Dragon versus Dragon: Bryan Danielson’s Debut in SoCal

Dragon vs Dragon “I challenge you, for that title. Anytime, anywhere.”

On May 25th in Cupertino, the American Dragon challenged Super Dragon for the APW Internet Worldwide Title point-blank. Super Dragon responded in typical fashion with no answer and walked away.

All Pro Wrestling at that time was one of the hottest wrestling promotions in the United States. Although they were Northern California based, many Southern California regulars would head to the Garage in Heyward, in search of opportunity.

The Worldwide Internet Title was unique (and maybe ahead of its time) in that APW would show these matches on-line via their website or ClickWrestle.com. Previous champions before Dragon almost looks like a who’s who of early 2000 Indie Wrestling. Michael Modest, Christopher Daniels, Donovan Morgan, Vinny Massaro, and Jardi Frantz.

When EPIC Pro Wrestling announced International Collision, it was clear they were looking to make an impact on the scene. Stars from CZW, XPW, ECW, Japan, and Mexico were brought in to really make a mark in the Southern California scene. One of the dream matches that was booked would pit the 2001 King of the Indies, American Dragon, in the ring against the SoCal 2001 Wrestler of the Year, Super Dragon.

“We had what would bring them in already, [with Sabu versus Lynn] and what we needed was something that would keep them coming back. Plus, it had never been done before and would generate some buzz.”

The proprietor of EPIC Pro Wrestling, Gary Yap, had a shared vision with Excalibur and Super Dragon (both of whom came up with the idea of Dragon vs. Dragon) to create an all-star wrestling promotion in Southern California. This match was generating buzz across the country.

“[There] was nothing like EPIC at the time in SoCal. You basically had RevPro (which couldn’t afford anything), UPW (which was all about the muscleheads and WWE guys) and XPW (which … was XPW). NO DISRESPECT to something like MPW, but they weren’t a real player. There was nothing out here [Danielson], y’know what I mean?”

Gary knew they had something special. Two weeks of the EPIC TV Program were fueled by one simple question… Will the title be on the line?

For weeks, EPIC Pro Wrestling Television speculated on the possibility of an APW Worldwide Internet Television Title Match between what many were already speculating was a dream match.

Wrestling fans all across the country were talking about this one.

The two weeks of EPIC Pro Wrestling TV show would feature Super Dragon with his buddies, Disco Machine and Excalibur, continually stoking the flame of discussion. Will the title be on the line or won’t it? Gary continued with “Nobody in particular, [decided on this being a championship match] since he was APW Worldwide Internet Champ, it just seemed appropriate. It would’ve happened whether there was a title on the line or not.”

The answer was finally revealed in stunning fashion on Epic Pro TV.

In what could only be considered as the first “Bum Fight”, Super Dragon had a makeshift title defense against a homeless person while Team Chismo (Excalibur and Disco Machine) did commentary in accents.

As taken from EPIC’s Television Recap: (Excalibur then looked into the camera and stated that “Super Dragon was so motherfucking hardcore that he even beats up bums in the street! He’s not afraid of ANYBODY! He told American Dragon that if he wanted the match on June 16th to be a title match, he’s ON!”

The match was set.

In the end, Bryan Danielson’s second match for EPIC saw him team with fellow Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy student Brian Kendrick versus Samoa Joe and Super Dragon. This match would gain more praise than his debut (the Runner Up to the 2002 Match of the Year Award).

It wasn’t long after that Danielson became an integral part of Southern California Wrestling.

Danielson would go on to be Wrestler of the Year Runner Up in 2007.  Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Champion in 2007 and again in 2009 prior to his start with the WWE.

For those of us lucky enough to bear witness to Danielson’s career in Southern California, our hat is off to you and we wish you well in whatever is next for you. #ThankYouDragon


Special Thanks to Gary Yap, DJChopstix, Andrew, and All Pro Wrestling