The Coral Springs, Fla. code enforcement office nearly sank Coastal Championship Wrestling while the promotion was still in its infancy. Now, 18 years later, CCW has reached adulthood. No independent professional wrestling promotion in Florida can match CCW’s 18 years of continuous operation.
On March 20, 2022, Dan Evans’ brainchild turned 18 years old. Coastal Championship Wrestling will celebrate that miletsone on March 26 with its annual anniversary show. This year’s show is aptly titled Barely Legal and is set for 8 p.m. at the CCW Arena in Pompano Beach, Fla.
“It’s pretty cool,” Evans said of reaching the 18-year mark. “You’ve got to credit (co-owner) Nelio (Cuomo Costa) for the size of it now. My goal was let’s just have fun with it, keep it going and make sure everybody has a place to train, keep the school going.”
Costa, who has been a co-owner of the promotion for nearly four years now, echoed the pride Evans has in seeing the company reach this milestone, but he sees so much more for the future of CCW.
“Am I proud to reach the 18th anniversary? Yes, of course,” Costa said. “But we hope it’s going to be just another milestone in a series of many. I’m more proud of the growth in the last year. I’m also proud to see the look on Dan’s face of the accomplishments, as well.”
But let’s go back to the beginning. Evans’ professional wrestling career began in the early 1990s. Throughout the early ’90s, Evans was featured in ECW, NWA, USWA and other promotions. He and tag team partner Bruno Sassi worked as a tag team named Phi Delta Slam. In the early 2000s, Evans had been appearing on Future of Wrestling (FOW) shows. But by 2004, FOW ceased operations.
“It left a pretty big void. There was really nobody running shows in South Florida,” Evans said. “There wasn’t anything solid or continuous going on, nothing concrete, happening in South Florida.”
So Evans and Sassi started a wrestling training facility and quickly had enough trainees with enough experience to start running shows. On March 20, 2004, the first Coastal Championship Wrestling show was held at the Coral Springs (Fla.) Gymnasium. Some generosity from friends and the tenacity to make it work and “stay consistent,” according to Evans helped the fledgling promotion stay afloat in its first couple years, despite some issues with code enforcement.
In the days before social media and the internet, promotion of shows was much different. Getting the word out meant literally getting out. CCW was looking for ways to build its audience, so Evans bought hundreds of yard signs.
“I put those ground signs in and I just tattooed Coral Springs on the day of the show,” Evans said. “It said ‘Tonight! Pro wrestling!’ and the phone was ringing off the hook. You couldn’t drive through Coral Springs and not know there was a wrestling show. By the afternoon, the calls started to taper off and I thought that was weird. Then, the code enforcement guy called. I thought they didn’t work on Saturday. So, he’s picking up all these signs and he’s really pissed. That show, we had 275 people.”
After the incident with the code enforcement office, Evans got a call from his contact at Coral Springs Parks and Recreation, which was responsible for the Coral Springs Gymnasium. He, too, had been called by the code enforcement office. But he was happy with the business from CCW. He offered light-pole banners at five city parks.
“That next show, we had 350 people,” Evans recalled.
From there, Evans and CCW continued to grow, utilizing those light-pole banners, television ads and street teams handing out fliers. The audiences grew to over 500.
“From there, we just tried to stay steady,” Evans said.
The school and promotion began to grow and get noticed. That’s where co-owner Costa comes in. He had exposure to CCW over a decade ago when moving to South Florida, and he always knew he wanted to work in the professional wrestling and event industry. For the past three years, Costa has pushed a lot of CCW’s success to new levels.
“Twelve years ago, I met Dan and I just really loved everything about the company. I really loved the feel of CCW,” Costa said. “It had incredible culture and potential, and I felt welcome here, and I always felt I could be a driving force to make it something. Back then, I just wasn’t mature enough or ready in my professional and personal life to commit myself to it fully.”
But once he was ready, one of Costa’s first goals when he came into ownership with CCW was to grow the product, create weekly television content and expand on what Evans started.
“I felt it was prudent to start to maximize our resources for expansion, when you look at a business like independent wrestling, you have to ask, “Can it scale?” So I took this as an opportunity to explore that” Costa said. “Early on, the pandemic was the real catalyst to create online media content, mostly as a way to retain our audience in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs, but it didn’t take long for us to improve our weekly television. As of the end of 2021, it has brought us into a sphere of potential profitability in media rights, all while expanding our fan base throughout the state of Florida, and the strategic targeting of Nashville as a secondary market. It’s become an obsession to me, a passion.”
To this day, working together, Evans and Costa have both accomplished many of their overarching goals. And they have even more, as CCW continues to grow.
“I want this to be something that will exist after I’m gone,” Costa said. “I’d like something for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to look back on, so there’s some sense of legacy. That’s one of my reasons for working so hard on this. But also, I love professional wrestling. It’s what I wake up thinking about. It’s what I go to sleep thinking about. Lastly I know that our core wrestlers and team members feel the same. To some, this is just a stepping stone to bigger success in pro wrestling, and for a lot of us, it’s exactly where we want to be.”
CCW’s 18th Anniversary Show – Barely Legal – takes place Saturday at the CCW Arena in Pompano Beach, Fla. The company follows that up with their signature monthly Bash At The Brew show at the Unbranded Brewing Company in Hialeah, Fla. on April 8. Ticket information for these shows and all of the great professional wrestling action provided by CCW can be found by clicking here.