I've fallen in love with PWG in the last few years. One of the big reasons for this new found love is their annual Battle of Los Angeles, a massive tournament that has expanded and evolved over the years and contains the best “free agent” talent this planet has to offer. This year's fair was heavily hyped as usual and with names like the Cody Rhodes, Pentagon Jr., Marty Scurll, and countless others you can see why. In some ways this tournament has become the American G1 in the sense of being a heavily sought after weekend every year. What makes it even more beautiful is PWG's booking; simply you never know where things could go.
Marty Scurll vs Pentagon Jr. in the First Round
This is pretty much the match I would imagine in my head that these two would have. Fun lucha shit by Pentagon, and awesome counters and mat based stuff from Scurll along with his usual shtick. At one point the bottom rope snaps during this match and adds some character to this affair that it was lacking. Not the greatest match ever but a fun PWG style sprint. Pentagon Jr. snapping his fingers back after Scurll's finger snapping was gold and led awesomely into the finish. ***
Jeff Cobb vs Ricochet in the First Round
This match blew my fucking mind when the graphic came up. Jeff Cobb is the kind of worker that is almost impossible to explain, you just have to see him go. He's a massive man in the same ilk as Gary Albright from the Japan 90's days but coupled with the athleticism of Rey Mysterio in his heyday. Ricochet is known to anyone in the last few years that pays attention to things as probably the smoothest man in wrestling today. These two men do what they do best and that's some really great stuff. Cobb manhandles Ricochet early. Ricochet counters with quick kicks and elusive counters. Ricochet pulls out a no-touch high jump moonsault plancha on Cobb about half way across the fucking building. Madman. Then he kicks his head off for a bit until Cobb is tired of his shit and deadlifts him into a spinning belly to back for just a two count. Cobb counters a headkick into a Tazplex so that my 10 year old heart flutters. Ricochet plays the role of the persevering underdog to Cobb's monstrous offense. This is much like the first match, simply fun and fast paced 'rasslin. Cobb eats tons of european uppercuts and forearms and yet he still slings Ricochet around like a child. Ricochet pulls off a powerbomb and follows up with a Phoenix Splash for a near fall! Ricochet looks absolutely disheveled and hits a Benadriller...FOR TWO! Ricochet decides he's got to go for broke again and goes for his 630 Splash but no one is in the pool. Cobb from behind nails a gutwrench, spinning german for just two. Cobb then tries for his reverse powerslam but is rolled up by Ricochet for the flash pin! Really good stuff. ***
John Hennigan vs Matt Sydal
The Battle of WWE Rejects hits Reseda. Hennigan makes his PWG debut. Both men start slow, Hennigan especially who plays to the crowd. Sydal tries to get the ball rolling and Hennigan stunts the momentum immediately for a bit until Hennigan goes behind and gets a headlock on. Sydal fights out and we get some standard WWE-style chain wrestling. In a great moment, both men throw leg kicks at the exact same time and limp like goofs. I loved that. A test of strength is teased but Hennigan just leg kicks the shit out of Sydal and they exchange said kicks back and forth. Both come to a cease fire and we're back to square one. A handshake leads to a staredown and more leg kicks while still holding the handshake. Hurricanrana takeover by Sydal. Then we get some good back and forth stuff. Very basic but effective I'd say. Nice backbreaker into a russian legsweep combo by Hennigan. Hennigan then does some really shit rolling senton that looks like a horrid elbow drop. Thus, we finally get into Hennigan's dumb offense. He's like a nu-age RVD with the wacky offense. Sydal decides he wants to be a good worker and throws out a weird russian legsweep into an odd Haas of Pain variation. Sydal works the left leg of Hennigan after this for a spell. That leg work is completely ignored though of course and we get more spots. WAY more spots, including Hennigan's rolling neckbreaker from WWE that was once his finish. That is completely kicked out of though and Sydal hits his Ode to Alicia Fox in the corner and it looks really nasty. This was good but I wouldn't even put it near the previous matches. I must admit though that the standing Spanish Fly will never not be awesome. Solid but just kind of there for me. **1/2
Fenix vs Will Ospreay
Seeing this on paper made me incredibly excited about how this would go. Both men are well known as two of the best high flyers in all of the world. This is quite the really good display of what both are capable of. Ospreay hits a perfect Sasuke Special. Reseda loses their shit in turn. Fenix immediately baseball slides once thrown in the ring and hits a Corkscrew Spaceman Dive! That was absolutely crazy shit. Ospreay somehow finds himself back in control and traps Fenix's arm with his leg and tries for the Nigel McGuinness bridging stretch but Fenix ain't having it. Some Ospreay slaps a sleeper on because PSYCHOLOGY. Fenix immediately Pele Kicks out but Ospreay is back on the hold. They do this for a spell and it isn't an awful spot really. Finally Ospreay is kicked into the corner and is caught rushing Fenix. We get a Rolling Thunder Frogsplash into a standing moonsault for a two count by Fenix. These boys love their moves. Ospreay and Fenix then decide it is time to kick in each other's faces for a while until Fenix nails his Double Jump Frankensteiner on Ospreay from the second rope. It isn't the finish of course. Double headkicks and double kip-ups. This is as video game as a match gets. Ospreay LANDS ON HIS FEET OFF A HURRICANRANA! Standing Shooting Star into a bizarre, middle rope Phoenix Splash thing for a near fall. This is awesome if only for the menagerie of moves. It all becomes a blur after a while with counter after counter, as both men jockey for position on the top rope to try and end this madness. Fenix looks to go for another hurricanrana and it's a Spanish Fly that BOTH MEN LAND ON THEIR FEET OFF OF. They stare down and finally Ospreay nails a standing Spanish Fly for a near fall. Ospreay goes for his corkscrew kneeling enzugiri but Fenix counters and locks on a Dragon Sleeper. Ospreay fights but is drilled with a fucking Greetings from Asbury Park derivative. It of course is not the finish and we get MOAR MOVEZ! Fenix does unnecessary leaping into a 450 that misses and Ospreay connects with his corkscrew enzugiri and finally hits the handspring diamond cutter for the win. This is really fantastic insanity. ***3/4
Tommy End vs Zack Sabre Jr.
This is gonna be perfection in a ring I hope. Tommy End of course is in his Farewell Tour shortly before his most recent WWE signing. ZSJ is the reigning PWG World Champion and perhaps the best “free agent” talent on the planet today, especially technically. These guys really work this thing early as something legit with simple grappling. They go at it, get to the ropes, break, and go at it some more trying to find a weakness like when wrestling is at its best. They throw some taunting leg kicks until things go back to the ground and it isn't long until ZSJ has End tied up in a knot. End perseveres and shows that he's damn good grappling also and we find ourselves in a stalemate. We go into some pro wrestling transitions that show no man an advantage that ends with End throwing a headkick on a downed Sabre who is too smart to it and things stalemate again. Phenomenal transitions. End eventually does get his kicks in and Sabre absolutely feels them. He takes some blistering chest kicks but answers with some rough european uppercuts. End just straight kicks him in the fucking mouth for a two count. Sabre catches End in mid air and starts to work on his left arm with vicious stomps and joint holds. Sabre might be the best in the biz at working a bodypart, simply because he might be one of the ONLY workers today that even does such a thing. He cranks on End's wrist and elbow like a really evil fucker and End sells it like he's taken a bullet. End fights to his feet and throws forearms but that gives Sabre a chance to snatch his arm and drive it down on his own shoulder to bring End down again. Sabre begins to pick him apart on the mat with kicks and again, focuses his attack on that left arm. End isn't going to die though and keeps fighting up like the babyface he is. He starts to throw a wild flurry of precise strikes that puts Sabre on his ass. Reseda responds with adulation. End rushes in the corner with a forearm and takes to the top. Sabre, in a stroke of genius, rushes him and headbutts his left shoulder and End takes a spill over onto the floor. Sabre decides he'll stomp that arm into the apron like a true dick. Sabre takes his eye off the ball for one second and End unleashes a fucking ridiculous moonsault off the second turnbuckle to the floor that brings Reseda to their feet. Holy fucking christ this is good. Both men struggle to their feet and it is End that runs up the apron and delivers a great knee strike on Sabre, rolling him into the ring and hitting a top rope double stomp for only two! Sabre looks fucked while he holds his ribs and End still grasps his arm. Sabre wants more, and End says sure with a fucking mean chest kick. Sabre isn't done though and wants even MORE. What a psychopath. Sabre responds with a running kick to the arm and a european uppercut but End floats another rush into a Lance Storm rolling single crab. Sabre reverses it into a roll up for two and a headbutt to the cut into a modified brainbuster. End is all loopy and Sabre is hurting himself. End unleashes a wild flurry of incredible offense to get us hoping he will get it done. German suplex only gets two though and Sabre counters by catching End's left, bad, arm into a grapevine as he tries for his other arm but End reverses it. Sabre counters him as well and body scissors the man but is dropped on his head with a brainbuster for his troubles. End fires up and throws shots until both men, again cancel out with headkicks. Sabre tries for his soccer kick but End reverses into a roll up for two. More counters follow until Sabre drops End on his head with a vicious half and half suplex and both men are down as Reseda explodes like crazy. Sabre goes back to End's arm as they're both on the mat and he's trying to rip it apart but End is fighting. Leaping triangle by Sabre but End gets out of it with a rough kick. Both men throw really great strikes at each other again and again after it seems they've given each other all they have. End connects with his spinning high kick but can't find the double stomp. Eventually Sabre locks on his Octopus Hold and hooks both arms so that End can't escape and it is all over. ****
Chris Hero vs Jushin Thunder Liger
My god, if anything could top that Sabre vs End match on this first night it is this. Two wily veterans that are only better and better with age. Hero could easily be considered a front runner for Wrestler of the Year this year with his matches so far and Liger's stood the test of time as a true great in history. They actually work the opening handshake which is great and gets a pop. WORKING IS SO GREAT SOMETIMES. It is Hero taking over immediately, telling the obvious story that he's the bigger man by far. Liger goes low and puts Hero down on the mat and stretches him like hell. Hero reverses and both men get in the ropes. Liger tries for a shoulder block and it does nothing. Hero mocks him and I know that soon, he will pay for it. More shoulder block fails and more mocking. Hero back elbows out of a standing switch and Liger avoids Hero who crashes over the top. Liger feigns a dive and does his Liger pose to a pop. Hero isn't happy about this. Hero comes in and kicks Liger's teeth in the corner. He's again mocking Liger and this is great. Liger catches him sleeping and nails the Shotei! Liger's up top and Hero rolls away from him at the last moment. ROLLING BIG BOOT BY HERO KILLS LIGER. Damn that was great. Hero has found his niche as a pseudo douche that is oddly loveable. Liger is just so awesome in every way and looks great here as the undersized killer. These guys make everything looks fantastic here, especially their striking. Liger hits a really awesome brainbuster to neutralize a Hero onslaught. Hero doing the sumo stomping around is also a thing of beauty because he truly is one massive motherfucker. LIGER NO SELLS A LIGER BOMB AND WE HAVE GOTTEN SERIOUS. Rolling Elbow by Hero tells him to fuck off along with a skull smashing elbow from the back into the base of the skull. Liger is doneso. Amazing affair. ****
Adam Cole and The Young Bucks vs Dalton Castle, Kyle O'Reilly, and Bobby Fish
Fish and O'Reilly are in “Boys” regailia and I AM MARKING OUT. Dalton Castle is one of the best characters out there and a great worker. The Bucks have their Meltzer Face tights on so you know this will be a special one. Dalton and Cole start us off and Cole does the preening gimmick before telling him to shove it. Fuck yeah! Dalton backs Cole up and PREENS like no other. The Bucks are fucking livid. I rejoice. Cole backs Dalton up now before doing his “Adam Cole Baybay” taunt. Dalton jumps to the second before O'Reilly and Fish get on their knees to act as steps for him to get down. The Bucks and Cole charge all three and get beat down. Nick Jackson becomes legal and tries for a top rope move but O'Reilly and Fish distract him and nut him on the top turnbuckle. Things break down and Matt tries for something but Fish and O'Reilly blow him back with their hand fans! Awesome spot. All three men are on the floor so that Dalton and his “Boys” can strut and feign a dive. Great bullshit stuff. Dalton finally hits a nice suicida through the second and bottom ropes. Fish and Cole finally calm things down and Fish beats the snot out of Cole. Snap suplexes, stomps, the whole shooting match. In comes O'Reilly and of course you know these two are good to go. O'Reilly elects to play the Memphis card and do some bullshit rather than beat Cole light a savage as usual. Cole keeps putting him down and O'Reilly gets up selling like a goof and posing. O'Reilly is shockingly good at being a weirdo like Dalton. Dalton himself is now tagged in and Cole gets an ab bite...yes, he bit the man's mid section. The fans popped if that makes it any better. Dalton and Cole did some really fun stuff for a second before Fish is back in the fold. O'Reilly tries to fan down Cole on a sunset flip from Fish but Matt Jackson comes in with a pretty weak superkick. Fish gets beaten up and the bad guys are back in it. Nick Jackson comes in to stomp a mudhole in Fish in the corner. BRONCO BUSTER OH GOD. Fish takes the heat for a while and becomes the brunt of a longstanding joke between The Bullet Club. It's alright, but the usual fare. Fish is whipped into the corner and his mask flies off. Cole takes it and puts it on, strutting around like a really poor drag queen. It was really fantastic to see though. The Bucks come in and do their tandem dropkick to the dome on Fish. There is some miscommunication between The Bucks and Cole though and Fish takes advantage….until Cole and Matt superkick Fish's opponents to the floor. Fish manages to come back with a t-bone suplex into another opponent which is awesome. Dalton tags in and cleans house like a fucking machine here. He proceeds to throw all three of his opponents around like ragdolls with a series of suplexes of various kinds. Cole and Dalton are apparently legal (a common puzzle in many PWG tags of all sorts) and it doesn't matter anyways when The Bucks come in and clean house themselves, isolating Dalton. Cole puts down Dalton with a Shining Wizard but it isn't enough. In comes Matt now and all three members of the BC team walk over to O'Reilly and Fish on the apron and spit on them. Dalton shitcans people and Nick's alone in the ring. He takes a back suplex and in comes O'Reilly with the tag, Fish with the assist. Shit is getting real, and The Bucks retreat! Cole poses and does the Hogan slow turn into O'Reilly and Fish who proceed to whip his ass. It's a great spot. Matt tries both men and gets beat down also. Nick now comes in to try his luck and gets taken out by all three men, Dalton finalizing the onslaught with a wheelbarrow bridging suplex for a near fall. Things get blurry as all six men do about every move in their movesets and it's fun but sort of numbing. ReDragon get low blowed by The Bucks and Dalton fires up, knowing he's all alone. Cole ends up hitting the second rope Canadian Destroyer on Dalton after the numbers are too much. Fish and Dalton are held up in tandem tombstones and Nick springboards into a DOUBLE MELTZER DRIVER OMG?!?!?! Fun match. ***1/2