Arnold Furious: September 2, 2016. We’re in Reseda, California at the one Indie show Dave Meltzer simply refuses to miss every year. He’s at ringside to witness an exciting mixture of global talent squaring off in a sweaty building in front of sweaty wrestling fans. Hosts are Excalibur and Chuck Taylor.
Marty Scurll vs. Pentagon Jr.
Crowd is hot, in more than one sense of the word, getting the loudest possible duelling chants going before we’re even underway. It’s insane. This is one hell of a way to start the show as either guy could potentially win the entire tournament. Scurll’s personality shines through, as it does everywhere, and he targets Pentagon’s arm after seeing the Zero Miedo taunt up close. In a dickish move he also ties Pentagon’s mask to the ropes. Marty, as per usual, makes friends by ordering to crowd to shut up, because he likes to wrestle in silence and flipping off fans who try and high five him. Pentagon’s showmanship is also top notch with reckless dives and loud chops. The match is just a touch rough around the edges, perhaps due to a lack of familiarity. It also doesn’t help that the bottom rope breaks, which certainly distracts Pentagon. Scurll looks totally beaten twice, dropped on his dome the second time with a Package Piledriver. The Zero Miedo taunt gets Pentagon a broken finger, Pentagon taunts him back again in awesome fashion but Scurll slips out of the Package Piledriver and gets the Chickenwing for the submission. The stretch in this was fucking great.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Jeff Cobb vs. Ricochet
Ropes are now fixed. This is a battle of technical excellence vs. super duper flips. Cobb, former Olympian, is carrying a lot of weight, which could hurt him in Reseda because it’s so fucking hot but he is from Guam/Hawaii so he’s probably used to it. Ricochet spends most of the match fucking around, given his massive range of flips, while Cobb just pushes him away with his super strength. Cobb plays the monster role so well here, completely no selling the People’s Moonsault and jacking Ricochet up into a powerslam. Ricochet somehow outdoes this by simply hitting the craziest dives imaginable. The flipping dive over the ring post is just mad. And yet then Cobb is catching Ricochet on kick attempts and dead lift throwing him across the ring. That kind of power is borderline unthinkable. The strikes are great and whoever wasn’t a Cobb fan pre-show are at this point. It’s Ricochet who switches gears by showing off his own power, jacking Cobb up for the Benadryller. They go nuts at the finish with Cobb going after Tour of the Islands and Ricochet countering into a roll up for the pin. That was a lot of fun.
Final Rating: ****
John Hennigan vs. Matt Sydal
The battle of two guys with impressive abs. Obviously not Meltzer level abs but solid abs anyway. This match has a lot of posing and witty comments. “This isn’t SmackDown, it’s Reseda” from Sydal not being one of them. Sydal’s mat game is underrated. He’s very good at the technical stuff and he ties Hennigan up in an assortment of holds. Hennigan turns himself fully heel by throwing in a deliberate low blow as the crowd fade in the heat of the building. Johnny coasts through the match for the most part, and it’s a fifteen minute match so that’s a lot of coasting. He throws in all the high spots but they’re scattered around at random intervals and in between is posing and pausing. Sydal is marginally better by at least linking his stuff together but Hennigan advances with Starship Pain. Given the usual standard for BOLA this was below the bar.
Final Rating: **1/4
Will Ospreay vs. Fenix
I anticipate flipz. With a hard Z. I am not disappointed. Not everything lands clean but the difficulty level is really high and the crowd fucking love it. If you miss those WCW cruiser matches where guys did a bunch of fucking wacky dives I have a match for you. This is that WCW cruiser match on speed. There are daft bumps and ridiculous counters. While Scurll-Pentagon had a few communication issues this is beautifully fluid by comparison (presumably because Fenix speaks more English). They nail the timing on difficult spots like a ridiculous pop up rana countered into a cartwheel. Ospreay’s set up for the Cheeky Nandos is a thing of beauty, slipping out when Fenix leaps onto the top rope. The real gem is Fenix hitting the Spanish Fly off the top rope and they both counter and land on their feet. The entire crowd just loses it’s fucking mind at that. It’s completely insane. Ospreay has this habit of doing things that not only have audiences never seen before but never even imagined before. Oscutter finishes. The ridiculous double flip off the top was merely part of the insanity that prevailed in this match.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tommy End
Sabre is the PWG Champion. Sabre is the technical star here while Tommy will bring massive strikes. There is a degree of showmanship from Tommy as he stops before kicking Zack’s head off, just to warn him that he could, if he wanted to. Tommy has gotten crazy over in the last year and he’s on his way to WWE. He is going to be very popular in NXT. End sits Sabre down a few times on the strikes, causing Sabre to try and control the match by working the arm. Sabre’s joint manipulation is even more disgusting than End’s strikes. It’s a delicious contrast of two of wrestling’s most extreme styles. End’s combinations are so deadly that it’s actually tough to believe anyone can survive them. It’s perhaps something the WWE trainers will try and focus in on, making sure End uses the strikes effectively towards the finish of a match, rather than throwing them throughout. It’s not that Tommy has nothing else, at one point he throws in a moonsault to the floor because fuck it, it’s BOLA. Sabre’s own kicks are incredibly stiff and End starts countering out of the strikes. The match has been flipped. It’s a nice storyline. End firing up into combinations of strikes makes him look unstoppable but Sabre counters out of a pin to get back on the arm. The strikes down the stretch, complete with throws in between, are wonderful. Plus Zack keeps going after the arm to keep with the continuity. Zack ends up stomping the piss out of Tommy, running into a roundhouse only to recover and tie End in knots for the submission. Everyone has been underrating this one, it’s MOTN for me. Maybe the best singles match of the entire tournament.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Chris Hero vs. Jushin Liger
This is something! When PWG announced Hero vs. Liger I thought it wasn’t the best of opponents for Liger as he’d be better off against someone flippy who he could ground with submissions. Hero has to play heel because he outweighs Liger by approximately three-quarters of one Liger. Liger doesn’t wrestle a lot of guys that are this much larger than him. It creates a memorable and different match and Hero is so respectful that he’ll bump around all day for Jushin. Hero treats the Shotei like death for example. It doesn’t often feel like a legitimate match but it is fun to watch. Liger moves around like he’s a lot younger than he is (he’s now in his fifties for fuck’s sake) and is able to catch Hero napping a few times. Plus his kick-outs are timely. There are some great moments for Liger, the posing included, but it culminates with the Koppou Kick. Liger can still bust that out of nowhere. Hero does amazing work in taking both a powerbomb and a brainbuster, which must have been terrifying. Liger kicks out of the Ligerbomb at ONE, which is another tremendous moment. Hero eventually elbows Liger into defeat and this was a lot better than I expected. Testament to how great Hero is and what a legend Liger is.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Bullet Club (Adam Cole & The Young Bucks) vs. Dalton Castle & The Boys (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish)
Dalton’s boys are reDRagon. The Bucks are wearing the trunks with Dave Meltzer’s face all over them. It’s not even the most ridiculous gear in the match. This is the main event so there are lots of chuckles to be had. Mainly through the flamboyance of Dalton and the Bucks realising they’ve broken wrestling to the point where everyone is now even more ridiculous than them. In this match the reDRagon lads use the fans to blow the Bucks over, multiple times, leaving me howling with laughter. It’s actually pretty freaky how good Kyle O’Reilly is at playing one of the Boys. He’s able to do all the spots, dancing and shenanigans without his mask falling off. Bobby manages one spot and it’s gone. The fan gimmick breaks me up every time. Attempting to blow Adam over on a sunset flip has me in bits. There’s a tidy bit of psychology when reDRagon pull off the masks and put in mouth pieces and suddenly start wrestling properly. The Bucks finish with a stereo Meltzer Driver, with Matt blowing a kiss to Dave himself in mid move. This was daft and it made me laugh quite a lot but the actual work was all over the place.
Final Rating: **1/2