Stage One of the biggest independent pro wrestling tournament in the world took place on September 2nd 2016 in Reseda California. As usual the tournament was stacked with 24 of the finest talent the world had to offer. Stage one saw the first six tournament matches.
Marty Scurll defeated Pentagon Jr
This was a great opener that started with deafening back and forth chants for both men. Scurll targeted the arm of Pentagon, who is of course known for breaking an arm or two. They brawled at ringside and Scurll used a chair. Pentagon chopped the post when Scurll moved, which played into the finish. Pentagon has such a badass aura and comes across like a star. Scurll hit a couple of satellite DDTs, which he rarely does. Scurll kicked out of the Package Piledriver, which got a monster pop. Scurll snapped the fingers of Pentagon, who popped them back into place, which was an awesome spot. Scurll then countered another Package Piledriver into a Chickenwing, which is a counter you really need to see. Scurll got the win via submission to a huge pop as the Reseda crowd were shocked to see a favourite like Pentagon go out in the first round. This was a hot start to the tournament.
Ricochet defeated Jeff Cobb
This was an incredible showing from Cobb and definitely his most impressive so far in PWG. This was a meeting of PWG stars as Matanza took on Prince Puma. Cobb showed off his athleticism when he was able to cartwheel out of a hurricanrana. Ricochet wasn’t outdone and showed that he could match power with Cobb early in the match. Cobb is almost able to rival Taz when it comes to having a variety of suplexes that he will do one after the other. Ricochet was the perfect guy to bounce around and make it look good. Cobb kicked out of a Phoenix Splash and a Benydriller. Ricochet missed a 630, which Cobb followed up on with a swinging German suplex for a big near fall. Cobb went for Tour of the Islands, but Ricochet countered into a small package to score the win. This was great.
John Hennigan defeated Matt Sydal
This was okay, but it never really seemed to click or get out of second gear. This was the PWG debut of Hennigan, more well known as Johnny Mundo in Lucha Underground or John Morrison in WWE. Believe it or not, this was a rematch from and old episode of WWECW. Hennigan played the heel here. This was a pretty basic back and forth match, with the crowd never really invested in it. At one point Hennigan low blowed Sydal in plain sight of the ref, and Sydal didn’t sell it, so it ended up meaning nothing. Sydal missed a shooting star and Hennigan won when he hit a split legged corkscrew moonsault to advance.
Will Ospreay defeated Fenix
This was a ridiculous aerial display from two of the most talented flyers in the world right now. Right from the bell they flew out of the ring with dives. It was one of those matches where they did things that you thought were only possible in video games. There was one spot where Fenix countered a back body drop into a rana, only for Ospreay to land on his feet. Another saw Fenix attempt a Spanish Fly from the top rope, only for both men to land on their feet, which led to a standing ovation. The finish saw Fenix have a springboard 450 countered, then was met with an OsCutter.
Zack Sabre, Jr defeated Tommy End
This was absolutely incredible. This saw two of the most innovative and unique wrestlers in the world put together a really beautiful match full of technical wrestling, pin point striking and logical storytelling. Sabre went after the wrist and arm of End. End brought the lethal combos. We had some really great counters and lots of excellent near falls. One of the moments of the match saw End hit a hook kick into a German suplex, for a great near fall, only for Sabre to hold onto End’s arm as he kicked out and go back to that End hit a couple of really stiff double stomps. Sabre got fired up towards the end and kicked the hell out of End as he was in the ropes. Sabre got the win with an octopus hold while he bent the arm of End back. Go out of your way to see this. Match of the show so far and something so unique.
Chris Hero defeated Jushin Thunder Liger
This was one of those dream matches you never thought you’d see and it definitely exceeded expectations. They told a really great story, that being of the older Liger trying to hang with one of the finest on the planet today. Hero toyed with Liger as he controlled him. Liger came back with a superplex and hit the Shotei. Hero delivered one of his snap Piledriver and several elbows all for a near fall. Just as Hero looked to finish it, Liger caught him with a Brainbuster for a huge near fall. Hero elbowed a Shotei. He hit a Liger Bomb, which Liger kicked out of at one and made one last run before he was finished off with a series of elbow strikes.
Adam Cole & The Young Bucks defeated Dalton Castle & “The Boys”
This was a whole lot of fun and silliness. It was obvious that The Boys were indeed ReDRagon, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish, but the announcers and everyone played it up as if they had no idea who was under the masks. At one point Fish’s mask came off and he made everyone shush, so he could put it back on. Castle tossed The Bucks around with suplexes in impressive fashion. Late in the match The Boys unmasked and revealed themselves, and from there we had full on ReDRagon. This led to a whole lot of crazy action and big near falls before Cole & The Bucks hit a DOUBLE Meltzer Driver on Fish & Castle to pick up the victory.
This was a great start to BOLA weekend. Night one is usually the tamer of the three nights, so if that is anything to go by, night two and three should be off the charts. All tournament matches were great, with Sydal/Hennigan being the only exception. For me the match of the show was Sabre vs End.
photos via Mikey Nolan Photography