Written by: Brian Bayless
January 2, 2016
From the American Legion Post #308 in Reseda, CA
Your hosts are Chris Hero and Excalibur
Chris Dickinson vs. Brian Cage
This is Dickinson’s PWG debut. The announcers also mention that Cage was originally scheduled to face Angelico here but he suffered a knee injury. Dickinson immediately hits Cage with an enziguiri before hitting a back suplex. Cage rolls outside and Dickinson flies out with a plancha. Back inside, Cage tries to catch Dickinson off of a blockbuster attempt but drops him in a really bad spot. Besides being completely botched, it was far too telegraphed. Dickinson rolls outside after being hit with a spinning full nelson slam as Cage flies out with a top con hilo. The announcers put over the friendship of these guys as they brawl outside. Cage powerbombs Dickinson on the ringpost then rolls him back in for a nearfall. They trade corner clotheslines as Cage wins that battle but Dickinson floats over on a slam and lands a roundhouse kick. Cage comes back with a spinning headscissors then hits the 818. Dickinson escapes from a full nelson then hits a Dragon Suplex for two. Dickinson repeatedly steps on the fingers of Cage and draws boos from the crowd. Running powerslam gets two. Dickinson works a surfboard that Cage breaks up as the two trade strikes on the mat. Cage hits a powerslam after a reversal sequence but misses a top rope move as Dickinson locks on a reverse Boston Crab. Cage makes the ropes as Dickinson goes back to beating him down. Cage lands a spin kick after floating over on a suplex attempt then hits a neckbreaker as both men are down. They get up and trade forearm strikes but Dickinson tries something that fails (I have no clue what it was other than it seemed botched) but Cage catches him then hits a wheelbarrow suplex. Cage measures him up and hits a running uppercut then hits a pumphandle driver for a nearfall. They have another reversal sequence until Cage hits a F5 for another nearfall. Dickinson takes Cage out of the corner with a hurricarana before hitting a deadlift wheelbarrow suplex for two. Impressive. Dickinson places Cage up top for a superplex but that fails. Dickinson escapes and lands on the apron but climbs up top and takes him off with a hurricarana. Dickinson lands a kick but Cage comes back with a discus clothesline as both men are down. Cage tries a deadlift superplex but Dickinson escapes and takes Cage off of the top then hits a Burning Hammer for a nearfall that the crowd bought as the finish. Dickinson follows with a deadlift powerbomb as the fans chant “one more time” but Cage blocks the attempt and hits an Alabama Slam. Cage hits a few powerbombs and a discus clothesline but Dickinson screams and kicks out at one. He blocks another clothesline attempt but they have some more miscommunication, as Cage did not land on his feet on a backdrop, then Cage boots Dickinson in the face before getting the win with a Steiner Screwdriver (17:31) ***1/4.
Thoughts: The match was sloppy at times but it was all action and generally fun. They worked hard. I thought Dickinson acclimated himself well in his PWG debut and hope to see him again here soon.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Drew Gulak
A “fuck him up Thatcher, fuck him up, Gulak” dueling chant breaks out. They start out on the mat and by trading standing holds. Thatcher works a bow-and-arrow lock then switches over to working the arm. He tries a few pinfalls but is able to put Gulak away. Gulak chops Thatcher and tries a suplex but is taken down as Thatcher puts him in a kimura. Gulak escapes and slaps on an ankle lock as Thatcher is able to scurry over to the ropes. Gulak kicks the leg then they trade stuff on the mat until Thatcher lifts him up while maintaining a double wristlock. Gulak escapes then hits a German suplex before hitting a basement dropkick. Gulak stomps away before working an armbreaker, even breaking the fingers during the hold. Thatcher gets out of that and stomps Gulak’s arm then works that over for a while. Thatcher even tries to break Gulak’s fingers before booting himself in the face. Thatcher eats boot on a charge as Gulak comes back with a clothesline from the middle rope for two. Another dueling chant breaks out as Gulak hits a few dropkicks that results in a nearfall. Gulak lays into Thatcher with strikes but Thatcher just gets more pissed off. They hit a double clothesline then Thatcher hits a back suplex as both men are down. Thatcher is up first and works the arm but Gulak rolls through and hits a piledriver for a nearfall. Gulak then works a cross armbreaker for a bit and covers but Thatcher bridges out as Gulak was selling his arm while making the cover. Thatcher deadlifts Gulak with a gutwrench suplex while Gulak was punching him in the knee as both men are down. Thatcher works a double underhook front facelock and lands a few knee smashes but Gulak escapes and hits a bridging back cradle suplex as both men are down. Gulak is up first and slaps away but Thatcher breaks that up with a headbutt then locks on the Kimura as Gulak finally taps out (17:03) ***3/4.
Thoughts: This was the match of the night if you ask me. It reminded me of something you would have seen in the main event during Ring of Honor’s infancy. Both guys were aggressive and beating up each other in order to win. This was easily the best Gulak has looked in PWG too.
Trevor Lee vs. Sami Callihan
Lee flips off the crowd during his ring introductions. These two stare each other down from their respective corners before locking up. They now start spitting at each other then aggressively roll around on the mat. Callihan is in the ropes and has Lee by the hair until the referee finally regains order. They now take out their hair elastics and work a quick sequence on the mat that ends in a stalemate. Callihan finally gains the advantage with a bicycle kick. He hits a roundhouse kick to Lee, who was on the apron, then flies outside with a tope. Callihan follows outside and beats on Lee with chairshots. Callihan theows a few chairs inside, as fans are handing them to him, but Lee tosses a chair at Callihan’s face then hits a standing stomp for two. Lee sets up a chair and poses in the ring before gauging his face. Lee works the arm then roughs up Callihan and takes him down with a dropkick. Lee drags him outside and tells the crowd to move but instead tosses Callihan back inside and stomps away as the crowd boos. Lee works a chinlock on the mat as the crowd rallies behind Callihan. Lee breaks and hammers away before getting two with a rollup. Callihan charges but gets dumped outside. Callihan blocks a running kick and drops Lee face-first on the apron. Both men are inside as Callihan smiles before hitting a running kick to the face. He tries a third at the crowd’s request but Lee catches him with an elbow smash. They brawl until Callihan hits a rope-assisted swinging neckbreaker for two as both men are down. Lee gets two with an uranage for two then hits a pair of super kicks. German suplex gets two. Callihan takes Lee down with a bicycle kick as both men are struggling but Lee reverses a crossbody in midair for two as both men are down. They are both unsteady on their feet as they trade strikes until Callihan hits a Dragon Screw before applying a figure four. Lee gets tied up in the ropes as Callihan destroys him with running kicks to the face. Lee is out of the ropes as Callihan hits a Liger Bomb for two. Callihan then puts on the Stretch Muffler as Lee eventually taps out (15:34) **1/4.
Thoughts: These guys lost the crowd towards the end. The action was not enough to hide their lack of chemistry and this was easily the worst match of the night. I could not get into this at all.
Jack Evans vs. Drew Galloway
Before the match, Evans grabs the mic and disses ring announcer Angelo Trinidad before turning his attention to Galloway. He suggests they have a dance off as the crowd chants for that. Evans tells the crowd to clap along as he dances in the middle of the ring. As he is walking on his hands, Galloway decides he has had enough and hits a running dropkick as the bell finally rings. He then tosses Evans all over the ring as the crowd chants “you got served.” Galloway no-sells a pair of dropsaults before turning Evans inside-out with a clothesline. Evans rolls outside and gets Galloway to chase him. Evans ducks underneath the ring and fakes out Galloway as he is able to ambush him from behind. Evans tries a corssbody from the apron but Galloway catches and tosses him into the ring post. They are on the apron where Galloway misses a charge. Evans hits a flying double stomp onto Galloway’s shoulder before sending him into the post. Back inside, Evans hits a few knee smashes but gets caught trying a handspring and gets tossed into the corner. Galloway hits a sidewinder but Evans slips out of a double underhook with a heel kick then pulls the ropes down on him. Evans flies out with a Flying Space Tiger Drop then tells the crowd he needs a cigarette. Back inside, Evans covers for two. He lands some kicks but runs into a slap and sells that with a corkscrew bump. Evans is able to get a rollup but Galloway drills him with a running dropkick. Evans rolls underneath a big boot attempt then positions Galloway in a tree-of-woe. Evans stomps on his nuts but Galloway bridges up and hits Evans with a German suplex in a cool spot as that gets two. They are up top as Evans reverses a slam in midair with a DDT. Evans then musters up the strength to climb up top for the 630 but Galloway gets his knees up then hits the double underhook DDT for the win (9:24) **3/4.
Thoughts: Fairly short but fun stuff overall. Galloway’s size is so impressive in this promotion that he comes across as a giant. Evans has a solid heel act here too and is actually good on the mic.
“Speedball” Mike Bailey vs. Adam Cole
Drew Gulak is now on commentary, replacing Hero. Bailey gets backed into the corner as Cole mocks his poses. They fight over a headlock that ends with Bailey backed into the corner once again as Cole does his signature chant. They trade strikes until Bailey hits a kick to the chest. Cole ducks an apron moonsault as Bailey kicks Cole around the ring. Back inside, they work a fast-paced Irish whip sequence that ends with Cole ducking outside and catching Bailey’s baseball slide then hitting him on the apron with a wheelbarrow suplex. Cole rolls Bailey inside and hits a slam for a one count before working the back. He chokes Bailey out against the ropes then runs the ropes before applying a chinlock as the crowd gets behind Bailey. Cole whips Bailey into the corner but eats a kick. However, Cole comes back and catches him with a Dragon Screw. Bailey does the crane kick pose as Cole laughs but Bailey connects with the kick. Bailey sends Cole to the floor with another crane kick then flies out with a moonsault. Bailey connects with a twisting kick then gets two with a Shiranui. Cole hits a jawbreaker but eats boot. Bailey misses the shooting star knee drop but blocks a Canadian Destroyer and hits a moonsault knee drop for two. Bailey hits a few kicks but Cole comes back with a running knee strike. Cole yells “suck my dick” but runs into a roundhouse kick then Bailey almost puts him away with a running sky twister. They trade strikes as Bailey wins that and destroys Cole with kicks in the corner. Cole then uses the referee as a shield and kicks Bailey low for two. Cole instructs the ref on how to count then places Bailey on his shoulders but Bailey hits a reverse hurricarana. They fight up top where Bailey kicks Cole down. Bailey climbs up and hits the shooting star knee drop to a hunched over Cole, who breaks the count by grabbing on to the referee’s wrist. Bailey then hits his rapid-fire kicks and caps that off with an enziguiri. Cole fights back but Bailey blocks a shining wizard with a rollup. Bailey hits a small package but Cole prevents a buzzsaw kick by diving at Bailey’s leg. Cole tries the Canadian Destroyer again but Bailey blocks that with a bridge for two. Cole then catches Bailey with a piledriver before hitting the brainbuster on his knee for the win (14:45) ***1/4.
Thoughts: Good match but somewhat disappointing considering the two participants. Again, there seemed to be a lack of chemistry here too but nowhere nearly as noticeable as during Lee/Callihan.
Akira Tozawa vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
The match starts off with a posedown while the crowd starts up the dueling chants. They soak it all up as it goes on for a minute with both guys now laying down on the mat. The crowd goes nuts when they stand up as we are now getting a “this is awesome” chant as Sabre reminds them they have not done anything yet while Tozawa pleads with them to stop as they now chant “match of the year.” The two then decide to walk out together and go to the back as the crowd still applauds. They run back in as the referee’s shoe falls off while Sabre has some fun with that. They finally lock up, almost four minutes after the bell rang, as they roll around on the mat until they end in a stalemate. The crowd is silent as they trade more stuff on the mat, all of it looking good. We get another dueling chant then Tozawa works a headscissors on the mat for a while as Sabre attempts to break the hold. Sabre finally escapes and poses then they start trading strikes until Tozawa knocks him down with a jab. Tozawa claims it was a palm strike then hits a bunch of slaps to the chest before hitting another jab. He works a chinlock on the mat and screams out as the crowd follows suit. Tozawa breaks then chokes out Sabre with his boot. They now trade abdominal stretches until Tozawa knocks Sabre to the floor with a forearm smash. Sabre blocks a tope then locks on an octopus hold before tossing the match heads back inside. He starts stretching Tozawa out then puts on a Muta Lock. Sabre locks on all sorts of stretches and holds but ends up running into a bicycle kick. Sabre rolls outside where he is able to make Tozawa put on the brakes during a tope attempt. However, Tozawa boots him off of the apron and hits a pair of topes. Back inside, Tozawa hits a pair of running kicks before getting two off of a back suplex. Sabre blocks a suplex and tries a hanging kimura but Tozawa deadlifts him to hit a suplex as that gets two. Tozawa slaps Sabre but gets caught in a hold and from that they engage in a pinfall reversal sequence. Sabre hits a flying knee strike but gets caught with a kick climbing up top. Sabre comes back to kick Tozawa off of the top rope then almost puts him away with a dragon suplex. Tozawa catches Sabre with a bicycle kick then a German suplex for two. Sabre segues into an armbar but Tozawa turns around and hits another German suplex for two. Sabre ducks low to break a waistlock but Tozawa decks him with a forearm after a reversal sequence. Sabre comes back with a pair of uppercuts then Tozawa hits a running knee strike as both men are down. They are now trading strikes while sitting cross-legged then eventually stand up and fight. Tozawa hits another German suplex after a reversal sequence but Sabre comes back with a Dragon Suplex before putting him away with the Penalty Kick (22:06) ***.
Thoughts: Fun match but nowhere near a classic or anything. The grandiosity of the crowd does nothing for the viewer at home. Sure, its fun to get involved in a match this way live but while sitting on my couch, it felt like a waste of time. This was really just an exhibition and never felt like two guys going out to win a match.
Before our main event, PWG Champion Roderick Strong addresses the crowd. He invites a heckler to come into the ring then refers to referee Rick Knox as an “asshole” before inviting in another referee (Justin Borden) as the crowd boos.
PWG Title Match: Chris Hero vs. Roderick Strong (c)
Hero immediately boots Strong and covers for two. Hero beats on Strong for a while until he gets hit with a knee strike. Strong hits Hero with a backbreaker onto the apron as both men are down on the floor. He slams Hero on the apron before laying in some strikes. Back inside, Strong works a chinlock before switching to an abdominal stretch. Hero powers out but Strong bites his fingers then lands a kick. He manages a nearfall then chops Hero against the ropes. Hero comes back with a boot to the face but Strong cuts him off after that and continues to chop away. He teases Hero, who sends him down with a slap to the face. Strong hits a dropkick before chopping Hero down then backs the referee into the corner after refusing to break a hold. Strong hits Hero with a barrage of strikes before Hero cuts him off with a forearm smash as both men are down. Hero hits a discus boot to the face then hits a flying forearm for two. Strong hits a bunch of running elbow smashes before hitting a slam for two. Strong hits Hero with more running strikes before placing him up top. Hero knocks Strong but gets caught with a kick. Strong climbs back up top and hammers away but falls off then Hero meets him with a strike before attempting a piledriver. Strong breaks out and climbs again where he hits a superplex for two. He hits a gutbuster then follows with a Sick Kick for two. Hero counters the Strong Hold with a rollup then hits a piledriver for two as both men are down. Hero hits a corner clothesline but Strong tosses the referee in front of Hero then comes back with the End of Heartache. Referee Rick Knox runs down to make the count but Hero kicks out as Strong is pissed. They struggle to stand as they trade strikes then Strong sends the referee in the path of a Death Blow from Hero as both referees are now out. Strong hits a knee strike but Hero counters a move and hits a tombstone piledriver. The original referee crawls in and counts but Hero kicks out as the crowd chants “that was six.” Hero comes back with a bicycle kick but Strong has the belt in his hand and whacks Hero in the head during a powerbomb attempt. Strong nearly puts away Hero with the Sick Kick then follows with a pair of knee strikes then hits another Sick Kick that finally gets him the win (19:06) ***. After the match, the crowd chants for Sabre. Cole comes into the ring and raises the hand of Strong and celebrates with him for a bit as they shake hands. Strong grabs the mic and tells the crowd he hates them. Sabre then comes out as the crowd chants “next World Champ” as Sabre has a future title shot due to winning the 2015 BOLA Tournament. Sabre tells us he was disappointed to fly all the way to America and not receive a title match. He then tells Strong off before leaving as the crowd applauds. The sound quality was awful here and it was unable to even hear what Sabre said to Strong.
Thoughts: Disappointing match, although it was still solid. You could pretty much tell the finish before the match over the deal where they switched the referees. It started off good but after the first ref bump the finish was even more predictable and really hurt the match as a result.
We see Cole and Strong, who is pissed off, backstage. Cole tells Strong he is the best wrestler and they are part of the best faction in the world. Cole tells Strong he wants to improve their relationship and gives him a signed picture of himself. Strong comes back and gives Cole the t-shirt he wore to the ring, which says he is “Best in the World.” They both try to act happy then when they are alone, Strong rips up the photo while Cole spits on the shirt and tosses it to the ground before walking away. Nice segment to show how these two are never going to be on the same page, leading to what will surely be an eventual feud down the line.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought this show was disappointing. A majority of the matches seem to underwhelm and after a hot start, the show died down. I did like how they set up tension heading into the eventual Sabre/Strong title match and continued to highlight the problems between Cole and Strong. Also, while I’m not expecting WWE-quality production values, the sound quality was way worse than usual. You could barely hear anything the wrestlers were saying on the mic. There wrestling was largely decent here but PWG has had much better shows over the past year and I’d suggest checking those out instead.