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 - Kurt Brown

I attended an indie show recently here in Southern California. It was packed with guys loaded with keen high spots and awesome stamina, but two matches in particular caught my eye: Spanky vs. Adam Pearce and the team of Los Cubanitos vs. The Lost Boys. These guys caught my eye not because their high spots and stamina rocked, but because they incorporated some effective old school workrate that too many folks see as out of mode. Spanky sold Pearce’s moves in a beautifully over-the-top heel fashion reminiscent of Chris Colt, and Los Cubanitos had the double team moves down to an art ala Black Gordman & Goliath or Los Andersons. And yes, the fans popped for it; not the old-school mark pop we remember fondly, but a pop that said that these guys knew how to pace the match to tell a story. While the other bouts got good pops and had some phenomenal high spots, many had almost identical stories: lots of near falls for hot moves near the end, each wrestler kicking out after each 2 ¾ count. This makes for a good match, but when too many matches use the same line, it becomes ho-hum.  

Being somebody who grew up on old-school region based wrestling, you probably sense a rant coming about “the old days.” Far from it. I find myself thinking just how much the indie scene has changed since I first broke in back in the early 1980s. For the most part, the face of wrestling in Southern California today has so much more to offer than when I tried to get booked on local shows.

The number one missing link for somebody who wanted to break into pro wrestling in this region back then was the basic resources themselves: a gym with a ring, a teacher, and a good dose of shows to get booked on.  I had some training by my friend Tom Hankins and the late Dr. Jerry Graham. Despite Doc being down and out for a number of years, he remembered ringwork like he never left the biz in the first place. The bitch was finding a gym with a ring, and we usually had to settle for gyms that had a boxing ring. Taking bumps in a boxing ring wasn’t pretty, and neither were the front facelocks and wristlocks Doc would stretch me with. Nothing like the Hiro Matsuda introductions I heard so much about, but these still left me screaming like a banshee!

One of the main reasons there were so few wrestling schools and local independent wrestling promotions back then was the California State Athletic Commission.  More...

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