Last night, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla held the first night of the 2019 Battle of Los Angeles tournament. This year’s tournament features a lot of newcomers as PWG transitions into the AEW vs. WWE era. Fifteen of this year’s entrants are appearing in their first BOLA, and eight of those wrestlers are making their PWG debut. This year is also interesting because there is a wrestler the majority expects to win, but after him, the field is wide open and there is no clear second choice.
I think every show since moving to the Globe Theater, and not having Legion Larry to delay things, has started pretty much at the advertised time. Night one was no different, as Excalibur was in the ring at 8:02 p.m. to give his opening promo like he does every show.
Battle of Los Angeles – A-Kid over Lucky Kid [18’31]
This was the PWG debut for both wrestlers. This started fairly slowly. I thought Lucky Kid might have been legitimately dazed for a moment and had a cut on the side of his head. The crowd was really hot from the start, and I commented to my friend that if the crowd is hot for this, they’ll be going nuts for the later matches. After about five minutes they really picked it up and turned the match around. While it took a while to start, the last 12 minutes are so was great. There were a lot of really stiff chops in this and both wrestler’s chests were really bruised up. A lot of believable near falls towards the end, I was sitting next to the guy doing the ring bell and he almost rang it like four times. A-Kid won with arm bar while he delivered chops to Lucky Kid.
Rating: *** 1/2
Battle of Los Angeles – Brody King over Caveman Ugg [10’52]
This show was the first time PWG ever held an event on a Thursday. Another first happened in this match as Aubrey Edwards became the first female referee in PWG history. She got a pretty loud reaction when she came out. I have never seen Caveman Ugg before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I came away pretty impressed. They had a really hard-hitting match with a lot of super athletic moves you don’t normally see from guys their size thrown in. I thought they meshed really well together. This was great. I thought it was the second or third best match of the night. King won with the Kaos version of the Gonzo Bomb (which is amazing that he hit it on a guy Ugg’s size).
Battle of Los Angeles – Dragon Lee over Rey Horus [14’30]
This was Dragon Lee’s PWG debut. He has ever only lost one tournament match in the state of California (the 2019 Super J-Cup finals to El Phantasmo), so it was no surprise to see him win here, despite it being his debut. I thought Rey Horus was great in this and went all out on trying to have a great match. It didn’t feel like Dragon Lee had the same effort. This was good, but it definetely felt like Lee held back. Lee won with a running knee.
Rating: *** 1/4
Joey Janela & Alex Zayne over Blake Christian & Tony Deppen [14’39]
This was an amazing exhibition of crazy moves and unique spots. As a match though it felt like it didn’t have a lot of substance between the spots. It didn’t really matter though, the craziness is what most people wanted to see from this. After the match the crowd was even throwing money in the ring, which is rare for a non-lucha match. Zayne hit a running 630 on Deppen to get the pin. It’s hard to rate this as a match, but as an exhibition of what is possible in pro-wrestling, it was great.
Rating: *** 1/2
Battle of Los Angeles – Darby Allin over Black Taurus [11’32]
As soon as the bell rang Taurus was all over Allin, and continued to overpower him for most of the match. Taurus was on fire for the whole match, and the crowd really got behind him to the point that they turned on Allin. I doubt Taurus ever did the Death Nut Challenge though. This was really good. Taurus has been really impressive in his first two PWG matches. Allin got a cradle out of nowhere to get the pin. The crowd actually booed the finish because of how much Taurus got over in this.
Rating: *** 3/4
Battle of Los Angeles – Jonathan Gresham over Artemis Spencer [13’09]
I’ve seen some really good matches from both wrestlers, but I don’t think they meshed well together in this. They never seemed to get on the same page at all. This wasn’t bad by any means, but it wasn’t good either. Gresham won when he was pounding Spencer on the ground and the ref stopped the match.
Rating: ** 1/2
Battle of Los Angeles – Jeff Cobb over Daisuke Sekimoto [15’26]
This started almost like a sumo match with both guys just smashing into each other trying to move the other guy. Sekimoto did a vertical suplex and a delayed suplex on Cobb. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt Cobb has been hit with too many vertical suplexes in his career. This was really hard-hitting. I don’t know if Sekimoto will be back in PWG after this weekend, but PWG has some really good big men right now, especially if they keep bringing Caveman Ugg back. Cobb won this with the Tour of the Islands. Another great match.
Lucha Brothers (Rey Fenix & Penta El Zero M) over MexaBlood (Bandido & Flamita) [18’08]
As expected, this was great. The pace at which these guys wrestled was so fast at the start. There was a ton of really cool spots in this, but the most incredible thing on the whole show was a spot where Fenix was standing upright on Penta El Zero M’s shoulders, and Fenix jumped up onto Bandido’s shoulders then gave Fenix a Spanish Fly off the shoulders. I couldn’t believe they were actually able to pull that off. Completely amazing. There were a few times where the match seemingly lost its way, but overall this was great and my match of the night. The finish saw Penta El Zero M give Flamita a package pile driver with Fenix assisting with a double stomp off the top rope.
Rating: **** 1/4
I don’t think the show was as good as last year’s night 1, but that is a high bar to reach. Still, overall this was a great show and certainly worth checking out when it gets released on video.
The 2019 Battle of Los Angeles should be available for pre-order soon on PWG’s website and at Highspots (I believe Highspots will also be selling the turnbuckle pads and other items from BOLA as well).