Tim… it’s not even summertime, WrestleMania just happened. Why are you talking about PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles (BOLA) 2019 already? Don’t you know it isn’t until September? What the hell is wrong with you?
That’s probably what went through your head when you saw an article about BOLA being written this early in the year. And truthfully, you are asking all the right questions. What the hell is wrong with me? Lots of things, but that’s not the point. The point is PWG normally announces their lineup around June, so we really aren’t that far away from BOLA season. A lot of PWG fans I’ve talked to have expressed concern that Super Dragon and Excalibur won’t be able to fill out a roster of 24 wrestlers.
While a lot of the bigger names have been signed, there is still plenty of talent out there. With this year being the 15th edition of BOLA, I will be talking about 15 wrestlers I would love to see debut in this year’s tournament. This list is based on my personal taste or/and what I think would get over in front of that crowd. If you think this list is biased, it is, keep in mind this is just one man’s opinion. One notable exception is A-Kid, who I removed once he worked an NXT UK show.
“The Rapscallion” Mick Moretti
At the top of my list is not only the person I most want to see, but the person I believe has done the most to earn his spot in BOLA. Moretti has literally paid his dues over the past few years, traveling across the world on his own dime. In 2017 Mick flew from Sydney to live in the US for five months and trained with Mike Quackenbush at the Chikara Wrestle Factory for a large chunk of that time. Last year Mick, along with 4Nations stablemates Jack Bonza and Adam Hoffman made it to the finals of Chikara’s King of Trios tournament, before ultimately being eliminated by The Colony. During both of US trips, Mick flew to Los Angeles to be on ring crew at BOLA. This year he once again traveled to the US to be part of WrestleMania weekend, even entering the Clusterfuck on Janela’s Spring Break show. Even though he is a heavily gimmicked wrestler, his greatest strength is his in-ring work, Mick has a very unique moveset that I believe would get over well in front if a PWG audience. In my opinion, he is the Australian wrestler of the year so far, putting on brilliant performances against Gavin McGavin in EPW, and Jack Bonza in the finals of PWA’s inaugural Coliseum tournament. Between the great matches, his insane character, him hustling his ass off to get his name out, and public support from PWG regulars Robbie Eagles and Brody King, Moretti isn’t just someone I want in BOLA, but in my opinion, there is a very good chance he gets the call.
While Moretti is my number one pick for BOLA, fellow Sydney native, Caveman Ugg is a very close second. Caveman Ugg is the current PWA Champion, one of the biggest stars in Australia, and one of the best athletic big men in wrestling in my opinion. He was also in New York for WrestleMania weekend, where he was severely underutilized, only appearing at the Family Reunion show and the Clusterfuck. Ugg has one of my favorite movesets in wrestling, including a deadlift butterfly suplex, an incredible variation of the Black Hole Slam(possibly my favorite move in wrestling), and a Phoenix Splash. Caveman Ugg is a guy who is perfect for PWG, he can more than go in the ring, and he toes the line between goofy and serious.
El Hijo Del Vikingo
Look, I’m gonna struggle talking about the lucha guys, but this one is a no brainer. Vikingo is one of the hottest up and comers in lucha let alone wrestling in general. Over the past couple years, he has really made a name for himself tearing it up in AAA, and even winning the World Trios Championships with Laredo Kid and Mysteziz Jr. and entering their Rey de Reyes in 2018. Outside if wrestling, I’m told Vikingo has a background in gymnastics, which explained how he is able to do things that I didn’t know were physically possible. Vikingo is one of the most exciting young wrestlers going today, and I’d love for PWG to get the “Viking Experience” (ugh, I hate myself for writing that).
In my short time watching lucha, Aramis is the guy who has stuck out most. He is cut from a similar cloth as Rey Horus, but does some crazier stuff, including rope walks and ridiculously far dives(which were on full display with his match against Aero Boy that’s free on YouTube). Aramis is a prodigy, at only nineteen years old has already been in wrestling for nearly a decade. He does have aspirations of breaking out in the US and is very familiar with the US indy style, as he is a big fan of guys like AJ Styles, Johnny Gargano, and Ricochet. With his small size and daredevil offense, Aramis is a natural underdog, and I have no doubt he would win the hearts of the PWG faithful.
In the movie Moneyball Jonah Hill’s character claims Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis is “The Greek God of Walks”. Youkilis was a guy who just finds a way to get on base, even if it wasn’t by getting a hit or home run. I feel the same way about Tony Deppen, he is a scrappy dude who always finds a way to get himself, his matches, and his opponent over. Deppen is the Greek God of getting guys over, and gets the absolute best out of his opponents, even if they don’t have any legs. He isn’t always the guy who stands out most in his matches, as he is a very unselfish wrestler, and for that reason, it took me a while to be won over. But after WrestleMania weekend, I’m sold, and it looks like I’m not in the minority with that opinion.
“Spartan Spirit” Paris De Silva
I first noticed Paris De Siva last year when Will Ospreay tweeted that he is one of the Aussies he most wanted to wrestle. Unfortunately, Ospreay hasn’t made a ton of trips to Oceania since that time, and none in 2019, and the match with Paris still is yet to happen. That is really unfortunate because that match would look really nice on De Silva’s resume, and help increase his BOLA chances by a lot. When Will sent out that tweet Paris was just a lower card tag guy with Jude “The Dude” London as the VeloCities in PWA. Since then Paris has seen his star grow tremendously due to tag team success, a big singles run in PWA’s Colosseum tournament, and a couple GIFs of his shooting star DDT. Not only has his star risen, but there has been a tremendous improvement over the past year, making him one of the best young flyers on the indies in my opinion. Paris De Silva is a world traveled wrestler, training at the Wrestle-1 dojo in Japan, the NJPW dojo in Los Angeles, and recently made his way to Europe along with Jude.
Imagine if Mantaur and an Orc from Lord of the Rings fucked. God, that’s hot. Now imagine if the had a son who became a luchador. That’s pretty much Black Taurus.
Taurus has one of my favorite looks in wrestling and can go in the ring. He is a really good worker who combines power moves with some impressive lucha, and is even a practitioner of MMA. Internationally Taurus has been making waves recently, as he was part of WrestleMania weekend, taking on Darby Allin at Wrestlecon’s US vs the World, and a fun six man at Joey Ryan’s Penis Party. Black Taurus is an absolute beast, and I would love to see him mix it up in PWG either with other luchadores or have hoss battles with guys like Brody King or Jeff Cobb.
“Samoan Warewolf” Jacob Fatu
As a Bay Area native, I’ve seen a lot of Fatu matches at All Pro Wrestling. Over the past few months, several members of the APW roster have blown up, including Jungle Boy, Karl Fredericks, and even JR Kratos. Fatu is no exception, recently he has starting traveling out of NorCal a lot more, making his debut in AAW, and joining the MLW roster. Jacob is also a title holder in multiple promotions. He is currently (at the time of this writing) the APW Heavyweight Champion and a co-holder of both the Defy and PCW Tag Team Championships as half of Warbeast with Josef(formerly The Almighty Sheik). Fatu has been a little hit or miss in the past, some of his slower paced matches haven’t connected with me. That being said, since traveling, Jacob has really stepped up and improved a lot, adding a lot of moves to his repertoire and is becoming a much more consistent performer.
BOLA isn’t all about up and coming talent. Throughout the year’s names from the past have graced a PWG ring on BOLA weekend. Fit Finlay, Jushin Thunder Liger, PCO, and of course the legendary Curt Hawkins have all been BOLA entrants. Although Tanaka is far past his prime as he can still deliver in ring. Honestly, I don’t know what to say that hasn’t been said. He is a legend, has been great for decades, and his matches with Mike Awesome are the stuff of legend. I would love to see him grace a PWG ring before he hangs up the boots. And considering Super Dragon attempted to book him for BOLA in the past, I don’t think it’s out of the question.
“Freshly Squeezed” Orange Cassidy
Over the years PWG has earned the reputation of high flying and comedy. While I have no doubt PWG will find some great flyers, Orange fits the comedy bill. I had the opportunity to see Cassidy wrestle at GCW’s To Live and Die in LA show a couple of months ago, and in person, his charisma in person is off the charts. What I like is he’s not just a straight-up comedy guy, which is why I have him on this list. Orange Cassidy has shown he can hang with the best thanks to his run as IndependentWrestling.tv Champion and tremendous match with David Starr from Beyond Wrestling. Cassidy is one of the hottest acts in independent wrestling, and it makes a lot of sense for PWG to book him.
Slex doesn’t have bad matches. Like with anybody. Get Slex in the ring with someone decent, and it’s almost guaranteed to be a good match. Slex is the heart and soul of Melbourne City Wrestling(where he is currently World Champion), and a four-star machine. In recent vintage, he has had tremendous matches with the likes of Okada, Pete Dunne, Syd Parker, Will Ospreay, Robbie Eagles, Adam Brooks, and Gino Gambino. While Slex doesn’t have the most innovative offense, he is just a great worker, and the pace of his matches remind me of the pace of Roderick Strong’s matches.
Artemis Spencer is a decade and a half overnight success story. The Pacific Northwest wrestling scene is one that has never really received a ton of attention, even with wrestlers like Kyle O’Reilly, El Phantasmo, and Nicole Matthews breaking out. Arty’s success has coincided with DEFY’s success, as the company’s profile has grown, so has Spencer’s, especially with him as the current champion. Arty is arguably the biggest benefactor of PROGRESS’ US tour last year, as Jim Smallman was so impressed he invited him to England to take part in their Super Strong Style 16 tournament in early May this year. Personally, I had the opportunity to see him take on PWG tag champ Zachary Wentz at PCW’s Wrestle Summit a few weeks ago, and was blown away with his tremendous fire and stiff strikes.
A year ago Gino is not somebody who would have been on my list. As Mr. Juicy, I always found him entertaining, but not someone I was dying to see. Dropping the comedy and becoming the “final boss” of MCW has really injected new life into his career. While there are a lot of athletic big guys in wrestling these days, it’s nice to see a big guy who is a prototypical big man. Gino is an excellent grumpy asshole, which is the exact opposite of his old persona. Over the past year, Gambino has had several great matches against guys like Will Ospreay, Slex, and Robbie Eagles. Gambino is best in situations where he can be a monster, so I would definitely book him against a smaller babyface. The nice thing about Gino being a comedy wrestler for so long is he can go back to being the uber-charismatic Mr. Juicy in the night three, ten man tag.
I’m gonna be honest. I do not watch a lot of Japanese wrestling besides NJPW occasionally. The truth is before I watched WrestleCon’s US vs the World I had never even heard of Jiro. While I don’t watch much Japanese wrestling, Excalibur definitely does, and he happened to be on commentary for his match with Rich Swann on that show. Over the years I’ve learned it’s easy to tell when Excalibur loves a guy, and he was absolutely gushing over Jiro, and about how he had the guts to leave Japan and move to another country for his career. It was my first Jiro experience, and I was thoroughly entertained, as he oozes charisma, was very good in the ring, and has a sweet jacket. With him living in the US now, I wouldn’t be shocked if he is on Super Dragon and Excalibur’s radar, especially since they wouldn’t need to pay for an international flight.
“Nobody” Tyler Payne
I started this list with an Australian and I’m going to end it with one too. Of anybody on this list, Payne is the person who has the least chance of showing up at BOLA. Tyler is formerly known as Snapchad of the Social Media Squad (SMS), and his gimmick is that without his mask (which TMDK removed late last year) he is nobody. His nickname is fitting because he really doesn’t have much name value at this point(which is the only reason he isn’t higher on this list). However, even without a deep library of matches, Tyler does have a great match for free on YouTube against Robbie Eagles from PWA last year, and another very good one against fellow Fale Dojo graduate Carter Deams. Payne is a workhorse, and in my opinion, one of the most underrated wrestlers in the world. I would love to see PWG be way ahead of the curve and take a chance on him.