Originally published at A Busy Chris Hero Talks West Coast Cup, More Permanent Role In AEW
Chris Hero is on the restless schedule of an independent professional wrestler. It’s a lifestyle he has dealt with for a couple of decades now, but something’s a little different about this time.
On Thursday night, he’ll be at the first of two West Coast Pro Events from The State Room in San Francisco, California. That evening will see the beginning of the 2023 West Coast Cup, which includes a jumble of rising wrestling talents from all around the map. After the second night of action on Friday, Hero will head back to his home in Charlotte, North Carolina — likely arriving by around 8 a.m. Just a couple of hours later, he’ll be back on the road, taking an hour-and-a-half drive to Greensboro Coliseum for a taping of AEW Collision.
It’s the type of weekly agenda that an active independent wrestler might have — one that Hero says is similar to what he did in 2016. Yet, “active wrestler” is not the term to ascribe to Hero currently. Having last appeared in action back in 2020, Hero’s in-ring career is not over but instead on pause. And since then, he has carved out a solid corner in the wrestling world as a coach, producer, or agent — terms that he all considers to mean the same thing, really.
As someone who is always excited about wrestling, Hero has a lot to look forward to this week in his backstage roles. The doubleheader of events this week including the West Coast Cup has a lineup that he says “speaks for itself” and will play out in a format that he’s enthusiastic about.
“I just love tournaments,” Hero said in a recent interview with POST Wrestling. “Every wrestling match is its own story, but when you can have two, three matches in a row with a story that is just continuing on, and just the creativity of the wrestlers involved, the matchups, the possibilities. I love it very much.”
Amid many long-form tournaments currently going on in wrestling — most notably NJPW’s G1 Climax — West Coast Pro is instead doing a two-day bracket. Not only that, but the draw for the tournament’s later rounds will be blind, another factor that Hero is especially excited about.
“I just like that element of surprise,” Hero said. “Especially at night two when an entrant comes out and you’re like ‘ah man, I wonder who they’re gonna face.’ And as the night goes on you start going ‘Okay he’s wrestled, he’s wrestled’ and you start putting the pieces together. I really love that atmosphere.”
Hero has been the orchestrator of West Coast Pro’s in-ring product for a few months now. After coming to the promotion and noticing a different “vibe” that he liked, he was able to get the role of guiding up-and-coming talent in the California area while also booking a wide range of names who can come in and elevate the product.
And as of just recently, with AEW launching their third weekly television program — Collision — Hero has found himself in another big role.
Hero, who first started wrestling back in 1998, won’t describe himself as an “exclusive” agent for AEW’s Saturday night program, as he has worked on all of their different weekly shows by now. However, he was brought in to help with the promotion as their newest weekend time slot means they are putting together at least five hours a week of wrestling television.
Hero accepted a role in AEW but only took the position if it meant he would be able to continue his work in West Coast Pro.
“I was very specific in certain compromises I didn’t want to make,” Hero recalled. “I’ve been putting this time and effort into West Coast Pro, and they’ve also been giving their time to me and allowing me to kind of play around with things and work with stuff. So the last thing I wanted to do was put three, four months of work into West Coast Pro and then [say] ‘see you guys!’”
Working in AEW as an agent provides different challenges compared to what Hero has dealt with in West Coast Pro. AEW’s massive roster, totaling more than 100 wrestlers according to the promotion’s official site, has a wide range of experience. Some names, like Sting or Chris Jericho, have decades of in-ring time under their belt.
But others, maybe Nick Wayne for example, an 18-year-old talent who just signed with the promotion after working the independents for a few years, come with less ring time. They all work under the same roof and on the same show. You have to adjust your role depending on who you work with there, Hero explained.
“The experience level is all over the place,” Hero said. “You have people there that have been in the business for 30+ years, you have some people that are in their first two, three years in wrestling. There’s no universal way to coach there.”
The duo of events from West Coast Pro this weekend includes many wrestlers that Hero is looking forward to seeing. As he has highlighted in a previous interview with POST, he aims to have the promotion as a mix of local talents and wrestlers you “wouldn’t normally see” to provide “fresh” matchups.
He pointed out his interest in the West Coast debut of Derek Dillinger, a wrestler from Ohio who will be making his promotional debut. He’ll “have his work cut out for him” when he takes on Starboy Charlie, who he described as a “homegrown hero.” He also mentioned Sean Legacy, a Georgia-based wrestler who has been touring in Japan for Pro Wrestling NOAH as of late, and will face “Bounty” Bryan Keith. And in a match that he described as “Godzilla versus Mechagodzilla,” Max The Impaler will face Shigehiro Irie. They’re just some of the names competing in the tournament this week.
The next few days for Hero will include lots of traveling, talking with talent, and witnessing thuds and bangs on the canvas of a ring. It won’t include much sleep, but that doesn’t seem to bother Hero considering what he’s sacrificing that time for.