The sad saga of LA Lucha never seems to end. After canceling their October 26, 2019 event for what the promotion was citing as “legal issues,” they had agreed to reimburse fans that had purchased tickets in advance and pay wrestlers their full booking fee. Instead, they went dark, deleting their social media and blocking wrestlers who contacted them by e-mail.
Leading up to the event on October 26, I had heard that there might be an issue earlier that week, but was repeatedly assured the show would be going on. Still, usually where there is smoke there is fire so I held off on doing a story on the show until I was able to confirm at the minimum flights for the wrestlers coming in from out of the area were booked, something I was unable to confirm until the night before.
The next morning, LA Lucha posted their announcement canceling the show because in their words they were given a cease and desist over the name. They did not divulge who sent the cease and desist but a quick check of the USPTO database does show several trademark registrations with “la lucha” in them. So the story that they got a cease and desist is plausible, but should not stop them from just not using the name and running the show anyway.
As Andrew pointed out in his column after the cancelation, WWE sent a cease and desist to PWG over the name “Kurt RussellMania.” They just changed the name to “Kurt RussellReunion” and went on as planned. A cease and desist has no legal weight.
While this was all going on, Tony Deppen, who was scheduled to be in the main event of LA Lucha’s show, was on his flight to Los Angeles (well, Ontario), unaware that anything was up. When he landed he learned of the cancelation. There was also no one to pick him up from the airport and no hotel for him.
Apparently, there was never going to be a hotel. I have been told the plan was for him to stay at someone’s house. LA Lucha has done this before. When Adam Brooks showed up for his scheduled booking in April, instead of a hotel he was told he would be staying at Shawn Scoville’s house (the Hot Tub Guy). Scoville was never compensated for giving lodging to a wrestler either.
LA Lucha’s promoter Anthony Pastor, who previously ran Maverick Pro before canceling a show last minute leading to wrestlers complaining about not getting paid timely, agreed to pay for a hotel for the International Superstars, who were also left stranded at LAX after flying in. The motel he agreed to pay for was said to be very seedy and required a deposit, which Pastor refused to pay for. So the wrestlers pitched in together to pay for a hotel that they felt safe at.
With the cancelation, the promotion said they would release more information on Monday. They never did. Some wrestlers got paid. Some wrestlers got paid a portion of their fee, and some wrestlers didn’t get paid at all. Fans were given excuses as to why they weren’t getting their money right away (it is funny how PayPal works perfect for 99% of the population but wrestling promoters always have trouble with it). At least fans have the option to file a dispute with PayPal and get their money.
When wrestlers kept asking, they were told they would all be paid by last Wednesday, November 6. That day came and went, and people were still owed money. At least one wrestler told me the promotion had blocked him on social media when he asked again about his pay. Then they just deleted their social media completely. Tony Deppen said on Twitter that they blocked his e-mail too.
Early in the week after the cancelation, I had learned that the promotion was trying to book wrestlers for their next show. While owing fans and wrestlers money, they were trying to put together another show.
With this collapse of LA Lucha, more stories have come out. People saying they weren’t paid or they were paid late. People have talked about being treated badly by the promotion. Reportedly Pastor didn’t have the money to pay for his April show (which was a joint show with Las Vegas’ FSW), told the wrestlers he’d pay them in Las Vegas, then didn’t, leaving one of the people helping with the promotion, CJ Dinero, to cover it out of his pocket.
I’ve met Anthony Pastor. He is a nice guy and a big fan of wrestling. I want to believe he just got in over his head. Running a wrestling promotion isn’t as easy as just booking wrestlers and the fans will show up. Hopefully, he eventually pays everyone he owes money to and decides to just be a fan again.
Last-minute cancelations due to money have happened in the past and will happen again in the future. It is a sad part of independent wrestling. At least, in this case, Ultimo Dragon wasn’t standing outside of a locked venue wondering what was going on.