Image: Rob Naylor. Report submitted by Brian Reznick.
- Night one of PWG's Battle of Los Angeles is in the books, and it was a very good show. Without looking back to verify, I think it was a little behind night one last year and 2016, but it was in no way disappointing. The crowd was great and seemed to enjoy the show throughout.
- Rey Horus defeated Adam Brooks in a Battle of Los Angeles tournament first round match
This was a fun opener. Brooks has never grabbed me in the way that he has others, but he had a good showing here. I like Horus a lot and thought that he looked great.
Brooks played the heel throughout the match. Horus hit a big dive over the corner post that looked great, and Brooks hit a Fosbury flop to the outside. They had a nice sequence late where Brooks hit a Canadian Destroyer, only to have Horus pop up immediately and hit a standing Spanish Fly and both guys collapsed for the “This is awesome” spot (There were no "This is awesome" chants all night, but the crowd did cheer).
Brooks got a great near fall late when he reversed an attempt at a top rope rana into a powerbomb and followed with an Aoi Shoudou. Horus won with a super victory roll. Good pop for the finish and a bit of money thrown in the ring.
- Flamita defeated Puma King in a Battle of Los Angeles tournament first round match
A great showcase for lucha libre and a nice intro to PWG for Puma King. They did a great series of counters and reversals to a stalemate early. Flamita hit a series of topes to the outside. Puma King got a near fall with a reverse rana, spring board crossbody splash, and a diving double stomp. Flamita also got a near fall with a top rope 450, and it looked like he landed on Puma King hard.
The finish came when Flamita reversed a top rope rana into a powerbomb, followed up with a superkick, and then hit a Phoenix Splash.
This match was a sprint and was great. There were cheers for Puma King afterwards (the crowd might have wanted him to win more than Flamita), followed by “Please come back” chants and money thrown into the ring.
- CIMA defeated Jody Fleisch in a Battle of Los Angeles tournament first round match
Another well-worked match. There was plenty of flying, but these guys were smart to recognize that they couldn’t match the rest of the card -- so they worked some comedy and other clever spots.
They had a series of reversals that led to a stalemate early. Here’s a benefit of having agents on a show, each of the first three matches had similar early sequences of reversals capped by both guys doing a dropkick and then rolling kip-ups so that they were facing each other. It’s a cool sequence, but it probably shouldn’t happen in three straight matches.
After the stalemate, Fleisch and CIMA worked some comedy when Fleisch said he could get the crowd to cheer louder for him. He went to two corners on one side in succession and got a decent response. CIMA then did the same to the other two corners and did better. Fleisch wanted to repeat, and they got the same result.
Fleisch then offered a handshake, noting that “we’re both babyfaces” to entice the reluctant CIMA. After a successful shake with the right, Fleisch said they should shake with the left. They did so, but CIMA pulled the double cross. The match spilled outside with Fleisch hitting an Asai moonsault.
They eventually ended up back in the ring and did two great sequences where they rolled around, each trying for pins, but only getting a one count each time. They ended the sequence and then went into a similar sequence with the same results before both collapsing. This was great and got a strong reaction from the crowd. Fleisch hit a step-up rana to take CIMA off the corner turnbuckle and hit a springboard tornado DDT for a near fall.
Fleisch missed a Shooting Star Splash. CIMA hit a White Noise and a great looking diving double knees off the top turnbuckle to win. Nice reaction for Fleisch after the match, though not quite as big as the one for Puma King. There was a decent amount of "Please come back" chants.
- Bandido defeated T-Hawk in a Battle of Los Angeles tournament first round match
Outstanding match. Bandido is so over as a baby face with this crowd. It sounded like WALTER and Bandido got the biggest pops of the night to me, though Brody King and PCO were close. T-Hawk was great here playing heel. Everything he did looked crisp and his facials and crowd work were top notch.
T-Hawk got the heat early with some stiff chops and worked the crowd well. The match went outside and Bandido hit a moonsault from the second turnbuckle to the floor. T-Hawk came back in the ring with hard slaps and two chops to the throat. He then flexed his pecs for the crowd as the boos rained down -- really well done.
T-Hawk hit some vicious strikes into a reverse powerslam, but Bandido popped up right away and hit a big boot, then both collapsed. The crowd loved this. They had a long Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dragon Lee type sequence of chopping the hell out of each other, and the crowd went nuts for it after they had gone for awhile. They then slowed down and suddenly sped back up to a bigger pop.
The end came when Bandido hit his backflip fallaway slam off the top turnbuckle. Great move, great finish, and great match. Everyone went nuts and threw money in the ring. This was 4.5 stars for me. Great post-match reaction for T-Hawk -- I really hope he is back.
- Joey Janela defeated David Starr in a Battle of Los Angeles tournament first round match
This match was an intense, brutal affair. They have great chemistry together, but this was one of those matches where, in my opinion, they had a few spots that were too dangerous that subtracted from the match. I still liked the match a lot, but I think these guys are good enough that they didn’t need to do everything that they did.
Early on, it was a stiff well-worked match. Starr worked heel well and Janela took a stiff chop and bumped over the ropes to the floor. They worked outside a bit. After coming back in, Janela hit a top rope rana and followed with a top rope elbow drop for a near fall. They brawled for a bit and Janela eventually hit a spot where he knocked Starr down while Starr was on the turnbuckle. Janela pulled Starr so he was flat on his back across the buckle and then jumped down to the floor so Starr landed on the back of his head on the apron.
This looked so brutal. I had a good line of sight and it looked like the back of Starr’s head smashed on the apron. Starr came back and hit Janela with a DDT on the apron.
Starr then hit a Canadian Destroyer, but Janela popped up right away and hit a superkick before they both collapsed. A version of this appeared in every match, and it always worked. They went back to clubbing the hell out of each other, then Starr put on a submission that looked like a half Sharpshooter and half Liontamer, with Starr wrenching Janela at a high angle and grabbing his left arm. Janela wouldn’t tap and eventually made the ropes.
They went back outside and exchanged a series of four topes: Starr hit one, Janela popped right up, slid in the ring, and hit a tope, Starr popped up and did the same -- and then hit another for good measure. Janela hit a top rope Swanton Bomb to the floor and then a package piledriver back in the ring for two.
They had another brutal sequence where Starr took Janela off the top turnbuckle and dropped him on the back of his head on the ropes, then hit a crushing clothesline and a painful looking Last Shot for a near fall. Starr then landed a superkick for a near fall. Starr went for his half Sharpshooter/Liontamer submission, but Janela rolled him into a small package for a two count. As soon as Starr kicked out, Janela popped up and hit a superkick for the win. The crowd loved this.
- Brody King defeated PCO in a Battle of Los Angeles tournament first round match
This match was sort of a disaster. It had elements of a Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe NEVER Openweight title match. It also wanted to be Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak from last year, but it felt like both guys almost died in the process. The crowd loved this match, but there were a few bad botches and a ton of danger -- so I have no idea how to rate this.
They did good big man stuff early: a long collar-and-elbow tie up, running the ropes for shoulder tackles where no one budged, chops, etc. They ended up outside, and PCO hit a tope suicida. King then went for a tope con hilo, but he didn’t go as far as PCO expected, so King landed hard on the floor.
Back in the ring, PCO hit a rana to take Brody off the top turnbuckle. King then tried to answer with a standing rana of his own, but it was a mess. It was slow and PCO had trouble going over for it. King hit a disgusting looking cannonball onto PCO’s back while PCO was laying prone over the ropes (like he was setting up to take the 619 but instead had someone do a rolling splash onto his upper back). King hit another cannonball into the corner and a second rope moonsault for a near fall.
King then hit a springboard crossbody and a piledriver, but PCO kicked out at one for a big pop. PCO hit a pop-up powerbomb and then a stiff knee.
Now for the total madness: PCO set King up so he was laying in the ring with his upper body under the ropes on the apron. PCO then climbed to the top turnbuckle and hit a somersault senton. PCO climbed the ropes again, this time with his back to King, who was still laying in the ring with his upper body on the apron. PCO tried some sort of splash where he turned in mid-air to, presumably, land chest first on King. But PCO entirely miscalculated and landed chest first on the top rope and then fell off to the floor.
PCO somehow got up. They returned to the ring, where PCO eventually went for a top rope moonsault onto King in the center of the ring. PCO sort of made it over, but it looked like he landed on a lot of head and neck. Not as bad as the Brock Lesnar Shooting Star Press landing, but it also wasn’t a lot better.
PCO went for another moonsault, but King stopped him while he was still on the turnbuckle. He lifted PCO onto his shoulders like a reverse fireman’s carry, then turned him and piledrove him for the victory. PCO got up, eventually, to huge cheers.
I love both guys and they worked really hard, but their reach exceeded their grasp here, and it was way too dangerous for me.
- Ringkampf (PWG World Champion WALTER & Timothy Thatcher) defeated Ilja Dragunov & Shingo Takagi in a non-tournament match
This was just awesome and the best match of the night for me -- 4.75 stars easily. Great chemistry between all four wrestlers and everyone got time together. Dragunov and Takagi were outstanding.
Thatcher and Dragunov started and battled to a stalemate before tagging in their respective partners. Takagi and WALTER were great together -- I felt like that was the singles match that the fans wanted most for the future. WALTER built great heat by continually attacking
Takagi while he was on the apron. It was like every time WALTER was in, he’d beat up Dragunov and then explode over to the corner and hit Takagi with a running boot to the face. He did this to Dragunov as well.
Dragunov's overall charisma and fire are unbelievable live -- he should be a superstar. There were many great striking and transition sequences. Everything made sense and everyone was on. Dragunov was setting up for a top rope move on Thatcher, but WALTER broke it up by slugging Dragunov. He then picked up Takagi into a powerbomb and hurled him into Thatcher doing a European uppercut. Thatcher went for the cover, and Dragunov jumped off the top rope and over WALTER to break it up.
Thatcher was setting up a German suplex on Dragunov in the corner. Dragunov grabbed the ropes, but WALTER came over and grabbed Thatcher in the German suplex position and German’d both guys. Takagi came in to attack Thatcher, but WALTER hit him with a John Woo dropkick.
Dragunov got up and fought with WALTER out of the ring. Takagi hit some strikes on Thatcher, but Thatcher grabbed a Fujiwara armbar. As Takagi fought the armbar, Thatcher rolled him over into a pin for the win. I feel like I didn’t do this match justice, it was so great.
After it was over, Thatcher and WALTER wanted to shake hands with their opponents. Dragunov did, but Takagi would not. He wouldn’t shake anyone’s hand and walked out on Dragunov. Thatcher then wanted to shake WALTER's hand. WALTER was reluctant, repeatedly saying something about how he was champion and talking about how they had to wrestle each other on night two. WALTER eventually shook his hand.