Written by: Arnold Furious
I finished night two just last night so what the hell; let’s finish this!
September 2nd 2007.
We’re in Burbank, California. Hosts are Excalibur & Disco Machine.
BOLA QF: Joey Ryan v Roderick Strong
Joey got here via Dusty Finish. He’s cornered by Jade Chung. He’s out here to prove himself by winning this whole thing. Unfortunately Strong is in his way, chopping his chest like some kind of demented lumberjack. Joey’s only hope is that Jade Chung can interject and prevent the really nasty spots. Joey’s tactics mostly involve pinning to try and wear Strong out and yelling at the fans. I don’t think that’s going to work. Strong, as per usual, just stops selling and dismantles him. You know when Strong gets really into a match and just starts throwing his opponent around? He’s totally like that here. He runs through his high impact stuff and just murders Joey with the Yakuza Kick. That’d be it but Jade jumps on the apron. Crowd is DISPLEASED! Strong shrugs the displeasure off. Tiger Driver into the Stronghold and Joey taps out. **1/2. Lively opener but any pretence they had of doing a realistic match went out the window as soon Strong Hulked up. I feel bad for Joey Ryan because he’s an old school heel in a company that, by and large, has exciting fast-paced matches. He’d be great in Memphis.
BOLA QF: Matt Sydal v Alex Shelley
Sydal shows off his mat wrestling skill in the early going, which possibly surprises Shelley. The Detroit native starts out slowly but soon catches Sydal in a wheelbarrow suplex. On commentary they’re discussing the heat; it was 110 degrees in the building. The fans look a little warm. Get some air-con PWG! Shelley gets mean and dropkicks Sydal in the tree of woe…twice! Watching Sydal’s head rock back on those was a little sickening. Interesting that Shelley is working the face over. They go to AJPW with Sydal hitting two successive Enzuigiri’s only for Shelley to reply with the lariat. I know people who hate that but, for me, it depends on the circumstances. Here Shelley gets to duck a third Enzuigiri because Sydal was getting predictable so Sydal goes to the fast roll up’s and nearly catches Shelley. They botch the set up for shiranui counter and Sydal gets the leg Final Cut for 2. That move must have a better name. Sydal continues to use his superior speed to catch Shelley with a super rana for 2. Shelley has been timing his kick-outs so well that every near fall feels like a finish. They go for some counters and I would complain about how long Sydal takes over the standing moonsault BUT Shelley gets knees up because of that. Shelley works in a wonderful backflip sell on the superkick (Shawn Michaels would have been licking his lips) and the frog splash gets 2! Crowd is totally into this now. They do some more counters, looking tired now, and Sydal again takes his time over the standing moonsault for 2. That was more annoying but hey, they’re tired! Its fucking hot out there. Sydal goes up for the SSP but GETS CAUGHT IN AN RKO ON THE WAY DOWN!!! That’s your finish…well…it fucking should be. Shelley carries on hitting moves and finishes with It Came From Japan. ***3/4. I would have liked it a lot better if they’d finished in the logical place. That counter of the SSP was *perfect*. They really busted their asses out there in that heat though. Props for that. But seriously; finish on the RKO and it would been four snowflakes. Easy.
BOLA QF: Claudio Castagnoli v Pac
Pac brings what British style he does know, which is minimal but at the rate he learns at he’ll probably be a natural at that too. Claudio has a big size advantage but uses his wrestling skill to control the pace not his size. Pac’s flying has less of an impact on the bigger Claudio and this is going to be an uphill battle for Pac. They do some lovely counters until Pac discovers he can’t lift Claudio at all. The one major criticism of Claudio is that he struggles to put away smaller or lesser opponents. Which frequently makes him a fun JTTS rather than a main event threat. He throws Pac around for kicks. The Giant Swing is suitably GIANT. 20+ revolutions! Pac looks like he’s about to vomit. That could put pay to his flying. Its interesting that Pac can’t get the roll up’s he usually can because Claudio is too tall. Claudio tries to throw Pac into the air again but he grabs the arm into a flying headscissors. FLYING 630 RANA TO THE FLOOR!!! OHHH SHIT! Just when you think Pac has exhausted every ridiculous high spot there is he just fucking invents another one! Claudio still has that size and power though and just grabs Pac for a German suplex. Planted! Pac tries to flip away from him but gets nailed with the Forearm Uppercut for 2. Pac escapes the Ricola Bomb into a sunset flip for 2. I’ve seen it done before but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Pac JUMPS ONTO CLAUDIO’S SHOULDERS!!! Oh good lord. When he flips off and lands Claudio just kills him with a big boot. Sometimes flipping isn’t the end of the story. ALPHAMARE WATERSLIDE…for 2. Pac catches Claudio with a swinging DDT and finishes with the corkscrew SSP. Which is just an insane move but he makes it look like he’s doing the most mundane thing in the world. Hey, Pac, could you get me a pint of milk, a loaf of bread and a corkscrew Shooting Star Press? ***3/4. A sublime combination of styles. Pac’s ridiculous high spots ended up being too much for Claudio but if he’d used his size more effectively he should have won.
BOLA QF: Shingo v CIMA
Excalibur talks about the hatred these guys have for each other. They start off a little bit loose but they work at such speed that its hard to hate on. CIMA takes charge after Shingo’s power has little effect on him. CIMA is clearly concerned by Shingo’s power though and takes out his right arm. Shingo has tape on it, which is why he’s gone right and not left. CIMA works the arm until Shingo counters into the swinging headlock. He had to hold his bad arm in place with his good arm. Nice. Shingo is still working a little loose for my liking. Its not obvious but if you’re looking for it; it stands out like a sore thumb. You could argue its because he has an injury, which would be neat storytelling if it was deliberate. Shingo continues to sell the arm but keeps going for strikes with it, which is a little frustrating. He also misuses the Irish whip horribly, which is something you get a lot of in Dragon Gate. They run a nice sequence where Shingo uses his sheer power to jack CIMA over into a suplex, which would be better if he wasn’t hurt. But the arm injury has been completely forgotten now so I should probably get over it. Shingo does make a point of ripping his taping off as if to say he’s fine now. Incidentally everything they’re doing is at an incredible pace, much like everything in DG, which makes it very hard to review while watching. Every time I type something I miss 3 or 4 moves! They continue to counter at speed into the SCHWEIN…for 2. 2? CIMA is stunned! They go back into the counters, at an insane speed, and CIMA rolls Shingo up one way, then the other and traps both arms for the pin. ***1/2. Imperfections in the work aside this was tremendous fun. Shingo is going to be an awesome talent. CIMA already has been for some 10 years or so. I need to see them in a longer match in a cooler arena.
BOLA QF: Nigel McGuinness v Necro Butcher
Necro attacks during Nigel’s entrance and we have a very different match here. Nigel has some innovation in the crowd; he kicks a chair into Necro’s knee. Slides it along the floor. Cool spot. Nigel uses his environment to destroy the knee, which shows he’s capable of taking it to Necro in his world. He does work in another stupid lariat spot on the floor though. Nigel focuses on the knee, which Steen worked over in the first round. Nigel works assorted leg holds before settling on a modified Figure Four where he grabs behind the knee too. Quite why Necro just doesn’t punch him in the face is anyone’s guess. They start into the striking and NECRO IS UP AND ANGRY! They go to the lariats but none of them look good. Nigel fucks up the Jawbreaker so Necro just lays him out. Two chairs set up, Necro threw them in earlier, but Necro’s knee gives out to stop a spot on them. Nigel suplexes him onto the chairs and NECRO LANDS KNEE FIRST. Right on the injury! LARIATOOOOO finishes. **. Again, wasn’t feeling this one. Necro actually brought all the psychology from the injured knee to the chairs and everything in between. Nigel, by contrast, showed that he can’t work a variety of styles and keeps going back to that lariat crutch even when its not working.
BOLA QF: El Generico v Dragon Kid
They start out FAST with DK perhaps surprised at Generico’s speed. DK is used to catching other wrestlers off guard but is perhaps less used to his opponent having surprising speed. DK decides he has to take it to another level with the multiple rotation satellite headscissors. Generico is ready for the next one so DK counters into the Cristo. Generico counters out into a backbreaker! Generico has been aiming most of his moves at DK’s back but he’s really flexible so that’s perhaps not the best tactic. They do some more nice countering with DK’s speed being blocked by Generico’s high impact spots. DK tries to counter out of the Turnbuckle Brainbuster and that goes BADLY WRONG. DK landing on his neck. DK with a flipping rana for 2 but as DK goes up top to follow Generico Yakuza Kicks him into the TURNBUCKLE BRAINBUSTER and Generico advances. **1/2. I’m a touch disappointed for three reasons; 1. I wanted more Dragon Kid! 2. They botched too much stuff to make it a classic. 3. At 8 minutes it was just too short. I know it’s a long night and I can appreciate them taking time out of Nigel-Necro but I did want more here.
BOLA SF: Roderick Strong v Alex Shelley
They go into chaining to start as we’ve established both guys are great wrestlers so they want to find out who’s better themselves. They go for every finisher they know and EVERYTHING is countered. The best one being where Strong rolls through the Shellshock, which looked awesome. That whole sequence is the best wrestling of the entire weekend. Its just a pity that nowadays instead of working that around a series of more basic wrestling holds it all comes in the same section. The psychology is that both men want to finish quickly because they still have another match tonight (if they win). They run a nice spot in the corner where Strong takes the tree of woe dropkick, Shelley calls for “one more” so Strong moves and Shelley stops and hits a neckbreaker instead. That works into the psychology of people being able to hear those audible calls and Shelley using it to his advantage. Strong goes to the ribs, which he does sometimes to be less predictable as the Messiah of the Backbreaker. Its probably for the best that Strong slows it down here because its just so hot in that building. They go into a brief striking duel but Shelley surprises Strong with a block into the Flatliner. Strong gets all excited again and nails the flying Yakuza kick…to THOSE INJURED RIBS! Strong tries to come off the top but gets caught in a jawbreaker and Shelley pulls that multiple move bullshit into the It Came From Japan…for 2. A bit of overkill there AND a kickout. Shelley lifts the Boston crab but Strong gets out and steals the BORDER CITY STRETCH! Its actually a choke. The level of effort here is AMAZING. These guys are in incredible condition. Shelley goes up top but Strong clocks him with the Flying Yakuza again. Strong gets too focused on trying to get an evil move off the top and gets countered into the shiranui…for 2! Shelley goes to the Border City Stretch and you feel like both guys must be low on energy here. TIGER DRIVER and Strong rolls into another TIGER DRIVER to progress to the finals! ****1/4. The level of effort here was ridiculous. Kudos to both guys. The countering at the start was off the charts. As they got more tired their psychology disappeared a bit but you can’t fault the effort down the stretch.
BOLA SF: CIMA v Pac
CIMA controls the pace, which is for the best. Pac brings his excellent selling as opposed to his spot-match selling. Pac tries to take the speed up a bit only to discover that CIMA is just as fast. The sequence doesn’t contain anything dazzling but the speed its done at is what causes a standing ovation. This is a great test for Pac to see if he can match up to one of the world’s best workers. They work in that stupid seated dropkick spot but Pac rolls back to avoid it and CIMA DOUBLE STOMPS HIM! Take that which is cliché and make it new and shiny again! The only thing I don’t like about CIMA is his abuse of the Irish Whip. Sort that out Dragon Gate guys. It angers me. Dragon Kid is out here to corner CIMA but he fans him with a towel rather than helping out psychically. CIMA is good enough that he can see Pac’s top rope moves coming and is using them to his advantage. That’s a theme throughout. So he uses Pac’s highspots against him. After catching him on the ropes he hits a great missile dropkick with Pac still on the ropes. Brainbuster…FOR 2. BRAINBUSTER….FOR 2!!! They run some more tasty counters with CIMA getting planted with a DDT and Pac figures he can finish at his leisure with the Tiger Suplex but CIMA kicks out of that too. CIMA headspikes a headscissors. DAAAAAAMN. Pac thinks he has time to go up but is CAUGHT AGAIN. Venus! They work in an awesome springboard spot on the top, which leads to the AVALANCHE SCHWEIN! You know that’s the finish and CIMA advances. ****. Slick, fast paced wrestling with insane counters and high spots. I like that Pac hardly got anything off the ropes because of CIMA’s experience.
BOLA SF: Nigel McGuinness v El Generico
This could have been Necro v Dragon Kid! Nigel pretzels Generico up on the mat and mocks his rich Mexican heritage! How dare he? Crowd is not receptive to Nigel’s antics. Generico makes my day by ducking one of Nigel’s lazy lariats. So Nigel goes back to working the arm, a staple of his offence back in the day, and looks way better doing so. Nigel looks incredibly casual here but as soon as he gets an arm hold Generico’s selling gets Nigel over. Nigel tries to no sell so Generico hits him harder, using the uninjured arm, natch. Nigel gets in his headstand and Generico seems unfamiliar with it. He comes back with a tornado DDT, Nigel bails so Generico hits a senton! Back inside Generico gets caught with a lariat, which Nigel was slow turning into. Tower of London gets 2. Generico kicks Nigel in the face to counter the Jawbreaker and then kicks him in the face again to counter the headstand as Nigel goes to the well. Nigel goes back to the arm but Generico refuses to tap! Nigel is sloppy following up and is caught in the BRAINBUSTER…for 2. Now Nigel is staggered. He goes for the Jawbreaker but Generico sees it coming (as everyone who’s not blind should) and rolls him up for the win. ***
Chris Hero/Kevin Steen/Tyler Black/Doug Williams/Susumu Yokosuka/Jack Evans v Austin Aries/Jimmy Rave/Human Tornado/Scott Lost/Davey Richards/Karl Anderson
The battle of the first round losers! Minus the injured Tony Kozina and with Karl Anderson replacing him. Sadly this is not an elimination rules match. That would have been keen. Excalibur reminds me of the bad blood between Tornado & Hero over Candace LaRae. Steen steals the doorag during the introductions and I’m momentarily in the video for “It’s Like That” – the Jason Nevins remix. You know what I’m talking about. They’ve managed to get a decent heel/face divide here with the exception of Aries. Disco points out that one referee cannot possibly cover this. And with 12 guys out here Jimmy Rave STILL stalls to open. I’m not sure if I hate that…or if its genius. I appreciate it, but I don’t want to see it. Yeah, that works. I’ll skip any attempt at doing PBP on this because there’s just too much happening. Suffice to say there’s better talent in there than usual so its better than previous years multiple person night 3 bullshit spotfests. Ultimately it is still filler to give the main eventers a rest but they do have the awesome Hero-Tornado angle to keep it interesting. Matches I want to see from this, part 2: Yokosuka Vs Aries. Yokosuka works in counters to the headscissors escape. Awesome. They’re both so fast they can actually do cliché moves because they’re quick enough to make them believable. I especially love Yokosuka for dodging stuff at the last nanosecond. Yokosuka is so awesome here. He even comes in to make sure no one breaks up falls, which is Japanese psychology at its best. Aries meanwhile is conscious of Evans highspots and interferes from the floor. This would have been SO good as Tornado & Aries Vs Hero & Yokosuka. It really feels like filler when they run heat on Jack Evans. There are 12 guys out there. If someone gets isolated then just pile in and stop it. What’s Bryce Remsberg going to do? That’s what happens when the tag is made anyway! Afterwards people just come in whenever they fucking feel like it and the match becomes a complete mess. I had to laugh at Karl Anderson falling off the ropes and because they’ve got all these spots planned out they have to re-do it. Tyler Black was really composed during that though, a sign of his maturity at an early age. They also run the dives spot ala WCW, which Tornado wins by NOT diving and Hero rolls him up for the win. ***. Lots of fun for a filler match with the Hero/Tornado feud taking prominence but Yokosuka & Aries stealing the show with an tremendous section.
BOLA 2007 Final: CIMA v Roderick Strong v El Generico
CIMA lost in the final last year and seems to have the crowd support. Strong is eager to eliminate someone fast, which gets him double teamed. The brawl heads outside and Generico brings the FOSBURY FLOP! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone use that but its so obvious. They start getting into the goofy 3-way selling as one guy has to lie down for a bit while the other two work. Which is an issue because there’s no one who’s smart enough to just take a break. Also 3-way selling screws with the selling of the whole tournament because its so different. But they try here to avoid those pitfalls. As a wise green puppet once said; do or do not. There is no try. CIMA is working the smarter match but gets clocked with Generico’s big double; Yakuza Kick + Half & Half for 2. They work in some nice 3-way stuff with Strong hitting a move on Generico and CIMA following up with a frogsplash on Strong before he has time to move. Strong gets MURDERED with a brainbuster on the apron and that should make it 1 on 1. SCHWEIN ON THE APRON FOR GENERICO! FOR 2? Are you fucking kidding me? That was silly. Strong sold his spot. Generico completely no sells a brainbuster so CIMA finishes him with the REDLINE SCHWEIN. Why not just finish with the one on the apron? That kick-out was retarded. Especially as Generico got pinned 30 seconds later anyway.
Strong is back up and works over CIMA’s back. CIMA is in no mood to sell anymore. Mad Splash gets knees. They work in a DDT off the top with no pin! I would be pissed off about it but CIMA finishes with the Schwein. Except Strong kicks out. Come on! The guy in the $5,000 suit is going to lose to that move? Come on! SCHWEIN REDLINE…for 2. Crowd are into the duelling chants now. CIMA wants another Schwein but its countered into the TIGER DRIVER…for 2. CROSSFIRE POWERBOMB and CIMA finally takes it. ***1/2. The ridiculous high spots on the apron should really have lead to a pin but you can’t fault them for effort. Just for the silly false finishes.
POST MATCH PWG champion Bryan Danielson arrives to present CIMA with the trophy. Danielson issues CIMA with a title match challenge. CIMA is all LET’S GO NOW, MOTHERFUCKER but Danielson has a bad eye and CIMA is knackered. So that’s not happening. Next time! I want to see that match. Unfortunately they didn’t do it until after Danielson had lost the belt the following year. If they’d come through with that title defence on the next show I would have bought it without hesitation.
Final Thoughts: Superb final night with no shortage of excellent storytelling and energised wrestling. There were a few issues with finishes where they went past the logical ending of a match just to throw out a finishing move. Sometimes you don’t need a finishing move to finish a match. Fun show though, thumbs up for PWG.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.