Pro Wrestling Guerrilla is arguably one of the most influential combat sports entities on the entire planet. You’ve seen the viral clips, the fanfare from wrestlers themselves, and countless PWG alumni go on to hold major championships in bigger promotions. The promotion is known for not only making superstars and hosting some of the best professional wrestling matches in existence, but also making some splashes in mainstream news coverage as well. It’s almost impossible to argue against the fact that their influence is being felt in the industry currently more than ever before.
A meteoric rise from their inception in 2003 has allowed the promotion to constantly stay relevant in the wrestling news cycle for various amount of reasons. There are many factors that go into why PWG’s rise to the top of Independent Wrestling is so impressive and awe-inspiring, even with today’s age of internet hype, viral gifs and with promoting being easier than ever.
In today’s world of endless streaming services, you’ll see many shows and movies gain traction and acclaim from that extra exposure. This isn’t something that PWG is afforded, unfortunately, as they’ve never had a single event be streamed or broadcasted live. The only way you can see these shows if you don’t attend them live is if you buy them on DVD or on Highspots. Some of the older DVDs are listed for resale on eBay for well over $200, but you can still purchase the majority of them at retail price on their website.
Some fans may find it frustrating that they aren’t as accessible as other prominent independent promotions, but I personally feel like it only adds to the “lore” of the company. It’s comparable to a bucket list item where only pictures and videos cannot possibly do it the proper justice it deserves. Due to having so many contracted talent performing on their shows, streaming/live broadcasting would be a hard path for PWG to navigate anyways.
No seriously, the promotion puts on shows that legitimately feel like supercards. For example, at their last event “The Makings Of A Varsity Athlete” on December 20, 2019, they hosted talent from AEW, Impact, ROH, NJPW, MLW, AAA, and more.
Let’s step back and review this: A lot has happened since PWG’s last event, and it seems like almost every company has a working relationship with one another nowadays. The forbidden door has been completely removed from the hinges and that could possibly lead to another door opening, potentially allowing PWG to stream events in the future. Time will tell but whichever way the situation does swing, there are pros and cons to both sides.
PWG has a notable yearly tournament called the Battle Of Los Angeles or BOLA for short. This tournament is arguably the most popular and well-known wrestling tournament on the planet that isn’t named the G1 Climax. Using a 24 man format over a three-night span, the spectacle is used as a launching platform for plenty of independent wrestlers. Due to the attention and glory that the tournament receives, many wrestlers have BOLA on their to-do checklist before signing with a major promotion.
A clear example of this would be the most recent winner from 2019: Bandido. Bandido was becoming red hot in America around the time BOLA rolled around, which prompted PWG to capitalize off his momentum and book him to win the tournament that year. He defeated David Starr and Jonathan Gresham in the finals and only a few months later, he won the Ring Of Honor Six-Man Titles with Flamita and Rey Horus. Bandido also recently won the Ring Of Honor World Championship, a move that I think would have happened sooner if not for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ricochet is another example of someone who benefited tremendously from the tournament. He’s the only person to ever win the tournament twice, once in 2014 and the other time being in 2017. Ricochet really started gaining traction on the internet after his first win in 2014 and was signed to NXT only three months after his 2017 win.
Not only has the tournament birthed new stars into the wrestling world, but the influence is felt across the globe in many promotions. Many people would say that BOLA’s popularity is the reason that other popular tournaments like Progress’ Super Strong Style 16 and wXw’s 16 Carat Gold Tournament came around, which are also major career-defining tournaments.
BOLA isn’t the only thing that attracts a ton of corporate wrestling eyes, as PWG has both a World Title and Tag Titles. The company has had a total of 24 people hold the World Title and 18 of those people went on to be signed or are still currently signed to the three main promotions: WWE, AEW and NJPW.
If you happen to not be a fan of tournaments, the company is diverse in all faucets with what it brings to the table. Whether your thing is comedy wrestling, hardcore matches, spotfests, or technical showcases, PWG is like the cheese platter of professional wrestling and has something to offer for everybody.
When the product you put out is that diverse, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll put on some of the best matches ever. PWG has a total of 33 matches that are rated 9.0 or higher on Cagematch.net, and also have received a total of five 5+ star ratings from the critically acclaimed Wrestling Observer Newsletter. For comparison, TNA/Impact only has one 5+ star match and Ring Of Honor has 4.
A diverse product usually will draw a ton of eyes just off of intrigue alone, even from a non-wrestling crowd. PWG has quite a few YouTube videos that have a considerable amount of views with some even topping a million, which is considered a big success for a wrestling-related video.
Something I haven’t mentioned yet is the legendary American Legion Hall. PWG has hosted a total of 109 events in this venue, but had to stop running the venue in 2018 after it was sold. Many of the previous matches I mentioned as being some of the company’s best emanated from this building.
When it was sold and they had to move to the Globe Theatre, some fans said that the “mystique” of the product was dulled down as a result. It’s a lost hope amongst fans that one day the company will get to return to their grass roots, but time will tell.
Ahead of their return event Mystery Vortex 7 this Saturday August 1, an event where no card or participants are announced before the show, it’s obvious that the lineup is going to look very different from their last event. Out of the 16 wrestlers that participated in PWG’s last outing, five of them have signed with WWE since and one was effectively kicked out of wrestling.
Independent Wrestling always has a plethora of stars waiting for a big opportunity and that’s still the case today, even after Covid ravaged many smaller promotions. I’m expecting to see guys like Lee Moriarty, AJ Gray, Tom Lawlor, Daniel Garcia, Effy and more pop up in the promotion soon, maybe even this weekend. Returns from PWG legends like Chris Hero or Bryan Danielson would be really cool to see as well and would retain a lot of past attention.
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla has done wonders for the wrestling business in countless ways and has helped shape and carve the path that the industry has been on for the 17 years of their existence.
Despite some thinking they could be on a decline after their exit from the American Legion Hall, I feel like given the extended break the company has been afforded – they will be able to return stronger than ever.