PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2017: Stage 2

PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2017: Stage 2

By Big Red Machine
From September 02, 2017

PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2017: Stage 2

Trevor Lee vs. Donovan Dijak - 7/10

Even Trevor Lee's "Impact Wrestling Superstar" gimmick is getting cheered now. Damn smarks killing a heel's ability to get heat. They put on a match full of heymakers (mostly metaphorical, but there were a few literal ones in there as well), but they paced it well enough that it didn't feel like a spotfest. Great opener.

Sammy Guevara vs. Joey Janela - 3.5/10

I guess there are just no DQs in this match? Also, I guess Sammy Guevara doesn't really care about permanently f*cking up his spine with one move, based on that bump he took onto that chair. Janela going for a Swanton Bomb and landing on nothing but the apron looked more comfortable. After that spot we got a count-out tease, because chairs are okay but there are still count-outs. Whatever.

Janela tried another Swanton, which resulted in him destroying an unfolded chair. Then Guevara gave him a Burning Hammer onto the chair and I doubt you'll even be surprised to learn that Janela kicked out of something generally considered to be a death move, hit onto a chair to boot, in the second match on the card because PWG is an indy, with all of the positive and negative connotations that go with that label.

Joey got up but Guevara nailed him with a poisonrana, then hit his 630 for the pin because a Burning Hammer onto a chair wasn't good enough; he had to hit his f*cking move to get the win. This match took everything that Lee and Dijak just did right to make their spot-heavy match not feel like two spot-monkeys playing wrestler, and did it wrong. If those aforementioned big bumps they took hadn't been legitimately painful, I doubt they would have even sold their backs.

Mark Haskins vs. Travis Banks - 7/10

No DQs in this one, either, as Haskins threw some chairs at Banks right in front of the referee, who did nothing. Banks actually no-sold the chairs, but they were light plastic chairs and didn't seem like they were going past enough to really hurt so it worked. The match was fine but a bit disjointed until the last five minutes or so, which were quite great, despite a bit of awkwardness on the finish, which might have been due to Haskins being legitimately knocked out. Either that, or some confusion on the referee's part as to what type of finish it was supposed to be.

MATT SYDAL & RICOCHET vs. THE LEADERS OF THE NEW SCHOOL (Marty Scurll & Zack Sabre Jr.) - 8.75/10

Zack & Marty jumped Sydal & Ricochet from behind during their entrance, which got some heat because it's something that happens so rarely in PWG. This was your standard athletic but chaotic PWG style match, but with some actual babyface vs. heel dynamics replacing the comedy. This is what I would like to see more of (although I wouldn't mind if we did actually try to pay attention to who the legal wrestlers are throughout the match). The weekend is now about half over, and half way through it, this is the clear Match of the Weekend. AWESOME tag team wrestling.

Jeff Cobb vs. Sami Callihan - 6.25/10

Sami jumped the bell on Cobb. Unlike in the previous instances of jump=starting this weekend, where the referee has just let the match start, this time he tried to pull Sami off of Cobb. Is it really that hard to be consistent with this? Furthermore, the referee pulling Sami off led to Cobb being able to charge across the ring and nail Sami, immediately taking control of the match and all but erasing the why even do the jumpstart in the first place?

Cobb dropkicked Sami in the chest while Sami was sitting on the top turnbuckle! That was pretty nuts. Other than that, this mostly felt like a pile of stuff. They had a bit of a story revolving around Cobb trying to hit the Tour of the Islands, but that was a small percentage of the match.

Matt Riddle vs. Michael Elgin - 8.25/10

They told a great story pitting Elgin's power against Riddle's technique and did a great job building things up throughout the match. The only thing I would have changed would have been to have Riddle win with some sort of submission or referee stoppage as opposed to by hitting a power move (his cradle "tombstone piledriver" even though the other guy lands flat on his back).

Keith Lee vs. WALTER - 7.5/10

See Hoss. See Hoss wrestle. Wrestle, Hoss, wrestle. That's right! They started off with arm and wrist holds. And it was GLORIOUS! This was a wonderful hoss-fight, going from holds to strikes to suplexes to raw power and back around again. They lost a bit of steam towards the end, but other than that, this was GREAT! If you like watching big dudes wrestle each other, then this is the match for you.

REY FENIX, PENTA EL 0M, & FLAMITA vs. THE ELITE (Kenny Omega & the Young Bucks) - 6.75/10

I popped huge for that repeated arm cranker from the apron spot solely because of the number of times everyone does it in ROH and it's always one of those totally cartoonish "the heels screwed up and hurt each other" spots that seeing it actually done as a straight wrestling move made me very happy. These guys actually also wound up doing it as a cartoonish "the heels screwed up and hurt each other" comedy spot, too, but at least they built up to it, as opposed to in ROH where you what's going to happen every time Daniels or Kazarian or whoever else calls for the move.

I mention this spot for two interconnected reasons. The first is to praise them for doing a comedy spot that made sense and in a way that made it feel like they weren't just out to do comedy. The second reason is to contrast it with some of the other comedy spots they did, like Omega and the Bucks pretending to hit each other, or the stupid "N BOOTS!" spot where some number of members of Bullet Club not involved in the match (in this case just Marty Scurll) come out and add their feet to a giant pile-up by the top turnbuckle so that the legal member of Bullet Club can slam the opponent's head into the pile, all of which happens in full view of the referee who doesn't call for a DQ for this outside involvement.

The difference between good comedy in wrestling and bad comedy is that good comedy, no matter how goofy, still stems from the basic idea that this is something someone is trying to do in order to win the wrestling match. Omega and Yano put on a masterclass in how to do this during the G1. The first spot I mentioned falls into this category (although I feel it is often overdone in ROH and is often done at completely inappropriate times like main events). The other stuff The Elite did tonight is bad because it doesn't stem from that one point. It's just guys doing funny things to be funny and make the audience laugh when their job in kayfabe is to be successful combat athletes, not comedians.

That sort of stuff really brought this match down for me. Not just the bad comedy spots themselves, but the way they were inserted into the match killed any momentum they had developed with their actual wrestling spots, and so instead of a cohesive story- even if that story was just bell-to-bell action, with each team trying to win- we got what felt like several interchangeable series of spots broken up by several interchangeable comedy spots. Aside from the first bit of stuff they did, there was nothing that felt like a beginning, a middle, and an end. The pinfall at the end ended the match, but you could have taken any other move in the match out of its place and inserted it after the finishing move and put the pin there and it wouldn't have felt out of place. It was fine if you're just looking for random action and comedy and referees counting pins even though there are three wrestlers covering the same person, but that's not what I want out of a big main event, and not what I want out of a match involving arguably the hottest wrestler in the world.

Final Thoughts
Another great night of action from PWG. It was a lot like last night's show, with solid wrestling most of the way through, but with both higher highs and lower lows, including the disappointing main event. Hopefully the final night will be better.

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