Pro Wrestling Guerrilla “Battle of Los Angeles – Night One” report: Vetter’s review of El Hijo del Vikingo vs. Bandido vs. Black Taurus, Daniel Garcia vs. Titus Alexander, Alex Shelley vs. Masha Slamovich, Bryan Keith vs. SB Kento, Komander vs. Latigo, Shun Skywalker vs. Aramis, and Konosuke Takeshita vs. Michael Oku in first-round matches, Jonathan Gresham vs. Jordynne Grace in a qualifying match

By Chris Vetter, Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

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Pro Wrestling Guerrilla “Battle of Los Angeles – Night One”
Available via DVD
January 7, 2023 in Los Angeles, California at Globe Theatre

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla held its two-day “Battle of Los Angeles” tournament in early January. This is a review of night 1 of the tournament, from Jan. 7, 2023. If you are unfamiliar with the BOLA tournament… nearly every top wrestler who worked the indy circuit has competed in a BOLA at some point in the past 15 years. Ricochet is the only two-time winner. However, PWG ran into two late issues heading into the tournament. Mike Bailey was unavailable for night 1, and Lio Rush bowed out after having some minor injuries at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom. This means Bailey will have his first-round match on day 2 of the tournament. Excalibur provided commentary.

The blu-ray discs of this event were just released. While I recall hearing who won the tournament, I really tried to avoid the other results.

1. Masha Slamovich defeated Alex Shelley in a BOLA first-round match at 10:59. I saw these two fight not that long ago. Shelley was loudly booed. Their size is fairly similar. She hit a running boot early on. They fought on the floor, and Shelley accidentally chopped the ring post at 3:30. Shelley dropped her face-first on the ring apron; he rolled in the ring and celebrated and was loudly booed. In the ring, she kicked the ropes to crotch him, and she began working on the left arm. Shelley slammed her shoulder-first into the ring post at 6:00.

Shelley hit a dragon screw leg whip in the corner. Masha hit a Helluva Kick in the corner and a hard clothesline, but Shelley didn’t go down. Masha applied a cross-armbreaker on the mat, but Shelley reached the ropes at 10:00. She hit a Northern Lights Suplex and again went to a cross-armbreaker. Shelley escaped and applied the Border City Stretch. Masha hit a running knee strike. Shelley nailed an Air Raid Crash with a cocky, lazy cover; she rolled him over and got the pin. Good match.

2. Bryan Keith defeated SB Kento in a BOLA first-round match at 14:09. Kento is a Dragon Gate guy with blond hair, much like Kazuchika Okada. Excalibur noted that Keith replaced Lio Rush in the tournament. Mat reversals to open and a standoff. They switched to overhand chops to the chest. Kento hit a shoulder tackle at 3:00. They brawled into the crowd, and Kento hit a flip dive over the top rope onto Keith. In the ring, Keith hit a back suplex at 5:30 for a nearfall.

Keith controlled the offense, hitting a spin kick to the chest for a nearfall. Kento hit a running kneestrike and a basement dropkick in the corner for a neafall. Keith nailed an Exploder Suplex at 7:30, then another one into the turnbuckles. Kento hit a German Suplex for a nearfall. They traded more chops. Keith nailed a stunner for a believable nearfall at 11:30, then a Shining Wizard.

Keith set up for a Tiger Driver, but Kento fought free, and Kento applied a Sharpshooter in the center of the ring, with Keith eventually reaching the ropes. Kento hit a German Suplex, then a fisherman’s powerbomb for a believable nearfall, and they were both down at at 13:30. Keith hit a kneestriker for a nearfall. Keith then nailed a sit-out powerbomb for the pin. Really good match.

3. Komander defeated Latigo in a BOLA first-round match at 15:02. Latigo is a bit heavy; not huge but certainly not the high-flyer Komander is. Some reverals early with neither man hitting a move. They tied up in a knucklelock and traded reversals while tied up, ending in a stalemate at 4:30, and the crowd chanted “Lucha Libre!” Latigo hit a clothesline for a nearfall, then a spin kick to the head in the corner. Komander nailed a top-rope Phoenix Splash-into-a-huracanrana at 7:30 and that move popped the crowd.

Latigo nailed a flip dive through the ropes, barreling onto Komander, and they were both down on the floor. They brawled on the ring apron, where Komander flipped Latigo onto an open chair on the floor at 11:30. Komander did his spot where he walked the top rope from one corner to the other, then nailed the top-rope flip dive to the floor on Latigo, earning the “holy shit!” chant. In the ring, Latigo hit a crossbody block in the corner and a lungblower for a nearfall at 13:30.

Komander fired back with a springboard Poison Rana. He walked the top ropes and hit a springboard Shooting Star Press for a nearfall. They traded rolll-ups on the mat, with Komander getting the pin. Good match; all of Komander’s high-flying offense looked sharp here.

* SIDE NOTE heading into the next match: During WrestleMania weekend last year, Johnny Hennigan and real-life wife Taya Valkyrie had a ‘dirty dishes’ match that was more cartoonish than hardcore. I didn’t like it at all. So, we have another real-life married couple facing each other next, and it won’t be hard for them to top that match from Texas last year.

4. Jordynne Grace defeated Jonathan Gresham in a BOLA QUALIFYING match at 14:53. I capitalized “qualifying,” because the winner will face Mike Bailey on night 2 in a “first-round match.” Excalibur noted that these two are married. Gresham let her apply a full nelson. They tied up in a knuckle lock, and she dropped him with a shoulder tackle at 3:30. He hit a dropkick. Jordynne got him up for a delayed vertical suplex before dropping him at 6:00.

Gresham tied her in a mid-ring Octopus. Jordynne put him on her shoulders for a Torture Rack, but Gresham escaped. She pushed him to the floor, then she dove through the ropes on him at 9:30. However, Gresham applied a sleeper hold on the floor. She snapped his throat over the top rope as they re-entered the ring, then she hit a standing release powerbomb. Gresham applied an anklelock and switched to a sleeperhold again. Gresham got angry and hit a bodyslam; she hit one; he hit one; she went for a second one but he blocked it.

Grace hit a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall at 13:00. She hit a series of open-hand slaps to the face. Gresham hit a head-capture suplex and a diving forearm to the jaw for a believable nearfall. She hit a standing powerbomb for a nearfall. He got an O’Connor Roll for a nearfall. She applied a sleeper, and Gresham tapped out. I liked the flow of this match; they started with some humor and not wanting to ‘hurt’ each other, and suddenly it switched to another gear when they began trading bodyslams. An intense final five minutes.

5. Shun Skywalker defeated Aramis in a BOLA first-round match at 14:29. Dragon Gate’s Shun wears a tight gry mask; I always compare it to Bushi’s look. They traded quick rollups early on. Shun was in control early on and was getting booed. Shun applied a Boston Crab at 6:30. Aramis hit a dive to the floor. In the ring, Aramis hit a twisting neckbreaker; Shun immediately hit a brainbuster, and they were both down at 9:00. Aramis went for a twisting frogsplash, but Shun got his knees up to block it.

Shun missed a moonsault kneedrop. Aramis applied a modified Triangle Choke, but Shun turned it into a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall at 12:30. They fought on the ropes, and Shun turned it into a twisting DDT to the mat. Shun nailed a moonsault kneedrop to the chest for a believable nearfall. Shun nailed a spinning sit-out powerbomb for the pin. Good match; a bit less of a high-flying match than I would have expected, but good nonetheless.

6. Konosuke Takeshita defeated Michael Oku in a BOLA first-round match at 17:17. Oku is the thin, Black high flyer from the UK, and I’d put him on par with Lio Rush for in-ring work. Takeshita has a notable height and weight advantage. A feeling-out process early on. Oku hit a huracanrana and a stiff kick to the back at 2:30. Takeshita hit his flying clothesline, then a backbreaker over his knee. Oku hit a DDT for a nearfall at 6:30, then a Lionsault for a nearfall.

Takeshita went for a knee strike, but Oku blocked it. They traded forearm shots, and Takeshita dropped him after a stiff forearm at 9:00. Takeshita hit a Mafia Kick; Oku hit a Pele Kick. Oku nailed a Poison Rana, and they were both down, and the crowd chanted, “PWG!” Oku hit a Fosbury Flop to the foor at 11:30. In the ring, he hit a top-rope crossbody block for a nearfall. Takeshita hit a tombstone piledriver and a Blue Thunder Bomb for a believable nearfall. Takeshita nailed a Helluva Kick in the corner then a top-rope clothesline. Konoskuke went for a running kneestrike, but Oku rolled through it and applied a half-crab; he dragged Takeshita to the middle of the ring.

Oku hit a top-rope frogsplash onto Takeshita’s back. He went for another one, but Konosuke got his knees up to block it. Takeshita applied a Boston Crab and sat down for pressure, but Oku escaped by hitting a headbutt. Oku hit a running knee to the side of the head. Takeshita nailed a decapitating clothesline but Oku popped up at the one-count! Takeshita hit a jumping knee to the chest, then a second one to the jaw for the pin. “What a match! What a win for Konosuke Takeshita!” Excalibur shouted.

7. Titus Alexander defeated Daniel Garcia via DQ in a BOLA first-round match at 18:34. Garcia is last year’s BOLA tournament winner and the current PWG champion, but the belt is not on the line. Titus usually works as a heel, too. Garcia charged at Titus at the bell and hit some stomps, and the crowd loudly booed him. They brawled into the crowd at 1:00. Titus dove through the ropes onto Garcia. Back in the ring, Garcia took control and worked Titus over with basic offense. Garcia hit a top-rope superplex for a nearfall at 6:30.

Titus hit a nice dropkick to the face. Titus was fired up and hit a huracanrana, then a flip dive to the floor at 9:30. Titus nailed a top-rope frogsplash for a nearfall. Garcia hit a DDT for a nearfall. Titus hit a German Suplex; he went for a frogsplash, but Garcia got his knees up. Garcia nailed a Tombstone Piledriver for a believable nearfall at 13:30. Garcia spit in Titus’ face; he rolled to the floor and got chairs and threw them into the ring. Garcia tossed his belt at Titus and collapsed for the “Eddie spot.” So, Titus did the same thing. In some comedy, the referee also collapsed, so all three were down.

They traded forearm shots from their knees, then while standing. Titus hit a knee strike. They hit simultaneous clotheslines but popped up and kept fighting. Titus hit a Michinoku Driver for a believable nearfall at 16:30. Garcia hit a second-rope DDT for a nearfall. They went to the floor, where Garcia hit a piledriver. In the ring, Garcia hit another piledriver for a nearfall. Garcia hit Moxley-style crossarm blows to the chin. Garcia hit Titus with the title belt, in front of the ref, and the ref disqualified Garcia. Garcia got on the mic and declared he was still champion.

8. Bandido defeated Black Taurus and El Hijo del Vikingo in a BOLA first-round match at 18:19. Clearly, this is set up as a three-way so Vikingo can lose without being pinned, right? Bandido wore a black-and-gold outfit I haven’t seen before; he looked like a Killer Bee. Crumpled-up dollar bills were thrown in the ring before they even locked up! (Bandido won the tournament in 2019 and also is a former PWG champion.) They took turns playing to the crowd. They finally got going and immediately did some quick reversals and traded rollups, with the third man breaking up the pin, with a standoff at 2:30. Excalibur noted the “uncharacteristic mask” of Bandido.

Vikingo leapt from the turnbuckle to the middle of the top rope, and into a cool armdrag on Taurus. Bandido flipped Vikingo to the floor, and Bandido hit a moonsault from the top turnbuckle to the floor onto both ment at 4:30. Taurus hit a dive onto both men. In the ring, Taurus hit a top-rope military press on Vikingo to the mat. Taurus hit a backbreaker over his knee on Bandido, then one on Vikingo at 6:30. In a cool spot, Taurus hit a double Crucifix Takedown! Bandido hit a flip dive to the floor. Bandido hit a second-rope delayed vertical suplex on Vikingo at 8:30, then a satellite head-scissors takedown on Taurus. Cool spot.

Bandido tied them both up in a submission spot on the mat, earning a “holy shit!” chant. Vikingo hit a double-jump into a huracanrana on Bandido, then he walked the top rope and hit a 630 Splash to the floor on both men at 11:00. In the ring, Vikingo went for his top-rope flip-into-a-Poison Rana but he didn’t land it right. Bandido hit a pop-up kneestrike on Vikingo, and suddenly all three men were down, and the crowd chanted, “Lucha Libre!” Bandido hit a top-rope fallaway slam on Vikingo, with them crashing to the floor on Taurus at 14:30. That was an insane move (you might see that if six guys are on the floor to catch them, not one!).

Bandido set up several open chairs on the floor. Vikingo dove over the top rope, but Taurus caught him. Bandido immediately dove onto both of them, with everyone crashing into the open chairs at 17:00. Insane spot. In the ring, Bandido hit the 21-Plex on Taurus for a believable nearfall. Bandido went for a second one but Taurus bloocked it. Bandido hit a tombstone piledriver on Taurus for the pin. Really good match.

Final Thoughts: The quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals all take place on day 2. I rarely buy wrestling DVDs/Blu-Rays anymore, but the PWG BOLAs are always a must-see event, and day one has proven that to be true again in 2023.


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