So a little bit of a history lesson about me, I’ve been a wrestling fan for right around 25 years but up
until 2009, I had only attended one live event. I don’t remember the exact year
but I’d say it likely fell sometime between 93-95. My fuzziest memory is
of the main event where Bret Hart took on Vader…. or Bam Bam Bigelow. Again,
it’s been 20 years, things are a bit cloudy. Anyway, for the longest time, that
was it for me it terms of experiencing wrestling in person. And to this day,
that was the only WWF/E show I’ve ever attended.
So jump forward to 2002/2003
when I took a bit of a wrestling hiatus. I still loved wrestling in a way, but
I was burned out on the modern product (there’s a long explanation which I may
cover in a future post). So yadda, yadda, yadda, 2008 rolls around and as I’m
flipping channels, I stop on Monday Night Raw. It was the summer time when Punk
was champion and Jericho and Michaels were in the middle of their amazing feud.
Within a month I found myself hooked yet again. That’s where the internet came
With my enthusiasm for
wrestling reignited, I scoured the web for the latest regarding not just the
WWE, but the smaller promotions as well. That led to me learning about Ring of
Honor, which in turn led to me learning about Brian Danielson. Known as being
arguably the greatest pro wrestler not signed to a major promotion, Danielson
was toiling away, having great matches with the likes of Nigel McGuinness and
Turning the page to 2009 and
suddenly there are rumblings that WWE has interest in signing both McGuinness
and Danielson. Well, if that was the case, I knew I had to see the man they
called “The American Dragon” in person before he left for the big
stage…. But how? Enter Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
For those who are unaware, Pro
Wrestling Guerrilla is an independent wrestling promotion that currently runs
out of a small American Legion Hall in Reseda California (Reseda is a part of
the San Fernando Valley which, in turn, is a part of Los Angeles). The venue,
when jam packed (which it almost always is these days), holds around 500-550
patrons. It’s usually hot and reeks of b.o., but that sorta comes with the
territory. The number of live events held each year is unfortunately sporadic.
For example, last year there were a combined 10 events held over 7 weekends.
This year, there have been 6 events held over 4 weekends with the next event
yet to be announced.
I should note that while PWG
was a popular destination for local wrestling fans in 2009, I wouldn’t call it
a phenomenon by any stretch. My buddy, and follow
wrestling enthusiast, Ken, joined me in attending the show. Parts of
the night are, again, a bit hazy. There were two lines (as always): one for
those who purchased tickets in advance (small) and one for those who were
buying at the door (large). Cost of admittance was cheap; $20 for GA and $25
for front row (or somewhere thereabouts). Once inside, it was find an open
folding chair and hunker down…. Or grab a pitcher of beer. Whichever.
The problem (“problem”
being a relative term) with PWG is there is so much exciting action on any one
show, it can be hard for most matches to have a lasting impression. I have two
memories of my first show that really stand out. The first is of Roderick
Strong vs “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson. For those unaware, Karl
Anderson is currently a member of Bullet Club in New Japan Pro Wrestling as
well as one half of the IWGP tag champs with Doc Gallows. But back in 2009… He
was just a dude. Bold and kinda chubby. I yelled something along the lines of
“I found Perry Saturn.” Cause, you know, wrestling jokes….
Then there was the main event:
Brian Danielson vs Chris Hero for Hero’s PWG World Championship Belt. Now if
I’m being honest, the match was good but not great. It must have gone around 40
minutes bell to bell with a ton of strikes. It ended with Danielson getting the
surprise win… And immediately vacating the title to head off to WWE. Though he
did give a nice speech where he put over the wrestlers, the fans, and PWG as a
whole. It was a great moment. The crowd was extremely grateful, none of that
“you sold out” bull****.
Anyway, that’s my story. I know
there’s a lot I didn’t cover but that’s what part 2’s are for.
Feel free to leave a comment below
about your experiences at a live wrestling event, big or small.