We’re in the City of Industry, California. 30th August 2003. The night after Stage One. The ring announcer runs through the competitors in tonight’s quarter finals.
Frankie Kazarian v B-Boy
Before we can kick things off out comes Excalibur. Apparently B-Boy is on the phone and he can’t make it. “No one would rather have the sash of bananas more than you” – Excalibur. He doesn’t want Kazarian to get a bye to the semi’s so replaces B-Boy with Lil Cholo.
Frankie Kazarian v Lil Cholo
Odd how Samoa Joe got injured and missed the first show and now B-Boy misses the tournament. Kazarian thinks it’s still B-Boy but someone put him in the drier. I was right; they can’t afford any tall wrestlers! They run some counters at speed on the mat and blocks kicks into the Indy Standoff. Nice quick pace to start this off. Crowd thinks Cholo is cool too. Springboard crossbody then a spinning heel kick for Cholo. Kazarian flips over him in the corner into an Edgeomatic at speed. That was cool. Slingshot legdrop gets 2. Kazarian goes into the big moves as soon as he’s in charge and looks for the Wave of the Future but can’t get it. The idea being he wants to win quickly to advance in the tournament while not wasting too much energy. Cholo is probably the weakest opponent he’ll face all night after all. Cholo still manages to throw his game plan by taking advantage of opening to hit big moves himself like a diving rana. It’s like watching one day cricket or a home run derby. Everyone is swinging for the fences. Kazarian tries for a Tazmission but it’s blocked. Again that’s because he’s not set anything up. He’s just going directly for the finish. Cholo tries for an Exploder but Kazarian counters into the Tazmission and locks it on so firmly right away that Cholo taps at 5.38. **. Kind of fun but rushed. I can understand why with the tournament taking up so much time. The psychology was interesting as they were constantly looking for something that’d end the match. In the end Kazarian won but it could have cost him big time as he left himself open several times.
Nosawa v Christopher Daniels
Both guys worked heel last night although Daniels switched gears into heel during the match. Nosawa’s manager runs down Daniels for being a cracker and having a dumb gimmick in Japan. So I guess Daniels is back babyface again although given his behaviour last night that could change at any point. Nosawa mocks Daniels’ Curryman gimmick so Daniels beats him up and then mocks Nosawa’s pose as a receipt. Nosawa is a cheat though so gets back in charge by taking short cuts and going to the eyes. That said Daniels is the far superior athlete so he is able to turn it back to him really quickly and hit an Enzuigiri and a nice dropkick. Nosawa bails out allowing Daniels to show off his agility with an Arabian press to the floor. Shame there’s no fans on that one side. High crossbody gets 2. Daniels has taken a much different approach to this match than against Hardkore Kid, which is weird because the Kid is a much bigger guy. You’d think he’d go aerial against him too. Nosawa is just a cheat. And does so again by going low. Nosawa picks the arm and I appreciate him in this match because he’s keeping it simple instead of doing a mess of stuff like he usually does. Nosawa tries to show he can fly as well with a frogsplash. Not the best of moves. He winds up but gets caught in the STO, which looks awesome. Daniels, like his head, is so smooth. Blue Thunder gets 2. Nosawa goes for a Shining Wizard, which is blocked into a roll up and they run a near falls. Nosawa backdrops out of the Angels Wings. Daniels blocks another kick and this time connects with the Angels Wings for the pin at 6.52. **. Again there was nothing wrong with this but it felt a little rushed. Probably the best singles match I’ve ever seen Nosawa in btw. Now the scrubs are out of the way we can get on with the serious action.
Joey Ryan v Adam Pearce w/Mr Vander Pyle
Pearce has to be the biggest heel in PWG. He’s just a complete jerk to all the fans and there’s no exceptions. Everyone else seems to have a few people who like them. There are people who don’t like Joey Ryan but Pearce heels on them too telling them to shut the fuck up. Pearce bails to do a comedy bit where he holds back Vander Pyle. Pearce then makes the most ridiculous hair pull claim ever. Two reasons – 1. It was one of those really, really clean breaks. 2. He hasn’t got any hair to pull. Joey finds himself overpowered in the early going. Vander Pyle suggests he should go home “on his skateboard”. Joey is a lot faster though and pops off a few armdrags. Crowd really buy into those. Some of those aren’t especially clean though. Pearce does a drop down and Joey stops running and just gets back on the arm. It’s key to a basic match to have a focus. They have that here. Pearce fakes a knee injury allowing him to set up a weak Enzuigiri. The wrestling hasn’t been great in this match but they’ve been telling a nice story, which the crowd buys into a much as good wrestling. And it goes to show you don’t have to be good wrestlers to have a good match. Pearce with a belly to belly for 2. Ryan almost scores an upset with an inside cradle. Pearce is too strong though and even when he’s not Vander Pyle is there to interfere. Pearce with the Figure Four making this arm versus leg in psychology terms. Vander Pyle is on hand to cheat with the leverage. I like that. They’ve specifically used the heel manager. There was a point to him being out here. Savage Elbow gets 2. Crowd is really feeling the underdog love for Joey Ryan here. Ryan gets a receipt for the earlier Enzuigiri. Pair of dropkicks score and Pearce is struggling for the first time. Belly to belly, another receipt, at speed gets 2. Pearce cuts all that momentum off with a spinebuster. To the ropes where Pearce looks to set up a piledriver off the top. Ryan rana’s out of it but lands on his head in the process. Ouch. Superkick! Vander Pyle pulls the ref out and the crowd wants a DQ, which shows you how attached they are to the match to want a cheap ending as long as Pearce loses. Ref gets wiped out. Pearce has his title belt, from elsewhere, misses. Ref gets bumped again. Ryan grabs the belt and leathers Pearce with it. Match is over at 12.33. Vander Pyle actually puts Pearce’s leg on the rope though so technically he didn’t lose. But the ref doesn’t care and it’s over. ***. That was lots of fun with tonnes of heat and nice simplistic psychology. Plus Pearce has an out for a re-match and Ryan still retains his plucky underdog status.
Sidenote – the crowd has developed an endearing habit of chanting “loser” at defeated heels.
POST MATCH Pearce gets on the mic to rant about how he was screwed, his foot was on the rope, the original ref didn’t count the pin, Ryan used the belt and he was touched as a child. Ok, that last one didn’t happen. But he demands a re-match thus setting up a marquee match for the next show.
Colt Cabana v Super Dragon
Cabana is in a goofy mood and dances with the ref. Crowd is HUGE into Super Dragon. He heads out to attack someone in the audience. I assume it’s another wrestler but I don’t recognise them. It’s weird though because they’re smacking each other around and it looks legitimate. But then Super Dragon has been known to jump into the crowd and mess with the fans. Colt gets deadly serious on the flip of a coin here and attacks Dragon before the bell. Dragon takes back over with chops and forearms and his striking is out of Cabana’s league. Cabana tries to battle back but ends up chopping the ring post thus giving himself a weak point for the rest of the match. For the second time tonight there’s a variation on the drop down with Cabana doing so but Dragon double stomps his spine rather than skip over it. Dragon focuses on the arm as Cabana’s injured that on the post. Although it doesn’t stop him hitting a flying forearm smash. I guess that’s out of the window already. Shame. Cabana with the Shades of Wilbur Snyder and the ropes act as leverage. When Dragon escapes Colt ties him up again. The ref misses the roll up out of that and Cabana is suitably pissed off that he spits on the ref. Ew. That’s disgusting. The crowd have taken to arguing with each other and chanting “your side sucks” at each other. Not quite the crowd from last night. Colt with a sleeper. “Go to sleeeeep, go to sleeeep, go to sleep sleepy Dragon”. Genius. Cabana gets run out through the ropes and Dragon is looking insane; TOPE CON HILO~! That was nearly up at Homicide speed. They just beat the count back in after that. Colt begs off but that’s the wrong tactic with Dragon who promptly wails on him and hits an Enzuigiri for 2. Cabana weathers that particular storm. Cabana goes for the knees in the corner but gets met with knees. Dragon tries a diving attack but gets caught and flipped into a slam for 2. Colt 45 is blocked and Dragon pops out into a lariat. That finished Bomberry the night before. Cabana is a tougher prospect and Dragon is also fatigued. Cabana breaks out a huge slap to set up the Round and Round but Dragon gets out and hits a senton bomb for 2. Colt 45 is blocked again this time with the ropes and Dragon hits a springboard spin kick to the back of the head for 2. Dragon suplex follows swiftly for the pin at 13.13. **3/4. The match somewhat lost focus several times. A few things; Cabana was never sure if he was taking this one entirely seriously or not, the arm injury swiftly became a non factor and Dragon offence was somewhat erratic. For the most part it was still good fun but the lack of flow hurt it.
PROMO TIME – Hardkore Kid
The Kid is masked tonight for some reason. He grabs the mic and says he doesn’t want to wrestle “seven midgets” in a first round losers match. He claims he was given the hardest first round opponent in Chris Daniels but he also claims he thought it was 2/3 falls and was waiting for the second fall. He seems to have pissed off the locker room and out comes Hook Bomberry. Al Katrazz runs in to kick Hardkore Kid’s ass. Apollo Khan makes the save and we have a tag match.
Hardkore Kid/Al Katrazz v Hook Bomberry/Apollo Khan
Katrazz has a jailbird sort of gimmick and comes from UPW, which is also where Aaron Aguilera comes from. No El Jefe tonight. The babyfaces are from PWI. So it’s like two other promotions battling each other. Apollo looks like a mini-me of Butch Reed. There’s a lengthy feeling out process. I get the feeling the crowd isn’t too thrilled to see this tagged onto tonight’s card. HK gets Hook and kneels down to demonstrate the difference in height. Then he just shoves him over. Hook takes a neat approach of headlocking the big guy. Control the head and you control the body. HK ends up struggling to get free because the elementary approach is so sound. If it was the WWE he’d just throw him off but Hook has that thing on there good so he can’t. See, in the Indies little guys can compete with big guys realistically (well, sometimes). Katrazz comes in with a reverse brainbuster though and that takes the wind out of Hook’s sails. See what I did there? Captain Hook? Sailing? Wind? No? The heels position the referee to allow both double teaming and cheating. As if they need that to beat a guy half their size. We get a long heat segment on Hook before he comes back with a double DDT. Apollo gets the “hot” tag to muted applause. Yeah, no one cares. Were they running short or something? High & Low on Katrazz gets 2. Apollo hits a springboard spear but Katrazz bodybags him. They seem to be hitting the high spots to finish. Everyone is in there lying around and making saves. The faces both get submission holds for the win but Vander Pyle pulls the ref out with exclusive proof that Adam Pearce’s foot was on the rope earlier, which is a drawing of a foot on a rope. Pretty good. I’d buy it. The heels naturally tap while this is going on and Pearce runs in to save both of them. This gets even sillier as he has time to piledrive Apollo and the heels get the cheap win at 11.49. Jesus, that was long. *1/4. There was nothing wrong with it so much as it had no place on the card. It just served to allow the tournament guys more rest time between rounds.
Frankie Kazarian v Christopher Daniels
Two top contenders here with big futures. Daniels was already a star and Kazarian has since been with TNA & the WWE but his attitude has prevented him progressing with either. They start out with some solid if unspectacular mat wrestling. Daniels mostly works a headlock, which was a favourite of Bret Hart’s in longer matches while Kazarian aims for the arm with intent on working a body part. The countering gets better as they push each other. Both guys are jawing back and forth. Kazarian in particular has a great bit where he waves in front of Daniels face and says “can you see the future?” That was cool. Daniels is relentless with the headlocking though and continues to keep the flashy Kazarian grounded. Daniels turns it up a notch with cartwheels to dodge Kazarian but Frankie takes offence and lariats him. Slingshot legdrop gets 2. Slingshot DDT follows and now Kazarian isn’t being kept under close control he’s able to use the ropes and keep Daniels off balance. Kazarian tries his corner dropkick but Daniels kicks him off and hits the STO in one beautiful fluid motion. Daniels starts popping off back suplexes for his own amusement and then the crowd’s. Stalling suplex from Daniels to show he still has strength and energy. It’s almost demoralising from Kazarian’s POV. “I’ve seen better” – really wiseass fan. “Who said that? Go back to buying tapes” – Daniels. Kazarian tries to fire up but gets caught in a powerslam for 2. Daniels seems to be one move ahead here, which is odd considering Kazarian’s ‘the future’ tag. Back to a cravat to control but that’s easier to strike out of. Daniels is starting to show signs of frustration as the match progresses. Blue Thunder gets 2. Mentally he’s preparing for one more match after this one. Kazarian has no choice but to focus on coming back in this one, which in some ways gives him the advantage. Daniels with an Enzuigiri for 2 and he’s doing a great job of conveying how frustrated he’s becoming at his inability to put Kazarian away. Kazarian bicycle kicks him right in the face. That was cool. Kazarian seems to have a renewed sense of vigour and pulls out an Electric Chair with bridge for 2. Daniels with a jawbreaker, into the Flatliner into the grounded Octopus but Kazarian just won’t quit. He’s desperate to win that title belt. That desperation is only really becoming apparent as this match continues. BEST. MOONSAULT. EVER gets 2. Daniels is freaked that Kazarian kicked out. Crowd chants for “Last Rites” as we had Angels Wings earlier tonight. They get a Russian legsweep and like it. Kazarian switches his weight on Angels Wings into the Tazmission. He doesn’t quite have all of it so Daniels is able to get out but Daniels is now hurt. Kazarian gets out of Last Rites and hits Wave of the Future for the surprise pin at 13.49. ***1/4. Really good back and forth bout with Daniels controlling much of the pacing. The upset win comes about courtesy of several moves put together forcing Daniels into desperation moves himself. Then he got caught. Kazarian now has one match between him and gold.
POST MATCH Daniels shows respect and endorses Kazarian. Crowd chants “thank you Chris”, which shows they do have respect out there on the West Coast too. They just save when to show it.
Joey Ryan v Super Dragon
Ryan’s underdog tag continues here as he faces the dangerous Super Dragon. He has three years experience advantage and Dragon is 3 inches taller. The main issue counting against Dragon is his lack of concentration. He does tend to get put off by crowd members and things not quite going his way. His temperament is called into question quite frequently. They trade slaps before the bell and Joey has big crowd support but the Dragon fans are there too and instead of duelling chants they try to drown each other out. Dragon takes the leg. Hopefully he’ll remember that later in the match unlike against Cabana with the arm. Ryan finds himself on the mat unprotected so Dragon starts wailing away with forearms. Ryan has enough moxy about him to block those. Ryan goes after the arm to create that age old arm versus leg battle. Dragon picks the leg again but Ryan pushes him back into a pin for 2. He’s already wrestling a smart defensive match. Dragon bails out to compose himself, which is smart and he doesn’t pay attention to the crowd. Ryan armdrags him and starts punching Dragon in the face, which is unexpected especially by Dragon. He comes back with a flying forearm in the corner and a spinal tap into a leg triangle. I think you pissed him off dude. Dragon maintains his calm though so we don’t get a violence party, mores the pity, and he opts instead to keep Ryan controlled on the mat for an extended period. As Dragon twists him like a pretzel the fans chant Joey’s name showing how they’re into his whole deal. He does sort of remind me of Mikey Whipwreck if Mikey had actually been trained. Dragon works a leglock for entirely too long until Ryan kicks him off in vicious fashion. But that just pisses Dragon off more and he forearms Ryan out of the ring. Ryan avoids the turnbuckle powerbomb and counters into a fuckin’ half nelson suplex into the buckles. Dragon is left vulnerable for the Rolling Germans, which leads to a Northern Lights for 2. Now Dragon’s fans become vocal to try and get him back into it. To the ropes but Ryan gets thrown off and Dragon hits the senton bomb (like Dick Togo not Jeff Hardy). Dragon looks for the Psycho Driver but he’s too near the ropes. When Ryan escapes the apron Dragon knocks him off with the Pele Kick. Ryan is down on the floor so up goes Dragon – DOUBLE STOMP TO THE FLOOR~! Both guys get hurt doing that. Back inside Joey has enough chutzpah to kick out. Dragon is clearly upset about that. LIGERBOMB INTO THE BUCKLES right into the STF. Ryan is facing the middle of the ring too so has to turn the whole thing around before making the ropes and surviving. Phoenix Splash…misses with Ryan rolling out of the way. Dragon rolls outside but Joey sees his chance and DDT’s Dragon on the floor. He *could* just go back inside and win on count out at that point but he wants the honourable pinfall win instead. Which makes him a sucker. Three Amigos goes up to the top for the third and a superplex. Super Dragon’s only in ring flaw is his bad timing on kickouts. Either that or Patrick Hernandez’s counts suck. I think it’s a bit of both actually. Dragon pops back up and hits the Dragon Suplex…for 2. That was enough against Cabana. Dragon with a STIFF slingshot spinning heel kick to the back of the head. That was nifty. Dragon wants the Psycho Driver but can’t get it so he opts instead for a gutwrench powerbomb. Ryan grabs the ropes and won’t let go to prevent the loss. To the ropes with Dragon looking for some kind of fucking sick move off the top but Ryan counters into a SWINGING NECKBREAKER TO THE FLOOR~! Are you fucking kidding me? Back inside you’d better believe that’s enough for the pin at 22.07. Joey Ryan advances to the finals in another upset. **** for the sheer contempt for safety on that finish. On the downside no Super Dragon in the finals.
Disco Machine/Scorpio Sky/M-Dogg 20 v Taro/Tony Kozina/Scott Lost
Team Disco all dance. Scorpio has a Carlton Banks thing going on and attempts the Worm. M-Dogg with the breakdancing and Disco back bumps. Sky gets the mic to tell us one of the other team is a “big fat cheater” before naming Taro. Crowd is shocked. Uh oh, Sky has the wrestling rule book. They debate over whether Taro’s buttons are legal but Taro finds another rule that says it’s ok. Sky tries to waffle him with the rule book but misses. Get the feeling this might be a comedy match? Sky wails on Taro who totally no sells and looks at his watch to see how long this has been going on. Kozina & M-Dogg do some back and forth stuff but the crowd doesn’t want to see a straight up match right before the tournament final, which is certain to be a serious affair. These guys are out to prove themselves. Incidentally this match provides another opportunity for Scott Lost to demonstrate how good his punches look. Taro in with a running senton for 2. “Big air power” he shouts. He’s clearly familiar with Japanese culture. I like how Taro thinks he’s bigger than he is and insists on climbing over the ropes in and out of the ring. Question is who did that first? Him or Jimmy Jacobs? Lost back in with an awesome flying spear into the corner. That was cool. Lost is really good. I’d not really seen too much of him before but he looks thoroughly capable. Taro back in but Disco powerslams him into the buckles. M-Dogg in to sweep Taro’s leg and hit a standing moonsault for 2. Crowd get on Sky’s case chanting “first round loser” at him even though all these guys lost in the first round. Lost pushes Taro’s button making him indestructible. The heels all bounce off his arm in a comedy spot. Taro then wipes out everyone with a plancha. Lost with a big and dangerous looking plancha. Tony gets encouraged to join them and hits a springboard corkscrew senton off the middle of the rope. Crowd want a ref dive. “Aww, you’re no fun” – fan when Pat Hernandez doesn’t dive. Disco and Tony make a mess of something back inside. Disco finally gets a tag out of there and the other heels clear the ring. Disco with a dive off the apron, Sky with a nice suicide dive and that leaves M-Dogg for the showy finish; a cartwheel backflip over the ropes. Again, no ref dive. Boo! “Pussy”. Cross armed piledriver on Taro from Disco gets 2. Lost brings the awesome with an amazing superkick in the corner. The extension was incredible. The spots start hitting one after another as we head for a busy finish. The faces all hit moves on Disco finishing with Kozina’s electric chair combined with a Lost elbow drop off the top. That’s enough for the win at 16.11. **1/2. Fun spot fest. Suited the hole it was placed into.
POST MATCH everyone makes friends and celebrates in the ring. Basically they were all babyfaces. They were only funnin’ during the match.
PWG title – Joey Ryan v Frankie Kazarian
Certainly not the main event expected at the start of the evening. I’d still prefer Super Dragon to Ryan who seems a little overpushed by this point. Ryan is sporting taped ribs after the sick finish to his semi-final with Dragon. He’s also favouring one arm. Both these men are crowd favourites and the two sides of the audience disagree over which they’re supporting. Nothing new there. Ryan struggles a little from the opening bell but evens matters up by suplexing Kazarian out of the ring. My concern with Ryan’s selling is he hits a move, like a Northern Lights and holds the bridge fine, then goes “aww, my ribs” after the fall is broken. Like Rob Van Dam. Kazarian goes after the injured body part. “That’s not cool”. Heh. Nice. Ryan falls out to the floor and Kazarian slingshot splashes him and dumps him on the rail. Kazarian with a bridging Electric Chair off the ropes for 2. Realistically those ribs can’t take much more of this punishment. Kazarian certainly won’t let up on the injured area using his corner dropkick to good effect. Outside again and Ryan takes a whip into the rail. Ryan manages a flip powerbomb off the buckles but can’t get the pin because his ribs hurt. That’s better. Ryan goes to the Rolling Germans but surely he can’t do that with injured ribs. He certainly can’t hold on after two and Kazarian counters into the Tazmission. Joey runs the buckles for the Hart-Piper Wrestlemania 8 finish but Kazarian has the common sense to let go. Ryan with a superkick but his ribs keep him down. Ryan gets caught in the Wave of the Future after an elbow to the ribs but somehow kicks out. I don’t really dig the continuity there. Ryan up top but Kazarian kicks him in the head. Ryan slips out of a move off the top but can’t take advantage because his ribs hurt. Kazarian does an awesome drop into the tree of woe. When Ryan charges he flips up and hits a Diamond Cutter right off there. “That was cool”. Amen. It’s not the finish though. Ryan escapes the Tazmission and dropkicks Kazarian out of the air when he attempts a crossbody. Now Kazarian is struggling with his own ribs. Not as much as Ryan though who’s been suffering since the last match. To the top and Kazarian breaks out the FLUX CAPACITOR for the win at 11.38. ***. Not quite the blowaway match the final could have been but it helped maintain the storylines. Ryan was hurt because of what Super Dragon and he went through in the one semi-final. Kazarian took advantage of the injury and won the title as a result.
POST MATCH the Joey Ryan marks chant “bullshit”. Excalibur comes out to congratulate Kazarian on his hard fought victory. He’s not only the champ but the Bad Ass Mother 3000.
Final Thoughts: This was much better than the first stage of the tournament. The quality of the matches improved and nothing on this tape is bad. One match is filler but you don’t have to actually watch it. The tournament was unpredictable and entertaining. Half the crowd’s bizarre love of Joey Ryan made the final a little lopsided in terms of crowd support especially considering how much they were into Kazarian in earlier rounds. Kazarian was certainly a good choice for champion. He was champ nowhere else and didn’t win the X division title until much later. That gave PWG a distinctive feel that they wouldn’t have gotten from Chris Daniels winning the belt. This was 10 days after the first Ultimate X so Kazarian was hot property. I’d have rather seen Kazarian-Dragon in the finals because I think the crowd would have been able to deal with that better and it’d probably have been a better match. Of course you’d have to sacrifice Dragon in the finals and I’m not sure that’d be a good idea either. Always tough to book tournaments. To solidify Kazarian’s position as champion PWG lined up some tough competition for his first defence; Chris Daniels…and AJ Styles. That’ll go down at PWG’s Are You Adequately Prepared to Rock.