Friday, August 28, 2015

Battle of Los Angeles takes over Reseda this weekend!

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla consistently puts on some of the best wrestling in the world from their homebase in sunny Reseda, California. The company has become a local hotspot with celebrities and those in the know flocking to their burgeoning business. Every year in late August or early September they throw one of their two annual tournaments, the single elimination, 24-person Battle of Los Angeles.

This year they have brought their widest range of talent ever into the event with names from the UK and from Mexico (via Lucha Underground.) In fact the tournament has so many Lucha Underground stars that an all lucha final could actually happen. The company usually uses the tournament to set up their regular talents or new stars they plan to use regularly, but there's two things you can be sure of in PWG: 1. expect the unexpected and 2. know the Young Bucks will always win the tag titles back.

The first block is the most Lucha Underground friendly with four stars from the promotion (though one is a PWG semi-regular.) Here's the first round matches for Friday night and a few thoughts.
  • Aero Star vs. Brian Cage: Cage made a name for himself in PWG before branching out to AAA and Lucha Underground. This one could go all the way, but I could easily see PWG set the semi-finals for this third of the tournament as lucha only, which would put Aero Star moving forward.
  • Biff Busick vs. Andrew Everett: Busick is one of the best technical wrestlers on the indies and may be WWE bound soon. Everett has his own technical prowess, but is also a solid high flyer. Busick seems to have the stronger push in PWG, but if he is leaving soon, it's possible he could drop out in the first round.
  • Mark Andrews vs. Will Ospreay: Mandrews is known to TNA fans, while Ospreay is one of the few British talents I'm confused doesn't make it stateside more. Both have great technical and flying skills, which should make this one a strong first round match.
  • Pentagon Jr. vs. Drago: I would be lying if I said this wasn't the first round match I'm most interested in. I love both men's amazing runs in Lucha Underground over the last year. I would love to see Pentagon break every arm on his way to the finals, but I suspect Drago will take this win and set up a great match between him and either of the UK talents.
Pentagon Jr hasn't made a lot of American appearances, so expect him to
bring the pain at the BOLA. Image credit: AAA. 
The second block offers another lucha star, three former WWE stars and a talent that may be on his way to WWE. It's also the one that may be the most up in the air.
  • Trent? vs. Trevor Lee: I may be the only one that wishes the former Trent Baretta could choose a name for all his appearances everywhere, but I suspect he'll put on a good showing against Trevor Lee here. Lee is another on the rise technical/flying hybrid wrestler. Trained by the Hardys he's still only 21 but already on the GFW roster and appearing as part of their invasion angle on TNA television.
  • Fénix vs. Matt Sydal: This is a dream match for people that love insane high-flying. The former Evan Bourne against the Lucha Underground Gift of the Gods champion is a stellar match-up that I suspect will wow a lot of the fans in Reseda tonight.
  • Marty Scurll vs. Rich Swann: Swann is rumored to be heading to WWE with Busick, but "Party" Marty should play an interesting role in this one. A gifted wrestler in his own right, it's easily possible PWG could set up an all-British final with him, the winner of Ospreay/Mandrews and his former tag team partner in the third block.
  • Chris Hero vs. Timothy Thatcher: It's still a complete shame that Kassius Ohno never made it to WWE television, but Hero continues to be a great technician on the independents. He faces off with one of the new big names in independent technical wrestling, Timothy Thatcher. I could see Busick and him making it to the finals to take on another technically gifted wrestler in the third block, but with PWG they've got all kinds of directions they can go in.
The third block is the one most heavy with PWG regulars, but it isn't without its share of guests as well, including an exciting match between tag team partners kicking it off.
Angélico is just one of 24 great talents in the BOLA.
Image credit: profights.db.
  • Angélico vs. Jack Evans: The two men have teamed for years together now in AAA, but on Lucha Underground they've stayed separate despite their matching tights. They are both incredible high flyers with a propensity for insane moves, so this could prove to be the match of the night. I suspect Angelico will be the man to make it to Night Two as he's arguably the biggest breakout star of Lucha Underground. I personally am hoping for an unlikely Pentagon/Fenix/Angelico finale as seeing Angelico stuck between the two real-life brothers would be very interesting.
  • Drew Gulak vs. Tommy End: I don't know a lot about Dutch star End, although he does regularly work in the UK. Gulak is an amazing technical wrestler with some good but little used high-flying skills. This is another mat based affair and might serve to set up a Gulak/Busick/Thatcher finale. 
  • Mike Bailey vs. Drew Galloway: I've never seen Bailey in action, but his nickname of "Speedball" automatically makes him alright with me. Galloway has been on a tear trying to show why WWE was insane for firing him, but now sadly seems mired in TNA's so-so storytelling. This could go either way, but I'm guessing at homegrown PWG star Bailey leaving the higher-paid star off nights two and three.
  • Ricochet vs. Zack Sabre Jr: Ricochet is one of the busiest men in wrestling with his masked role in Lucha Underground and his time of late in both Dragon Gate and New Japan. Sabre is a UK star and a regular NOAH competitor. He's also one of the greatest modern British technicians and could easily slip into a three way final in Gulak's place, or even into a three way all UK final with the round one winner and his former partner Scurll. I give this one to Sabre as PWG seems high on him whenever he appears. 
That's a pretty epic twenty-four person card that will be hard to top by anyone else on the independents. As I've said, the finals are anyone's guess, but I suspect the next three nights in Reseda will be absolutely amazing. 

The non-tournament action on the two first round nights looks great too with a tag match featuring Angelico and Evans against Swann and Ricochet as a highlight for night one. The European imports End, Scurll and Sabre will also have a battle with three members of the new Mount Rushmore faction (and current singles and tag champs), Roderick Strong and the Young Bucks. 

Night two gives fans the anti-Rushmore team of Busick, Everett and Lee against Mt. Rushmore's fourth member Super Dragon and the Young Bucks. It will also have a Lucha Underground dream match as Aero Star teams with Fenix to take on Pentagon Jr. and Drago. 

Overall, the BOLA looks amazing this year. PWG doesn't do internet pay-per-view so fans outside California will have to wait a few weeks to see the actual shows, but I suspect they will be three nights of some amazing action. 

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