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PWG BOLA 2016 Review: Stage One

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Welcome to the Armchair Lariats review of the most exciting tournament in Professional Wrestling, The Battle of Los Angeles. 24 of the best pro-wrestlers in the world have gathered once again in Reseda, California in what is always one the year’s top events. Who will be able to hold the prestigious trophy over their heads this year? Will we finally see the first 2x BOLA Champion? There is so much to unfold over just one weekend. Tonight we have a look at the first of 3 DVD’s, Stage One of the 2016 Battle of Los Angeles and it starts off with a good one!

2016 BOLA First Round Match: Pentagon Jr. vs. Marty Scurll

The Reseda crowd is always a live fun crowd, but you can tell they are HOT for this one right off the bat. And you can’t blame them, Scurll has been one of the best heels in the world, while Pentagon Jr. is one of the fastest rising stars in pro-wrestling. One man will have his hopes crushed early, and a lot of people’s picks to take it all are in jeopardy right away. Both these guys lost to last year’s BOLA winner Zack Sabre Jr. in the tournament.

This match was a great way to kick off this year’s tournament. A lot of back and forth in this one, Marty really playing up “The Villain” role very well. One of my favourite moments of the night is when Marty ties Pentagons mask to the ropes. The crowd was absolutely stunned when Marty was able to kick out of not only a Pump Handle Driver, but a Package Pile Driver as well, the looks on people’s faces are priceless. These guys even broke the ring at one point. The match sadly comes to an end when Pentagon looks like he’s about to hit another Package Pile Driver, when Marty counters it into a Cross Face Chicken Wing for the submission victory – great stuff in this one. Half the crowd was pretty shocked including me, but I shouldn’t have been. Marty has been on fire this year with his work.

Winner and advancing to the Second Round: Marty Scurll

2016 BOLA First Round Match: Jeff Cobb vs. Ricochet

If you’ve never heard or see of Jeff Cobb before, I highly suggest checking him out. I honestly think this dude can suplex the ring. A great clash of styles in this one, power vs. high-flying. Ricochet is wearing Philly Eagles trunks and seems to be getting a hard time from the crowd for it, and the announce team. Ricochet isn’t the biggest of wrestlers, but he isn’t the smallest and Cobb tosses him around like he’s absolutely nothing. The suplexes Cobb can throw out have to be seen. At one point he is able to reverse a standing moonsault by Ricochet, roll back and stand up into a power slam. Ricochet shows he hits the gym by dead lifting Cobb and suplexing him into the turnbuckles. Don’t worry folks, there’s plenty of high-flying offense from Ricochet as you’d expect, but Cobb really shined in this one. Finish comes when Cobb is looking for his finisher, but Ricochet is able to counter it into a small package pin for the win. Another great match for Stage One! Out of all the first round match-ups, this one was the toughest to call for myself. I liked the finish, kept Cobb looking strong and having the savvy vet/former winner sneak one over him.

Winner and advancing to the Second Round: Ricochet

2016 BOLA First Round Match: John Hennigan vs. Matt Sydal

Hennigan, Morrison, Nitro, Mundo…I’m just going to call him Hennimorido. Okay, that’s too long to type over and over. John is being a real dick to the crowd and ring announcer to start; I’d think for someone who was trying really hard to wrestling here he’d be a tad bit happier? Crowd starts chanting ‘EC-dub’ which really cracked me up. Chuck Taylor mentioning they were in the Fake ECW; thanks for that Chucky. I wouldn’t call this a bad match by any stretch, but I felt a little let down when it was all said and done. You could tell the crowd wasn’t that into it either. I guess everyone was expecting a little more from Johnny considering it was his PWG debut. Hennigan picks up the win via Starship Pain.

Winner and advancing to the Second Round: John Hennigan

2016 BOLA First Round Match: Fenix vs. Will Ospreay

All I can say is don’t blink for a lot of this match, it’s bonkers. Ospreay is my pick to win it all this year; he’s probably had one of the better years of any pro-wrestler anywhere. Fenix is no slouch himself, if you’re familiar with his Lucha Underground or AAA work you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re a fan of high-flying/Lucha style, this is a can’t miss! The standing Spanish-Fly from the top ropes is out of this world. Ospreay picks up the win in arguably the Match of the Night.

Winner and advancing to the Second Round: Will Ospreay

2016 BOLA First Round Match: Tommy End vs. PWG World Champion & 2015 BOLA Champion Zack Sabre Jr.

If you had never seen these two before, you’d probably think this was a Drug Dealer coming to beat up a white frat kid who owes him a ton of money. This is Tommy’s final run in PWG before heading to the Performance Center in Florida, and Sabre is trying to kill 2 birds with one stone by trying to become the first consecutive, and 2x BOLA Winner. These two really lay into each other, some really stiff strikes throughout.

At the start, both men are dodging each other’s kicks when Tommy looks to have caught ZSJ with a head kick, but stops and lays his foot on Sabre’s shoulder. Sabre can only give End props as he gently puts down his opponents leg down. Sabre is eventually able to take this to the submission game and makes End pay from some of his brutal looking strikes. This is a great grappler vs. striker match that makes you think “Man I’m glad I’m not wrestling either of these guys” more than a few times. Sabre is able to make End verbally submit in this one and moves on in the BOLA. A nice “Thank You Tommy!” chant from the crowd after the match.

Winner and advancing to the Second Round: Zack Sabre Jr.

2016 BOLA First Round Match: Chris Hero vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

It was a sad moment in wrestling when it was announced Jushin Thunder Liger would be wrapping up his career, but when it was announced he would be competing in this year’s BOLA during his Farewell Tour I was overwhelmed with excitement. Liger may be well past his prime but he’s one of those guys when he shows up, it’s just special. I’m very honoured to have met him and saw him compete live in California during WM31 weekend. Liger gets a HUGE ovation from the crowd, probably the biggest of the night.

Major size difference between the two, Hero towers of Liger. Hero had no choice but to be the heel in this one, easily 90% of the crowd was behind Liger. Hero beat up on Liger throughout most of the match with Liger almost toying with him at times. Liger had some nice comebacks at times, even lifting Hero off the middle ropes for a power bomb. Great ending with Hero hitting a Liger Bomb only for Liger to kick out and HULK UP, however this comeback was shortly ended with some 2 elbows and one unpadded elbow for good measure to put away the legend. Considering Liger is well past his prime, these two put on a really good match.

Winner and advancing to the Second Round: Chris Hero

Main Event – Non-Tournament – 6 Man Tag Team Match: Adam Cole and The Young Bucks (PWG World Tag Champs) vs. Dalton Castle & The Boys

These boys sure don’t look like Dalton’s typical entourage…if I had to guess I’d say they sure look a lot like a tag team named reDRagon … but I can’t tell, those masks hide the faces too well…

I think you can tell you’re about to see a match that will be much different from what we’ve seen throughout the night. A really fun match with a lot of silly spots but it’s not all fun and games as this matches finishes really strong. A couple funny spots where the Boys fan Nick and Matt to push them off the top ropes and stop them from running. Eventually the Boys are unmasked but I won’t give away major reveal here. I wouldn’t dare ruin that for you… Stage One finally comes to an end with a Double Meltzer Driver from the Bucks that I’m sure sent Dave home happy. A really fun main event to close off the first night of this great weekend of wrestling.

Winners: Adam Cole and The Young Bucks

Buy? YES! YES! YES!

These guys sure set the bar high on Stage One. We got to see some really stiff striking, great technical work, incredible high-flying, all around great fucking wrestling and a nice fun match to finish off the night and lead us into quite possibly the best event I’ve ever seen, Stage Two. Almost every match during this weekend could Main Event any show around the world. Stay tuned for my next review for the 2016 Battle of Los Angeles.

Must See Matches:

It was really hard to pick a match of the night on this DVD; there were 3 that were awesome in their own right.

1) Pentagon Jr. vs. Marty Scurll
2) Fenix vs. Will Ospreay
3) Tommy End vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

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