Following the phenomenal Night Two, the final day of PWG’s annual Battle of Los Angeles had a lot to live up to: with the finalists having to compete in three matches in one night, the final stage of BOLA was a test of fitness as well as desire to win.
Lets get down to the action.
Brian Cage vs Jack Evans
The opening second round contest witnessed The F’ing Machine Brian Cage take on the self-assured Jack Evans in a first time match. Cage defeated an off his game Aerostar to advance whereas Jack Evans defeated his Los Gueros del Cielo partner, Angelico.
Once more, Evans chastised the PWG fans before stating that male body builders are no more than beauty pageant contestants. Cage, inevitably, took umbrage with said comments, delivering a devastating lariat before proceeding to toss Jack Evans to all corners of Legion Hall. Cage delivered three consecutive powerbombs followed by four nasty looking german suplexes.
Toying with his quarry, Cage took his foot off the gas allowing Evans to regain his senses before attempting a springboard cross body- Cage caught Evans and looked to hit a vertical suplex but Evans rolled him up to secure an unlikely victory and advance into the semi-finals.
This was an entertaining match. Sure, it contained little substance but the fans enjoyed Evans getting tossed around the ring even though he looked to have took some nasty bumps on the head. Evans was really impressive here once again but not necessarily for his ring work: every promo he cut before the beginning of the match ensured fans had no choice but to boo him.
El Specifico’s Star Rating: **1/2
Biff Busick vs Chris Hero
Hero and Busick have met before in Evolve: this was a first time match in PWG. Both men came off impressive performances in Night Two heading into this stage three: Hero entered this match following an incredible match with Timothy Thatcher whereas Busick came off a losing effort in a Guerrila Warfare vs Mt Rushmore.
Both Hero and Busick looked to end the match early in order to preserve energy for later in the night. Hero and Busick flew out of the blocks, both landing several clubbing blows to one another before Hero emerged the better from the striking battle. An attempted Gotch style piledriver was blocked by Busick only for him to meet several fierce elbow strikes followed by a senton.
After receiving several chops to the chest, Busick spat in Hero’s face before landing a neck breaker followed by the half and half suplex. Hero landed a jumping knee to regain the advantage followed by a five consecutive rolling elbows before placing Busick up top to deliver an avalanche piledriver from the top rope (!!!) to secure the victory and join Jack Evans in the semi-finals.
In my years of watching wrestling, I have never dreamed of seeing a piledriver from the top rope never mind actually seeing one. This match was everything it needed to be: short with hard hitting punctuated by the ooohs and aaaahs of the crowd.
El Specifico’s Star Rating: ***
Marty Scurll vs Trevor Lee
In another first time match up, the debuting Marty Scurll met a relative PWG veteran in Trevor Lee, 21. Evidently, Scurll left quite an impression on the Reseda faithful as chants of oooh oooh once again accompanied him to the ring.
After a series of reversals, Scurll sarcastically applauded Lee before the crowd mimicked to agitate The Villain: the crowd further attempted to perturb The Villain by chanting he sucked. Scurll informed them that it was a one-time thing and doesn’t count before a he was curious chant broke up.
Anyway, back to the wrestling, Scurll gained the advantage after pinging the rope at Lee before working over the wrist. Lee attempted a german suplex which was blocked before Scurll delivered the superkick just kidding to the knee. After Lee connected with the Chrysler slam, both men traded blows before Scurll landed a powerbomb followed by a superkick.
Lee blocked an attempted tornado ddt, reversing into a dead lift orange crush bomb before connecting with a tope con hilo. Lee looked to drive home his advantage by lifting Scurll up to the top: malevolent as ever, Scurll snapped Lee’s fingers followed by a tornado ddt before tapping out Lee with the crossface chicken wing.
With each passing match, Scurll looked more and more at home, working the crowd whilst mixing comedy spots with impeccable mat wrestling. Scurll is a star and it’s great he is reaching a wider audience. This was a great performance by Lee considering last night’s Guerrilla Warfare match.
El Specifico’s Star rating: ***3/4
Pentagon Jr. vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Kudos to PWG for ensuring this match happened: they know what their fans want and provide it. What a great way to go about business! Reseda had no idea who to cheer for in this match so they cheered for both. Sabre got in the face of Pentagon before the match before Pentagon showed the finger before Sabre showed two.
In this match, Pentagon and Sabre traded some of the most unique submission holds I have ever seen. The clash of styles produced several ingenious holds which inspired oohs and aahhs from the crowd.
Pentagon gained the advantage with a german suplex before using Mick Knox, the referee, as a springboard into a drop kick. Pentagon delivered a fierce chop in each corner before Sabre blocked the fifth and reversed into a swinging ddt followed by a penalty kick for a near fall. Pentagon landed a superkick to send Sabre to the outside before connecting with a tope con hilo to put Sabre through the chair he was sat on.
Back in the ring, Pentagon attempted a package piledriver only for Sabre to reverse into a hanging kimura to force Pentagon to submit.
I, like many others, hoped this match would occur at some point over the weekend. When it did, it didn’t disappoint. Pentagon Jr has such charisma, ingenuity and presence which meshed well with Zack Sabre Jr’s technical nous and chain wrestling ability.
El Specifico’s Star Rating: ***3/4
Speedball Mike Bailey vs Tommy End
Despite not being able to avoid the spoilers for the eventual winner I did manage to avoid spoilers for the second round/ semi-finals matches. So, imagine my surprise when Tommy End and Speedball Mike Bailey entered the ring.
End and Speedball kicked the shit out of each other in this match and it was great. End gained the initial advantage with a dropkick followed by a series of devastating kicks to the body of Speedball before Speedball delivered around twenty rapid fire kicks. Speedball delivered a back drop on the apron before End dodged the shooting star knees: End took advantage with a standing double foot stomp followed by a brain buster for a near fall as a this is awesome chant broke out.
Speedball blocked a dead lift german before connecting with a 360 enziguri. Speedball delivered the shooting star knees followed by a devastating roundhouse KO kick to secure his pace in the final six.
I don’t think I have ever seen so many kicks thrown in one match. Again, kudos to PWG for ensuring this match happened: at the beginning of the tournament, I was praying this match would crop up somewhere down the line and it delivered.
El Specifico’s Star Rating: ***3/4
Will Ospreay vs Matt Sydal
Earlier in the year, Will Ospreay and Matt Sydal had a serious MOTY contender at RevPro in a two out of three falls match that received widespread acclaim.
Unsurprisingly, PWG wanted some of that and who could blame them? These two have great chemistry together and it was displayed here once again.
After an exchange of arm drags, Ospreay landed a step up rana before Sydal laded one of his own only for Ospreay to land on his feet. A leg lariat, punctuated by a peace sign, gave Matt Sydal the advantage allowing him to work over Ospreay’s leg. Ospreay regained the momentum with a rebound handspring enziguri followed by a twisting moonsault to the outside before planting Sydal with a brainbuster.
Sydal shifted the momentum one again with a tilt a whirl ddt before lifting Ospreay to the top rope: an attempted frankensteiner resulted in Ospreay landing on his feet before the young man from, Essex, delivered a powerslam followed by a standing corkscrew shooting star press.
Will Ospreay connected with an imploding 450 splash to seal his place in the semi-finals.
This wasn’t as good as their match at RevPro, but this was still an incredible, high paced encounter. Will Ospreay can get over anywhere in the world and has the ability to light up a crowd like few others can: for someone of his age and experience, he is the best around.
El Specifico’s Star Rating: ***3/4
Mount Rushmore 2.0 (Roderick Strong, Super Dragon & Young Bucks) vs Ricochet, Rich Swann, Angelico & Fenix
Following intermission, Mount Rushmore 2.0 opened up the second half of the show before Fenix, Angelico and The Inner City Machine Guns brought the fight with quadruple twisting corkscrew planchas to ground 2.0.
PWG World Champion Roderick Strong fought back with jumping knees to all before demonstrating his impressive conditioning with four consecutive superplexes to all. Angelico and Strong traded strikes before Strong ate a benydriller from Ricochet before a standing 450 by Swann.
After the Young Bucks broke up the fall, they delivered a double superkick to Angelico before Strong landed the End of Heartache on Swann to secure to make it three wins from three for Mount Rushmore this weekend.
This was probably the weakest Mount Rushmore 2.0 match of the weekend: that isn’t to say that this wasn’t a good match, because it was, 2.0 just had better matches the previous night.
El Specifco’s Star Rating: ***1/4
Semi Finals: Jack Evans vs Chris Hero
The first semi-final of the 2015 BOLA threw together another first time ever singles encounter. Heavily bandaged after Cage brutalised him post-match, Evans continued his rambling diatribes this time with Chris Hero being the focus: Evans stated that Hero looked disgusting before suggesting Hero is a disgrace. Evans mocked Hero’s love of rap music with a rap of his own before claiming Hero couldn’t knock him out for a two count never mind a three count.
Evans’ offence was easily negotiated by Hero early on before Hero landed a rolling elbow followed by a powerbomb- Evans kicked out at one. Hero landed some Kobashi-esque chops followed by an elbow and a second powerbomb only for Evans to kick out at one to the delight of the crowd.
Hero followed up consecutive bicycle kicks with another elbow for yet another one count. Evans landed some offence culminating in a Sasuke special to the outside but, upon return to the ring, Evans met another rolling elbow before kicking out at one once again. Hero followed up a series of elbows with a short piledriver before delivering a ripcord elbow to secure the three count and advance to the final.
I really enjoyed this match. I knew Jack Evans was a fantastic wrestler but I had no idea Evans had this type of promo ability. Chris Hero, following the year he has had, deserved to make it to the final: in the independent scene, few have consistently had the calibre of matches he has had.
El Specifico’s Star Rating: ***1/2
Will Ospreay vs Speedball Mike Bailey
In yet another first time ever match, Speedball Mike Bailey faced Will Ospreay to determine who would join Chris Hero in the final.
Ospreay sold the damage to the knee received in the previous match as a high paced exchange got things underway. Ospreay dodged a cancoon tornado before connecting with one of his own followed by a springboard ace crusher that sent Speedball crashing into the apron. Speedball greeted an attempted rebound handspring enziguri with a roundhouse kick to gain the advantage followed by a standing moonsault.
Speedball and Ospreay traded tope suicidas before Speedball connected with a corkscrew plancha followed by a diving back flip by Ospreay. Back in the ring, an attempted phoenix splash was dodged by Speedball as Ospreay landed on his feet to land a hurricanrana followed by a GTS and the Essex Destoryer for a near fall.
Sensing his opportunity to advance to the final, Ospreay headed up top but an imploding 450 met the knees: Speedball took advantage with the shooting star knees followed by a devastating KO kick to pin Ospreay and advance to the final.
Will Ospreay really impressed on his PWG debut. What a year it has been for the young man from Essex: from watching the DVDs at home last year to being featured on the front cover of the night three DVD, Ospreay has improved so much and will only continue to get better. Similar to Zack Sabre Jr. last year, Ospreay made such an impression I’m certain he will be back in Reseda in no time.
El Specifico’s Star Rating: ***1/2
Marty Scurll vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Former Leaders of the New School partners, Zack Sabre Jr and Marty Scurll, met in an intriguing semi-final. Over the years, in many British promotions, Sabre and Scurll have had some incredible contests and this one was no different.
After a tentative feeling out process, Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr. proceeded to exhibit some of the best grappling I have ever seen. Scurll flipped off the crowd before the impeccable chain wrestling continued: both men traded grapples as a BBC chant broke out before Scurll mocked the American caricature of Englishness.
Scurll called for a chicken wing which was reversed into a cross arm breaker which was reversed into a chicken wing before once again being reversed into a cross arm breaker before Scurll reversed into the cattle mutilation submission. After breaking the hold, Sabre landed a dragon suplex: an attempted kimura was reversed into the chicken wing which Sabre escaped out of with a pele. Scurll landed a tornado ddt before transitioning into the crossface chicken wing locked in only for Sabre to reverse again into the cross arm breaker to force Scurll to submit to book his place in the final with Chris Hero and Speedball Mike Bailey.
This was one of my favourite matches all weekend: Sabre and Scurll have fantastic chemistry which translated into a World of Sport throwback match featuring some of the very best grappling and chain wrestling in the world today. This was an old school, British grappling contest that ensured Scurll got over big with the Reseda fans. After a performance like this, I have no doubt Marty Scurll, much like Will Ospreay, will be back in PWG.
El Specifico’s Star Rating: ****1/4
Tomasso Ciampa, Timothy Thatcher, Drago, Andrew Everett, Mandrews vs Chuck Taylor, Trent?, Drew Gulak, Drew Galloway, Aerostar
Fans implored Chuckie T to join Trent?’s team which before he acceded. On night three, it has become BOLA tradition to indulge the fans in a laid back, comedy match. The fans chanted for the wrestlers to slow it down, a reference to last year’s infamous antics: after several kicks to the dick which culminated in the Best Friends kicking each other in the dick simply because everyone else had, the wrestlers slowed it down once again much to the delight of the fans.
Once again, in slow motion, Ciampa, disgusting as ever, stuck his thumbs up the bums of the Best Friends, Trent? and Chuckie T before, with the assistance of Galloway, they delivered a triple chokeslam on Ciampa as a slow motion this is awesome chant broke out.
Following a couple of minutes more of slow motion, Mark Andrews and Andrew Everett returned proceedings to normal speed with two shooting star presses that missed before Chuckie T and Trent? landed tandem piledrivers to secure the win.
This match was so much fun: it can’t be judged by the standards of the matches that proceeded it. This was a completely unique match that can only ever happen in PWG.
2015 BOLA Final: Chris Hero vs Speedball Mike Bailey vs Zack Sabre Jr
So, here it was: following victories over Thatcher, Busick and Evans, Chris Hero met Speedball Mike Bailey, victorious over Galloway, End and Ospreay, and Zack Sabre Jr who defeated Ricochet, Pentagon Jr and Scurll.
Following various holds that saw all three men tangled up, Chris Hero gained the advantage with bicycle kicks to all before scoopslamming Sabre on top of Bailey. Bailey, perpetual underdog, showed resilience and fought back with several kicks to the chest followed by a tornado ddt. Zack Sabre Jr applied an octopus hold on Hero following an attempted piledriver.
After escaping the hold, both Hero and Sabre were on the receiving end of Bailey’s rapid fire kicks. Bailey sent Sabre to the outside before connecting with a tope suicida followed by a twisting moonsault: Hero joined in the high flying antics with a twisting backflip to ground both smaller men.
Back in the ring, Hero landed three consecutive piledrivers to Speedball Mike Bailey before eliminating him to draw the ire of the crowd. Sabre, after making it back to the ring, caught an elbow and reversed into a cross armbreaker before Hero reached the ropes: Sabre delivered a penalty kick but Hero returned immediately to his feet!
Hero blocked a dragon suplex before Sabre reversed a ripchord elbow into a backslide for a near fall: Sabre proceeded to work over Hero’s arm before submitting him with the arm bar to be crowned 2015 BOLA Champion as Reseda came unglued.
What a match this was: all three competitors meshed well which resulted in some really unique spots. Following his performances throughout the BOLA weekend, few could argue Zack Sabre Jr didn’t deserve to win this tournament. In my opinion, Sabre’s performances over the weekend solidified him as the best technician in professional wrestling today.
Final Word: PWG’s booking was excellent all weekend and should be commended. They threw together all the matches fans wanted to see whilst drawing on matches that went down well elsewhere in the world. PWG lost many of its top stars over the past two years to WWE or company specific contracts: however, the Europeans and Mexicans proved more than adequate replacements. I’m unsure about the AAA star’s availability moving forward but there is definitely a demand and a possibility for the Europeans to feature prominently in the future, particularly Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay as well as Sabre. Following two MOTY contenders already, it will be a pleasure to see Sabre and Strong go at it again.
Despite the agonising wait, as ever, PWG BOLA was more than worth the wait. PWG continues to set the standard for wrestling all over the world: bring on the next show!
Thanks to Devin Chen @devinchenphotos for the additional pictures in this review.
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