PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2017 Night One
September 1 2017
We’re in Reseda, California at the American Legion Post 308 for another BOLA tournament. Host is Excalibur with Chuck Taylor.
Brian Cage vs. Dezmond Xavier
We’re underway with Big Brian vs. Flippy Dezmond. Cage is a devastating performer. He’s big, has incredible power and can fly too. His presence overwhelms Dezmond here. Dezmond tries shit like the 619 around the ring post and gets killed for it. Cage utilising the freaky power wherever possible. Dezmond tries to flip around it but Cage shuts him down. When Dezmond does get it done it’s due to creating distance and this is the kind of time where a Sasuke Special makes sense. Cage’s lucha experience allows him to cut off Xavier’s offence quite frequently but also to chain into slick offence. Xavier survives the F5 and unleashes a barrage of thigh slaps. Cage looks to have it with the Screwdriver but Xavier slips out into a roll up for the surprise win. That was unexpected!
Final Rating: ***1/4
Marty Scurll vs. Flash Morgan Webster
Scurll is over huge, thanks to his Bullet Club association and prior outings in PWG. Webster is making his PWG debut and probably hasn’t realised how hot he’ll be wearing a fucking scarf in Reseda. It’s 108 degrees Flash! Marty tries to turn himself heel by getting cheap heat on the crowd. “I’m basically Mr PWG, get out of my ring”. Flash nuts him one and Rich Knox counts three but Marty’s foot was on the rope. A real holy shit moment that had the crowd on their feet. That would have been some courageous booking to put Scurll out in three seconds as defending champion. Scurll brings a bunch of heel cheating, while Flash brings babyface pluck and dives. The crowd are used to Marty’s heel bullshit so when a fan refuses to give him a too sweet he throws Flash onto him! Holy shit. The fan appreciates being singled out for such beautiful abuse. “I didn’t know you could do that” says Taylor on comms. Flash shows exactly why he’s been brought out for BOLA, giving it his everything. He is a level below a lot of the guys so he has to bust his ass. He does so. They maintain a high pace in the blistering heat of Reseda. Scurll takes time out to abuse the fans to buy them some time. Webster plays off a lot of Marty’s recognisable shtick, getting the Strangler to block the whole “superkick…just kidding” business because he’s from the UK and has seen that a million times. They do a fine job of making me believe that Flash can actually win with an assortment of near falls. The match peaks with Webster being superkicked in the middle of a moonsault. It’s Scurll third superkick of the match and not a ‘just kidding’ anywhere to be seen. Chickenwing finishes for Scurll and this was a cracking little match.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Rey Fenix vs. Rey Horus
The Battle of the Reys! This is predictably very lucha-based. Lots of armdrags and springboards. They’re equally matched. Horus injures his knee in the early going, forcing them to slow down. It doesn’t stop Horus from doing ridiculous springboard hand-holding stuff. Fenix responds with his own even more ridiculous hand-holding springboards. Fenix is here to pop the shit out of Reseda. He pops me so many times here with an assortment of flying, unseen springboards and stiff as fuck kicks. Horus struggles with his knee but Fenix takes the match away from him with an array of excellence and risk taking. The spot where Horus pushes him off the top rope and Fenix falls backwards into the crowd is terrifying. It’s followed by a tope con hilo over the ring post on one leg. That’s not even remotely the craziest spot in this match. It’s a ridiculous match and it never stops being ridiculous. It’s the kinda thing I’d love to see live. It loses points for some tired looking transitions but the big spots in this are nuts. It would be incredible as a music video, frankly. I’m left breathless repeatedly. The near falls are ridiculous. Have I said that already? It is fucking ridiculous. After all those wacky spots Fenix wins with a submission. This was crazy shit. The stuff off the ropes. Eeesh. Watch this!
Final Rating: ****1/2
Chosen Bros vs. Donovan Dijak & Keith Lee
Jesus Christ, I’m not ready for this. Shouldn’t we have an extra intermission so I can catch my breath? Dijak & Lee is a wonderful team. Dijak kicking Riddle over during his entrance and everyone, Riddle included, smiling about it is beautiful. For an exhibition match, which this is, it’s slick and professional. Lee and Cobb doing all the lucha exchanges at the beginning and Riddle turning his internal rage into trying to choke Dijak to death. Donovan responds by throwing him around like he’s nothing. So Cobb throws Dijak around! Riddle decides to make this a super intense match up by upping his game and Matt’s normal game is pretty fucking strong. The big men do freakish things. Dijak shouldn’t be able to move the way he does. Jeff Cobb getting upset that Dijak’s chop isn’t as harsh as Keith Lee’s is sensational stuff. The deadlift suplexes and Lee’s pounce are incredible. It’s crazy that the Indies have these monster men who can do everything now. Cobb is arguably the worst of these four and he can deadlift throw Keith Lee. The main aim of this match is get all these guys into sync with each other. So they can work together later in the tournament. It has the added bonus of being a kick-ass match with lots of Indie hijinx. They abandon the concepts of tags after the heat segment on Cobb ends, with referee Mike Knox ignoring the total lack of tags. Cobb javelins Keith Lee into a flying knee from Riddle for the win. This was fun but the total lack of rules should have been announced, rather than something that just happened. It wouldn’t have hurt to skip the heat segment and go right into the craziness.
Final Rating: ****
Penta El Zero M vs. Matt Sydal
Boy has Matt Sydal’s stock fallen off a cliff since the marijuana incident for New Japan. Apparently he works for Impact, which explains why I’ve not seen him. Losing that New Japan gig was hard on him though. Penta is over despite his change of name. Sydal is no slouch but Penta is so direct and aggressive. It’s hard not to love him for it. That combined with his mass of charisma makes him irresistible to the Indies.
And Jesus, is he ever terrifying to look at. Peace and love preaches Sydal, until Penta starts beating the ever loving shit out of him then he becomes more aggressive himself. After the last two matches I find it quite a hard match to get into, which is tough on the wrestlers. Basically PWG has a pleasant habit of putting on such consistently excellent cards that you have to stay as much on your viewing game as the boys do on their in-ring game. I’m drawn back in by Sydal attempting an SSP and Penta sticking his boot right in his face on the way down. It looks absolutely brutal. Somehow he’s back hitting moves before I’ve even finished typing the sentence, which is madness. If you have a massive “OH FUCK” moment in a match it should change the flow of the match for minutes. Or even end it, ideally. Before I’ve even had time to contemplate this fully Sydal’s comeback is over and Penta finishes him with a Running Package Piledriver. Steady on lads! The major issue with PWG, and modern wrestling in general, is there’s no time to breath. Some of the best moments in wrestling come from everything stopping dead because something massive happened. That should have been the case here.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Jonah Rock vs. Zack Sabre Jr
I’m pleased Jonah has this opportunity. He seems to have gained some upper body mass since I last saw in NOAH. His chest looks like he swallowed a fucking barrel. Sideways!
Wait, does he have tattoos on the side of his head? Australia! These two were both part of NOAH but I don’t remember them meeting during Zack’s time there. A very quick search reveals he beat Sabre at NOAH New Year Navigation in 2015. I think I even saw that show! The main was Marufuji vs. Kojima if that rattles anyone’s memory. Sabre decides to break Jonah’s legs to slow him down. Jonah is an unknown quantity for a lot of the crowd, even the ones who are well versed in global graps. I watch loads of wrestling and I’ve not seen Jonah wrestle in two years. The result is a crowd fixated on Sabre, either loving or hating him. They don’t click particularly and Sabre works around Rock’s shortcomings. It’s harsh on Jonah but he doesn’t work the right style for PWG and they should have known that when they booked him. It’s a massive contrast to the last match as everything has the chance to breath. Every spot is given time for the fans to absorb it. There needs to be a middle ground between that and the last match, although the logic on display here is impeccable. The tide turns on big moments and counters. I start to get into the match near the end where it’s Jonah’s power vs. Zack’s technical skill. Jonah tries to power through everything but ends up caught in a vicious armbar and has to tap.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Flamita vs. Ricochet
This is the main event of night one, which seems like an odd choice but Ricochet is clearly wrapping up his Indie dates and is wanting to go out in style. Flamita does magical work in the early going, letting Ricochet do little flippy bits by walking to the side, before hitting his own flippy moves quicker and more aggressively. Flamita’s insistence at avoiding all of Ricochet’s business is good storytelling. Ricochet is getting older and slower and Flamita is 22. Flamita taking a backdrop onto the ropes before diving back off with a flying rana is astonishing. The balance required is insane.
Ricochet hits a tope and casually grabs a fans phone before taking a selfie with him. Holy shit. He’s a man of the people. Ricochet is in full-on show-off mode. At one point hitting a dropkick and nipping straight back up the second he hit the mat. The athleticism he possesses is off the fucking charts. There aren’t a lot of Indie guys who could walk into NXT and blow everyone else away but Ricochet is that kinda guy. He’s a first match impact kinda guy. Never seen this before? Prepare to be blown away, sirs. Us Indie fans have seen him wrestle way too much and his extraordinary work has become ordinary. Flamita tries to match Ricochet for astonishing spots and bumps a Diamond Cutter by throwing his legs so far into the air he lands on top of his head. The heat in this building has left the crowd melted. They are sweaty and tired. The match doesn’t get the reactions it truly deserves. Got to save some energy for the next two nights! Flamita has some weird ticks in his offence where he sets something up that looks so dangerous and then switches the impact to an easier bump to take. Ricochet has no such compunctions and drills him with an elevated Flatliner.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Needed more WALTER.
On the other hand; the luchadores had a wonderful time on this show. The Battle of the Rey’s stole the show completely, edging out Flamita’s main event. The Europeans have been killing it at recent BOLA’s. Now it’s Mexico’s chance to show they’re good too. If you’re a snowflake guy then PWG is for you. Everything is at least good here. Three matches over **** and nothing bad. You can see why Meltzer loves it so dearly. It’s a workrate freaks promotion although not all of their matches click with me. Just because they’re good doesn’t mean I feel invested in the action. Yeah, we had seven good matches here but the only two I was really into were Scurll/Webster because Marty set himself up as the heel and the battle of the Rey’s because Horus was injured and they were doing ridiculous things. Everything else on this show I will probably forget about in a week. Thumbs up though, obviously, because I will never tire of shows being consistently good.