Like the full moon on Friday The 13th, a rare event occurred last night: I went to an independent wrestling show in 2019.
This was my first time ever going to a Millennium Pro Wrestling show. I’m talking every incarnation of MPW dating back o 2001. When it was first running between 2001-2002, I was in middle school going into high school. I knew about the local scene but never went to shows outside of XPW during MPW’s first run. Years after it closed down, a local fan known as “Joey Ryan Fan” loaned me some tapes of MPW’s original run. Watching those tapes at the time made me wish I could’ve been at those shows. The original incarnation MPW was considered the blueprint for what PWG would become in its early years, and fans who were around at the time had high praise for MPW.
MPW made a return several years later, running in the Simi Valley area in 2010. The company went on another sabbatical in 2013 before returning in 2015 for their third run as a promotion. During this third run, MPW ran weekly Friday events in Moorpark at the location of the Millennium Wrestling Academy. After running there for several years, Ray Rosas took over as booker of the promotion and became one of the head trainers at the school. During Ray’s time there, MPW grew into a family. Ask MPW owner Paul Ventimiglia and he’ll tell you how much of a godsend Ray has been. It’s almost as if the people who chant “Sexy Jesus” are on to something.
This past April, MPW moved out of the Moorpark location due to a rent increase. During the promotion’s final weekly event in Moorpark, emotions ran rampant. People hugged and cried, blah, blah, blah. Let’s save all this other stuff for another time. Long story short, MPW found a new home in Chatsworth on the second floor of Boulderdash SFV. The promotion made its return from hiatus last week and held its second weekly event in their new home on Friday night.
Boulderdash SFV is located in an industrial business building on Nordhoff Pl less than a mile away from the Northridge Fashion Center. The location is very nice and clean. Plus the area was safe. So many independent shows are held in dingy and ghetto areas, so it was nice to be at a show where I didn’t have to worry about my car being left on blocks. Heading into the building, fans were greeted by the performer known as Auntie Hydie. She was out of character and representing the Millennium Wrestling Academy. As people made their way into the building, she instructed them on where to go. This was a smart touch as people who show up to MPW for the first time probably wouldn’t know where to go when they entered the building.
Walking into the promotion’s new home, it had a nice vibe to it. I arrived a few minutes before bell time. Before the show, I met MPW owner Paul Ventimiglia and got to talk to him for a few moments before taking my seat. At first, it seemed like 30 people were there, but by the time bell time came around, it looked as if there were 50 people in attendance. The number was down from last week’s event, but the promotion was expecting a bit of a downturn this week. There was a noticeable family atmosphere among the fans and staff, which made for a nice vibe.
The show began around 7:15 pm with Paul Ventimiglia, known to MPW fans as “Lethal” Logan X. He started off with a quick pre-show promo telling the fans they should catch America’s Got Talent this week. He also noted that it was his daughter’s birthday, and he began o sing to her in the ring. After that, the national anthem was played to start the show.
Hustle & Muscle (Alonzo Alvarez & Vinny Wasco) vs. The Brothers Divine/Millennials (Brendan & Danny Divine)
I thought this was a good match to open the show. Alvarez and Wasco were the heels and played up their Santino Bros. background. The Divines got a great reaction from the crowd. They got in some early offense before Hustle & Muscle worked over Danny for heat. Danny eventually made the hot tag to his brother, Brendan, who cleaned house inside the ring. As the match went on, Brendan took a sick looking bump on his head and neck after taking a double team suplex from Hustle & Muscle. The crowd was really into this and were solidly behind the Divines, who came out victorious in the match.
As I said, this was a good match to start the show. The fans were into it, and the pacing was really good. While the match was good, I was kinda wondering why there was no mention of Danny Divine being a co-holder of the tag titles with Daniel Moon. We’ll get to that later though.
Frankie Frank vs. Bulletproof
Frankie came out doing his usual schtick where he tries to sing for the crowd. I hate dumb gimmicks like this, but the crowd loved it. The one drawback of this was the crowd wanted him to sing, and Frankie seemed like he was being the heel here. Bulletproof’s music interrupted him, and the two had a match.
Bulletproof showed a noticeable improvement inside the ring. His only downside now is his character and his mannerisms are goofy. Frankie Frank has also gotten better in the ring and is finding what works for him as a performer. Much like Bulletproof though, his character is just too goofy for my taste. Still, the fans liked this match and it was pretty watchable. Frankie got the win cleanly over Bulletproof. This match was the best I’ve ever seen these two have. While it wouldn’t rate as well as other matches on more high-level shows, it was fine for this level of wrestling.
After the match, the referees and a staff member tried to help Bulletproof up as if he were hurt. Bulletproof got up and refused help before attacking the staff member.
Zumba Nation Segment
The Great Zumba came out for a promo segment called Zumba Nation. He talked about an attack last week on Master Flame by Jax Cannon. Zumba then said Master Flame has a concussion and will be out of action for a bit. He then brought out Cannon and Barry Cohen. Cohen got on the mic and cut a promo about the attack. The fans began to chant for Zumba. Zumba and Cohen got into an argument before Cannon attacked Zumba. Chuck Mercer ran out and made the save. Chuck got on the mic and said he won’t stand for what Cannon did to Master Flame. This was a good, basic segment that helped set up a future match between Jax Cannon and Chuck Mercer.
MPW Heavyweight Championship Match: Diego Valens (c) vs. Luchasaurus
Last week, Diego Valens defeated Chuck Mercer to become the new MPW Heavyweight Champion while putting the MPW National title on the line. This match was the first defense of his new title. Truth be told, it was the biggest reason why I went to this show. I had never seen a Luchasaurus match live, and Diego Valens has been getting tons of hype lately. I rarely get excited about a match, and this is one of those rare times. When the match was announced at this point in the show, I started to think that maybe there were going to be some shenanigans in this.
The match itself was really fun and lived up to my expectations. With this being the same month as BOLA, it won’t get a chance in the rankings. Had this match taken place during a month where PWG wasn’t running, I could see it getting ranked. The two had a nice back-and-forth encounter where they got in a good amount of offense. Luchasaurus displayed a nice array of striking techniques, including a cool looking jumping spinning knee strike. If I were competing in MMA or Muay Thai and wanted to get someone to teach me cool kicks, I’d hire Luchasaurus to coach me. Valens really impressed me here with some acrobatic stuff, including a nice standing Shooting Star Press. This ended in a DQ when a masked man came out and attacked Valens before leaving. The fans didn’t like this finish, but the match was still good.
After the match, Luchasaurus and Diego Valens shook hands.
Dr. Phil Goode vs. Chuck Mercer
Up to this point, this was the worst match of the show. It wasn’t terrible though. Believe me, I’ve seen lots of terrible matches, and this doesn’t come close to terrible despite its low rating. It just wasn’t my style of wrestling.
There was a lot of character work from Dr. Phil Goode in this match. While I’m not into that stuff, the fans were into his schtick. The in-ring work itself was okay, but there was a moment or two where Dr. Phil Goode could use more polishing. His performance still wasn’t as bad most guys I’ll see on an OCCW show though. He just needs to have more intensity when performing moves. There was a lot of offense in this match from Dr. Phil Goode before Mercer got the win after hitting a spear. As I said, this was very character heavy. If you like characters and antics, you’d like this. I wasn’t into it though. I was a little surprised there wasn’t a run in from Jax Cannon and Barry Cohen during this match to advance their story with Chuck Mercer.
Before the next match, Daniel Moon came out and got on the mic to complain about not being on MPW’s return show last week. He nagged and whined for a few moments about how this showed that the fans turned their backs on him before declaring he was turning his back on the fans. I liked this promo. It worked really well with Daniel Moon’s character, and it helped create heat for the next match.
Che Cabrera vs. Daniel Moon
As I mentioned above, Daniel Moon is a co-holder of the tag titles with Danny Divine. There was no mention of it though, which was a bit of a mistake I thought. While Divine and his brother portrayed faces earlier in the show, Moon was being an obnoxious heel here. Che Cabrera came out to Andre Ethier’s old walkup song when he was with the Dodgers. That’s what’s up. Che was pretty over with the crowd. He really came off like a star, and the fans really liked him. He’s got the size and skill to be a star, but he just needs to develop a more charismatic personality to become a legitimate main event star in SoCal.
The match was pretty simple stylistically. Che, being the bigger and stronger wrestler, toyed with his smaller opponent. He kept tossing Moon around the ring and hit him with some really hard chops. Moon kept whining and complaining as the match went on, which was perfect considering his character is in a stable called The Millennials. He also went on to work over the left arm of Che, which added a nice layer of psychology to the match. The match came to an end when not just one, but two masked men ran to the ring and attacked Che.
After the match, both masked men began to attack Che. Diego Valens came out to make a save, but he was taken out as well. The two men hit superkicks on Che and Diego, and then teased laying out Moon. Instead, they unmasked and revealed themselves to be Danny & Brendan Divine. The Millennials were together again!
I’m not going to lie, it was pretty predictable, but it worked in the end. Brendan got on the mic and talked about how he was never defeated for the MPW Championship that Diego Valens holds after he had to vacate it due to an injury. He complained about not getting a title match last week and was going to take what was his. Then he challenged Diego and Luchasaurus to a 3 vs. 2 match next week to close the show. Maybe the wording of his promo wasn’t great, but Brendan’s character really should’ve challenged for the title in my mind.
I liked this show. It wasn’t the best show I’ve been to, but there were a lot of upsides. On top of that, it wasn’t long. The show started at 7:15 pm and ended sometime before 9:00 pm. Even with the show starting 15 minutes after bell time, the pacing kept the crowd from being burnt out. People who wanted to go home early could do so, and people who wanted to be able to do something after this had time to do that too. None of the matches felt like they went too long, which really helped the show run smoothly.
One thing that people should realize about MPW is that is a small, simple independent promotion trying to groom its students to become better performers. You’re not going to get great matches full of high-end workrate, but the amount of potential this promotion has to build its own niche in SoCal is plentiful. There is a solid core of performers that the promotion can build their weekly shows around, which will be huge for the promotion in the future. Some won’t be available all the time, and this show was an example of that. Regulars like Ray Rosa, Robin Shaw, Dustin Daniels, Caleb Perez, and Max X weren’t on the show, but the promotion still had a good enough group of performers to make this a very solid show.
Bulletproof vs. Frankie Frank and Dr. Phil Goode vs. Chuck Mercer both weren’t bad, but they weren’t the high points of the show in terms of quality. The first two guys I mentioned showed lots of improvement, but their characters are stilly really corny. Dr. Phil Goode’s character legitimately has the vibe of a coke fiend on a bender, and I mean that in a good way. While I’m not too into zany characters, he plays his well. With that said, I think this dude has the type of body to pull off a style where he could hit stiff elbows, chops, lariats, suplexes, and other assorted 90s AJPW-style heavyweight offense on other people and be believable as a hard-hitting badass. If he ever decided to get away from being a comedy act, he’d do well as he’s got a look of a dude who could wreck people.
The best match of the show was the Luchasaurus vs. Diego Valens match. Both guys had really fun performances, but it also felt like they were capable of doing so much more. What they were able to do on this show was still really good. I was glad I got to see Luchasaurus before he eventually heads to AEW, as he’s a guy who has all the tools be a major star in the future.
Diego Valens has become a breakout star in SoCal this year. His performance in this match really sold me on him being capable of being a top star in SoCal. He’s a guy this scene can build around next year. The hype is real on this guy. I feel like he’s going to have a big year in 2020 if bookers in SoCal don’t fuck up with him (then again, they fuck up with everyone in SoCal who has potential).
Both matches involving the Millennials were really good. The opening tag match was a fun match with a good, basic formula. It was a good way to start the show and it got the crowd going. The main event was also a good, formulaic match that was worked pretty well. I thought it was the better of the two matches involving the members of the Millennials. While the character dynamics didn’t make sense at first, the booking did a solid job at tying together the loose ends. It was also a great way to build up to a possible Valens vs. Divine title match as well as re-establishing the Millennials as the promotion’s top heel faction.
The one thing that might stand out to people when they see the results is how there were two DQ finishes in the two top advertised matches. While I was kind of bummed there weren’t clean finishes, they served a necessary purpose. If MPW were running monthly, this probably wouldn’t go over well with fans who would have to wait an extended period of time to see a continuation to a story or any type of issue being resolved. At the same time, MPW can’t rely on DQ finishes to advance stories every week. It would kill people’s interest in attending the weekly live shows if they were getting matches without clean finishes.
There’s so much I could say about MPW’s potential. It’s going to take a lot of time, but they have the tools to create something special. Storylines are going to be the biggest thing the promotion needs to push, and I’d like to see them utilize their social media more to push angles and stories. I feel like if they did more with their social media, they’d be able to entice more local fans to attend their shows. There’s also another thing that kept coming to my mind that would make MPW stand out, but I’m not going to show all my cards in public.
What I will say is that there is something in MPW’s potential. I can’t really articulate what it is, but I feel like that even with limited resources, they could still accomplish a lot in SoCal. They’re not a PWG-level promotion, but they got a certain underdog charm that makes me want to see them succeed.
SoCal fans around the LA and SFV areas, check out an MPW show and support these guys. They’re doing wonderful things. I implore all of you reading this article to take a chance on these guys.
MPW returns next Friday in Chatsworth, CA at the Millennium Wrestling Academy, located inside Boulderdash SFV.