Night one truly lived up to its all-star reputation. Night two at least tried to incorporate some of the California locals onto the shows. Right from the opener in fact as Willie Mack lose to Jay Lethal clean after four consecutive elbow drops. Probably one of the more forgettable matches of the weekend that did Mack no favors. Mack is someone who has reached a certain level and can’t get any higher. Just the anti-climactic nature of the finish, being hit with all those elbows, is perfectly representative of where Mack is in his career. He’s not bad by any means, but there is something missing from his performances that is preventing him from moving him into the main events. I feel the same about the RockNes Monsters as they lost to Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor. There was nothing bad about their match, but you can see why two of these men are getting flown across the country while working for companies like DG USA and Chikara, and the Monsters are stuck in west coast purgatory. No one wants to see the locals succeed more than me, but Johnny Yuma, Johnny Goodtime, and Willie Mack also need to rise up to the level of their east coast peers too. I will give credit to Taylor and Goodtime for trying something new by having the feeling out process on the apron and teasing some falls.
Up next, we got another somewhat long Trent? match. In this case, he took on another former WWE superstar in Paul London. Trent? showed he’s game here too by jobbing. London picking up two wins over Steen and this former WWE superstar leads me to believe he’s wrestling Adam Cole for the PWG world title quite soon. Similar to the Roderick Strong, I thought Trent? was perfectly serviceable here. Given the chance, he could probably develop into a quality heel with his ex-WWE status allowing him to treat companies like him as beneath his skill set. London broke out the gloves and challenged an opponent to a duel for a second straight. The referee actually became involved on this night as he slapped Trent?. This was a good, close to great match, that probably could have shaved off five minutes and been all that much better.
The match before intermission was a dream six man tag as some of the bigger guys in independent wrestling took on the smaller ones. Kevin Steen, Brian Cage, and Michael Elgin got to show off their power and strength as they wrestled Rich Swann, Ricochet, and AR Fox. We got a triple suplex contest where Steen immediately snapped over but pushed over Elgin and Cage in a rather funny moment. There were again some incredible dives from the flippy guys. The ending was also quite noticeable with Fox taking move after move until Elgin finally ended him with a spinning doctor bomb. The finishing sequence alone is almost worth the price of the DVD as Fox basically was legally murdered by Cage, Elgin, and Steen.
TJ Perkins (remember him?) made a rare appearance against Samuray Del Sol and was the one local to get a victory. Del Sol went 0-2, but he made a pair of solid showings. I feel like Del Sol’s best performances have come in Evolve and DG USA. This was a serviceable match but didn’t feel at all consequential. There were some solidly executed sequences and a great hybrid of styles with heavy emphasis on Lucha. Perkins got the win, but I’m not sure what that ultimately means going forward.
I firmly believe the show stealer of the weekend was Kyle O’Reilly defeating Sami Callihan. This was one of those matches which started out as a good, solid match but eventually turned into something special. This got 25 minutes, and they used it very productively with a lot of submission based work and hard-hitting action. Given Callihan’s status on the indies, this was a huge moment for him pass to pass the torch. I mentioned wanting to see these two wrestle each other in an AAW review last year. Thankfully, PWG answered my request. Awesome match that could sneak up on you while watching. Watching this angered me all the more because I can see what Callihan is capable of when not having to resort to CZW style matches. Callihan is clearly a talented individual who can have good if not great matches. Once he gets more discipline and can harness a decent character, he’ll make some promotion a ton of money.
I mentioned in my night one a certain level of frustration with the Bucks as tag team champions. It’s not even with Matt and Nick Jackson who are as good as ever, if not better. Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong had defeated the Super Smash Brothers when Uno and Dos were champions, so it’s only right they were the first challengers for those titles. I love Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong as the Dojo Bros, in some ways more than the American Wolves. Strong and Edwards have a similar look, build, and offense to match up extremely well. They’re two of the most consistent wrestlers on the independent scene and don’t really get the credit they deserve for all the hard work they put in. The match with the Bucks was probably one of the best of the weekend, and it didn’t feel as significant as it should have. Maybe because it was the Bucks’s first title defense. Maybe because of its position on the card. Maybe because of everything that had already happened. I loved the action and what they did (save for pointless continuation of the Bucks/Rick Knox feud with Nick Jackson hitting the 450 splash on the poor referee), but it wasn’t as meaningful for whatever reason. I would have strongly considered giving Strong and Edwards the belts in preparation for a presumed rematch with the Super Smash Brothers.
I mentioned being angry with Sami Callihan after his performance in the O’Reilly match compared to the stupidity of the Drake Younger contest. Well, Younger and Adam Cole capped off the weekend with a great main event. These two played their roles superbly. Cole is obviously a great heel. The PWG fanbase has for better or worse embraced Younger as their underdog hero. It meant we had a match where people weren’t just cheering for great wrestling, but people were invested in who won and lost. Younger seems like a great guy, and based on his match with Cole,he can be a great in-ring performer. Unfortunately, he’s stuck in a vacuum. It would be nice for him to give up the ultraviolent crap in favor of just being a wrestler, yet he gets paid big money to go to Japan on tours and wrestle versions of the match he had with Sami Callihan on night one. If he stops doing deathmatches, maybe he doesn’t go to Japan anymore and make a living as a wrestler. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Hopefully, common sense prevails eventually because based on the finish on this match, Younger is getting a rematch and winning the world title soon. Cole winning by roll-up and apparently sticking around leads me to believe a return match will take place at the 10th anniversary show. I usually hate roll-up finishes, but Cole being a heel and a rematch presumably coming down the line (and making the fans want Younger to win all the more) makes me hate it far less than usual. I loved the execution of the main event and thought it was an incredible way to cap off the weekend.
Night two was slightly stronger than even night one and is well worth watching. There was a great mix of talent and a chance to see the two guys from the main event show what they’re capable of when not having to rely on dumb violence.
-Quick results, times, and ratings:
-Taped from Reseda, California
-Commentators: Excalibur, Sami Callihan, Rick Knox, Chuck Taylor, Kevin Steen
Jay Lethal defeats Willie Mack after four consecutive elbow drops/10:25/**1/2
Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor defeat RockNes Monsters (Johnny Yuma and Johnny Goodtime by pinfall. A DDT by Taylor fed into the Hurts Doughnut and Gargano pinned Yuma/16:12/***1/4
Paul London defeats Trent? By pinfall after the shooting star press/18:25/***1/4
Unbreakable F’n Steen Machines (Kevin Steen, Michael Elgin, and Brian Cage) defeat Inner City Machine Guns (Ricochet and Rich Swann) and AR Fox. AR Fox was legally murdered but got pinned by at last after a spinning power bomb by Elgin/27:16/****
TJ Perkins defeats Samuray Del Sol by pinfall after the 450 splash/15:22/***1/4
Kyle O’Reilly defeats Sami Callihan by submission with the triangle choke/24:59/***3/4
PWG World Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson)(champions) defeat The Dojo Bros. (Roderick Strong and Eddie Edwards) via pinfall after More Bang for your Buck on Eddie Edwards/18:13/****
PWG World Championship: Adam Cole (champion) defeats Drake Younger via pinfall by roll-up/18:33/****
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