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Mike Pankow

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Frankie Kazarian riding the wave of All Elite Wrestling

Frankie Kazarian riding the wave of All Elite Wrestling

By Mike Pankow

May 22, 2019

Being from Southern California, it only made sense that Frankie Kazarian decided to ride the wave with All Elite Wrestling.

Kazarian, one of three members of SCU (So Cal Uncensored) along with longtime friend and road buddy Christopher Daniels and Scorpio Sky), is slated for a six-man tag team match against members of #StrongHearts (CIMA, T-Hawk and Lindaman) at the first show under the AEW banner, Double or Nothing, on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Frankie Kazarian, dropkicking Dave Crist at Warrior Wrestling 4 on March 15, will join his So Cal Uncensored brothers as charter members of the All Elite Wrestling roster.  (Photo by Mike Pankow)

Frankie Kazarian, dropkicking Dave Crist at Warrior Wrestling 4 on March 15, will join his So Cal Uncensored brothers as charter members of the All Elite Wrestling roster. (Photo by Mike Pankow)

A veteran of two decades in the wrestling business, the Anaheim native has enjoyed a fruitful career, including long runs with IMPACT Wrestling and Ring of Honor and a short stint with WWE about 15 years ago.

But for Kazarian, 41, things are getting better with age. Last summer at ALL IN, the independent show brokered by Cody and The Young Bucks, that sold out over 11,000 seats at the Sears Centre in suburban Chicago, Kazarian and Scorpio Sky teamed up to defeat ROH mainstays The Briscoes (Jay and Mark) during the Zero Hour pre-show.

“ALL IN was great,” Kazarian said during an interview with Windy City Slam on March 14. “The entire weekend with STARRCAST was probably the best professional weekend of my career. Performing in front of that crowd was something I’ll never forget. The energy, the vibe was just white hot. The match was among of one my favorites. Anytime you can wrestle the Briscoes, it’s going to be a great time. That was just a small sample of what we’re going to do with AEW.”

Kazarian and his SCU brethren are among a star-studded roster for the upstart promotion, which recently announced a television deal with Warner Media to broadcast a weekly, primetime show live on TNT. The live wrestling show on TNT will be the first with the Turner networks since WCW Monday Nitro went dark on March 26, 2001.

Double or Nothing is just the beginning for AEW, a company led by Tony Khan, a University of Illinois graduate and part of the family that owns the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. For the first time since the scraps of WCW were purchased by WWE’s Vince McMahon, a pro wrestling organization possesses the financial resources and the talent to compete at the level of WWE.

Kazarian, Daniels and Scorpio sky join Cody (the son of Dusty Rhodes), The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho, Hangman Page, Britt Baker, Chicago’s Kylie Rae, the Lucha Bros. and MJF as charter members of the AEW roster.

Kazarian said he and several others had offers from “various companies,” but AEW was the right place to be.

“This was what we wanted to do,” Kazarian said. “We enjoy the freedom that [AEW] allows us. We enjoy the creativity, the collaboration. We were more than happy to jump aboard and be a part of the AEW brand.” 

As Kazarian was growing up and getting ready to become a wrestler, he said he idolized performers who were “a little bit smaller and present a little more action in the ring.” His first favorite wrestler was WWE legend Tito Santana. Kazarian also mentioned Bret Hart, Curt Hennig, Shawn Michaels, X-Pac and Rob Van Dam as guys he enjoyed watching work.

“The Intercontinental Title guys,” he said of the championship usually reserved for the workers back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. “Ultimately, I tried to replicate those guys when I became a professional wrestler.”

After training under the legendary Killer Kowalski in the Northeast, Kazarian moved back out to California to work independents such as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Soon thereafter, he met Daniels and the two basically have been inseparable.

“I met Daniels within my first six months in the business when I came back out to California,” Kazarian said. “He was already a pretty big name on the independent scene. We’ve been on the road together for the better part of 16, 17 years.

Daniels and Kazarian spent 12 years with IMPACT Wrestling as Bad Influence, winning several tag team championships. They also had their share of singles success with the company with each guy holding the X Division Championship several times.

A few years ago, Daniels and Kazarian joined ROH, and in late 2017, they formed SCU with Scorpio Sky, with whom Kazarian feuded in PWG over a decade ago.

Frankie Kazarian (from left), a fan, Scorpio Sky and Christopher Daniels pose for a photo during the Warrior Wrestling 4 VIP Fan Fest on March 14, 2019. So Cal Uncensored formed in 2017 and have become one of the hottest attractions in pro wrestling.  (Photo by Mike Pankow)

Frankie Kazarian (from left), a fan, Scorpio Sky and Christopher Daniels pose for a photo during the Warrior Wrestling 4 VIP Fan Fest on March 14, 2019. So Cal Uncensored formed in 2017 and have become one of the hottest attractions in pro wrestling. (Photo by Mike Pankow)

“Scorpio Sky had been one of those guys that had deserved a spot long before he really got one,” Kazarian said. “For whatever reason, he just slid under the radar. He’s incredibly talented. He had some tryout matches with Ring of Honor and right around that time, Christopher Daniels and I were focusing on the six-man titles that had just recently been introduced to the ROH landscape.”

So, the wheels started turning.

“We were looking for a potential third partner and he was a no-brainer. We took the ball and we ran with it. A lot of it is in part to our in-ring work, but a good portion is in part to what we’ve done on BTE (“Being the Elite” YouTube show) and the SCU “Worst Town” bits getting popular. It just kind of blew up over the last year. Wherever we go, we’d get people who yell “SCU” in our face and I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

A few months after ALL IN, the ROH contracts of Kazarian, Daniels and Scorpio expired. The trio committed to join AEW pretty much as soon as the calendar flipped to 2019, but they got to make a return trip to Chicago in March for Warrior Wrestling 4.

SCU faced oVe (Sami Callihan, Dave and Jake Crist) in the main event of that spectacular show at Marian Catholic High School in South suburban Chicago Heights. The match tore the house down as SCU scored the victory in an affair that included run-ins from Jessicka Havok (on behalf of oVe) and the duo of Baker and Kylie Rae (defending their AEW brothers).

Now it’s on to changing the world with AEW, which has been breathing fresh air into the professional landscape with the impending arrival of Double or Nothing this weekend.

“People are ready for an alternative,” Kazarian said. “They’re ready for something different, different wrestlers, a different visual presentation. They’re ready for something that can really sink their teeth into. I think we’ve already proved that there’s a lot of fans that are ready for this to be a thing.

“The fact we sold out the MGM Grand Arena in four minutes, basically, is outstanding. In wrestling a lot of the focus is on the negative. There’s so much positivity [with AEW]. I think that’s a credit to all the hard work in front of the camera and behind the scenes with the Young Bucks and Cody and Tony Khan and all the talent that worked hard to get the company to this level. We’re incredibly excited to show the entire world what our wrestling is all about.”

 

DOUBLE OR NOTHING PRIMER

Day/time/location: Saturday, May 25, 7 p.m. (CT), MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nev. on Pay-per-view, FITE, BleacherReportLive.com … The Buy-In (pre-show), 6 p.m. (CT) on YouTube, BleacherReportLive.com.

MATCHES

Casino Battle Royale (The Buy-In), winner receives a shot against the newly-crowned AEW Champion

Kip Sabian vs. Sammy Guevara (The Buy-In)

Tag team match: Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Baretta) vs. Angelico & Jack Evans

6-woman tag team match: Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura vs. Hikaru Shida, Riho & Ryo Mizunami

6-man tag team match: SCU (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) vs. #StrongHearts (CIMA, T-Hawk & Lindaman)

Hangman Page vs. TBA (tentative)

3-way match: Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose vs. Kylie Rae

AAA Tag Team Championship: The Lucha Bros. (Pentagon El 0M & Fenix) (c) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)

Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho

Cody vs. Dustin

Windy City Slam editor Mike Pankow interviews All Elite Wrestling's Frankie Kazarian via telephone on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Kazarian talks about the evolution of his career, becoming buddies with Christopher Daniels, the formation of SCU, wrestlers who inspired him, facing oVe at Warrior Wrestling 4 and what kind of product AEW will offer.

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