Arnold Furious: September 3, 2016. Twenty four hours after Stage One is complete and we’re back in Reseda for BOLA night two. Jack Gallagher is missing from the tournament but a special replacement will be taking his spot against Dalton Castle.
Dalton Castle vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Ciampa is finishing up his Indie dates so he was barely available for this but I figure PWG did a deal with the lads in Florida seeing as Jack is one of theirs. Ciampa and Castle are both utter weirdoes so they do weird things until Ciampa inevitably beats the fuck out of Dalton because he’s a Psycho Killer. One of the Boys eats a Project Ciampa for his use of fans. He deserved it. Ciampa assaults Castle during his posing just to show what a complete dick he is. Ciampa is signed to WWE so he starts hitting WWE moves, including a horrible Superman Punch. The match is just all over the place, which Ciampa is entirely guilty of when he’s unfocused. The match only clicks with me when Dalton is trying innovative stuff and Ciampa is killing him in mid-move with strikes. Also when Dalton is hitting his ridiculous dead lift German suplex. Ciampa switches gears multiple times. He goes from hitting a Pedigree for giggles to spitting blood all over Dalton’s chest. Dalton puts him away with the Bang-a-rang. This match was all over the fucking place but was entertaining anyway. Both guys kept alternating between serious and goofy. It was two matches squished together. Nice to see Ciampa in PWG one final time though.
Final Rating: ***
Pete Dunne vs. Mark Andrews
BritWres is in the house. The Bruiserweight is making his PWG debut and is pleased to be recognised by the fans. Pete tries to control the match with power and technical skill. He’s also a total asshole. He gets over very quickly. “To hell with your armdrag, I’m gonna slap you in your dumb face” contributes Chuckie T to describe Dunne’s testy attitude. Andrews impressed in PWG last year, doing flipz with Ospreay, but this is an entirely different scenario. Dunne wants heat and doesn’t care how he gets it. It allows Andrews to shine by flipping around him. Andrews is game for getting Pete over too and he takes sickening bumps and a general shellacking. Dunne’s churlish behaviour includes trying to break limbs, stepping on Mark’s face and naturally chomping on his digits. Dunne is a great technician so his basics are on point but the brutality of his heel work is so good that everyone is rooting for poor little Mark. Sometimes you need someone to be that much of a jerk to get the babyface cheered. And yet Pete, hated though he is, does some wonderful stuff like throwing Andrews into the air and uppercutting his ribs on the way down. Also they repeat sequences and add in extra steps with Dunne learning from Andrews high spots. Apart from the reverse rana, that’s Pete’s Kryptonite. You know how you can’t powerbomb Kidman? You can’t not reverse rana Pete Dunne. Andrews keeps on ticking, as he tends to, despite Pete destroying him. Dunne just stamps on his head repeatedly at one point. He’s such a wanker that the crowd start chanting “Bruiserweight”. What a fucking great showing from Pete Dunne and Andrews has done so much for him, by taking such a kicking. They do a mid-air counter of the Super Drop Dead into a Stunner, which unfortunately isn’t sold because it would be fine as a finish. I love Pete just elbowing Andrews out of the air on a follow up. It’s so beautifully nonchalant. I also love that Dunne gets such a near fall that the bell rings. Dunne falls afoul of his Kryptonite reverse super rana and the SSP finishes for Andrews. Great match. Pete Dunne did incredible work here but they just slightly overdid the counters and didn’t finish the match with their best work.
Final Rating: ****
Cody Rhodes vs. Sami Callihan
Cody is introduced as the “grandson of a plumber”, which is a fantastic fucking call and the crowd are rabid for Rhodes based on that alone. Cody actually has PWG gear with the logo on and everything. He’s hyped to be here. Callihan’s main approach to this match is attempting to beat the shit out of Cody for doing the same thing he did (quitting WWE to go back to the Indies), only to greater fanfare. Cody does ok in this match, hitting a few wacky dives and getting the crowd revved up. Sami certainly kills him a few times, including a DVD into the buckles and various strikes. A welcome to the Indies for the former Dashing One. They’re not short on Sportz Entertainment either with Sami pulling out the Space Cat mask and Cody responding with his Phantom of the Opera clear mask he wore in WWE. Sami’s clawing of Cody is a nifty high concept deal. It doesn’t help him much as Rhodes finishes with the Cross Rhodes. This was fine and it was helped immensely by how over Cody was but it didn’t achieve a lot in the ring.
Final Rating: **3/4
Heroes Eventually Die vs. Pentagon Jr. & Fenix
This should be interesting as two of the best luchadores working currently face off against two of the best strikers in the world. If the match doesn’t end abruptly with Tommy End killing one of the fans. He is a frightening man. If he wanted to be he could be the biggest heel in NXT too. When it comes to the action Hero is in the mood to pop the fuck out of Reseda and he hits an effortless step up rana, which he should not be capable of. The lucha boys won’t take that lying down and Fenix hits a flip clean off his brothers shoulders to the floor. Pentagon makes the mistake, fearless as he is, of chatting shit. This gets him banged and Fenix gets isolated for a series of evil strikes from the HED team. Basically Hero holds Fenix in place and End kicks him before he’s dropped on his head. It’s not just the moves as there’s so much natural charisma involved in this match that it’s impossible not to get drawn into it. Pentagon makes the mistake of doing the cross on Satanist End and Tommy goes completely fucking nuts with the strikes. The way he fires those bastard things off is unreal and everyone is matching him for striking intensity. To the point where a double, double down gets a standing ovation. Fenix ends up picking off Tommy with a springboard 450 Splash. This match had a tremendous mixture of stuff. Hero and End brought sublime striking but it was contrasted beautifully with the lucha-libre. The match had something for everyone, whether they dig intensity, violence, flying or whatever. It was all here. I could have done with a little more logic in the finish but otherwise highly enjoyable.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Kamaitachi vs. Trevor Lee
Kamaitachi is representing lucha-libre and NJPW. Lee is representing southern graps and TNA, which makes him far more disliked than he would be if he wasn’t representing TNA. Kamaitachi is completely nuts and Lee doesn’t help him out at all by dropping him neck/head first on the apron in a disgusting bump. Kamaitachi doesn’t help himself either by doing that wacky senton where he vastly increases the chances of landing on his head. The crowd start chanting “Delete” at Lee so he hits the Twist of Fate on the apron. Another sickening head spike from Kamaitachi. He’ll have no neck left if he carries on like this. It’s a fast paced match with Kamaitachi alternating between trying to kill himself and trying to stomp Lee’s face in. Small Package Driver sees Lee advance.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Cedric Alexander vs. Mark Haskins
It’s really weird hearing someone introduced from Malvern in BOLA (or “Mal-Vern” as the Americans say). This is a display of technical excellence. Haskins has improved massively since his TNA run, developing a mat game on a par with just about anyone. It’s perhaps not a style that’s appreciated by the PWG crowd, especially during a long weekend but it’s great wrestling. Cedric is on his way to WWE so he knows to force the pace and when he does Haskins is equal to him. Haskins’ ridiculously fast tope once again takes out fans. Haskins is a showy wrestler, or he can be, but he’s also someone that does logical, sensible things in the ring. In this match he just dismantles Cedric, taking the arm then the leg and moving his offence around to set up multiple potential submissions. Cedric gets caught out by Haskins’ speed multiple times, perhaps overlooking that aspect of his game. Haskins used to be a flippy guy and he retains those advantages, only now he’s technically excellent too. Haskins transition into the Sharpshooter gets the crowd really excited for example. He’s so good at that. Plus Haskins’ Sharpshooter is fantastic. He leans so far back on it. Cedric is still keeping on an even kiel until he gets distracted by a shit-talking fan. Haskins transitions through his roll through DVD into the Star Armbar for the submission. This was the right call because Cedric is leaving and Haskins is capable of working just about anyone.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Matt Riddle vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Either guy could conceivably win BOLA. O’Reilly is a top Indie star and has been for years. Riddle is one of the hottest new stars in the Indies. He’s been making a name for himself in EVOLVE but PWG is stepping it up in front of a hardcore audience. They love him already but the field in this tournament is so strong. Kyle takes him to school, taking a similar approach to Haskins, working multiple body parts. Kyle is quicker and more aggressive. It’s only when Kyle allows Riddle to trade on strikes that it opens a door for Riddle to get into the match. Riddle targets the injured shoulder of O’Reilly and that gets him a further beating. O’Reilly’s transitions are really strong and Riddle gets to look good at surviving a beating at the hands of a more experienced opponent. Riddle ends up pinning himself by hooking a submission and refusing to let go even though Kyle has him pinned. This should have been bang up my alleyway because I love the technical work but it followed on from another match that was very technical and it didn’t click with me in this position on the card. The wrestling was still very good but I think I would have liked it better in a vacuum.
Final Rating: ***
Will Ospreay, Ricochet & Matt Sydal vs. Adam Cole & The Young Bucks
This has huge hype because Meltzer went ***** on it. It’s the first North American match to get that rating since Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgin in ROH in 2012. Dave likes the flipz and there are five flippy lads in this match. The first big flip is Sydal’s and he botches it horribly, falling off the ropes. Five stars Dave? Are you mad? You can’t have botches in a five starrer! Don’t get me wrong it’s a really fun match with loads of dives that connect beautifully but five stars is somewhat reserved for perfection. That said he went five on Punk-Cena and that wasn’t clean either. The match has nothing resembling tags as people just hit wacky moves whenever they care to. Getting it to make sense and fit together is pretty impressive. Ospreay is again the stand-out both in terms of the insane dives and the selling. He’s the focal point of everything that’s good. Even selling the backrake (“argh, it stings so much”) turning a stupid move into something meaningful. Chuck Taylor is great on commentary here, calling all these guys on the pointless little moves that mean nothing in between actual moves. If they’d skipped those silly little bits it would intensify the ridiculousness. Like Sydal missing a super rana and just dropping into the ropes or Ricochet taking a satellite DDT onto the apron. The peak moves in this match are next level insanity and if the match operated at that level throughout it would be five stars. Like Ospreay taking a superkick in mid backflip. Or Ospreay using the Cheeky Nandos to set Cole in position for Ricochet to hit the senton over the turnbuckle over Cole. At it’s peak this match is crazy wonderful. The difficulty levels of off the charts too. At one point Ricochet countering a Dragonrana. The set up alone is nearly impossible to get right. The peak might be Ospreay cutting off the Bucks in mid Indytaker with the springboard Oscutter. The timing on that was exquisite. Shooting Star Meltzer Driver, from Sydal, sets up a trio of Shooting Stars for the win. This was just an insane spotfest. The crowd loved this.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Post Match: The crowd chant “five star match” and the three babyfaces just stare at Meltzer. Pressured into it Dave!