Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
2017 Battle of Los Angeles: Stage Three
September 3, 2017
Reseda, CA

Photos: Mikey Nolan Photography

Note: This is a dual review between Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) and Dylan Justin (@DylanJx4)

Ricochet Def. Dezmond Xavier

From a storytelling perspective, this match was wrestled to perfection. You had the young up-and-comer in Xavier taking on the established star in Ricochet. Xavier was trying to prove himself as one of the best high flyers in the business by knocking off the man that many believe to be THE best. Ricochet took a lot of offense from Xavier, but never really looked like he was in any true danger of losing. Xavier did his best to hold his own against Ricochet, even kicking out of the Benadryller. Eventually Ricochet put him away with the Flatliner after nailing Xavier with an ax kick that was very reminiscent of BxB Hulk. I’m sure when Ricochet was in his younger days he found himself on the opposite side of that move in a learning experience similar to what Xavier just went through in this match. Xavier was given a chance to shine here as Ricochet took a step back, allowing this young star to show what he can do. ***½ -Kelly Harrass

Travis Banks Def. Marty Scurll

Similar to the previous match, this was an established star allowing a newcomer to show his skills and get himself more over with the crowd, the only difference being that the newcomer actually won. Scurll did his usual shtick, which I’m pretty tired of but enjoy when he goes all out with it and isn’t trying to have an otherwise serious match, and Banks again worked his usual quick, aggressive, explosive style. Banks didn’t necessarily have the best matches of the weekend but what he did do was get himself over to the point where it’d be a mistake not to bring him back. All three of his performances were great, the fans knew who he was, were excited for him, and with TK Cooper making his return early next year, I’m sure we’ll see Banks back in a PWG ring very soon. Solid match, albeit short. ***½ -Dylan Justin

Keith Lee Def. Donovan Dijak

In what turned out to be Dijak’s final match before leaving the indies for WWE, these two men absolutely tore the house down. Coming out of these shows, this was the match that everyone in attendance was talking about. Meltzer went the full five on it, and while I wouldn’t go that high, this match delivered in a big way. Dijak and Lee are two very large men and the things they do in this match shouldn’t be possible. Watching this was very much like when you would play a wrestling video game and program the big guys with flippy moves because it looked crazy. Regardless of all the dives and moves off the ropes, this was everything you want out of a hoss fight. The strikes were hard and the impact moves were big. These guys hit each other with everything they had and kept asking for more.

The story through the match was that Dijak just couldn’t put Lee down. No matter what he did, Lee refused to leave his feet or go down without retaliating first. Dijak grew frustrated and attempted to win through devious means, but this only angered Lee, giving him the extra energy he needed to powerslam Dijak into oblivion. Dijak goes to WWE following what was probably the best match of his career thus far and Keith Lee moves forward after winning this rivalry. The athleticism in this match is unbelievable and makes this a must see. Easy match of the year candidate for me. ****¾ -Kelly Harrass

Rey Fenix Def. Zack Sabre Jr.

An interesting match between Sabre and Fenix here with Fenix surprisngly holding his own on the mat against the best technical wrestler in the world. As Excalibur and Chuck Taylor discussed on commentary, matches like this are eye-opening in that you never know what skills certain guys have until they’re put in spots where they’re able to show them off. I’ve never seen Fenix go on the mat, nor have I thought anything of him as a technical wrestler, so seeing what he was able to do against Sabre was nothing short of highly impressive.

Not only was he able to hang with him, he actually got the better of him at several points and ended up pinning the former PWG champion in one of the most shocking results of the weekend. Between this, his match with Rey Horus on Night 1, his match with Lee later on in the show and his performance in what I thought was an otherwise lackluster main event on Night 2, Fenix was easily one of the stars of this year’s BOLA. Great work by both men in an exciting, back-and-forth match with lots of great mat work. ****¼ -Dylan Justin

Jeff Cobb Def. Sammy Guevara

This one was short and sweet. The story was very simple here; Sammy Guevara is a cocky little bastard and Jeff Cobb puts him in his place. Up until Cobb’s sudden victory, Sammy showed off just why he’s so cocky, hitting Cobb with a ton of impressive offense. One of the craziest spots in the whole tournament comes in this match when Sammy hits a corkscrew dive off the announce table onto Cobb. The finish came when Sammy was caught out of midair by Cobb and then was taken for a Tour of the Islands. Fun, quick match. ***½ -Kelly Harrass

Matt Riddle Def. Penta El Zero M

I said in my review of Night 2 that I’ve been down on Riddle lately and am not as into his whole routine anymore but I have to be fair now. Riddle had four matches this weekend between the tag on Night 1, the Elgin match on Night 2 and his two on this show, and all four of them were tremendous. The Elgin match was my favorite singles match of the tournament outside of Lee vs. Dijak, the tag was one of the best tag matches of the year, this match and the Cobb match later on were almost as good. Riddle killed it every time out and was, for my money, the biggest star out of the 24 people in the field from bell-to-bell. He and Penta, as you would expect, beat the hell out of each other and gave the crowd everything they could have asked for here. Another fast-paced, exciting, energetic match between two of the most over men in the company. ****¼ -Dylan Justin

Ricochet Def. Travis Banks

These two men know that if they win here, there’s one more match in front of them so there is a real sense of urgency to end this match. Banks starts things off immediately, taking out Ricochet with a dive before he even makes it into the ring. The action keeps up that speed throughout most of its twelve minute match time, but Ricochet takes some time every now and then to talk a little trash. Banks doesn’t allow Ricochet to get into his head though. The Kiwi Buzzsaw blisters Ricochet with chops, kicks, and forearms every chance he gets. I like how this match was essentially Ricochet’s battle to stay a top star on the indies even with the ever changing landscape. In the opener on this show we saw Ricochet battle the future star and in this match he took on the current foreign indie darling. While the trash talk in the match may have been Ricochet trying to get in the head of Banks, it was also an expression of his frustration at having to knock all these guys that step up back down to maintain his spot on top of the mountain. That’s just want Ricochet does here, putting away Banks with the Flatliner and punching his ticket to the finals. The action was great here, but I enjoyed the storytelling more than anything. ***¾ -Kelly Harrass

Keith Lee Def. Rey Fenix

As his weekend came to a close, Fenix met yet another clash of styles when he stepped in the ring with Keith Lee. Based purely on dynamicity, Fenix arguably had the most intriguing weekend of all. He met a man of similar skill in Horus on Night 1, he met the best technical wrestler in the world earlier in the show, and here he met the best big man, the best hoss in wrestling. The Sabre match was Fenix showing off his skill and proving to Sabre that he could hang on the mat, while this was simply him trying to survive and make it through. Both men were tired, both had grueling matches earlier in the night, and so Fenix’s only goal was to outlast this giant. He didn’t end up doing so as Lee was just too tough to crack, but he went out with yet another excellent performance. With a few more minutes this really could have been something special, but as it was it was very good and was the right match to have at this point in the show. ***¾ -Dylan Justin

Jeff Cobb Def. Matt Riddle

The opening minutes of the match contain two chop battles and I am a happy boy, or bro, I suppose. This was a match for bros that like to watch bros bro-out by beating the stuffing out of each other. There wasn’t much to this match aside from Cobb and Riddle walloping each other over and over, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. For the roughly ten minute runtime of this contest, I would wager that a majority of the match was made up of chop exchanges. If you enjoyed the tag match that this team was one half of on night one, taking on Lee and Dijak, you’ll like this one too. The match came to a close with a fantastic moment when Cobb caught Riddle, yelled out “I love you, bro,” and then put him away with the Tour of the Islands. This was a sprint that was right up my alley. ****¼ -Kelly Harrass

Chuck Taylor, Flamita, Joey Janela, Mark Haskins & Morgan Webster Def. Brian Cage, Jonah Rock, Sami Callihan, Trevor Lee & WALTER

The annual “all these guys are eliminated and need a match” comedy ten-man, though this one had less comedy than the ones in previous years. Rey Horus was originally meant to team with Flamita, Janela, Haskins and Webster but was injured on Night 1 so Chuckie T stepped in. The key here was that Taylor was on commentary when he decided to step in so had to go get dressed, thus the match started without him and he didn’t come out until the last few minutes. Like I did Riddle, I talked down Trevor Lee in my Night 2 review and funnily enough he ended up being the star of this match. His performance was fun, funny, he delivered in the ring and all around, this was his match. Jonah Rock also impressed and is someone I’m looking forward to seeing back as he followed up on his great performance against Sabre on Night 1. I don’t generally enjoy these ten-mans because of how goofy they get, but this one was quite enjoyable. Good comedy but not too much of it and some great action from all ten dudes. **** -Dylan Justin

Ricochet Def. Jeff Cobb & Keith Lee

Kelly: First things first, why does the BOLA finals have a time limit? I understand having a time limit for every other match in the tournament, but not the finals. Who wants to have a time limit draw close out a tournament like this? This is the type of little stuff that bothers me.

Before the match even starts, the character arc of Ricochet continues. When Keith Lee is introduced, he actually receives some streamers from the fans, to which Ricochet reacts in annoyance and shows a bit of jealousy by throwing some of the streamers directly at Lee. I love the attitude that Ricochet has shown throughout the tournament and it’s only ramped up with every match he competes in. Ricochet shakes Cobb’s hand, but gives Lee a hand slap at best.

The opening minutes of the match are spent with Ricochet using his speed to battle these two monsters. He puts up a good fight, but there is literally a stretch of the match where Cobb and Lee just throw Ricochet at each other back and forth. Not one to be outdone, Ricochet actually manages to power up both men (at different points, obviously) and throw them over his head in an impressive display of strength. A short time after that, the Future of Flight hits a dive over a ringpost and onto Cobb on the outside, a feat which he replicates a moment later onto Lee. Ricochet’s offensive flurry is brought to an end when his two mountainous opponents gather their strength and proceed to start tossing him around again. At points, Ricochet feels like the kid brother that wants to play too, but keeps getting swatted away by his big brothers. He almost lets the insurmountable odds get to him following an unsuccessful pin attempt on Lee after hitting him with the 630, but Ricochet swallows his doubts and keeps fighting.

That moment of self doubt almost cost Ricochet the match as he gave Cobb enough time to recover. After taking a beating from Cobb, Ricochet is pulled from the ring by Lee before he can be crushed with the Tour of the Islands. Lee gets into the ring and blasts Cobb with a few strikes. The first elimination of the match occurs when Keith Lee puts away Cobb with one of the biggest power slams that I have ever seen. The match ends a mere seconds later when Ricochet springboards off the top rope at Lee and is caught in mid air. Lee goes for another power slam, but Ricochet catches Lee with an inside cradle out of nowhere and becomes the only two time winner of the Battle of Los Angeles.

With this victory, Ricochet proves that he has longevity for a reason. Other indie stars come and go, but he’s been one of the best for years. We all know it, he knows it too, we just all need a reminder sometimes. The finals were tremendous, not something I would call a MOTYC, but still a great match. More than anything, I loved the story that these men told, but I can’t say that this match is a complete story on its own. You need to see the character arc of Ricochet throughout the weekend to fully appreciate what he does here. I’ve spent most of the review talking about Ricochet, but I have to say that Keith Lee and Jeff Cobb are both awesome in this, showing that they’re two of the best big men in the business. The three most impressive men of the weekend capped off the best show of the weekend. Well done, gentlemen. ****½

Dylan: One of the most memorable things of the weekend happened after this match, and I wanted to get it out of the way immediately. I’m talking about Ricochet’s promo, which may come as a surprise to those who, for years now, have considered his mic-skills to be his weakest asset. I was in that same boat for a long time as his promos always felt off to me, like he was always in work-mode. Everything sounded forced and disingenuous, where as this year he’s developed into what I would consider a pretty great talker. His promo after this match, though short, simple and to the point, was delivered with such realness, such confidence, such believability, I was taken aback even as someone who’s liked what he’s done on the mic. It was a proper payoff to the story-arc that was built up over the three nights as he essentially did a full-on heel turn.

Him celebrating, degrading previous winners and the two men he defeated, boasting about being the only double winner in PWG history and then telling Chuck Taylor that he was going to take his title before heading on to what he called “bigger and better things,” it was all delivered so well and so believably. It’s the little things that make a promo, or simple shit-talking as it was between him and Taylor, so good. It’s confidence, delivery, more so than the actual content because again, he didn’t say anything elaborate, it was purely how he said everything and how good he came across as a heel. Really a memorable job out of him.

As for the actual match, they told exactly the right story with Cobb and Lee hossing it up while Ricochet, pre-heel turn, tried intervening only to be tossed out of the way, sometimes literally, by the two bigger men. Cobb has become one of my favorite wrestlers in the world lately and seeing him in a spot like this was great and not something I expected. He wasn’t someone I would have pegged to make it to the finals but with the story they were telling with Ricochet, it only made sense to have him play the underdog. It was the perfect final in that sense, and all three of them delivered. You’re always risking a great match when you do a three-way if there’s a lack of communication or a lack of ideas to make up for the three people but luckily everything clicked here. An excellent match with an excellent story and a proper ending to a great weekend of wrestling. ****½