Pro Wrestling Guerilla’s “WrestleMania” — Battle of Los Angeles 2018 — is finally here and complete with a new venue, The Globe Theater. The spacious downtown LA venue has an attractive laser red and black interior, several balcony views, three bars and air condition. There is a God! As we say goodbye to Reseda and Legion Larry (sortakindmaybe), the 3-day BOLA arrives with 3 stacked cards full of international flavor. I never expected to attend the entire BOLA weekend, so be sure to check back with GHG every morning this weekend ratings and reviews of Nights 2 and 3.
–First Round: Rey Horus v Adam Brooks – A tale of two matches, with both guys over in the promotion and on good rolls as of late. Horus, in particular, has been a firecracker while Brooksie has shown both flashes of brilliance as an all around solid hand. Adam’s a dynamic heel, to boot, so I wasn’t exactly thrilled when the Aussie gave Rey the end-match handshake without a devious attack (that could build towards a rematch, or Horus needing an injury replacement, etc.), but I get we’re at PWG for matches, not storylines. As far as the opener, 12-minutes would’ve been perfect instead of the 20 as killer spots and intense false finishes were marred by restholds and occasional unsureness. Horus did finish Brooks off with an impressive wheelbarrow bomb following a swanton dive counter. 3.25/5
–First Round: Flamita v Puma King – This was easily the match of the night until the main event, and I don’t think anyone quite got themselves over as much as Puma King. The guy is a Fire Pro Wrestling created character come to life; purring along the ropes like a cat, while simultaneously putting the gimmick to good use in battle. This was tremendous fun, and, minus one minor botch or two, seemless in movement. Flamita is one of the fastest guys in the business, as his style worked wonders with Puma’s deft countering and slippery reversals. While Flamita finished it off with a 450 corkscrew in — you guessed it! — 12-minutes, can I just say.. “ALL HAIL PUMA KING!” #pleasecomeback – 4/5
–First Round: CIMA v Jody Fleisch – The weakest match of the night would’ve been a very good WWE TV match, opening with a long comedy bit that had me and many others rolling– much to the chagrin of those who just wanted to see.. WRESTLING(!!!). But when the two did mix it up, we got quality. Jody’s athleticism for 38-years old was incredible, hitting a spectacular tornado springboard DDT and CIMA, at 40, never showed any age, completing the mission via flying Meteora. Titantron where are you: Half the crowd missed a crazy spot that took place at one of the Theater walls far from the ring. 2.75/5
First Round: Bandido v T-Hawk – Bandido, coming off an impressive showing in Chicago 2 weeks ago at ALL IN and AAW, battled T-Hawk in an invigorating contrast of styles contest heading towards the break. The OWE wrestler packs a far more methodical approach than PWG fans are probably accustomed to, mixing in some great facials reminiscent of Adam Cole/The Rock with lightning hard chops; the “Power Master” would be right at home in NXT. Wilder, Bandito matched the Japanese athlete with stinging knife-edges of his own. This wasn’t the smoothest match of the night, but a damned good one–following several highlights moments, Bandito moves on with his signature flipping fallaway slam from the second turnbuckle. 3.5/5
First Round: “Bad Boy” Joey Janela v “The Product” – Two of the hottest acts on the indie scene take their bloody rivalry from Beyond Wrestling to the Battle of LA. Riddle match aside, this hot contest might’ve been Starr’s best in PWG too. This match had it all, from great strike exchanges to mat-based techniques, opening with “The Product” ripping the mic from Christian Cole, calling him “generic ring announcer #5” on the way to broadcasting his own classic introduction to a chorus of boos. Super heat. Comedy aside, there was a killer exchange of Tope’s that Starr transitioned to an impressive final dive. One dangerous apron Scorpion Deathdrop from Janela aside these two nutcases kept it pretty much safe, nailing transitional piledrivers and brainbusters, culminated via Bad Boy superkick surprise. 3.75/5
First Round: Brody King v PCO – The best bad match of the year? We were all there to see Big Van Kane perform like he was relegated to 205 Live a.k.a. 50-year old former WWF Quebecer, PCO, destroying his and Brody’s bods with suicide spots all over the Globe. It was a fuckshow, more suited for Worldstar Hip-Hop or YouTube than a PWG Blu Ray. It was something! PCO lived up to all that insanity, but let’s just hope PWG’s hometown King can tighten up his game heading into the second round. A very fun 3/5 (2 for the match, 4 for the risk)
Main Event: Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) v Ilja Dragunov & Shingo Takagi – This was a super main event that lived up to our wildest expectations. I can speak for all 600+ of us marks in attendance last night, right? I mean, you had 4 of the baddest dudes in the world, a hard-hitting, high-energy fight just as suited for WWF’s Saturday Night Main Event or classic NWA. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped lower and lower in match’s second half; take one look at Ilya’s chest for proof. This match, which also had a surprise Thatcher pin on Tagaki, perfectly set the stage for the rest of the weekend and was also very special to me, personally, having only learned of and experienced both Takagi (via All Japan’s Champion Carnival) and Dragunov (via wXw) in the past year. In the end, it was nothing short of a dream match come to fruition. 4.5/5
Overall = 3.5/5 Bibles
While Night 1 had its peaks and valleys, this was a very strong first stage of BOLA that sent a lot of folks away happy and only more excited for what’s to come. Two contests aside (that both offered very high entertainment value, nonetheless), matches ranged from very good to great, and we witnessed the rise of a new favorite here at Pro Wrestling Guerilla in Puma King. And following that amazing main event who couldn’t be more psyched for tonight’s battle between N1 tag partners (WALTER v Thatcher, Shingo v Ilya)? BOLA Night 2, hurry up already.