PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2017 Final Stage
September 3 2017
We’re in Reseda, California for the final night of the 2017 Battle of Los Angeles. I started out excited, then I got a bit grumpy during night two but I’m all fired up for the final night of this years BOLA. Let’s see what happens! Excalibur and Chuck Taylor are on commentary.
Ricochet vs. Dezmond Xavier
Xavier is a surprise, slipping by Brian Cage but Ricochet is always a tournament favourite. They’re clearly a good match with Xavier being a younger version of Ricochet both stylistically and in terms of size. Ricochet, despite his advancing years, is about a quarter step flippier. Chuck Taylor’s call that wrestlers start out as “Ricochet cover bands” is good stuff. They have a tidy, fluid match but nothing blowaway, which is to be expected as one of them has more matches tonight. Ricochet picks on Xavier, establishing himself as the bully veteran.
It’s Ricochet being the bigger man, allowing Xavier to get popped while he’s content to be the star, a target for Xavier to knock off. Xavier gets a lot of near falls and kicks out of the Benadryller. The strikes are very tidy but the attempted high spots are a little shaky. The Sasuke Special in particular. They attempt something very showy and it doesn’t come off. This could have been really special but it didn’t quite click. Ricochet takes it and advances to the semi-finals.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Marty Scurll vs. Travis Banks
This is another example of the veteran making himself heel to avoid getting the bulk of the crowd support. There’s no doubt Marty is entertaining so he acts like a prick to ensure the crowd support Travis, who’s had double misfortune this weekend. He missed out on a night one main event when TK Cooper broke his leg and then the finish against Haskins got botched.
Marty tells him to “get the fuck out of my ring” and Travis duly obliges. He’s still cutting a promo when he’s rolled up and has to dodge a tope. This isn’t a match that’s happened very often. It’s taken place in WCPW and they’ve had tag interaction but there’s no bigger setting for this contest than BOLA to date. They have a little chemistry based on similar strengths and, as with Ricochet/Xavier, they’re a similar size. Both guys are also adept at putting sequences together. Scurll brings the bulk of the personality but in the action they’re equals. Travis literally throws himself into his work. It’s the work of a determined man, eager to showcase himself in front of the world. Travis runs through his finishers but Scurll blocks Slice of Heaven, kicks out of the Kiwi Krusher and breaks Banks’ finger to escape the Gargano Escape. Marty spends an eternity setting up the Chickenwing and gets rolled up for being a jackass. Travis advances!
Final Rating: ***1/2
Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak
I saw them have this match in AAW and it was an absolute belter (****1/4) with incredible high spots. This is nicely intense from the opening moments and the lock up. It’s two big bulls looking to test each other.
Keith Lee landing on his feet off a monkey flip gets the crowd absolutely primed. They soon start into the silly stuff. Chokeslams on the apron, Dijak getting caught on a Fosbury Flop, Keith senton to the floor!
It’s not just a bunch of high spots though. Their work in between is intense and hard-hitting. Lee in particular lands a lot of great strikes and Dijak bumps around like a cruiserweight for him. Normally I’d take umbrage with that but Lee is so big it makes sense. Keith heads into the high spots with dangerous intentions and a wicked glint in his eye. After a frantic beginning the pace slows a little and that’s when I realise they’re going for a long match. There are moments in this match that give me chills. Like Dijak bouncing out of the Spirit Bomb, right into a thrust kick and a moonsault. That’s immediately followed by Keith using the kick-out to pick Dijak up! The crowd are losing it! Everyone is standing! Keith Lee hits a moonsault and Dijak kicks out at one!
Lee starts laying in with the overhand chops and Dijak starts cackling with laughter and asking for more! Feast Your Eyes!! Keith kicks out at one and Dijak gets thrown out of the fucking ring! Holy shit! Dijak comes flipping off the top but gets caught in the Spirit Bomb…FOR 2! My God. The impact on that was tremendous too. Dijak literally bounced two feet off the canvas. Dijak tries to sucker Keith into a Monstars reunion but the Jackhammer puts him away and Keith advances after a strenuous twenty minuter. This was completely nuts and a glimpse at the future of pro wrestling. Meltzer went full five but there were a few awkward moments that prevent that in my opinion. It was completely nuts though and the crowd were fully into it. It’ll be tough for anything to better this.
Final Rating: ****3/4
Rey Fenix vs. Zack Sabre Jr
Fenix is surprisingly capable on the mat but Sabre is a world-beater. So while Fenix pulls some lovely chaining out of his ass it’s no match for Sabre’s sheer knowledge base. It is a very good mat match, which you don’t often get with Sabre because he’s so dominant on the mat. He’ll stretch people and it’ll be fun but not competitive. It’s a nice change of pace from the last epic bout and cocky Sabre, riding out of holds and trying to avoid takedowns is beautiful. Speaking of beautiful; Fenix’s rope work in this match is astonishingly slick. The double springboard into the stomp on the apron was so difficult and he executed it perfectly. The strikes are so good too. Zack’s are sharp as fuck and Fenix’s are a counterpoint to that. Just when you think the match is going in one direction Sabre takes it back to the mat, which is where he’s at his strongest. Technically the bout is so proficient. The match has a tough spot, following Dijak/Lee but they absolutely nail it. It’s a great story of Fenix coming up with shit and Sabre countering it, which plays into Zack’s cocky persona and that’s how it finishes. Fenix keeps plugging away until he manages to pin Sabre with a swift pinning combination near the corner of the ring. Sabre caught cold on the mat! Fenix was brilliant here. Lots of people have technically good matches with Sabre but usually because they let Zack do his thing. Here Fenix pushed him and it created a fantastic back and forth battle.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Jeff Cobb vs. Sammy Guevara
Sammy comes in cocky. He’s going to die. He tries a bunch of flippy stuff and Cobb just punches him in the mouth. Sammy misses with a high speed flip to the floor. “What a dipshit” says Chuck Taylor, again making me chuckle.
Guevara makes a point of exploring the venue and comes flying off the commentary table. Guevara is one to watch but this tournament has come a little early for him. He’s definitely a showman with a lot of insane looking offence but he’s a step below the quality of the big stars. Cobb’s ability to counter Sammy’s big spots are what makes the difference and he flattens the poor kid with Tour of the Islands. This was Sammy getting his shit in and then losing, which is how it should be sometimes.
Final Rating: ***
Penta El Zero M vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle responds to Penta’s hand gesture with a “Go Bro”!
Once the fucking around is out of the way they start busting out some submissions and that’s the strength of both guys. Penta from Lucha Underground, with theatrics, Riddle from UFC with pot. I thought pot smokers were supposed to be all mellow? Where does all the anger come from? This is a dream match between two very charismatic Indie darlings. They’re also both very adept at the same things, which has been a theme of the second round of BOLA. Good second round match-making. They throw in a few Canadian Destroyers for shits and giggles. While I’m not keen on that they go from there to chopping each other and Riddle completely no selling some of the stiffest fucking chops in wrestling. Once you’re taken those WALTER chops everything else is a doddle. Apart from a Package Piledriver on the apron. They do some daft stuff but Riddle comes out on top and the Bromission finishes. This was an intense match up, as Riddle and Pentagon’s matches usually are. I enjoyed it but it’s behind Sabre/Fenix and Lee/Dijak for this round.
Final Rating: ****
Semi Final Round
Travis Banks vs. Ricochet
Trav knows he’s in for a fight so he takes it to Ricochet with a couple of topes during his entrance. Banks has to raise his game slightly here, aware that Ricochet is Indie Royalty. So everything is a bit quicker and more aggressive. Travis does look to be struggling a touch in the heat of Reseda and is slightly sluggish by his own high standards. Ricochet has none of the same issues. While this is one of Travis Banks’ biggest matches it’s just another day at the office for the King of the Indies.
Travis has done a good job of establishing three holds as dangerous over the course of the weekend. This allows him to appear like a legitimate threat to Ricochet. Meanwhile Ricochet looks for inspiration from all over his career in the Indies; lifting spots from CIMA and Matt Sydal. In the end Travis runs into Ricochet’s elevated Flatliner and he’s in the finals. I like how they played into stuff that had happened over their previous matches. Things that had previously worked that didn’t work here as more was on the line. This is the first match where my mind started to wander a little so I took a break to get my shit together. I enjoyed this but didn’t think it was as good as the hype.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Rey Fenix vs. Keith Lee
This is a bizarre match up. The much smaller but all-round great Fenix against the massive Keith Lee.
Fenix tries to be fast but his jabbing offence isn’t enough to take Lee down. Fenix then tries to trade but Lee even has time to banter with the fans before cutting Fenix down. There’s no way he can win in a straight up fight. Meanwhile Lee just slowly wears Fenix down, keeping the match to his pace and the focus on his glory, which everyone is basking in. He does give Fenix props, by selling Fenix’s offence on the sly after he’s knocked Fenix down. All Fenix has left is the ropes and that’s what finally takes Lee off his feet. It’s a nice story about Fenix trying different things and when he finally gets success there’s this barrage of offence until he’s caught and powerbombed into the ring post. The bursts of offence worked but Keith shut them down eventually. Fenix tries one more time with a super rana but gets caught; Spirit Bomb off the top! Jackhammer finishes and Keith Lee advances to the finals. I loved the story they told here and I think Fenix gets lost in his brothers shadow but he’s one of the best in the world right now. Tremendous sprint.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Jeff Cobb vs. Matt Riddle
This is the clash of the Chosen Bros. They’re in line for a tag title shot but first they both have a shot at winning BOLA. You can’t miss such an opportunity. Seeing as they battled at SSS16 this year and got along fine afterwards I’m sure they’ll be good here. That match at SSS was a banger btw, the best match that weekend. They just got told to go out and steal the show, which they did! BOLA is a little tougher, due to the temperature and the competition surrounding them. Plus American promoters have a bizarre habit of booking them in short matches. This is no difference as they don’t go ten minutes and don’t hit the high gear of SSS16 at all. Basically because one of them has another match to go and doesn’t want to get burned out. Riddle is notably more animated. They throw each other around a lot and Cobb plants Riddle with the Tour of the Islands for the win. This gets a nice little pop. I think people assumed Riddle was winning because it’s Riddle! Why would he not? Instead Cobb gets the rub, avenging his Strong Style loss.
Final Rating: ***1/4
So, PWG fans, what do you think of Trevor Lee?
Joey Janela, Flamita, Mark Haskins & Flash Morgan Webster vs. Trevor Lee, WALTER, Sami Callihan, Brian Cage & Jonah Rock
Rey Horus was due to be in here but he’s injured. He’s made a recovery thankfully but that knee was tweaked up good. Trevor Lee has a few monsters on his team. WALTER, Cage and Rock are all huge. WALTER towers over the opposing team of tiny men. A team with a man short. Lee promises Impact contracts to everyone on their team if they win and WALTER literally bails out of the ring! WALTER no selling Lee’s bullshit is a highlight of the match. The heels talk shit to Chuck Taylor so he strolls down to increase the average height of the other team. Flash doing his headbutt deal and it failing horribly when he hits Jonah causes ripples of mirth. Flash does fine work in this, being a babyface and eating heat. It’s a tough role in modern wrestling where everyone wants to get their shit in. All the smaller guys play face in peril in turn while the bigger heel side do an assortment of evils to them. Janela plays with Lee and a chant of “fuck Jeff Jarrett” echoes around the building. Chuck Taylor cracks me up, again, by running in for a hot tag and heading to the back because he has no wrist tape! “Safety first” chant the fans. Flamita’s lightning fast work here is better than anything I saw from him in London. In general WALTER overwhelms everyone in the match. He’s the stand-out. As he has been all year long. He’s phenomenal when he needs to be, he fits every situation he’s asked to fit. Sami looks like an even bigger idiot than usual; wrestling in a waistcoat in 100 degree heat with his face turning purple from the humidity. Chuck finally enters the match and accidentally mistakes teammate Janela for Trevor Lee. The ‘breaking down’ segment of the match is completely nuts with Dragon Gate trains, flips a plenty and WALTER murdering people. Lee’s team eventually falling apart when WALTER and Jonah get into it. Lee still draws heat, despite being outnumbered, by stealing TK Cooper’s crutch! Awful Waffle ends Lee and the babyface lads win it. Not only was this tremendous fun but it bought the finalists some recovery time.
Final Rating: ****
BOLA 2017 Final
Jeff Cobb vs. Keith Lee vs. Ricochet
Ricochet feels like the odd man out here, facing two big powerhouse wrestlers. Also it feels like he’s the old hand while the other two are new and fresh. It feels like Keith Lee’s world and the others are just guests in it. After that match with Dijak the fans are all in on Keith Lee. The two big lads chuck Ricochet around until he gets bored with that and hits the flip over the ring post on both of them separately. Ricochet has an incredible knack of being spectacular but making it look utterly effortless. The match suffers slightly from the usual three-way issues but the fatigue is down to multiple matches so the selling kinda makes sense. Plus they pop off some really big bombs. Ricochet hits both his finishers on Keith Lee but Keith manages a huge kick-out. It’s a message to Ricochet; you cannot beat me. Keith hits the Jackhammer to dump Cobb.
Now it’s Keith vs. Ricochet and Ricochet counters the powerslam into a cradle to win his second BOLA! He’s the first man to win two BOLA’s.
Final Rating: ****
Ricochet finishes the night off by saying he’s going to win the PWG title before he heads off to “bigger and better places” while saying he’s “surpassed” Chuck Taylor.
If you only want to watch a little of BOLA and don’t have time for all three nights then selecting night three is the best way to go. It has some phenomenal moments. The show has 11 matches and they’re all over ***. It has five matches over **** and that Lee/Dijak MOTYC on there too. The quality is unreal and the atmosphere is a credit to the 400 poor sweaty souls in Reseda. Bless their overheated little heads. I don’t think I could survive BOLA. The temperature in my house while I was writing this was tough to cope with and that’s because the central heating is on. I just can’t deal with hot heat. If it wasn’t for that I would definitely try and make it to BOLA though because the matches are fantastic. Massive thumbs up for this and to PWG for another great BOLA weekender.