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Break It Down: PWG 2011 Battle of Los Angeles

October 11, 2011 | Posted by Ryan Rozanski
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Break It Down: PWG 2011 Battle of Los Angeles  

Battle of Los Angeles on August 20th, 2011

Opening Match: First Round: Willie Mack vs. Chris Hero
They begin with some chain wrestling. Mack tries to catch Hero off-guard with his mat wrestling but Hero is more than capable of hanging with him. There’s miscommunication during a leapfrog and Mack catches Hero down low with a headbutt. Hero immediately takes a timeout on the floor and rightfully so. They exchange chops and Hero takes control after a flash kick. Mack fights back with a series of kicks but Hero knocks him down with a few strikes of his own. Mack builds up momentum and connects with a gamenguiri. He follows with a dive to the floor and lands on his feet. In the ring, Mack hits a samoan drop and lands a standing moonsault. Hero misses a charge and gets caught by the MDX. Mack connects with a slingshot dropkick and mimics Human Tornado with kicks in the corner. Hero responds with a huge mafia kick for a nearfall. Mack connects with a lariat and hits an awkward gourdbuster. Hero answers with a saito suplex and both men are down. Hero hits a liger bomb and connects with the Deathblow for a two count. They trade strikes and Hero lays in a roaring elbow. Mack kicks out at one! Mack hits an exploder but gets plastered by a roaring mafia kick. Hero tries another Deathblow but Mack reverses into a backslide for the win at 19:38. Hero was on point throughout the entirety of this match and really made Mack look like a monstrous threat. The beginning portion of the contest revolved around Hero trying to figure out a way to gain the advantage. The match then transitioned into a slugfest between these two, with Mack being able to hang with Hero at every turn. While there were a few moments of miscommunication that hurt the flow of the action, this was a great opener that didn’t feel like twenty minutes. ***¼

Match #2: First Round: Dave Finlay vs. Kevin Steen
Finlay fishhooks Steen and elbows him across the nose. Sounds about right. He then does it again. Steen slaps Finlay, who responds by applying a crossface. Finlay connects with a short-arm clothesline. They exchange forearms on the outside. Finlay plays possum and lays in a kick to the midsection. Steen gains the advantage by slamming Finlay’s left leg into the ringpost repeatedly. He hits a flipping leg drop, putting all of his weight onto the left leg, and takes control. Finlay comes back with a series of forearms and a seated senton. Steen hits a lungblower along with a corner cannonball. Finlay gets his knees up to block a swantan but clutches his left leg in pain. Steen applies a sharpshooter for the victory at 15:12. This was a much different match than Finlay’s outing against Sami Callihan from EVOLVE. Instead of being the dominant force, Finlay spent most of the match fighting from behind. Although there weren’t any jaw-dropping moments or anything, these two wrestled a smart match. Finlay found himself in survival mode down the stretch and that involved using his already worked-over left leg to slow down Steen. That ended up being too much for Finlay and Steen was able to pick up the victory via sharpshooter. This was a solid first round match and a nice win for Steen as he moves forward in the tournament. ***

Match #3: First Round: Claudio Castagnoli vs. El Generico
Generico armdrags out of a wristlock and Claudio doesn’t seem very happy tonight. Generico snaps off a few more armdrags. Claudio doesn’t provide a clean break in the corner and connects with a mongolian chop. Generico responds with a leg lariat followed by corner punches. Claudio counters with snake eyes and takes over. Generico runs up the ropes and snaps off a flying hurricanrana. That only makes Claudio angry and he hits three gutwrench powerbombs. Generico avoids a bicycle kick and low bridges Claudio to the floor. He follows out with a dive. Back in, Generico attempts a flying crossbody but Claudio counters with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Incredible. Generico counters the UFO with a satellite headscissors. He connects with a corner yakuza kick. Claudio reverses the brainbuster into a popup european uppercut! Generico sneaks in a crucifix for a close nearfall. The crowd is on their feet. Claudio connects with a lariat and goes up top. Generico follows him up and snaps off a hurricanrana. Claudio rolls through into a sunset flip for a nearfall. Generico answers with a bridging pin for the win at 15:28. These two have such great chemistry in the ring that it’s almost scary if you think about it for too long. Some of the sequences in this match have to be seen to be believed and the crowd was molten for the finishing stretch. Even when one spot didn’t go as planned, they won back the crowd almost instantly. Their title match in January was more cerebral but this was the quintessential first round match of a tournament. ***¾

Match #4: First Round: Eddie Edwards vs. Roderick Strong
These two have wrestled a lot in 2011 but let’s see what they can do in front of a PWG crowd. They trade control on the mat. The action eventually goes to the outside where they trade chops in the crowd and around ringside. Strong hits a back suplex onto the apron. Edwards answers with a brainbuster onto the apron. Strong kicks him in the face. Edwards lands a moonsault off the apron and connects with a missile dropkick in the ring. Strong catapults him throat-first across the bottom rope and takes control. After a lengthy strike exchange, Edwards finds an opening after a german suplex. Both men are down. Edwards connects with a vicious boot and hits a sit-out gourdbuster. He armdrags out of a backbreaker and hits a backpack chinbreaker. Edwards transitions into a half crab but Strong is able to reach the bottom rope. Strong hits an olympic slam followed by a gutbuster. He connects with a superkick for a nearfall. Edwards finds himself in the Stronghold but makes the bottom rope. Edwards connects with a superkick of his own and hits an overhead suplex. They trade strikes and Edwards comes off the middle rope with a lungblower. Strong fires back with the Sick Kick for a two count. He connects with an enzuigiri. Edwards responds with a nasty flying double stomp. He adds another double stomp for a nearfall. They trade quick pin attempts to no avail. After countering each other’s signature submission holds, Edwards finds success with a small package for the victory at 17:53. I’ve enjoyed their matches together in Ring of Honor this year but it was refreshing to see them wrestle a shorter match in front of a more energetic crowd. I think it’s gotten to the point where I’ve seen these two wrestle each other so many times that some of the novelty is starting to wear off. However, that doesn’t change the fact that they delivered a worthwhile match to close out the first round. Edwards has been putting on some terrific performances in PWG lately and Strong has been a fixture in the promotion for quite some time. They didn’t change things up too much but they certainly did more than enough to hold the crowd’s interest and generate some genuine suspense as to who was going to advance in the tournament. ***¼

Match #5: Johnny Goodtime and Johnny Yuma vs. Joey Ryan and Scorpio Sky
The winners will become the #1 contenders for the PWG World Tag Team Titles. Goodtime takes out the Dynasty with an asai moonsault. Both teams brawl around ringside. In the ring, Goodtime connects with a leg lariat on Ryan. The RockNES Monsters follow with some double teaming on Sky. Ryan military presses Yuma off the apron and onto some chairs. The Dynasty isolate Yuma until he takes advantage of some miscommunication and makes the tag. Goodtime snaps off a hurricanrana on Ryan and cleans house with his wacky offense. He hits a back suplex on Ryan and a gourdbuster on Sky. Yuma follows with a senton onto both of his opponents. Ryan hits a spear on Goodtime along with a pumphandle suplex. He superkicks Goodtime and takes out Yuma with a dive. In the ring, Yuma plants Ryan with a tornado DDT and hits the Sex Factor on Sky. Goodtime and Sky land stereo frog splashes. Sky sneaks in a quick rollup on Goodtime for the win at 13:56. After building up the Dynasty/Young Bucks feud so much at the last show, it’s only fitting that the Dynasty receive a title shot. Unfortunately, these two teams weren’t able to top their match from Eight. The action never fully clicked and while things picked up considerably down the stretch, the match never turned into anything special. I still have memories of the Dynasty/Young Bucks matches from 2007 and 2008 so it’ll be interesting to see their title match at the next show. **½

The Young Bucks attack both teams after the match. The crowd chants Booker T-related lines at them. Matt says that they won’t shake anyone’s hand because they are the best tag team in the world. He claims that it’s unfortunate that they don’t have any challengers tonight. The crowd chants for the Kings of Wrestling but Matt insists that they moved to Florida. The Kings of Wrestling interrupt and Hero makes fun of the Young Bucks for awhile. Hero says that they’re mad about losing in the first round and they have some frustrations to take out. They want a title shot tonight. Matt accepts the challenge, spits at Hero, and the Young Bucks run to the back. Claudio performs a spin-a-roonie to lighten the mood.

Match #6: Semifinal Round: Willie Mack vs. El Generico
Mack, in another ode to Human Tornado, starts a dance-off with Generico. For the sheer ridiculousness of Generico’s dance moves, I have to give the nod to him. Mack connects with a pimp slap and narrowly avoids a corner yakuza kick. He follows with shuffling kicks in the corner. Generico blocks a low blow and returns the favor. Mack hits a fallaway slam, sending Generico out of the ring. Mack lays in repeated knee strikes to the back of the head and takes control. Generico comes back with a blue thunder bomb and connects with a corner yakuza kick. Mack responds with a samoan drop and a nice enzuigiri. Generico connects with another corner yakuza kick and hits a brainbuster for the victory at 10:22. The fact that this match took place in the semifinals of a one-night tournament undoubtedly hurt the quality of this contest. They didn’t receive that much time and the finish almost came of nowhere. However, all of these things are understandable, as it would be incredibly difficult for every match in a one-night tournament to stand out. The action remained fun and energetic throughout the entire ten minutes and Mack’s stock definitely rose a bit coming out of this show. **¾

Match #7: Semifinal Round: Kevin Steen vs. Eddie Edwards
No one will budge on a shoulder block battle. Steen out-smarts Edwards with a drop toe hold but misses a flipping leg drop. Edwards connects with a kick to the back. They trade eye rakes and almost attack the referee on multiple occasions. Edwards connects with an enzuigiri but gets caught by a stunner. Steen hits his flipping leg drop and takes over. He starts biting Edwards and the crowd chants “bite the wolf.” Edwards low bridges Steen to the floor and follows out with a dive. Back in, they exchange forearms and boots. Edwards wins a superkick battle but runs into a powerbomb. Steen connects with a superkick for a nearfall. Edwards applies a half crab and stomps the back of Steen’s head. Steen is able to fight out of the hold. Edwards hits a fisherman buster for a two count. Steen finds life with a pumphandle neckbreaker but misses a moonsault. Edwards comes off the middle rope with a lungblower. Steen flips out of an overhead suplex and locks in a sharpshooter for the win at 12:10. For some reason, I find Edwards to be much more interesting in PWG than Ring of Honor. He showed some personality here, as the beginning portion of the match revolved around him and Steen eye raking and biting each other. The crowd seemed to really enjoy their antics as well. The finishing stretch provided some worthwhile exchanges and this was just a solid semifinal round match from two wrestlers who know each other pretty well. ***¼

Match #8: PWG World Tag Team Titles: Matt and Nick Jackson © vs. Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli
Of course, the Young Bucks turn down a handshake before the opening bell. Claudio trips Nick on a crisscross and the Kings of Wrestling follow with one of their old double team maneuvers. Claudio dominates a test of strength against Nick and Hero adds a mafia kick. The Kings wishbone Matt and Nick at the same time and Hero connects with a double basement dropkick. They remain in control until Nick catches Claudio with a dropkick. He follows with a springboard moonsault to the outside. The Young Bucks isolate Claudio until he hits a double bulldog and makes the tag. Hero connects with a roaring elbow on Nick followed by a mafia kick on Matt. He hits a spinning neckbreaker on Matt and takes out the Young Bucks with a springboard moonsault. Hero unleashes more elbows but gets caught by a superkick from Nick. Matt hits sliced bread on Hero and Nick adds a 450 splash. Claudio military presses Nick into Matt. He giant swings Matt into a basement dropkick from Hero. Nick and Hero brawl through the entrance curtain. Claudio hits the UFO on Matt for a nearfall. Matt sneaks in a rollup with his feet on the ropes and the Young Bucks retain their titles at 21:28. The first ten minutes of this match were awesome, with the Kings bringing back some of their old tandem offense and just having fun in the ring. The action eventually settled down and these two teams had a quality match that might not fully meet expectations due to an abrupt finish. However, I couldn’t picture the Young Bucks defeating Hero and Claudio in many other ways besides a cheap rollup. As far as impromptu matches are concerned, this was an excellent way to give Steen and Generico a break before the finals and a fine send-off for the Kings of Wrestling. ***½

The camera cuts to the Kings of Wrestling attacking the Young Bucks in the ring. They hit the KRS-1 on Matt and stand tall.

Match #9: 2011 Battle of Los Angeles Final Round: Kevin Steen vs. El Generico
These two waste no time and immediately start brawling. Steen lands a dive to the floor and powerbombs Generico onto the apron. Generico fires back with a beautiful moonsault followed by a dive from the top rope. They brawl around ringside and throughout the crowd. Generico uses the wall of the venue to hit a tornado DDT. In the ring, Steen blocks a slingshot maneuver with an ace crusher. Generico hits a michinoku driver but runs into a vicious superkick. Steen hits his pumphandle neckbreaker and synchs in a sharpshooter. He goes up top but Generico follows him up. Steen comes off the middle rope but gets kicked in the gut. Generico tries for a brainbuster but Steen counters into a package piledriver for a nearfall. Steen goes back to the sharpshooter. Generico is able to reach the bottom rope. He overhead suplexes Steen into the turnbuckles, hits a half nelson suplex, and follows with a package piledriver for a two count. Generico connects with three corner yakuza kicks and hits a brainbuster for another nearfall. The action goes to the apron where Generico hits another brainbuster to win the 2011 Battle of Los Angeles at 13:45. The Steen/Generico feud has delivered so many memorable moments since late 2009. When talking about any feud over the past few years, it’s certainly on the highest level. This match was simply Steen and Generico brutalizing each other for fourteen minutes and it was tremendous. Nothing needs to be said about their ability in the ring and the crowd energy was phenomenal. Both men had already wrestled twice on this show and I don’t think anyone can fault this match for its shorter duration. Believe me, they did more than enough here to make any fan look forward to their rematch. This was an excellent way to cap off the tournament and there is definitely intrigue heading into future shows. ***¾

Rick Knox presents Generico with his trophy. He brings a little kid with an El Generico mask into the ring and makes the kid give Steen the middle finger. Steen breaks the trophy and runs away. Generico celebrates with the broken trophy and thanks the crowd to end the show.

The 411: The 2011 Battle of Los Angeles switched to a one-night format with eight participants. However, with these format changes came one of the most consistently entertaining installments of the tournament. Every first round match received a decent amount of time and managed to stand out, especially the great outing between El Generico and Claudio Castagnoli. We also received a worthwhile impromptu match as the Young Bucks defended their belts against the Kings of Wrestling, who may have been making their last appearance in PWG for quite some time. Lastly, the finals of the tournament delivered another entry into the Kevin Steen vs. El Generico feud and they had a fantastic thirteen-minute war to cap off the tournament. With PWG, it's not so much a question of whether the show earns a recommendation or not, it's a question of how strong of a recommendation. In the case of the 2011 Battle of Los Angeles, the show earns a high recommendation.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  8.5   [ Very Good ]  legend

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