The third and final night of the 2019 Battle of Los Angeles features the ten remaining tournament matches and two non-tournament tag team matches. Let’s get started!
Dragon Lee def. Jake Atlas @ 10:40 – ****1/4
This is how you kick off a final night of BOLA. Absolutely blew away everything from the first round. They started with an overhand chop exchange, dueling dives, dueling suplexes, dueling drivers, everything about the match rules. A jam packed 10-minute sprint from start to finish. This is the Dragon Lee I expected on the first night. Jake Atlas shows up big again, now putting on two of the tournament’s best. These dudes went all out, leaving nothing on the table. Excellent match. Exactly what I want out of PWG.
I’ve been largely unimpressed with the first two nights of BOLA. There have been several really good matches but nothing close to the level here. If this is a sign of what’s to come I’m going to need to pace myself.
Bandido def. Brody King @ 10:40 – ***1/4
Before the match, Bandido challenges King to wrestle lucha rather than power. Excalibur points out that Bandido lost last year’s tournament to power guys so he’s trying to get inside King’s head. They were off on some exchanges but this was still a really fun, high energy match. With lesser guys, the crowd would’ve likely turned on the match but both Bandido and King are well respected by the PWG community. One spot saw Bandido lose control on a sunset flip and instead of flying over, King landed right on top of Bandido. A mistake, but a brutal looking mistake.
Not the smoothest, but fun all the same. Bandido is such a charismatic wrestler that he can make practically anything work in a PWG ring. King had several super impressive power moves that Bandido sold like no other. Not without its faults but still very enjoyable.
Jonathan Gresham def. A-Kid @ 18:00 – ***1/2
A very craft match between two crafty wrestlers. They start off working a clean catch as catch can style even after Gresham pops A-Kid with a backhand when against the ropes, claiming it was inadvertent when releasing the hold. This proves to be anything but inadvertent as Gresham takes advantage later on by telling the referee he needs help to release a hold in order to hold A-Kid in the hold a few extra seconds. The match breaks down once A-Kid gets free and it turns into a fight. The focus of the match turns to A-Kid’s knee as he does a great job at consistently selling the leg throughout the remainder of the match. Gresham begins driving the knee into the mat in order to win via stoppage.
Really strong performance from both guys. They stayed focuses, told a fun and compelling traditional pro wrestling match unlike anything we’ve seen in the tournament yet. They did go a little long and went too far on near falls but this was such a breath of fresh air after the previous two matches.
Joey Janela def. Rey Fenix @ 16:00 – **3/4
The match starts off with Janela working around Fenix, trying to have a counter for every movement. He ends up getting Fenix to the outside and drops him onto chairs. He continues avoiding Fenix until Fenix catches him on the outside with a crossbody from off the ring post. Janela is able to withstand a series of drivers, cutters and a destroyer before he spins Fenix’s mask around and drops him with a superkick to pick up the win.
A “smart” match but not necessarily an exciting one. Fenix got plenty of time to shine with his comebacks but it felt too long for the finish. If you’re going to cheat Fenix out of a win do it before the match loses its steam. Janela can be a crafty wrestler but he’s not always the most exciting or engaging to watch.
Darby Allin def. Pentagon Jr. @ 16:30 – **1/2
Darby starts the match by catching Pentagon’s glove, throwing it to the floor and telling him to go get it. When Pentagon does, Darby follows him out with a dive, grabs a chair and hammers it onto Pentagon’s knee. Pentagon walks to the back, seemingly giving up on the match until Darby calls him back in. Selling the leg for the majority of the match, Pentagon goes and gets a step ladder to even the score on Darby. He hits a package piledriver off the ladder for a nearfall, puts the ladder on top of Darby and looks for a double stomp off the top but Darby moves, hits a yoshitonic and figure fours the legs into a pin for the win.
Pentagon got really hammy with the leg selling. The whole beginning portion went on for five minutes before anything in ring actually began and the entire match felt like it couldn’t end soon enough. These two have a great aura about them but I don’t understand why they went this route.
David Starr def. Jeff Cobb @ 11:15 – ***1/2
Starr opts out of his long entrance by stating “he’s saving it for the final”. A common criticism about Cobb is he lacks aggression. Starr saying he’s going to win the tournament brought out a fiery grapple exchange which saw Cobb come out on top, leading to Starr grabbing Cobb’s PWG World Championship and shoving it into Cobb’s face. Both statements did wonders for the match as they brought out Cobb’s violent side. Cobb lit up Starr in the corner with violence party and followed up by throwing Starr to the matt via Starr’s chest hair. Starr would dig down deep with an ushigoroshi but it wasn’t enough. He escaped a Tour of the Islands, smashed Cobb with the belt and it still wasn’t enough but managed to keep Cobb grounded after a lariat.
Very good match. The intensity from both sides felt justified and featured a hot finishing sequence that saw the crowd biting on everything. One of the strongest matches of the tournament.
The Dark Order def. Rey Horus & Aramis @ 14:45 – ***
Good old-fashioned cut the ring in half tag team action. The Dark Order keep Aramis isolated for the first five minutes until he manages the tag to Horus and the two begin to unload. They start with a simultaneous dive over the same corner and the two teams trade wacky double teams until the finish. The idea behind the match was solid but they went too long and too many nearfalls towards the end that lost the crowd for a Dark Order win.
The match showcased that Horus and Aramis have legs as an underdog babyface team. Perfectly solid match, just a few minutes too long to garner a recommendation.
Jonathan Gresham def. Joey Janela @ 8:30 – ***
Janela won his first two matches with a superkick and hits it right off the bat here but Gresham gets his boot on the ropes. After regrouping, Gresham catches Janela in a backdrop suplex, running boots in the corner and kicks out the arm. Janela bails, throws a chair at Gresham and plants him with a package piledriver. He looks for a second onto a pile of chairs but Gresham turns it around into a German suplex. Gresham comes up empty on a shooting star press, eats another superkick but kicks out. He catches Janela running in, stomps the hand and finishes him with the octopus hold.
The callbacks to Janela’s superkicks largely fell flat to the live crowd but it was cool continuity to watch on the screen. A smartly worked match overall. Janela seems to enjoy thinking out his matches as opposed to doing the big spots these days. It’s a nice idea but neither of the matches on this night hit the level of anything major. Perfectly good, nothing outrageous that needs to be seen.
Bandido def. Dragon Lee @ 12:00 – ***1/2
Lee goads Bandido in with sportsmanship only to land a kick, takes Bandido to the floor and follows with a dive. Bandido catches Lee with a boot, Lee bails and Bandido follows with a moonsault off the post. Lee comes right back with shout outs to Naito and Shibata but Bandido catches the attempted rana to the floor and turns it into an apron powerbomb. They battle on the turnbuckles, Lee lands a double stomp to the apron that results in both crashing to the floor. Back inside they trade overhands, catch each other in poison ranas and moonsault crossbodys, Bandido hit the pudgeyplex but Lee kicks out at one. Lee responds by catching Bandido on the top and drops him with a release vertical suplex. Bandido dodges a knee and turns a powerbomb into a destroyer, hits the 21-plex and rolls through into a bridging German suplex.
A big time spotfest between two of the best. They threw so much out there for a twelve minute match absolutely no down time the entire way through. The crowd weren’t going as big as you’d expect, likely due to fatigue at this point in the show. Still, there’s a lot to like. These guys can wrestle every day of the week and not disappoint.
David Starr def. Darby Allin @ 5:35 – **3/4
Starr again says he plans to save his long entrance for the final. Darby starts off shot out of a cannon with dropkicks, dives and takes Starr into the corner. The referee tries to separate them and with her back turned, Starr hits a jab that grounds Allin. The two begin trading shots, Darby runs in and gets dropped with a DDT on the apron followed by an elbow drop off the top from Starr who charges in on the ref for the two count. She admonishes Starr who shoves her, Aubrey grounds Starr with a shove back. Darby looks to take advantage with a coffin drop but Starr pops up, puts his knee out and finishes Darby with a lariat.
David Starr is the king of character work. Establishing his entrance by delaying it until the finals and getting under Cobb’s, Darby’s and Aubrey’s skin in the process is masterful. The guy gets it. The story was more about him and Aubrey than it was he and Darby but still a fun match even if not something that’s must-see. Sometimes you need those short, precise story-driven matches for later stages of a tournament. You don’t want to risk burning the crowd out before the final and I think this semifinal round did a good job at staying in the pocket.
Caveman Ugg, Artemis Spencer, Jungle Boy, Orange Cassidy & Paris De Silva def. Lucky Kid, Mick Moretti, Black Taurus, Kyle Fletcher & Tony Deppen @ 25:45 – ***
The 10-man comedy match is a BOLA staple and secretly one of my most anticipated matches every year. This time around the first ten minutes fell extremely flat. None of the comedy worked to an embarrassing degree. The match picked up when Spencer was springing on the top rope, avoiding all four wrestlers trying to sweep his leg as they failed and crashed into each other. The highlight came right after that when Taurus and Ugg met in the middle of the ring. They took turns throwing their opponents at each other to no effect. Their attention is turned to the referee as they play tug of war trying to use him as their final weapon. The referee pulls them into one another and flexes before he’s sent into Ugg by Taurus for a spear. Another highlight was while Moretti was on Ugg’s shoulders, who was sitting on the top turnbuckle, Spencer catches Moretti with a poision rana off the shoulders to the mat.
As usual, there’s so much more nutty stuff I can talk about. A shooting star DDT from Silva, Cassidy fell off the top of the balcony and a pockets sequence between five guys, all with a hand stuck in the other’s trunks. The first ten minutes are incredibly awkward so skip all of that and enjoy fifteen minutes of wacky creativity.
Bandido def. Jonathan Gresham & David Starr @ 23:25 – ****1/2
Starr finally unveils his entrance and decides bails to the floor. Bandido and Gresham embrace before locking up. They have a friendly exchange that Starr comes in and mocks. Starr gets taken down with a double team hip toss and as they go to cover, Gresham and Bandido bonk heads. Starr tries to use this to craft a wedge between them but to no avail. He’s able to catch them both with a dive, connects with a cappo kick to Gresham and a flatliner on Bandido. With Starr’s leg caught by Bandido, Gresham lands an enzuigiri to Bandido for a dragon screw to Starr.
This causes the match to break down between Gresham and Bandido. Starr puts the breaks on a trip by Gresham, slaps the top of Gresham’s head but gets his ankle rolled up on. Bandido takes Gresham down with an enzuigiri followed by a tornillo off the top to Starr. Gresham trips Bandido on the 21-plex and all three take each other out with a strike. Gresham gets rolled up, kicks out and catches Starr running in into a Boston crab and transitions to a figure four. With Starr locked, Bandido comes off the top with a shooting star press for two and when Starr gets his shoulder up, he reverses the pressure on Gresham.
Bandido helps roll Gresham back over and applies assisted pressure on Starr ho gets the ropes to break rthe hold. They charge in on Starr but he catches them with a double DDT on the apron, turns Bandido inside out with a lariat and looks to hit the ropes but his knee buckles. Gresham lands a springboard crossbody, gets caught with a lariat but turns a second into an octopus hold and hammers down elbows to the neck, forcing Starr to tap out at fifteen minutes.
Bandido and Gresham begin by trading strikes. Gresham catches him in a European clutch for two, Bandido escapes the octopus hold but gets trapped in the crossface. Bandido finds the ropes and with Gresham running in, captures and transitions into a headscissors armbar but Gresham gets the break. They trade strikes again, Bandido hits a headbutt, Gresham nips up and hits an enzigiri, Gresham pops him up into a cutter followed by a 21-plex but Gresham kicks out at two. He positions Gresham on the top turnbuckle for a pudgeyplex but Gresham slides through and stacks Bandido with a powerbomb for two. Gresham kicks the arm out and applies the octopus as the crowd rallies for Bandido who powers Gresham up into a Samoan drop. Bandido takes Gresham to the top and hits a reverse pudgeyplex quickly followed by a 21-plex to become the winner of the 2019 Battle of Los Angeles.
Killer final match and a feel good moment for the crowd favorite, Bandido. These three guys are so smooth and executed a perfectly worked match from start to finish. You couldn’t have put together a better trio from this tournament pool for the final. This was the match I wanted to see. Maybe the heat would’ve been better if the match went down to Starr and Bandido but the story of Gresham and Bandido working together and them having a clean fight to finish off the show was an awesome moment.
Without a doubt the best of the three nights. It helps that the main event was the top match of the night and best of the tournament for that matter. I was somewhat down after the first two shows but they picked me up at that right time and delivered an excellent finale. Like the first two nights, the show was uneven but this time around the peaks were higher and more often.
Looking at the tournament as a whole, I think it was alright. Rarely were matches outright bad but the highs on the first two nights were few and far between. Some matches went too long, some too short, overall it was a mixed bag but when it mattered, it delivered. The final match was absolutely killer and left me on a high which is all you can reasonably ask for from a wrestling show. If I were to recommend anything, I’d say just buy the final night.
Bandido vs Gresham vs Starr
Dragon Lee vs Jake Atlas
Jonathan Gresham vs A-Kid
David Starr vs Jeff Cobb
Bandido vs Dragon Lee
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