Jake Atlas shows respect to Ultimo Dragon after their late-add match-up. (Photo by Danny Acosta; Illustration by Charles Russo)

Words by Danny Acosta

Images by Ryan Jae and Danny Acosta

Northern California’s longest-running independent wrestling show — All Pro Wrestling (APW) — returned to the Bay Area on Friday night with #SuckerFree, a high-flying card featuring a diverse list of marquee match-ups and industry talent, including indie darling (and viral sensation) Joey Ryan, rising female phenom (19-year-old) Xia Brookside of the UK, and former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann squaring off against APW Internet World Champion JR Kratos.

APW Worldwide Internet Champion JR Kratos suplexes former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann. (Photo by Ryan Jae)

APW even made up for the cancellation of Mexico’s top tag team stars Pentagon Jr. and Fenix (of Lucha Underground and Impact Wrestling fame) with a thrilling late replacement of veteran international legend Ultimo Dragon, who scored a win with his signature La Magistral pin versus up-and-comer Jake Atlas early in the show.

Founded in Hayward in 1991 under the name Pacific Coast Sports, APW was the chiseled brainchild of the now-late promoter Roland Alexander. APW has soldiered on since Alexander’s passing, keeping up with the independent wrestling scene’s boom by putting on more than 40 shows in the past five years. This has meant bidding for top independent wrestlers whose packed worldwide schedules are commanding enough money per appearance they can potentially piece together WWE-scale earnings. In the internet age, APW straddles the line between a throwback operation (to a time before WWE’s virtual monopoly) and a modern footing that allows fans to follow action online anywhere, at any time.

APW delivered big this weekend with #SuckerFree’s main event, when Guamanian Olympic wrestler Jeff Cobb defended the APW Universal Heavyweight Championship against Samoan wrestling royalty family member Jacob Fatu. Cobb is known for feats of strength so unique observers may believe his Olympic pedigree is for powerlifting rather than amateur wrestling. Fatu may not possess the Hollywood athletic looks of his cousins—Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and current WWE Universal World Champion Roman Reigns—but the big man is no less athletic in the ring, often pulling off epic moonsault backflips from the top rope. Through the big-hitting battle that ensued, Cobb ultimately fended off Fatu in the end, although their rivalry seems poised to continue on in APW’s next installment.

The Six Fifty’s photographers caught all the explosive action….take a look…

Clockwise from top: Viral sensation and indie darling Joey Ryan walks out to Rupert Holmes’ party classic song “Escape” (the Pina Colada song); Main event APW Universal Heavyweight Championship challenger, Jacob Fatu; The Classic Connection tag team of Buddy Royal (front) and Levi Shapiro (right) with their manager, YouTube vlogger “The Influencer” Brian Zane; APW Tag Team Champions Reno Scum. (Photos by Ryan Jae and Danny Acosta)
Clockwise from top left: Karl Fredericks holds a single leg crab submission; JR Kratos lifts Rich Swann for a chokeslam powerbomb; Dave Dutra (center) on the offensive as he keeps Levi Shapiro against the turnbuckle; Jeff Cobb holds Jacob Fatu in the air for a stalled suplex; Rich Swann plays the physical underdog against true heavyweight JR Kratos. (Photos by Ryan Jae and Danny Acosta)
APW Worldwide Internet Champion JR Kratos. (Photo by Danny Acosta)
Clockwise from top left: Shotzi Blackheart; Adam Thornstowe, one half of tag champs Reno Scum, lets the adrenaline flow after brawling into the crowd; Karl Fredericks loses a “loser leaves APW” stipulation match; The UK’s 19-year-old female emerging star, Xia Brookside. (Photos by Ryan Jae and Danny Acosta)
Clockwise from top: Ultimo Dragon (right) displays his vast submission knowledge against Jake Atlas; JR Kratos deadlifts Rich Swann up by his throat; Karl Fredericks vaults past his opponent; Jeff Cobb stands over a hurting Jacob Fatu. (Photos by Danny Acosta)

APW returns to Daly City Friday September 21 for #Ballin at the Delue Boys & Girls Club.

APW’s #SuckerFree was also a tribute show which raised funds for the family of recently deceased former APW Internet Champion Virgil Flynn, who tragically suffered a stroke at 33-years-old. You can donate here.

For more information on upcoming event, find APW on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/apwbootcamp

Stay up to date with other coverage from The Six Fifty by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, featuring event listings, reviews and articles showcasing the best that the Peninsula has to offer. Sign up here!

More photo galleries from The Six Fifty:

Cowboys and Crow Hoppers: Scenes from the 2017 Grand National Rodeo

Feral Photography: amazing animal imagery from Silicon Valley trail cams

Punk rock Peninsula: photos from the final run of the Vans Warped Tour

Stanford vs. Cal: A visual history of the Big Game

Danny Acosta Profile Photo

Danny Acosta

100% Mexellence. Filmmaker. Writer. Photographer. www.dannyacosta.net

You May Also Like

Get secret messages from the sea in one of seven installations at the Code:ART digital art festival

Bookworm’s bounty: An editor ponders her favorite local bookshops

11 ways to get outdoors this fall

Cinequest independent film festival debuts in Mountain View