Saturday, October 28, 2017
Stage Two improved upon a good Stage One. The past two years, Stage Three has been a bit of a letdown. I don’t think the formula for the final night lends itself to being a great show, but we’ll see if that changes this year.
Like his match against Flamita, Ricochet felt like the older vet against a guy like his younger self. Unlike the Flamita match, this one was a lot of fun. Ricochet was a jerk, slapping Xavier around like he was having fun teaching this kid a lesson. Xavier used his freakish athleticism to turn things around and leave Ricochet reeling. Xavier nearly scored the upset with the same pin that beat Brian Cage. There was resiliency from Xavier, as he weathered each storm Ricochet sent his way. Xavier avoided the SSP and countered the Benadryller, looking for another upset. However, Ricochet delivered a brutal axe kick and the King’s Landing to win in 10:47. Like I said, this was fun. I enjoyed the story of a cocky Ricochet trying to put the younger guy, who he saw himself in, in his place.
Scurll cut another promo about being the reigning BOLA Champion. He offered Banks a chance to leave, only to get rolled up. Hilariously, Scurll took his microphone outside and angrily yelled into it. Once the match truly got going, Scurll went after Banks’ arm. It was an interesting limb to work, since Banks is more known for his kicking ability. Indeed, Banks used an array of kicks whenever he could muster offense. Banks continued to take a beating. He went for the Slice of Heaven, but slipped a bit, so Scurll got the time to dodge it. Marty applied the Chicken Wing and stopped Banks from reaching the ropes by grabbing his hand for the finger break spot. Banks got free, though still had them snapped as Marty got free of the Lion’s Clutch. Marty WAY overdid the Chicken Wing hype, so once he went for it, Banks pulled him into a rollup to advance in 13:52. About on par with the opener, though this was more my style. Good arm work and selling, with the story of the overconfident Scurll making one too many mistakes being a good one.
THE MONSTARS EXPLODE! These two had some bangers in Evolve this year. They showed off their unbelievable athleticism in the early goings, with both guys doing things that don’t make sense considering their size. There was a spot where Dijak did the Fosbury Flop, only for Lee to catch him and throw him into the ring post. It didn’t come off as cleanly as they hoped, but was still nice. Once back inside, I feared the ring would break. They just kept hitting big moves in there and the ring sounded rough more than once. There were tons of impressive moments, like Lee landing on his feet on a monkey flip, Dijak hitting a springboard corkscrew dive and several feats of strength. Both guys kicked out at one (Dijak from a moonsault, Lee from Feast Your Eyes) to standing ovations. Lee landed on his feet on another Feast Your Eyes, before scoring the win with the powerslam finish in 21:42. Awesome BIG LADS match and it was the best of BOLA so far. However, a lot of the appeal of their matches is, “HOLY SHIT LOOK WHAT THESE BIG DUDES ARE DOING,” and I got that feeling when I saw their Mania weekend match. The shine was lessened here, though it was still a ridiculous match that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m assuming Dave gave this the full five because he didn’t see their Evolve matches (he mostly ignores stuff outside of NJPW, WWE and companies his buddies work for) as this was similar but not quite as good as the first.
This could be interesting. Sabre’s had great matches with other luchadores in Gran Metalik and Pentagon Jr. in past years. Sabre looked to take Fenix to the mat, but the high flier showed he wasn’t some novice there. He hung tough. Zack quickly grew annoyed of Fenix’s shit. He began taking time to disrespect Fenix, doing things like stomping on his head. Fenix got him back with a highlight reel like springboard double stomp to the back of the neck. Sabre had a submission ready for almost every moment. He caught Fenix in a choke in the corner and then countered a rolling cutter into another submission. Sabre added the little things to make moves look more vicious, like repeatedly slamming Fenix’s knee into the mat. The pace quickened down the stretch and led to a finish I dug. Sabre went for his signature bridge pin, but Fenix was prepared and countered into his own pin for the upset in 14:34. Very good stuff here. Sabre has great chemistry with guys that have styles like Fenix. I liked how Fenix mostly wrestled a different kind of match here, showing versatility. I do wish he sold better down the stretch, though. Still, a fun match with plenty to like.
Despite a huge size disadvantage, Guevara was confident and cocky. He got off to a hot start and let it get to his head. He took time to taunt, talked trash and went for nonchalant pins. Guevara got to showcase some power with a squat Samoan drop. When he went for the SSP, Cobb found a way to catch him and hit the Tour of the Islands to win in 5:11. I like that it was short and rather enjoyed the story it attempted to tell. However, it felt like it was a bit too much Guevara, with Cobb kind of winning from out of nowhere.
A lot of potential with this one. Penta did his “Cero Miedo” taunt, so Riddle responded with, “Bro, Bro,” which got a chuckle from me and the crowd. Early on, this was ground based. Penta was in trouble there, so he changed things to be more strike based. That was more his style, but is something Riddle is still great at. That allowed for a more even battle, with both guys picking up some close calls. In something I’ve never seen before, they just started trading Destroyers. I remember when that move would end matches. Penta managed to score with the Package Piledriver, but it was on the apron, so he couldn’t make the cover. After taking a moment to drink water, a hot Penta also grabbed a fan (the cooling machine, not a spectator) and climbed to the top. With his focus on cooling off, he jumped right into a knee strike. Shortly after, Riddle used the Bromission to advance in 14:18. Another really good, really cool matchup. There were some great exchanges, though the Destroyer sequence felt like a bit much and I didn’t love the finishing stretch. Regardless, this was another match worth checking out.
Surprisingly, Banks took out Ricochet during his entrance with a tope suicida. Ricochet went for his finisher early, showing that both guys were looking to win as quickly as possible. Cocky Ricochet returned, slapping Banks around and talking all kinds of smack. It cost him because Banks fired off some of his brutal kicks and strikes. The Kiwi Buzzsaw, indeed. I love Banks’ offense, especially a double knee drop he delivered in the corner. Ricochet responded with his own string of cool offense, but still made sure to throw in his dick attitude to garner heat. Banks avoided the Benadryller and hit the Kiwi Krusher for a strong near fall. Ricochet got his own great near fall with a flipping super belly to belly suplex. Banks refused to give up, even countering King’s Landing (after getting spit at and hit with an axe kick) into a rollup. Ricochet kicked out and successfully nailed King’s Landing to reach the finals in 12:19. I thought this ruled. Travis Banks is one of my favorite wrestlers and has been on a roll in 2017. The intensity and fire he brought was greatly matched by Ricochet being an asshole. There was no nonsense or BS in this one.
Poor Fenix was outweighed by about 150lbs. As expected, Lee threw him around with ease. Each chop he added sounded like it could cave Fenix’s chest in. Fenix was undeterred though, finding ways to string together moves. At one point, he hit two moves in the ring and added two tope suicidas, yet still couldn’t knock Lee down. In fact, Lee caught his third dive and powerbombed him into the ring post. Lee added the big powerslam inside to make the finals after 9:35. A good David vs. Goliath match. They told a fine story and mixed in some cool spots. Can’t ask for much more than that.
THE CHOSEN BROS EXPLODE! They met in an excellent match in PROGRESS back in May. The anticipation was high for this after their interactions in last year’s annual ten man tag. They showed they didn’t want to face off here, but eventually went at it. If you like chops and suplexes, this was the match for you. Both guys traded those moves for the most part and it was rad. Cobb’s ability to hit a suplex from almost any angle is awesome. They did some of the typical popping up after big offense, though it was clear Riddle was starting to feel the effects. After a Cobb German, Riddle tried doing it, but barely stood. While he was staggering, Cobb hit the Tour of the Islands for the upset in 9:06. This was good, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as I hoped I would. To see what they’re truly capable of, check out the Super Strong Style 16.
Trevor got TEAM BIG BOY. He cut a promo saying he spoke with Jeff Jarrett and if his team wins, they all get Impact contracts. Hilariously, WALTER immediately left the ring. Janela needed an extra partner, so the PWG Champion Chuck Taylor left the booth and joined in. Of course, he had to go change in the back first. That left his team shorthanded, so they took a beating around the ring. I could seriously watch WALTER wreck fools all day. Janela got destroyed by a WALTER kick and then repeated squashed as team members would hop on WALTER’s back and they’d splash him. There was another fun moment where Lee had to be restrained when Janela shouted, “Fuck you, Jeff Jarrett and Karen Jarrett.” Chuck Taylor finally arrived, only to hop off the apron because he forgot his wrist tape. Taylor made his official return a bit later, turning the tide for Team Janela. Near the end, Lee stole TK Cooper’s crutch (he was hanging around by the entrance). TK took it back and flipped Janela, leading Taylor to hit a powerbomb and the Awful Waffle to win in 23:30. This was the best of these matches in the past three years. The comedy was good, without being over the top, while the in-ring stuff was mostly good fun.
The crowd called for a test of strength, which got a funny, “Really?” from Ricochet. He chose to attack them instead, which led to him getting his ass handed to him. He did well for a bit, until Cobb launched him into a huge POUNCE…PERIOD. They took turns throwing Ricochet around, trying to outdo the other. Ricochet got a chance to show his power when he lifted Cobb and Lee (separately) for fall away slams. He also hit some great dives, as he flew around the ring like a madman. The majority of the match saw everyone get shine and nearly win. Lee eventually caught Cobb with his powerslam finish at 18:44. Ricochet springboarded right into Lee’s grasp. Lee went for the powerslam again, but Ricochet countered into a small package to become the first two-time BOLA winner in 19:00. Ricochet threw everything he had at his larger opponents and nothing seemed enough to win. Then, all it took was a rollup. I loved that finish because Lee and Cobb still looked like beasts, while it also came across as a surprise. Lots of good stuff in this match, without going overly long like the 2015 edition. The best BOLA final I’ve seen.
Post-match, Ricochet cut a heel promo about being the first two-time winner. He said it was him and not “their precious” Chris Hero, Bryan Danielson, etc. He even mentioned that Chuck Taylor never made a final. Taylor came to the ring, only for Ricochet to tell him that he surpassed him and would use the BOLA trophy to win the PWG Title and then go on to “bigger and better” things.
Overall: The best of the final BOLA stages that I’ve seen. It was the longest show of the three, yet flew by at times. The show was consistently fun, with nothing being bad. Most of the matches got at least three stars. Banks/Ricochet and Lee/Dijak were the show stealers, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the show, as even the worst thing was kept short enough to be inoffensive. Top to bottom, a strong event.