Professional wrestling is a niche culture. Its fans exist in a world very much separated from other forms of sport or entertainment. Yet even within wrestling exists sub-cultures, and one of its most impassioned is that of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
PWG hosted its annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament over Labor Day weekend, an event which drew wrestling fans from all over the globe.
New fans and veterans alike made it out to Reseda, California, whether for one night or all weekend long, to the infamous American Legion Post No. 308 where PWG holds its shows in front of 400 lucky fans.
“These aren’t just normal fans. These are the most loyal and passionate fans that exist within the world of pro wrestling,” Mark Andrews of PWG, PROGRESS, and TNA wrote in Sports Illustrated.
Not only there to watch wrestling, fans come to experience a community and family at PWG.
WHAT IS PWG?
Kevin Kittridge (PWG first-timer): From what I can tell, it seems to me that PWG is like the ECW of old. Kind of what NXT is right now. I think it’s going to be very similar to the Florida NXT crowd. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling it’s a really community of people who appreciate, not necessarily a storyline, but more of the actual athletics that’s happening in front of us.
Jackson West (PWG first-timer): It seems like an all-star of the independent scene, at least. I went to some wrestling shows out there in Atlanta, but it was clear that everyone was kind of looking at PWG as the model, as what you would want it to be. So it’s one of those — like how ECW started. It seems like everyone’s looking at PWG, and maybe like RevPro and stuff like that in England, as the best shows you’d want to go to. So you want to go to the original.
David Fallas (PWG mainstay since 2008): I would say I’m a life-long wrestling fan. [PWG is] everything I want wrestling to be, in the sense that — there’s no real storylines here. There are some here and there, but for the most part it just focuses on wrestling and it puts storylines and characters to the side and it almost honors the heart of wrestling. And that means a lot to me. It’s one of those things where — PWG has always been about wrestling and I think it will always be about wrestling.
The American Legion Post No. 308
Fallas: First off, the Legion is hot as hell. Like it’s just the hottest venue of Earth.
It’s a place in the middle of nowhere. It’s just one of those things. They got lightning in a bottle, and this is what it is now. I drive by the Legion Post for work all the time. I’ll tell people I’m working with who don’t know anything about Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, “Dude, like once a month, this place — this is like church.” It’s insane.
Owen Reynoldson (Recent PWG regular): The building just kind of feels magical. I’ll never forget the first time I went in there, it was like I was walking into the mecca of wrestling. It was awesome.
I see a lot of people saying, “Ah, they need a new building so more people can see,” but I’m not one of those people. I think this community — a big part of it is this building. I don’t know, it would be interesting to see how it would change if they moved. But I would like to think it will stay like this forever.
It feels like you’re at your home away from home here. And as a longtime fan, it’s like, “Wow, this is the place where all my favorite moments have happened.” This is the place where Super Dragon came back to help Kevin Steen out. This is kind of like if a New Japan fan was to walk into the Korakuen Hall or the Tokyo Dome. I imagine that’s what it would kind of feel like, where so many great moments happened. It’s kind of like you feel at home, your wrestling home.
Fallas: The fact that they’ve always been kind of like an organization against the man… For instance, they don’t want to do iPPVs, they don’t want to move out of this small, s—-y venue — but it’s our s—-y venue and it’s awesome. There’s never going to be another Legion Post, and it will always be here. That’s why they’ll never leave here, because it’s part of everything. You see it on the DVDs and you’re like, “Oh, OK,” but once you’re here you actually see and you feel everything and you’re like, “I get it.”
The Fans of PWG
Reynoldson: Everybody that comes to PWG just wants to watch good wrestling. Everybody wants to have a good time. And everybody’s so respectful. You’ll see in different crowds if somebody messes up, they’ll chant, “You F’ed up” or something, but at PWG shows it is all support. You don’t see that elsewhere. The crowd is hot for everything.
Jovani Vasquez (Longtime PWG fan): I’ve been to every federation. ECW, WCW, ROH shows, WWE of course, big shows and small shows. I feel what you get here, from what it comes off as, kind of like everyone else is saying, there’s a community, there is an intelligence here, there is people that have the strongest desire for what these guys do in the ring.
The Wrestlers of PWG
Reynoldson: Every time a wrestler steps into PWG, you can tell they’re giving it their best shot. Guys like The Young Bucks, for example, they always put on their best show at PWG. They never hold back. And I don’t want to criticize — they’re my favorite wrestlers and I’m not trying to criticize them — but they don’t do the stuff for New Japan that they do in PWG.
Vasquez: I think that the wrestlers are really in-tune to the fans and they know what kind of crowd they’re getting here. So I think, for lack of better words, I think you get their best effort every single time when they’re here. Not saying that they don’t — somewhere else. I’m not saying that at all. But I think you really step it up when you’re here, because not only of the aura of being in here and experiencing all this, but — if you’re over with these fans, that’s a good thing, that’s huge. That’s very huge.
The PWG Family
Reynoldson: Everybody is so welcoming. When I go to wrestling shows — I don’t know anybody that likes wrestling, so I always go by myself. If I go to a WWE show, nobody is talking to you. Everyone is kind of doing their own thing. But here, everybody is so friendly and welcoming, and nobody looks down on you for not knowing what’s going on. They want to help you out. They want you to learn about the promotion.
Vasquez: It’s a community. It’s a family. And I want to experience that. I want to know that. And you don’t get that at bigger shows. Absolutely not. It’s way different, 400 people compared to 4,000 even, or 20,000. It’s way different.
I’m seeing it now already. People hugging and kissing and stuff already, you know, it’s like a family almost, it seems like. But I think an inviting family from what I’ve understood. Because the person who helped me get tickets is a regular, and if he didn’t want outsiders, or he didn’t want people in, he didn’t have to offer to get me tickets, but he told me, “I see that you’re a lifelong fan and I want you to be able to experience this. Every true fan should experience this.” Everyone that I’ve talked to echoed the same thing. They say the exact same thing. It’s not a country club that we don’t want to let you in, it’s a country club that we want you to get a taste of. It’s kind of crazy.
Fallas: You just saw right now. Someone just came by and offered us water if we were thirsty. I don’t know that guy, you don’t know that guy; he just asked if we were thirsty and was going to give us bottles of water. I brought in a bag full of water and I was handing it out to everybody. And that’s how it is. Everybody’s here. We all want to take care of each other. That’s why there’s never any fights here. There’s never any problems with fans and wrestlers; none of that. It’s all about enjoying the product and being like a close-knit family. We all pride ourselves on that, and that’s really cool.
Author’s note: PWG regular Patrick Moss comes up and offers us some of a large cupcake he received as a late-birthday wish. He also offers to hang out and chat, until he realizes I’m hosting another interview, apologizing and heading to another part of the line of fans
Fallas: That’s a perfect example, he just offered us some of his cupcake. And somebody here that he probably doesn’t know too well offered him a cupcake because they knew it was his birthday because they follow him on Twitter. That’s what’s cool about this place. That’s what makes us really close.
Patrick Moss (PWG regular): I love it. I love everybody here. Everyone’s cool to each other. I’ve never gotten into an argument with anybody here. We’re like brothers and sisters here.
It’s not just the wrestling, it’s the people. The people here, we’re like family. It’s always fun to see everybody and just have a good time.
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
Reynoldson: I’m really proud to be a fan of it. It’s the only thing in the world I would passionately follow, maybe to a fault where I spend a little too much money on it. But it’s the only thing that, I feel, really is worth it, so I go all-out in following it.
I think it’s just flat-out the best wrestling in the world, and that’s what I try to tell people. Whether they believe me or not, that’s their problem, but I know it is.
I’ll go a step further — the best place in the world. When I’m here, there’s no place that compares to it. If you’re a wrestling fan, you have to come here at least once to see a show. There’s nothing like it.
Vasquez: I think you’re getting the best wrestling in the world here. And it’s crazy to think this little building right here, they have the top talent in the world.
I’m a kid in a candy shop, and to be saying that at 33 years old, married with kids — that’s what you live life for. I’ve traveled, I’ve had kids, I’ve done it all. I’ve done a lot of good things in my life. I’m very blessed. I work hard. But watching these guys for four hours — this is it for me.