When Will Hobbs first made his AEW DARK debut on July 7th, it was clear that the West Coast indie veteran was going to be a star. Hobbs continued to appear on DARK for the next few months, impressing AEW brass with each and every outing. Today, after going from local enhancement talent on DARK to spending the last two weeks winning matches on the show, AEW announced that the “embodiment of will power,” Will Hobbs, was officially All Elite.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) September 16, 2020
Coming from a rough upbringing, Will Hobbs found his passion for wrestling nurtured when he moved in with his grandparents, who were avid fans. Regaled with tales of the legendary Cow Palace, a venue Hobbs himself would later attend, Hobbs’ journey as a young aspiring pro wrestler blossomed. After attending the WCW Superbrawl VIII in 1998, where he had a memorable encounter with Booker T, Hobbs knew his destiny. This led him to the All Pro Wrestling Boot Camp in 2009, where he officially began training for his career.
A 10+ year veteran largely known for his time in the California indie scene, Will Hobbs began his career with All Pro Wrestling, where he took part in the APW Boot Camp under trainers, Michael Modest, Donovan Morgan, and Frank Murdoch. He made his official debut with the company in July 2009, taking part in a battle royal to determine the #1 contender for the APW Worldwide Internet Championship. While he didn’t win the match, this was just the first of many title opportunities Hobbs would receive in APW, the place that has been his home promotion for much of his career.
In 2012, Will Hobbs went from trainee/occasional wrestler to a fulltime part of APW’s shows and their plans. It was also that year where Hobbs first wrestled outside of the company, making appearances for California’s Pro Championship Wrestling, Gold Rush Pro, Sacramento Wrestling Federation, and Supreme Pro. The outside exposure was important for Hobbs’ early career, but it was in APW where he truly began his climb to stardom. Hailing from Palo Alto and a trainee of APW, Hobbs rose as one of company’s top homegrown stars. He won his first title in 2012, the APW Worldwide Internet Championship, a title he would go on to win three times overall in his career. Alongside partner Mitch Valentine, Hobbs also won the PCW tag team titles, holding them for almost one full calendar year. A few years later, Hobbs won titles in Gold Rush Pro and Championship Wrestling from Hollywood as well.
While Will Hobbs found early career success, it was under a different name, Will Roode. And at some point, the young wrestler started to lose belief in his ability to get where he wanted to with that name. So after a conversation with his mentor, Big Ryck (WWE’s Ezekiel Jackson), the name Hobbs was chosen. But it wasn’t just a name picked out of a hat. It was a name meant to symbolize just how much the California native hoped to achieve in his career. Ryck suggested Will Hobbs, allowing the wrestler to keep his real first name and take on the last name of the Rock’s character from the Fast and Furious franchise. Inspired and spurred on by this new name and new lease on his career, Hobbs continued to pile on the accolades both in APW and beyond.
In 2016, Will Hobbs won the first of three APW tag team titles, alongside partner Marcus Lewis as Lion Power. A dominant tag team, Hobbs and Lewis’ three reigns still rank as tied for the most in APW’s nearly 25-year history. As a duo, the two picked up some big victories, including winning the titles from Reno SCUM and defeating Brody King and Tyler Bateman in their challenge for the belts. Perhaps their biggest match together however, came in 2017, when in many ways, Hobbs’ career came full circle. From hearing about the Cow Palace to attending events there as a kid to finally getting to wrestle at the historic venue, Hobbs and Lewis won their third tag team title in the opportunity of a lifetime. And he got the chance to do it with his family in attendance, making the moment even more special.
Lion Power remained an active team for several years, wrestling their last match as a duo in 2018. That was the same year where Hobbs continued to expand his West coast reach, debuting for such companies as San Francisco’s West Coast Pro, where he wrestled Lewis in a tournament to crown a new heavyweight champion. While Will Hobbs didn’t win the tournament, 2018 saw the rising indie star wrestle and defeat some high profile opponents including Alexander Hammerstone, Trey Miguel, AJ Gray, and Chris Dickinson. Hobbs also had the chance to wrestle Tony Deppen, Jake Atlas, Jeff Cobb and Brian Cage.
While the big wins were coming, Will Hobbs was still scratching at the door of stardom. He first landed on the WWE radar, serving as an extra on SmackDown, wrestling a dark match against Baron Corbin, and receiving a tryout at the Performance Center. All valuable experiences but none proved to be the one. But that all changed when in July 2020, that door finally opened as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a once-in-a-lifetime moment for the formerly regional indie star. Giving credit to his strong work ethic, determination and perseverance, Hobbs took full advantage of an opportunity borne out of the rarest of circumstances. He made his AEW DARK debut on July 7th under less than auspicious means as he wrestled Orange Cassidy in a match that lasted just 13 seconds. It wasn’t the strongest start, but Hobbs returned a week later, receiving more of a showcase in six-man tag action. As someone who wasn’t well known to those outside of the Southern California scene, Hobbs was quick to turn heads with his power and skill set.
Appearing on six of the first seven possible DARK cards since his debut, Will Hobbs went on to make his AEW Dynamite debut in mid-August against Darby Allin. This just continued his rapid rise from unknown to AEW prospect. For the APW star, everything came together a few weeks later, at All Out. After not wrestling on DARK or Dynamite for some time, Hobbs was a surprise entry in the Casino Battle Royale, as featured on the main card of AEW’s most recent PPV. But Hobbs did more than just participate in the match as according to Cageside Seats, he was the iron man of the whole thing, lasting over three minutes longer than Cage, who finished with the second highest amount of time in the match. And it was in that moment that Hobbs’ star soared. The standout of the match, it was clear to anyone watching that Hobbs had arrived. But if it wasn’t, the next several weeks would have been an indication as he started to pick up singles victories on DARK, something no other indie wrestler has been able to do.
It began to seem like Will Hobbs had signed with AEW and today, that much was confirmed. Hobbs is a fantastic addition to AEW, as he brings great talent and charisma to his in-ring style. There are no shortage of great big man battles that await as well as other exciting potential matches with AEW’s roster. If any sort of silver linings can be said to have come from this pandemic, it’s that guys like Hobbs found a national audience and were able to take that next step in their careers. The sky’s the limit for this talented veteran, who has only scratched the surface on what he has to offer.
Stay tuned to Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and AEW DARK Tuesday nights at 7 PM ET on YouTube.
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