PWG BOLA 2017 [Wrestler Profiles]: Flash! Sabre Jr! Guevera!
September is quickly approaching and with it comes one of indie wrestling’s most anticipated tournaments, Pro Wrestling Guerilla’s Battle of Los Angeles. The last three BOLA winners were Ricochet, Zack Sabre, Jr. and Marty Scurll who have each done well for themselves following their respective wins. It’s not a catapult to superstardom, but it is an excellent way for a wrestler to raise their stock by having fun matches and maybe impressing Dave Meltzer (or, at least, Travis Moody).
Flash Morgan Webster
If not for the next guy on this list, we could’ve seen The MODfather in the Cruiserweight Classic. After nearly a year out due to injuries sustained in his match with ZSJ (a dislocated arm, torn shoulder and ankle ligaments, and two ankle fractures), Webster has returned to in-ring action and appears better than ever. He’s a great high-flier, like so many other participants, but he can also work a good technical match. The Welshman is super over in the UK and has the capability to become a star on this side of the pond. Expect some sweet 450s.
Zack Sabre Jr.
ZSJ is considered one of the best technical wrestlers in the world right now. With so many people his size leaning toward the “flippy shit” style of wrestling, his mat-based skill makes him stand out. NJPW agrees; the promotion held him back from Best of the Super Juniors to put him in this year’s G1 Climax, effectively considering him a heavyweight. The man is a submission specialist—who can forget that variation of the Rings of Saturn from the Cruiserweight Classic (my personal favorite in the whole tournament)? Expect lots and lots of armbars.
Sammy Guevara is the best ever. Seriously, that’s his gimmick—that he’s the best ever. Though those are lofty claims from a 24-year-old, the kid is talented. A product of Booker T’s school, Guevara embodies the cocky heel and is charismatic af. His technical ability isn’t quite there yet, but he makes up for it with aerials and promos that ooze confidence and charm. He’s currently doing work in GFW’s X-Division, but you can also catch him on Twitch in his local promotion, Wrestle Circus. Expect flips and pandas.
The winner of ROH’s 2015 Top Prospect Tournament, Donovan Dijak’s time in the company could be summed up with the word “potential.” He had the potential to be a main eventer with his size, speed and moveset, but he didn’t really get there. Often compared to a young Mike Awesome, the 6’7” powerhouse moves around the ring like he belongs on 205 Live. His mic skills still need work, but he his athletic and agile AF. Expect to “feast your eyes” on some springboards and big boots.
“Mr. Athletic” is a monster among men — hell, LU put him under a mask and called him “The Monster” Matanza Cueto. A former Olympian, Cobb can do it all. His suplexes make Brock’s look like child’s play; he tosses dudes around like they weigh nothing. His strength is incredible and he’s also agile enough that he frequently pulls off standing moonsaults and shooting star presses. Expect some powerslams and, well, more moves than your CAW.
The 23-year-old “Carolina Caveman” has already carved out an impressive career in PWG, having defeated former champs Kevin Steen (in his farewell match, no less), Adam Cole and Chris Hero. Outside PWG, last year’s BOLA runner-up spent the better part of this year as TNA/Impact/GFW’s X-Division champion. But it’s arguable that his best work has been in the regional promotion CWF Mid-Atlantic where he’s held five different championships, including being the current heavyweight champion. While Lee’s known for being a high-flier elsewhere, in CWF Mid-Atlantic, he routinely wrestles longer, more technically sound matches. Expect lots of kicks, aerials, a few suplexes, and plenty of boo’s.
The “Kiwi Buzzsaw” has been making a name for himself in the UK and in his native New Zealand. The winner of this year’s Super Strong Style 16 tournament, he will be facing Pete Dunne for the PROGRESS Heavyweight Championship. Aside from PROGRESS, you can find him in WCPW and Revolution Pro; thanks to WWE’s working relationship with PROGRESS, he tagged with protégé TK Cooper in a tag match against Rich Swann and Mustafa Ali at Wrestlemania Axxess. Banks’ charisma can suplex you into oblivion, but he’s not afraid to go to the top rope either. He works well in both single and tag matches. Expect some technical brilliance.
Rey Fenix is from a family of luchadors and is well-known in the US thanks to his previous stints in Chikara and LU. While at LU, the high-flier became the promotion’s first Triple Crown Champion after winning the Gift of the Gods Championship, the Lucha Underground Championship and the Trios Championship. He’s currently one-half of the PWG tag champs with his brother Pentagon el 0M (formerly Pentagon Jr. and Pentagon Dark) whom he feuded with in LU. Expect lots of aerials.
Dezmond Xavier has been getting more television exposure since joining GFW as part of the X-Division. Prior to that, he was best known for his work in CZW where he held the tag championships with Zachary Wentz as part of Scarlet and Graves and as a member of OI4K. Xavier is also a former WrestleCircus Sideshow Champion. He’s fast, he can fly, and he can wrestle a technical match. To quote Daniel Bryan, he’s a fun guy to watch. Expect some …dives.
At 22, Flamita is already one of the best high-fliers in the world, with Meltzer comparing him to a young Rey Mysterio. Lucha Underground fans may recognize the young veteran (he’s been wrestling for nearly a decade) as Night Claw from the show’s second season before a falling out with AAA led to him leaving. AAA’s loss has been Dragon Gate’s gain, with Flamita having held multiple championships in the Japanese promotion. This past May, he bested Mark Andrews in the PROGRESS Super Strong Style 16 tournament before falling to eventual winner, Travis Banks. Expect hard hits and soaring moonsaults.
“Limitless” Keith Lee
After leaving ROH last year, Keith Lee has quickly established himself as one of the best big men today. This hoss has it all, the speed and agility of a cruiserweight combined with the strength of a Big Show or a Mark Henry. We saw flashes of his greatness during the feud he and former tag partner Shane Taylor had with War Machine (agile big men in their own right), but it’s been his outings against talent like Brian Cage and fellow BOLA participant Donovan Dijak that have truly highlighted what Lee can do. His match vs. Dijak at EVOLVE 81 is widely considered one of the best from the 17,658 hours of wrestling that was ‘Mania weekend. Expect monkey flips and powerbombs.
WALTER (formerly Big Van Walter and Big Daddy Walter) may not be familiar to many in the US, but he’s been a staple of the European wrestling scene for a few years now. Trained in part by NJPW’s Tomohiro Ishii, WALTER is the head trainer for German promotion Westside Xtreme Wrestling and is your favorite wrestler’s favorite wrestler. That’s not a joke; ZSJ and others immediately tweeted their excitement at his BOLA announcement, followed by begging for a matchup between him and Keith Lee. He’s wrestled everyone from Bryan Danielson to Johnny Gargano to Matt Riddle and it’s been said that he’s the best heavyweight in Europe. Expect suplexes and forearms for days.
More to come!