Southern California has a long pro-wrestling history, stretching back well over a century. In that time there have been thousands of places that have housed a pro-wrestling in Southern California. From the Los Angeles Coliseum, to parking lots illuminated only by the lights of cars surrounding the ring. Starting this week I’ll be counting down the top ten venues in Southern California’s wrestling history.
Like any top ten list, this list subjective. I have tried to base my selections based on their importance to the area, their longevity, and the history that happened in the buildings among other things. I also have tried to compare venues against the time period they operated in. Some of the modern wrestling venues may not draw thousands on a weekly basis, but that doesn’t lessen their importance to the current wrestling scene. Likewise there were several venues drawing fairly large crowds at the same time in the past. Some of it was a by-product of the time they were in. Just because they may have had larger crowds, it doesn’t necessarily make the 7th best venue of the 1940s better than the 3rd best venue of the 2000s.
With all that out of the way, on to the first entry on our list.
#10 – The EWF Arena
The Empire Wrestling Federation is the longest running independent promotion in Southern California’s history, having run continuously since 1996. Since February 2001 they have been running once a month, almost without exception at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Covina.
When EWF started running at the Knights of Columbus Hall, which opened in 1999, they were still holding their major shows in San Bernardino. Due to the Knights of Columbus national headquarters not wanting to be associated with wrestling, on promotional materials the venue began to be referred to as The EWF Arena.
By late 2002 EWF’s major shows had shifted to The EWF Arena from San Bernardino, and that has continued to this day. In the 16 years on running at the EWF Arena, the EWF Heavyweight title has changed hands 39 times at the venue, while only 7 times at other locations.
Throughout the years the monthly EWF Arena shows have featured wrestlers such as TJ Perkins, Frankie Kazarian, Rocky Romero, Joey Ryan, Candice LeRae, Ricky Reyes, Shelly Martinez, Amazing Kong, Melina, and Alex Koslov among countless others as they came up through the EWF. This list doesn’t include wrestlers such as Chavo Guerrero, The Young Bucks, Scorpio Sky, and Chris Daniels who have made regular appearances in the building.
In addition to EWF, The EWF Arena was also home to Japanese women’s promotion Stardom’s first show in the United States, as well as the debut show for Sabotage Wrestling.
The EWF Arena has now been around long enough that parents who enjoyed going to the building for wrestling as children, are taking their own children. For over 16 years it has been the backbone of the EWF and has probably seen more wrestling than any other venue in Southern California in the time period.
10. The EWF Arena
9. Ocean Park Arena
8. The Bakersfield Dome
7. American Legion Post #308
6. The San Bernardino Arena
5. San Diego Coliseum
4. Hollywood Legion Stadium
3. Staples Center