After a grunty chop fueled opening night, BOLA 2018 comes into night two on a high. With Shingo vs Ilja and WALTER vs Thatcher booked, I suspect said chops shall continue. This one has the potential to be something special, let’s see how it goes.
Trevor Lee defeated Marko Stunt in the First Round
The PWG fans came prepared as they pelted the ring with fun size chocolate bars in tribute to Marko ‘Mr Fun Size’ Stunt. Trevor Lee then cut a promo where he referred to himself as Daddy and questioned who the fuck Stunt was. Rude. Stunt responded by claiming to have fucked Lee’s Mum. Even ruder.
What followed was the match you’d expect Marko Stunt to have with Trevor Lee. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not an insult. The kid is spectacular. He’s hitting Dragonranas off the apron and flying through the air like reality is a video game. But, whether he likes it or not, he’s set to be a new generation’s Spike Dudley, a plucky undersized babyface who gets tossed around by nasty heels.
It was a dynamic which Trevor Lee enjoyed, playing the arrogant bully brilliantly, it wasn’t long before he was hoisting Stunt into the air with a One-Handed Military Press. More importantly, you could see the exact right amount of concern on his face during Stunt’s hope spots. Whether he was spiking himself onto his head after a Hurricanrana or pushing the ref into the ropes, you believed that, for a second, he was worried.
Of course, he didn’t lose. Marko Stunt’s high flying doesn’t require wins to get over, and when Lee decided he was going to end this, he did. With aplomb, leaping into the air and coming down with a Double Stomp on a standing Stunt’s chest. However, Marko’s work was done. When he’s back from the leg injury he recently sustained, you can bet we’ll be seeing him in a PWG ring again.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Jonah Rock defeated Sammy Guevera in the First Round
There is a section of PWG fans who don’t like Jonah Rock. There is an even bigger section who dislike Sammy Guevera. It gave this a weird atmosphere as both men started by giving the finger to various fans.
That was followed by a perfectly acceptable performance, one in which a great high flyer, took on a great big man. However, it also struggled to draw me into its world. Particularly, when Guevera started cutting smarky promos about his YouTube Channel and rest holds mid-match.
It had its moments. Sammy hit a Moonsault from the balcony, and shit like that will always be spectacular. While watching Jonah take a Canadian Destroyer is cool. Yet, this never snagged me. There was nothing wrong with it. It just couldn’t convince me to care.
Verdict: Three Stars
Robbie Eagles defeated DJZ in the First Round
I am not the first person to say it, and it’s an easy comparison to make, but Robbie Eagles is where Will Ospreay was a few years ago. While everyone can see he’s ridiculously talented, he still hasn’t quite put it all together. If he can, he’ll be tremendous.
There were shades of Ospreay vs Ricochet to this one too, particularly in the opening minutes. It wasn’t quite as smooth as those two (what is?), yet you could see them reaching for the seamless speed they used to work at, even if they failed to get there.
Importantly, Eagles and DJZ found their identity in their aggression. From stiff chops to eating a Crossbody while sitting on a chair, this felt like more of a fight than those matches ever did. It was a feeling that was aided by Z’s insanity and Robbie’s more technical style although that combination did lead to a few fuck-ups early on as it took them a while to settle.
The final act saw Eagles switch up his tactics and go after DJZ’s leg. It was a move that came to fruition as he hit a 450 straight onto the injured limb before locking on the Ron Miller Special (a reverse Figure Four) to seal his victory. Even with the botches, I enjoyed this a lot.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Jeff Cobb defeated Darby Allin in the First Round
There was three big man vs little man matches on this card which wasn’t a great booking decision by PWG. Surely one of them could have happened the night before?
Still, this was easily the best of them as Darby Allin once again proved his ability to take one hell of a beating. If Marko Stunt has any sense, he was sitting backstage studying this.
Allin can be as good as he wants, though, it doesn’t matter if no-one buys the beating. People were buying this Cobb beating. He is coming on leaps and bounds in recent times as his work with ROH seems to have taught him how to embrace his monster status. As spectacular as the Moonsaults are, there are loads of people doing that. There aren’t as many people spinning Darby Allin through the air like he’s a blow-up doll.
Darby had his moment. As the fans chanted his name, he dragged himself to his feet and gave everything he had left into trying to get the win. Swapping from being thrown through the air to flying through it. Sadly, that daredevil spirit would bring his momentum to a shuddering halt. A Coffin Drop onto the apron saw him crash and burn as Cobb was nowhere to be found. A Deadlift German over the ropes later and this was over.
Verdict: Four Stars
Shingo Takagi defeated Ilja Dragunov in the First Round
If your Christmas wish is to watch an insane Russian get pounded by a Japanese man, then do I have a treat for you. Wait, no, not like that. In a wrestling sense! Oh dear.
I’ve just been praising Darby Allin’s ability to get the shit kicked out of him, but Ilja might be the one man who can compete with him when it comes to that. Although one suspects that’s because he’s happy to be actually beaten up. The red welts that cover his chest suggest that’s the case.
It’s all worth it too, for when Ilja gets that head of steam, there is no one better. This was only Dragunov’s second match outside of America, yet his comeback saw the fans roar with appreciation. Every kick to the head or stiff chop that he’d taken came back to him with love as he threw himself at Shingo Takagi, fuelled by a combination of passion and thick-headedness.
None of which is to say that I’m dismissing Shingo’s role. The man is a machine, and this match shows why his long-term future is at heavyweight as even the way he carries himself in the ring demands it. He’s a motherfucking badass. Even with Ilja garnering all that sympathy, the fans still popped for Shingo’s win because he’s just that damn good.
With Takagi’s New Japan role and wXw selling itself to the devil, we’ll probably never see this match again. Let’s all take a second to be grateful that we got it once.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
WALTER defeated Timothy Thatcher in the First Round
We are overloading on hard men. RINGKAMPF facing off was always going to be a physical contest, but this took things to the next level. WALTER and Beautiful Tim started off grappling, and I don’t think I’d be surprised to find out that was at least a semi-legitimate contest between the friends.
If grappling is not your thing, you needn’t worry. There was a moment in this match where WALTER started chopping the chest of Thatcher which brought with it a change. There was still plenty of wrestling, particularly from Tim, but it was now being used to as a defensive technique as he tried to slow down the Hulk that was pummelling him.
Because whether the grappling was legitimate or not, those strikes were. It was the kind of stiff that you can only be with someone who you trust inside and out. Otherwise, they might well get you arrested for assault.
It led to a match that wasn’t pretty but was a motherfucking war. Everything about it was grunty and gruesome. Just the sound of the blows shows how different these men are to most. It wasn’t the clean claps we associate with wrestling (although there was some of that too), but the dull fleshy thud of fists and boots as they met their target.
And poor Tim. Poor, Beautiful Tim. He fought valiantly, and the fans roared in appreciation every time he managed to catch his partner, but some beasts are too big to be beaten. WALTER isn’t Goliath, he’s the motherfucking Kraken, and we’re all goldfish. Even the hardest of us are merely a speck in the corner of his eye.
Verdict: Four And Three Quarter Stars
CIMA, Desmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz defeated Flamita, Bandido and Rey Horus
If PWG’s overabundance of big man vs little man matches was a booking misstep earlier in the show, putting this on after WALTER vs Thatcher was the opposite. What better way to freshen everyone up than throwing a load of speedy boys in the ring.
As is the PWG tradition for these clusterfuck tags, this was a mixture of pissing about and blow your mind wrestling. There’s not much else to say. It was terrific, but there was no story. If you are a fan of cool wrestling moves, you’ll have a lovely time.
Verdict: Four Stars
From Cobb vs Allin onwards this was fantastic and the stuff that went on before that didn’t shit the bed. It was PWG at its best, an insane thrill ride of exceptional wrestling with the added spice that said trip came in at under two hours, meaning we didn’t even have to stop to take a piss. That is what this company does at their best, and when they do, no one does this style of wrestling better.
Buy BOLA on DVD at: http://www.prowrestlingguerrilla.com/