CALDWELL's PWG WEEKEND ROAD REPORT: Battle of Los Angeles Coverage and Results
By James Caldwell, PWTorch columnist
Torch columnist James Caldwell is traveling to Los Angeles this weekend for PWG's third-annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament taking place Friday - Sunday in Burbank, Calif. He will be reporting on the sights, sounds, and results from PWG's gathering of the top independent wrestlers in the world - from the U.S., Europe, and Japan.
Updated Monday, September 3 - 1:00 a.m.
BOLA Night Three results
- PWG will be opening an auction on eBay at 9:00 p.m. EST tonight with an 8' x 8' BOLA banner signed by the wrestlers. Complete with authentic sweat from wrestlers signing the banner while working out their matches prior to tonight's show.
(1) Joey Ryan (w/Jade Chung) vs. Roderick Strong -- BOLA 2nd round match. The match started right off with Joey on the offensive, setting up a series of nice comebacks by Strong. They went full speed without letting up or taking any rest breaks before Strong dropped Joey with a powerbomb into a Boston Crab for the submission victory. Fine, fine professional wrestling action to get the crowd going for the night. WINNER: Strong in 8:00 to advance. (**1/4)
(2) Matt Sydal vs. Alex Shelley -- BOLA 2nd round match. The battle of black trunks started with a feeling out process to build anticipation. Shelley stretched Sydal with a series of submission holds while random audience members tried to get a slow clap started to make noise. After the opening series of submission exchanges, this turned into a fantastic piece of professional wrestling action. Amazing counters and very believable nearfalls. A pro wrestling clinic with Shelley showing ring leadership that we don't get to see on national television. Finish was Shelley blocking a moonsault into a chinbreaker before hitting an inverted facebuster for the win. Well-deserved standing ovation for both men after this one. This is a good example of what I wrote about earlier this weekend about two artists being able to put on a believable performance that even the most jaded wrestling fan can buy into. WINNER: Shelley in 14:00 to advance. (***3/4)
(3) Claudio Castagnoli vs. PAC -- BOLA 2nd round match. The match pitting a rather tall Claudio vs. a shorter, yet unbelievably athletic Pac opened with Claudio tossing PAC around the ring like a personal rag doll. He then executed 24 1/2 revolutions on an airplane spin that left both men quite dizzy. PAC made a comeback when Claudio tried to spin him in the air like a pizza pie, but PAC countered into a head scissors. PAC then flew over the top rope with a somersault dive into a huracanrana on the floor for the first big high-flying spot of the night. Back in the ring, Claudio came back with a giant boot to the face and a sick right-arm clothesline for a nearfall. PAC came back with a sunset flip powerbomb before heading up top for a corkscrew splash for the pin and the win. Another solid match tonight with the match-up of big man vs. small man working quite well to pull off some innovative exchanges. WINNER: PAC in 12:00 to advance. (***)
(4) Shingo vs. CIMA -- BOLA 2nd round match. CIMA continues to display great human quality, such as stealing a chair from Torch VIP member Brandon to smash Shingo in the arm, only to return the chair to its rightful owner after using it. A lesser man would have simply cast the chair away and continued with his business. Shingo took offense to CIMA's kind gesture and went on the offensive with some hard-hitting offense. CIMA then hit his Schwein neck crunch finisher, but Shingo kicked out for a nearfall. They went into a series of pin exchanges with CIMA finally picking up the win with a cradle roll up. Nice, fluid match. Good tempo and energy. WINNER: CIMA in 12:00 to advance. (***1/4)
(5) Nigel McGuinness vs. Necro Butcher -- BOLA 2nd round match. Before Nigel could even finish his entrance, Necro jumped him from behind and took the fight over the guardrail to the floor. This is what most people expect from a Necro match. Fans scattered as Nigel came back by smashing Necro's messed up right knee with a chair. In the ring, Nigel continued Kevin Steen's work from last night by working over the injured right knee. Nigel put Necro in a submission hold and Nigel walked the fine line between tapping out and trying to start a slow clap to build up his comeback. And suddenly, they generated the most heat of the night when Necro hulked up after taking an absolute blast of a lariat. Nigel then no-sold a clothesline and the crowd ate it up as they repeated the exchange. The fans were clearly behind the lovable crazy man, Necro, and booed when Nigel took the advantage with a suplex onto two chairs in center ring. Nigel then nailed another KO rebound lariat for the pin and the win. The fans booed Nigel for taking out the lovable crazy man. WINNER: Nigel in 8:00 to advance. Crazy heat for the final two minutes. Nice story to the match. (**3/4)
(6) Dragon Kid vs. El Generico -- BOLA 2nd round match. This was a crazy stunt match more suitable for a Hollywood set. They tried all sorts of dangerous moves and we'll give them an A for effort on trying to execute these moves without someone being killed. For the spot of the night, Generico surprised Dragon Kid with an Ole kick straight out of nowhere with Kid perched up top. That popped the crowd, then Generico hit a brainbuster on the top turnbuckle for the pin and the win. WINNER: Generico in 9:00 to advance. (**)
(7) Roderick Strong vs. Alex Shelley -- BOLA Semi-final round match. Shelley continued to show leadership skills in the ring - something that TNA hasn't taken advantage of yet. A very physical, hard-hitting match with each man using the other man's patented submission holds for near tap outs. For the finish, Strong kicked out of an atomic drop into Sliced Bread #2 before hitting two double underhook powerbombs for the pin. They presented a very stiff match that had the crowd guessing as they exchanged control. Shelley wrestled three outstanding matches in this tournament. WINNER: Strong in 16:00 to advance to the finals. (***1/4)
(8) PAC vs. CIMA (w/Dragon Kid) -- BOLA Semi-final round match. The two high-flyers started the match with a standard technical exchange highlighted by CIMA straight kicking PAC in the rear end with a dropkick. PAC then took CIMA to the outside and got a piece of CIMA on the floor with a corkscrew dive. Back in the ring, CIMA went coast-to-coast on a top rope dropkick with PAC hung out to dry across the middle rope. CIMA then hit consecutive cradle drivers for close nearfalls. PAC came back with offense targeting the head including a spike DDT and head scissors that CIMA sold like a pro. They went up top and PAC appeared to be setting up for something potentially insane, but he slipped and CIMA hit his Schwein finisher from the top for the pin. WINNER: CIMA in 14:00 to advance to the finals. An exceptional piece of pro wrestling, although it won't be remembered by the end of the night. (**3/4)
(9) Nigel McGuinness vs. El Generico -- BOLA Semi-final round match. Nigel, who started the tournament as a face, worked heel as the big fish in a small pond superstar. He also had the audacity to take out the lovable crazy man earlier, so he has that working against him. Nigel began toying with Generico by playfully slapping him across the mask, which Generico responded to with a series of hard slaps to the chest. Generico then went for a top rope dropkick, but Nigel side-stepped him and landed a stiff lariat. He then hit the Tower of London in the corner for a close nearfall. Nigel did a handstand in the corner to show his balance, and Generico answered with a quick-strike Ole kick for a nearfall. Nigel, who had targeted the left shoulder throughout the match, went for a cross arm breaker in center ring and Generico feigned tapping out before finally reaching the bottom rope with his foot to get a break. Excellent piece of theater with Generico asking the crowd for help to escape the hold. Nigel went for a lariat to follow up, but Generico ducked and hit a brainbuster for a nearfall. He went for a second brainbuster, but Nigel countered with a small package for a close count. He then tried to hit a rebound lariat, but Generico ducked and rolled up Nigel for a three count just before he kicked out. Great match-up that played to Generico's strength of making the dramatic babyface comeback against a larger opponent. WINNER: Generico in 13:00 to advance to the finals. (***1/2)
- Finals is Generico vs. CIMA vs. Roderick Strong. But, before that, a giant PWG-style super-cluster multiple-person match of awesomeness. They did 12 full ring entrances with Hero and Tornado nearly coming to blows before the match even started and streamers filling the ring following Susumu's introduction.
(10) Chris Hero (w/Candace LaRae) & Tyler Black & Doug Williams & Jack Evans & Kevin Steen & Susumu Yokosuka vs. Austin Aries & Jimmy Rave & Human Tornado & Scott Lost (w/Jade Chung) & Davey Richards & Karl Anderson. The bell sounded and Jimmy Rave proceeded to stall for two minutes before locking up with Doug Williams. Eventually, the match boiled down to the heel team working over Jack Evans for some time and taking liberties with his small, flexible frame. Jack finally made a hot tag and all eleven men immediately spilled into the ring for the match-breaks-down portion of the contest. Eventually, the action spilled to the outside and Jack recovered to hit a handspring flip over the top rope onto the mosh pit below. Tornado then set up for dive, but he stopped and washed his hands of any flying tonight. Suddenly, he grabbed Candace to possibly throw her into the crowd, but Hero stormed the ring and pinned him from behind with a backslide. After all that, they finish with a backslide. Afterward, Hero told Tornado he was just that close. The babyface team then struggled to stay on their feet during the post-match celebration. An entertaining compilation bout prior to the tournament finals. WINNERS: Team Hero in 23:00. (**3/4)
(11) Roderick Strong vs. CIMA (w/Dragon Kid) vs. El Generico -- BOLA Tournament Finals -- Elimination style. CIMA and Generico were initially on the same page, but CIMA ended that alliance and it became a free-for-all battle. Strong was KO'ed from the match for a while when Generico gave him a sick brainbuster on the apron. CIMA then dropped Generico with his Schwein finisher on the apron and back in the ring. CIMA then covered Generico for a pin to eliminate him in 9:00. With it down to CIMA and Strong, CIMA hit a top rope DDT before nailing his finisher for a close nearfall. Strong had enough time to recover and hit a big boot into a double underhook powerbomb for a nearfall. CIMA then blocked a second powerbomb and nailed a double foot stomp to the chest. He then hit a crossfire powerbomb for the three count to win the match and the tournament, with the fans jumping to their feet at once to chant for CIMA. WINNER: CIMA in 14:00 to capture the BOLA title. A very nice match from all three in their third match of the night. (***1/4)
After the match, PWG champion Bryan Danielson entered the ring and handed the BOLA trophy to CIMA. Danielson then pointed to the title around his waist and told CIMA he wanted him one time with the belt on the line. They did a little business about having the match right now, but they shook hands and Danielson left. CIMA, Dragon Kid, and Susumu then posed with the trophy in center ring. CIMA capped off the night by cutting a promo putting over PWG.
DVD Recommendation: Night 3 is a must-buy for fans of independent wrestling. Some of the best wrestling of the year under one roof. Nights 1 and 2 are recommended for seeing how the final night was set up, but there's nothing must-see. Night 3 simply clicked from start to finish as one of the best independent shows you'll see all year.
Updated Sunday, September 2 - 7:30 p.m.
A story from independent wrestling at its finest. Several of the wrestlers who worked PWG's Night One show on Friday drove up to Fresno, Calif. for a show run by a new promoter. Only, when they got there, they were told there was no money to pay them to wrestle, so they could either work for free and do a charity match or sell some merchandise to make some money. Many of the wrestlers didn't have merchandise to sell and they weren't about to work for free, so some wrestlers laid out in the sun all day or just hung out with other wrestlers until the show was cancelled half-way into the matches.
The promoter booked several of the wrestlers working the PWG show since they were already in the area and he wouldn't have to pay for many big-name wrestlers to fly in. So, after the show was cancelled, the wrestlers working for PWG on Night 3 made the four-hour drive back to Los Angeles without a payday and only a nice trip through the grapevine on the way to central California.
Updated Sunday, September 2 - 1:00 a.m.
BOLA Night Two results
- Closer to 325 tonight with many people not returning because the arena is a sauna. And the loaded card is on Sunday.
(1) Bino Gambino & Karl Anderson vs. Ronin & T.J. Perkins. I have no idea who was working heel or face here, but Karl played face while Bino was booed routinely throughout the opener despite being on the same team. Karl stands out because he works such an intense style that separates himself from the touch-and-go indy style. Ronin with a Death Valley Driver on Gino for the win with Karl and TJ out of the ring. Basic, but not memorable opening tag match. WINNERS: Ronin & Perkins in 12:00. (*1/2)
(2) Human Tornado (w/Candace) vs. CIMA -- BOLA 1st round match. CIMA, the MVP of last year's BOLA tournament, refused Tornado's pimping of Candace before the match. The gimmick being that Tornado is Candace's pimp. Tornado then kicked Candace away when she was holding out on her earnings, so CIMA jumped Tornado from behind to start the match. Tornado quickly made his comeback and dominating before taking CIMA to the outside. He then nailed a flying somersault dive complete over the guardrail for the first big spot of the night. Back in the ring, Candace got involved, this time on a triple superplex spot where Tornado suplexed Candace and CIMA. Suddenly, CIMA regained control and Candace came off the top rope with a missile dropkick on Tornado. CIMA then finished off Tornado with the Schwein finisher to win. CIMA continues to be a great man in the ring. WINNER: CIMA in 12:00 to advance. (**3/4)
- Afterward, Tornado was certainly upset with Candace. But, he extended his hand and gave Candace a hug. Ah, how nice. Tornado then threw the kind sentiment away with a sudden right hand palm strike before kicking and stomping her. He then dropped Candace on her face twice with an overhead slam. Tornado then went for really cheap heat with the Benoit throat-slash gesture and an attempted Crossface to a chorus of boos. Really distasteful in any context. Chris Hero then stormed the ring from the merchandise table and jumped Tornado. An intense brawl then broke out ringside between Tornado and Hero after Hero cut a promo on him. This will certainly set up a program between Tornado and Hero over Candace's honor.
(3) Scott Lost (w/Jade Chung) vs. Shingo. -- BOLA 1st round match. Shingo straight dominated the action for the majority of the match, countering each comeback from the heel, Lost. They went up top for a superplex spot at 11:00, but they maintained the hold and they suplexed each other out of the ring, over the top rope, and to the floor. Back in the ring, Shingo got 65 percent of a Michinoku Driver on Lost for the pin and the win. Solid, well-executed, great effort, but not a memorable match. WINNER: Shingo in 13:00 to advance. (**3/4)
(4) Kevin Steen vs. Necro Butcher -- BOLA 1st round match. Necro, who's working with a knee injury, might be the most unathletic wrestler in history, but he's the master of body language to tell a story in the ring. Steen did his homework and worked over Necro's knee for all it was worth during the match. Necro made a brief comeback before Steen went back on the attack. Out of nowhere, Necro ended the match with a quick roll up on one good knee. WINNER: Necro Butcher in 8:00 to advance. Methodical work on the knee was the story of the match. Not the type of match expected for a Necro bout. (*1/2)
(5) Davey Richards vs. Nigel McGuinness -- BOLA 1st round match. Terrific early on, then things suddenly broke down into comedy genius. Richards stepped on Nigel's hand, so Nigel took a kiss from his girlfriend to heal the injury. Nigel then crotched Richards on the middle rope and Richards pulled his trunks down to ask Nigel's girlfriend to kiss his sore spot. She refused, then Nigel pansted Richards. And Richards proceeded to wrestle the next minute of the match with a fully exposed rear end. He then pulled his pants up to a pop, then pulled his own pants back down to a round of boos. After the brief only-in-PWG exchange, they went back to a hard-hitting wrestling match. Nigel landed a series of clotheslines for a nearfall before landing an absolute fastball of a left-arm lariat that put Richards neck-first on mat. Nigel with the cover for the win. WINNER: Nigel in 15:00 to advance. Excellent technical display with some comedy mixed in to bridge the two parts of the match. Best match so far tonight. Nigel exuded more personality than in previous live matches I've seen. (***1/4)
(6) Tony Kozina vs. El Generico -- BOLA 1st round match. After hearing some cool entrance music, but prior to seeing who was emerging through the curtain, Bryan's friend Vince made a bold prediction that the man with the cool entrance music would win. Tony Kozina then came out and Vince immediately retracted the statement. El Generico came out next and Vince doubly retracted the statement. Generico had some new entrance gear - a mixture of sea green trunks and royal blue mask. As interesting a collection as my vertical-striped shorts and horizontal-striped polo shirt. The wrestlers had a standard exchange of holds before going up top at 12:00 where Generico was going for a brainbuster, but Kozina fought him off. And then, I thought both men were going to die when Kozina went for a huracanrana off the top rope to the floor while changing positions in mid-air. Both men's lives flashed before my eyes. Back in the ring, they had a nice finish with Kozina avoiding the Ole kick in the corner, but Generico came back with a brainbuster for the win. WINNER: Generico in 13:00 to advance. Flashes of brilliance at times, but sloppy otherwise. (**)
(7) Susumu Yokosuka vs. Dragon Kid -- BOLA 1st round match. Like a good Jeff Hardy match, the babyface Dragon Kid took control early on before Susumu started working him over to build up the Kid comeback. Susumu then built up a slow clap from the crowd by spanking Kid repeatedly on the left cheek. Kid would have none of that and he sent Susumu to the outside before hitting a springboard huracanrana on the floor. Back in the ring, Susumu regained control with a hard clothesline in the corner before taking him up top for a flying overhead toss all the way to center ring for a nearfall. Then, they pulled out the bag of amazing highspots that wowed the crowd and delivered a series of standing ovations. Kid finally won it with a springboard huracanrana ala Rey Mysterio against Psicosis in the early ECW days. Amazing final five minutes. WINNER: Dragon Kid in 16:00 to advance. Easily best match of the night. And we can all agree that both of these men are better than Bryan's friend Vince. (***3/4)
Updated Saturday, September 1 - 5:45 p.m.
- Looking at the typical independent wrestling show audience make-up, you're looking at a select audience that knows it's a work, unlike the majority of a WWE audience that still believes in the product being not worked. Stand in line prior to a WWE event and listen to the conversations to know what I mean. With an independent show audience, you're looking at fans who are in the building for a performance, but they're willing to be worked because they want to be involved in the performance.
Friday night's opening tag match was more of a dance recital than fight with spot, spot, tag, spot, coordinated reversal, counter, etc. It's obvious to the audience that it's a work because the wrestlers are cooperating with each other to present the best match possible; not have the best wrestling competition. It's one reason - among several others - why independent wrestling struggle to draw a mainstream audience. There simply aren't enough fans who are both in on the work and are willing to be worked. Whereas, the majority of the WWE audience isn't aware, nor do they care if they're being worked.
The mainstream audience has too many other things to worry about other than trying to understand the psychology of a European style wrestling match. Give them a product that presents the illusion of real competition with larger-than-life stars and they'll show up. Only a select group will show up for a small-scale wrestling product that the audience knows is a work. It plays to a different, smaller niche audience.
One thing the Monday Wars Era did was pull back the curtain and eliminate kayfabe with Crash TV exposing the business. Since wrestling has moved far, far away from being a professional version of amateur wrestling, drawing a crowd for an independent show featuring non-TV stars boils down to finding an audience that is on the fix and is willing to be worked because they enjoy the performance art of pro wrestling. In a jaded society where people don't want to be seen as gullible or a mark for anything, that audience is growing slimmer and slimmer.
Each overly-choreographed match on each show cuts a little more into that slim audience. There aren't enough wrestling artists to go around that can awe fans with believable performance ability to make an audience forget they're willingly being worked.
WWE sets the tone for the business in the mainstream, and if a promotion doesn't have the stars, TV, or funding to compete, they can only hope to find a niche audience willing to show up for what is fairly or unfairly perceived as a lesser version of what they see on TV.
Updated Saturday, September 1 - 12:30 a.m.
BOLA tournament Night 1 results
- About 400 fans in the building for one of PWG's best turn-outs. The Pirate, PWG champion Bryan Danielson, came out to open the show. He apologized for not being able to wrestle due to his eye injury and told us to enjoy the show. Indeed.
- PWG commissioner Dino Winwood then came out in a jacket from the Vince McMahon 1980's collection to present the BOLA trophy to be awarded on Sunday. Excalibur then introduced the referees and 32-man field. And the man who stands out from all them is Necro Butcher, complete with sweatpants. It's like the 2007 version of Sandman's red, white, and blue pants from the early ECW days. Only less colorful. They did a photo-op and many men nearly fell off the ropes trying to get in the shot.
(1) Young Bucks vs. Los Luchas. Young Bucks came out to a Hansen song. And bright orange tiger pants. Match started off like a crazy lucha match where nothing made sense, but per the formula, the match became progressively more awesome in the final few minutes. Amazing tag team spot combos before Bucks won with a double 450 splash in under ten minutes. A good template for a fast-paced TNA TV match. WINNERS: Bucks in 9:00. (**3/4)
(2) Joey Ryan (w/Jade Chung) vs. Chris Hero -- BOLA 1st round match. Hero dominated the first half of the match with his athletic superiority. On the outside, Joey took advantage by whipping Hero hard into the guardrail back-of-the-head first. Hero nursed the head injury for some time while Joey went on the attack and the lights went on and off. Hero got the crowd back with a comeback on Joey. Shenanigans ensued when Jade Chung and Scott Lost got involved. Hero ended up with a brass knuck gimmick on his hand, but he didn't use it. Instead, he gave Joey the Hero's Welcome for the win. Of course, the referee spotted the gimmick on Hero's hand and reversed the decision. WINNER: Joey via reverse decision in 17:00 and advances. A sports entertainment finish wandered over to independent wrestling. (*3/4)
(3) Austin Aries vs. Roderick Strong. Physical action, as would be expected, in the opening minutes. Aries then pulled out the Stroke for his comeback and did the Double J two-finger gesture before sending Strong to the outside and hitting a suicide dive. Back in the ring, they traded control before Aries set up the brainbuster, only to have Strong counter it into a small package for the win before Aries could get him in the air. WINNNER: Strong in 14:00 to advance. Solid match between the former partners. (**3/4)
(4) Jimmy Rave vs. Matt Sydal -- BOLA 1st round match. Rave worked heel while Sydal received the OVW catcalls. They weren't on the same page setting up spots near the end of the match, so Sydal ended it with a moonsault. Not one for the best-of-DVD. WINNER: Sydal in 10:00 to advance. (*1/4)
(5) Tyler Black vs. Alex Shelley. -- BOLA 1st round match. Shelley dominated the opening 10 minutes with a methodical pace while the crowd tried to beat the heat in the arena. They flipped a switch at 13:00 and went seven strong minutes to finish with some nice nearfalls after well-executed counters off the ropes and on the mat with submission holds. Shelley finally put Black away after Black kept fighting off the Border City Stretch. WINNER: Shelley in 20:00. Best first round match so far. Nice, believable competition. (***)
After the match, Shelley took the mic and cut a promo putting over PWG. He said he wishes Chris Sabin and himself didn't have to leave the promotion so abruptly. The crowd clapped it up for Shelley.
(6) Doug Williams vs. Claudio Castagnoli -- BOLA 1st round match. A very sound wrestling match where the Euro was in vogue. After Claudio landed a weak European uppercut, Doug asked him what that was all about. After that, the match broke down into an exchange of European uppercuts in the ring, on the floor, over the guardrail, and back into the ring. Claudio landed a European uppercut, then nailed the Ricola bomb for the win. WINNER: Claudio in 15:00 to advance. Just good, sound wresting from two professionals relying on their mat skills. (***)
(7) PAC vs. Jack Evans. -- BOLA 1st round match. The match with potential to be the best or worst match in history started with Jack requesting water because of how hot it was in the building. Or because he had dry mouth. In any event, his request was denied. They started with some technical wrestling for the heck of it during the first few minutes before putting on a masterpiece on high-flying. Not just a bunch of spots, but spots that made sense, complete with counters and well-paced nearfalls for dramatic effect. PAC nailed a release German suplex that put Jack's neck in a bad way, then he followed it up with a corkscrew splash for the win. WINNER: Pac in 12:00 to advance. An X Division match at its finest with a clinic on the high-flying style. (***1/2)
(8) El Generico & Kevin Steen vs. Dragon Kid & Susumu Yokosuka -- PWG Tag Title match. Take out the first five minutes of slow action to get on the same page, and they put on an amazing tag team display. Great action, nearfalls, and a perfect dynamic between Dragon Kid and a man twice his size in Steen. Finish was Steen with the Package Piledriver into a Brainbuster from Generico on Kid for the win. WINNERS: Steen & Generico in 18:00 to retain tag titles. Very strong conclusion to night one. (***1/2)
- Saturday night is CIMA vs. Human Tornado, Nigel vs. Davey Richards, Necro Butcher vs. Kevin Steen, and Dragon Kid vs. Yokosuka.
Updated Friday, August 31 - 6:00 p.m.
While waiting for the flight to Los Angeles from Houston, I read up on the latest developments in the WWE suspensions. The story was also on CNN at the gate, and literally every head whipped around to check out the CNN report, including a brief snippet of an interview with the former Patriot, Del Wilkes.
He didn't say much of anything in the soundbyte other than you can look at a wrestler and tell if he's on the juice. If it were only that simple, WWE and Aegis Labs would have probable cause to drug test the majority of the roster on the spot at TV.
What most of the mainstream reporting the past two days has turned into has been trying to establish cause and effect with WWE suspending ten wrestlers this week. The assumption is that wrestlers are being suspended as a result of suddenly enforcing the Wellness Policy following the Chris Benoit tragedy. Unfortunately, that's not accurate, as WWE is essentially enforcing their Policy following the Signature pharmacy bust and revelation of big names from the WWE roster. Just look at the timeline on SI.com to see that wrestler shipments suddenly stopped in February - when the bust occurred - not when Benoit and his family died.
This is a matter of WWE being caught in a situation where there was going to be some heavy press against them with wrestler names, dates, and drugs being revealed related to the February bust. WWE's pre-emptive strike was to announce the suspensions and spin the story as if they're suddenly cracking down on wrestlers while trying to "clean up" the company. It's a strong bit of maneuvering from WWE, which mainstream press has been slow to figure out.
It's with that context in place - wrestling under heavy scrutiny and facing Congressional hearings in a month - that PWG runs a three-night tournament in Southern California featuring the top independent wrestlers in the world. Meanwhile, WWE is trying to get its duck in a row for Congress next month and TNA is still trying to find that darn Congressional letter.
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