On paper, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla’s 2015 Battle of Los Angeles tournament looks like it could be something for the ages. With a star-studded field that includes top-level competitors from both the mainstream and independent scene in the United States, Mexico, Europe, and South Africa, it gave the event a very special, worldly feel. So, did it deliver? If Stage One is any indication, BOLA15 could be something truly special.
We open with Excalibur on commentary and he’ll be joined by the usual cast of characters throughout the show.
Lucha Underground’s ring announcer Melissa Santos is your special guest ring announcer and is looking absolutely incredible in a little white top and long cotton skirt.
Aero Star vs. Brian Cage
Brian Cage comes out with a stylish new mohawk, courtesy of Alberto El Patron during TripleMania. By contrast, Aero Star comes out lit up like Max Moon’s Christmas Tree. The action starts early with some fun back and forth showcasing Cage’s strength and Aero’s high fly-iness. Unfortunately, the crisp, crowd popping start dies within moments once they get to the Brian Cage control portion of the match. From there, this match gets pretty darn sloppy with numerous botches by Aero that really take away from the match. Brian Cage salvaged some of them with big impact moves to keep the crowd interested and ultimately finishes Aero Star with a Steiner Screwdriver. **1/4
Biff Busick vs. Andrew Everett
Andrew Everett is starting to become a mid-card stalwart in PWG considering the flood of new guys coming throughout this past year. With that, he’s developing a little sass and overt overconfidence. It creates an interesting chemistry with a no-nonsense, no ego type like Biff Busick as Everett’s confidence in his high-flying meets a little wall in Busick who tries to keep him on the mat. The match ultimately tells a decent story and the crowd gets into it. There is one helluva Botchamania moment when Everett misses a faux Phoenix Splash off the top, though, that got a chuckle out of me because it missed terribly. A somewhat clunky end to a good match is saved by Biff Busick going HAM on Everett before he finishes him off with the running European uppercut. ***1/4
Mark Andrews vs. Will Ospreay
Will Ospreay has been one of my favorites from this year. He’s got numerous matches that are going to qualify as “in the mix” for Match of the Year against several brand names from the States like Matt Sydal, Ricochet, and AJ Styles. Mark Andrews is fun as hell and is usually crisp and crowd popping. By the end of the year, you’ll want to catch up with everything, but if you need a cold introduction to these guys and what they are capable of, I think this is the match you start with. It won’t surpass some of the Ospreay high-end stuff from early this year, but this is what I’d show someone to give them an introduction to them. A really good back and forth match that showcased a lot of what both Andrews and Ospreay do well. Reseda took to them quickly and naturally. Ospreay finishes Andrews off with his 630 Splash. ****1/4
Los Gueros del Cielo vs. Inner City Machine Guns
The match opens with the greatest dance competition in the history of wrestling that actually flows right into a match seamlessly. Throughout, the pace wasn’t as high as you’d come to expect from these teams but the work was strong, crisp, and built to a crescedo. The big moves came and were all well done, they just didn’t come in the manic fashion PWG fans would be used to, but it all works. By the end, both teams are spent, but Jack Evans hits a 630 senton on Rich Swann for the win. A very strong match that is worked at a high level. ****
Trent? vs. Trevor Lee
Surely, as a long time wrestling fan you’ve seen matches that sneakily over deliver. That match that starts off slow, loses you, but you realize seven minutes later its still going on and they are in a back and forth affair and you finally start really paying attention…well, that’s this match right here. It over delivered and made you regret not paying attention the whole way. Really strong and I really liked the finish as Lee hits his small package driver finisher. ***1/2
Drago vs. Pentagon Jr.
Pentagon Jr. is a fucking STAR. He immediately has the entire Reseda crowd eating out of the palm of his hand and maintains it throughout. The match begins like it’s a token exhibition, but escalates after some early downtime to a pretty fun contest that sees Pentagon Jr. rightfully win with the running package piledriver. This ended up being more than a rudimentary showcase of these two guys to pop the crowd. ***
Fenix vs. Matt Sydal
As your main event for the first day of the first round of the tournament, you knew going in that Matt Sydal, who is peaking right now, was going to deliver. With an opponent like Fenix, one that can match him big move for big move and make it all look pretty, this was going to be something fun. It was. It was a big, flippy affair with stakes that kept rising. A well paced match that didn’t blow its load early and kept the big spots for late in the match, these two really put together a strong performance that capped off a nice night one of tournament matches. All of the big spots are seen here, with Sydal hitting Fenix with his reverse spike hurricanrana and the Shooting Sydal Press to put away Fenix. To Fenix’s credit, for a guy that has never wrestled Sydal before, he really meshed well and the Reseda crowd took to him early. ****1/4
Mount Rushmore 2.0 (Roderick Strong & The Young Bucks) v. Eurotrash (Tommy End, Zack Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll)
THIS.WAS.AMAZING. Trios matches do not get much better in PWG than this. The intensity raged early on between Zack Sabre Jr. and Roderick Strong starting with the introductions and bled throughout the entire match where the narrative seemed to be the rivalry between the two with The Bucks, End, and Scurll being the ancillary parts. Those parts though, stepped up and delivered just as you’d expect them to. Ultimately, after a long back and forth battle, the teamwork of 2.0 dispells End and Scurll giving them a 3-on-1 advantage on Sabre where despite some FIGHTING SPIRIT, Sabre gets laid out to a super kick party followed by a sick kick and End of Heartache from Roddy to finally put him away. Not only was this match structured very well for the long format, it was worked at an exceptional level. Everyone bought their shitty little boots to wrestle tonight. It wasn’t simply some exhibition to pop the crowd, this was a program enhancing trios that sets up a future rematch with Sabre and Strong. Can’t say enough good about this one. It’ll be the best trios match you see all year and is a legitimate Match of the Year candidate. ****3/4-
Final Thoughts: One match of the year candidate, three more matches of four stars or better, and nothing dragged the card down. That alone should tell you all you will need to know about Stage One of the 2015 Battle of Los Angeles. The show was very fun and never felt long. The structure of the card was incredibly well done and didn’t put you in a position to feel overwhelmed by first round match-ups that seemingly feel never-ending with two nights of them. The work was top-notch throughout and gave you incredible introductions to some of Europe’s top stars if you’ve never had a chance to see them. Highly recommended card and just think…this is only the beginning.
- The Buzz: Melissa Santos and that skirt. I’m parched
- Match of the Night: Mount Rushmore 2.0 vs. Eurotrash
- Also see: Mark Andrews v. Will Ospreay; Los Gueros del Cielo v. Inner City Machine Guns; Fenix v. Matt Sydal