In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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RADICAN’S PWG BOLA 2018: STAGE ONE REPORT
SEPT. 14, 2018
LOS ANGELES, CAL.
AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE AT HIGHSPOTS
(1) ADAM BROOKS vs. REY HORUS – BOLA 2018 First Round match
This is Brook’s first BOLA and Horus’s second. Both men went back and forth. They went for kicks at the same time and both mean caught each others leg. They ended up letting go of each others legs and came to a stalemate. The fans fired up and chanted for both men back and forth. The fans fired up and Horus eventually jumped up and down on the ropes before hitting an arm drag. Horus sent Brooks to the floor and got a running start before hitting a huge flip dive over the ringpost to the floor to wipe out Brooks! WOW! The camera angle of the landing wasn’t great, but man that was a great looking dive by Horus. Brooks fired back and slingshotted the middle rope into Horus’s eyes. I don’t see that too often. That was a nice spot. He hit a PK kick from the apron to the floor a short time later. He then lifted Horus up and dropped him back-first onto the apron. Brooks choked Horus over the middle rope and continued to work him over. Horus fired back and snapped Adam’s neck over the top, but he missed a crossbody off the top. Brooks followed up with a John Woo dropkick for a 2 count.
The fans booed as Brooks countered a springboard attempt and hit the Cheeky Eye Poke. Horus fired back and flipped off Brooks before hitting a kick from the floor to Brook’s head. They had another fast sequence and Brooks ended up hitting a springboard destroyer, but Horus fired back and hit a standing spanish fly and both men were down! WOW! Both men got up and traded blows. Horus went to bounce off the ropes, but Brooks wiped him out with a dropkick. Brooks then hit the FOSBURY FLOP to the floor! WOW! Brooks hit an inside out slingshot DDT, but Hrous kicked out at two. Horus hit a V-Trigger to the back of Rey’s head in the corner. THey went back and forth and Horus went for a hurricanrana, but Brooks caught him. Horus then floated over into a sunset bomb for a 2 count. That was insane! Brooks caught Horus coming into the corner with a Flatliner. They went back and forth in the corner and BRooks went for a Backpack, but Horus slipped off. They went at it in the opposite corner and Horus pulled Brooks down to the mat by the hair. He took awhile to go up and he missed a 450. Brooks went up top for a Swanton, but Horus got his knees up. Horus tied Brooke’s legs up and hit a double corkscrew. He then locked in an inverted Figure Four. Brooks struggled and barely managed to get to the ropes to break the hold.
They battled up top again and Horus went for Rising Sun, but Brooks blocked it. They went back and forth in the corner and Horus went for a springboard hurricanrana, but Brooks turned it into a Gonzo Bomb. Brooks then hit an Ushigoroshi for a near fall. That was nuts! The fans seemed to be losing steam as the match went on. Brooks went for a destroyer on the apron, but Horus blocked it. They battled up top and Brooks shoved Horus off, but he ran back up the ropes and hit the Rising Sun for the win.
WINNER: Rey Horus in 21:00 to advance to the second round of BOLA 2018. (***½)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a good match. It felt like it went too long, as they had the crowd and then lost them as they kept doing repetitive spots in the corner. They pulled off some spectacular exchanges during the match, but the pacing seemed off at times for the match to fully connect.)
(2) FLAMITA vs. PUMA KING – BOLA 2018 First Round match
This is Puma King’s PWG and BOLA debut. This is Flamita’s second BOLA. He fell short to Ricochet in the first round of BOLA 2017. They started off with a crazy Lucha Libre style exchange and came to a stalemate and the fans applauded. Puma King got sent into the ropes, but he caught himself and used the ropes to climb around. Flamita sent King to the floor and hit a suicide dive and then a tope con hilo and the fans went nuts. Puma King popped Flamita up and he fell to the mat. He got up and King nailed him with a superkick and the fans went nuts. Flamita fired up and hit a running SSP. The fans chanted for both men. Flamia wound up and hit a baseball chop on King in the corner. They had a fast paced exchange and King got the Gedo Clutch for a two count. Both men went for a dropkick at the same time and came to a stalemate. King sized Flamita up and nailed him with a chop. Flamita fired back with a chop of his own. King measured Flamita and hit a sick sounding chop. Flamita quited the crowd and teased a chop, but then punched King in the fast. They went back and forth trading counters and King caught Flamta with a kick to the face, but Flamita got right up and hit a Superman Punch and both men were down! WOW! They went at it again and King hit a Code Breaker and a poison hurricanrana. He then hit an inside out crossbody. He tossed Flamita back into the ring and hit a missile dropkick on Flamita, who was in the seated position.
The fans fired up as both men were down. They went back and forth a short time later. Flamita went up top and hit a 450, but King kicked out at 2. King money flipped Flamita into the corner and popped him up and brought him down with a pendulum powerbomb for a two count. That was sick! King set Flamita up up top, but Flamita tripped him and hung him upside down. King suddenly used his legs to pull Flamita down only to walk right into a standing Spanish Fly for a 2 count! They went up top again and King teased a super pendulum powerbomb, but Flamita reversed it into a hurricanrana. He then hit a superkick. Flamita went up top and hit a Phoenix Splash for the win.
WINNER: Flamita in 12:00 to advance to the second round of BOLA 2018. (****)
(Radican’s Analysis: Fantastic Lucha Libre Style of match between these two. They woke the crowd up with a great back and forth fast-paced style match. I really enjoyed King’s work in this match. I’d love to see more of him going forward.)
(3) CIMA vs. JODY FLEISCH – 2018 BOLA FIrst Round match
This is CIMA’s third BOLA. He last appeared in BOLA in 2007 when he won the whole tournament. Excalibur mentioned that CIMA had left Dragon Gate to establish OWE in China. Excalibur mentioned these two actually faced off in Michinoku Pro 19 years ago in a tag tournament. The pace picked up and they went back and forth. Both men went for a dropkick and came to a stalemate. We already saw that spot on this card. They had a pose off and both men teased hitting each other while they posed, but they pretended to be up to nothing. They both went to pose at the same time and both men turned around and ran at each other. They pulled up short and then pointed at each other. They shook hands once and then CIMA wanted a left handed handshake, Fleisch obliged and CIMA pulled him in and nailed him with a clothesline. Fleisch fired back and sent CIMA to the floor. He set up and hit an ASAI Moonsault to the floor off the top rope. WOW! They brawled into darkness and it was hard to see what was going on. CIMA whipped Fleisch towards the wall, but he climbed the wall and nailed CIMA with a moonsault. They went back and forth inside the ring trading pinning combinations. They did the rolling inside cradle spot, but neither man could get a pin. Both men ended up down on the mat.
CIMA got the upper hand and locked in a full nelson style submission on the mat before turning it into a pinning combination for a two count. CIMA went for a frog splash a short time later, but Fleisch got his knees up. CIMA went up top, but Fleisch ran at him and hit a leaping rana for a two count. Fleisch went up top for a SSP press, but CIMA got out of the way and hit a lung blower. CIMA hit an air raid crash, but Fleisch kicked out. CIMA then hit the Meteora for the win.
WINNER: CIMA in 17:00 to advance to the second round of BOLA 2018. (**1/2)
(Radican’s Analysis: The action was solid, but it never really felt like this match was going anywhere.)
(4) BANDIDO vs. T-HAWK – 2018 BOLA First Round match
This is T-Hawk’s PWG and BOLA debut. This is Bandido’s first BOLA. The fans started a big Bandido chant before both men locked up. T-Hawk is a members of the Stronghearts stable with CIMA in OWE. Bandio blocked a lariat with a kick and hit a superkick on Hawk. Bandido then nailed Hawk with a huge overhand chop a short time later. Bandio went up top, but Hawk nailed him with a chop that sent him to the floor. He went for a dive, but Bandido caught him with a kick to the head as he came through the rope. He then hit a moonsault off the second turnbuckle to the floor. Bandido was trained by Ultimo Guerrero. Bandido went for a springboard back into the ring, but Hawk nailed him with a knee strike to the gut. The crowd was really flat even though the action was good. Hawk stalked Bandido before nailing him with a huge chop in the corner. Hawk hit a nice DDT out of the vertical suplex position a short time later. Bandido fired back and hit a twisting dive off the top. They went back and forth and Bandido elevated Hawk into a kick to the gut. He made the cover, but only got a two count. They went back and forth off the ropes. Hawk hit a series of big moves on Bandido and went to the corner, but Bandido got right up and nailed Hawk with a dropkick and both men were down as the fans went nuts.
Both men got to their knees and traded chops. They got to their feet and continued to trade big chops. The pace quickened and the fans fired up as both men lit each other up with chops. Hawk picked up Bandido and popped him up before slamming him down into the mat with a sit-out slam, but it was only good for a two count. Hawk and Bandido’s chests were both bright red at this point. Hawk no-sold a deadlift backbreaker, but Hawk shook it off and wiped him out with a double chop. The fans chanted for Hawk as he went up top, but Bandido cut him off. Bandido grabbed a hold of Hawk and hit a back flipping block buster for the win. That was nuts.
WINNER: Bandido in 12:00 to advance to the second round of BOLA 2018 (***½)
(Radican’s Analysis: These guys worked hard and got the crowd into it, but it took awhile. Their hard hitting exchanges were great, especially the chop battle late in the match. These two put on a really good athletic contest.)
David Starr grabbed the mic from the ring announcer as he was introducing him. He told him he got the best introduction in professional wrestling wrong, so he would correct it for him from the beginning. The fans chanted for Janela. Starr did his introduction as the fans booed. Janela was then introduced to much less fanfare.
(5) JOEY JANELA vs. DAVID STARR – 2018 BOLA First Round match
The fans chanted or Janela after the opening bell rang. Janela took down Starr after a series of lariats. Starr told Janela to bring it and they exchanged some big chops. Starr got the upper hand and stood on Janela in the corner. Starr hit a big chop and Janela bumped over the top to the floor. Both men traded blows and Janela hit a series of elbows that sent Starr into the corner. He then nailed Starr with a big chop. Starr went up top, but Janela nailed him with a running palm strike. Janela followed up with a hurricanrana off the top. Janela came off the top with a diving elbow. He stalked Starr in the corner and did the HBK foot stomp. He set up for a superkick, but Starr caught it and tripped him into the mat. He then hit a running knee strike on Janela for a two count. Janela hit a series of chops in the corner, but Starr raked his eyes. They battled up top a short time later. Janela raked Starr’s eyes and pushed him to the mat. He set up on the top rope, but Starr sent him to the apron with a jumping chop. Starr went up to the middle rope, but Janela nailed him with a punch. Starr ended up lying across the top turnbuckle and Janela lifted him up and hit a reverse DDT onto the apron.That was CRAZY!
They went at it back inside the ring trading chops and blows. They went back and forth and Starr caught Janela with a rebound lariat. Janela fired back and sent Starr to the floor with an elbow strike. Janela went for a dive, but Starr hit him with a DDT on the apron. He followed up with a destroyer, but Joey got up and hit a superkick and both men were down. That was nuts! Both men got to their knees and traded big slaps. They got to their feet and continued to trade blows. Starr got a modified cloverleaf on Janela. He got both of Joey’s arms and tried to tie them up, but Janela managed to fall into the ropes. Starr set up and hit a big dive on Janela, but Janela got right up and went into the ring and hit a big dive of his own. Starr got up and fired right back with a dive of his own. Starr then hit a second dive in a row to the floor. He tossed Janela into the ring, but he sent Starr back to the floor with an elbow and hit a flip senton off the top to the floor and the fans lost their minds! Starr fired back and hit a splash over the top to the floor a short time later! Both men were slow to get to their feet. Starr tripped getting back into the ring and Janela hit a package piledriver for a near fall.
Janela slowly went up top and favored his leg. Starr ran up and just dropped him over the ropes. He hit a brainbuster over his knee, but Janela kicked out. Starr hit a superkick right away, but Janela kicked out at the last second. Janela got a small package for a near fall. Both guys went back and forth and Janela hit a superkick out of nowhere for the win. That was fantastic!
WINNER: Joey Janela in 16:00 to advance to the second round of BOLA 2018. (****)
(Radican’s Analysis: This match got off to a slow start and with the crowd seeming hard to impress on this night, I didn’t think this was going to live up to the feud they had in Beyond Wrestling. This wasn’t as good as their best stuff in Beyond Wrestling, but this match got crazy after the slow start. They did a nice job of teasing dives during the early going to set up a crazy dive sequence late in the match. They had a great back and forth exchange late and Janela just caught Starr with a kick and pinned him. I was wondering what it was going to take to end the match and I liked the quick pin out of nowhere finish.)
(6) PCO vs. BRODY KING – 2018 BOLA First Round match
The bell rang and both men went face-to-face. King went for a shoulder tackle and PCO said no way. PCO side stepped King and tossed him over the top. He then hit a suicide dive to the floor and the fans fired up. King fired back and hit a flip dive to the floor to wipe out PCO and the fans went nuts. PCO came off the tip a short time later with a jumping hurricanrana. King fired back and hit a sloppy step up hurricanrana on PCO. Both men began trading chops and the fans fired up. King and PCO traded lariats, but neither man would go down. They went back and forth and King tripped PCO into the ropes and nailed him with a cannonball for a two count. Excalibur mentioned PCO had taken a seven year hiatus from pro wrestling before returning in August of 2017. PCO got the upper hand and the fans fired up. He charged at King, but took a backdrop. King then nailed him with a cannonball in the corner. PCO shoved King into the corner, but he came right out and nailed him with a lariat and both men were down. Both men got up and began trading chops. King got PCO up, but he slipped away. PCO sent King into the corner and this time he came out into a chokeslam for a near fall. King fired back and hit a step up body press off the top. He then hit a piledriver on PCO and both men were down. He made the cover, but PCO kicked out at one.
The fans chanted he’s not human at PCO. King hit a series of blows, but PCO caught King with a pop-up powerbomb and a running knee strike. He set King up on the apron and went up top. This is crazy. PCO hit a flip senton off the top to the apron and it looked like he nearly killed King. WOW! The fans fired up with a big PCO chant. PCO went up top again with King still on the apron. He went for a moonsault, but ended up getting hung up on the ropes. I can’t imagine that felt good. PCO went up top again. This time he nailed King with a moonsault, but King kicked out. He tried to lift King, but had trouble. King ended up backdropping PCO. They traded blows and PCO hit a jackknife powerbomb. PCO went up top again, but King got up and cut him off. King then lifted PCO off the top and hit the psycho driver for the win!
WINNER: Brody King in 12:00 to advance to the second round of BOLA 2018. (**3/4)
(Radican’s Analysis: This match featured more botches than I can recall seeing in a single PWG match in a long time, but they had the crowd into the match and did enough to work around the mistakes so that it didn’t turn into a total disaster. PCO is nuts.)
(7) RINGKAMPF (TIMOTHY THATCHER & PWG WORLD CHAMPION WALTER) vs. SHINGO TAKAGI & IlJA DRAGUNOV
This is Dragonov’s first appearance outside of Europe. Dragunov and Thatcher had a good exchange before Shingo and WALTER tagged in. The fans fired up and WALTER teased a chop in the corner, but then patted Shingo on the head like a child. Shingo lit up Walter with a chop, but WALTER fired back with a shoulder tackle. Shingo fought off a Boston crab and Dragunov tagged himself in and went at it with WALTER. They had a quick exchange before coming to a brief stalemate. WALTER got the sleeper, but Dragunov got out of it only to walk into a big boot from WALTER. Dragunov ended up getting the upper hand on Thatcher. He tagged in Takagi, who continued to work him over. Shingo took Thatcher down and tried to knock WALTER off the apron, but WALTER got into the ring and wiped him out with a big boot. WALTER then took Dragunov down on the apron. Shingo teased going after Thatcher, but he ended up going after WALTER on the apron again. Shingo sent WALTER to the floor and then went after Thatcher once again. Dragunov tagged back in and continued to work over Thatcher. Thatcher took a series of moves from Shingo and Dragunov. Shingo then held WALTER off while Dragunov made the cover, but he only got a two count.
Thatcher hit a belly-to-belly suplex on Dragunov. WALTER ran across the ring and wiped out Takagi. He then hit a Banzai Drop on Dragunov. WALTER then made a legal tag and began choking Dragunov with his boot against the ropes. Dragunov tried to fight out of the corner, but WALTER cut him off and hit a big slam for a two count. RINGKAMPF tagged in and out to work over Dragunov. Thatcher made a cover, but Shingo ran in and broke it up with an elbow to his back even though he didn’t really need to break the pin up. Dragunov hit a chop and WALTER placed him over the top turnbuckle and stood on top of him. He then wiped out Shingo on the apron before hitting a HUGE chop on Dragunov, who was still draped over the top turnbuckle. Dragunov blocked a lariat from Thatcher with a headbutt and then hit a Saito suplex on Thatcher. Shingo tagged in and went after WALTER and Thatcher. He wiped them out with a flatliner/DDT combination. Shingo hit a sliding lariat on Thatcher, but only got a two count.
Thatcher hit an enzuguri and tagged in WALTER. WALTER knocked Dragunov off the apron with a running kick. Takagi hit WALTER with a lariat in the corner, but WALTER fired back and got Takagi in the Boston crab. Dragunov tried to break it up with a chop. WALTER took another chop and looked irritated. He obliterated Dragunov with a chop. He then went at it with SHingo who nailed him with a pumping bomber. Dragunov got the tag and walked right into a lariat from WALTER for a near fall. WOW! Dragunov hit several chops and a DDT when WALTER ducked a backfist attempt. WALTER blocked Greetings From Moscow, but Dragunov hit it the second time around for a two count. WALTER blocked Torpedo Moscow and grabbed a sleeper on Dragunov. Thatcher got a sleeper on Takagi at the same time, but they both got out of it when Dragunov and Shingo locked hands to break out of it. They sent Thatcher to the floor and nailed WALTER with strike after strike. WALTER then took a Pumping Bomber/kick combination, but Thatcher broke up the pin. Shingo and Thatcher went at it on the floor with Dragunov and WALTER alone in the ring. They went back and forth and WALTER hit a German, but Dragunov got right up only to take a Rock Bottom and both men were down. WOW!
Shingo and Thatcher tagged in and went at it. They traded big forearms in the middle of the ring. Shingo got Thatcher up on his shoulders and drove him face-first into the canvas and the fans fired up. Dragunov went up top, but WALTER cut him off. WALTER powerbombed Shingo into an uppercut from Thatcher, but Dragunov jumped off the top over WALTER and landed on Thatcher to make the save! WOW! THIS IS CRAZY! All four men were down. WALTER got up first and went after Dragunov. Both men began trading chops and strikes. WALTER killed Dragunov with a HUGE chop. Dragunov fired up and got to his feet. They began trading chops and Dragunov hit a jumping enzuguri that sent WALTER to the floor. Dragunov wiped out WALTER with a dive. Shingo then hit Made in Japan on Thatcher, but he kicked out! WOW! Dragunov tagged in and went after Thatcher. They went back and forth, but WALTER suplexed both of them! Shingo nailed WALTER with several clotheslines in the corner, but WALTER came out of the corner with the John Woo dropkick. Takagi got right up and nailed WALTER with a DVD. WOW! Dragunov went for a clothesline on Thatcher, but he dropped down and went for the Fujiwara armbar. Dragunov tried to escape, but Thatcher turned it into a pinning combination for the win.
WINNERS: WALTER & Timothy Thatcher in 23:00. (****½)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was just a tremendous hard-hitting back and forth match. These guys went after each other right from the start and this match never let up. Shingo going after WALTER on the apron during the early going set the tone for the match. The hard-hitting exchanges down the stretch were brutal and the finish was fantastic.)
After the match, both teams shook hands. Shingo signaled that he wanted the title. Dragunov and Shingo shoved each other before leaving the ring. WALTER and Thatcher were left alone in the ring. They talked and Thatcher offered a handshake. WALTER stalled before they shook hands. WALTER then raised the PWG World Championship in the ring before leaving to end the show. They did this to set up both sets of tag partners facing each other the next night in BOLA tournament action.
Overall thoughts: (7.5) – The crowd wasn’t great at times during night one of BOLA, but they came alive at the right times. The highlight of the first part of the show was Flamita vs. Horus in an excellent fast-paced match. Joey Janela vs. David Starr was another highlight of tournament action on the first night. They started slow, but really cranked things up down the stretch and turned what seemed to be an ordinary match at the start with a tepid crowd into a hot match with a hot crowd.
There were a couple of clunkers on the card. CIMA vs. Fleisch was a real disappointment. I had high expectations for PCO vs. King, but they had a match that was sloppy in places.
The real highlight of the show was the main event, which was incredible and worth going out of your way to see. All four men wrestled with an edge, but it was Shingo setting the tone by going after WALTER on the apron during the early going. Dragunov brought a ton of energy to the match and his chope exchanges with WALTER and Thatcher were insane. WALTER is a blast to watch and although he had a big size advantage over his opponents, they took the fight to him in this match. The finish with Thatcher turning a Fujiwara armbar into a pinning combination was a great way to end the show. Thumbs up.
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