Hey everyone. We have to talk about SCWA.
On November 25th, 2018, the official Facebook page of the Southern California Wrestling Alliance announced it would be making its return in August 2019. The promotion again claimed to be running an event in August in a post on February 8th. No date or venue was announced though. If it takes place, it’ll come over two years since the promotion last held an event.
For those who aren’t aware of the SCWA, let me give you all a crash course on its history:
- Started out as a backyard promotion in the early 2000s.
- Held events at places like the Anaheim Marketplace.
- Booked legitimately trained workers towards the end of its run.
- Closed in 2002.
- Returned in 2016.
- Got heat for using a bunch of untrained workers on its return show.
- Disappeared in 2017 after a series of controversies.
As a promotion, SCWA wasn’t very good. While it had used several prolific local talents, it was marred by poor marketing, show cancellations, financial issues, and the use of questionable performers in a battle royal on the first show of the promotion’s reboot in 2016. The match became one of the more infamous moments in SoCal wrestling that year thanks to Douglas James’ performance with the untrained and questionable performers in the match.
But what the promotion really became known for was the controversy that surrounded its promoter’s past legal issues, and one of the promotion’s figureheads, who tried to “catfish” people in the SoCal scene.
Let’s start with the catfish stuff first…
(Note: the identity of the woman involved has been withheld to protect their privacy)
Joshua Baroni, who was part of SCWA and Maverick Pro, was known among people in the local scene as being some dude associated with those promotions. Also during this time, a Facebook account that appeared to be a “woman” began interacting with people in the local scene who had befriended Baroni. The account also heavily promoted events that Baroni was directly involved with. Despite being vocal about the scene and interacting with people on social media, nobody had ever seen this woman at a show before.
The sham didn’t last long.
One day in 2017, a local promoter had been messaged by this “woman’.” In the message, this “woman” told him about Baroni having various personal issues, dealing with depression, had no money for food, and in need of some help. When asked about this, the “woman” told this promoter that he could send $20 to a PayPal account so that Baroni could order a pizza. After the conversation, this promoter began to investigate the profile. He later discovered Baroni had used the image of a woman from another country and a name identical to hers. To make matters worse, the woman Baroni was pretending to be is in her nation’s military.
This promoter wasn’t the only person in the SoCal wrestling scene who had been contacted by this “woman.” Apparently, the “woman” also contacted other people. As Steve reported back in 2017 on this matter, some of the conversations with various people were more sexual in nature. Soon after, it was discovered that Baroni had been running several other Facebook profiles with different identities. Some of these profiles even interacted with each other.
The real woman ended up being contacted about this matter. She was made aware of Baroni’s actions and even commented on a Facebook post about the matter that had been getting lots of attention from people from the local SoCal scene and surrounding territories. After being asked by several people to explain himself, Baroni claimed there was a family emergency and that he would not be able to address the matter. Many felt that this was another attempt to try to get people to have sympathy for him and avoid the issue.
Several of the fake accounts that had been used ended up being deleted. There is no telling how many fake accounts Baroni could have made and might be operating at the moment though, and there’s no way to tell if anyone from the local scene has had their identity stolen by Baroni.
Shortly after Baroni’s deceptive actions were made public, both Maverick Pro and SCWA publicly claimed Baroni was no longer part of each promotion. Despite the claims Baroni had left both promotions, he still had some involvement with both. He eventually cut ties with Maverick Pro.
That brings us to SCWA promoter Vince Louros.
So, remember how I said SCWA originally closed in 2002? Well…
According to public records, in 2000, Louros, who also goes by “Vince Christopher Gutierrez” on Facebook, committed a sexual act on a minor under the age of 16 while being over the age of 21. He was convicted of this crime and sentenced in 2002.
I’m not a biographer or a historian when it comes to Louros and SCWA, so I can’t tell you where he was or what he was doing during SCWA’s first promotional hiatus. What I can tell you is that Louros resurfaced in the scene and has used the name “Vince Christopher Gutierrez” to promote SCWA instead of his real surname. As of this writing, SCWA’ lists Vince Gutierrez as the “Owner/CEO/Founder” of the promotion in the “About” section of the promotion’s Facebook page. Whether he did this to avoid his past being found out is a mystery to me. I can’t be certain about that. But it does raise some red flags.
When information of Louros’ arrest and conviction spread among the local wrestling community on social media in 2017, it resulted in a lot of backlash towards SCWA, as well as Maverick Pro due to a past connection it had with SCWA. The champions of both promotions later relinquished their titles as a result of Louros’ past being made public. While Baroni’s story (as disturbing as it might be) has some comical elements to it, Louros’ story isn’t amusing.
Suede Thompson has relinquished his Maverick Pro championship and quit the promotion over issues the promotion has had with the Joshua Baroni issue and the promotion’s past association with the promoter of SCWA, Vince Louros, who it was revealed was convicted in 2002 of a sexual act with a minor and had to register as a sex offender (though he no longer is required to register as one)
Despite his past being made public, Louros tried to diminish things in a statement on SCWA’s Facebook page by claiming what had happened was a “consensual incident“ that he had been “cleared” of it. Public records still show that he was convicted of committing a sexual act on a minor, and Louros admitted to something that he claimed was “consensual” in his statement.
When Louros claimed on the SCWA Facebook page in 2017 that his incident was “consensual” in nature, he pretty much dry-snitched on himself. He also showed that rather than accept the fact that he did wrong, he would try to claim slander and defamation over this incident while acting like he did nothing wrong. I can understand maintaining your innocence and all, but with Louros, it just seemed like an attempt to justify something he knew he shouldn’t have done. To me, those are not the actions of a person who should be forgiven. Especially for what Louros did.
So here we are now…
It’s 2019, and we’re looking at the possibility of another SCWA reboot. This time, we know about some of the skeletons in the promotion’s closet. There could even be more that has gone on (or is going on) that we don’t know about. Either way, what we do know now is disturbing enough as it is.
Sadly, the world of professional wrestling tends to draw some of the worst people in our society. Scumbags, liars, carnies, predators, thieves, etc. While these type of people will never go away, local wrestling communities such as ours here in SoCal can take small steps to make sure the local pro wrestling scene is safe.
One small step would be for everyone to boycott SCWA if it were to make its return. From fans to wrestlers, to referees, to staff, to ring crew, and everyone in-between. Fans should not attend SCWA events, watch their video content, or patronize them in any way. Workers should not accept bookings from them at all. Promoters should ban them from passing out flyers at their shows. This promotion was extremely problematic and should be shunned if it were to return.
But I know how some people are. I know there will still be those who will/would support an SCWA comeback. If you’re a fan who will/would support SCWA after reading this article, all I can say is this:
And to workers who would accept a booking from SCWA knowing what they know about the people running it because a $30 payday and “exposure/experience” means more than having integrity, all I can say is this:
There is no reason or justification to support SCWA in any way, shape, or form. No justifiable reason to support a promotion ran by someone convicted of a sexual act with a minor and shows no signs of regret for their actions. None whatsoever. Especially when that promoter is associated with someone who tried to scam people out of money after stealing another person’s identity. SCWA’s existence does not help the scene and serves no purpose. Tolerating them and allowing them to be part of the scene again sends the wrong message to people and sets a terrible precedent.
Do not support SCWA.