This year will mark the 15th edition of PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles and the 10th I’ve had the privilege of being able to attend in person. Just like every year, this field is completely stacked. In part one of my preview I broke down the numbers, in part two I will break down each match, talk about every competitor, and give my predictions.
One thing that can’t be overlooked is the political implications of this tournament. AEW, ROH, AAA, and CMLL are all represented in this tournament. I can’t imagine the difficulty Super Dragon will have navigating through the political minefield that is this year’s BOLA. While I adore this years lineup, I am worried that we might see a bunch of bullshit/cheap finishes that could potential derail the whole tournament. We’ll have to see.
This is also likely the end of an era.
With AEW debuting on TNT a few weeks after this is probably the last time we will see AEW and ROH wrestlers on the same show. This is probably the final weekend of AEW contracted talent, and we don’t even know what will happen with referee Rick Knox, or Excalibur (who is essentially the face of PWG). We don’t know what the future of PWG will look like post-BOLA. Will they be truly independent? Will AEW use them as a developmental territory? And if that happens, will PWG be allowed to use ROH wrestlers going forward? And if so how will that affect the booking for this weekend?
A-Kid vs Lucky Kid
I’m dubbing this the “New Kids On The Block” match. This is the first year since 2013 without any UK representation, however, this is the first time both Spain and Germany are represented in BOLA. More importantly, this is both “kid’s” PWG debuts. I’d say A-Kid is probably more well known, with a 5-star match under his belt vs. Zack Sabre Jr., as well as a match of the year contender with Will Ospreay this year. Unlike the Spanish scene, wXw has had plenty of representation in PWG over the past few years between WALTER, Timothy Thatcher, and Ilja Dragunov. Just like WALTER and Ilja, Lucky is a winner of wXw’s 16 Carat Gold, taking the trophy earlier this year. This is a first-time matchup, and the only two European representatives. A-Kid takes this one.
Caveman Ugg vs. Brody King
I’m sure Ugg was originally going to wrestle Barbaro Cavernario in the battle of the cavemen, but this should be great. If you’ve read my previous articles on this site you know I love the Australian scene and follow it closely. Ugg is the current PWA Champion, but he hasn’t really wrestled too much this year. In fact, he has less than 10 matches according to Cagematch. That is partly due to him taking a significant amount of time off to start this year, but also because over the past three months he has been living in New Zealand, training in the Fale Dojo.
Brody King is a main eventer in PWG. He has improved tremendously in 2019, and is undefeated this year. These are two big dudes who can do things big guys “shouldn’t do” athletically. Brody is a lot more vicious and hard-hitting than Ugg, but Ugg is a better athlete and a much better flyer. As much as I love Ugg, this one is a lock (as many are in the first round) Brody wins this and is one of the favorites to win the entire tournament.
Dragon Lee vs Rey Horus
Rey Horus has quietly put together a really nice PWG career. Over the past couple years he has been involved in some of PWG’s best matches. He excels in multi-man matches or against other luchadors but is pretty pedestrian against guys who don’t work a lucha heavy style. That being said, Rey is taking the first-round loss because he is wrestling Dragon Lee in his PWG debut. I don’t think I really need to hype Dragon Lee too much. He is one of the best wrestlers going today, he’s insane, and these two will do some ridiculous stuff.
Darby Allin vs Black Taurus
Nobody can take a beating like Darby Allin. Black Taurus is a monster and can dish one out. Darby never needs to win a match and is on his way out so you can probably guess who is winning this one. Taurus is coming off one of the best debuts in recent years, taking part in a 5-star lucha six-man, and could really use the win. This is a rematch from WrestleCon: US vs The World, where Taurus defeated Darby. Black Taurus would actually be a lot of fun in the night 3 10-man tag, but he needs to go over here.
Johnathan Gresham vs Artemis Spencer
Of all the debuting talent, Artemis Spencer is probably getting the least amount of attention. That seems to be the story of his year.
2019 has been the biggest year of his career, holding the DEFY Championship for the first eight plus months, and competing thin PROGRESS’ Super Strong Style 16 tournament. Gresham made his PWG debut at Hand of Doom in a losing effort to Robbie Eagles. Gresham has been pushed as a borderline main eventer since then, wrestling David Starr in one of the best PWG matches of the year, and challenging Cobb for the title at Mystery Vortex.
I think this could be a real sleeper match.
Both guys wrestle a hard-hitting, no-bullshit style, and it’s going to be fascinating to see if Arty can hang with Gresham on the mat. Spencer has no shot, but this should be great. As for Gresham, I can see him going far in this tournament, but I don’t see him having a real shot of winning it.
Daisuke Sekimoto vs Jeff Cobb
Before I talk about Sekimoto, who is the big debut this year, can we talk about Jeff Cobb’s title run? He is a really good wrestler, but I’m ready for it to be over. Cobb has been PWG Champion since last October, and he’s been okay, but has he really moved the needle? Has he felt special in any way? To me, he has not. Cobb has been PWG Champion for almost a year, he has been tag champion, and he has made the finals of BOLA the past two years including winning it last year. Again, I like Cobb, but I’m ready for a new story to be told. He has done everything there is to do in PWG.
Sekimoto was the last man announced for BOLAand with him being a big surprise, it being his debuting weekend, and Cobb not needing a win, Sekimoto is 100% winning this match and making a Shingo-esque run.
Joey Janela and Alex Zayne vs Tony Deppen and Blake Christian
Alex Zayne and Blake Christian are having one hell of a feud. They are actually wrestling each other four times this weekend in PWG, C*4, BLP, and GCW. This feud actually started in Los Angeles at GCW a few weeks back with Zayne defeating Christian in an instant classic. GCW has had a lot of influence in PWG over the past couple years, with all four men in this match, Jungle Boy, Marko Stunt all making appearances in PWG after wrestling in GCW. Joey is on the way out of PWG, and will be wanting to make a big final impression, the other three competitors have a lot to prove. I’m thinking Deppen picks up the win over Janela, spoiling the result of a couple matches on night 2…
MexiBlood (Bandido and Flamita) vs Lucha Bros. (Rey Fenix and Pentagon Jr.)
Possible match of the weekend.
Jake Atlas vs Jungle Boy
It blows my mind how far Jungle Boy has come is such a short time. Before his GCW debut last year he couldn’t even get booked in Southern California despite being from Southern California. The only places he was getting booked were APW and PWR(both in San Francisco), neither make tape on a regular basis. Jungle Boy is one of the breakout stars of the year, but to me, Jake Atlas is by far the most improved in-ring worker of the year. Jake is a guy who went from bombing in his PWG debut, to becoming a crowd favorite. These two are no stranger to each other, they have wrestled in 7 matches over the past year, including a triple threat with Trey Miguel at PWG Two Hundred. This isn’t even the first time these two have wrestled in the first round of a tournament, as Atlas defeated Jungle Boy at King of Indies in July. With Jungle Boy leaving the indies, and Atlas remaining a freelancer(for now), this is possibly the final match of a very underrated series. There is no reason for Jake to take a loss here, he wins in what should be a very emotional contest between real-life best friends.
If you look at Atlas’s record in PWG, it isn’t great. In fact, he has never won a match. But if you look closely at PWG’s booking over the years, that works out well for him. Mike Bailey hadn’t won a match before making the finals in 2015. Adam Cole hadn’t had a singles match before winning in 2012. In PWG you just have to make it in the tournament to win. Jake doesn’t have any political ties, and that’s an invaluable asset to PWG, add that to a resume of great matches in 2019, and given how over he is, Jake Atlas is my pick to win the entire tournament.
Bandido vs Puma King
“Did you really just pick Jake to win BOLA and not Bandido? Are you serious?”
Why yes, I am serious. And thank you for your concern. But Bandido cannot win BOLA. Yes, on paper he should be the favorite, he is as close to a homegrown star as there can be, he consistently gets the best reactions and has great matches, also Bandido has lost twice to PWG Champion Jeff Cobb setting up a third matchup. How can I possibly not him? The thing is you can’t look past Bandido’s ROH contract, which is set to expire at the end of the year/beginning of next year. Bandido is getting a big money from someone, and I’m assuming it won’t be Ring of Honor given their current situation. If he goes anywhere but ROH, his time in PWG is just about up. PWG could give him a “gold watch” and have him win BOLA, but that would be a horrible booking decision, and I just don’t see it happening.
Puma King… this is an interesting one. Puma is replacing Laredo Kid, who got pulled because he is on a reality show. To me, this is a huge downgrade. I have not been impressed with Puma’s singles matches, both his matches with Laredo Kid and Jungle Boy this year failed to deliver. But this one should be fun. I’m sure Bandido will have a good run, but I just can’t see him winning the tournament.
Joey Janela vs Mick Moretti
Inject this into my fucking veins.
I am so excited about this one, Moretti is one of my favorite wrestlers, and the guy I most wanted to see in BOLA. To me, he is been the best wrestler in Australia this year(especially since Eagles hasn’t wrestled in Australia regularly), having some of my favorite matches in 2019. Mick has improved in every way this year, from his presence to his in-ring work, even to his look. He actually has wrestled in Southern California before, appearing at Bar Wrestling, in a couple of tag matches where he didn’t really get to show what he could really do. I’ll likely be the only person rooting for Moretti, because he is going against one of the most popular figures in indie wrestling. Joey Janela has been a monster in the last 2 BOLA’s in terms of match quality. In 2017 he was a replacement for TK Cooper and had one of the best matches of the weekend against Sammy Guevara. Last year he had two of the best matches of that weekend against David Starr and Bandido. I expect no different this year, this is Janela’s final BOLA, for now at least, and final PWG weekend. Moretti is a guy who has been on the cusp of breaking out for a couple of years now. Joey is insane, and Moretti is one of the most creative wrestlers on the indies. I can’t wait.
Joey wins this, doesn’t get to the finals due to his AEW status.
Aramis vs Rey Fenix
Aramis is replacing Barbaro Cavernario, who may or may not have been pulled by CMLL. Barbero is obviously a much bigger star, but I love Aramis, so I’m actually okay with this. Aramis is a guy who is still a little green, but he has a ton of potential. This is his US debut and he has tons to prove. Fenix is the perfect person to lead someone who isn’t super crisp yet. This will be insane, and Aramis may murder a fan when he dives into the 8th row(seriously, if you are going to this show be ready to run). Obviously Fenix wins, but expect Aramis to be booked everywhere after this.
Tony Deppen vs Pentagon Jr.
This may be surprising, but I’m going with Tony Deppen. Again, like a lot of guys in this tournament, there is no reason for Pentagon to move on, and PWG needs to start looking to the future. I have another prediction, Deppen will be almost as over as Pentagon. Deppen has done great work throughout California over the past few months but has really found a second home in Los Angeles.
David Starr vs Orange Cassidy
There is a small pocket of fans that love David Starr (myself included), but for the most part PWG fans loathe him. He is the biggest heel in PWG by far, and because of that, I expect him to go to the semifinals if not the finals. The longer he lasts in BOLA the more it will piss off the fans, and ultimately get more heat he gets. Nobody is in a position to make a star quite like Starr(I hate myself for typing that sentence), and because of that, he is a valuable asset. He also happens to be one of the best workers in independent wrestling, so you can trust that he will deliver. Fans will be firmly behind Cassidy, but he is getting destroyed. If you haven’t seen their Beyond Wrestling match, I strongly urge you to seek that out. Sorry Orange, you have no shot.
Jeff Cobb and Brody King vs Daisuke Sekimoto and Johnathan Gresham
If you think Brody is winning BOLA then this will further your case. Will Cobb and Brody get along? Will they fight after the match? Gresham and Sekimoto is a really unique team. I’m guessing Gresham and Sekimoto take the victory due to miscommunication. Both Brody and Cobb are undefeated in PWG this year, by this point I assume Cobb will have been defeated by Sekimoto on the previous night. I honestly can’t imagine Brody taking the fall.
Aussie Open (Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher) vs the Rascalz (Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz)
Fun fact: Mark Davis made his PWG debut on the same show that Chuck Taylor debuted on.
Back in 2008 Mark Davis made his PWG debut teaming with Ash Riot(I don’t know either) against TJP and Hook Bomberry at All Star Weekend 7: Night 1. 11 years later Davis returned to PWG(looking like an entirely different human)with a debuting Kyle Fletcher in a pretty underwhelming performance against the Best Friends. The Rascalz have dominated the tag division since winning the titles from the Chosen Bros.(Cobb and Riddle) last April. They have beaten The Lucha Bros., Young Bucks, LAX, Best Friends among others and are running out of opponents. I would love to see Aussie Open take the titles, but with their schedules I don’t see it happening, this should be a much stronger showing for them though.
Aussie Open vs Dark Order
Another fun fact: the name “Evil Uno” was a throwaway joke on a PWG show. I miss the magic Super Smash Bros. had during their first PWG run.