Stage 2 of PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles 2018 was absolutely bonkers, especially in its near flawless second half. If you still need to catch up on the results, reviews and ratings from BOLA Night 1, CLICK HERE. Otherwise, the following could be a detriment to your heart. Viewer discretion is advised.
First Round: Trevor Lee v Marko Stunt – Despite how prolific Chris Brookes has been throughout the international indie scene, his absence was the best thing for this match; I can’t believe I’m saying that, but Marko Stunt absolutely brought out the best in Trevor Lee. This “match” had tremendous heat, easily the best heel/babyface dynamic in the tournament and, perhaps, even professional wrestling. When 1-2-3 Ki.. er.. Stunt did pour on offense he crushed it, using an array of admirable athletic attempts on the much burlier Lee — who mostly threw the kid around like a ragdoll. Lee punished and mocked him the entire time, and this followed a pair of the best pre-match promos of the year. Just a fun ass opener. 3.5/5
First Round: Jonah Rock v Sammy Guevara – Although I’m a fan of Sammy’s, this match didn’t do much for me even with an interesting heel v heel dynamic. Following a near 4-month absence, Guevara hadn’t lost a step in his dick-heel disdain for fans, pretty much forcing Rock to go the way as a baby. It was awkward, but Jonah was over! In a night of crazy things, Sammy also did the craziest thing of the night: “The Ibushi Special” a.k.a. a sunset flip off the VIP balcony, crashing onto half of Rock and a few of the fan’s chairs. He didn’t nail all of it, but he didn’t break his neck either. Whew. Rock put him away with a guillotine, which felt sorta anticlimactic. 3/5
First Round: Robbie Eagles v DJZ – Another submission finish, this one more surprising due to the nature of the Junior Heavy/Cruiserweight contenders’ in-ring stylings. DJZ’s Daft Punkian light-up suit (and multitude of horn sound effects) won over the crowd, and no matter how little chemistry the guys had in the beginning (there were 3 or 4 terrible miscues, none worse than DJZ missing on an El Generico-esque tope through the outside ropes), the crowd still backed both guys until they recovered and made it a solid match. Eagles won via leglock. 3.25/5
First Round: Jeff Cobb v Darby Allin – There were three “man vs. boy” matches on the card tonight (well, four, if you want to count WALTER’s punishment on his own tag partner), and this was the best of them. Some may look at them as squashes, yet so long as the crowd is ultra responsive, match time goes around 10-minutes and it tells a great story, who cares? It was clear the theme of BOLA Night 2 would be overcoming the odds, and no guy tried harder than Darby Allin. Not too many wrestlers get punished for this long and only get more over the longer they’re beaten. It was tremendous. Cobb, a heel in several other promotions (AAW, ROH, etc.) but not in PWG, also had a battle of his own; you could sense he wasn’t too thrilled with himself killing this kid, and he felt the frustration and horror from it. Another nutty spot: Allin dove from the top buckle towards Cobb on the apron, missing an elbow that thankfully ended with a safe yet terrifying landing. Jeff ultimately won the affair with a suplex over the ropes and back into the center of the ring. It was nasty. 3.75/5
First Round: Shingo Takagi v Ilja Dragunov – This match came off the tremendous tag match main event from Stage 1, as partners Takagi and Dragunov faced each other in a very stiff, forgivingly sloppy war. Hell, Ilya almost pulled a “Brie Mode”, getting tangled in middle rope on a wild Tope attempt. Something about those away hard cam ropes — warped, not tight enough maybe? — fucked many wrestlers’ attempts throughout Night 2. Having watched singles matches from both studs before, this was far from their best effort; there was even a strange German Release that wasn’t supposed to.. release. But, through a series of staggering open hand chops, stiff forearms, vicious lariots, mean shoulder blocks, and flat-out tenacious adrenaline, Tagaki and Ilya easily won the crowd back the longer the match went. I feel for Ilya’s neck after a receiving an awkwardly executed first Made in Japan (Last Falconry). After Tagaki put Dragunov away with a second MIJ, the souped-up PWG crowd responded with “That Was Awesome” chants, nonetheless. 3.75/5
First Round: WALTER v Timothy Thatcher – The anticipated rematch between tag team partners (that just sounds crazy, doesn’t it?) was built up from the end of the main event last night. The clear goal for Ringkampf in this one was making us believe Thatcher had a chance to win. They did that. Despite being abused for the majority of the 18-minutes, Tim Thatcher more than held his own; taking WALTER’s best rather than countering (see: Zack Sabre), retorting with some strong style of his own and mat-based toughness. It opened up on the ground, both guys looking for a positional advantage before WALTER’s unbelievable athleticism took over. Although not quite the classic the two had from PROGRESS Chapter 62 earlier in the year, there’s an argument here for BOLA 2018‘s Best First Round Match. 4/5
Six-Person Tag Team Main Event:
CIMA & The Rascalz (Zachary Wentz & Dezmond Xavier) vs. Bandido, Flamita, & Rey Horus – This main event was so great, I just want to say “go see this now!”, but then that would require waiting a couple months for the Blu Ray. So here goes: it’s impossible to remember all 600 spots from the 12-minutes even if I took notes (Hey! Remember when 12 minutes “ruined” ALL IN‘s main event? Uh, this ran roughly the same time…), but this Lucha Rules match was even more frantic and impressive than a match in Chicago that had Ibushi, Young Bucks and Rey Mysterio. The advantage? Chemistry. After witnessing a honey bunches of botches throughout the night (hard to blame that rear hard cam middle rope now), there was never a dull moment. It seemed every wrestler was in the right place at the right time, with multiple explosions from pillar-to-post and to the outside. If you’re OK with no-selling, high spot, high spot, dive, dive, dive, then you’re gonna fuckin’ adore this. Best of all: PWG’s Rookie of the Year, Bandito, might be the biggest star in the promotion right now. 4.5/5
Overall = 3.75/5 Bibles
While I had more fun with Night 1, Night 2 was more consistent in-ring and, again, delivered a fantastic second half that even topped the 2nd half from last night. That’s huge. If you forgive mistakes for guys working hard, then Dragunov and Tagaki had the Best First Round match; even if it wasn’t as sound technically as the match that followed, the Russia/Japan standoff was the more thrilling, and just as brutal. PWG’s international flavor is certainly shining through this weekend, giving fans a wide range of styles match-to-match. I enjoyed the underdog theme that ran through several of the tournament matches, and there’s no doubt that tonight’s show will deliver yet another riveting dynamic. Who said these indy guys couldn’t tell a story? See you guys soon.