As a rule, I try to keep my wrestling reviews relatively current. There are too many outstanding shows going on to get wrapped up in reviewing everything, and sometimes you just have to let stuff go. When it comes to PWG (and their unusual way of getting their product out to a broader audience), I’m willing to make an exception. The Battle Of Los Angeles has become an essential date in the indie calendar and with the DVDs finally being released to those of us who couldn’t pack into the sweatbox, it’s time to check out this year’s edition. Let’s dish out some stars.
Desmond Xavier defeated Brian Cage
Two minutes into this Brian Cage – someone who has muscles on top of muscles – started pulling off head scissors and frankensteiners. Welcome to the Battle Of Los Angeles.
Despite how impressive all that stuff is, Cage is actually at his most awe-inspiring when he’s doing what he does best. Chucking folk about the place. Whether he was swinging Desmond Xavier into the ring post or lifting him into the air like a small bag of flour, the feats of strength in this were outstanding and worth the price of admission alone.
Xavier wasn’t outshined, though, and for his first BOLA, you could see he was giving it all. The kid can fly and if anything he makes it look too easy. On top of that, he took his beating well, and that played a part in the big pop he got when he stole the pin out from underneath Cage’s nose. This was a good way to kick things off.
Verdict: Three Stars
Marty Scurll defeated Flash Morgan Webster
Pre-match Marty got on the mic and heeled it up. He made it clear that he thought Flash Morgan Webster was below him. Webster responded to that with a headbutt and a three count to which the crowd exploded. Sadly, Marty’s foot was under the ropes, but it was one hell of a false finish.
After that, Marty Scurll reminded the world that outside the confines of the Bullet Club, he is a fantastic heel. At one point, he literally threw Webster at a member of the audience in response to him saying something Marty didn’t like. It’s an efficient way to get heat.
What Marty does best, though, is make other wrestlers look great, and Webster came out of this looking great. He was given a chance to show what he could do, and he took it, flying around the ring in all manner of exciting ways.
I appreciated the attempt to tell a story here. Scurll treated Flash like trash, and in return, he gave the arrogant Villian more than one scare. Even though it wasn’t enough, Webster left this a hell of a lot more over with the crowd than he was when he came in.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Rey Fenix defeated Rey Horus
There was a moment in this where I thought Rey Horus had tweaked his knee and that the match was going to fall apart. Then they started doing all sorts of ridiculous bouncy shit as they walked along the top rope and I realised it was going to be okay.
I don’t watch much Lucha. I don’t even really know if this was worked in a classic Lucha style. What I do know is that I like flips. I like flips and really cool moves and this was stuffed with flips and really cool moves. There were moments when they seemed to be flipping for the pure joy of flipping. There was no need to flip, the men just wished to flip and who are we to stop them from doing so?
It did slow down as it went on (in part due to Horus’s aforementioned tweak), but on the whole, this was two insanely athletic wrestlers going out and doing mental stuff to each other for around fifteen minutes. I could have happily watched them do another fifteen. Or twenty. Damn it, give them a whole show.
Verdict: Four Stars
Chosen Bros (Matt Riddle and Jeff Cobb) defeated Keith Lee and Donovan Dijak
This all started off quite friendly. Even when Dijak was kicking Riddle, they were joking around with it. Then Dijak threw Riddle across the ring like he was a child (don’t chuck children around wrestling rings) and off it went.
These four men are ridiculous. I genuinely don’t know how else to say it. Surrounded by the other three Matt Riddle looked tiny and he’s not. Yet, they all have that incredible agility. One second Lee and Dijak are hitting big man moves the next they are hitting picture perfect moonsaults. It’s not human and I’ll never tire of watching it.
In among all the madness, it was Jeff Cobb that stood out. He’s got that Mike Elgin strength where it appears you could throw an elephant at him and he’d catch it and suplex the fucker into next week. He’s the least hyped out of these four, and he stole the show.
If you want a match to sum up PWG, this is it. Four incredible athletes hit each other with enormous moves for twenty minutes while Excalibur and Chuck Taylor have a chat about Space Jam. What more could you want?
Verdict: Four Star
Penta El Zero M defeated Matt Sydal
This one started out chop heavy as Penta El Zero M chopped Sydal around the ring before sadly chopping the ring post. It let Matt Sydal back into things, and he was proving to be a vicious wee bugger. He was preaching peace and love and taking every chance to dish out a beating on Penta.
This gruelling style meant this was worked at a slower pace than we might have been expecting. Although, to be honest, it was a bit of relief after the speed of everything that came before. Unfortunately for Sydal, it also meant he was playing in Penta’s back garden and he struggled to control the action.
The final stretch was particularly impressive and kicked off when Penta murdered Matt by kicking him in the face as he came down from a Shooting Star Press. I mean that in the literal sense too. It looked brutal. It might have even accounted for the unusually sloppy reverse ‘rana Sydal hit before he missed yet another SSP. Penta responded with a flip piledriver followed by a running package piledriver for the win
This might have been my least favourite match so far and it was still good. It’s worth watching just to see that SSP reversal. I can’t overstate how violent that looked.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Zack Sabre Jr defeated Jonah Rock
I’m going to assume I’m not the only person who is new to Jonah Rock. He’s another one who has come out of this increasingly impressive Australia/New Zealand scene and he seemed determined to make an impression. He kicked off by playing to his size; no-selling everything Zack gave him and dishing out a hell of a beating in return.
Of course, if you give Sabre a tree he’ll get to work cutting it down and when he got the chance, he went after Rock’s knee with a vengeance. For a while, though, it seemed like Jonah was too big a tree to topple. He was absorbing the pain and ever as he favoured that leg a bit, it wasn’t enough to take away his awesome power.
Unfortunately for Jonah Rock, Zack’s resilience pushed him into making a mistake and he went to the top rope for a moonsault which he missed. He was able to kick out of the initial PK, but when Sabre followed it up by trapping him in a vicious looking armbar there was no choice but to tap.
This was an impressive showing from Jonah Rock which was kind of the point. We all know what ZSJ can do. This was a chance for the new boy to show off that incredible power. I imagine we are going to be seeing a lot more of him in the future.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Ricochet defeated Flamita
We’re back to that joy of flipping that I was talking about earlier and damn is it fun. I love this version of Ricochet. The guy can do it all and while I appreciate how far he has come as an in-ring technician and his ability to tell a story, I love it when the boy flies.
To dismiss this as a spotfest would be a mistake, though, and Taylor and Excalibur actually did a cracking job of putting the story together on commentary. Ricochet is now going into the ring with high fliers who are younger than him and can do all the flips and twirls he can and are also a step faster. He’s no longer the hottest talent on the market and he has to adapt to that. It’s a story that we’ve seen in his matches with Will Ospreay and it extended to this too.
So how does he respond? Well, he amps everything up that little bit. His strikes are a touch stiffer and the dives are a bit more mental. However, he also dips into his other bag of trips. He slowed down the pace and tried to control Flamita who was taking every opportunity he could to fly (including a 450 Splash where he fucked up his finger). In the end, it wouldn’t be Ricochet’s flips that got him the victory, but his ability to outpower the younger man as he hit a series of high impact moves to get the win.
This was a fantastic wrestling. From the high flying fun in the early doors to Ricochet resorting to his power game to get the win. Spotfest? I think not.
Verdict: Four Stars
What do you want me to say? This was fantastic, it was always going to be fantastic. I understand every criticism that people throw at BOLA, but when I’m watching it, I quickly forget them. It’s mental in all the right ways and when these wrestlers are doing those incredible things I don’t know how you can do anything except sit back and cheer.