PWG Mystery Vortex 2018 Review

It’s the PWG show where we don’t know who is going to turn up. Except we have to get it on DVD which means it arrives over a month later, and by that point, we don’t only know the card, but most of the results. However, that’s what you expect from Pro Wrestling Guerilla and we ain’t going to complain. We just hope that the wrestling is good enough to make up for the hassle. Let’s dish out some stars.

David Starr defeated Fred Yehi

Dave Meltzer apparently buried Starr and Yehi on the day before going on to give it a poor, if not quite as harsh, review in the Observer. Meltzer’s a prick, though, so I’m not going to hold that against it.

And I’m glad I didn’t because I’m going to go as far as saying that it was damn good. The only faults I could point to is that it went a bit too long and maybe relied too much on the fans having prior knowledge of both men. Some of their signature spots might not have got the reaction they expected, although considering everyone goes on about how knowledgeable the PWG crowd is you can’t blame them for that. It’s not like Starr and Yehi are hard to find.

I think the real issue is that they didn’t pander to the PWG faithful. As two guys making their debut, they might have been expected to go balls to the wall and hit the levels of insanity that made PWG famous. Instead, they worked slowly, jawing with each other at the beginning and ramping up the intensity as they went on. It was built on a more traditional structure, with bricks of stiff strikes and suplexes. It wouldn’t have looked out of place in NOAH.

I came into this one wanting to like it because Meltzer’s not my favourite person. However, I don’t think I had to stretch to reach that opinion. I love this kind of wrestling with Starr and Yehi being two of the best at it. If only it had been in the Tokyo Dome, eh?

Verdict: Three Stars

Joey Janela defeated Flash Morgan Webster

If that sounded like I was running down PWG’s style, I should make it clear that it wasn’t my intention. I love PWG, which is why I spend a fortune getting these damn DVDs. Matches like Janela vs Webster leave me with a big old grin on my face.

There wasn’t much in the way of story or set-up for this one. It was just two guys going out there and doing shit. Most of it very cool shit. Although Joey Janela did get his hands on a cigarette at one point which we all know isn’t cool. Don’t smoke kids.

That aside, we had multiple dives (including one with Flash wearing his helmet), a reverse hurricanrana, a package piledriver/powerbomb type thing (I don’t know if there’s a name for that) and in general, the kind of insanity that only Joey Janela can inspire. I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it, no one is selling themselves on the indies better than The Bad Boy. At this rate, Spring Break might outsell ‘Mania. (Disclaimer: that won’t happen)

Two talented two blokes went out there and saw who how crazy they could get. Sadly for Flash, Joey had a little bit more to tap into.

Verdict: Three Stars

Sammy Guevera defeated Rey Fenix

Around three minutes into this insanity Sammy Guevera hit a 630 Senton. I’m not even sure if that was the most insane thing to happen in those three minutes. If Flash and Janela were competing as to who could do the craziest shit, these two were competing to see who could spend the longest in the air.

They threw everything they had at each other here. By about the sixth minute Guevera and Fenix were lying on the mat exhausted from having missed multiple twisting splashes that I don’t know the name of. It’s entirely possible that they don’t have names. They’re just flippy do das.

There was one misstep. Fenix went for a ‘rana while Guevera was crotched on the top rope and Guevera’s foot got caught on the way over. It caused him to land on what was basically the top of his head. Sammy got up quickly enough, so I’m guessing he was okay, but I was worried for a second.

That moment aside, what’s incredible about these two is how rare those moments are. Most of these moves are ridiculously dangerous and they get them ridiculously perfect. Every dive seems to strike home, no matter the speed. They’re two of the best high fliers in the world, and apparently, they wanted to show that off.

A fact that I am not going to complain about. Sometimes you don’t need a story. You just need two boys who love to flip doing a shitload of them.

Verdict: Four Stars

Keith Lee defeated Zack Sabre Jr

I don’t know how many Zack Sabre Jr vs a big boy matches I’ve seen and they all tend to take a similar path. Zack, upon realising that there is no way he can stand and trade strikes with these monsters, picks a limb and attacks it. Slowly wearing it down with those octopus-like limbs. Yet, no matter how many I watch, I never grow tired of them. I could watch ZSJ fight giants every day of the week.

It helps when the giants are as talented as Keith Lee. Damn is that guy good. He did a fantastic job of playing into the story. In the beginning, he was shrugging off everything Sabre threw at him, almost treating it with contempt. Then, as time went on, the damage began to take its toll. He was selling the leg that Sabre had gone after and it was starting to hurt Lee’s game. Zack was able to rock on him on more than one occasion, and it looked like he might be the latest to fall into a Sabre submission.

Except, Keith Lee ain’t no dumbass giant blundering into things. There’s a reason he asks you to basque in his glory. Lee wasn’t going to wait until Zack was able to put him to bed. He was biding his time and waiting for his moment. One of his moves is worth ten of Zack’s, and it only took one Ground Zero for it to be nighty night Zacky.

After two matches that left behind storytelling in favour of throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks, this was ideally placed. Sabre and Lee are two of the best, and they put on a clinic.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Trent Beretta defeated Marty Scurll

PWG is one of the few places where Scurll still lives up to The Villian moniker. He cuts back on the shtick and becomes a complete prick, taking every opportunity to disrespect the fans and his opponent. He even went after Trent’s headband.

Except Trent don’t need to take that shit anymore. He’s a heavyweight now, and he can do big boy things. A fact that played into some comedy early on. We got Scurll struggling to lift Beretta and Trent hitting Big Show chops in the corner. It was all very enjoyable, and the crowd got into.

As time went on, though, Marty’s villainry came to the fore. He was able to start bullying the heavyweight, bending the rules and using that to his advantage. It actually allowed Trent to show off his greatest skill as he sold his ass off for Scurll. Few people go limp like that man does and if you come out of a match with him not looking like a million bucks, that’s your fault.

Trent’s not only a great seller, though. He’s a warrior too. Or perhaps he’s really dumb. It’s one or the other. Whatever Marty threw at him, he kicked out and came back for more. A Chicken Wing attempt, an umbrella shot and a Brainbuster to the knee weren’t enough to put the CHAOS man away. I’m sure Little Kazu was proud.

He’ll have been even prouder when Trent battled through Marty’s antics to pick up the win, ignoring the powder that had been thrown into his eyes to power out of a roll-up and into a Strong Zero. This was another storyline focused match that was designed to make Trent look like the kind of guy who might challenge for your World Title on the next show… I guess we’ll see what happens.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

The Chosen Bros (Matt Riddle and Jeff Cobb) defeated Ringkampf (WALTER and Timothy Thatcher) to retain the PWG Tag Team Titles

There were a whole lot of big beefy boys in that ring. I’m getting all hot and flustered.

The best thing about these boys is that they’re not only big, they’re also all extraordinary wrestlers. There was no way they were going to produce anything below excellent. If you enjoyed Starr vs Yehi exchanging strikes and suplexes in the opener, this was heaven. It was all of that but turned up to twenty.

What made it more impressive is that these four big boys were doing these moves to each other. WALTER was powerbombing Jeff Cobb and Cobb was throwing Timothy Thatcher through the air. Those are feats of strength that are impressive against smaller men. Against mini Hulks they become incredible.

It almost defied words. If I could, I would just play you the sound of flesh on flesh as they stiffed the crap out of each other. It was hard man wrestling, and it was done by some of the best in the world. Just make sure and watch it.

Verdict: Four And A Half Stars

Chuck Taylor defeated Ricochet to win the PWG World Title

Ricochet and Taylor have been feuding over the last few PWG shows. It started with Rico challenging Chuckie T when he won BOLA. He went on to win the PWG World Title which leads us to the rematch which took place under Guerrilla warfare rules. In other words, extreme rules.

These two have great chemistry and they used it here to try and kill each other. There were multiple chairs, a ladder, a table and a Christmas stocking full of thumbtacks. Poor Chuckie T took a beating, with quite a lot of those chairs being chucked at his head before he was powerbombed onto said thumbtacks. Not that Ricochet got off much lighter. The 630 splash onto the tacks that set up the finish was particularly tough to watch. He came down hard.

Credit also has to go to Ricochet for going all out in making Taylor look like a hero. Considering it was his last match in PWG it would have been easy for him to play to the crowd and embrace the cheers. Instead, he went full dickhead, stuffing tacks into Taylor’s mouth and dragging him along the ground while they were in his back. He couldn’t get everyone to boo him (it’s hard to be hated when you’re one of the best), but he did as well as can be expected.

In the end, Ricochet did the right thing and went out on his back dropping the belt back to Taylor and going off to have fun in the big leagues. This was a fitting end to his PWG career. Giving everything he had and putting over the guy that helped get him into the company in the first place. There’s a beautiful symmetry to that, don’t you think?

The post-match promos were lovely too with both Chuck and Ricochet putting over the other big. It’s nice when wrestlers are friends.

Verdict: Four Stars

Overall Show

I don’t think I’d put this up with PWG’s best but that’s not exactly an insult. It was still a good to great show from top to bottom, and no one could complain. The final two matches were particularly fantastic with the ending proving to be a fitting conclusion to Ricochet’s time with the company. Mystery Vortex was a hell of a lot of fun so make sure and check it out.


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