Andrew Pesina has been around the Southern California wrestling scene for over two decades both covering the area for SCU and working behind the scenes with a number of promotions including PWG. Now he is starting his own wrestling promotion, Epic Pro Wrestling. Recently I had a chance to talk with him about the new promotion and his plans.
Steve: I’m speaking with the promoter of the upcoming Epic Pro Wrestling, Andrew Pesina. He is someone most readers of the site will probably know from all the years he worked on SCU covering the local scene. Now he’s venturing out to start his own wrestling promotion.
I’m not sure a lot of people realize how long you have been involved in wrestling, and we’ll get to your time in PWG, MPW etc, but what got you interested in wrestling to begin with?
Andrew: Truth be told, I think my dad calling it fake when I was 4 and not letting me watch it for a few years got me interested in it. My first memory of wrestling is seeing Ultimate Warrior puke on TV because he had a curse put on him by Papa Shango. My dad said it was fake, changed the channel, and told me I should never watch wrestling again because it was a stupid waste of time. But for some reason, I was intrigued by it and that moment made me want to learn more about it. I tried to watch WWF Superstars and WCW Saturday Night when I was younger, but it was hard for me because my dad wouldn’t let me watch wrestling. By the time I was 7, he started to let me watch wrestling.
In 2nd grade, I met this kid in my class named Troy who brought WWF and WCW magazines to school. We had conversations about pro wrestling during recess, and that got me way more into it. My parents also had some family friends who would watch Lucha Libre when we would visit, and I’d watch with their kids and became interested in Lucha because of how crazy it seemed compared to America-style wrestling. I never knew when it was on until I was like 11, so I’d only see it during holiday gatherings when I was younger. Reading wrestling magazines and discovering promotions such as ECW and FMW also did a lot to boost my interest in it.
Steve: How did you find out about independent wrestling?
Andrew: WOW Magazine in 1999. Before that, I knew about smaller promotions like the USWA and such through PWI, but WOW is where I first heard about places like APW, UPW, CZW, JAPW, ECWA, and XPW. By 2000-2001, I was discovering a bunch of internet websites that had listings of independent wrestling promotions and was going on message boards. Most of the people talked about east coast or midwestern promotions though, so I was more familiar with those scenes before I knew more about the SoCal scene. Then I learned about SoCalUncensored one day in 7th grade when I was on a computer in my middle school’s library and started to find out more about the local scene.
Steve: Before you found SCU had you been to any local shows? I can’t remember if you were on the message boards first or at XPW.
Andrew: Yeah. I hadn’t posted on the local message boards until I was 15 in 2003. My parents took me to XPW shows at the LA Sports Arena, Pico Rivera, the Olympic Auditorium, Patriot Hall, and that paintball place in the Valley where they had their last LA shows during their original run. Looking back, what the fuck were my parents thinking by letting me go to XPW shows? It’s insane to think that I went from being a kid who went to XPW shows and loved the promotion, to being a possible enemy of Rob Black now. Crazy how life works, right? Even crazier, I also was at the last show of the original EPIC in my hometown of Glendale back in 2002. Now I have my own promotion called Epic Pro.
Steve: I took my kid to a lucha show and regretted it.
Andrew: I know which show you’re talking about and why you regret it (laughs).
Steve: Having been around the scene for over 20 years, what do you think about how it has changed over the years? I know to me, the local wrestling scene hardly feels anything like it did in say 2003 for a number of reasons.
Andrew: It’s really hard to put this into a simple answer. It’s changed in so many ways. The biggest thing is that it has grown to the point where promotions like PWG, GCW, NJPW, Prestige, Circle 6, XPW, and others can come here and run successful shows. If you were to go back and tell 15-year-old me about what the scene is like now, my 15-year-old self wouldn’t believe how many shows there are with big-name talent. That’s also on top of places like Santino Bros and Rival Pro stepping up and doing exciting things here in SoCal with local talent. There’s no better time to be a fan in SoCal when you think about how much variety there is now when compared to 2003 when it was mostly PWG, Rev Pro, AWS, Lucha, and random spot shows. Are there improvements that could be made? Sure, but I’d be lying if I said SoCal wasn’t at its best right now.
There are also things that really haven’t changed such as talent not being used right, veterans holding younger talent back, bullshit politics, tons of workers being lazy, bookers who care more about getting them or their friends over, people in the business caring more about what they like instead of what fans want to see, and promoters not getting their shows out there for people to see. While that stuff is still a problem, I think there have been a lot of improvements to fix those issues. We’re seeing more workers focus on their in-ring abilities and promoters are making more efforts to get their shows recorded and released.
With that said, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat nostalgic for some of the aspects of that time. I don’t want to say the past was better than now, but that era felt special to me. Maybe it’s one of those “you had to be there” type things, but it was a special time. Still, the scene seems so much better now than it was back in like 2003.
Steve: You worked for PWG for years and were there before it really blew up into what it has become. How do you think working for PWG shaped how you view the independent wrestling industry?
Andrew: I’ll be totally honest, I had no business working for PWG and I feel so lucky to have been there during the first few years. My time there was a learning experience and I credit Super Dragon with shaping my views on the wrestling business. He’s always been about innovation, fun, excitement, and doing shit that fans would think is cool when it comes to how pro wrestling is presented. I had tons of conversations with him back in the AIM days, and he was always about wanting to put on the best and most memorable matches either as a promoter or a wrestler. Seeing the way he cared about putting on the best shows possible for the fans always stuck with me, and seeing how he’s been able to succeed with that mindset and all the stars he’s helped build really validates his philosophies on wrestling in my mind, not just on an independent level, but as an overall art form. The guy practiced what he preached, and he was right. No promoter in SoCal can say they’re as successful as Super Dragon. None. I’m sorry, but his track record is untouchable. He turned PWG from a promotion that was drawing 100 people to one that draws 600-700 people on a regular basis. All of that has had a huge influence on my views on wrestling and how I want to run Epic Pro.
Being around a lot of great minds also helped shaped my views on wrestling as well. I got to spend time with guys like Chris Hero, Kevin Steen, El Generico/Sami Zayn and listen to them give their views on wrestling and what they think would appeal to modern fans. Much like Super Dragon, they were about excitement and innovation, and that really influenced me when it came to my views on how wrestling should be presented, not just on an independent level.
Steve: After PWG, you did a lot of writing for SCU, which we’ll get back to later, but then you started working behind the scenes with MPW. MPW is obviously a lot different than PWG, being a promotion that is there to support its wrestling school. How do you think your time there prepared you to run your own shows?
Andrew: I left PWG in 2011 and fell out of wrestling completely until 2015. In 2016, I was actually looking into running shows in 2016, but that never came about due to someone in my family dealing with a serious illness. Around 2017, I was working with some promotions such as Ground Zero, and then began working with MPW in 2019 when they moved to Chatsworth.
Being at MPW allowed me to sharpen some skills when it came to video editing and producing content. Aside from that, my time at MPW was more about me trying to help them grow. I remember talking to Ray Rosas one day when he was the booker of MPW and he talked about how they needed help with so many things. Eventually, after a show in October of 2019, I talked to him and Paul (MPW owner Lethal Logan X) and I began helping them with a bunch of things they needed to work on such as producing social media content and using that content to promote shows. Later on, I began editing their shows and was getting them on YouTube. I even went back and edited old shows during the pandemic hiatus since there were like 20 shows that never got edited or uploaded on YouTube. I can’t say that being with MPW prepared me for Epic Pro, but it helped me build relationships with some really great people that I am going to be (or will hopefully be) working with at Epic Pro.
If anything, my time at PWG and working with people such as B-Boy on Ground Zero had me prepared to run my own shows. It was just that the timing had never been right when it came to me being able to financially do so until after I left MPW. That, and financial stuff.
Steve: Having been around the scene for so long, you know that for every promotion that is successful, there are probably 10 that fail. What is it that made you want to get into promoting your own show?
Andrew: I’ve always just wanted to make things better here in SoCal. I’ve always felt the perfumers out here deserved better. When I first wanted to do this in 2016, I wanted to just put on a showcase show with the best talent here in SoCal while avoiding a lot of the mistakes local promoters at the time were making. I saw so much potential in the scene back then, but I felt like nobody was stepping up to do more for local workers to be seen. I also felt like so many talented performers were having their abilities go to waste because of bad booking. It had felt like that for years to me, and I really wanted to step up and try to do something to hopefully bring some positive change to the scene.
My mindset is pretty much the same now as it was back then, but in a different way. I see the way a lot of great local talent here are being used by other promotions who have more notoriety or are on television, and it frustrates me. They’re either treated like jobbers and afterthoughts, or they are put in stupid situations that won’t get them over. A lot of them deserve better than that, and I want to give deserving performers better than what they’re being given by promoters out here while also giving fans exciting shows that won’t cost them a shitload of money to attend.
Steve: What are your plans as far as getting more exposure or reaching a larger audience beyond just the people who buy tickets to the event? iPpV? YouTube?
Andrew: The first Epic Pro show is going to be available On Demand on Title Match Network. I’m very happy with the deal we made with them and the way they’ve treated us, even before we made our deal official. Title Match Network has been very open and willing to listen to ideas I have about how to make the most of our business relationship, and I think this deal will be very beneficial for everyone involved.
Steve: Going back to your time at SCU, your reviews would often upset a number of wrestlers. Have you run into any problems yet trying to book any for your show who was still upset about your reviews or anything like that?
Andrew: Well, I haven’t approached any of the workers I didn’t say nice things about, so that hasn’t been an issue. The only problems I’ve had have been workers not being available or possibly not getting my emails when inquiring about bookings. I have been hit up for bookings by people that have talked massive shit on me or have said they’d kick my ass if they ever saw me. I’m not going to name names, but I find it hilarious that those same people went from making threats to begging for spots.
Interestingly enough, in MPW I did run into people who I gave bad reviews and had no problems whatsoever. Auntie Hydie and I became friends there. My reviews of her work were never positive but she always tells me that my reviews inspired her to get better as an in-ring performer and she got that most of my reviews were meant just to be goofy and dumb, which they were. I’ve got so much respect for her as a person because of that. I also ended up getting to know Bulletproof, who now goes by Alejandro Mauricio Fernandez. He’s another person who seemed to understand my personality once he got to know me. We’ve had some interesting talks backstage at MPW shows that weren’t about pro wrestling. He’s a solid guy and I really enjoyed my conversations with him about life stuff. Also, people might not know this, but he’s got a really nice moonsault.
Steve: Recently the SoCal scene has been pretty crowded and fans aren’t hurting for choices when it comes to wrestling shows for sure. How is Epic going to be different than everything else out there?
Andrew: Damn, that’s a good question.
The big thing that will make Epic Pro different from most promotions based in SoCal is that ticket prices will be affordable, reasonably priced, and that fans will get their money’s worth from us. For the first Epic Pro show, front row tickets are $25, and GA tickets are $20 on Eventbrite until August 12th. The most they’ll be is $40 for front row and $30 for GA on the day of the show. I’m even running a special 5 GA Tickets for $80 sale because of how corporate price gouging disguised as inflation is hurting people’s wallets.
You know the card right now, and you know that I could charge way more based on the quality and name value of the talent on this card. I mean, I got Rickey Shane Page in an open challenge, Atticus Cogar vs. Eli Everfly, Ray Rosas vs. Kidd Bandit, as well as Shane Haste, B-Boy, Delilah Doom, and Lil’ Cholo. Other promoters out here would try charging way more for that lineup, I’m not doing that though. I care more about making sure people can afford to come to the show and feel like their money was well spent than I do about maximizing my profits. I think that is the biggest difference between Epic Pro and other promotions. The fact that it’s being run by someone who wants to put the fans’ needs before profits.
One thing fans have told me over the years is a lot of promotions that use local talent are running shows that aren’t worth the price of admission either because the quality of the lineups aren’t good, or because the lineups don’t have much name value for the prices that are being charged. The best analogy someone told me about most SoCal promoters is that if they were movie theater owners, they’d charge IMAX prices for movies played on an old black and white television set from the 1950s. This isn’t to say all promotions that use local talent are like this. Santino Bros, MPW, Level Up, VWE, and Rival Pro are all fairly priced, but a lot of other promoters have no business charging some of the prices they’re charging fans. Not to name names, but seeing some promotions in Orange County charging $25 for GA at the door and $35 for front row tickets to their show is insane for who they have on the show. Even some of these bigger promotions from outside of SoCal that are running here seem like they’re a bit overpriced. I understand that they have big budgets that are two or three times the size of my budget, but I find it insane that promoters are coming here with subpar shows where the cheapest tickets are $50.
Another thing that will be different about Epic Pro and other promotions, at least with the ones that use local talent, is that fans will see a noticeable difference in how some of the wrestlers will perform on this show when compared to how they perform on other shows here in SoCal and how they’re booked. I’m going to be very careful of how I use wrestlers and what matches they end up getting booked in. Most times, it feels like promoters and bookers out here book matches randomly without thinking of how it’ll go, whether the performers will have chemistry, or if their styles will mesh well with each other. I want to put the wrestlers I book in matches with performers who will be able to complement their styles and would have chemistry so they can have the best possible matches.
I also don’t want to book matches that have way too many people in them. For example, I’m not going to do stuff like sticking a bunch of random people in a scramble. Not only do scrambles not help get workers over, but they’re usually sloppy with tons of communication issues. I feel like doing scramble matches is lazy booking, and the last thing I want to do is be lazy with my booking. I also don’t want to do three-way or four-way matches. Those tend to be very formulaic and boring. Unless a bunch of workers have a really great idea that is different from the standard “two people fight in the ring while everyone else chills at ringside” formula you see all the time now in those matches, there will be no way I book scrambles, three-ways, or four-ways.
Steve: Do you plan on eventually adding titles to Epic?
Andrew: I’d like to add a singles title in a year if we’re successful enough, and then I’d like to add tag team titles if we’re around a year and a half from now. Until then, you’ll probably see titles from other promotions defended in Epic Pro.
Steve: Is there a wrestler in SoCal right now that you think is ready to break out big time if given the chance by a bigger national promotion?
Andrew: There are a lot. Brendan Divine, Cameron Gates, Johnnie Robbie, and Big Dick Hoss are a few performers that should get booked by bigger promotions. Especially the ones that are running shows here. Chris Nasty is also a performer people should keep their eye on in the next 2-3 years. I can see him going places.
Steve: Thanks for your time. Is there anything else you want to add?
Andrew: If you’re reading this and you haven’t bought your tickets, buy them when you can. This show is going to be great. I know there are 100 other shows running that day in SoCal, but I guarantee you Epic Pro on August 13th will be the best wrestling show in SoCal that day and will be worth your money.
We’ve got a great main event with the SoCal Wrestler of the Year Ray Rosas taking on the SoCal Rookie of the Year and one of the hottest stars in indie wrestling right now, Kidd Bandit. There’s also Atticus Cogar vs. Eli Everfly, and RSP’s open challenge. That’s on top of a stacked card with the best wrestlers in SoCal with matches like Lil’ Cholo vs. Delilah Doom, Brendan Divine vs. B-Boy, and the Santino Bros Inner City Championship being defended by Cameron Gates against Jordan Cruz. As I said, this will be the best wrestling show in SoCal on August 13th, 2022, and also one of the best wrestling shows in SoCal this year. You won’t want to miss out on this show.
Epic’s debut event is taking place on August 13 at the Clara Sports Complex in Cudahy. Tickets are on sale now and available here.