PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2017 Night Two
September 2 2017
We’re in Reseda, California for night two of the 2017 Battle of Los Angeles. The remaining round one matches take place here, which includes Donovan Dijak, Travis Banks, Jeff Cobb, Matt Riddle, Keith Lee and WALTER. The last two pit against each other! Also there are a couple of wacky tags. The main event pitting a trio of luchadores against The Elite. I’m fired up!
Donovan Dijak vs. Trevor Lee
Lee is not popular. I can tell because Tim Teresi gives him the bird for ages. Ages! This is Dijak’s first BOLA (and possibly last due to WWE coming calling). He does a lot of Big Lad flips combined with silly power moves. It’s unfair for Trevor to have to live up to his challenge. Lee is all about old-school heel business. He’s particularly proud of his association with Impact Wrestling. They tell a nice little story of asshole Trevor taking shortcuts and being a dick and Dijak routinely overpowering him and crushing his tiny Southern carcass. It’s a good mixture and I’m glad the smaller Trevor Lee deliberately cuts corners. He’s so sleazy and underhanded. It’s hard not to appreciate that. Dijak finds counters for almost everything though, often flipping from improbable angles to land on his feet. Feast Your Eyes puts Lee out in round one and sees Dijak progress. Really good opener.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Joey Janela vs. Sammy Guevara
Guevara is a crazy, slick high-flier. He’s too lightweight for me to take seriously against larger opponents but against a chubby comedy/hardcore midcard guy it’s all good. Not that I dislike Janela or anything, that’s just what he is. There’s nothing wrong with that. My biggest issue with Janela is the overkill. His matches always seem to feature something that should definitely be the finish and isn’t. Janela tries to re-enact the Havoc monkey-flip in a chair spot only for one of the legs to give out on him, thus making the follow up DVD through the chair make less sense. Janela is definitely in town to steal the show. This is how he rolls. Chances for exposure like BOLA don’t just turn up every weekend. Janela throws himself around in front of 50 people so he’s damn sure going to do it for BOLA. Like hitting a senton onto the apron where Sammy just moves. *Splat*. It’s not the cleanest of work but it’s all exciting and both guys are clearly eager to demonstrate how nuts they are. It’s Janela’s trademark but Sammy is daft enough to flip into madness and join him. Janela manages to hit a senton onto a set up chair, which should be bad enough but Sammy follows with a Burning Hammer onto the chair and Joey kicks out because of course he fucking does. That’s the spot that should have finished the match. Who gives a fuck if Sammy hits a 630 Splash afterwards. Finish on the high spot.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Mark Haskins vs. Travis Banks
I was really disappointed when they booked this match. Why bring two guys in from the same part of the world, who’ve wrestled each other loads, and book them against each other. Were they worried Travis wouldn’t click with more exotic opponents? Haskins catches the crowd cold with his tope, which everyone should recognise by now. Trav, on the floor, goes all Terminator in shutting down the chair throws. That works a lot better when it’s built to. Like against Trent Seven at Infinity 2016. Haskins is smart for bringing water with him. Reseda is 150 degrees in the shade. Excalibur and Chuck Taylor debate what continent New Zealand is in (literally suggesting Europe) before deciding on Asia. “Australia is a continent right?” The good viewers of PWG are not getting a competent lesson in Geography here. Luckily Haskins and Banks give them a fine lesson on lopes. The low tope that Travis does to a wacky luchadore standard. The match comes in fits and starts. At times it’s intense and violent and at others it slows right down and loses the crowd. Haskins tends to draw them back with his speedy, fluid countering but not everyone is into this. The low key excellence of the wrestling is a nice contrast to the try-hard nature of the Janela match. It’s not a criticism of Joey but this match is technically a lot better. The finish is the Slice of Heaven but the referee fucks up the count. Travis Banks wins. I guess. Match was rock solid but they’ve done better in places that aren’t so ridiculously hot. Quarter star off for the botched finish.
Final Rating: ***1/2
LDRS vs. Ricochet & Matt Sydal
Scurll being in the Bullet Club has made him pretty much unbearable. He was borderline beforehand but the Bullet Club association began grating at me from day one. He’s less irritating in Japan, where they tend to segregate their factions a little better.
In ROH I can’t abide him (or any of them) and in North America the Bullet Club fans represent everything I hate about American Indie wrestling. Actually “Being The Elite” represents everything I hate about American Indie wrestling. When Scurll is left flapping his arms on the apron the match gets along nicely with Sabre doing technical stuff with two flippy dudes. It helps that Zack is great at being a cocky heel. LDRS dismantle Sydal and Matt does some excellent work in being beaten up. So does Sabre. Basically everyone looks good in this match apart from Marty and the fans are into his shtick, even if I’m not, so it’s a winner. Sabre vs. Ricochet ends up being so pure. All flippity business versus technical excellence. However they abandon tags and the match goes way too long for a throwaway tag. They do some good stuff with SSP’s, especially Sabre countering into an armbar but also Sydal using one to break a submission. Just kick the dude, for fuck’s sake. Sabre rolls up Sydal to win it. They had some nice little storyline points with the technical dudes versus fliers, highlighted by Sydal hitting an SSP to break a submission. Because that’s what flippy dudes do. In the end they lost because a great technical wrestler will always beat a great showman. As it happens LDRS are both. I was way more into Sabre’s act here but Scurll is the baggage you get with LDRS. I enjoyed this but nowhere near as much as most people.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Sami Callihan vs. Jeff Cobb
Sami, “Bartender in Westworld…with worse tattoos”, jumps ahead of the bell with (guess) a pump kick. Sami annoys me before we get going by attacking ahead of the bell when that happened in the last match and wearing too much gear to the ring when it’s boiling hot in here. Also he acts like a heel but gets people to clap. Basically I hate everyone who gets the crowd to clap but Sami especially and it’s made worse by it falling into a mass of other Callihan dreadfulness. On the plus side he has an intense style, which I appreciate but everything else about him I hate. Cobb is at his best when he’s up against someone he can throw around but shouldn’t be able to. Sami is too small for that to work. Plus he’s conflicted and he dresses like a card dealer in a casino crossed with a rock star who’s fallen on hard times. They have a few communication issues, where Sami gets his spots mixed up and makes Jeff fall over. I’m going to hand over to Aqeel Khalid for a moment because I asked him to tell me what he hated the most about Sami Callihan…
All of his dumb, bullshit schtick, the fact that he refuses to wear actual gear, how stupidly indieriffic he can be, how he keeps trying to wrestle these long drawn out epics and fails, the “for our generation, by our generation” thing is lame as hell. He’s the fucking King of the 10 minute sprint, but the second his match goes over that it somehow becomes god awful. WTF IS SPACECAT WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP LETTING HIM DO THAT AND WHY HAS THERE NEVER BEEN AN EXPLANATION?!
Thanks mate. Cobb plants him with the Tour of the Islands and improves the quality of the tournament by removing Sami from it.
Final Rating: **3/4
Matt Riddle vs. Michael Elgin
The crowd are divided on Elgin, which I don’t get. They love Riddle though. Is Elgin overexposed in the US? He’s been doing great things in Japan. Maybe it’s because he’s not in the Bullet Club. Ronda Rousey is out here popping waistlock takedowns so Riddle calls her on it and promptly gets waistlock taken down and his look of surprise and exasperation are excellent. “Even Ronda Rousey saw that shit” is not something you hear very often. PWG is a weird crowd. Is Topanga there this year? It’s all fun and games to start with but Elgin turns up the volume and they start to waffle each other. I came here to see people beat each other up.
Matt deadlift throwing Elgin is sick. That’s peak Jeff Cobb work. They are very intense. Riddle’s stuff that misses is incredible. Elgin ducks a lariat and Matt throws it like it’s supposed to connect, which is something I have issues with. Missed stuff should look like it was intended to land. The stuff that does land is even better because they work so fucking snug. Matt Riddle doesn’t give a crap about your superplex is one of my favourite commentary lines of the night as he pops up no selling. Elgin batters him with a lariat for it. I love these guys. Elgin, who’s been in Mexico recently, pops off ranas and even cartwheels off the top. It’s a thing of beauty.
The crowd get super into it with Elgin firing off everything in his locker to try and end Riddle’s tournament. The finish isn’t great with Mike avoiding the Bromission but getting planted with the Gotch Tombstone (or rather Riddle’s pancake version of it). Up to the finish this was awesome.
Final Rating: ****1/4
WALTER vs. Keith Lee
I am very excited at the prospect of one of America’s largest, awesome Big Lads battling the bestest Big Lad of Europe. It’s really warm in here so the match is a little sluggish, which is for the best to let the crowd absorb the size of both guys. They’re both over huge and the chanting is so loud they have to shush themselves so the introductions can happen. Everyone enjoys the antics of the Big Lads. Whether it’s one guy bowling another over or the echoing sound of a double overhand chop. These two do sickening chops and the noise combined with sweat flying across the ring is an experience. While WALTER doesn’t believe in doing cruiserweight nonsense that doesn’t mean he’s not explosive in the ring. The lariat he batters Keith with is so awesome the crowd give it a standing ovation. WALTER just knows when to hit a massive clubbing shot. But beyond this he knows how to sell the storyline and the storyline is two big guys battering each other, but it’s also about his arm getting hurt and him not being used to the heat. Two discernible advantages for Keith. WALTER has to make amends by kicking Keith’s legs out but gets caught by Lee hitting a powerslam for the pin. WALTER did what needed to be done here. Put in a great showing, headlined the first round and made Keith Lee more legitimate in the process.
Final Rating: ****
The Elite vs. Lucha Brothers & Flamita
I’m fairly sick of seeing Elite trios matches but at least this is fresh. I’m really looking forward to Penta vs. Omega, providing Kenny has work boots on. And Fenix vs. anyone because he’s fucking ace. The crowd are certainly up for this.
The Bucks rapidly remind me that they can do lucha and an avalanche of flips follow. The sequences, to begin with, are a little underwhelming and exist to establish what a big deal the match is, rather than to actually show off skill. There are some goofy spots in there, which I’m all too familiar with. Like Kenny accidentally working over Matt Jackson’s arm. Goofy Kenny is an unfortunate downside to Omega matches. He surfaces with alarming regularity. The smaller the venue, the more goof there is. It’s not that I object to him doing this kind of thing to extend his career but knowing that he’s better than that makes it hard to watch. Like all the ‘two boots’ business. I liked it the first couple of times I saw it but it got old quick. It’s definitely a live experience. I loved the Elite match in Wolverhampton vs. British Strong Style for example. It’s interesting to me that Fenix, in his comebacks, is far more entertaining in avoiding the nonsense than the Elite were in dishing it out. It gets a bit untidy but the Lucha Brothers make sure it’s memorable with Fenix hitting a super rana on Penta onto the Elite on the floor. I’m also fond of “This is for you Dave” ahead of an attempted double Meltzer Driver. My only claim to fame similar to that is when Dragon Aisu yelled “this is for you” at me and hooked a chinlock. Not quite the same. When the match utterly breaks down they have the most fun sequences, as you’d expect.
Omega picks up the win, as you’d fully expect as he’s easily the biggest star in the American Indies right now. Match was tonnes of fun but I had nagging doubts about it. Largely that it didn’t build to big moments and started with Penta-Omega without making that feel special. Looking at Cagematch user ratings; this is people’s favourite match of the night and while I can see that (especially live) it rumbled on to 27 minutes with no real purpose. The overwhelming sensation was of shenanigans and the Elite just fucking around, which surely devalues the opponents, who in this case would have benefitted from being seen as superior to the Elite for one night at least.
Final Rating: ***3/4
I have a feeling I might catch a little flak for going low on some of these ratings but the tag matches on this show didn’t do for me what they did for other people. I felt they were both overlong for what they were and felt vaguely narcissistic in the way they were put together, with the crowd not helping the ego’s of the wrestlers involved with their reactions. With the LDRS match I appreciate how they leaned heel and on another day I may well have loved this match but it didn’t click with me for some reason. The same with the main event, which was too goofy for my liking. On the upside almost everything on the show was good. The finish of Banks/Haskins was botched and Sami irritated me to the point where I just wanted him to go away but the other first round matches were great. Especially Riddle/Elgin and Lee/Walter. I’ll be watching the final day of BOLA on my day off, rather than spread over several evenings so hopefully the whole thing catches me in a better mood! Thumbs up, obviously, but not as rampantly great as Dave Meltzer and others had made out.