Pro Wrestling Guerrilla held its 98th and last show of the decade on December 20, 2019. Going into The Makings of a Varsity Athlete it felt like a lot of people were sleeping on the show. It also felt somewhat like the first show in a new era of PWG, with half the roster having never wrestled in Reseda for the first time (outside of BOLAs), and except for Jake Atlas, there were no goodbyes.
Orange Cassidy over Tony Deppen [14’22]
The crowd was incredibly hot for Cassidy. Unfortunately, that energy died after this match and the show had one of the deadest PWG crowds in recent memory. They did a lot of the regular Orange Cassidy spots early, but then it turned into more a traditional wrestling match. Deppen has been great in 2019 and Cassidy showed he could hang in PWG without the comedy. Cassidy got the surprise win with a rollup.
Rating: *** 1/2
Mick Moretti over Paris DeSilva [17’12]
Paris DeSilva was a last-minute addition to the 10-man match at BOLA this year, where he hit an incredible Shooting Star Press into a DDT. I think a decent portion of the audience was waiting for that and they teased it throughout the match. When he finally almost hit it, Moretti stopped the DDT and reversed it into a suplex into the turnbuckles. This probably went a little too long for two wrestlers who aren’t yet established in PWG. I don’t know if a shorter match would have helped the crowd, but the crowd was dead for this and never came back. It was too bad, this was pretty good. Moretti won with a weird submission that involved him choking DeSilva with his legs while doing a headstand.
Rating: *** 1/2
David Starr over JD Drake [12’34]
Starr has been fantastic in PWG in 2019. I haven’t seen much of JD Drake before this, but he was involved in probably the best non-PWG independent match in Southern California of 2018 when he and Anthony Henry lost to The Gym Nasty Boys at Maverick Pro. This was really good. Starr won with a lariat. Drake got “please come back” chants after. He should definitely be back.
Rating: *** 3/4
Blake Christian over Jake Atlas [11’07]
I had hoped Atlas would have gotten a more high profile opponent for his last PWG match, but at the same time, I understand having to establish Christian. Atlas got a good reaction, but nothing near the ovation he was getting at BOLA. Then again, The Rise of Skywalker came out earlier in the day and Jake Atlas has apparently never seen any Star Wars movies. He also reportedly has Disney Plus and doesn’t watch The Mandolorian. Like, this guy is on Twitter and most likely sees Baby Yoda memes all day and has no idea what they are about. This is no way to go through life Jake Atlas! As for the match, it was good but at the same time, a let down as great was expected. It didn’t feel like Atlas and Christian really gel’d. Christian won with a sort of corkscrew splash. There was a “thank you Jake” chant after.
Rating: *** 1/4
At intermission, they announced Rey Fenix had travel issues and wouldn’t make his scheduled match with Jonathan Gresham. I was told his flight from Mexico City to Tijuana was delayed several hours and with getting through the border then driving to Los Angeles on a Friday evening there was no way he was making it.
Aramis & Rey Horus over The Rascalz (Zachary Wentz & Dezmond Xavier) [16’12]
This was a non-title match. Aramis didn’t have his gear so he was wearing a Rey Horus mask and some generic pants. There were a lot of fun spots in this as expected, but I think it being a non-title match took away a lot of the drama. The Rascalz are going to be the longest reigning PWG Tag-Team Champions in a few weeks, breaking the Young Bucks’ record 631 days. With Aramis and Horus getting the win it looks like their next challengers are set.
Jonathan Gresham over David Starr [12’19]
It was never announced Starr would be replacing Rey Fenix. As they were still hoping Fenix would get there when the show started there was no chance to get a replacement that wasn’t already on the show. It worked out though, as I thought this was the best match on the show. This wasn’t quite as good as their previous singles match at PWG 200 though. Gresham eliminated Starr at BOLA, so this was Starr trying to get revenge. This is the best feud in PWG right now. Gresham got the win via ref stoppage due to strikes knocking out Starr. After the match, Starr laid Gresham out.
Rating: **** 1/4
Bandido over Jeff Cobb to with the PWG World Championship [16’51]
Having won BOLA, this was Bandido’s title shot. Cobb somewhat quietly has had the fourth-longest title reign in PWG history. There were a few miscues in this, but overall I really liked it. I expected Bandido to win, but at the same time with him showing up in CMLL recently and the issues with CMLL wrestlers at BOLA I wasn’t totally sure that he would. The match was played pretty evenly. In an amazing spot, Bandido hit the Pudgyplex on Cobb. Bandido won with his 21plex to become the 31st PWG champion.
As mentioned, the crowd wasn’t as energetic as normal which may have hurt some of the matches, but if you are watching on video it probably won’t matter as much.
Overall I thought The Makings of a Varsity Athlete was a good show, but not near the better PWG shows of the last few years. That is admittedly a high bar to reach, and this show was still better than 90% of independent wrestling events.