PWG 2018 Battle of Los Angeles Stage 1 – review

The nearly complete turnover over the last few years of the PWG roster has made for a pretty intriguing Battle of Los Angeles this year. It feels like there are four or five wrestlers who could legitimately win it, where in some years you can kind of guess who the favorite is going in. With this being the biggest BOLA ever (in terms of live attendance at least), it is the perfect chance for PWG to build up for the next year, at least until WWE signs their whole roster again.

With most of the late start issues at Reseda having to do with the venue itself, the doors at the Globe opened at 6:30, the lines seemed to go smoothly, and Excalibur was in the ring for an 8:00 p.m. start. I’ll always miss the atmosphere of Reseda but the Globe is such a step up in almost every other way.

2018 Battle of Los Angeles First Round Match
Rey Horus over Adam Brooks. [20’33]

This was the first toss up match where it felt like either wrestler could have advanced. Rey Horus recently got a pin on Penta El Zero M and Brooks beat Keith Lee in his PWG farewell, so both had some big wins coming in. There was a lot of trading off on offense in this, with the main story being Brooks being able to constantly counter out of Horus’ big moves from the top rope, until he couldn’t. This was really good, but it felt like it went a little longer than it should have and could have used a few minutes shaved off to tighten it up. Horus hit a wheelbarrow victory roll from the top rope to get the win.
Rating: *** 1/2

2018 Battle of Los Angeles First Round Match
Flamita over Puma King [12’13]

This is Flamita’s second BOLA, having made his PWG debut at last year’s tournament. This was Puma King’s PWG debut. Puma King was instantly over with the crowd here. Him moving to San Diego and taking a ton of U.S. independent bookings is going to be great for his career, especially after footage of this match gets out. This was was a great showcase of how awesome lucha libre can be. The entire match was non stop action. Flamita won with a Phoenix Splash. I can’t imagine Puma King not being back in PWG after this.
Rating: **** 1/4

2018 Battle of Los Angeles First Round Match
CIMA over Jody Fleisch [16:35]

This was another toss up that felt like it could go either way. CIMA is the only wrestler in this year’s BOLA to have won the tournament previously. The match took awhile to get going, and at one point they fought deep into the crowd. Since I was in the balcony I wasn’t able to see what was happening for several minutes and that kind of took me personally out of it. Someone sitting on the floor level might have a different opinion of the match. Once they got back in the ring and got going it was really good. Both wrestlers can still go. Seeing Jody Fleisch live for the first time was great too, since he was one of the people that was always on the dream list of wrestlers we wanted to see brought to SoCal in the early 2000s. The finish was really good and the near falls were really hot as no one knew who would win. CIMA finally hit the Meteora for the pin.
Rating: *** 1/4

2018 Battle of Los Angeles First Round Match
Bandido over T-Hawk [12’18]

Bandido has had incredible match after incredible match in PWG and this was no exception. I haven’t really followed Dragon Gate much, so I wasn’t familiar with T-Hawk. Early on they were trading off chops and some of T-Hawk’s chops sounded like a shotgun going off. The match really built itself well and the pace just kept getting faster and faster with the last 3 minutes just being incredible. Bandido hit his somersault fall-away slam from the second rope to win. T-Hawk got “please come back” chants after and fans tossed money into the ring (as they did with the two previous matches featuring luchadors as well). It is worth going out of your way to see this match.
Rating: **** 1/2

2018 Battle of Los Angeles First Round Match
“Bad Boy” Joey Janela over “The Product” David Starr [15’59]

Based on an informal poll on Twitter and Instagram where I asked for BOLA predictions, Janela seems to be one of the fan favorites to win. This was Starr’s best match in PWG since his match with Riddle. Even though Janela felt like he was a heavy favorite, the brutality of the match really made it seem like Starr had a chance and peopleople were going nuts for near falls. The end saw Starr try to get a submission on Janela, with Janela rolling it into a small package and when Starr kicked out Janela finished him with a superkick. This was great.
Rating: **** 1/4

2018 Battle of Los Angeles First Round Match
Brody King over PCO [11’22]

This started out as a typical big man match with lots of chops and shoulder tackles where neither budged, but kind of fell apart when they went to a dive sequence. PCO hit a tope suicida and after King got in the ring and went for a tope con hilo where PCO just didn’t catch him at all causing King to land ass first on the floor. When they got back in the ring it didn’t seem like they were on the same page for a second. They got it back together after this, though there was one powerbomb from PCO on King that didn’t look great too. They did a sequence where King was laying under the ropes, with his upper body over the edge and PCO did a cannonball from the top rope onto King. After he set him back up, went to the top rope on the other side and tried for what looked like a moonsault but landed on the ropes instead of King. It would have looked nuts if he pulled it off, but I’m not sure the laws of physics would have allowed it. The finish saw PCO go to the top rope and King pulled him off and hit him with a Gonzo Bomb, which is a tribute to his trainer Kaos, who used that as his finisher. Some people I talked to after the show loved this and some hated it. I thought the bad outweighed the good overall, and King looked great in what he did, but it wasn’t on par with the rest of the show.
Rating: ** 3/4

Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) over Ilja Dragunov & Shingo Takagi [22’11]

This was incredible. All four wrestlers had incredible chemistry together and the stuff between WALTER and Dragunov was amazing. Dragunov took such a beating in this but just kept coming back for more. The pacing of this was perfect and the match just kept building and building. Thatcher and Takagi had lot of great sequences together as did WALTER and Takagi. The only negative is we won’t get singles between all of these guys this weekend, as two will be out after night two. This was such a fantastic match, and probably the best match in Southern California since The Young Bucks versus Golden Lovers from the NJPW show in March. The finish saw Thatcher with a Fujiwara armbar on Dragunov, and when Dragunov fought to get out of it Thatcher rolled him for the pin.
Rating: **** 3/4

After the match they all tried to shake hands but Takagi was having none of it and left. There was some hesitation between WALTER and Thatcher as they are night two opponents, but they ended up shaking hands in the end.

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