Pro Wrestling Guerrilla ran their debut show on July 26th at Frank and Sons in City of Industry. PWG is taking a different approach to running a promotion, with six wrestlers running the fed, and claiming there is no promoter, hence “guerrilla”. There was a lot of hype going into their debut show, hype that there was probably no way the fed would have been able to live up to.PWG had Frank and Sons setup a little different than the feds that normally run there, with guardrails around the ring and floor mats. The show drew a little over 210 people (the promotion’s announced attendance was 250), but 200 people in the Frank and Sons venue is fairly packed. The show was set to start at 2:00 PM, and the show actually started right on time, which is a rarity for an indy promotion it seems.
Charles Mercury, Sara Del Rey, & Supa Badd over Topgun Talwar, Zokre, & Ryan Drago [13’55]
As far as openers go, I thought this was pretty good, but it went on too long. Charles Mercury normally wrestles as El Gallinero IV, and Ryan Drago used to be Psycho Seth in APW, but now wrestles for Pro Wrestling Iron under his current name. Everyone should be familiar with the rest of the wrestlers in this match. Overall the match started really fast paced, but as it went on it began to drag, and there was no real semblance of any story being told in the match. Topgun looked a little rusty, and like at UPW earlier in the month, Sara looks as if she’s slowed down some and didn’t look as smooth as she used to. Like I said a pretty good opener but probably would have been better if four or five minutes were taken off it.
After the match PWG commissioner Paul T. comes to the ring and announces that Sara Del Rey will be heading to Pro Wrestling A to Z in Japan (the promotion that replaced ARSION) beginning in August. He then called Team Chismo (Excalibur, Super Dragon, & Disco Machine) to the ring, and Excalibur took the mike. Excalibur announced that rather than take part in his regularly scheduled tag match, he would challenge any rookie in the back to a match. And to make sure it was OK, he paid off Paul T. with a beer. Everyone then went to the back, then Excalibur’s music began, and Excalibur came back out.
Excalibur over Chris Bosh [4’50]
Excalibur’s rookie opponent ended up being Chris Bosh, who is a strong rookie of the year contender. I thought this started out as a good match, although unlike the opener, I thought this one went a little short. I guess Excalibur has a new policy where his matches must be the shortest on the card. What a diva. Actually, Excalibur hit Bosh with a lariat in the match that legit knocked him out, which I guess is why the match was so short. After the lariat things seemed a little shaky and rushed, and understandably so.
Scorpio Sky & Quicksilver over Ballard Brothers [11’27]
I thought this was the third best match on the show. Both Scorpio and Quicksilver have advanced so much in such a short time it’s amazing. And of course the Ballards are the Ballards. There was a lot of back and forth action in the match, with lots of innovative double team moves used. Great match and Scorpio and Quicksilver proved they can hang with the best.
Super Dragon over M Dogg 20 [15’17]
While I thought this was a good match, I certainly didn’t think it was great, and it was probably the worst match I’ve seen Super Dragon in all year (which isn’t really ‘bad’, as he is having what seems to be his best year ever in terms of match quality). Early in the match Super Dragon was working over M Dogg’s knee in an effort to prevent him from his high-flying ways. Shortly after Dragon worked over his knees, which included some really vicious looking dragon screw leg whips, M Dogg was no longer selling the leg at all, and seemed totally unaffected by the damage done earlier (I guess an argument can be made that M Dogg’s botched spots in the match were a result of the leg work, but I’ll stick with the idea that they were just botched spots). M Dogg did a lot of high-flying, while Dragon tried to keep him grounded. At one point M Dogg went off the top turnbuckle while Dragon had his backed turned, and tried to hit a reverse rana, but his momentum was too much and basically just rammed his ass into Dragon’s neck and back. They apparently were able to pull of the move in IWA at last year’s Ted Petty Invitational though. Anyway, Super Dragon won with the phoenix splash surprisingly enough. Like I said it was a good match, not on level with Super Dragon’s recent matches, but still a good match.
An intermission was then announced, and at the end of the intermission they held a raffle giving away some t-shirts, videos, and tickets to the next show. One guy won twice which lead to chants of “rigged”.
TARO over Babi Slymm [6’34]
TARO came out and wanted to fight a heavyweight. Babi Slymm came out, TARO sized him up, then decided that he’ll do. This was another good match, with the crowd firmly behind TARO. The one thing I didn’t like about the match is that with TARO’s obvious size difference from Slymm, at times they were working a straight match, with TARO taking Slymm down with a head scissors and everything. Slymm setup the chair in the corner between the ropes, then everyone saw what was coming as Slymm hit the chair. TARO “pushed the button”, meaning he pushed this circle on his chest that is part of his gear, and got the pin.
Hook Bomberry & Apolo Kahn over Mr. Excitement & Disco Machine [14’14]
I thought this was a pretty decent match also (which had been the trend up to this point, good matches, but nothing great). Hook Bomberry was working the match sick, as he had been throwing up the entire day, but he still managed to look good in all his spots. Actually, everyone in the match did a good job, for whatever reason though the match just didn’t seem to click at points.
Hardkore Inc. (Hardkore Kidd, Al Katrazz, & Adam Pearce) over X-Foundation (Joey Ryan, Scott Lost, & Funky Billy Kim) [12’20]
Now things were starting to pick up. While the crowd hadn’t really been silent during the show, the heat for this match was off the charts compared to the rest of the show. I thought this was a fantastic match, easily best on the show up to this point. Pearce looked awesome in the match, and he generates so much heat it is crazy. Someone yesterday told me how they thought Pearce had the best punches and boots in SoCal, and I’d have to agree. It’s his mannerisms though that really sets him apart from everyone else. Scott Lost continued to really tear things up in the match. I think July 2003 will be the month that everyone looks back in the future as when Scott Lost really began to break out. Hardkore Kidd and Al Katrazz are probably the top tag team in SoCal right now. Joey Ryan and Funky Billy Kim both looked good also. Ryan’s selling made Hardkore Inc look like a million dollars at times. The match itself was pretty fast paced and non-stop action from start to finish. Adam Pearce won when he hit FBK with the UPW Heavyweight title, and got the pin.
Next Samoa Joe came out with his arm in a sling. He told the audience that he had injured his arm at Ring of Honor and wouldn’t be able to wrestle tonight. He apologized for not being able to work, then said that a more than suitable replacement had been found.
AJ Styles over Frankie Kazarian [11’42]
I didn’t see their match in TNA, aside from the botched Styles Clash spot, so this was new to me, but I can understand some people’s frustrations in not getting to see the fresher AJ Styles versus Samoa Joe match. However, I think that Kazarian and Styles’ wrestling styles mesh together better than Styles and Joe’s do, and that match would probably be better with Kazarian in there. That being said they had a great match. I thought this was the match of the night. It being the main event, my only peeve with the match was that it didn’t go longer, but that’s just nitpicking. Styles won the match with the Styles Clash. After the match Frankie got on the mike and thanked the fans for making PWG’s debut show a success and for supporting him over the last six years.
Overall I thought it was a good show, but not the best show in SoCal all year (that would go to the March GSCW at this point). One thing about the show is that for the most part it felt like a glorified Revolution Pro show. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with Revolution Pro, far from it, I just think that PWG needs to separate themselves from Revolution Pro and find their own identity. If you compare Revolution Pro results and PWG results, aside from a few guys there isn’t much difference, and they both even used the same venue. They had a lot of cancellations, such as Lil’ Cholo, Silver Tyger, and Tony Stradlin, which would have helped differentiate the promotions a little more. It does look however like PWG is further working on changing that after seeing the lineup for the next show.
Prior to the show and after a lot of people have been comparing PWG to EPIC, which I think is an unfair comparison to both PWG and EPIC. It’s pretty apparent PWG is trying to go for something completely different than EPIC did. It seemed like EPIC was trying to be a so-called super indy, while PWG says they are going to be more of a SoCal showcase. The budgets for EPIC’s debut show and PWG’s weren’t even in the same ballpark.
Another difference between the two promotions, as someone pointed out to me the other day, is that EPIC’s debut show was more of an event. Long after EPIC has been gone people will be still talking about that show, while PWG’s show was just that, a show. I don’t mean any of this in a bad way either, I’m just saying there is no comparison between the two promotions, and at this point comparing them is pointless.
Another thing that separates PWG from EPIC, is it seems like PWG has a solid game plan, and they even made money on their first show. PWG plans on getting their tapes out within weeks of the shows happening, which is a really smart idea. Immediately after a show is when the show has the most hype to it, because before long everyone will be talking about another show. So getting tapes out as early as possible will mean that everything will be fresher in people’s minds and easier to sell. Plus tape sales are added revenues to a promotion that come after everything has been paid for. Every tape they sell is just money in their pockets. It amazes me some promotions never pick up on the extra money they could make with video sales.
It seems like PWG is off to a good start, and with the six wrestlers running the promotion being fairly experienced in wrestling hopefully they’ll be able to avoid some of the early mishaps all new promotions seem to find.
Anytime you see on SCU an article titled “press release”, then it came directly from the promotion and it is unedited, whether it’s 100% true or not. Case in point the recent press release from WCWA where it’s claimed that their venue and a wrestler is being sued for an altercation in the parking lot. The altercation itself never took place, and neither is any lawsuit. More than likely the promoter didn’t have the money to run the show. I have no idea why they’d make up a story about a lawsuit though.
The next Lucha Va Voom should be around the last week of October.
Just a short column this week as I’m working on an interview that will hopefully be up on SCU by this weekend. I’ll be back next week.