Talking about the SoCal 4 Way coming up in PWG and what it could mean for SoCal. Plus I rant about promoters not investing in video production and share a cool match from XPW’s dying days.
Next week, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla will feature four SoCal workers. Yes. FOUR. The last time PWG featured four workers who were from SoCal was December 12th, 2015 when Joey Ryan, Candice, LeRae, and Nick & Matt Jackson were in an eight-person Guerrilla Warfare match. Joey Ryan hasn’t had a match since. Candice LeRae would have one more appearance in PWG a year later and never came back. The Young Bucks would continue to appear in PWG, but haven’t appeared on a PWG show since October, 2017.
During this time, people in SoCal talked a lot about PWG not using local talent. It became the main criticism used by many in the SoCal area when talking about PWG. It became both a running gag and a reason for people in the area to bitch endlessly about PWG. I myself felt PWG had been overlooking some local talent in recent years. There were plenty of times where I thought a local guy would’ve been a better choice for PWG to use over certain fly ins, but I never felt the same way some people in the area did. People in and around the area would get overly emotional about the matter. Not like irrationally emotional the way some people get over wrestling spoilers do, but still overly emotional nonetheless.
On February 16th, 2018, local favorite Brody King debuted for PWG. From what people told me, he got a massive reaction and got a positive reception after his match. In the time after, PWG announced three more local talents would be debuting in the promotion at their March 23rd event in Los Angeles. Joining Brody will be Douglas James, Jake Atlas, and Eli Everfly. All four are currently slated to work each other in a 4 Way match. Now the people around the local scene who had a resentment towards PWG no longer have their favorite reason to bitch about it. Maybe they can go back to the “PWG doesn’t have storylines boo!” stuff. That’s always been a popular talking point for PWG’s haters.
While the match might not be the biggest on the card in terms of name value, it could end up stealing the show. It could also end being the most significant match in the SoCal wrestling scene this decade. There are also has some parallels with some other matches that had some historical significance in the modern era of professional wrestling.
The Canadian 4 Way match from CZW in 2004
Northeast based promotion Combat Zone Wrestling use to be popular among internet fans across the world in the early 2000s. CZW was a platform for many independent workers to breakout. Names like the Amazing Red, the Briscoe Brothers, Alex Shelley, Jimmy Jacobs, B-Boy, Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, and countless others gained tons of notoriety for their time in CZW. It also helped expose fans to other promotions from different areas. One promotion that really benefitted from CZW’s popularity in 2004 was the International Wrestling Syndicate from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
While IWS wrestlers were featured in CZW before, it wasn’t until a wrestler named Sexxxy Eddy gained attention for some post match antics at CZW’s Tournament of Death 4 in Smyrna, Delaware on July 24, 2004. During a tournament match, Eddy suffered a cut artery on his arm. He would go on to finish the match with blood gushing from the artery. After the match, he squirted the blood from the cut artery in his arm into his mouth and drank it. Yeah. Seriously. The guy drank his own fucking blood. I’m not making this shit up. That now legendary moment ended up getting Eddy, the IWS, and its workers lots of attention for a few years to come. Here’s video .Don’t watch if you’re afraid of blood or think the area of Downtown LA that PWG is running at is dangerous. Seriously. You’ve been warned.
Fast forward to September 11th, 2004. On that day, CZW ran a double header series of shows. One during the afternoon, and the other at night. Both shows featured a 4 Way match. The afternoon show match featured California workers Super Dragon, B-Boy, Excalibur, and Bobby Quance. It ended up being one of the best matches of the day show.
The night show match would then feature Canadian workers Sexxxy Eddy, Excess69, Kevin Steen, and El Generico. It ended up being one of the wildest matches in CZW history. The match also helped elevate the careers of Steen and Generico. Without it, they probably wouldn’t have gotten noticed by so many fans and promoters outside of Canada, and they probably would’ve never made it to the WWE. After the match, more internet fans began to take notice of the wrestling scene in Canada. As a result, many workers like “Speedball” Mike Bailey, Franky The Mobster, the Super Smash Brothers, Vanessa Kraven, Beef Welligton, 2.0, and LuFisto ended up getting more bookings.
The Super Dragon vs. Rising Son match from XPW in 2001
One of the biggest moments of the modern SoCal wrestling era came in 2001 when Super Dragon and Rising Son had a match in XPW. On a card headlined by a cage match with ECW legend Sabu facing XPW’s biggest homegrown star The Messiah, it was the opening match between two guys who were unknown to most of the fans in attendance that stole the show. It opened many people’s eyes to professional wrestling in SoCal outside of XPW.
At the time (aside from maybe UPW, but that’s a different discussion) there was no bigger platform in SoCal than XPW. It had a weekly TV show and their events were released nationally in retail stores. Many fans who got into the SoCal scene at the time credited the match as being the one match that got them to check out promotions like Millennium Pro Wrestling, Revolution Pro, and eventually EPIC. It’s really hard to think of any other match that helped boost the entire SoCal scene the way that match did. Without it, who knows what SoCal would’ve become. There probably wouldn’t be much of a scene if Super Dragon and Rising Son didn’t have that match in XPW.
What the SoCal 4 Way match in PWG could mean for the area
Fast forward to now. While it could be argued that the SoCal scene is stronger now than it was in 2001, there has definitely been less attention on SoCal outside of PWG and NJPW’s US expansion. Sure, Bar Wrestling is starting to become more prolific, but nearly everything else in the area is still under the radar to people outside of SoCal. There are plenty of reasons as to why that is. One being that the scene was pretty much dead aside from PWG for a number of years and wasn’t producing enough new, exciting talent. Promotions also weren’t able to grab the attention of many fans, and as a result, less workers have been getting noticed and a weaker scene.
These days, SoCal is hitting a rebuilding phase, and the SoCal 4 Way match coming up in PWG has the chance to kickstart a boom for the local scene the way Super Dragon vs. Rising Son from XPW did for SoCal in 2001 and the way Canadian 4 Way from CZW in 2004 did for IWS and the Canadian wrestling scene. On March 23rd, a lot of people will be seeing most of the SoCal guys for the first time ever. When the show is released on DVD or Blu-Ray, even more people will be exposed to Douglas, Eli, Jake, and Brody. A breakout performance from them will end up helping their careers in a big way.
A breakout performance from those four guys could also lead to a much needed boost for the local scene. If fans walk away impressed from what they see on March 23rd (or on DVD/Blu-Ray), more people will be more inclined to start seeking out matches from said SoCal workers. Seeking out more matches from the SoCal guys debuting in PWG would lead to more fans discovering other SoCal workers who aren’t in PWG yet as well. Those new potential fans could also end up discovering other promotions in the area, meaning promotions like AWS, Ground Zero, the Santino Bros., and Bar Wrestling could end up seeing their fan bases grow.
There are a lot of positives that could come from this one match. PWG will end up gaining fresh talent for their shows, the four guys in the match will get to be seen by more people, and there’s a chance the SoCal scene will gain a lot of new fans. While PWG’s March 23 card is loaded with names like Chuck Taylor, Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, Zack Sabre Jr., Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, and Joey Janela, I think the 4 Way match with the local stars could end up being the most important match at “Time Is a Flat Circle” and possibly be the most historically significant match in the modern SoCal wrestling era.
Douglas James vs. Eli Everfly vs. Jake Atlas vs. Brody King in PWG could end up being the most important match in this modern era of SoCal wrestling. It has the potential to create new fans for them as well as the territory. Workers and some promotions in SoCal could end up benefitting from this too.
Something I heard recently
One reason why promotions like CZW had a big fan base that helped the IWS become popular was because of a company called Smart Mark Video. For those who don’t know what Smart Mark Video is, it is a popular east coast based video production company that films, edits, and sells wrestling events and shoot interviews. During its prime, SMV would produce events from CZW, IWS, IWA-MS, Chikara, and released those events a few days after. For PWG, they were able to grow in popularity by selling DVDs of their events through their distribution deal with Highspots.com.
In SoCal, promotions that weren’t PWG didn’t follow the same formula, leading to less fans discovering the local scene outside of PWG. As a result, the SoCal scene never really prospered the way it should have over a decade ago the way other territories have lately.
Video releases have played a huge role in the growth of independent wrestling. These days promotions putting out more content through online streaming services. Some SoCal promoters seem to now just be realizing the importance of filming shows and releasing them. At the same time, there are still too many promoters in SoCal not filming their shows to sell or use to create marketing content. Some will say they don’t have the money for it, while others are just simply too lazy to put any effort into finding a way to produce good quality shows without killing their budget.
A conversation I had
While the scene is getting better and stronger, it isn’t without many flaws. One of those happens to be most promotions are releasing their matches and shows in poor quality, or simply not releasing any footage at all. That’s mostly because many promoters are just really stupid, inept, and don’t really know what they’re doing.
I was talking to someone about the quality of footage being released from local promotions these days. During this conversation I was having, this person told me about how a promotion couldn’t afford to pay someone they knew $100 to film and edit their show. That is seriously a really good deal that any promoter with a functioning brain wouldn’t pass up.
Without giving out any names (I don’t want to put anyone on blast), when I was told what promotion it was it kinda left me bewildered. Budget issues have always been a common reason why promotions say they can’t hire a good video producer and film crew. I mean shit’s hard in SoCal. It takes a lot of money to run shows out here. That said, some promoters really need to think about how they plan their budgets in ways that will be beneficial for them. The promotion that I was told about is one of those promotions that should really think about how they spend their money.
As I was having this conversation, I thought about how the promotion being discussed isn’t shy about spending money on talent. I mean, their shows are usually booked with workers who make more than $100-$200, but don’t draw enough fans to justify their booking fees or to cover their travel expenses. Why bring in bigger names if they’re not worth the investment? I mean, if a promoter thinks losing money is worth it, by all means let them waste their money. I just find the choices some promoters make to be odd. It’s like they don’t realize they’re hurting their own promotion in the long run by not putting up that small amount of money to hire a video guy,.
The promotion being spoken of has also spent money on non-essential items for events. Sure, aesthetic is important when it comes to presentation, but there’s no fucking point spending money on both lights and an entrance set when shows aren’t even profitable. That was money that could’ve been used to hire a solid video production person. Now this promotion is going to have to rely on shitty quality phone clips to market their shows. That $100 investment would’ve allowed them to have content to promote and market future shows and showcase their promotion.
A small $100 investment in a video producer would’ve been better in the long run for this promotion. Instead the promoter couldn’t (or wouldn’t) spend that money on video production. A $100! Seriously, it’s like some of these fucking promoters out here are clueless and don’t think about this shit. Not only that but it’s also fucking crazy to think that someone who can’t even get $100 to hire someone to produce video of an event is running a fucking wrestling show. Again, I know it costs money to run shows, but if you don’t fucking have the money to do shit like that, don’t run shows. Or at least fucking learn how to properly manage your business.
Look, independent promotions don’t need to go out and hire a camera crew of 6 people to film an event in 4K, HDR quality. There is no need to break the bank on production, but promoters need to smarten the fuck up for the sake of the scene and the workers in it. If not the scene and workers (cause we know how greedy promoters can be) then at least do it to get some extra revenue. If done right, it wouldn’t be hard to make the money back if there are people willing to shoot and edit events for $100-$200. This scene isn’t going to grow if workers and promoters have to market their brands with shitty quality Instagram clips or fan-cam quality videos.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of promotions balking at hiring people to do video work for them for a decent fee. It just really blows my fucking mind each time I hear about shit like this. Promoters not spending an extra $100-$200 on something that should be necessary for anyone running professional wrestling events (or any type of sport/live performance) is just a part of what holds this territory back. Like I said, it isn’t cheap to run a show in SoCal. Still, if a promoter can’t afford $100, they need to reevaluate shit or don’t run till they do have the money to afford an extra $100 on their budget.
Promoters: please, PLEASE invest in getting people to film and edit your shows. Get your products out there. If you’re a promoter in need of video people, email me (email@example.com) and I can put you in touch if you’re willing to invest in that shit.
Match of the Column
I was going to do a XPW nostalgia article earlier this month to commemorate it being 15 years since they held their final event in Southern California, but because I have been busy, I didn’t write it. Even though I didn’t write about XPW, I wanted to share this match from the last XPW show in LA. While XPW wasn’t known for putting on good matches during its run as a promotion, it started to improve in quality towards the end of its run. Here’s an example of one of XPW’s better matches from their final days as a promotion: Josh Prohibition & Matt Cross defending the XPW Tag Team Championship against Bobby Quance & Jardi Frantz under masks. Enjoy.