Sunday, March 27, 2016
Last year, I gave the 2015 Battle of Los Angeles a shot. I enjoyed it but didn’t find it to be the greatest tournament in the history of mankind, which upset some people. Today, I’m taking a look at PWG’s All-Star Weekend XI, which was a two night event. As noted before my last review of PWG, I don’t follow them religiously, but know enough about every competitor on the card that I won’t be lost or unaware.
Both guys were very over with the PWG crowd. This was interesting because Chuck Taylor got to play the big man, which I’ve never seen him do before. He had fun with it, as did commentary, who said he was “wrestling like Kevin Nash”. He even did a powerbomb at one point. If you know Taylor, you know to expect some humor in his matches and we got a good chunk of that here. He busted out some surprisingly powerful moves, dominating at times. Andrews countered a suplex into a stunner, which always looks cool. Andrews showed off some of his incredible aerial skills but got caught in Taylor’s Awful Waffle. I found this to be a fun opening contest with just the right blend of comedy and wrestling, without overdoing any of it. Kudos to commentary for adding to the fun of it all.
Ricochet sported his Prince Puma tights and also donned a Santa hat before the bell, which Marty, known as the “Villain”, stomped on. There were some fun games early as Scurll nearly revealed that Ricochet is actually Prince Puma. Right from the start, both guys played to their strengths. Ricochet did his flippy stuff, while Scurll played the heel, doing things like biting Ricochet’s ear. After Ricochet hit the People’s Moonsault, Scurll mocked it but, as he said, he doesn’t do moonsault and instead stomped on him. He’s not just a villain by nickname. Ricochet went for a springboard cutter but Scurll caught him with a mid-air chicken wing that almost made me jump out of my seat. Ricochet escaped the chicken wing twice before winning with the Benadryller. Two for two in strong matches. Their styles are certainly different but they made it work and clicked really well together.
For those unaware, the Unbreakable F’n Machines consist of Michael Elgin and Brian Cage. Something about them as a team is just cool to me. Elgin and both Wolves are making their returns to PWG. Davey started with Elgin as commentary touched on their storied past. Both teams, as the fans like to chant to Cage, got their shit in. The stuff they all did was good but something about it felt hollow. Like it was missing something but I can’t put my finger on it. Richards was great at busting out various submissions. Elgin and Cage did stereo dead lift superplex variations which was cool. The Unbreakable F’n Machines won after they combined to basically murder Edwards with a ton of moves. I didn’t like how long the match went. Elgin, and Cage for that matter, work better in compact matches rather than overly long ones. Where the last match felt like a swift 16 minutes, these 22 minutes felt like 35.
The reaction for the surprise return of Sami Callihan was pretty fantastic. Gulak was in the ring for something, Callihan showed up and kicked him in the face, kick starting the match and going on a flurry. Despite wrestling a style that I usually kind of like, Gulak has never worked for me. I also wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Callihan, so I honestly didn’t have high expectations for this. The match kind of seemed to be a bit of an extended squash. Gulak did get in his fair share of offense and even had Callihan in a compromising submission predicament but the outcome never really seemed in doubt. It took two Stretch Mufflers to gain Sami a win in his return. He got on the microphone afterwards and said that he was locked in a cage for two years but the “Callihan Death Machine” is back. Fine little match with the awesome moment of Callihan returning but that’s about it.
At first, neither guy stood out to me, but after seeing a few matches from each, they’ve grown on me. Ospreay more so, but Lee had that phenomenal 105 minute match. Lee attacked before the bell, taking after the influence of Super Dragon according to commentary. He was a great heel throughout, badmouthing fans, hitting hard and not doing the things the fans wanted. Ospreay made his babyface comeback and it was fun, but things really picked up for their finishing stretch. It might have been the best ending run of any match I saw in 2015 outside of NJPW. After a bunch of near falls, it seemed like Ospreay was on the verge on winning. Lee caught him in a seamless backflip powerbomb, followed by a small package driver for the win. It was shorter than expected as it seemed like they could have gone a bit longer and done more. However, this was still all kinds of awesome and was the best thing on the show so far.
Unlike the guys in the last match, these two have still really yet to grow on me, though Omega has been really good in 2016. The crowd was pumped as it was Omega’s return to PWG. Both guys have a ton of hype right now. They started off with some comedy antics, which I’d normally be against but it really felt like Omega was just having fun in his return. A plastic garbage can came into play and the referee got hit with it before Omega powerbombed Bailey on it. Chuck Taylor was obsessed with talking about Bailey’s bare feet throughout the match. There was an interesting fake chainsaw spot, which the crowd and commentators sold as if it was real. After the shenanigans, Omega focused on the knee with some solid work. The crowd bought into multiple Bailey flash pin near falls but Omega ended him with the One Winged Angel. I thought the comedy bits were gonna be something I hated but they were okay. It’s something you expect with PWG and Omega looked to be having fun. Bailey would be a far better underdog if he sold. Omega attacked the leg and Bailey missed endless knee drops but almost never sold it. That truly hurt the score for me.
Nick Jackson cut a promo before the match, saying they would go “Full Sail” on their opponent’s asses. So, yea Gargano and Ciampa work NXT, but what exactly does that mean? Anyway, they tried two superkicks before the match but had both caught by the challengers, who proceeded to take control in the early stages. It calmed down and saw the Bucks work over Gargano. The issue is that they’re heels but the fans like them a lot, while Gargano and Ciampa didn’t seem to be super popular. Due to that, the fans didn’t seem too invested in a lot of stuff. At one point, Nick had a chair and Gargano was way far away, but still tried to slingshot in right into the chair. He looked like a complete fool. Gargano had Matt in the Gargano Escape but Matt did just that and escaped, rolling through for a pin. This felt like a hollow version of most Young Bucks matches. If you love them, you’ll probably like this more than I did.
Roderick Strong entered the match at around the one year mark of his title reign. These guys are very familiar with each other from their Generation Next days. I liked this pairing because I could watch Strong give out backbreakers all day and Sydal is small enough to take those bumps and have them look great. They started slow and built to a bigger finish but there was one glaring problem. The match lacked drama. Considering Strong’s classic with Zack Sabre Jr. earlier in the year and Sabre winning the BOLA, most people pegged him as the guy to dethrone Strong (and they were right). Nobody really bought Sydal as a guy who would win, making this come off more like a solid exhibition. They had some fun exchanges and Strong won after a sick kick and End of Heartache. Solid but unspectacular main event.
After the match, the Young Bucks hit the ring and superkicked Sydal out. Strong got on the mic and said he’ll face Zack Sabre on his own terms. Mike Bailey, Joey Ryan and Candice LaRae, who would be facing Mount Rushmore 2.0 in a Guerilla Warfare match on night two, hit the ring. They cleaned house until the lights went out. That signaled a Super Dragon arrival. BUT WAIT! He had a microphone and said “suck my dick” before he and the Bucks attacked. He revealed himself to be Adam Cole, making his return to PWG after a year away. He picked up Roddy’s title and handed it to him. Strong said he didn’t trust Cole, but still trusts the Bucks. Cole will be replacing Super Dragon on night two.
Overall: There was certainly a fair amount to like on this show, but there was also some stuff I didn’t. Starting with the good, Lee/Ospreay is the one thing you should absolutely see on this show. They stole the show. There were other good matches, like the main event, opener and Scurll/Ricochet as well. I came away disappointed in the rest of the card though I thought the reactions for the two returns were great, especially Adam Cole’s. This was an easy watch for the most part and though I admittedly have not seen a ton of PWG, I have seen better from them.