If you aren’t watching Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, what in the fuck are you waiting for?
The talent-owned, little-engine-that-could out at American Legion Post #308 in Reseda, California is the very best American Independent Wrestling going. Combining the most alive crowd in the ‘States with the top Indy talent in the country, PWG delivers every time out with a good show that gives you serious wrestling that doesn’t take itself seriously. Every show is filled with tongue-in-cheek references to the vaguest wrestling clichés, but it never forgets who is watching and never insults even the most hardcore wrestling nerd’s intelligence.
Simply put, the product is FUN.
PWG is a microcosm of what makes Indy Wrestling awesome. A very intimate, fan-friendly setting with talent that doesn’t forget who is in the crowd. The matches are smart. The storylines and programs are thin if non-existent but that doesn’t mean character arcs don’t exist. It is the type of promotion that the smart wrestling fan should be into if they aren’t already. Whether you’re into hardcore gore-fests, flippy high flyers, Strong Style kick-a-paloozas, big-match-feel main events, high-end tag team wrestling, straight up technical wrestling, lucha-flaire…whatever it is, PWG has something for your wrestling palate.
Sparing you the history lesson of where PWG has come from, here’s a crash course of what’s going on, what you’re missing and what to look out for in the future.
The Rise of Adam Cole
Ring of Honor fans know him as an ever-breaking-out future star. However, in PWG, the future is now. “The Panama City Playboy” is at the top of card, the promotions heel champion, and a fine one at that. His big push started at the Battle of Los Angeles in 2012, where he would be a surprise winner in PWG’s annual tournament that featured top Indy products El Generico, Sami Callihan, and Michael Elgin. Following the conclusion of the tournament, Cole would attack then-champion Kevin Steen setting up their future title match which would happen this past December at Mystery Vortex. Cole would go on and win the title in glorious heel fashion in a Guerrilla Warfare match against Steen in a Match of the Year Contender and his rise to stardom was essentially complete…but not over.
The first half of 2013 would also see the rise of the former hardcore wrestler, Drake Younger in PWG as the token take-on-all-comers fighting babyface. He would have a three-match series with Sami Callihan that would ultimately see him go over and be given a title shot against Cole at All-Star Weekend: Night 2, in March. It was there, that Cole would once again go full heel to beat the fan favorite, ending the show to a showering of boos. This trend would continue at Is Your Body Ready in a 60-minute Iron Man Match against Sami Callihan and again at TEN against both Kevin Steen and Drake Younger in a three-way-dance. The result is the same, Cole leaving with the title through token-heel nefarious means.
Cole has risen to the top of the Indy scene and should be a fixture there until the WWE comes calling. He’s become a great heel and has delivered very strong in his main event matches in PWG. Get in on the middle of this fun run of his.
The Best Tag Team Wrestling in the World
No, I’m not saying that for shock value. Seriously, PWG offers the best tag team wrestling in the world. They have a stacked stable of regular tag teams, and often these teams are featured in two to three matches at every PWG event. Every show is filled with dynamic, hot finish tag matches that have the crowd going bananas. Here is a rundown of who’s who:
The Young Bucks – The reigning, defending PWG Tag Champs, they’ve held the title since DDT4 in January. They’ve had some great matches in PWG over the past year or so with a few Match of the Year Contenders in 2012 and some that will rank up there in 2013. #theBucks are the best tag team in the world. Yessir.
The Unbreakable Fucking Machines – The tag team of “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin and Brian Cage are a new fan favorite. Big power guys with surprising athleticism and crowd popping spots.
Inner City Machine Guns – Ricochet and Rich Swan come out to every show to Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long”…Ricochet is perhaps the best high flyer in all of wrestling and always delivers awesome innovative flippy-dos in the ring. They’ve already had a few Match of the Year Contenders in PWG in the past six months alone.
DojoBros – Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong have received a strong push in recent months leading up to a title match at All-Star Weekend and a follow up at TEN. A more technical team than some of the aforementioned groups, they offer a great FOIL for a lot of the high fliers and the match results have been quite good.
Super Smash Brothers – Indy scene darlings The Super Smash Brothers haven’t been as active or yielded the high end match quality we, as fans are accustomed to due to injury and family issues, but whenever they get back to full health, they are one of the most fun teams to watch in all of wrestling.
Also, watch out for FIST (as they are known in CHIKARA), the team of Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor. Gargano recently debuted in PWG after rising in the Evolve/DragonGateUSA bubble and so far, they’ve been a big crowd favorite. Every once in a while, you’ll get FutureShock (Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly), The Briscoes, and AR Fox teaming with someone getting into the tag mix, too.
A ton of talent that are always delivering high end action. It is not going to be out of the world to see several PWG tag matches show up on Match of the Year lists by year’s end.
The Big Matches
If you want to go ahead and pick-and-choose some matches from the past few events to cherry pick to get yourself acquainted with PWG, here are a few recommendations.
Kevin Steen (c) v. Adam Cole @ Mystery Vortex
Back in December, these two would feud in a Guerrilla Warfare match that would eventually put Adam Cole at the top of promotion. This is going to be a Match of the Year Contender and a must watch for anyone catching up. A great place to start.
Steenerico v. The Young Bucks (c) @ DDT4
This is the finals of the DDT4 annual tag team tournament in January. This would also be the final match in PWG for El Generico before he would leave wrestling to take care of orphans in Mexico. Godspeed, Generico, Godspeed.
Inner City Machine Guns v. AR Fox & Samuray Del Sol @ All-Star Weekend: Night 1
If you like your wrestling matches awesome…then you need to watch this. By the end of this match, you’re gasping for air. Absolutely bananas.
The Whole Fox’n Machine Guns (Ricochet, Rich Swan, and AR Fox) v. The Unbreakable Fucking Steen Machines (Michael Elgin, Brian Cage, and Kevin Steen) @ All-Star Weekend: Night 2
The last 15 minutes of this match are complete madness. Great chemistry between the smaller high fliers and the big heavy hitters.
The Young Bucks (c) v. DojoBros @ All-Star Weekend: Night 2
This is #theBucks at their most outrageous. A ton of interplay with the Angelo the Ring Announcer and Referee Rick Knox. Kevin Steen on commentary gives this match a ton of laughs. The two teams have awesome chemistry.
Adam Cole (c) v. Drake Younger @ All-Star Weekend: Night 2
This is a career making match for Younger and a great example of simple booking having a crowd by the balls.
Battle of Los Angeles 2013
Last year, we saw the rise of Adam Cole start at BOLA 2012. This year, there are a few guys that are hot and could be in line for a big push by winning PWG’s annual singles tournament this year. Here are some of my early favorites.
Michael Elgin – Last year’s runner up. Big crowd favorite in PWG. Since losing in the finals of BOLA 2012, Elgin has mostly been involve in tag team work with big Unbreakable F’N Machines tag team partner, Brian Cage. Elgin is currently being pushed hard in Ring of Honor and could easily swing that momentum over into PWG.
Drake Younger – The biggest white meat babyface PWG has. Younger has been put over big by Sami Callihan in a best-of-three series earlier this year and took champion Adam Cole to the limit at ASW9.
Kyle O’Reilly – My dark horse candidate for 2013, O’Reilly has been very hot with very impressive performances versus Sami Callihan, Davey Richards, and TJ Perkins in the last three events. He’s incredibly over with the crowd and he’s really coming into his own. A future Kyle O’Reilly v. Adam Cole (still tag team partners in PWG) match could be in order for Cole’s title. Yes, we’ve seen it before, but these two are on different levels right now than when we saw them feuding in ROH a few years ago.
Also, watch out for some of the newer PWG talent like ACH, who is making waves in ROH, “The Sicilian Psychpath” Tommoso Chiampa, and”The Elite Athlete” Anthony Nese. They’ll join regulars Kevin Steen, Willie Mack, Chuck Taylor, Roderick Strong, a returning Joey Ryan and many more for the always great PWG event.
Things are starting to get really fucking good in PWG with a lot of talent really coming of age at the American Legion. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, get on it already.
And, if you like what you see…go support great Independent Wrestling and go pick up some DVDs @ http://www.prowrestlingguerrilla.com/merch/