Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Who's the Next Wave for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla?

Garrini is one of the many who could help combat PWG's talent drain
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Tonight, the final entrant in the Battle of Los Angeles will be announced. Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's annual tournament is once again packed with the best talent from the indies and Mexico, but this year's event is a farewell for several wrestlers. All Elite Wrestling will be taking several regulars into its fold with exclusivity when their television show starts on October 2. Of the field announced so far, Darby Allin, Joey Janela, Feníx, Pentagón, Jr., Laredo Kid, and Jungle Boy will all be headed to AEW. Throw in PWG legend Chuck Taylor who has not been announced for the tourney (yet), and the talent drain is even more severe. Perhaps the three Mexican wrestlers might have some leverage given they're all AAA regulars and thus may have more leeway. That being said, Allin and Janela are huge losses because their feud was perhaps the landmark for the promotion in the last few years. Additionally, Jungle Boy was their signature SoCal guy.

While BOLA may not be the last dates they do for PWG (AEW has stated that their talent would be able to work select indies if their schedule allows, and Janela will at least appear at his signature Mania weekend show, Spring Break), they're not going to be able to be stalwarts like they have been. Throw in the fact that Jeff Cobb, the Champion, is a New Japan Pro Wrestling regular and that half the Mexicans in the field probably will have to put their home promotions, whether AAA or Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, first, this tournament may not be indicative of who is sticking around. There are at least two names in it — Brody King and Jake Atlas — who will join the vanguard. The Rascalz, Tony Deppen, David Starr, and Ring of Honor guys like Bandido and Jonathan Gresham will also be fixtures. However, losing that much main event talent is going to hurt.

Thankfully, the scene is chock full of wrestlers who can fill in and help keep PWG at the top of the indie heap.

Jacob Fatu and EFFY - I'm going to level with you; I haven't seen either one of these two wrestle yet. However, they are without a doubt two of the most talked-about names on the indies for different reasons. Fatu is a big guy who hits hard. He's a regular on the West Coast, so you don't have to pay too much for his travel. The caveat with him is his last name means WWE might come calling sooner rather than later. That just means they should get him booked as soon as possible, with or without his tag partner, The Almighty Sheik. EFFY is different in that he's more of an all-rounder with flamboyance. The openly gay wrestler has been making rounds all around the country, whether on the West Coast with DEFY in Seattle or in the Midwest. He is a crowd-pleaser wherever he goes. Plus, having him and Atlas in the same promotion might help other gay wrestlers have the courage to come out. One gay wrestler is a token. Two might start a trend.

Violence Is Forever (Kevin Ku and Dominic Garrini) - The team formerly known as Sadkampf would fit in so well in PWG's fast-paced and hard-hitting environment. Whether as a tag team or as separate solo wrestlers, both Ku and Garrini are the kind of fresh blood that PWG needs to both advance its image without feeling like too much of a departure in style. They're a no-brainer for any promotion to pick, especially PWG.

Cam Zagami - He's wrestled a lot less over the last year, but when he was more active, he was still one of the better workers to come out of the New England area. He's also an elemental heel, which is something PWG will be losing with another regular booking, MJF, moving along to AEW. You want someone to incite crowds or seed the next big feud that pops off in a Guerrilla Warfare match? Zagami is your guy.

Airwolf - From PAC all the way up to and including the Mexican flippy guys like Feníx and Rey Horus, PWG has never been wanting for highspot wrestlers. Airwolf is the fast and jumpy member of the Minnesota Wrecking Zoo, and while I have no doubts that the Thunderfrog and Wildcat would fit in as well, Airwolf seems to be the guy who would make the biggest splash in SoCal.

Bear Country (Bear Bronson and Bear Beefcake) - Sometimes you just want beefy dudes to throw people around. Bear Country has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise from Beyond Wrestling's Uncharted Territory. They throw their weight around like big hosses, but they can also do the agile shit that people half their size can do. If you want a fearsome presence in a place where the big boys rarely work, Bear Country is your team.

A Woman, Any Woman, Possibly More Than One For Fuck's Sake - I've been on this for a good long while, but it bears repeating. Super Dragon saying he doesn't like female wrestlers when Candice LeRae and to a lesser extent Christina von Eerie were some of the most over wrestlers he's had is just maddening to think about even now. I'm not saying PWG needs a women's division, because hello, LeRae wrestled fine against the men. It's not like there's a dearth of options to choose from. Shotzi Blackheart, Solo Darling, and Jordynne Grace are great established options. I'm sure Santino Bros. have quite a few female trainees they could book if they wanted to build one up from the ground floor without flying out Leyla Hirsch or Ashley Vox. I just don't understand how in 2019 any promotion, let alone indie promotions who don't have to answer to sexist billionaires or pearl-clutching stockholders, doesn't see men and women as equals in a worked sport/art.

Honestly, PWG could book anyone with a modicum of talent and charisma and make them made wrestlers, and they're going to have to start with their first show after BOLA. The talent drain is real, and not even the hip LA promotion can escape it if they don't have the talent to back their inflated ticket prices up.