I’m going to keep this short and sweet. It’s Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, it’s the Battle of Los Angeles and we are on night two. Let’s dish out some stars.
Donovan Dijak defeated Trevor Lee
They weren’t hanging around at the start of this one. The two of them went after each other like a bear chasing down honey and it was several minutes before anyone got a chance to catch their breath.
When they did, Lee took control of the action and apparently decided that putting Dijak down for three in the ring would be too hard. Instead, he attempted to put him down for twenty outside of the ring. I’m not entirely sure I follow the logic and it was a stop-start tactic.
It all paid off in the second half of the match, though, as Dijak was finally able to build some momentum. It turned into his explosive power against Lee’s systematic attack. Lee was trying to chop the bigger man down, and damn was he good at it. There’s an argument to be made that Trevor Lee is one of the most underrated wrestlers going at the moment and it’s not a ridiculous one.
In the end, Dijak’s combination of speed and power did what Lee’s sneaky tactics could not and he picked up the win in a fantastic opening match.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Sammy Guevara defeated Joey Janela
Joey Janela is up there with Cody Rhodes as wrestlers who know how to sell themselves. Joey Janela’s Spring Break was a touch of marketing genius and he’s gone from a relative unknown to an indie darling overnight. Wrestling Marty Jannety really is the key to getting over.
Insane matches like this will do no harm to his reputation. He and Sammy Guevara got themselves into an unhinged game of one-upmanship. I thought Guevara’s Shooting Star Press to the outside was high risk but that rolling senton onto the apron from Janela was taking the biscuit.
Somehow, they managed to out-crazy even that, as Janela missed a senton, crashed through a chair and was then Burning Hammered onto said chair; and that wasn’t even the end. I generally stand by the opinion that the Hammer should finish every match it’s used in but I can’t deny it was one hell of a fake out. Thankfully, it did spell the beginning of the end or these two men might not be walking right now. This was light on storytelling and heavy on action.
Verdict: Four Stars
Travis Banks defeated Mark Haskins
Mark Haskins and Travis Banks had the unenviable job of following that insanity. Thankfully, these two work a very a different style and rather than going out and leaping off things, they went out and kicked the shit out of each other. Even the sounds those strikes were making caused pain.
Whether you enjoy it or not, will purely be down to what you think of that style of wrestling. It’s hard to claim that it was as devil may care as some of the other matches on these shows, but it didn’t make it any less exciting for me. These two felt like they were having a fight and the man who hit harder was going to be the winner.
All of which made the botch on the finish all the more frustrating. It let all the air out of the balloon as the crowd reacted with an ‘eh?’ rather than the pop we might have been expecting. Still, one minute shouldn’t ruin what came before and this was a ferociously hard-hitting match from two fantastic wrestlers.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Leaders Of The New School (Zack Sabre Jr and Marty Scurll) defeated Ricochet and Matt Sydal
They say styles make matches and this was two tag-teams with very different styles. The technical mastery of Scurll and Sabre against the high-flying antics of Ricochet and Sydal.
It’s easy to forget that Sabre and Scurll have been teaming off and on for years. Their careers have taken off in wildly different directions, but when they were working over Sydal, you could see every year they’d spent wrestling both as a team and as opponents. From their combination submission holds to the way they used a groggy Matt to mock Ricochet, it was a masterclass in heel tag-team wrestling.
It also built to what is quite possibly the best hot tag in the business. I’m running out of hyperbole to use for Ricochet. The man is outstanding, and when he comes in fiery, it is a thing of beauty. Plus, Sydal ain’t exactly dull to watch himself.
In the end, Zack Sabre Jr would be a bit too smart for their high-flying opponents as he rolled through off a frankensteiner and stole the victory. This was one hell of a tag match and the last five minutes were a fantastic example of how to build a finish. It might not have had the wow factor of the tag match from the first night, but it was some damn fine pro-wrestling.
Verdict: Four Stars
Jeff Cobb defeated Sami Callihan
Sami Callihan wanted to turn this into a fight. Jeff Cobb was far more interested in chucking him about the place. That is when he wasn’t hitting beautiful standing moonsaults of course.
My problem with this match is more of a general problem with Sami Callihan. He does little to nothing for me. I’ve watched him countless times over the years and he’s never clicked. Sadly, nothing here changed that.
Jeff Cobb once again looked incredible but on the whole, this left me cold.
Verdict: Two Stars
Matt Riddle defeated Michael Elgin
Here are two men that I have no problem connecting with. Considering his preferred method of relaxation, Matt Riddle doesn’t half put together some intense matches. These two hit hard and despite looking like Large Michael should eat him for breakfast, Riddle went out there and matched him for strength too.
It’s worth pointing out that Elgin is quietly having an incredible year. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves and I think part of that is because in companies like New Japan he tends to be on the losing side. However, his ability to craft a match is second to none. He ramps things up and while there is never a moment where he is not hitting big you know that the next move is always going to be harder.
If you want proof of that, look at the final sequence in this match. It all kicked off with Elgin hitting a fucking hurricanrana out of nowhere which he followed up with a cartwheel on the top rope and a huge splash as he channelled his inner high flier. Personally, I’d have just handed him the victory there. Sadly, Riddle isn’t as nice as me. The two men went onto jockey for position and Riddle was able to put the big man away with a Gotch Style Tombstone to put to death an incredible encounter.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
Keith Lee defeated Walter
The chops. My God, the chops.
This was big man wrestling at its best. I have to confess, this was my first time watching Walter and damn is he impressive. He’s almost a throwback as he opened this match by grappling with Keith Lee. Then he throws in all those cool suplexes, wicked strikes and double dropkicks and you can see why a lot of people hold him up as one of the best in the world. He’s a perfect combination.
And Keith Lee might be the perfect opponent for him. Because not only does he have the power to go head to head with Walter, he has the agility to sell for him like a motherfucker. These two made each other look fantastic and even sitting at home, you felt like you’d been through a war when you came out the other side.
There have been times in wrestling’s history when watching two big men lumber down the aisle meant it was time to go to sleep. They were dull matches full of headlocks and posing. People like Keith Lee and Walter have made that a thing of the past. They went for over twenty minutes here and put on a match that was hard-hitting and powerful and also fun and exciting. More of this, please.
Verdict: Four Stars
The Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) defeated Penta El Zero M, Rey Fenix and Flamita)
Look, it’s an Elite six-man tag. I’m not going to spend an age going through it because everyone should know what to expect from these by now. It’s a combination of incredible wrestling, comedy moments and cool spots. It’s also bloody entertaining and when they’re in the ring with three brilliant wrestlers, it’s all the better.
And in this example, they were in the ring with three brilliant wrestlers and in a rarity in this match-up, they managed to sprinkle some of their own personality in there. Penta was the standout star as he traded chops with Kenny Omega and managed to compete with that sizable star power. Flamita and Fenix both held up their side of the bargain, though, and if anything they outdid the Bucks at their own high-flying game.
If you haven’t liked these matches in the past, then I’d probably give this a miss. It’s more of the same. If, however, like me you are down with The Elite, then once again you’ll have a blast.
Verdict: Four Stars
Another awe-inspiring wrestling show from PWG packed with more action than you could throw a stick at. I’d put this one slightly ahead of night one for me as five matches hit the four-star or above level and once again nothing was terrible. Even the Calihan Cobb match, which didn’t blow me away, was far from offensive. So far, BOLA is two for two in delivering this year. I wouldn’t bet against them getting the hat-trick.