Before there was PWG, there was Rev Pro and the Rudos Dojo. This is the story of the beginning…
THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN RUDO CAN’T FAIL ISSUE 5
By Jay Cal of SoCalUncensored.com
Super Dragon, clap clap clap clap, Super Dragon, clap clap clap clap, Super Drag-on…
It wasn’t unusual for a crowd to erupt with chants like that, regardless if it was at the Indoor Swapmeet in Norwalk or Anaheim or the World Famous Frank & Sons’. Revolution Pro was known for having the best, most intense, wrestling action in Southern California and for a brief time the entire country. Rev Pro was so beyond it’s time that it’s impact on the state of wrestling is still being felt today. Rev Pro might be known as where the place Super Dragon became one of the “internet darlings,” or the place where a blend of styles in Mexican lucha libre, Japanese puroresu, and traditional “American” pro wrestling meshed to create a truly unique wrestling experience in Southern California. Long before there was ever a term “hybrid wrestling,” that hybrid was formed and performed in the rings of Rev Pro. Not only did the talents emulate the high impact offense often associated with lucha libre and puroresu, the wrestlers themselves would often embrace the heritage of the sports by donning masks much like their predecessors and contemporaries. The Rudos Dojo would later lead to the formation of Revolution Pro the wrestling promotion and Rev Pro, as one will read here and throughout this issue, went on to have impact still felt to this day.
Long before being the driving force of Revolution Pro, Ron Rivera was already shaping the future of Southern California wrestling. The 1990s were a strange time for wrestling in SoCal. This was before the advent of the internet and outside of a few newsletters, there were not a lot of people writing about wrestling, let alone the SoCal scene. But, as far back as 1994 American Wild Child, Hell Blazer, and Blitzkrieg were working together and turning heads. All three would be a part of the one event they promoted called Southern California Wrestling: When Cities Collide. The event took place the day after the famed AAA/WCW pay-per-view “When World’s Collide” and thus the clever related title. For an independent event, this was a big one as it would feature Chris Benoit, 2 Cold Scorpio, and Al Snow. Later Ron would bring in Super Dragon (who was working for WPW) and Yakuza.
Ron had become friends with, and essentially the right hand/young boy for Konnan, who was not only immensely popular at the time, but booking events in Tijuana and throughout the Baja California area. This lead to Mexico bookings for Ron and in turn bookings for others in his crew. This was a big deal, because now instead of working in front of 50-100 people, they were working in front of thousands. This time would help with the maturation period of one of the biggest stars of Southern California wrestling Super Dragon. In a 2001 interview with SOCALUncensored.com Dragon said “I don’t even think I’d had ten matches at that point. Then I’m on a show working in front of 1000’s of people.” All of this led to the dark match on WCW’s Thunder in July of 1998 that resulted in Blitzkrieg being signed by WCW. It was evident that Ron had established the right connections in Mexico and was able to capitalize by the success of Blitzkrieg and eventually officially open the Rudos Dojo and later Revolution Pro as an opportunity for the trainers and students to work live events.
At the Rudos Dojo, Ron, Super Dragon, Matt Sinister, and Disco Machine would take turns teaching classes. These students would make up nearly half the roster for Revolution Pro shows, with the other half of the roster would be made up of the training staff. The first known class of Rudos Dojos was Buddy George, the Late Rising Son, Shogun, and later Cyberspace and Top Gun Talwar. Rising Son told Steve Bryant of SoCalUNCENSORED in 2002 that “[Ron Rivera is] a person whom I owe so very much to…”
Shortly after that group, the likes of Los Luchas (Phoenix Star & Zokre), TopGun Talwar, Scorpio Sky, Quicksilver, Chris Bosh, Charles Mercury, and Ronin would form the second class of Rudos Dojo trainees. Scorpio Sky remembers how Ron helped him, “he gave me everything. When I had no money, I was just out of high school, I was in college, I was broke, and I wanted to train so bad. He told me, ‘Look, if you can’t pay me, that’s fine. Just show up, set up chairs, set up the ring, tear down, and I’ll train you.’ And he basically trained me for free, because I was supposed to be doing that anyway. I didn’t know that until later. He gave me everything and I owe him so much. I’ll always have a place in my heart, and I hope he’s very happy with whatever he’s doing now.”
The third dojo class of students would include a very young tag team who would go on become arguably the most popular tag team in the world today, the Young Bucks.
Early on, Rev Pro had to battle uninformed opinions. Those within the industry would give the group a bad reputation, saying that the matches were all choreographed and that all of the wrestlers come directly from the school, so they could plan their matches for weeks. However, those beliefs shifted once Super Dragon and company would begin to spill over into other promotions including Northern California’s All Pro Wrestling, a hotbed of independent talent at the time. By the time the first Revolution J was over, a Best of Super Juniors featuring talent from across the country, the criticism was silenced. One only needs to read the Rev Pro press release from the fourth Rev J a few years later to see all of the incredible talent that would participate in these tournaments.
REVOLUTION PRO PRESS RELEASE ANNOUNCING THE 4TH & FINAL REV J TOURNAMENT
Revolution Pro is proud to present the 4th and final installment of the Revolution J series… Pinnacle. The Rev J has been the stable tournament of Rev Pro for the past 4 years, which showcases 16 of the top junior heavy-weights across the nation. This year’s version will feature 8 of the top North-ern California talent and 8 of the top Southern California talent, along with a special attraction steel cage match for the Rev Pro Tag Team titles.
From a Revolution Pro Press Release: The past three J’s has provided some of the best action and excitement in the 5-year history of Rev Pro. On Sep-tember 28th, 2001, the very 1st ever Rev J tournament, “Destiny”, happened from the Anaheim Marketplace in Anaheim, where Super Dragon won the inaugural tournament over B-Boy in the finals to not only become the first ever Rev J winner, but to become the very first Junior heavyweight champion. The tournament included such talent as Nosawa & Tomokazu Morita (Japan), Ricky Reyes, Pinoy Boy & Spanky (SoCal), and such Rev Pro names such as Disco Machine, Excalibur, Shogun, Rising Son, AWC, TARO, and Mr. Excite-ment.
The second installment, “Alive”, happened exactly one year later on Septem-ber 28th, 2002 from the home base of Frank & Sons in the City of Industry, where Mr. Excitement won it over the reigning J Champion Super Dragon in the finals in a thrilling final match. The tournament included talent such as Acero Dorado & Xtasis (Mexico), Mike Quackenbush (Chikara), Joey Ryan, Scott Lost, B-Boy & Lil Cholo, and Rev Pro names like TARO, Rising Son, El Gallinero Tres, Excalibur, Street Styles, Disco Machine, Topgun Talwar, and Rising Son.
The third installment, “Freedom”, took place on September 20th, 2003 again at Frank & Sons in the City of Industry, where Rising Son shocked everyone and got into the tournament via a loophole and defeated Super Dragon in the finals. The tournament also included talent like Chilango & Principe Unlim-ited (Mexico), Vito & Sal Thomaselli (NorCal), The Ballards (SoCal), and Rev Pro talent such as Scorpio Sky, Quicksilver, Chris Bosh, Joey Ryan, Phoenix Star, Zokre, Mr. Excitement, and Angel.
To celebrate the fourth and final Rev J, and to honor the past three years, we will be naming the rounds after the respected four Rev J sub-titles. The first round will be called “Destiny – First Round”, the quarterfinals named “Alive- Quarterfinals”, the semi-finals named “Freedom – Semifinals”, and the final round simple called “Pinnacle – Finals”.
In the final Revolution J, Scorpio Sky (who trained from day one of his career at the Rudos Dojo and had donned the “Gallenero” or “Crazy Chicken” gimmick that many rookies would wear in Rev Pro while preparing to later debut in their own gimmicks) would defeat Scott Lost and Jason Styles in early rounds and the final four-way with Joey Harder, Quicksilver and the franchise Super Dragon, to win the 2004 Rev J Tournament. The Revolution J Pinnacle would also mark the announcement of the end of Revolution Pro and the in-ring retirement for Ron Rivera. But, the influence of Rev Pro was not about to end. In fact, no one had any idea how big it was going to become. In early 2003, four of the Rudos Dojo’s top talents, Super Dragon, Excalibur, Disco Machine and TopGun Talwar had joined with fellow Rev Pro stars Joey Ryan and Scott Lost to form a new promotion called Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Originally conceived to be a one night tournament, any fan following independent wrestling 13 years later knows that PWG became much more than that, it’s roots firmly planted in what was started in a warehouse in Orange County years earlier.
Ron Rivera’s presence & influence is still being felt today. Many of the talents Ron trained are still wrestling around the globe – most famously the Young Bucks, former NWA World Tag Team Champions Los Luchas (who keep a healthy alter ego as a main attraction on Lucha VaVOOM shows), Scorpio Sky (same goes for him), and all the trickle down influence that all of the people that have been trained by Charles Mercury, Los Luchas, Sky, and so on. And there is a small yet beloved little building in Reseda, California where hundreds of fans sell out the building event after event to watch the epitome of modern “hybrid wrestling” PWG. The “American Wildchild” may not wrestle there, he may not wrestle anywhere these days, retired from the business and enjoying a successful career away from the ring, but his influence is there, whether anyone in the crowd realizes it or not.
NEXT WEEK WE WILL POST PART 2 OF PWG: LOOKING BACK BEFORE MOVING FORWARD