match. There was a dance off and a thumb wrestling competition. Tito and Rico got their shorts pulled down to where their bare asses were showing. It’s cheap heat but it works. Blue Meanie was pretty entertaining when he was in the ring, but Biggie worked most of the match. The problem with Biggie carrying a large part of the match is his lack of talent and charisma. His offense was like watching a match in slow motion. I don’t mean to pick on Biggie here, but the parts he was in the match really brought it down. Tito and Rico both hitting rolling elbows on Biggie to get the win. I didn’t like this, but admittedly this is not the type of match I’m a fan of.
Rating: 3/4 *
Ray Rosas over Douglas James [14’30]
Leading up to this match Ray Rosas was claiming that he was going to beat Douglas James in less than thre minutes and he was going to do it himself without the help of the rest of H.A.T.E, but Ray and Pinky jumped Douglas before the match and beat him down for a bit. Once the match started Douglas James surprised Ray with some quick offense and hit his Frog Splash finisher right away for a near fall. He then tried a second Frog Splash but Ray got his knees up. Both guys were really intense in this. Ray got knocked out of the ring at one point and Douglas hit four straight topes on him. They got back in the ring and Ray got tossed to the other side and Douglas tried another tope and Ray caught him and slammed him into the ring post. There was a lot of really good stiff offense in this. Eventually Ray hit three straight fireman’s carries into neckbreakers on Douglas to get the pin. This was great stuff.
Ruby Raze over Taya Valkyrie by DQ [13’01]
I think Taya is one of the top three heels in women’s wrestling in North America right now. Her mannerisms, facial expressions, and the way she works a match are so perfect. I thought Raze had a good performance here. The match itself had a lot of brawling and came off a lot like a fight versus a match. The ending saw Taya hit Ruby Raze with a chair leading to Raze getting a DQ win. I wasn’t really a fan of the finish, but hopefully it was done that way to keep a feud going.
Rating: ** 1/2
Tyler Bateman over Ryan Taylor to retain the AWS heavyweight title [24’57]
I appreciate that on an AWS show all the matches are normally different and no two matches are similar stylistically. The problem here is this match started after 11:30 pm and Taylor and Bateman did a slow methodical build to start the match. This really took a tired crowd out of the match. The non-wrestling fans I was with were pretty dead at this point. There was a lot of submission based offense from Taylor in this and both Bateman and Taylor had really nice stiff offense. The match picked up a little as it went on but never enough to really regain the crowd. Referee Rick Knox got taken out late in the match and the backup ref came out and declared Taylor the winner, not seeing Bateman’s foot was on the bottom rope. Knox recovered and ordered the match to restart and Bateman eventually hit a Death from Above to get the win. Overall I thought the match was good, and I think it will come across better on video.
After the match AWS promoter Bart stated that Bateman has beaten everyone he has thrown at him, and asked if there was anyone who would face him. Bateman’s fellow H.A.T.E stable mate Tito Escondido came out. Eventually the rest of H.A.T.E came out and it lead to them all turning on Bateman. Brody King, who teams with Bateman as Freakshow in other promotions, tried to make the save, but he was dispatched too. The show ended with Bateman down in the ring.
Overall it was another really good show from AWS and a perfect representation of what AWS has been over the last 15 years. AWS has a long history of showcasing the best of Southern California wrestling, and bringing in “names” to enhance and prop up the local wrestlers, not at the expense of them. Even though both of the non-wrestling fans I brought thought the show was a little long, they absolutely loved it and had a great time.
AWS will be back with a joint show with Q Pro on April 29th in South Gate, and they will be holding their 30th anniversary show in March 2032.