Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Battle of Los Angeles Has A Third of Its Field Filled Out

Gresham leads a strong first third for this year's BOLA
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
When you think of annual wrestling tournaments, a lot of yearly frames come to mind, which is good. Wrestling tournaments are perhaps the best things the industry can offer from an in-ring standpoint. The G1 Climax, King of Trios, the Scenic City Invitational, the JT Lightning Invitational, and the Tournament for Tomorrow are all exciting and get fans of their respective promotions all hot and bothered. However, one could argue that Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's Battle of Los Angeles trumps every other tournament that takes place in the calendar year except for the G1. Over the last few years, the tournament has had 24 entrants and taken place over three days, and this year is no different. PWG has been announcing wrestlers every day on its Twitter. The field of 24 has eight confirmed entrants. They are listed below:

A-Kid - If you're a Chikara fan, you'll recognize this name from the 2017 King of Trios, where he was part of Team White Wolf. Just as Mark Andrews, Pete Dunne, and Moustache Mountain before him, he used that Chikara spotlight to catapult into a regular PROGRESS gig, where he has become the latest European breakout wrestler. He's completed the big journey now as the first name entered into BOLA. If you're into that sort of thing, he received a five-star rating for his match with Zack Sabre, Jr. at White Wolf Wrestling Total Rumble 8.

Jonathan Gresham - Gresham isn't the biggest name announced thus far among the American indie portion, but he is probably the best wrestler. A sublime grappler, I feel like he'll get a big stage during BOLA weekend. He's not only great against other mat wrestlers; he can have incredible matches with wrestlers of all styles. I'd say go back to his Independent Wrestling Championship defense against Nick Gage in November of '17 for a good look at what he can do outside of his comfort zone. Gresham, who works for Ring of Honor, will look to continue the grand tradition of PWG pushing the best and brightest guys from ROH before ROH even gets the idea that they're on their roster.

Artemis Spencer - This name came out of leftfield, but it's a good one. Spencer works in the same circles in the Pacific Northwest as Nicole Matthews and El Phantasmo. When I tell you Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling is the real deal, you best believe me. Spencer looks to be another from the Vancouver-area promotion to break out and put his stamp on the greater wrestling world.

Darby Allin - Allin is no stranger to PWG, recently competing in a Guerrilla Warfare (read, no holds barred) match against Joey Janela. I don't need to tell you about Allin's reckless bumping and "I hate myself" style of highspots, but I will anyway. His "goth little brother" aesthetic and fearlessness when it comes to hurtling his body into other people and from great heights will make him a fan favorite throughout. While I don't think he'll win because his All Elite Wrestling exclusivity starts in October, he should go pretty deep into the thing.

Mick Moretti - Before going into battle at King of Trios with Adam Hofmann and Jack Bonza, Moretti will be the latest Aussie import to try his hand at BOLA. Again, a Chikara stage allows another wrestler from a non-America country to get better bookings. I'm not sure what his outlook is, but I mean he'll have the chance to wow the SoCal crowd the same as he did Easton last year.

Orange Cassidy - Cassidy got his shot in PWG this year against fellow Gentleman's Club alumnus Chuck Taylor. How will other wrestlers in the field deal with his extreme hangover-style? Honestly, no matter whom he gets, he'll wind up stealing the show. He's not mega over everywhere he goes to the tune of carrying the Independent Wrestling Championship on his slacked shoulders for no reason.

Bandido - Like Gresham, he'll be representing the "guys PWG needs to push before ROH notices them" crowd. Like Allin, he's no stranger to PWG. Bandido is a strong contender to win the whole thing, as he's been a big deal in PWG for awhile, and if he does win, he'll be a strong candidate to dethrone Jeff Cobb as Champion. And if he does win, he'll excite everyone along the way with his breakneck style of wrestling.

Caveman Ugg - I was expecting a caveman wrestler to be announced, but I'm surprised it's this one instead of Barbaro Cavernario. Still, from what I've seen of Ugg on social media and gifs, he's a bigger dude who will delight in throwing the smaller wrestlers like Allin around. He should be a fun entry into the tournament, taking Jonah Rock's place as the big dude from Oceania.

The next 16 names over the next two-plus weeks will be interesting to see. Will Champion Cobb enter? What about other mainstays like Chuck Taylor, Brody King, Puma King, Flamita, and Jungle Boy? How about new names? I guess it'll be worth putting out alerts for the PWG Twitter account the rest of the month.