Real Talk 19: Talking about the lack of local stars in PWG

This has been a touchy subject in the scene lately. It’s something that draws strong and powerful emotions. No, not politics, racism, gender issues, or religion. We’re talking about SoCal workers not being in PWG.

Earlier today, I was talking to Steve about people complaining about PWG not using local talent. He was inspired to Tweet this:

I was inspired to write an article about it. Well, I said was gonna write about it, I just never got around to it.

I’ve been pretty vocal about PWG using SoCal workers again. I think there is enough talent here to fill up PWG’s cards. At the same time, I understand what PWG is trying to do. What they’re doing is unique to SoCal. While other promotions can try to imitate them, they’ll never be duplicated.

In this article, I’m going to look at the drop in local talent on PWG cards and how it could be an indirect result of what’s been going on since the closure of Revolution Pro in 2004.

“ I don’t know why, but nobody in SoCal is making their tapes available. I remember when Rev Pro first came out, we had a lot of hype, because everyone had tapes of us. The key isn’t to just use a bunch of the talented guys, but use them right, and put on great shows.”-Super Dragon in 2003

What was Revolution Pro?

Let’s take a quick moment to acknowledge Rev Pro (not the UK one). Run by Ron Rivera, Rev Pro was a promotion that booked matches with guys working a hybrid style of wrestling with Lucha Libre and Puroresu influences. This was unique at the time, as promotions in SoCal were mostly putting on American-style or Lucha Libre shows. Along with running shows, they had a school called the Rudos Dojo that helped produce talents in the scene that would also become stars in the early days of PWG. To put it bluntly, without Revolution Pro, there probably wouldn’t be a PWG today.

When Revolution Pro was around, it got noticed after tape traders started sharing and selling shows with guys like Super Dragon, TARO, and Rising Son putting on cool, innovative matches. People outside of SoCal took notice that this promotion that was drawing 30 people in a garage in Orange County. Eventually they started to grow. It wash’t the perfect promotion, and it had its fair share of bad matches, but it still helped shaped SoCal for years to come in a good way. It also helped pave the way for PWG.

Rev Pro wasn’t the only promotion in SoCal getting noticed either at the time. They were just the perfect complement to a diverse scene. Promotions like UPW, EPIC, MPW, XPW (although not always for the best reasons) and more were prominent in their own ways. This resulted in the SoCal scene being able to thrive for a number of years. At this point, SoCal had spent years building a foundation and generated some buzz outside the area.

After Rev Pro till now.

After the closure of Rev Pro in 2004, SoCal began being taken over the local NWA Pro group. This resulted in a different philosophy in most of the territory. Matches were slower, workers were more concerned with having cartoonish characters, and nothing was being done to continue the growth of the scene from 2005 till now. Aside from the Young Bucks, SoCal suffered from a lack of new stars being created. Up until the opening of the Santino Bros. Wrestling Academy, the number of prospects in the area was limited. While there were still solid workers in the scene at the time, they weren’t being showcased well.

Promoters weren’t doing enough to get names out there either, relying mostly on flyering other shows and using outlets like MySpace or this website to draw in fans. Tapes and DVDs weren’t being released by local promotions, and new fans weren’t being reached. Aside from PWG on Highspots, SoCal promoters at the time didn’t have any known distributors like Highspots or Smart Mark Video carrying shows to help expand their audiences. This resulted in a domino effect for the entire scene. With less prominent promotions, and less stars being made, SoCal’s notoriety fell drastically.

To sum it up, everything that SoCal had been building up went to shit.

Today, SoCal has become an afterthought in the world of wrestling. The European scene has taken the attention of many independent wrestling fans. The Oceania scene is beginning to get people to notice them. East coast and midwest based promotions continue to utilize technology to promote and distribute shows. This has allowed more workers to get noticed by fans. Meanwhile, people in SoCal are wondering why PWG isn’t booking local talent.

Getting to the point.

With PWG being run the way it is, it’s not hard to figure out one important reason why PWG isn’t booking local workers. SoCal workers aren’t being seen outside of the small amount of people who attend SoCal shows. PWG’s target audience, the DVD/Blu Ray buying market, goes beyond the fan base here in SoCal and their eyes aren’t on the scene.

As more people from outside of SoCal are into PWG these days compared to before, and with so many of the people who go to PWG shows being unaware of the scene outside of SoCal, a lot of them are going to be requesting people from all over. This results in good SoCal workers getting less hype and not being on PWG’s radar. With SoCal promotions not named PWG (or Lucha Underground) are overlooked by the independent wrestling audience, it’s not hard to understand how things ended up the way they are now.

Promotions like Bar Wrestling and AWS are starting to put their shows out there. SoCal is also producing talented prospects again. The foundation for rebuilding a stronger territory is being laid. It’s going take time and effort for it to grow to the point where SoCal is better than it was before. Once SoCal is able to reestablish itself as a strong territory, SoCal workers will begin to be noticed and possibly get booked in PWG again. Until then, workers in the SoCal scene will continue to go unnoticed by PWG and by fans abroad.

Bottom line, SoCal needs hype.

Besides, what PWG is doing now is what Super Dragon (sorta) had in mind in the first place.

“Basically I talked to Joey months ago about doing my own Super Tournament, with the best indy stars in the circuit right now.”-Super Dragon in 2003

One thing a lot of people in the local scene seem to forget is that Super Dragon’s original vision for what became PWG didn’t start out as an idea for a promotion with local talent. He wanted to run a tournament with independent wrestling’s top stars. Today, he indirectly achieved that goal, and more. That, and his philosophy in 2003 for success coincides with how PWG is being run now.

“I think bringing in outside talent is a key to success. It will bring a lot of the fans that wouldn’t normally come to see the locals, which is stupid, because there are a lot of great matches on a lot of the local shows around here. I am all for bringing out outside talent. It will bring people, give people a chance to see wrestlers they wouldn’t normally be able to see, and give fans a chance to see matchups they wouldn’t normally be able to see.”-Super Dragon in 2003

Again, I’d like to see PWG give some local guys a shot based on talent. At the same time I can’t fault them for how they’re doing things. They have a specific audience they cater to, and they’re doing it well. While local stars in PWG would be cool, SoCal needs to realize why things are the way they are.

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