Well, we’re almost two months gone from the show – that’s physical distribution and customs charges for you. But we’re here anyway… our take on this year’s Battle of Los Angeles!
Battle of Los Angeles 2016, First Round: Pentagon Jr vs. Marty Scurll
File this under “surprisingly, I’ve seen both these guys live before”, this opened the first night, and featured the first of six British guys in the tournament. Pentagon got slapped for his “Cero Miedo” taunt to Marty, and an exchange of armdrags lead to our first double entendre as Scurll “got tossed off”.
Scurll’s “cero miedo” ended up being a cero eye poke, before he worked over the arm and tried to undo the mask of Pentagon… instead he just tied Pentagon to the middle rope via the mask. Smart move! Pentagon kicks away a back body drop then takes down Scurll with a series of Slingblades, before a superkick sent the Villain to the outside, where he blocked the tournament’s first dive by throwing a chair to the head of the luchador.
A pair of superkicks on the apron led to a tope into a DDT from Scurll, before Pentagon returned the favour with a tope con hilo. After accidentally chopping the ringpost, Pentagon took a superkick to the head and a bicycle knee for a near-fall, before replying with a superkick of his own. Pentagon falls for the “just kidding” superkick, before breaking the bottom rope as he used it as a springboard for a lungblower for a near-fall.
Scurll countered a package piledriver with a chicken wing, then a crucifix, and finally another tornado DDT for a near-fall. That bottom rope took some more damage with an overhead belly to belly that saw Scurll land in the corner. They went back and forth for a spell, before a brainbuster got Scurll a two-count.
Pentagon nearly snatched it with a pumphandle driver after catching a clothesline. A package piledriver saw the referee hit the mat three times, but Scurll kicked out, and then snapped Pentagon’s fingers. Pentagon snapped them back in, then looked for a second package piledriver, but Scurll countered it into the chicken wing, and got the submission. A really good finish and a good opening match. My only nitpick: several times in this, the referee was making counts when he couldn’t see either shoulder… keep the kayfabe alive, zebra man! ***¾
Battle of Los Angeles 2016, First Round: Jeff Cobb vs. Ricochet
They fixed the bottom rope for this! Cobb threw around Ricochet early on, during which Ricochet was like a damned Crash Test Dummy for some shoulder tackles. Albeit one that could kip up! Cobb showed his athleticism too, but fell to a low dropkick as Ricochet started to use his speed to get the better of the Monster.
A springboard senton from the apron in got Ricochet a near-fall after he’d kicked down Cobb’s legs, before Ricochet’s attempt at a People’s Moonsault saw Cobb pick him up after impact and power him back down with a powerslam. My God. A deadlift off the ground saw Cobb pick up Ricochet for a bearhug, then easily tossed him over with an overhead belly to belly suplex.
A handspring forearm took down Cobb as Ricochet tried to get back into things, but a second springboard was caught, before Ricochet showed his strength and threw Cobb with an overhead belly to belly into the corner. Cobb rolled to the floor for cover, but fell to a Sasuke special over the turnbuckles and onto a monster outside. Back in the ring, a springboard 450 splash gets Ricochet a near-fall, before a roundhouse kick connects… only for Cobb to catch a second kick and turn it into something that resembled a Boss Man Slam done as a back suplex.
Cobb caught another roundhouse, and hits a deadlift Capture suplex, then a deadlift pumphandle fallaway slam for a near-fall. Some reversals lead to Ricochet taking a forearm, before both men drop each other with violent headbutts. More forearms followed, before Ricochet threw in a bicycle knee, only to be dropkicked on the top rope after Cobb had popped him up there.
Cobb takes a kick to the lower back as Ricochet escaped a superplex, and finally delivered a corner powerbomb. A Phoenix splash gets Ricochet a near-fall, before we got the Benadryller for another near-fall. Ricochet misses a 630 Splash, and gets hit with a deadlift German suplex for a near-fall, before he countered a Tour of the Islands slam into a small package for the win. Fantastic ending to a good David vs. Goliath battle. Jeff Cobb never ceases to impress me in the ring. ***¾
Battle of Los Angeles 2016, First Round: John Hennigan vs. Matt Sydal
This match may not have any of the “indy darling” rub of the first two matches, given that both these guys spent a while in WWE… and ECW, given the crowd chanted for that show. A match fit for Superstars!
Hennigan worked a headlock, then an armbar, before the two men end up kicking each other in the leg at the same time. They trade more kicks, then catch them, before Sydal snapped into a hurricanrana as he began a brief period of offence.
Sydal’s offence came to a crashing halt after a backbreaker segued into a legsweep – almost like a Lethal Combination – as Hennigan began to stomp away on Sydal. A springboard elbow drop keeps the former Evan Bourne down. Hennigan whiffs on a couple of knee strikes, before he’s taken into the corner for a running dropkick.
Sydal turned a Russian legsweep into a modification of the Tequila Sunrise, but Hennigan easily makes the ropes, only for him to continue to have his leg worked over. We see an Indian deathlock that looked uncomfortable as all hell, and a shot of a fairly unimpressed Dave Meltzer. Hennigan connects with a back kick, then the Moonlight Drive spinning neckbreaker for a near-fall.
Excalibur and Chuck Taylor stumble through Hennigan’s WWE moveset, and that leads to Sydal crotching Hennigan as he went for the Starship Pain moonsault. Sydal hit the legdrop-assisted reverse DDT in the corner, but our referee stopped the count as Hennigan was somehow in the ropes despite being folded up. A standing moonsault gets Sydal a near-fall, before we see more kicks ending with Sydal being popped up into a donkey kick… which somehow wasn’t a DQ.
A spinning heel kick from Sydal quickly gets a response, as does a short clothesline, but a springboard roundhouse kick, then a standing shooting star press saw Hennigan get a two-count. Hennigan misses a Pele kick as Sydal went up top, which led to the Meteora (flying knee press). Sydal misses a shooting star press, and after a standing Spanish Fly, Hennigan followed up with the Starship Pain for the win. Decent match, but these two were fighting uphill given they weren’t “purebred” indy darlings. ***
Battle of Los Angeles 2016, First Round: Fenix vs. Will Ospreay
Yeah, this was fast-paced! Fenix hit first with a double stomp as Ospreay tried to roll backwards, but Will replied with some flying headscissors as this went back and forth. Meltzer scrambled for no reason as Ospreay came back with a dropkick, then a Sasuke special to the floor. A baseball slide dropkick knocked Will back into the crowd as Fenix followed up with a tornillo that sent the crowd nuts. Back in the ring, Ospreay dropkicked Fenix as he was in mid-air with a springboard, before a slingshot back suplex took down Fenix. Ospreay grounds Fenix in search of a double armbar, but instead had to make do with a rear chinlock.
Fenix hits back with a roll through into a frog splash, then a standing moonsault for a near-fall, before they traded kicks as Ospreay was caught on the top rope for a springboard ‘rana for a near-fall. The pair trade forearms, before they connect simultaneously with high kicks and kip back up together. Fenix tries to turn a back body drop into a ‘rana, but Ospreay lands on his feet as Fenix almost spilled, and a superkick, then a running shooting star press and a corkscrew body press off the middle rope gets another near-fall for Ospreay.
An OsCutter attempt is blocked as Fenix grabs the leg, only to get an enziguiri for his troubles, then a Cheeky Nando’s kick in the corner. Another springboard forearm cuts off Ospreay in the top rope, before Fenix takes down Will with a Spanish Fly… except both men land on their feet. What in the world? Ospreay follows up with a “regular” Spanish Fly for a near-fall, before he misses a corkscrew kick… Fenix connects with an OsCutter of his own, then goes for the Dragon Sleeper, before lifting him up into a Fire Thunder Driver for another two-count.
Fenix kips up, but a springboard 450 Splash gets nothing but knees, as Ospreay follows up with the diving corkscrew kick, before he drills Fenix with an OsCutter for the win. Fantastic outing by both men, and I really need to add Fenix to the “wrestlers I ought to see more of” list! ****¼
Battle of Los Angeles 2016, First Round: Tommy End vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Sabre’s the PWG champion, so he came in here wearing their belt, and he started by taking down End, but neither man was able to get much of an advantage in the opening stages.
A German suplex sees Sabre transition into an armbar, before a kick to the head from End is caught by Sabre. We get another armbar attempt from Sabre, before they go back to trading strikes, with a kick to the head from End getting the Dutchman a near-fall. Sabre grabs a leg to take down End from a leapfrog, before End takes a kick to the elbow as a precursor for more work over his arm.
Sabre works back and forth over the wrist, before an armbreaker set up a comeback as both men traded forearms. More kicks from Sabre keep End at bay, but End fires back out of nowhere with an insane combination of kicks and knees that drop the PWG champion. End’s caught on the top rope as he tried to climb up, with Sabre working over the wrist from inside the ring as End was on the apron.
End hits an Asai moonsault off the middle turnbuckle, before he returns to the ring for a double stomp off the top rope for a near-fall. Sabre countered a running knee with some kicks to the elbow, before End countered a PK with a rolling half crab, only for Sabre to nearly steal it with a small package. A half-and-half suplex nearly dumped End on his head, but the Dutchman hits back with a ripcord elbow, then a moonsault and a double stomp off the top.
A bridging German suplex got End a near-fall, but Sabre kicked out and turned it into an armbar attempt as they kept going back and forth. Another ripcord elbow was countered back and forth as End dropped Sabre with a brainbuster, before they go back to the kicks as both men drop each other. Sabre picks up first for a PK, but his cover is rolled back as they trade near-falls, then a snap German suplex drops End… but Sabre doesn’t go for a cover.
Sabre goes back to the wrist, making it pliable, but End countered out of an armbar with a swift kick to the midsection. They trade strikes some more, with Sabre winning out this time as End was knocked into the ropes, before a spinning roundhouse knocked Sabre down briefly. Another knee strike’s blocked and Sabre goes for the Octopus (long name here), forcing End to submit. A fine technical outing, but given that End’s on his way to WWE, there was little risk of him beating the champion here. ****¼
Battle of Los Angeles 2016, First Round: Chris Hero vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger
A real mis-match, at least on paper, here, but they started out evenly as Liger tripped Hero and turned into a sitting surfboard in the opening stages.
Liger’s shoulder tackles have little effect on Hero, but he easily throws Hero out of the ring before going airborne… with a faked-out dive. Back in the ring, Hero bicycle kicks Liger into the corner, before Liger returns fire with a Shotei and then forces Hero to scurry away as he went to the top rope.
Hero takes down the Japanese veteran with a big boot, then again with a forearm. Liger misses a Koppo kick and gets squashed with a back senton for a near-fall, but Liger recovers to catch Hero up top and superplex him down to the mat. Liger follows up with a facebuster, then a top rope splash for a near-fall, only for a ripcord elbow to connect. A second ripcord elbow is turned into a backslide, before a snap piledriver gets another two for Hero.
The crowd turned on the idea of Hero beating Liger, but a Koppo kick knocked down Hero after he’d dished out a bicycle kick and got the crowd back on their feet. A Liger bomb attempt was never gonna work, and Hero worked out into a stiff forearm, then a pump kick… but Liger hits back with a brainbuster out of nowhere!
A second Shotei’s met with a bicycle knee from Hero, but he’s again caught on the top rope as Liger pulled out a Liger bomb for a near-fall. Hero catches another Shotei and hits back with a rolling elbow for a two-count, before he gets a running Ligerbomb for just a one-count! Liger ‘s latest comeback is ended with a rolling elbow, then a ripcord elbow, and finally a diving elbow for the win. A fun match, and a lot better than you’d have any right to expect if you’d only seen Liger in those New Japan multi-man tags. ***½
Adam Cole & The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs. Dalton Castle & “The Boys” (allegedly Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish)
Yeah… these aren’t Dalton’s usual boys. Matt Jackson questions the Boys, and speaking of the Bucks, they’ve got their Meltzer trunks on. Just because.
A lot of stalling back and forth as they took their time in to get their trademark poses and spots, featuring Castle using his “Boys” as footstolls to get down from the top rope. The Bullet Club trio miss a triple superkick, before selling for a triple pose and taking a trio of bodyslams. The Boys use their fans to try and distract Matt Jackson from a top rope move… and it worked! Nick sells the fans by being blown away as he runs the ropes, and yeah, this is firmly in comedy match territory, but it works!
They quickly flip the switch as Castle hits a low-pe, before he rolls around with Cole in a waistlock in the ring. “Boy B” snap suplexes Cole, before “Boy K” gets a near-fall, before K flops to the mat from a forearm shot from Cole. This is amazing. K “paintbrushes” Cole with a backhand swipe, before giving a pair of atomic drops and lariats Castle tags back in to give Cole a raspberry on his belly.
Boy B’s mask goes flying as he drops an elbow, but he quickly recovers his identity, as Boy K’s attempt to use the fans to aid a sunset flip gets cut off… with a superkick! This turns the tide for the Bullet Club, with Nick Jackson testing that bottom rope with a Bronco Buster. Boy B’s caught in a camel clutch as the Bucks run the ropes forever and ever… and end up pecking Cole on the cheeks! The mask falls off of Boy B again, and he takes some more offence from the Bucks, before ducking a springboard dropkick as Cole gets sent to the floor.
A double superkick knocks down the rest of Boy B’s partners, but B recovers to throw the Bucks into each other with an Exploder suplex. Dalton Castle comes into clean house with wrist clutch exploders, before Nick Jackson’s thrown down with ease after he flew off the top rope. Another double superkick from the Bucks cut off a deadlift German from Castle, who then kicks out after a standing Sliced Bread and some running knees.
Cole and the Bucks spit in the face of the Boys, as Castle makes another comeback with a capture backdrop to Nick Jackson, but tagging in the Boys leads to them finally unmasking as reDRagon. Bang goes that thinly veiled cover! Cole takes a double kick and a double armbreaker, before a tiltawhirl backbreaker and a flying knee knocked down Matt Jackson. Nick takes a double arm DDT, wheelbarrow German then a deadlift German suplex for a near-fall as the rest of the Bullet Club made the save.
Matt escapes a Bang-a-Rang, before backflipping free and hitting a series of superkicks, but Nick takes the Bang-a-Rang seconds later for a near-fall. A pair of low blows from the Young Bucks countered the Chasing the Dragon, but they turned around into an angry double clothesline from Castle, before Adam Cole dropped Castle with the Panama Sunrise (leap down off the middle rope into a Destroyer).
The match went a little eggy as nobody went for a cover, instead they went for a double Meltzer Driver onto Fish and Castle for the win. Decent comedy match, but it’d be fair to call this the worst thing on the card if you stripped away the ga-ga here. ***¼
For the first night, this was a really solid show. The worst match was the comedy ha-ha main event, with all of the tournament bouts living up to – and well beyond – expectation. Night two received a lot of rave reviews at the time, which leads to my main worry: can it live up to the hype??