By Big Red Machine
From May 19, 2017
KEITH LEE vs. TREVOR LEE - 7.25/10
I'm sure we all agree that the only way this match could have been better would be if Trevor Lee was managed by AJ Lee and Tennessee Lee while Keith Lee was managed by Dragon Lee and Kimber Lee.
We got a fun bit in the beginning with Trevor Lee trying to recruit Keith to be his tag team partner in TNA (playing up his "TNA Superstar" gimmick) if Keith will lie down for him here tonight, but of course, being a heel, Trevor's ego shoots his own plan in the foot as he has to insist on telling Keith that he (meaning Lee... dammit, that doesn't work in this match... meaning Trevor) is the better wrestler and bigger star, and eventually shoves Keith and orders him to do it when Keith stops humoring him about the offer. From there they transitioned into a match build around great feats of strength and/or athleticism leading to very close nearfalls. It was quite great.
reDRagon vs. THE CHOSEN BROS (Jeff Cobb & Matt Riddle) - 7.75/10
These two teams just doing their things together.
MICHAEL ELGIN vs. SHANE STRICKLAND - 7/10
That Ace Crusher spot was so ridiculous it should have been the finisher. You're not going to do anything more impressive than that, so just call an audible. (Although, with hindsight I will admit that the finishing sequence they did was pretty darn cool-looking as well). This was basically just a spotty power vs. speed/athleticism match, but if you know the two men's styles going in it definitely works. I would have given this a 6.75/10 if not for the two aforementioned spots that looked really awesome.
ADAM COLE vs. SAMI CALLIHAN - 6.75/10
Adam Cole first points his finger-gun at Sami Callihan, then raises it and cocks it like you would a shotgun rather than a pistol, and the puts it back in his "holster." For a guy who spent so much time in a stable called "Bullet Club" he seems to have very little idea about how guns work. Holy f*ck that's Little Kuriboh of "The Mark Remark" (and also I guess some other things) fame!
They spent most of the match working on each other's heads and also recklessly endangering fans with their dives. This match has me more thoroughly convinced than ever that not using barricades just plain isn't safe. Then they transitioned into Sami working over Cole's legs using chairs (I guess there are no DQs in this particular match) but once that short segment of the match was over and it was time for Cole to go on offense again he just didn't sell them anymore, even when he did the Last Shot. Then Sami won with a roll-up. That was weird. They definitely made use of the dynamic that the fans were pretty much all supporting Cole, although for some reason the announcers didn't really go along with that, portraying Sami as the babyface and Cole as the heel. This was an otherwise great match taken down by some poor selling down the home stretch.
I hope there was more of a goodbye moment for Cole that they didn't put on tape (for some reason) because we didn't get anything here, and that felt pretty crappy for a guy who has meant as much to PWG as Adam Cole has over the past five years.
LIO RUSH vs. MARK HASKINS - 6.75/10
The crowd now chants "DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!" So they're actually proud of what they've done to wrestling, and of course have to find a way to be smarky about it. We've also definitely hit the point of diminishing returns on the general spottiness of things tonight. While I don't expect much different from the next match, at least it will be a tag match so it will feel a bit different.
PWG WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Rey Fenix & Penta el 0M(c) vs. the Young Bucks- DUD!
Before the match one of the Bucks cut a promo suggesting they make this match not a "regular" tag team match, but rather a match where they could do dives, where "superkicks are legal" and where they "can do a lot of spots." You know. Because this is all fake, and he's talking about someone who criticized the style of wrestling that they all like doing when they work together. Not compete against each other, but work together. Because it's all a work.
He says they should have "a Texas Tornado Spotfest." At least Gabe had the courtesy to come up with the word "scramble" that he could stick in front of all of those early ROH Special K and Texas Wrestling Academy spotfests. But the Bucks are content to just come out here and tell us this is all fake, then want us to care about who wins the fixed wrestling match for the props assigned to whatever team by a guy sitting backstage dictating what happens on the show.
Spots happened. Now the fans are chanting "SPOT-EST!" because everyone is in on the joke. Because that's what this has become. A joke. Their kicks to face and flips and powerbombs don't mean sh*t. It's mostly stuff I've seen all of these guys do many times before so it's not particularly impressive at this point, so if you take away my reason to invest emotionally then why am I watching?
And yes, the pre-match promo (and the chants it engendered, and the attitude the Bucks took during the match due to playing it up) was the thing that killed this match for me rather than the actually spottiness of the match because it took away my ability to suspend my disbelief even for things I would usually have no trouble doing so over, and rubbed it in my face that they were all fake. I would have found at least some enjoyment in a fast-paced spotfest, especially because this was the first such match on this card, but that promo destroyed my ability to do so.
PWG WORLD TITLE MATCH: Zack Sabre Jr.(c) vs. Trent? - 8.5/10
Excalibur was framing this match in New Japan Suzuki-Gun vs. CHAOS terms and saying that one of these men would have to return to their stable's leader and report a failure, and while on the one hand I do like the attempt to bridge continuities in some way, the idea of either of these men caring about a title in a promotion as small as PWG is laughable to me. I imagine Suzuki would stretch Zack if he lost, but that's just for general failure to win rather than caring about Suzuki-Gun no longer having control of the PWG World Title, while I imagine Okada's response to Trent? reporting failure back to him would be something along the lines of "wait, you wrestled a gorilla!?"
Zack worked the arm for a bit, then switched over to the leg, where his focus would remain for the bulk of the match, and dear G-d I hope Zack never decides to focus on my leg, because this stuff was brutal. I think Doug Williams needs to officially bequeath his "Human Torture Device" moniker to the best British wrestler of this generation. Trent? was a good babyface and they gave him some very well-timed and well executed false finishes, but in the end he failed to dethrone Zack Sabre Jr., just like his best friend failed.
A very strong show from PWG, minus the one completely self-inflicted wound of a dud. Zack Sabre Jr. is having another wonderful year, which is being overshadowed by the even more wonderful years that Mr. Okada and Mr. Omega are having.