East Palo Alto native Powerhouse Hobbs and crew drew a crowd to Daly City’s iconic venue. Photographer Devin Roberts was there to capture frenzied fans, luchador-style moves and the gimmicks.
I grew up watching professional wrestling. As a child, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Sargent Slaughter and other larger-than-life characters of the WWE (formerly WWF) flexed on our television Saturday mornings. As a teenager, I still followed the WWE into the “Attitude Era,” which featured more adult-oriented and nuanced superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and D-Generation X. I fondly remember sitting in my dorm room freshman year of college, drinking Natural Lights while watching the violent soap opera unfold on Monday Night Raw. Eventually, I stopped watching. It wasn’t a deliberate decision, but pro wrestling fell off my radar for many years.
It stayed that way until 2019 coinciding with the creation of All Elite Wrestling (AEW). AEW was founded by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan and his son Tony, the AEW president, chief executive and general manager. It is now considered the second-largest pro wrestling promotion next to WWE.
In just a few short years, AEW has cultivated a diehard fan base. Undoubtedly, many of these fans were looking for an alternative to WWE and enjoyed the pure wrestling and fan-pleasing storytelling of AEW. I stumbled across AEW during its early inception and was drawn to it for the very same reasons. And although I frequently enjoy watching AEW’s flagship show “Dynamite” on Wednesday nights, I consider myself a very casual fan. Seeing “Dynamite” in person, however, is an eye-opening experience: The athleticism and the hardcore fans really brought the story to palpable life.
The incredible roster of talent positions AEW as a contender for king of the pro wrestling ring. The lineup includes former WWE headliners, indie circuit legends and exciting up-and-comers. The action was varied and exhilarating: a mix of violent brawls, high-flying luchador-style moves and some matches that were pure comedy.
In pro wrestling, a “pop” refers to the reaction of the crowd, and the biggest pop of the night was unquestionably reserved for East Palo Alto’s own Powerhouse Hobbs (William Hobson). Hobbs played football at Sequoia High School in Redwood City and credits his love of professional wrestling to his grandparents. They regularly watched as a family and attended shows at the Cow Palace in Daly City, where All Elite Wrestling held its “Dynamite” and “Rampage” shows March 1 and 3.
It seems fitting that Hobbs would have one of the biggest wins of his young career at the Cow Palace. The Cow Palace was built in 1941 and has played host to many wrestling shows over the decades. Unfortunately, the WWE hasn’t visited the Palace since 2010 due to reportedly low ticket sales. But with AEW’s debut at the Cow Palace last week, wrestling will hopefully be returning to the Peninsula for years to come.