Dec 5, 2018 | Art and Culture, Carl Kozlowski, Cover Story, Port Hueneme |
Vince McMahon and his World Wrestling Entertainment empire may be the most legendary pro wrestling operation in America, having created iconic stars such as The Rock and Hulk Hogan over the past several decades. But Ventura County has been home to another thriving operation for the last 20 years, as Championship Wrestling from Hollywood (CWFH) has been presenting live monthly showdowns that are syndicated to 120 TV stations nationwide.
They’re bringing another action-packed year to a close this Sunday, when the annual Milestone event closes out the season with a stacked card of matches at the Oceanview Pavilion in Port Hueneme. The bill features numerous brawls between colorfully competitive archrivals with wild backstories, yet a Wild Card Battle Royal will also be offered to the first 10 men who sign up —
with the winning wrestler earning a spot competing for the CWFH championship in the spring’s Percy Pringle III Memorial Cup Tournament.
“I’ve been in wrestling for 29 years, and worked for everybody who’s out there in pro wrestling,” says CWFH owner David Marquez. “There’s not too many wrestling promoters who produce their own show, let alone nationally. What sets us apart from others is we take a more traditional approach to producing pro wrestling for television: Don’t over-sensationalize or do shock television.”
“We try to make each match mean something, whether it’s the championship or a cash prize these guys are competing for,” adds Marquez. “The WWE is 1,000 percent entertainment and have a completely different demographic, audience and mission. We’re more back to the sport’s roots.”
Marquez’s main partner in CWFH is veteran wrestler Peter Avalon, who is one of the league’s top stars and was the longest-reigning Hollywood Heritage Champion at 672 days. Avalon will be prominently featured at Sunday’s event, since he is facing off against his prime rival, Tim Storm, the former world heavyweight champion of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) who presently wrestles nationwide for Marquez.
“At Milestone, we’ll have stories culminating, stars aligning and big time main event matches and championships on the line,” says Avalon. “It’s all in the creative process. We look at pluses and minuses and find who might excel in a situation or allow the other person to excel. The characters are based in the individuals’ true personalities, just turned up.”
Sunday’s matches will feature the league’s women’s division championship between Heather Monroe and Ayoka Muharah, and fresh talent from the New Japan Pro-Wrestling league’s recently established Los Angeles dojo will square off against CWFH’s “young lions.” Avalon himself will face off against Storm after losing a “humiliating” Kiss My Foot Match to wrestler “The Perfect Storm” at NWA’s 70th Anniversary event last summer.
Marquez notes that it’s common for many WWE stars to develop their character and style in smaller leagues like the CWFH, estimating that 40 percent of the stars in McMahon’s behemoth enterprise started in smaller West Coast promotions he dealt with. Marquez recalls watching John Cena in Santa Ana alongside the likes of Karl Anderson, Nakamura, Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe. And many former WWE stars have passed through his matches as special guests, including the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper and Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
One might wonder how a league that brands itself as being from Hollywood wound up staging its matches in Port Hueneme. Avalon notes that the CWFH originally shot from a facility on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood before Oceanview Pavilion sought them out with “an offer we couldn’t refuse,” making the move five years ago.
“We create 52 hours a year of TV wrestling, and that’s something to be proud of,” notes Marquez. “What gets this for me is that after close to 30 years of doing this, I’m allowed to create and nurture young talent and get them to the next step of international wrestling or the WWE.”
“Not too many people understand pro wrestling and television operations and we have that,” he adds. “To put all these talents into a big bowl and come out on television each week is really the magic, giving a very loyal fan base some quality to watch. There are not too many things that are Americana, and pro wrestling is definitely one of them.”
Championship Wrestling from Hollywood presents Milestone on Sunday, Dec. 9, 3-6 p.m. at Oceanview Pavilion, 575 E. Surfside Drive, Port Hueneme. Admission is free, but seats are first-come, first-served. For more information, visit @CWFHollywood or www.hollywoodwrestling.com.