Friday, October 27, 2017
After a good start, we move onto Stage Two. I’ve reviewed this tournament the past two years and night two was the best in both of those. Hopefully, that trend continues here.
This has potential. Dijak’s been good in 2017 and Lee was tremendous in 2016. Dijak taunted on the middle rope before getting started, leading Lee to pull him off with a huge German. That’s a very PWG way to start the show. Lee played up his PWG heel shtick, hyping being a GFW/TNA star. It was a bit surprising to watch him control the match with him being the smaller participant. I liked how he wanted to win in any way, including via countout. He also used smart offense to cut him down to size. Dijak’s comeback saw him use power offense that popped the crowd. As Lee kicked out of stuff, he flipped the bird to the fans. Dijak picked up the win with Feast Your Eyes in 11:34. A better opener than stage one. Lee was a great, smart heel and Dijak’s offense made for a fun finishing stretch.
Janela was a late replacement for the injured TK Cooper. These two were out to steal the show from the opening bell. There were crazy moments almost instantly. A running DVD into the corner, a multi-jump SSP, a monkey flip while Janela was seated in a chair and another DVD, this time onto that same chair. Janela also took an insane bump on the apron, leading to a countout tease. It wasn’t a great tease, as Janela sold it in wacky fashion. Then things got really wacky. Janela missed a swanton and went through an open chair. Guevara then hit him with a Burning Hammer through a chair! Somehow, Janela kicked out. Why? Janela fought a bit before eating a reverse rana and 630 to end it in 14:30. This was wildly absurd in a good way. There were issues, though. How is the Burning Hammer on a chair not the finish? That just looks dumb. Lots of good action here, but a fair amount of overkill.
Ah, the rare first round match to feature TWO guys I really like. They’re both regulars in the best wrestling promotion of 2017, PROGRESS. For most of the match, they worked it at a style and pace I enjoy. Banks brought his hard hitting, intense style, while Haskins slowed things down and took his time to pick Banks apart. When Banks managed to get going, he hit dives outside, cannonballs in the corner and it all looked great. Haskins avoided the Slice of Heaven, stopping Banks’ momentum. There was a great moment where Haskins got kicked into the ropes and rebounded into a roll that led to a Samoan drop. It was all so fluid. After some false finishes down the stretch, we got an AWFULLY blown finish. Banks hit the Slice of Heaven and covered. The referee didn’t count three, instead just awkwardly pausing and calling for the bell at 16:58. They had a good match, though it felt like they were going for an epic and fell short. The finish didn’t help.
I love LDRS together, but the Sydal/Ricochet pairing has never worked for me. Ricochet’s teams with Ryusuke Taguchi and David Finlay were both much more enjoyable to me. LDRS jumped their opponents during their entrance, setting the stage for a brawl at the start. The faces turned it around and hit some dives to the outside. Things calmed down into a more traditional tag, with Sydal taking the heat segment. That’s the best way to go, because Ricochet is one of the better hot tag guys around. His hot tag spot wasn’t as great as it could’ve been here, but still delivered. He and Sydal started hitting tandem offense, including a double Benadryller, but the pin was broken up. I loved seeing LDRS apply stereo submissions for a great false finish. The closing stretch was the highlight. The stereo SSPs were broken when Scurll shoved Rick Knox into the ropes and crotched Sydal. Ricochet’s was stopped by Sabre catching him in a submission. Ricochet fought out, only to end up in the Chicken Wing. He signaled for Sydal to hit him and Marty with an SSP to break it, sacrificing himself. Good stuff. They would still lose though, once Sabre pulled Sydal into a pinning combination after 20:56. Better than I expected. LDRS were fantastic, really nailing everything they had to. Ricochet and Sydal were fine, but I can’t get over how Sydal and Scurll just nailed all the little things.
Sami attacked Cobb before the bell. That’s two matches in a row, is Gedo booking this thing? Cobb turned it around quickly, because he’s a big boy. This was a battle of Cobb’s power against Callihan’s sheer aggression. I got a kick out of Chuck Taylor making fun of Jeff Cobb’s generic jobber name. “Mr. Athletic Jeff Cobb would job to Ultimate Warrior on Superstars.” Cobb slowed the pace, which was wise since Sami enjoys going at 100MPH. Sami found ways to dish out punishment, causing some of Cobb’s usual offense to be weaker than usual. Sami countered the Tour of the Islands, only to come off the middle rope and caught in one anyway, ending this in 11:41. This was fine, but certainly on the weaker side of tournament matches so far. is like Sydal for me. A lot of people like them, yet I just don’t see it.
After a great G1 Climax run in 2015 and a banner 2016, Elgin’s kind of fallen off the map in 2017. Riddle’s been great again throughout 2017. Elgin was confident and in control early, but then Riddle got going and that’s always impressive. Watching him deadlift Elgin was great, even though I’ve seen him do it to much larger men. That led to a “This is BROLA” chant. Surprisingly, his next set of kicks were weaker than normal, which opened the door for Elgin to bash him with strikes. I also got a chuckle when Riddle cocked his first for a Superman Punch. He missed and ate a German suplex. They built to bigger moves and near falls down the stretch, with the crowd fully engaged. Riddle kept kicking out of the best that Elgin had to offer. Riddle couldn’t lock in the Bromission, so he resorted to a cradle Tombstone to win in 17:59. Very good and they succeeded in making me think Riddle might lose, even though he was the favorite. That’s part of where Flamita/Ricochet failed one stage one. I enjoyed a lot of this, though it felt long. Both guys are at their best when keeping it under 15 minutes.
Easily my most anticipated match of any night. BIG LADS WRESTLING. Their interactions in a four way on an Evolve show in August were great. WALTER grounded Lee instantly, causing him to take a breather outside. That’s not something Lee’s used to. It’s insane to see a guy who can just wallop Lee with a single lariat and then body slam him. As the match progressed, they just lit each other up with chops and strikes, while stopping to throw one another around. WALTER hit a super butterfly suplex, while Lee delivered an awesome looking Spirit Bomb. These moves are great normally, but when done to huge guys, they look even cooler. Lee had the advantage in strikes in the early stages, but WALTER threw some brutal lariats to kind of even the score there. They got into a chop battle, until WALTER just decided to kick Lee’s leg out. Lee fought out of a sleeper and hit a Samoan Drop/powerslam combo to advance in 19:44. This time, a match going long didn’t bother me. I love these guys and big lads wrestling, so this was right up my alley. They showed off some mat stuff early, gave us the hard hitting stuff and brought out the big offense. A ton of fun.
I was weary coming into this. The Stage Two tag main event last year got TONS of rave and I found it to be quite average. This one also got a lot of hype but Kenny Omega is about a thousand times better than Adam Cole, while Fenix/Penta/Flamita are much more fun than the Sydal/Ricochet/Ospreay trio. Interestingly, there was no commentary for this and one continuous camera shot. The guys paired off early, with the fans going mental for the Penta/Omega interaction. The lucha team cut off a trio of Terminator dives, leading to their own fantastic dive spot. That was followed by some comedic moments, none better than hearing Penta shout obscenities in Spanish across the ring. The action in this was as crazy as you’d think. A ridiculous pace with moves coming left and right and guys flying into the screen at random times. Both teams showcased great chemistry and tandem offense. Penta launching Flamita into a super rana in one fluid motion was tremendous, as was Penta and Fenix hitting a double stomp/Package Piledriver combo. The Elite set up the Meltzer Driver and shouted, “This is for you, Dave,” which I’m sure made him ecstatic. I’m surprised he didn’t throw the full five at this right then. It got cut off, leading to another flurry of offense from both teams. The end came after an IndyTaker and One Winged Angel at 27:06. This kind of perfectly encapsulates PWG. Put a bunch of big stars together and let them get their shit in, while having a wild match that sprinkles in comedic moments. They did that about as well as you can, with this main event being SO MUCH better than last year’s.
Overall: Like the past two years, Stage Two delivered. There’s not a single bad match on this show, with everything getting at least three stars. They balanced the strong tournament matches with the two big tags very well. The only person who didn’t make it to round two that I was sad about was WALTER. The final two matches were the standouts and they’re both totally different from one another, which is great. A thumbs up for night two.