I know what you’re thinking: A two month old PWG review in the middle of G-1 season is a little divergent. Well, you are correct. Even so, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla has its own big annual tournament coming up in August, the tenth annual Battle of Los Angles. With that in mind let’s have a look at the last show from Reseda on May 23rd, with Kyle O’Reilly challenging his former tag partner Adam Cole for the world title in the main event and what was Kevin Steen’s last shot in southern California.
Let’s face it. The indie scene in 2014 is not what it used to be. All of the top talent that had the internet buzzing five or six years ago has either been snatched up by WWE or signed with TNA. Joe, Danielson, Claudio, Generico, Aries, Shelly, Moxley, Black, PAC, the Wolves. Sure some guys like Hero, Trent and Sydal have been cut which should replenish the indie talent pool, but the WWE is always going to cherry pick the top talent. Plus with Kevin Steen heading for Florida too, that is one less “big” name available to the indie promoters around the world. And I haven’t even mentioned the opportunities that are available in Japan for top independent workers, however guys like the Young Bucks and Ricochet seem to be able to work on both sides of the Pacific without any difficulties.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are still great indie workers out there and with ROH’s TV deal with Sinclair making them the number 3 US promotion, they were able to bring in the New Japan guys for two of the best shows of the year and are sending a group of ROH regulars over to work the G-1 finals at the Seibu Dome. Now why am I talking about ROH when we have a PWG show to look at? Well, over the last couple of years ROH’s product for varying reasons, some which have already been mentioned but others not, has lost a lot of what made it great under Gabe Sapolsky.
Step in, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. PWG has always been a stalwart favourite of the hardcore wrestling fan, but after years of laying groundwork with great shows now in 2014 they find themselves in the spot ROH was from 2004-2009. That is, the indisputable king of the indie promotions, constantly putting on exciting, entertaining shows with little more driving them than DVD sales, website traffic and of course the internet buzz. With that in mind, here is a quick recap of the show, which I recommend checking out if you can handle some more pro wrestling over this long summer.
PWG – Sold Our Soul For Rock ‘N Roll.
Reseda, CA. May 23rd 2014.
Brian Cage vs. Roderick Strong. – Good opener. Fast start with some brawling on the floor; Cage did all his strongman spots then hit a 619 which everyone, including Kevin Steen on commentary, popped huge for. There was a hell of a sequence that saw Cage kill Roddy with a lariat then Strong came back with a jumping knee strike and applied the Strong-hold. Finish saw Roddy hit a big combo and follow up his gutbuster with the sick-kick. *** ¼
AR Fox vs. Rich Swann. – Average indie match. Steen said Fox was a huge Ryback fan and Fox did some of his mannerisms then used the shellshock. I imagine Fox and Steen had some kind of bet which led to the Ryback stuff. Fox hit a sick imploding springboard dive then followed up with a CHINLOCK. Swann took his turn to hit some moves then they did a million reversals and a million pinning combinations. Swann used the phoenix-splash to get the pin. ** ½
Best Friends vs. World’s Cutest Tag Team. – This devolved into a comedy match, as Chuck Taylor refused to hit Candice and walked out of the match. He returned in drag and proceeded to beat the crap out of Candice and gave her a Black Tiger bomb. Chuck and Trent ended up kissing each other when Joey Ryan countered a double chokeslam. Candice pinned Trent with a reverse rana out of the corner. Fine for what it was. ** ¾
Battle of the Hooligans: Alex Koslov vs. Rocky Romero. – Good match with a lot of spots aimed at New Japan fans. They did their let’s pretend to fight then hug spot, but Koslov punched Rocky right in the mouth. Koslov played the heel and got some anti-Russian heat. Rocky worked over Koslov’s recently healed arm and ended up tapping him out after the sliced bread and a cross armbreaker. ***
ACH vs. Ricochet. – Typical MOVES match. After they played a game of, “I can get myself over more than you,” ACH hit his inside-out springboard. Ricochet hit the meteora to start the near-falls and the crowd went crazier with each big high spot. Ricochet landed a Fosbury-flop over the ring post and a springboard shooting star press. ACH countered the Benadryller, hit a reverse rana and a 450 splash. Ricochet won with the 630. Near-falls were spectacular, but before that it was just a match with little psychology. *** ¼
Mount Rushmore vs. Cedric Alexander, Trevor Lee & Johnny Gargano. – Fantastic six-man. Rushmore jumped the faces early; Steen and Cedric decided that they were involved in a blood-feud and had an intense exchange. First round of heat was on Lee then Gargano made the comeback and was cut off for the long heat segment. Cedric ran wild off the hot tag then came the moves-a-million section of the match. Cedric took a powerbomb on the apron and Gargano nearly killed Matt Jackson with a lawn-dart into the ring post. The parade of finishers was capped off by Steen hitting the package piledriver on Lee then assisting the Bucks with More Bang for Your Buck. Greatness. All these Mount Rushmore 6 and 8 mans have been awesome, but this is likely to be the last one or at least the last one involving Kevin Steen. ****
PWG World Heavyweight Championship, KO or Submission Only: Adam Cole (C) vs. Kyle O’Reilly. – Very good main event with a great story. O’Reilly played the dominant striker early, but ended up getting a nasty mouse under his eye in the process. Cole dropkicked the knee and worked it over to set up for the figure-four. O’Reilly targeted the arm and hit a divorce-court off the middle rope. Lots of hold reversals and strike battles. Cole accidentally low-blowed the ref and Mount Rushmore ran in, however the Best Friends came down to help and they cleaned house with O’Reilly. Finish saw O’Reilly land a flurry of strikes and two brainbusters then he did the Danielson head stomp spot before using a triangle to submit Cole. The crowd went nuts for the title change and O’Reilly celebrated with the strap. The finish didn’t reach the intensity of their 2012 Hybrid Rules match, but this was a much better match over all. *** ¾
Overall, a very fun show. If you’re not watching PWG, you should probably start. They may not have a TV deal, but the very nature of the company makes that irrelevant and with shows like this, who needs TV anyway?