–Masha Slamovich vs. Alex Shelley – 3-3.25/5 – Good heel work from Alex. Masha had a good crowd backing and not intimidated, won on a cradle reversal of Shelley’s Emerald Flowsion.
–Bryan Keith vs. SB KENTo – 3.5+/5 – Match slowly rolled into something real strong. Keith’s hard-hitting debut impressed in the place of injured Lio Rush. SB KENTo will be back.
–Komander vs. Latigo – 3.25-3.5/5 – If you love rope-walking, then I’ve got the match for you! Latigo is a solid Lucha heel. Komander is a great Lucha babyface and won with his 2nd or 3rd shooting star SOMETHING of the match.
–Jordynne Grace vs. Jonathan Gresham – 3.5/5 – Fun and heartwarming hubby vs. wife match. Grace had the power and Gresham had the Grace. Wife wins.
–Shun Skywalker vs. Aramis – 2.25/5 – One of the few not-so-good PWG matches in recent memory. The force was not with Skywalker here as he looked slow, plodding and didn’t do much. Neither connected with the crowd.
–Konosuke Takeshita vs. Michael Oku – 4.25-4.5/5 – One of the more emotional exchanges you’ll see in a first round tournament match. Takeshita is the definition of Rising Sun and Oku has all the goods for a young kid. LOVED THIS.
–Titus Alexander vs. Daniel Garcia – 3.75-4/5 – A DQ in PWG is as rare as a 5-star match in WWE. Garcia is the ultimate heel in this promotion– he even wanted to take my NJPW merch that a friend sold me. Red Death is right; he said fuck it and swiped good ol’ Titus in the domepiece. This was a brilliant way of getting the champ out of the tournament and set-up something extra special for Night 2.
–Bandido vs. Black Taurus vs. El Hijo del Vikingo – 4.25+/5 – A tale of 2 matches: Despite a horrific injury on a stacked chair apron spot to Vikingo (and later we find out Bandido with an injured neck), these lucha kings attempted almost everything of what little we have NOT YET seen before… and, for that, should be lauded. But the injuries… Hell, I thought it was kayfabe since ‘Dido attempted to bring the Viking Kid back into the ring by the face while being ushered by PWG employees to the back. At this brief moment, Vikingo seemed fairly fine-ish and conscious. While he wasn’t able to return on Day 2, El Hijo del Vikingo will DEFINITELY be among the most requested to return, and Bandido is arguably the indy fed’s biggest star. Black Taurus might just be the most underrated guy in PWG. In all, this was awesome.
Matches = 3.5-3.75/5
Entertainment = 4/5
Overall = 3.75/5 Pabst Blue Ribbons.
Not every match wowed – or even hit – but an overall excellent first night with a little bit of everything for everybody.
–Speedball Mike Bailey vs. Jordynne Grace – 3.25/5 – The first of 4 matches for Speedball. I joked that whoever booked this match (be it Dragon or Excalibur) must be a big-time X-Men fan with Speedball vs. the Juggernaut. Solid stuff, with some gruesome finger-bending spots from Grace. She provided the power, while Bailey provided the strikes.
–Konosuke Takeshita vs. Titus Alexander – 3.5/5 – I thought Titus was going to get his ass beat again, but he leveled up in this one with a ton of great looking Germans and other power O. But Takeshita had the fighting spirit and finally hit the jumping knee after many attempts.
–Bryan Keith vs. Masha Slamovich – 3.25/5 – This was physical. A little long, but it got really awesome at the end. Crowd into both talents with back ‘n forth chants.
–Komander vs. Bandido – 3.5/5 – What I thought was a “passing of the torch” was more so an upset due to injury. Word has it that Bandido may have made it to the finals but suffered a neck injury – which is strangely but brilliantly used in an angle in the beginning of the match. I guess he figured he had to “go heel” for a moment to put over his friend (who hit yet another ropewalk shooting star). Lots of awesome spots but a few misses, too, with a strange pinfall mishap towards the finish. We’ll need these two to run this one back.
–Speedball Mike Bailey vs. Shun Skywalker – 3.75+/5 – After a subpar performance on Night 1 (with murmurs of Shun saving himself for a big Dragon Gate match), Mr. Skywalker really brought the Force to Speedball. He got over big time, and it didn’t hurt to go against the MVP of the Night. Although Shun has one of the worst outfits in wrestling, looking more like a WWE 2K CAW someone spent way too long creating, I really dug him after this one. Bailey won via double knee shooting star press.
–Special Lucha Libre Showcase–
–Latigo & Black Taurus vs. Aramis & Rey Horus – 4/5 – “This is Lucha! Lucha Libre!”. Crowd was super hot for this one with lots of insane spots. Seeing Horus (who put on a few covid kilos) was nice and he performed great. Aramis also made up for a poor Night 1. Black Taurus is just the greatest, taking a zillion bumps on the horns, while Latigo got more reaction tonight than Saturday.
–Konsuke Takeshita vs. Komander – 3.25-3.5/5 – Awkward match-up but both guys did a lot in the 5-minutes they had – similar to KAIRI and Tam Nakano from Wrestle Kingdom. Takeshita won via backslide to keep Komander strong.
–Speedball Mike Bailey vs. Bryan Keith – 4-4.25/5 – Super hard-hitting. Bailey’s fingers were dead, but he still found a way. Houston’s Bryan Keith was mega impressive this weekend and easily the breakout star of the tournament.
–BOLA Special 10-Man Tag–
–JAS (Chris Jericho, Daniel Garcia, Angelo Parker, Matt Menard, Sammy Guevara) vs. Jon Gresham, Player Uno, Michael Oku, SB KENTo, & Kevin Blackwood – IT DOESN’T MATTER/5 – WHAT THE HELL!!! The JERICHO APPRECIATION SOCIETY is in The Globe! I don’t remember the crowd going this crazy since Super Dragon’s last return. OK– this was bigger, and holy damn the GOAT Chris Jericho actually wrestled, and took bumps from some indie guys for 20 fuckin’ minutes. This was extra special – and ENTIRELY unexpected!! It kicked off with an awesome intro/swerve from PWG Champ Danny Garcia, with Angelo Parker and Daddy Magic a 2.0 blast, Sammy got the most heat of the Night, the ladies looked fly and Anna Jay had a great moment with Uno (another surprise but..), and Hager REALLY likes his hat! It was nice to see Oku and Blackwood working with Y2K for a bit in the match, too. How do you even rate this? (And, yes, they brought back the slow-mo shit from Classic PWG.. that would have Corny smashing all the kitchenware in his house). To quote Excalibur, this was “UN-BE-LIEV-ABLE!”
–Speedball Mike Bailey vs. Konosuke Takeshita – 4.5/5 – The best match of the weekend, but, boy, did these two stallions have an uphill battle to climb. Imagine having to follow CHRIS FUCKIN JERICHO IN PWG? They kinda did it. No, they definitely did it, and it took nearly 30-minutes to do it, but DO they DID. At the very end was a crazy scary top rope brainbuster on the buckle from Konosuke to Speedball, but he recovered. And Bailey bounced back enough to finish with the shooting star double knee and Flamingo driver. The soft spoken Canadian also had a GREAT speech at the end, and this was definitely one of the more emotional moments in PWG history. As if having 9 matches in 3 days at the last WrestleMania weekend wasn’t enough, Bailey finished the DAY with 4 wins, averaging roughly “4 stars” for each of them. Dude is relentless, and Takeshita is the next big thing from Japan. Both these fucking guys.
Matches = 3.75/5
Entertainment = 4.75/5
Overall = 4.25/5 Santa Monia IPA’s.
While the first half of Night 2 started off a little underwhelming, business picked up when Bailey wrestled Shun and the rest is history. An incredible AEW surprise for the “Loser’s Ball” (not so on this Appreciation Day!), and an even better main event than even last year’s barn-burner between Bailey and Garcia. Kudos to all the talent, the refs (Rick Knox! Knox! Knox!, White/Red/Gold Shoes Justin Borden, AEDub’s Stephon Smith!), the amazing ringside photography of Mikey, Jess and the gang, ring announcer Christian Cole (who has never been more exuberant!), and, of course, our liaison in all this madness, Excalibur. Until next time.
Thank you Sex Luger (@RobBishopSD) & Cozy Superkick (@cozysuperkick) for the images.