Thursday, June 26, 2014

PWG Keeps Melting Faces with the Next Eight in BOLA

Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
The first eight names Pro Wrestling Guerrilla announced for its annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament, a three-day, 24-competitor affair, were impressive. One could say they were even stellar. Well, shortly after those names were announced, eight more wrestlers were unveiled for the tournament, and in aggregate, the wow factor held serve at the very least.

Kyle O'Reilly - O'Reilly's entry into the tournament is a little strange to me given his status as Champion. Will he defend the title throughout, or is his hardware safe? Either way, he'll be a focal point throughout. I expect him to make a deep run.

Brian Cage - Cage is another PWG regular in the tourney. He was actually favored to make a deep run in the tourney the last two years, and this year shouldn't be any different. While his tag run with Michael Elgin has been solid and possessing staying power, if PWG holds back on him too much more, he may be in danger of becoming Brandon Gatson'd/Willie Mack'd.

ACH - ACH's PWG debut was at the tournament last year. In that calendar frame, he's ingratiated himself to the Reseda crowd like I knew he would. This year, I'm interested to see against whom he's pitted. I'm all in on ACH/Matt Sydal happening at some point, whether as part of the tournament or as a non-tourney match later on.

Zack Sabre, Jr. - HOLY SHIT! I've only seen Sabre once live at King of Trios in '11. He came in for one Rey de Voladores eliminator but lost in the match that ultimately sent El Generico to the final. However, since that time, he's blown up both in England and Japan. I remember enjoying him a lot in limited exposure, and I'm totally hype to see him again in an extended setting after getting some more seasoning.

Rich Swann - While his tag team partner Ricochet, aka the hottest gaijin in Japan right now, will more than likely be in Japan working Dragon Gate, Swann will make the tournament. This weekend would be the perfect opportunity for him to break out as a singles performer.

Trent? - Trent? is what Brian Myers will hope to become on the indies in his post-WWE career. He already co-won a PWG tournament this year along with Chuck Taylor. I'm not sure he'll make it two-for-two, but at least he'll rock the house in his first round match. I don't foresee him going to far, if only because the Best Friends have some taggin' to do on night three most likely.

Cedric Alexander - Alexander's making a splash in PWG along with his North Carolina brother Trevor Lee. Lee seems to be taking a firmer hold, but Alexander is already a bona fide main event guy in his home state and is really establishing himself in Ring of Honor. If I were to peg an "unlikely" semifinalist or finalist, I'd go with him. Plus, he's really goddamn good and would have excellent matches with literally everyone announced so far.

AJ Styles - Styles is perhaps the biggest name announced for the tournament so far, apologies to Sydal. His run on the American indies has actually been well-received (most of the malaise has come from New Japan deciding to put the IWGP Title on him to be honest), so I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do here.

I gotta say, the ZSJ announcement alone is titillating enough for me. Eight names are left, and several "regulars" still have yet to have their cards punched. I get the feeling, however, that name #24 will be yet another mind-blower. Regardless, the field already is stacked, and it's going to make the end of summer heat up to heretofore unknown levels of scorching fire. And to think, three weeks later, Chikara is going to do the three-day tourney thing all over again with King of Trios. Ladies and germs, it is truly a wonderful time to be a wresting fan.