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Guerrilla Reviewfare: PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2014 (Night One)

September 4, 2015 | Posted by Jake St-Pierre
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Guerrilla Reviewfare: PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2014 (Night One)  

I’ve never been the most prolific reviewer out there. Partly because the only promotion I really care to review is PWG and partly because the real world doesn’t give me the time necessary to do a ridiculous amount of reviews. But, I did promise to one reader last year I would do BOLA 2014. Of course, me being me, I never got around to it nor the shows that took place after Sold Our Soul For Rock N Roll. Reviewing three 3-hour shows is a tall task, and at the time getting it done would have been an enormous pain in the ass. But now that I have the time, and we’re days away from 2015’s edition, I’ve decided to review the most glaring omission in my review archive; the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles.

We are TAPED from the American Legion in Reseda, CA.

Your hosts are Excalibur and probably like, Chuck Taylor and Chris Hero. Joey Ryan too.

BOLA First Round Match: Bobby Fish vs. TJ Perkins
I’m not quite sure about this as an opener, but it’s not my show.

Former TNA commentator Todd Keneley is your guest ring announcer. PWG wasting no time with the random cameos. Neither man in the match wastes time getting to the GENERIC INDY STANDOFF!~! either. TJ ends up being the first guy with some semblance of an advantage, but it’s too early to keep it, as Bobby rocks him with a kick to the chest. Bobby and TJ trade some pretty gnarly Fucking Unnecessary kicks, and they willingly trade… oh, but TJ is smarter than that, as he lets Bobby tense up for the expected kick. When it doesn’t come, Bobby gets up to only find himself the recipient of a missile dropkick. Perkins attempts to springboard outside to Fish, but lands on the apron, which Bobby takes advantage of by sweeping TJ’s leg out from under him. We’ve got some limbwork, here. TJ manages to find his way back, with a springboard dropkick and a tope suicida. TJ gets off a frog splash, but Bobby is able to move out of the way before he makes contact. TJ persists by attempting a cross armbreaker, but Bobby counters into one of his own! TJ counters that with his cool little Sharpshooter variant. Bobby rolls around and counters into a heel hook, but TJ gets the ropes barely. TJ catches Bobby with the Detonation Kick, but Fish reverses a Tiger Suplex into a Kneebar. TJ attempts to counter, but ends up bridging back into a cradle that wins the match for him at the 13 minute mark. ***1/4 This pleasantly surprised me, I must say. Bobby Fish did a good job dissecting the knee, while TJ mostly did a decent job selling it. Of course, TJ being TJ, he didn’t really do it with too much commitment, but they were able to string together some really cool counters and sequences that balanced a few small selling snafus out. It’s not one of those openers that will end up finding its way onto Match of the Night lists, but they pulled out a surprisingly advanced match considering my suspicions to the contrary.

BOLA First Round Match: Biff Busick vs. Roderick Strong
This was a few months before Roderick turned into the juggernaut he is currently, but he was well on his way as PWG had given him a few big victories prior to this match, making him the number one contender even before his entry into the BOLA tournament. This is Biff’s PWG debut, and Chuck Taylor joins us on commentary for it.

Biff goes stiff on Roddy with a European Uppercut, followed up with a flipping neckbreaker. Roddy comes back with a barrage of chops on the outside, continuing the advantage inside the ring. Roddy shows some crazy strength by deadlifting Busick up into a backbreaker. Busick responds by uppercutting the future champ out of the ring and diving out on top of him with a RIDICULOUS Tope Con Hilo! Death By Roderick hits back in the ring, but Biff powers out at two and is able to recover with a Half and Half suplex, followed by a running European uppercut for a nearfall. Roddy shitcans Biff to get out of the Rear Naked Choke he’s in, and follows up with a Jumping Knee and the End of Heartache to pick up the win in 14 minutes. **3/4 Quite the underwhelming debut for Mr. Busick here, I’m afraid to say. They never really got out of first gear or changed pace, so aside from Biff’s tope con hilo, there wasn’t much substance to this. It felt like a match Roderick Strong would wrestle at a Ring of Honor house show rather than a match at the biggest tournament of the year so I think it’s safe to call this a disappointment.

BOLA First Round Match: Cedric Alexander vs. Trevor Lee
Trevor is coming off of a big win against Kevin Steen here, on Mr. Wrestling’s last night in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, so the momentum is safely on his side. Either way, I think it’s almost a guarantee this match is gonna give this show the kick in the ass it needs.

Lee uses his weird movement to retain a tentative advantage, but Cedric responds with speed. Lee uses some speed and more weirdness of his own, but Cedric catches him with a dropkick. They take turns getting out of the way of dives, but Trevor comes out on top with a running kick on the apron. Lee BRAINS Cedric with a massive dropkick that crumbles Alexander immediately. Cedric kicks Trevor in the face, and follows up with a springboard clothesline. Alexander recovers from a botch with a nice split-legged moonsault, but only gets 2. Trevor dodges a diving DDT and Mushroom Stomps Cedric for a nearfall. Cedric turns an Air Raid Crash into a flatliner for another close two count. Cedric follows a running Lee into the corner with a dropkick, but TREVOR HITS THE ORANGE CRUSH OUT OF NOWHERE! Trevor Lee advances in 15 minutes. *** Again, this wasn’t as good as it should have been, especially considering the participants involved. Saving themselves for matches later in the weekend is paramount, yes, but in a vaccuum these guys didn’t live up to what I thought could have been a real showstealer. The finish was amazing though so kudos to them for turning it up there, but everything before it seemed like more house show fodder on PWG’s biggest tournament ever.

PWG World Tag Team Title Match: The World’s Cutest Tag Team © vs. The Addiction vs. The Inner City Machine Guns
This show isn’t really lighting the world on fire thus far, but you’d have to try to screw this combination up, so I stay optimistic. If you have yet to watch the match where Candice and Joey win the belts from the Young Bucks, you’re horrible at being a wrestling fan. It’s the PWG Match of 2014 by a good margin.

The ovation Candice and Joey get here is incredible, it must be said. Joey auctions off his Blow Pop to a guy in a Legalize Sleaze shirt. These veterans are only concerned with putting themselves over anymore. Christopher Daniels prevents Joey from tagging in Candice, much to the chagrin of the crowd. Candice eventually does find her way in, and she SLOWS IT DOWN with a side headlock, a move I incredibly don’t think I’ve seen her use before. Daniels ragdolls her up, which kinda shows us why. Rich Swann blind tags in and drops Daniels with a dropkick. The Machine Guns pull off a fantastic barrage of double team moves on Daniels and Kazarian, which Ricochet follows with the People’s Moonsault. Joey Ryan tags Ricochet to bring himself in, but finds himself at the mercy of The Addiction soon afterwards. I’m still surprised every time I hear that Daniels is 45 years old. I mean, come on, it’s not fair that I’m gonna be a sack of shit when I’m 45 and he’s still one of the best wrestlers alive with no end in sight. Candice hot tags in and cleans house, but Daniels straight up JABS HER IN THE MOUTH! I know it’s awful, but I laugh uncontrollably every time it happens. I rewatched the BOLA ’13 Trios match the other day, and I had to pause the show after Adam Cole bitch slaps her. The reaction, the crowd’s gasping. Just perfect. Candice and Ricochet get into it, but the Addiction breaks up the shoving match. Daniels escapes a Ricochet Scissor Kick and MURDERS HIM with an STO! Swann steps off Ricochet’s back mid-Angels Wings and enzuigiris Daniels, and the Machine Guns COME OUT ON TOP OF THE ADDICTION WITH STEREO CORKSCREW DIVES! CANDICE HITS THE PARTNER ASSISTED RANA ON RICOCHET TO THE FLOOR! Kazarian tosses Rich Swann off the top rope as the Addiction hit a double team, but Candice blind tags in and hits a reverse rana on Rich Swann! Candice and Joey retain their belts at the 17 minute mark. ***1/2 That’s more like it. It wasn’t a drop-dead insane spotfest with five minutes worth of dives, but the personalites within this match—and especially the heel work of Daniels and Kazarian—carried this into a pretty good finishing stretch. These six didn’t re-invent the wheel, but they still churned out the best match of the show yet.

BOLA First Round Match: Michael Elgin vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Call me a hipster, but Michael Elgin was better when he had a mullet.

They throw some heavy leather immediately upon the bell ringing. Elgin dodges a running knee in the corner and elbows Ciampa as Tommaso attempts a Tope Suicida. Elgin grabs Ciampa from the ropes and hits a nasty delayed vertical on the floor. Elgin tops it by MURDERING Ciampa with a corkscrew senton upon entering the ring. JESUS. No wonder he never hits that thing. Ciampa escapes another suplex with the Testicular Claw, but Elgin fires back by hitting a rebound German Suplex. Ciampa suplexes Elgin into the corner, and Elgin gets out of the ring to try and escape. Elgin whiffs a Harlem Hangover on Ciampa, but recovers by booting Ciampa in the face and hitting some sort of Rydeen Bomb. Ciampa hilariously tries to superplex Elgin onto the floor, but Elgin fights out. That doesn’t stop Ciampa from hitting an Air Raid Crash on the apron, though. Elgin counters the Rings of Saturn and backfists the shit out of Ciampa, but eats a lariat after Buckle Bombing the Psychopath! Elgin’s all “fuck you”, but Ciampa withstands it and hits another Air Raid Crash for 2. Elgin gets out of an avalanche Air Raid Crash and hits a Niagara Bomb, followed by an Elgin Bomb! Ciampa kicks out. Ciampa powers out of the deadlift Superplex and HITS PROJECT CIAMPA! ELGIN KICKS OUT! Ciampa eats a Ripcord Elbow and a Lariat, and Elgin picks up the win in 15 minutes. *** These two had an incredible match at ROH Best in the World 2013 and while this obviously didn’t find its way to that plateau, they still pulled out something pretty good… but I do have some issues with it. What prevented this from hitting an above average raiting was the time they took to do something substantive in the match. They wrestled like they were blown up for 3/5 of this match, and it wasn’t in a “fighting spirit” type way. Crowd brawling is rarely done well, and it’s done even worse when all you do is walk around the ring and hit a few light forearms. They killed time, but didn’t do it with personality or comedy like a lot of PWG guys do. They just breathed heavily and did wrestling school basics until it was time to go home. Once they got to the point, it was awesome—hence the three star rating—but boy did they take their precious time getting there. This just felt like another house show match in a line of them tonight.

BOLA First Round Match: AJ Styles vs. Brian Myers
I always thought Mr. Myers was highly overrated (a lot people liked to say he was underutilized but when you can’t have a good match with Sami Zayn in 15 minutes, you’re right where you need to be) and this match showed me so, but I also said the same thing about Trent Baretta, and he’s awesome now, so what do I know?

Myers tries to mock AJ, so Styles dropkicks him for being a dick. AJ hits his nice kip-up Rana while a group of fans decides to be as annoying as possible with their booing. There’s booing, and there’s BOOOOOOOOOOOOO for the sake of being obnoxious, and this was the latter. It’s chinlock city as we slow things down. After more chinlocks, AJ hits the Pele Kick, and he follows up with the springboard forearm and a neckbreaker for two. AJ murders Myers with a snap suplex into the corner. AJ hits a MOONSAULT DDT on the floor to Myers, which is awesome. Myers recovers as they enter the ring though, hitting a diving elbow for a two count. They screw up the finish, so Myers taps to a Styles Clash influenced Boston Crab in 13 minutes. ** I didn’t like this match the first time I saw it, and I disliked it this time around too. Brian Myers was so uninteresting and bland at everything that even AJ’s bursts of offense—which he is great at—were boring. They wrestled for 13 minutes and a third of it was spent in a Brian Myers chinlock. I never liked Brian Myers, and he’s now managed to have boring matches with both Sami Zayn and AJ Styles. I don’t think it’s just me. This tournament is starting off with a pretty wimpy bang.

BOLA First Round Match: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Drew Gulak
I have a feeling we’ll at least see some gnarly technical wrestling, but this show could use a real kick in the ass right about now.

Kyle bitchslaps Gulak as Drew backs him into the ropes, but nothing intense quite comes from it. As you can imagine, it’s technical early on. Kyle gives Gulak a barrage of knees, capping it off with a running knee to the ribs of a turtled up Gulak. Gulak goes after O’Reilly’s knee with a shinbreaker. O’Reilly hits the kick, slaps, and leg sweep to fight back. O’Reilly puts in the Guillotine, but Gulak cleverly counters it by wrenching Kyle’s leg. He rolls into an ankle lock immediately afterwards though. Gulak eats a suplex, but pops up and hits a Northern Lariat for a two count. Kyle hits a rebound lariat and a brainbuster for a two count, but Gulak knocks him out of the ring with a kick. Gulak eats an Alarm Clock from Kyle, and we have some unprotected headbutts. I’m pretty liberal with the spots, but the headbutts are a bit too much for me. And these are HARD. O’Reilly nearly puts in a cross armbreaker, but Gulak counters into a sharpshooter/Ankle Lock. Kyle gets the ropes though. Kyle hits a falling armbreaker off the top rope and puts in a crowbar, but Gulak murders him by countering it into a leg capture suplex. Kyle counters a Cradle Piledriver into a Triangle, but Gulak gets out… only to eat a kick to the head. O’Reilly hits a brainbuster for two, directly into the cross armbreaker to pick up the victory in 15 minutes. *** I feel like this match could have used another five minutes to really kick up, but what can you do? I think that’s really the only thing this match had going against it, but that made everything before the finish seem like build. So while they weren’t meandering or killing time, they still worked a slower pace than I’d have liked. Had they gotten the awesome finishing stretch Kyle O’Reilly can do, we’d be talking Match of the Night. Either way, this is probably the best tournament match so far.

The Young Bucks & Adam Cole vs. Zack Sabre Jr, Kenny Omega, & Chuck Taylor
There is no humanly possible way this isn’t amazing, and this show could use something amazing.

Sabre and Cole start things off, and Sabre is schooling Cole with his technical rasslin’. This dude is unreal. Cole shoves Zack and tells him to knock it off, but that only pisses Mr. Sabre Jr off. Cole just can’t get a move in edgeiwse here, and it’s glorious. Cole thankfully dodges the Penalty Kick, and Mt. Rushmore jumps Sabre and takes out the babyfaces. That doesn’t last long, as Chuck Taylor tags in. Chuck sweeps out Matt’s leg in the corner, allowing Zack to come in with a disgusting running European uppercut to a downed Matt Jackson. The Friends of Low Moral Fiber prevent Matt from putting up his knees on a Chuckie T senton, in a show of great teamwork. Kenny Omega tags in and hits a double bulldog on Matt and Cole. He rana’s Nick Jackson out of the ring and looks for a Tope Con Hilo, but he eats Early Onset Alzeheimer’s before he can take flight! Chuckie eats a knee and the Sliced Bread from the Young Bucks, followed by knees from Nick and Cole. Chairs are introduced, and the Bucks try to double stomp Chuckie’s head in a chair. TRENT BARETTA comes out though, injured knee and all, to save it. The Bucks take out his knee though, which pisses Chuck off so much that he cleans house of Mt. Rushmore. This doesn’t last long, as Sabre Jr eats a headscissor/dropkick from the Bucks that sends him outside. That allows Mt. Rushmore to work over Zack in the ring. Nick hits the slingshot X-Factor on Sabre, and he follows up by hitting a Tornado DDT to Chuck Taylor from the apron. Cole hits a Fireman’s Carry onto his knee on Sabre, but Zack perseveres and tags in Kenny Omega. Kenny hits a crossbody on Matt, and moves out of the way of Nick, who ends up frog splashing his brother! Omega powerombs Cole on the Bucks, but it only gets two. He hits Matt with a snap Dragon Suplex for a two count, and here comes Chuckie T! Chuckie SUPLEXES NICK INTO MATT in the corner. TOPE CON HILO FROM CHUCK! Zack absolutely murders Matt with a few relentless running European Uppercuts into the corner, and Zack counters a Casadora into a cross armbreaker! Cole breaks it up and trades shots with Sabre in the ring. Matt puts Zack up for the Tandem Tombstone, but Zack counters into something resembling the Chikara Special, but Matt muscles out of a triangle and buckle bombs Sabre into a kick from Nick! Superkicks into the Knee Brainbuster scores for a nearfall! SUPERKICKS FOR EVERYBODY! FLYING CROSS ARMBREAKER FROM SABRE TO MATT! NICK BREAKS IT WITH A 450 SPLASH! Omega and Cole come in and trade shots, and Cole eats a switch knee! Omega hits a double rana on the Bucks and HE HITS THE HADOUKEN ON MATT! KROYT’S WRATH ON COLE! THE BUCKS PULL OUT RICK KNOX! SABRE ACCIDENTALLY DIVES ON TOP OF RICK KNOX OUTSIDE! PANAMA SUNRISE ON OMEGA! MORE BANG FOR YOUR FUCK! NO REF! TRENT PULLS THE NEW REF OUT! NICK ACCIDENTALLY KICKS THE REF! TRENT WITH CHAIRSHOTS TO MOUNT RUSHMORE! PENALTY KICK FROM SABRE JR! CROYT’S WRATH! INTO THE AWFUL WAFFLE!~! THAT’S IT! The Friends of Low Moral Fiber win an amazing 22 minute match. **** Talk about saving a show, right? This match was incredible. From bell-to-bell, everything about this match worked. The personalities, the wrestling, the spots, everything. Whether it be Zack Sabre Jr putting on a clinic against Adam Cole, the Bucks doing their usually tremendous heel work during the heat segment, or the ridiculous finishing stretch, there was nothing about this match that I can give it negative marks for. Even the Trent interference worked, as it enhanced the match far more story-wise than it could have ever hurt it. The last two minutes were especially crazy, and the urgency these six worked with far contrasted the house show efforts the tournament participants gave in the matches prior. Bravo to all six men for what’s yet another incredible six man tag team match in PWG’s recent history.

After the match, Kenny Omega puts over the Reseda crowd as well as PWG in general. Nice little promo to end off Night 1.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Despite the hype geared towards the 2014 edition of BOLA, it started off with a whimper. I'm somewhat used to the first night of BOLA paling in comparison to the night(s) afterwards, but they were all at least great shows. This is definitely PWG's worst of 2014, filled with a lot of house show-esque efforts and a general lack of excitement. I don't want to act like this show is without merit, because it definitely isn't. Aside from the useless Styles/Myers match, everything here was at least decent enough to hover around the three star mark. But that's usually not what I expect from PWG, who usually delivers in a magnificent way with this much talent at their disposal. The main event was tremendous and is pretty much worth the price of admission along with the Tag Title match, but this is a pretty skippable show from a promotion who's made it a mission to not put skippable shows on.