Traditionally, Night 2 of the Battle of Los Angeles often results in the best night of the three-day tournament. Night 1 has already passed, creating a foundation for all the performers to propel themselves from, since PWG wrestlers are always in competition with each other to have the best match. And Night 3, wrestlers are inclined to hold back some, as they could be wrestling up to three times in a single evening.
To maintain tradition was to be a tall order this year. Night 1 ended up being one of the all-time great BOLA shows, and probably the best Night 1 event in BOLA history.
So did Night 2 somehow surpass the phenomenal Night 1? It is tough to say. But if it did not surpass it, Night 2 was certainly neck-and-neck.
Trevor Lee vs. Marko Stunt
A matchup of replacement competitors. Lee having filled in for Matt Riddle after his sudden WWE/NXT signing, and Stunt filling in for Chris Brookes on less than a week’s notice due to an injury which, as of Sept. 16, has yet to be disclosed with the public.
But it was also a matchup of PWG’s longtime perpetual heel against one of the most recent names to blow up on the independent scene, making his sudden, unexpected PWG debut. In a mere month, Stunt emerged from obscurity with his match for GCW: Joey Janela’s Lost in New York, got booked in the Battle Royal at All In, and landed a replacement slot in BOLA. It is a great story, and the wrestling community is enamored with him.
It set up the perfect dynamic with Lee, as the PWG vet who has been chasing another title shot for many years now. And while Lee is never considered one of PWG’s big men, with Stunt standing at 5’2” and weighing only a buck-twenty, the big man-little man dynamic fit into the story perfectly as well.
Lee started the match, as he often does, cutting a promo — reminding the fans of his big league commitments and dismissing Stunt. But once the match was underway, they laid it out to a tee. Stunt had the upper hand early on as Lee underestimated him. But once Lee was able to get control back, the match began to resemble an extended squash.
Lee ragdolled Stunt with ease, giving him a hell of a beating. Stunt had several hope spots littered in there that were executed so well and had the crowd going wild thinking the big upset was possible. It was not to be though as Lee landed his brutal double stomp to gain the pinfall.
Jonah Rock vs. Sammy Guevara
On paper, this was a strange matchup and it was hard to predict how the crowd would work with it. Because while Trevor Lee is a PWG heel, there is something different about Rock and Guevara. The fans have incessantly booed them for nearly every show following their debuts, but it is a different kind of heat. The fans seem to object to both men for reasons outside of their mere kayfabe characters.
The answer was produced quickly, though. Rock was far and away the babyface of the match. Whether fans just hated Guevara more and will go back to booing Rock later, or if fans actually changed their mind on Rock, we will have to see.
What was most important, however, was they had a good match together working that same big man-little man style, but with Rock as the no-nonsense powerhouse and Guevara the cocky high-flyer.
Since the moment PWG fans walked in the Globe Theater, one of the persistent questions was: Who was going to be the first to jump from either the balcony or the opera boxes? It seemed like such a obvious thing, most expected it the very first Globe show. Everyone figured Joey Janela would surely be the first, or maybe not until Darby Allin made a debut.
Guevara finally broke the cold streak as the first one to walk up to one of the opera boxes and moonsaulted off onto Rock in the big spot of the match. It was not enough, though, for once the action returned to the ring, Rock gained the advantage again and ended up securing the victory via submission by guillotine choke.
Robbie Eagles vs. DJZ
Most are surprised it took this long for DJZ to make his PWG debut, seeing as how his TNA/Impact career has been noteworthy for many years now working alongside PWG alum like Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett.
Eagles has been slowly building himself as one of the newer PWG regulars after debuting earlier this year at All Star Weekend 14.
Both men work a similar high-flying style and it was clear they set out to have a barnburner. And no doubt, the two had a fun match like one could easily envision. Several botches in the match definitely dampened the impact of the match, however. And for some reason, the match never seemed to reach that next level of excitement and intensity to call it a “great” match.
On most any other card, this match is among the best of the night. But you’re dealing with a whole other animal in PWG where some of the best wrestlers in the world are often working and giving it their all. Matches that don’t reach that next level are often quickly overshadowed in that environment.
Jeff Cobb vs. Darby Allin
Allin’s long awaited debut did not disappoint. Fans have been calling for his book since the broke out on the independent scene over a year ago. And the minority who were not were mostly holding back out of fear — fear that Allin would take his daredevil style too far in PWG — fear for his well-being.
If Lee vs. Stunt earlier did a great job utilizing the big man-little man dynamic, then Cobb and Allin took it a step further making the big man much stronger and the little man far more wild.
And in terms of building sympathy for a wrestler in a match with no babyface-heel dynamic at work, this match was about as good as any in presenting that.
More so than anything else, this became a survival tale. Fans watched Allin take a vicious beating at the hands of Cobb — Allin getting manhandled and getting in his demolition derby offense in those spots where he could, to varying degrees of success at the expense of his body.
Cobb eventually got the pinfall after landing a massive elevated deadlift German suplex off the second rope. Allin got a massive ovation at the end and a passionate “please come back” chant.
And, on a side note, another thing that is happening this BOLA weekend is fans are throwing money into the ring for any match they thoroughly enjoy — no longer just the lucha matches — in an interesting turn of events. So Allin got a sizeable amount of cash thrown his way before leaving the ring.
Shingo Takagi vs. Ilja Dragunov
Fans were left practically begging to see this match coming out of the incredible main event of Night 1 where partners were to become foes the following day, and the hype was built from said match.
And that begging did not go in vain.
It’s the kind of matchup you don’t realize you want until it is already booked. Two elite wrestlers of completely different parts of the world with seemingly no way to crossing paths — and sometimes it happens.
One of the things about BOLA weekend is how taxing it is on the fans as well as the wrestlers. Night 1 has fans fresh and ready to go, but it is nearly impossible to maintain that energy as an entire audience for all three nights.
The early stages of this match showcased that exhaustion taking over. For while the match was still laying its foundations and building, fans were noticeably lacking reaction to things they would have reacted to in other circumstances.
It’s a testament to this match, because just as the fans were starting to fade away, Takagi and Dragunov yanked them back about halfway through the match and the fire of Night 1 was lit again. The second half of the match was off the charts in its intensity and brutality. Everything there was to love about the fierce main event tag match of Night 1 was present.
Another testament to the match was how during one of the most heated exchanges in the match, Takagi botched a German suplex that was going to be the exclamation of the sequence and it killed the crowd instantly. The energy this match was getting; momentum like that is hard to regain after you lose it. But the two recaptured it in full a mere minute later and the rest of the match went on perfectly.
It was one of the matches that had fans divided the most on who was going to win. The midfalls during the last couple minutes had fans nearly losing their minds in shock and excitement as both men kicked out of ridiculous pins.
In the end, it was Takagi who was victorious after landing two Last Falconry’s — the first which Dragunov kicked out of.
Both men received a huge ovation at the end, and the ring was again showered in money.
WALTER vs. Timothy Thatcher
The battle of the Ringkampf brothers. It was not the first installment of the pair’s competitive rivalry, as the two competed for the Progress championship earlier this year, but it certainly lived up to the high standard they had set.
If Takagi vs. Dragunov was an exhibition of savagery, this match was an exhibition of brutality. For while the match started off at a slow pace — very much a Thatcher kind of match — he did not get his match for very long before the violent attacks of Walter made that impossible.
In most cases, Walter is a behemoth in the ring and his dominance goes unmatched. Thatcher just happens to be one of the few guys who, while not being as physically large as Walter, still manages to be just as imposing and frightening. He’s a true challenge to Walter not only stylistically, but also in his grit.
And so the pair went to war against each other. A term not used lightly. Thatcher took everything Walter had and kept coming back, and vice versa.
All the momentum Takagi and Dragunov had created before was maintained here, keeping an exhausted crowd at peak levels of excitement because the action was that good.
It was Walter who struck the final blow, landing a massive lariat to get the pinfall. Fans went crazy for both men after the match. Chants of “Ringkampf” filled the room rather than for either individual. And once again the ring was splashed with money, putting an end to the first round matches and leaving only one more match before the final day of the tournament.
CIMA and The Rascals (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz) vs. Rey Horus, Flamita & Bandido
This match had no other path but to be utter chaos. And it delivered in spades.
Two weeks ago, the six-man tag main event of All In was considered a disappointment after the match had to be cut short due to PPV time constraints.
The main event of Night 2 became what that match was supposed to be. Though, strangely, they are almost identical in match length.
The match was worked under Lucha Libre/Dragon Gate tag match rules, where once a competitor is outside the ring, one of his partners are eligible to become the legal man. It ensured the match would be flowing at a furious rate, and it never ceased.
The term “spotfest” is typically used in a derogatory manner when describing matches. There are no qualms about it, this match was a complete spotfest. But it was so in the best of ways you can imagine. Nonstop action, tons of high-flying, innovative tag team offense — the match is basically one big highlight reel.
All six men were on the top of their game, leaving the audience in an absolute frenzy for most of the duration of the match. When it was all said and done, Bandido was pinned after a series of tag maneuvers from all three men on the opposite side.
Yes, you guessed it, the ring was showered in cash afterwards. But the fans also gave an ovation to the men that lasted several minutes, making sure to give each participant their due credit
Picture Credit: @MichaelLangan2