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PWG Battle Of Los Angeles 2015 – Night 3

Arnold Furious: 30th August 2015. Here’s the bracket:

Brian Cage vs. Jack Evans
Biff Busick vs. Chris Hero
Trevor Lee vs. Marty Scurll
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Pentagon Jr.
Mike Bailey vs. Tommy End
Will Ospreay vs. Matt Sydal

Based on form and star-power that would result in Hero vs. Sabre Jr. vs. Sydal in the final.

Brian Cage vs. Jack Evans
Cage had the worst first round match, against the botch-happy Aero Star, whereas Jack Evans had the strangest performance in his first round match, hammering off a bizarre post match shoot. Here Evans goes off on a rant about PWG’s poor production values before rounding on the muscular Cage as a “beauty pageant contestant”. This naturally gets Jack completely destroyed with insane power moves. The massive cross-ring biel is impressive. Cage’s massacre includes several freakish deadweight German suplexes, drawing a “suplex city” chant. Cage is a freakish specimen. Jack ends up fluking a roll up for the win, causing major Roid Rage! STEINER FUCKING SCREWDRIVER! If Vince catches wind of Brian Cage he’ll probably re-brand him as Brian Lesnar, Brock’s simple-minded, suplex loving cousin. I guarantee you, Paul Heyman could turn him into a main event because he has that same presence, just minus the pedigree. The match was a pure massacre but it was fun watching Jack Evans get ragdolled around the ring.
Final Rating: **1/4

Biff Busick vs. Chris Hero
Hero is in no mood to let Busick get going and cuts him off at every opportunity. Both guys want a quick win, like Evans just got, and go balls out with the strikes from the opening second. If Hero could get his Kassius Ohno body back he’d be a monster. I really don’t understand how he can be so driven and determined at the wrestling but can’t maintain the physique to go with it. Not that I have a good body or anything but I don’t have the determination to do much of anything to fix it. The strikes in this are lots of fun, especially Hero who feels the need to make his punches look incredible. Shame he keeps switching them out for kicks, which don’t look as good as the punches or the rolling elbows. Poor Biff gets smashed with an assortment of potential KO blows, the best of which is a knee to the face while he’s coming off the top rope. It should easily finish and Hero looks a bit stupid for pulling Busick back up. Biff attempts a fight back by fish-hooking the mouth and biting but that just pisses Hero off. Biff is murdered out of the Indies with a piledriver off the top rope. Hero was devastating here. He’s on a run. Busick should fit nicely into NXT and he may surprise a few people.
Final Rating: ***1/4

Marty Scurll vs. Trevor Lee
Scurll heels it up as he’s the villain. Lee is the favourite thanks to a strong run in last year’s BOLA where he made the semi’s before being bested by Johnny Gargano. Scurll seems to have won over Reseda with a combination of his heel mannerisms, BritWres mat style and entrance music. Plus his personality comes through in spades. “I don’t suck, it was one time so it doesn’t count” says Scurll. “He was curious” chants Reseda. It’s a solid outing from Scurll and Lee barely has an opportunity to get his shit in. Lee comes in with a bad arm, from the Guerrilla Warfare match last night, so Marty works it all match long. Lee seems legitimately put off by the arm injury and his form suffers for it. Scurll seems one step ahead, with Lee falling for all Marty’s antics and paying for it by taking an evil Wildbomb. Marty’s antics connect all the time courtesy of Lee’s lack of familiarity with it all and his arm work is so consistent. Lee takes a couple of horrible looking bumps at the finish as Marty gives him no protection when knocking him off the top rope before putting him away with the Chickenwing. Which is good psychology in my book, seeing as he spent the entire match working the injured arm to set up the finish. It all paid off. Solid work from Scurll, Lee wasn’t quite so convincing but we can put that down to the bad arm and the series of sickening bumps he took the night before.
Final Rating: ***1/2

Pentagon Jr. vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
It’s the battle of the Jr.’s and the crowd think it’s awesome before we even get underway because it’s a clash of two worlds that don’t normally exist in one place. A luchadore heel from Mexico vs. a British technician who plies his trade in NOAH. This match can’t take place in too many promotions. I love Pentagon flipping the bird and Sabre responding with the two-fingered salute. Pentagon has no hope on the mat, he’s completely outclassed, although he shouldn’t feel bad about it as most people are. Pentagon’s exciting response is to show Zack how they mat wrestle in Mexico. It looks like he’s making it up as he’s going along. I love how they both let go of submission holds, as if they want to see what else the other guy has. It’s amazingly innovative and exciting stuff on the mat. I’ve been watching wrestling for a long, long time and I saw new holds in this match. Genuinely dropped my jaw at times with the difference of it. I have a suspicion I want to see a load of luchadores tour England and work that different style. It doesn’t click too well with puro but based on this, we have a clash of styles that delights. When Pentagon starts getting into the strikes, with his gloveless ‘silencio’ chops, it serves to piss Zack off. From there we see another side to both wrestlers as they wail on each other. It’s never quite at the intensity level of really good strikers but it’s fun. Pentagon goes after the Package Piledriver but it’s countered into a deep kimura and Pentagon taps immediately. The match petered out a little bit as they died under the California heat but the mat stuff in the first third of the match was worth four flakes alone.
Final Rating: ****

Mike Bailey vs. Tommy End
Bailey did an excellent job of playing the underdog against Galloway. He’ll have to do it again against End, who has him for size easily. This match is all about the strikes and they’re both into kicks. They could form an entertaining tag team based on a mutual love of kicking the shit out of people. In lieu of said tag team, they kick the shit out of each other instead. That’s the entire match; kicks. It’s great. It has to be the first time I’ve ever seen Tommy End get kicked so hard and repeatedly that he drops. Tommy’s knees might be the most amazing part of the entire strikefest though. Almost every one that he lands looks like a KO. Clearly not happy about being out-struck Bailey manages to hit his moonsault double knees on the apron, of all places. End’s brainbuster/double stomp combo should really finish because the impact is so high and Bailey is just this little child by comparison. But the storyline here is another giant-killing from Speedball. The finish is really lame by comparison as Bailey takes his time and hits one of his tamest kicks of the night; a Buzzsaw kick to get the pin. Finish aside, this was wonderful. A beautifully violent strike-fest.
Final Rating: ***3/4

Will Ospreay vs. Matt Sydal
This is the final second round match and it should be a cracker as Ospreay vs. Sydal has gone down in Rev Pro in England a few times, culminating in a genuinely awesome ****3/4 MOTYC from Summer Sizzler 2015. Their familiarity helps them before they’re even underway and those unfamiliar with Rev Pro will find themselves surprised by how smooth and clinical this is. “I’m the better flier” says Ospreay and Sydal wipes him out. “Don’t talk shit” preaches Reseda. Ospreay spends a while after that counting his teeth. It’s as if they want to have a realistic high-flying match, which is insanely ambitious. Sydal takes Ospreay off the top and Will drops south onto the ropes in a gnarly spot. Ospreay does solid work, both selling the possible missing tooth and a bad wheel to the point where that knee can’t be 100%. The injuries stop playing a part in the flippity concluding part of the match but that does allow Ospreay to do the flip where he lands on his feet off a super reverse rana. The silly spots continue and Ospreay takes it with the Imploding 450 Splash. This was a definite step down from the Rev Pro matches but it had the same sort of feel, despite the various aborted injury angles.
Final Rating: ***3/4

Mount Rushmore 2.0 (Roderick Strong, Super Dragon & The Young Bucks) vs. Angelico, Fenix & The Inner City Machine Guns (Ricochet & Rich Swann)
The entire of 2.0 decide to call out anyone with the chutzpah to take them on, which ends up being this collection of talent. Like the other 2.0 matches this weekend it’s a fun contest with lots of big dive spots and flippity madness, broken up by Strong and Super Dragon hitting massive strikes. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as a flippy young guy getting murdered with a lariat. Fenix doesn’t quite click with the Bucks, which is unfortunate and the match doesn’t quite live up to the matches that 2.0 have had thus far at BOLA. Not that it’s bad and 2.0 rock the triple teams when required. There’s a great sequence where Swann goes crazy on Dragon in the corner, only to be turned around and introduced to the concept of a Violence Party. Oh, Violence Party, I missed you dearly. Super Dragon continues the awesome by pretending to be the guy waiting a tag in Rich Swann’s corner only to murder him after taking the ‘hot tag’. It’s ingenious heel work.

Of the faces the top performer is Angelico, hitting superb flying knees, insane dives and taking ridiculous head drop bumps. Fenix tries to out-do that with more ridiculous spots but despite his efforts, not everything he does is clean. Everyone gets their chance to shine and Roddy’s one man wrecking crew spot, where he destroys everyone on the face team with intense strikes gives the champ a nice rub. It’s something WWE could learn from. Keep your heel champion strong so it means something when he loses. The match has a few awkward moments where the pre-planned spot goes array. In particular Fenix having communication issues and breaking up blatantly organised sequences too early. It’s a pity as when the match does go right it’s beautiful carnage. The finish sees Roddy isolate Swann and pin him with End of Heartache. It’s a bit underwhelming after the madness that preceded it but the match was solid entertainment throughout.
Final Rating: ***3/4

Battle of Los Angeles 2015 Semi-Final
Jack Evans vs. Chris Hero
Evans has totally overdone the injury angle and has ribs, shoulder and head taped up. He’s halfway to a Mummy costume. “When you boo me, you are booing the Rock’s favourite wrestler” says Jack before going on to claim that Highspots owe him royalties and what a “pathetic mess” Hero has become. Hero does wonderful work while Jack is running his mouth, by doing stretches and keeping warm. It’s solid character work from the veteran. When the match gets underway it’s Jack’s flipping versus Hero’s surly veteran striking. Evans has a gimmick where he won’t stay down for a two count, as part of the pre-match promo, and constantly burns through energy kicking out hard at one. It’s solid commitment to his own promo. The match is a massacre with Hero pasting Jack with an assortment of vicious strikes and Jack, hilariously, refusing to stay down past the one count. It’s some sort of crazy ploy to the point where Hero gets frustrated that he can’t get a two count, almost forgetting the aim is to get three. It’s such an amazing gimmick that I’m stunned nobody thought of doing it before, Goldberg aside. That makes the two counts feel genuinely like near falls when Hero starting really destroying Evans towards the conclusion of the match. Eventually Evans takes one elbow to the grill too many and stays down. Hero advances to the BOLA final. Loved the gimmick during this match.
Final Rating: ***1/2

Battle of Los Angeles 2015 Semi-Final
Will Ospreay vs. Mike Bailey
Ospreay eliminated the bracket favourite in Matt Sydal but now comes up against a different style. Bailey’s kick-heavy offence is enhanced by flippy moves. The problem these guys face is they’re both relatively inexperienced, especially in major Indie promotions and can’t quite get the feeling of a major match. Ospreay deliberately plays the fatigue card, which is probably the right thing to do but it just reminds the crowd how exhausted they are after three nights of wrestling. His favouring of the knee is some of the best selling of the entire weekend but the crowd is very much eager for that PWG-esque high spot style. Ospreay is kind to Bailey by not forcing the pace and allowing Speedball to look like the star. It’s a professional performance. Every time Will attempts a big spot there’s Bailey to find a counter for it. The whole thing is designed to turn Speedball into a main event tonight. Bailey seems completely oblivious to the fact the winner of this will need to wrestle again tonight and throws himself into every dive, every spot like it’s his last moment on the planet. The whole match is rest holds and insane dives, depending on who’s in charge. Ospreay manages the most convincing series of finishing strikes but it’s Bailey who comes out on top courtesy of his Buzzsaw Kick. I’m not keen on that finish. Ospreay did well during his three tournament matches but the one against Mark Andrews stands out. The heat and the schedule appeared to wreck Ospreay’s chances.
Final Rating: ***1/4

Battle of Los Angeles 2015 Semi-Final
Marty Scurll vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
These guys used to be a pretty important tag team, as the LDRS of the New School and have teamed as recently as January in IPW:UK. Or the first night of BOLA if you want to be entirely accurate, under the moniker of Eurotrash. The experience and history are the building blocks of the definitive semi-final. Two guys who know each other extremely well and could wrestle a technical masterpiece without much effort. Reseda get a chant of “English wrestling” going as they go back and forth on the mat. Scurll brings the personality through his heelish antics and occasional disbelief that Zack can escape his holds. Also, the odd gay joke. It’s technically wonderful, clever and humorous throughout. Scurll totally wins at every turn in the comedy, including a spot where he’s stuck in a stretch and yells “I forgot to do my DDP yoga”. The action is so fantastic that the crowd pop a standing ovation bang in the middle of the warm up countering because it’s so good. There are a few old tricks in there, which are familiar to the BritWres enthusiast but it’s all so well done that it doesn’t matter. A near falls sequence that never hits a one count gets another standing ovation and a “World of Sport” chant. They’re owning it out there.

Marty’s obsession with the Chickenwing is so endearing. It’s like Benny from the Lego Movie. “SPACESHIP!” “CHICKENWING!” When these guys get serious and start to pelt each other with strikes it’s an entirely different match and that makes two outstanding matches all wrapped up in one package. The comedy stuff has critics but the lightening of the mood is all part of the match. It’s Marty trying to disarm Zack and make him take the match too easy, remembering their team and how much fun they had, before bringing the eventual aggression. But Sabre is prepared for this and has big spots lined up to beat Scurll. Marty’s attempts at finishing with the Chickenwing are hampered by Sabre working his arm and finding different ways to escape. Eventually one of these finds Scurll trapped in an armbar and he taps. Great effort from these two in a borderline epic contest. Quite how Sabre can work a near thirty minute match ahead of the BOLA final is anyone’s guess but he did and it was phenomenally entertaining.
Final Rating: ****1/2

Team Ciampa (Tommaso Ciampa, Timothy Thatcher, Andrew Everett, Drago & Mark Andrews) vs. Team Taylor (Chuck Taylor, Trent, Drew Galloway, Drew Gulak & Aero Star)
This is the buffer match to give Zack Sabre Jr. a twenty minute break before the main event gets underway. Chuck Taylor’s team didn’t originally have him in it, as he’s winding his career down (this is a work, by the way, as Taylor has signed with Global Force Wrestling). He dubs his team the “Five Man Band”, cracking up Galloway on the apron. The match has a lot of comedy in it, like Taylor’s boys teasing something insane only to hit a lame move instead and even Aero Star gets in on that doing two flips to set up a stomp. Or Taylor getting body slammed by all of the other team. He pops back up. “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you and super fuck you”. Not that the match is without action and high spots and at one point everyone hits dives, including Drew Galloway. The comedy continues with absolutely everyone getting hit in the crotch…which leads into the SLOW MOTION SECTION OF THE MATCH. The crowd go slo-mo, Excalibur goes slo-mo. It’s amazing. It might be the most joyous wrestling segment of all time. The top rope moves won’t work in slo-mo so they have to stop, miss and Chuck wins with Awful Waffle on Mark Andrews. “5MB” chants the crowd, having enjoyed themselves. I have absolutely no idea how to rate this on the snowflake scale but it was one of the most fun matches I’ve seen. A lot of people aren’t keen on the slow motion gimmick but these people have no sense of joy in their lives. It wouldn’t work in WWE but I’ve seen entertaining slow motion gimmicks before with Kikutaro or DDT or Chikara or PWG itself. It’s a comedy art form.
Final Rating: ****

Battle of Los Angeles Final
Mike Bailey vs. Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
I love that all the guys kneel on the canvas before being introduced. It conveys the fatigue and respect of the situation before we even begin. The tournament has been exhausting for the fans and the wrestlers so they start easy. Almost at a leisurely pace. The three-way mat grappling actually comes across like a shoot, which is weird and I’ve never seen it done that way before. How would a shoot fight between three guys play out? It creates some extraordinary, never-seen-before mat work. There isn’t the level of seriousness that you get elsewhere and Hero rolls up referee Rick Knox for a near fall. This is why people love PWG. It’s different and sometimes being different is all you need. Being good helps. Speedball should be out of his depth in this match but takes it in his stride, the sign of a potential superstar. One of the hardest things to do in a three-way is to keep one guy busy while the other two work and they work around that by having all three guys involved in almost every spot. The fatigue of the evening helps to fill any blanks in. When someone is not involved it’s entirely believable that they’re just knackered and cannot get up to fight.

The only one who seems to have an energy reserve is the ridiculous Mike Bailey, although he has had the shortest, easiest evening to this point. His two matches combined were ten minutes shorter than Sabre Jr.’s semi-final. Sabre has already wrestled 41 minutes prior to this match tonight. Hero a mere 24 minutes while Bailey had 21 minutes. This freshness is certainly reflected in his performance and also in Sabre’s as the Brit spends a big chunk of the match resting. Bailey’s rapid-fire offence turns him from an underdog to the favourite and at one point he has both guys down with Cossack style Kick Flurries. Where is he finding this energy? While working Hero down the stretch he keeps Zack from entering the ring by hitting three dives at different times, in between wrestling Hero. It’s the Mike Bailey Show. Hero puts Bailey out with Rolling Piledrivers. The poor kid put in a terrific showing though and is beloved by the fans. If he hits the gym to work on his toning he’ll be back. This came a little early for him.

With Bailey eliminated it becomes a simple exercise in giant-killing with Zack looking to outwrestle Hero. Sabre having the benefit of a rest period where he was outside the ring and Hero was expending energy putting Bailey out of the match. They tease Hero putting Zack down as Sabre looks exhausted going into the final stages, saving bursts of energy to protect himself from match ending spots. Zack has enough left to take Hero out on the mat and he hits a series of stomps to Hero’s head. It’s brutal considering how much effort they’ve already expended. They perhaps wrestle for too long as the energy levels down the stretch are extremely low. The selling is at the level of Triple H matches, although due to genuine exhaustion. Mainly from the heat. Sabre eventually gets the better of Hero on the mat and gets the submission after an exhausting thirty-five minute contest.
Final Rating: ****

Post Match: Roderick Strong comes out here to promise to “beat the shit out you” to the BOLA champion. Sabre, bringing the personality, calls him “Captain Shitty Boots” and suggests he’ll be moving to California. This brings out the European contingent to celebrate with Sabre. It’s pretty amazing to see BritWres standing tall at the conclusion of BOLA. Many of the British talents stole the show, which was not easy. I’m very proud to see this group of wrestlers having succeeded at BOLA. Pre-tournament I spent a while bigging them all up on a podcast. To see them come through justifies the British scene.
Summary: For sheer consistency, this was an astonishing three night tournament, filled with just about every kind of wrestling you can think of. The final night perhaps didn’t quite measure up to the other two, due to sheer length and how tired everyone was. This exhausting final night did feature a slew of great matches though and Sabre-Scurll is essential viewing.
Verdict: 98

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