Battle of Los Angeles is PWG’s singles tournament that has been going on since 2005. It has fluctuated through the years from anywhere from a one night to a three night tournament, but the last few years it has been three nights. The current format is to have a 24 man, single elimination tournament, with the 12 first round matches split over the first two nights then the quarter, semi, and finals on night three. With night 1 being on a Friday, I wasn’t able to make it up to Los Angeles for the show. When the matches were announced night one looked to have on paper a stronger card than night two, but the general consensus has been that night two was the best show of the three nights. I’ll even say that in the 16 years SCU has been around, 2016 Battle of Los Angeles night 2 was the best single show that has happened in Southern California and had maybe the best match in PWG history and the best match I’ve ever seen live.
The show started relatively on time with Excalibur in the ring as usual. He mentioned that Jack Gallagher was unable to attend due to travel issues. The crowd booed British Airlines.
Dalton Castle defeated Tommaso Ciampa in the first round of the 2016 Battle of Los Angeles tournament [13:26]
Tommaso Ciampa was the surprise replacement for Jack Gallagher. There was a huge pop when Ciampa’s music hit and people realized he was the replacement. This was a pretty hard hitting match that saw Dalton really take a beating from Ciampa. I thought Castle really looked good in this too. Ciampa did a bunch of WWE finishers in the match. Castle did his slow motion deadlift German suplex spot which was really built to nicely in the match. He finished Ciampa off with the bang-a-rang. I think this was Castle’s first PWG win. Really good match here.
Rating *** 3/4
Mark Andrews defeated Pete Dunne in the first round of the 2016 Battle of Los Angeles tournament [18:24]
This was a great match. Mark Andrews has been fantastic in PWG and Dunne had a great PWG debut. Andrews took a beating in this match. Dunne was pretty much having his way with him. Dunne hit a tombstone piledriver on Andrews on the floor then did this pretty cool spot later where he tombstoned Andrews, held him in position, got back off his knees, and tombstoned him again. I figured that was the finish but Andrews managed to kick out of that, which was my only real knock on the match, especially when it comes to night 3 after establishing Andrews has a super human neck. Andrews won after a shooting star press. Great match overall though. Hopefully Dunne is back in PWG soon.
Cody Rhodes defeated Sami Callihan in the first round of the 2016 Battle of Los Angeles tournament [11:33]
Cody Rhodes got by far the loudest pop of the night. The place was deafening when he came out. Brandi Rhodes was his personal ring announcer and she said things like “The star who left them in the dust”and “the grandson of a plummer” which got a huge pops. I think the fact that Cody quit WWE and this was one of the places he badly wanted to wrestle says a lot about how far PWG has come and its place in the wrestling world. Really good match where Cody went all out and worked more of an indy style than WWE style. During the match Callihan pulled out a bag and put his cat mask on and became Space Cat. I’m not a fan of the whole Space Cat thing, but most people ate it up. Rhodes had a protective mask of his own, and even no sold a head butt while wearing it. Other than that I thought Callihan was really good and was a really good base for Rhodes. Callihan was trying to work more of a brawling style allowing Cody Rhodes to pull off a lot of big moves, including a double springboard plancha. Rhodes eventually won with the Crossroads.
Rating: *** 3/4
Fénix & Pentagón Jr. defeated Tommy End & Chris Hero [18:23]
This was an amazing match. I think Hero is one of the best wrestlers in the world. Everything he does is so perfect and he can have great matches with everyone. He even worked lucha style a bit in this and it was great. Fénix and Pentagón Jr. were so good in this too. They work well so together. At one point Fénix jumps up on Pentagón’s shoulders, Pentagón turns around with Fénix standing on his shoulders, then Fénix does a moonsault to the outside off his shoulders. Tommy End also looked great in this. Everyone looked great. When this ended I said “well there’s the SoCal match of the year.” That lasted 90 minutes… Fénix his a springboard 450 on End to get the pin. This was an easy match of the year candidate.
Rating **** 3/4
Trevor Lee defeated Kamaitachi in the first round of the 2016 Battle of Los Angeles tournament [11:36]
This was the first match after intermission. Trevor Lee made sure he was announced as “TNA Superstar Trevor Lee.” This was a pretty good match, but there was a bunch of stuff on the apron and outside the ring that was difficult to see from my vantage point. You know a show is special when the worst match on the show was 3 1/4 stars. Lee won with a small package driver.
Rating: *** 1/4
Mark Haskins defeated Cedric Alexander in the first round of the 2016 Battle of Los Angeles tournament [14:32]
I know it’s a broken record at this point, but another excellent match. There was a ton of striking in the match and both guys worked really stiff. The match was also really fast paced and they went non-stop. Haskins was super impressive. Despite how fast he worked he was so crisp in everything he did. Haskins won by submission with a type of arm bar. Really good stuff.
Rating: *** 3/4
Kyle O’Reilly defeated Matthew Riddle in the first round of the 2016 Battle of Los Angeles tournament [16:09]
I loved this match. This had a ton of grappling and a lot of worked shoot style stuff in it. Even though everyone raves about Riddle, I hadn’t seen him prior to this and I was super impressed with him. Kyle O’Reilly is always great. Matt Riddle doesn’t wear boots and one point O’Reilly was stomping his feet and the crowd chanted “should have worn boots” but later in the match Riddle was able to escape a leg hold as his leg slipped through O’Reilly’s hands showing why he doesn’t wear boots. O’Reilly reversed a submission into a pinfall to get the win in a really fantastic match that would have been what everyone was talking about had it happened any other weekend.
Rating: **** 1/4
Will Ospreay, Matt Sydal, & Ricochet defeated Mount Rushmore (Adam Cole & The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)) [20:06]
I expected this match to be crazy going in, but it blew my expectations out of the water. This was the best match I’ve ever seen live, and in 16 years of SoCal Uncensored, the first match I’ve ever rated as 5 stars. It was just a completely amazing match that everyone should go out of their way to see. The last few minutes of this match was insane. Ricochet had one of the Bucks (I forgot which) in piledriver position and it looked like they were going to give him the Meltzer driver, but then Sydal does a shooting star press into the Meltzer driver. Instead of going for the pin Ricochet, Sydal, and Ospreay go to different corners and all hits a synchronized triple shooting star press and get the pin. This was an insanely great match. Check it out when it hits DVD, words can’t do it justice. This might be the best match in PWG history, though some would argue the Steen and Generico ladder match.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, this has to be the best single show in SoCal over the last 16 years, and I’ll go out on a limb and say ever as no one was loading cards like this in the past. There were eight matches on the show and I’d rank four of them four stars or better with two matches that are probably the best two matches in SoCal this year.
The DVD is already up for pre-order on PWG’s website. I’d highly recommend buying it. I can’t wait to watch it again, plus on DVD you get the added bonus of Excalibur on commentary who is awesome.