Pro Wrestling In A Comic Book Store Is The Ultimate Los Angeles Experience

Championship Wrestling From Hollywood — which was previously known as NWA Hollywood — has been a fixture on local Los Angeles television for the better part of a decade, but the dirty little secret of the family friendly company is that they don’t actually run out of Hollywood, and haven’t run out of Los Angeles proper in some time.

That all changed this weekend, when the promotion invaded the world-famous Meltdown Comics store on the Sunset Strip, holding a free, six-match extravaganza called the Red Carpet Roll-Out … a precursor to one of their biggest events of the year, the Red Carpet Rumble. CWFH holds its television tapings every other Sunday in Port Hueneme, which is over by Oxnard, and an hour away from Hollywood in the best of driving conditions.

Thanks to a few enterprising fans, Meltdown — the place Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani made famous with their Comedy Central standup showcase of the same name, and where live shows and podcast tapings like Doug Loves Movies, Harmontown, Put Your Hands Together, and a slew of others made the “NerdMelt Showroom” sort of hallowed ground for both comedy and podcasting alike — was host to its first full-on pro wrestling show. Meltdown has been home to lots of pro wrestling themed shows before, and pro wrestling art and figures line every wall inside the shop. But this is the first time people have been able to walk into Meltdown and take in honest-to-god pro wrestling matches while shopping for the latest issue of Spider-Gwen.

While the temperature on Saturday was creeping up toward 100 degrees, fans still showed up before the store opened and the line snaked around the corner. After a few issues with the microphone and P.A. system, the show got started shortly after 11 a.m., as everyone’s faithful beloved emcee, Jervis Cottonbelly, handed out hugs and roses before introducing the first match.

The Red Carpet Roll-Out started the way any wrestling show should: with dastardly heels jawing at the fans. The reigning tag champs of Dan Joseph and Dylan Bostic — together known as PAC-3 — did a spectacular job of riling up the crowd. The fans in attendance hated their guts, and wanted to see hyperpositivity guru Ty Matthews and his charge Eric Watts take them to task. And then we were off to the races.

Despite the sometimes-oppressive heat, the crowd and the wrestlers never let up, staying hype all the way up through the main event, where world-famous Rocky Romero and Scorpio Sky teamed up with soon-to-be-world-famous Dicky Mayer and Ryan Taylor. Fans bought the limited edition Meltdown/CWFH shirts as quickly as they could, and even Meltdown’s CRO got in on the act.

While PWG has long been the promotion that comes to mind when fans think about wrestling in Southern California, it’s become such a hot ticket in recent years that its cachet is now one of status and exclusivity. If you’ve been to PWG, you’re cool. It’s a hassle to get tickets, it’s expensive, and it’s also not in Los Angeles. CWFH doesn’t care about being cool, it just wants fans to have fun. There’s a lot to love about both products, but PWG would probably never think about running a free show at a comic book shop.

(They’d also probably never send a host like Jervis Cottonbelly out to teach the crowd that “horsefeathers” is a good thing to chant if you suspect a fighter of foul play.)

There’s something special about braving the heat before lunchtime to trek down to Hollywood to see some people throw each other around in the middle of a bunch of longboxes. There were nothing but smiling faces (sweaty faces, but smiling faces), and every wrestler and CWFH employee was very clearly having the time of their lives.

Dave Marquez, the owner of CWFH, explained how the show came together and why it was so much fun for him to have the promotion live up to its name. “One of our promoters, Jonathan King, and one of our referees, Eddie Furth, they came to me and said, for the Red Carpet Rumble, why don’t we come back into metro LA, since our tapings are so far outside of the city limits? So when they said Meltdown Comics, I said that’s a great location, Sunset Boulevard. We’ve always said on television, you see the sunset flip on the Sunset Strip, and we were either on La Brea, or in Glendale, or in Orange County, but we rarely did it on Sunset Boulevard. We put it all together, and I think we have a lot of happy people.”

“I could not be happier with how the show went,” said that aforementioned referee, Eddie Furth, who also works on a couple of podcasts that originate in the NerdMelt Showroom. “It was exactly what we imagined when we started talking about doing an event like this with Meltdown. The idea of having the ring in the middle of the comic book store, surrounded by fans who are just having a great time, and enjoying incredible wrestling. It’s everything we could have hoped for. It’s the perfect marriage between Championship Wrestling From Hollywood and Meltdown Comics.”

And wrestler Jarek 1:20, who brings his love of magic into his matches, has a personal connection to Meltdown that made the show even more special for him. “The first time I was [at Meltdown], I actually saw Justin Willman, the magician, perform in that back room,” he said. “I remember coming out to LA, seeing that magic show — Justin Willman is, like, a name [in magic] — and I was like, oh, that’s so cool. He’s in Hollywood, performing magic, on a stage, for people. So to be here, doing my craft, bringing magic and wrestling into one [moment] here on Sunset Boulevard? Yeah, that’s a big notch in the belt.”

Everyone I spoke with — both from CWFH and Meltdown, not to mention the fans who showed up — said they’d do a show at the venerated comic shop again in a second. It already feels like it has all the makings of a new Los Angeles tradition, and that if it becomes a regular part of the Meltdown calendar, the word of mouth will spread and attendance will increase.

It’s hard to think of a more perfect combination of elements to typify the start of a Los Angeles weekend. But that might just be the hundred-degree weather and palm trees talking.