Posted on

Lights … Camera … Pandemonium!

Masha Slamovich vs. Johnny Hollywood (John Morrison/Hennigan) at Pandemonium Pro Wrestling

Pandemonium Pro Wrestling’s Exciting Evolution


“IT’S PANDEMONIUM!” THESE were the iconic words often uttered by the late, great Gorilla Monsoon when things on WWF television kicked up a notch. And while Gorilla, sadly, isn’t with us any longer, “Pandemonium” can still be found in the wrestling business. In particular, we see it on the West Coast, where a new promotion has adopted the moniker as a catch-all description for the action it offers.

Pandemonium Pro Wrestling is a Los Angeles-based wrestling promotion that debuted in 2021. In recent months, it has gotten increasingly serious about offering a product that captures the cinematic elements of Hollywood blockbuster films and merges them with professional wrestling. If you think of Lucha Underground and Wrestling Society X, then you are on the right track.

An earlier episode of Pandemonium TV. While still showcasing the stars of the L.A. independent scene, Pandemonium Pro Wrestling has since become more ambitious on the production side of things, taking inspiration from some interesting places.

The growing company features competitors from all over the world, from West Coast sensations like Kidd Bandit and the promotion’s current Gen Z champion, Wicked Wickett, to notable talent from major companies such as AEW’s Fuego Del Sol, IMPACT Wrestling’s Alan Angels, NJPW’s Yuya Uemura, and even former WWE Intercontinental champion John Hennigan (performing here as “Johnny Hollywood.”

The mission and vision, as laid out by the promotion itself, is for Pandemonium Pro Wrestling to showcase the talent of Los Angeles and the surrounding counties and place them into an environment with the cinematic feel of a Marvel film.

“Professional wrestling is one of the highest forms of performance art in the world,” noted PPW director/editor/wrestler, Kidd Bandit. “We wanted a company that departs from the sports-based presentation of pro wrestling and focuses on its parallels with a stage-play spectacle.”

This more theatrical approach can even be seen in the job titles given to the key people behind PPW. In addition to Bandit, the company lists Asan Washington as its CEO and Executive Producer and camera operator Hoby Lasko as its Cinematographer.

“We put a lot of emphasis on the larger-than-life personalities, the cinematography of the action, and the narrative of the stories,” said Bandit. And it’s this focus on production and visual elements that may help the promotion stand apart from the pack on a crowded indie scene.

Holiday in Hollywood marked the IWTV debut of PPW, and it was featured as our “Spotlight Card” in the January 30 edition of the PWI Weekly. The event, filmed on December 4, 2022, at the Jaxx Theatre in the heart of Hollywood, was a blend of everything that makes Pandemonium Pro Wrestling one of the hottest tickets in Tinseltown. From the high-impact fast-paced action of the opening lucha bout between Serpentico and Wicked Wickett to the impressive showcase of NJPW’s Young Lions, The DKC and Yuya Uemura, Holiday in Hollywood had a little something for most wrestling tastes.

The main event of that show was The Hollywood Classic: a hyper-competitive ten-person gauntlet match for the “Ticket To Hollywood” contract. Ishmael Vaughn won the contest, earning a future shot at either the dotTV championship or the Gen Z championship at any time.

With a broadcast deal that sees the product showcased on IWTV, Pandemonium Pro Wrestling is rolling ahead toward another big show on March 29.

“Our next event is called ‘dotTV Vol. 4: Best Damn Thing,'” revealed Kidd Bandit. “It will be headlined by the Rumble Riot Match for the Pandemonium Pro championship, as well as a dotTV title bout between Johnny Hollywood and Masha Slamovich. And the whole thing will be available for viewing on IWTV VOD.”

To paraphrase Horace Greeley, if you are looking for something a little different in the wrestling sphere right now, go West, young person! Because, in Hollywood, it’s Pandemonium out there.

Posted on

CFF22 Special Interview with Go Shiozaki

CyberFight Festival '22 Official Poster

CFF22 Special Interview with Go Shiozaki

Ahead of CyberFight Festival 2022, several wrestlers from the CyberFight promotions are inviting everyone reading PWI to watch this special showcase event! After an outstanding run throughout 2020 and into early-2021 as GHC champion, Go Shiozaki would miss the inaugural CyberFight Festival as he required surgery. On November 28, 2021, he announced his return after the dual GHC heavyweight and GHC National championship match, which KONGO’s Katsuhiko Nakajima and KENOH wrestled to a sixty-minute time limit draw.

In the main event of CyberFight Festival 2022, Shiozaki will defend NOAH’s GHC heavyweight title against New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Satoshi Kojima. Shiozaki and Kojima will square off in a battle of chops and lariats, as GHC champion Shiozaki tries to smash the breaks on Kojima’s aspirations to complete the triumvirate of top Japanese titles (IWGP, AJPW Triple Crown, and GHC heavyweight titles). With an exceptionally tight schedule, Mr. Shiozaki kindly provided a short interview about his upcoming match against Kojima and his responsibilities as he leads the charge for NOAH at CyberFight Festival 2022.

Karen Peterson: Unfortunately, due to injury, last year you were unable to participate in CyberFight Festival. What does it mean to main event such a large company showcase as GHC champion?

Go Shiozaki: I am honored to participate in this year’s CyberFight Festival as GHC heavyweight champion and honored to be in the main event as champion. I feel great, and I feel responsible at the same time. I am absolutely the 38th GHC heavyweight champion, and I believe this is a great opportunity for me to show that “I AM NOAH” to the world.

Peterson: What has been your biggest challenge since returning to NOAH at the Nippon Budokan on January 1 at NOAH’s The New Year 2022?

Shiozaki: Until I won this GHC heavyweight championship back, I had numerous challenges since I returned on January 1. But I can tell you that I never thought of giving up. I believed in myself and kept looking forward to recapturing this championship, and I did that on April 30.

Peterson: In the lead-up to this match, you’ve faced New Japan’s Satoshi Kojima in multiple tag matches, something which has really brought NJPW fans’ attention to NOAH. Did you ever expect to defend against someone like Kojima, who is looking to close to the loop on Japan’s “Big Three” championships, having previously held NJPW’s IWGP heavyweight championship and AJPW’s Triple Crown championship?

Shiozaki: While I am with Pro Wrestling NOAH, I didn’t expect to defend this title against New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Satoshi Kojima. But, when he appeared as “X” [surprise participant] at our Ryogoku event, I understood that a wrestler like Kojima—who has experience of being a champion—would pay attention to the GHC heavyweight championship, as this is a prestigious and valuable championship. He has held [both the] IWGP heavyweight championship and Triple Crown championship, however, I have no intention of giving him an opportunity to have this GHC heavyweight championship.

Peterson: What are your goals as GHC champion in 2022? Do you have any interest in defending the GHC championship abroad?

Shiozaki: “My goal is to put more value on this GHC heavyweight championship as the champion. I need to focus on the immediate goal, which is defending this championship against the upcoming challenger, Satoshi Kojima. And, of course, I have an interest in defending this championship around the world in the future, to make it more valuable.

Peterson: With CyberFight Festival being the biggest event of the year, and it being broadcast around the world, do you have a special message for the international fans?

Shiozaki: I hope more people know about NOAH, its competition, and the competition over the GHC heavyweight championship. I understand it is still difficult for our international fans to come to Japan and watch our live event. However, I hope all of you join our event through WRESTLE UNIVERSE and watch what is going on right now. Pro Wrestling NOAH and I will keep moving forward.

Bonus Round!

Peterson: Lately, you’ve posted lots of K-pop-related content on social media! What are your top three favorite BTS songs? Do you like any other K-pop bands?

Shiozaki: My top three favorites BTS songs are “Permission to Dance,” “NO MORE DREAM,” and “Outro: WINGS.” So far, my favorite K-pop band is just BTS.

Time to add these Mr. I AM NOAH x BTS track recommendations to your Arm Day Workout Playlists, Everyone!! – K.P.

A full event CyberFight Festival 2022 report will be available at POST Wrestling after the show concludes, and a feature in the November 2022 Issue of PWI will be available in August.

Posted on

FROM THE VAULT: Baba and Vince Open the Forbidden Door

Giant Baba, Vince McMahon, and Seiki Sakaguchi pose together for a photo

FROM THE VAULT: Baba and Vince Open the Forbidden Door (updated 11/19/21)

VINCE MCMAHON. GIANT Baba. Together in the same ring. The 2,350 FANS in attendance at Korakuen Hall on January 28, 1990, were in for a big surprise. As recently as the early-1980s, McMahon’s WWF had enjoyed a solid relationship with All Japan’s biggest competitor, New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Suffice to say, no one was expecting Vince McMahon and Giant Baba to show up on the final day of AJPW’s New Year Giant series.

But that’s exactly what happened. On a show that saw All Japan Pro Wrestling founder Giant Baba defeat American journeyman Rip Rogers in a singles bout—along with the swan song of The British Bulldogs—no less than Vincent Kennedy McMahon made his way to the ring to address the crowd.

Vince McMahon waves to the crowd at Korakuen Hall, January 1990
Vince McMahon waves to the crowd at Korakuen Hall as Giant Baba looks on.

The above photo, along with the forthcoming photos in this entry, was sent to the Pro Wrestling Illustrated offices by a Japanese freelance photographer who asked us not to name them. This person specifically cited the fact that McMahon appeared in the photographs as the reason for their anonymity. Regardless, the veteran photographer seemed excited to share the photos in question.

As one might guess, Vince wasn’t simply in town as a tourist, opting to take in a show at one of Japan’s most historic combat sports venues. He was there on business. McMahon took the microphone and announced to the crowd that the WWF would be teaming up with not just AJPW, but NJPW, as well. The three promotions would come together to present the WWF/AJPW/NJPW Wrestling Summit.

Giant Baba, Vince McMahon, and Seiki Sakaguchi pose together for a photo
From left to right: AJPW President Giant Baba, WWF President Vince McMahon, and NJPW President Seiji Sakaguchi pose together for a photo.

The event, which emanated from the Tokyo Dome on April 13, 1990, was attended by more than 53,000 people. Despite not being released officially in the U.S., it was voted Best Major Wrestling Show in that year’s Wrestling Observer Awards. With an undercard that included a bout between Bret Hart and Tiger Mask, the show featured Andre The Giant and Giant Baba teaming up to take on Demolition, and the main event pitting Hulk Hogan against Stan Hansen.

Vince McMahon shakes Giant Baba's hand
Backstage at Korakuen Hall, Vince McMahon shakes the hand of Giant Baba.

In 2021, promotions are increasingly working together for the greater good. From the contemporary IWGP Conception, which saw NJPW copromote with Ring of Honor and CMLL, to the current, extensive interplay between AEW, IMPACT, the NWA, and other companies, cooperation is arguably one of the most exciting things about today’s wrestling landscape. Given WWE’s history of partnering with promotions overseas—and, later, giving visibility to upstarts like ECW and EVOLVE—is it really so hard to imagine the industry leader doing so once again?