Thursday, October 26, 2017
PWG Battle of Los Angeles Stage One Review
The Battle of Los Angeles is here. PWG’s annual three-night tournament featuring some of the biggest names in indy wrestling. Each year, the tournament produces some high quality matches, though I never seem to love and fawn over it the way a lot of others do. Maybe this will be the year.
Cage has had a strong 2017, with some great matches in Lucha Underground and rising to a GHC Title shot in NOAH. Xavier has appeared around WWN companies like FIP and Style Battle, as well as TNA/GFW/whatever they’re known as now. This match went for the expected David vs. Goliath formula, but Cage isn’t your typical Goliath. He can show his athleticism as much as a guy like Xavier. Cage spent the match throwing Xavier around with ease. Xavier would get in small hope spots and it seemed like Cage was toying with him at times. He made that mistake and it cost him when Xavier slipped from his grasp and used a modified Yoshi Tonic to steal it at 10:41. Pretty good start, though I’ve seen both guys do better. They told a fine story and started things off with an upset.
Two stars on the UK scene. Scurll won this tournament last year. He bragged about it and ran down the Reseda fans for a bit. Webster shut him up with a headbutt and scored a three count that got a huge pop. However, Scurll’s foot was on the rope, making for a great false finish. Webster continued with a hot start until Scurll turned it around and used a steel chair behind the referee’s back. At one point, Scurll just threw Webster into a heckler in the front row. Granted, that’s not hard in the small confines of PWG, but still. Flash continued to find openings and used his experience against Scurll to avoid some of his signature spots. He came close several times before falling to the Chicken Wing in 15:34. Good match. Scurll continued to underestimate Webster and it nearly cost him on multiple occasions. Scurll was a great heel, while Flash showed lots of fire.
For those unaware, Ray Horus is Lucha Underground’s El Dragon Azteca Jr. As expected, the pace was very quick and the two came across as evenly matched at times. Fenix had a great spot where he tried a springboard, got knocked over, landed on the top rope on his back, popped back up and finished the move. It was wild. Horus tweaked his knee early, which hurt some of his offense right after, but he shook it off. Fenix was a bit more aggressive than I expected, though it might be because I typically watch him as the pure babyface he is in Lucha Underground. Horus busted out one of the most insane tornado DDTs you’ll ever see, followed by a Spanish Fly for a great near fall. There was another awesome moment where Horus shoved Fenix’s legs out from under him on the top, only for Fenix to bounce off the middle rope back to the top and then hit a moonsault. When none of Fenix’s best could keep Horus down, he showed off an impressive submission to make him tap in 16:07. This was a hell of a lot of fun. Horus won over the crowd, while Fenix was his usual great self. I liked that there was more to this than just guys doing flips. It dragged at a bit near the end, but was still a blast.
Matt Riddle and Jeff Cobb against Donovan Dijak and Keith Lee. Lee and Dijak had bangers over in Evolve earlier this year and they compete on night two (I believe) in a singles match that Dave Meltzer gave the full five. Hmm. Lee and Cobb opened things with a friendly display of BIG BOY ATHLETICISM. From there, Dijak tossed Riddle around like a baby, only for Cobb to then treat Dijak like a little guy. Cobb ended up getting worked over by the impressive offensive displays of the Monstars. The friendly stuff eventually went away as this broke down into a buffet of ridiculous offense from all four men. The Chosen Bros showed off an awesome Doomsday Knee, Dijak sold a Bro to Sleep by falling over the top rope and that was before we got to the insane moves in the closing stretch. Lee and Dijak doing a powerbomb/chokeslam onto the knee combo was ridiculous in the best possible way. The finish saw Cobb launch Lee into a Riddle knee at 18:25. This was bonkers. One of my favorite things in wrestling is when big dudes beat the shit out of each other and that’s what we got here. It’s almost impossible to not be wowed by the things they did in this match.
In the past two years, Pentagon was eliminated by the two eventual winners. “Cero Miedo” got cheered, while “Peace and Love” got booed. My kind of people. Despite his peaceful personality, Sydal gave into his more violent side and tried matching Penta. That was Pentagon’s domain though, so he had the upper hand. They went back and forth for the most of the match, with the highlight coming near the end. Sydal went for the SSP, but Pentagon got a boot up and ruined his life. Somehow, Sydal survived that and got in a bit more offense. He went for the SSP again, only for Penta to avoid it. He hit a flipping piledriver and the Package Piledriver to advance in 14:15. Solid, but unspectacular. I just can’t seem to get invested in anything Sydal does these days, even though I love Penta.
This was Jonah’s first match in the States. Sabre won this tournament in 2015 and used it to become PWG Champion. Both guys worked in NOAH in the past. They played the story of Jonah using his size to beat on Sabre, who responded by trying to wear him down with his technical acumen. Jonah’s leg got trapped in the ropes at one point, opening the door for Sabre. Like a shark smelling blood, he immediately went after it. Sabre still bumped for Jonah and did a great job making him look like a star. It felt like Sabre was out of his depth and the unknown entity in the match was going to win. In typical Sabre fashion though, he slapped on a submission from out of nowhere to take it in 18:07. In one night, Jonah Rock made me intrigued to see more. Both guys played their roles very well and, though it probably went a bit too long, managed to keep me interested.
Most of the time, I enjoy Ricochet. Flamita is a guy I really like and who I feel is severely underrated as one of the best high flyers in the business. Ricochet looked to ground his younger counterpart in the early stages. It’s strange to me that I live in a world where Ricochet is kind of old. Though they eventually did do some aerial stuff, this was worked at a much slower pace than expected. It’s not the kind of match that suits them. The crowd were rather silent, which is odd since the show wasn’t running long or anything. Ricochet eventually won with the Brainbuster in a LONG 22:11. I was heavily disappointed by this. They went too long and it made for a mostly dull match. Dull is not the word I associate with these two wrestlers. The match would’ve worked better as a 12-15 minute athletic sprint. I give them props for trying something different, they just didn’t execute. Lastly, they also never made me believe Flamita would get the win.
Overall: About on par with stage one last year. There was a lot of good sandwiched in between some very average bookends. The show opened in decent fashion and closed in disappointment. In between, there was a fair amount to like. Sabre/Rock told a great story and established Rock in PWG. Penta/Sydal was solid, though could be skipped. Webster/Scurll and Fenix/Horus were battles of guys who knew each other well and it made for high quality matches. The show stealer was the Monstars/Chosen Bros tag and ranks as the only must see match of the night. Still, the show is barely over two hours and is an easy watch.