Friday, October 21, 2016

PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2016 Stage Two Review

PWG Battle of Los Angeles Stage Two
September 3rd, 2016 | Reseda, California

Night one of this tournament was a good, solid show. Night two last year was the one that was widely considered to be an all-time great show and it seems like that is the case this time around too. This show also features the PWG debut of Cody Rhodes, which is something I’m really looking forward to.

First Round Match
Dalton Castle w/ The Boys def. Tommaso Ciampa in 13:27

This is certainly an interesting clash of styles. Jack Gallagher got scratched from the show and Ciampa was his replacement. Castle had his usual boys with him this time. We got some comedy stuff early as Ciampa just wanted a hug. He made quick work of the boys shortly after and they moved into the actual match. Even then though, there were still a lot of comedy moments. It worked within the PWG confines, but doesn’t always make for the best match. Ciampa did some WWE spots, like a superman punch and Pedigree. In a continuing trend on these shows, the back half of the match picked up. Castle came close after dead lifting Ciampa from the apron into a German suplex. Ciampa bled from the mouth, spit in his hand and chopped Castle, making for a great visual. From out of nowhere, Castle hit Bang-a-Rang and won. Good opener but nowhere near the level of the night one opener. Like I said, it fit for the PWG crowd so it worked in that sense. ***

Tommaso Ciampa got “thank you Ciampa” chants before leaving.

First Round Match
Mark Andrews def. Pete Dunne in 18:14

Pete Dunn is making his PWG debut. He is known as the “bruiserweight” which is an awesome idea for a cruiserweight gimmick. Behind Cody Rhodes, he’s the second most intriguing BOLA debut this year. Andrews was a good choice for an opponent because he is a prototypical cruiserweight and it allowed new audiences to see how different Dunne is. While he flew around, Dunne just bullied him. I enjoyed when Dunne did a Go to Europe, which is a GTS into a European uppercut. Andrews did a moonsault into a tornado DDT that didn’t come off quite as well as I’d hoped. His second attempt saw Dunne block and hit a tombstone on the floor. He beat the count and inside, he took another tombstone that Dunne held on to, got up and nailed a jumping tombstone yet that only got two. Undertaker is pissed somewhere. Dunne continued to toss him around but Andrews just kicked out of everything. Andrews eventually won with an SSP. I think this was good but it could have been so much more. You had the perfect story of bruiserweight vs. cruiserweight and instead, this turned into one of those kick out fests. Like, he took a beating but it never really felt like Andrews was battling from underneath. Too many kick outs, not enough drama and too long of a match to be truly great. ***¼

First Round Match
Cody Rhodes def. Sami Callihan in 11:34

I was so excited for Cody Rhodes to be in this tournament and then he got booked against Callihan, who has been so unbelievably uninteresting and mostly lackluster since returning after his Solomon Crowe run. Cody’s ring introduction was done by his wife, Brandi Rhodes and featured lines like “grandson of a plumber” and “the star that left them in the dust.” He looked genuinely happy to be there. They worked at a physical, fast pace, which is when Callihan is at his best. Callihan beat him up around the ring until Cody hit an enziguri off the apron. Once inside, Sami hit a DVD into the corner and it looked bad for Cody. We got some PWG goofiness when Sami got a cat mask from outside. It was bested when Cody got his old “undashing” mask to combat it. I loved that gimmick so I enjoyed this. Like Andrews, Cody kicked out of a tombstone and won with Cross Rhodes. I thought this was harmless fun that didn’t overstay its welcome. ***

Fenix and Pentagon Jr. def. Heroes Eventually Die (Chris Hero and Tommy End) in 18:22
In real life, Fenix and Pentagon Jr. are brothers. Teaming up here, they wore masks that fused the Pentagon and Fenix looks together. It was awesome. Things began with some even back and forth between Fenix and End. Pentagon called Hero a “puto” and demanded he come in. Their AAW match was really good. Pentagon did a spot here he launched Fenix up onto his shoulders and then Fenix moonsaulted off onto End and Hero outside. It was insane. After that though, HED took over as the bigger, brute tag team. Fenix took most of the heat and just got his ass handed to him. Pentagon got the hot tag but Hero and End quickly stopped his momentum. Fenix and Pentagon started in with their double team moves to the crowd’s liking. There were just some insane moments throughout this. Too many to list in fact. It came down to Fenix and End, who just went at it. Fenix snapped off a big super rana and won with a springboard 450 splash. This was the second best tag team match I’ve seen this year. The entire match is pure insanity, with all four men going balls to the wall. Honestly, you have to go out of your way to see this. Heroes Eventually Die played great brutes, while Penty and Fenix were awesome as the team with fire doing some incredible things. ****½

First Round Match
Trevor Lee def. Kamaitachi in 11:28

To get heat, Lee gets introduced as a “TNA superstar”. He instantly started with a huge double stomp on Kamaitachi. Lee just abused Kamaitachi, including a sickening backdrop driver onto the ring apron. I legitimately though Kamaitachi was hurt. Sticking with the TNA stuff, Lee hit a Twist of Fate after yelling “DELETE”, getting “broken Trevor” chants. Kamaitachi made his comeback and the match evened out. HE DID THE DEAL but only got two. Kamaitachi seemed to go all out and busted out several dangerous spots. When he got close to winning they did the lame dive off the top into your opponent’s foot spot. That led to Lee winning with a small package driver. The second best match of the night so far. Both guys held nothing back and fit a lot into the time given without seemingly overdoing it. It was compact, hard hitting, crazy and fun. ***¾

First Round Match
Mark Haskins def. Cedric Alexander in 14:37

Props to commentary for putting over Cedric’s breakout match with Kota Ibushi in the CWC. This was one of the more serious matches in the tournament. No dancing, comedy or BS. They just went out and wrestled, like the last match, which I liked. Though that was more action packed and this was more methodical at places. Haskins targeted Alexander’s left arm and sprinkled in some hard strikes. He wore down Cedric, who came back with some hope spots. Included in there was the best Michinoku Driver I’ve ever seen. At one point, Haskins transitioned from a body scissors into a sharpshooter, which I’ve never seen before. The final stretch was great and saw Haskins put Cedric away with an armbar. Another really good match on a show full of them. Their offense was crisp, the match made sense and had some really cool moments throughout. ***½

First Round Match
Kyle O’Reilly def. Matt Riddle in 16:14

It’s crazy how good Riddle is considering how short his time in the business has been. I was more interested in this matchup than any other in the tournament. Early on, we were treated to a very even battle of mat work and striking. Neither man could gain an advantage, showcasing how even they are. Riddle was first to go outside of the box with a baseball slide and springboard. Kyle started to get in the driver’s seat with some vicious kicks. There was a “broly shit” chant after Riddle hit a fisherman buster for two. They battled through submissions in the final stretch with both guys still struggling for an advantage. Kyle did the brainbuster near fall into the armbar spot but Riddle countered into a submission. Kyle leaned back on him to steal the three count. This was going very well and had match of the tournament potential until the finish. I understood what they were going for but it wasn’t the best of finishes. Just shy of being great. ***¾

Matt Sydal, Ricochet and Will Ospreay def. Adam Cole and the PWG Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks in 20:04
So here it is. The first ever Dave Meltzer approved five star match in PWG history. I’m sure it has nothing to do with him being in attendance or the fact that he’s become a Bucks mark ever since they named a move after him. I want to preface this by saying that I only like two of the guys in this match (Ospreay and Ricochet. Sometimes Cole), but I’m gonna give it a fair chance to impress. Everyone involved outside of Sydal has at least one four star rating given out by me in history.

The match is almost instantly full of big spots. Sydal slips on the top rope trying a dive to the outside before Ricochet and Ospreay follow with actual dives that connect. The Bullet Club did triple apron powerbombs before doing the Kenny Omega Terminator build up into suicide dives. Honestly, they all did the stuff you’d expect from them. Lots of flips, superkicks and marking out by the fans. The Bucks accidentally kissed each other at one point and Ospreay hit a handspring moonsault onto them that didn’t come off that well. Everyone went into a big spot barrage in the final few minutes. Ricochet kicked out of an assisted Indytaker to the surprise of many. The babyfaces turned things around, including Sydal and Ricochet doing a shooting star Meltzer Driver, before the three of them won with simultaneous shooting star presses. I understood why this match worked and it made sense for the crowd it was done in front of. However, in no way did this ever come across as a five star match to me. Even as someone who dislikes most things Young Bucks, they and everyone else in this have had far better matches than this. It’s a fun match with some slipups but some impressive athletic moves. No matter how many times Matt and Nick put Dave’s face on their tights, this isn’t even close to sniffing MOTY level. It’s good, it works and everyone did what they do best, making for a fitting main event in front of the Reseda faithful. ***

Overall: 8.5/10. I’m sure people will be displeased with the score I gave the main event. Regardless, this was such a consistently strong show. The lowest ratings for me throughout this went to the opener, Sami/Cody and main event and both clocked in at three stars. The entire show moves along briskly with some really fun matches. A few matches nearly reached four star territory, while the Heroes Eventually Die/Pentagon and Fenix tag was the best thing I’ve seen on these shows by a fair margin.