PWG Battle Of Los Angeles 2016 – Night 3

Arnold Furious: September 4, 2016. Final day of BOLA 2016. Six quarter finals, three semi finals and the final to come, plus PWG tag titles on the line and a ten man tag featuring the first round losers.


BOLA Quarter Final
Dalton Castle vs. Trevor Lee
Trevor Lee, “TNA Superstar”, works heel because he’s a TNA guy. The first heel company since WCW. I suppose you could argue WWE are heels across the Indies but with what they’re doing, being pals with the Indies and NXT, that’s probably not true as soon as Vince is in the ground. Chuck continues his fine commentary by pointing out he worked for TNA too. “Getting that TV money” quips Excalibur. “Well, I haven’t actually been paid yet”. That’s a shoot. The match has a lot of posing and such. Peacocking, I believe the kids call it. The actual work is passable but underwhelming considering the two men’s collective talent. It’s not how you’d want to start a big final night of a weekender. It occasionally hits the necessary highs, like Lee doing a backflip right into a deadlift German suplex. Lee starts lifting more Hardy spots because that’s all TNA is nowadays to the casual fan. Dalton yells “fuck TNA” but gets caught immediately with the Canadian Destroyer. Lee advances to the semi’s.
Final Rating: **3/4


BOLA Quarter Final
John Hennigan vs. Ricochet
Rather predictably there are a lot of flips going on here. Ricochet is far superior in that respect, although Hennigan tries to keep up. Johnny Mundo is doing fine in Lucha Underground and looks ok in those matches where it’s all a bunch of spots. He does good work around the ropes in this, sliding under them, between them and off the top with the springboards. They also work in a suitably sick bump where Ricochet, tied in the ropes, takes a neckbreaker onto the apron. My word, it’s a sick bump. Part of Ricochet’s innovation isn’t just the offence but also how he take sickening moves. It’s the same mentality a lot of guys have, which is worrying for the long term future of their necks. Hennigan wrestles like a dick, using the referee and low blows. Starship Pain misses but Ricochet’s 630 does not. He almost forgets to get the pinfall because he’s so happy with how he landed it.
Final Rating: **3/4


BOLA Quarter Final
Marty Scurll vs. Cody Rhodes
Marty, if he was a true Villain, would finger-snap Brandi during the introductions. Instead he opts for bashing Cody with an umbrella while he’s trying to kiss his wife. That’s a decent replacement. Marty goes for a load of Flair offence to offset the Rhodes name, as well as lifting Stardust and Goldust spots. It’s a consummate display of sports entertainment from the Indie guy. A contrast to the sports entertainer trying to be an Indie wrestler. Scurll is not only entertaining but he’s able to sell the situation and Cody’s lack of fire actually hurts the match. It’s Scurll who’s the better worker, in every respect of the word. The Shattered Dreams becoming a Superkick, Just Kidding, to the nuts is perfect. Scurll takes his offence and tailors it to suit his opponent. It makes me wish he worked somewhere more important. All Cody has is the plucky comebacks. The dropkicks and small packages of an underdog. He’s completely outshined. Even when Scurll is dealing with Brandi, managing to get a kiss off her and celebrating like he’s won the WWE title, he’s the most entertaining guy. Also he sees the drop down punch coming and counters into the finger snap. Finally Scurll does a “chicken wing, just kidding” before winning with a punch to the balls. He varied his offence so well in this match. Cody gets love from the crowd but Scurll owned him here.
Final Rating: ***1/2


BOLA Quarter Final
Chris Hero vs. Mark Andrews
These two had a really, really good match in Progress where Hero just killed Andrews. He does so again here, murdering the Welsh kid from the bell. The idea being that Andrews takes tonnes of abuse from Hero and keeps kicking out. Hero has a knack at killing smaller guys and having fun with it. He’s having a red letter year and you could see him winning BOLA easily. Virtually every move is potentially the end with Andrews taking vicious head drops and strikes throughout the match until he flukes a pin with a roll up. I love that Andrews had that ‘never say die’ attitude and a combination of hope and luck kept him alive in the tournament. The crowd pop the finish hard, showing they were invested in this. It only ran six minutes but it delivered huge.
Final Rating: ***1/2


Post Match: Hero takes the loss badly. He kills Andrews with a forearm smash and a super piledriver. He’s dead.


BOLA Quarter Final
Mark Haskins vs. Kyle O’Reilly
O’Reilly comes in with a hurt shoulder, which is a potential target. Both guys are very technically gifted so the focus is on counters and submission attempts. It’s a definite change of pace after the last couple of matches and it gives the crowd a chance to re-charge. Don’t underestimate the importance of matches like this on long cards. There are 12 matches tonight, the crowd can’t stay hot for 12 matches. Especially in this building, which is so hot. It’s a sweatbox. The build is slow in this but it figures into the structure with them trading down the stretch and Haskins digging into his bag of submissions to catch O’Reilly out. O’Reilly looks to take advantage with superior striking but Haskins is able to counter that with speed. Both guys are excellent at combinations and counters. Haskins busts out his super-torque Sharpshooter and gets the tap out for the surprising win. The BritWres guys are getting huge wins in this BOLA. This might be even bigger than Andrews beating Hero. The tournament has been turned on it’s head.
Final Rating: ***1/4


BOLA Quarter Final
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay
Sabre comes in as the PWG Champion whereas Ospreay is the flippiest guy in the world. They’re really familiar with each other and that shows. Ospreay starts so fast, a huge contrast to the last match. He hits two dives and a Red Arrow before Sabre has time to breathe. Sabre comes back with great creativity, flipping Ospreay onto his head in the ropes and kicking the rope. Zack switches ‘dickhead mode’ on, no selling chops and stamping on Ospreay’s neck. Sabre is vicious in working the neck to the point where you want Ospreay to tap out just to save himself. Zack even gets the Young Boy Killer but Ospreay manages to slip out of it before it’s fully on. Last year Will struggled in BOLA and faded during the tournament. He’s become more accustomed to big environments and hot buildings. Ospreay brings all his new flips, which blows a few Reseda minds, and is again able to escape Sabre’s more dangerous holds. He even gets a technical pin on Zack, showing how far he’s come. This was really, really good. It was beautifully fluid and mostly logical.
Final Rating: ****


That completes the semi-final line-up. Here is the draw for later:

-Trevor Lee vs. Mark Andrews
-Marty Scurll vs. Mark Haskins
-Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay

A very strong showing for BritWres with four of the six semi-finalists coming from the UK. A reflection of how excellent the British scene has been over the past year. It’s especially pleasing to see the likes of Andrews and Haskins get a chance to shine.


PWG Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks (c) vs. Pentagon Jr. & Fenix
I’m all in on Pentagon and Fenix teaming regularly. The Bucks have that John Cena reaction where half the crowd hate them and half the crowd love them. Everyone in this match is effortlessly good at their style of wrestling. The Bucks are hugely underrated when it comes to doing lucha and that’s demonstrated in spades here. Just because they don’t take lucha seriously, or anything for that matter, doesn’t mean they’re not good at it. This is another spot heavy PWG-esque match and the style of Lucha Underground is entirely compatible with the Bucks general lunacy. There are flips and dives and Pentagon kills Matt with a Package Piledriver on the apron. Everyone has a nice time. Many faces are kicked, in super fashion. If anything Pentagon and Fenix out-spotfest the Bucks. I know, right! The Bucks get upset with this and hit the Tope Con Meltzer Driver! “Holy shit” chants Reseda. I fucking hear you. Jesus Christ, that’s insane. The challengers get superkicked eight times each for the eventual loss but the match was over with that Tope Con Meltzer Driver. That was fucking nuts.
Final Rating: ****


BOLA Semi Final
Mark Andrews vs. Trevor Lee
Andrews had a quicker quarter final match but got killed by Hero after the contest was over. Plus Lee was in the opening match so he’s well rested. Andrews looks to finish it quickly with flurries of offence but is shut down by an aggressive Lee. That’s how they do things in TNA. Of course Andrews also wrestles for TNA. Lee seems to find it amusing to make all the crowd move and then do nothing on the floor. This turns him fully heel. You made me stand up for nothing, you jerk! Andrews takes a licking but keeps on ticking, which is his gimmick. You win some, you lose some but you look gutsy regardless. Andrews comes close to victory via reverse rana and SSP but Lee gets knees up on the latter and progresses to the final with the Small Package Driver. Andrews can always blame the beating from Hero as the reason for his departure.
Final Rating: ***


BOLA Semi Final
Mark Haskins vs. Marty Scurll
Haskins hobbles in here having been injured in the quarter final. Scurll is relentless in his assaults on the injured leg but perhaps takes Haskins too lightly, in a situation where he could win quickly. In tournament wrestling winning quickly is key. Haskins is still fast despite the injury and both men use a lot of familiarity stuff to tell a story. One major complaint regarding Scurll is that, despite being a stellar wrestler, he messes around too much. That’s in evidence here where more focus and less playing to the crowd would make sense. Out-doing Cody at Sportz Entertainment was fine but surely a little cheating combined with skill would make sense to take on Haskins. With Scurll almost preoccupied with fucking around it opens the door to a Haskins challenge. When Marty is trying to win the match, he targets the knee and dominates with relative ease. It really didn’t need to be seventeen minutes to tell that story. Haskins holds his end up just fine, keeping the knee in play by selling it and using his speed effectively. I kinda wish they’d not bothered with the knee because that aspect hampers the match rather than improving it. Haskins would win with the Star Armbar if his knee could hold the bridge, which it doesn’t. There’s a nice visual of Scurll getting the ropes on it and then tapping out to make sure Haskins releases the hold immediately instead of waiting for the five count. That’s smart wrestling. The ref had already seen the rope break, it wasn’t risky. When they give up on telling the leg story the match improves, especially because Haskins becomes a threat. Scurll doesn’t even win with a leg hold. It’s literally just there to fill time before the stretch. I take issue with a lot of great workers doing just this so it’s no knock on these two. The match ended up being good in spite of the knee work.
Final Rating: ***1/2


BOLA Semi Final
Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet
Expect flips. They start at breakneck pace, aiming to put on ten minutes of madness. It’s an attempt to revolutionise professional wrestling and both guys are at the forefront. They’ve started to switch up the match they had in New Japan, changing bits of it but retaining the high spots. There are many flips. It’s pleasing that within those flips are also attempts to finish the match. There are strikes engineered to finish and big spots like reverse ranas that aim to finish. It’s not just flips for the sake of it. It lacks the sheer blowaway amazingness of the Super Juniors match, which got the entire world talking about selling and psychology. This match has less moments that are likely to cause arguments or drop jaws. Maybe it’s a sense that we’re just getting adjusted to how great these two are at this style. Ricochet takes the Oscutter on his way out. This was really good due to fluidity and smoothness combined with a very, very high difficulty level. It never wowed me like the NJPW match did but perhaps Reseda is a tougher environment to do that because everything around them is crazy too.
Final Rating: ***3/4


Bro Cat Psycho Kitties (Tommaso Ciampa, Sami Callihan, Pete Dunne, Matt Riddle & Brian Kendrick) vs. Team Liger (Jushin Liger, Tommy End, Jeff Cobb, Cedric Alexander & Chuck Taylor)
This is largely filler to give the tournament lads a rest. It’s traditionally one of the most entertaining matches of the weekend with a bunch of wrestlers who didn’t get to shine that much in their one tournament match. This is Kendrick’s first PWG match in two years and his stock has been elevated by the Cruiserweight Classic and impending return to WWE. He’s a “salty veteran” and this match is all about having fun. “Brother Dustin, I knew you’d come” yells Ciampa at Chuck. Taylor tends to get a thumb up his rectum from Ciampa at these things. Liger and Callihan have a bizarre ‘cat off’. Liger looks to be having the time of his life. Cedric slaps his thigh in the early going and Kendrick calls him on it. “Shame on you, you’re killing business”. It’s a dressing down! Cobb vs. Riddle makes me very excited that they’ll be feuding eventually somewhere. They’ve already had a match in AAW.

The match degenerates into thumbs in bums and Liger encourages Ciampa to stick the thumb in his asshole. “It’s Jushin Liger” says Ciampa, not wanting to sink to that level but Liger’s powerful sphincter destroys the thumb. We end up with a chain of thumbs in bums going across the ring until Liger overpowers everyone with his clenched cheeks. Then they hit the slow-motion, which is hilarious as always. I’ll never cease to be amazed at how everything goes into slo-mo. The fans truly dedicate themselves to that and I love how when time goes back to normal it does so with crazy dives that seem super speeded up due to the slo-mo beforehand. Then it’s Ciampa’s turn to dive and he’s scared so he starts singing “I Believe I Can Fly” and the entire crowd joins in as well as all the boys. Tommy End is singing it. That’s how you know this is a weird parallel universe and not the real world. Liger pins Dunne with the brainbuster for the win and much fun was had by all. This is almost impossible to rate, on the same scale as some wacky DDT matches. Crowd loved it though.
Final Rating: Liger’s bum cheeks are really strong


2016 Battle of Los Angeles Final
Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll vs. Trevor Lee
Two BritWres guys who have incredible chemistry with each other. Lee’s style is almost completely different to Scurll’s personality driven stuff or Ospreay’s flying. It’s a good combination of guys. I’m especially pleased with Ospreay flipping around the “Superkick, Just Kidding” spot. After an early breezy start all three guys look tired and I question the need for have them wrestle for thirty minutes but then there’s always a certain expectation regarding main events. Luckily Lee is a machine. It’s Scurll who looks more weary and logically he’d be first out, except he’s scheduled to win so they can’t do that. Ospreay tries so hard to steal the show but the little flaws in his work get amplified by his condition. A lot of the ideas are solid. Like the other two stealing Ospreay’s spots and working together as they both see Will as the biggest threat. Ospreay ends up in the Chickenwing with Lee stomping the fuck out of him at the same time. Will has no choice but to tap out.

Lee is very good at making himself look completely fucked when he’s actually fine. Scurll on the other hand is getting very good at varying his matches when faced with the same crowd. He has a very clear defined match that he can have with just about anyone and does frequently. When put in a position where he can’t do that he becomes a fascinating wrestler to watch. He’ll still get his trademark stuff in there but they’re weaved into a tapestry of graps. The weird part of this match is that Marty is the babyface but he still wrestles the same. He throws the ref into the way of a forearm and smashes the umbrella over Lee’s head. Keeping in mind that the crowd hate Lee because he’s been touting TNA all weekend. Scurll locks the Chickenwing in and Lee taps out. Scurll makes it back to back wins for the Eurograps. Nice one.
Final Rating: ***1/2


Post Match: “You know what? I fucking deserve this” – Scurll. He’s now due a title match with Zack Sabre Jr., coincidentally his best friend, who won the belt via winning BOLA last year and successfully challenging Roderick Strong.


Summary: I do enjoy a BOLA. There are plenty of tournaments during the course of the year but there’s something special about that sweaty box in Reseda. It brings out the best in people. While the top tier standard on this year’s show was lower than 2015 it was still hugely enjoyable. To the point where I’m really not sure I watched the same footage as TJ Hawke. But this is wrestling. Opinion’s are like assholes, everyone has them and Liger’s is better than everyone else’s.
Verdict: 88

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