By Big Red Machine
From January 18, 2019
JUNGLE BOY vs. BRODY KING - 6.75/10
We're off to a bad start, with Excalibur screwing up and calling Jungle Boy "Jungle Kid" during the intro. On the bright side, there is nowhere to go but up (unless the referees forget how to count or something like that, but that doesn't seem very likely). When he got back to the commentary booth (which is shaped like a table) he said he just got a text message informing him of his error, and proceeded to apologize for the mistake several times, interspersed with phrases like "I can't believe I f*cked that up" and "I should have looked at the card." This is the sort of thing that would come off as tacky and unprofessional anywhere else, but in PWG it's just honest and charming.
They had a very good big vs. small match, but as they went on it started to feel like they were kicking out of things just to kick out of them and extend the match. I don't think the length would have been a problem if they had cut the amount of nearfalls at the end in half and just built up to those nearfalls a little better.
DJ Z vs. PUMA KING - 6.5/10
This match apparently doesn't have count-outs even though the previous match did. They did a lot of good athletic stuff, but there wasn't much in the way of story or real emotion.
LAREDO KID & REY HORUS vs. LAX (Ortiz & Santana) - 6.75/10
Lots of athletic stuff, but they gave me no reason to really get invested.
ROBBIE EAGLES vs. JONATHAN GRESHAM - 7.25/10
GREAT storytelling here. Eagles worked over Gresham's knee while Gresham worked over Eagles' arm... which meant that Eagles had to rely on his legs (or other parts of his body) for offense while Gresham was slowed down due to his leg injuries. Throw in some good spots with one guy countering a move the other had successfully hit the second time he went for it and you've got yourself a great wrestling match.
PWG WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Rascalz (Zachary Wentz & Dezmond Xavier)(c) vs. Best Friends - 7/10
Way too much goofy shtick from Best Friends. You can hug AFTER you win the tag titles. If winning the tag titles isn't your number one priority right now then you're burying the belts by showing us that you don't consider them important. Other than that, this was the usual tag team spotfest.
ACH vs. BANDIDO - 6.75/10
I'm going to put this down as one of those "wrestling has apparently passed me by" matches. This started off as a simple babyface vs. heel match that then turned into a babyface vs. babyface match as time went on, both in wrestling style and in terms of fan support. The way it turned had to do with the fans not actually seeming to care about ACH as ACH so much as they wanted to see him do Steve Austin spots and so he slowly started doing them and the fans started to like him more and more... and then, to turn himself heel in the end, he teased doing the Stone Cold Stunner but didn't deliver. Then Bandido hit him with a Stone Cold Stunner that was kicked out of, then Bandido hit his finish for the win.
I don't even know what to call this match. It was like a comedy match in some ways because it relied on ACH doing his Steve Austin tribute act except that it wasn't comedy, but every time they brought it back to the Austin stuff it didn't quite feel real/serious, either. There was indisputably a story here, but it was this wacky meta type of thing where the story was about leading the fans' reactions and the wrestling match was merely a vehicle to do that, rather than the story having anything to do with two wrestlers who have goals or meaningful emotions for us to empathize with or any of that usual stuff.
PWG WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Jeff Cobb(c) vs. Trevor Lee - 3.75/10
They started off with a spot playing off of the finish of their BOLA match last year. They then started off at a good slow pace, telling the story of Cobb's power advantage and Lee trying to negate it by working on Cobb's shoulder. Then the match stayed that way for twenty minutes as they gently let the story they established earlier on go and just started doing stuff. Even when they did their dives the match just never really seemed to kick it up a gear.
The crowd was also acting rather odd. I don't know if they thought the match was too slow or if they just didn't know how they wanted to react to consummate heel Trevor Lee in his last match in PWG, but whatever the issue was, this crowd was shockingly quiet for a PWG crowd in a world title match with a guy they seemingly love taking on a guy they love to hate.
After about twenty minutes they decided to kick it up a notch, which quickly turned into ref bumps, at which point the crowd heated up, but in ways that completely baffled me. Here's an example of what I mean:
The fans boo when Lee grabs the referee so he can't see his attempt at cheating... but then cheer when Lee shoves the referee as part of the same spot (because they want to see a ref bump, as confirmed by their raucous cheering and chanting "THANK YOU, TREVOR!" moments later when the referee actually did get bumped by a stray kick)? Then Cobb hits his finisher and there is no referee to count it and the fans are all counting along happily. And I do mean "happily." It wasn't the dramatic "ONE! TWO! THREE!" of a pinfall. It was the same routine, mechanically happy cadence that you'd count along to someone trying to get a lot of rotations on a big swing. We would later get a spot where Lee kicked Cobb in the nuts and they all booed, but then Lee tried to use a chair and the ref stopped him so Lee hit the ref in the nuts and they all laughed and cheered. Do they not understand that he did this so that the referee could no longer prevent him from doing the thing they just booed him for?
I don't understand these fans. It's like they just came here to react to stuff happening for its own sake, as if reacting to whatever stimuli happens to be offered is the activity rather than reacting because they're invested in the goings-on and the verbalization of such is the natural response to the emotions being generated. It's like they didn't show up to be fans (like you'd see in a sporting arena) so much as they showed up to be a wrestling crowd and do what wrestling crowds do.
Anyway, they did their stuff. Lee kicked out of a Tour of the Islands at one in a spot that I found to be sadly predictable and dull, but the crowd went nuts for it. It wasn't even like the kick-out was emphatic or anything. He just rolled himself up and then made the firing up facials after he stood up. Then Cobb just kicked his ass some more and beat him with the same move, so what was even the point of Lee kicking out at one.
TREVOR LEE FAREWELL SPEECH - Very good for what it was.
A very meh show from PWG. Nothing other than the main event was bad, but there certainly wasn't anything worth going out of your way to see, either. The first two thirds of the card in particular often felt like watching the same match over and over again, with only Gresham vs. Eagles saving that feeling from being completely overpowering. Hopefully the next show is better.