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Battle of Los Angeles 2018: A Quick Overview of the 24 BOLA Entrants

Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG) hosts the fourteenth annual Battle Of Los Angeles  tournament on September 14-16 with 24 participants. Some PWG regulars will not be involved in this year’s tournament in favor of top independent wrestling names, there will be no Ring Of Honor Wrestling (ROH), Impact Wrestling or New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) talent included, without the exception of DJZ and Jeff Cobb, whom is not contracted to NJPW but is involved with some tours. Dragon Gate favorites Shingo Takagi, CIMA and T-Hawk enter the tournament to freshen up the talent field and that will make for some incredible matches with new matches/booking that can’t be found anywhere else. PWG Battle Of Los Angeles has showcased the absolute best in independent wrestling since 2005 with names like AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Kassius Ohno, Daniel Bryan, and Adam Cole as previous entrants. Kenny Omega received his very first international breakthrough by winning this tournament in 2009 and the same could be said of “The Villain” Marty Scurll in 2016, both have been champions and main event stars across the globe since those big victories. This tournament can elevate or even make a career, WWE currently has four past PWG Battle Of Los Angeles winners under contract to show how many eyes this tournament is seen by. This is going to be an all-new field of competitors in 2018 with a mixture of returning talent and several new faces to PWG in PWG’s new home of Broadway, LA since leaving Reseda, California this year. Here are the PWG regulars that will not be involved in PWG BOLA 2018: Sami Callihan, Chuck Taylor, Michael Elgin, Brian Cage, Matt Sydal, Trent Barreta, Penta El Zero M, Rey Fenix, Sammy Guevara, Zack Sabre Jr, Marty Scurll, Trevor Lee, Will Ospreay and Shane Strickland.

The BOLA Newcomers

There is an astounding thirteen brand new competitors in this year’s PWG Battle Of Los Angeles tournament, chosen from the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, Germany and Mexico. 6”4 Chris Brookes of the highly popular CCK faction in the UK with Kid Lykos, and Travis Banks comes to PWG highly seasoned as a former multi-time tag team champion and a main event star in PROGRESS Wrestling. Brookes is highly entertaining whether he is doing goofball antics like giving out wet Willie’s or hitting a slingshot cutter with his big frame. Brody King is going to be one to watch, the straight edge athlete has been tearing it up in MLW, DEFY and just about every wrestling company in the United States. Brody King is covered in tattoos but what he really wants is to be covered in gold in the future, his in-your-face offense is everything PWG fans crave after only three years in the wrestling business. Bandido is a Luchador that has made a name for himself based on sheer talent and athleticism, the PWG crowd tossed money in the ring for Bandido’s last performance just like in the arenas of Mexico as a show of respect to the 23 year old that’s way beyond his years. Bandido against any one in this field will be a fiery performance because either big or small, they won’t be able to keep up with the speed of Bandido.

Robbie Eagles has been putting on a show for ten years now in Australia and his matches with Will Ospreay have raised his stock to the point where other companies in other countries are taking notice. Both Robbie Eagle and Adam Brooks come from Australia with a style all their own, they wrestle like Cruiserweights but aren’t afraid to get dirty to finish a big match. Adam Brooks has been booked for Rev Pro and PROGRESS Wrestling this year and he steals the show with his charisma and matches that don’t let up on the pace for a second. Darby Allin makes his debut in PWG as a member of the EVOLVE Wrestling roster, the hardcore skateboarder puts his body on the line to entertain and beat his opponent like the days of ECW. PWG champion WALTER just went down to Darby Allin in a shocking result and even better match at EVOLVE 106 recently, Allin is getting well-deserved attention for wild matches even after being hospitalized just weeks ago.

DJZ comes to PWG for the first time after several years in the Impact Wrestling X-Division and revamping his career in AAW Pro as the Heritage Champion. DJZ is a walking race party but he knows how to fly in the ring as well so he would make for a perfect match with the Dragon Gate competition. Two fantastic wrestlers from wXw get a chance on Broadway in “The Product” David Starr and the wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion Ilja Dragunov. Starr has a real chance of winning it all in his debut, he is a hit with fans when he is a heel or “Your Favorite Wrestlers Favorite Wrestler.” Starr has encountered Matt Riddle and WALTER in the past in superb matches so Starr is well adept to almost all 24 competitors. Dragunov is the definition of resilience, fighting back from retirement to claim the title that eluted him and never going down without a dogfight against all-comers in Germany. There is next to no chance of Dragunov getting knocked out in the first round as he is more intense than maybe anyone else involved.

Taking a look at the tough veterans entered, we have 38 year old Jody Fleisch who has been in the game since 1996. Fleisch has been in the ring with some of the best the business has to offer in the past two decades and this English journeyman is going to show why he should have been considered a long time ago. PierreCarl Oullett is on the run of his career after Joey Janela’s Spring Break this WrestleMania week in New Orleans against WALTER. PCO has gone from being one-half of The Quebecers tag team in WWE to the most rugged battle-tested experienced wrestler on the US independent scene. T-Hawk is 28 years old now but he has been a Dragon Gate sensation for eight years now. It may be time for T-Hawk to see how his chops match up against the brutal chops of the massive Champion, Walter. Puma King debuts as a twelve year veteran of Lucha Libre in CMLL. He was trained by his Uncle, the Mexican wrestling legend, Negro Casas and Puma King has used that to become a former Lightweight champion.

Returning To PWG BOLA

Joey Janela returns to PWG and he hopes for a better record than his last outing where he was out by the first round. The crazed wrestling style of “The Bad Boy” suits PWG all too well and he has to be a favorite to win the entire tournament this time around after hosting his own events for Game Changer Wrestler and defeating The Great Sasuke this year in New Orleans. Rey Horus and Flamita are entering their second BOLA tournament and they could easily be the next masked main event talents in the United States the way The Lucha Bros (Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero M) are. Flamita also made it all the way to the Quarter-Finals in the PROGRESS Wrestling Super Style 16 tournament last year. Rey Horus is Dragon Azteca Jr on Lucha Underground, he is going to seize the opportunity and parlay that into high-flying spectacles. Travis Banks is another wrestler to come to his second BOLA tournament after just losing in the second WWE United Kingdom tournament finals to Zack Gibson. “The Kiwi Buzzsaw” has been the PROGRESS Wrestling World Champion since September and his momentum isn’t slowing down no matter where he is booked. Travis Banks has defeated Jeff Cobb in the past and he defends his PROGRESS Wrestling World title against WALTER in July.

Jonah Rock comes from Australia at 275 pounds but he has the edge of being only 29 years old, the big push for Rock has yet to come but it will and it could be this year. Nobody quite squashes opponents like Jonah Rock’s top rope frogplash, the Luchadors and the Heavyweights better be ready to Rock all night.the Ringkamf faction from Germany will be represented by WALTER and Timothy Thatcher. It’s possible they even must fight each other to see who advances, they had a PROGRESS Atlas title match in January that is one of the best matches you will watch all year long. Thatcher hasn’t been in BOLA since 2015 and he always has a chip on his shoulder to start any match to start, it doesn’t get much more aggressive or technical than Timothy Thatcher. EVOLVE Wrestling had Timothy Thatcher as the longest reigning EVOLVE World champion in history at 596 days. If WALTER wins he would be the first ever BOLA winner as PWG champion, rest assured the man that beats the head coach and former Unified champion for wXw will have a bullseye on his chest and a victory he won’t soon forget.

The Chosen Bros” lost the PWG tag team championships to The Rascalz (Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz) at PWG AllStar Weekend 14 in a Three-Way with The Young Bucks, but that may just be a set up for bigger things including Matt Riddle and Jeff Cobb. Both have yet to capture the biggest prize in the company after a couple years, Cobb and Riddle rarely receive a negative reaction and Cobb made it to the Finals last year against Ricochet and Keith Lee. Shingo Takagi has been putting forth Dragon Gate performances for 13 years now, raw toughness and physicality is his strong suit and prefect for the tournament. Shingo hasn’t been booked in the United States on a regular basis since Dragon Gate USA closed up shop. CIMA is a former winner of the tournament back in 2007 and he has clashed with AJ Styles for PWG in the past as well. CIMA is highly impressive in almost every fascet of the wrestling game and he is going to get to show a whole new side to himself against charismatic, young and hungry challengers. CIMA has a big chance to put the spotlight on him as the mainstay from Dragon Gate as a two time winner, CIMA vs Matt Riddle would be a dream match.

Who Wins BOLA?

The winner of the three-day tournament will no doubt enjoy the riches of not just adulation but a higher stake in all of pro wrestling like former winners Davey Richards and Kyle O’Reilly. The winner receives a PWG championship match with WALTER and some already know the keys to beating the big man from Austria. Jonah Rock had Three-Way PWG Championship match with Keith Lee and WALTER at PWG All-Star Weekend in a brawl of the super Heavyweights but WALTER came out on top. Adam Brooks or David Starr on paper appear to be the future of PWG if booked properly – Brooks gets some of the best heel heat of anyone in the locker room and has as great of matches as anyone else. Starr has his moveset, look and taglines all in a row and he’s ready for another huge win after becoming the CZW Best Of The Best 2018 tournament winner. What a comeback story it would be if PCO were to win BOLA at fifty years of age and he can still go to the top rope to put on a memorable match. In reality it should all come down to “The King Of Bros” Matt Riddle and “The Bad Boy” Joey Janela. If you watch Janela in any promotion, you are going to get your money worth with a crazy match full of high-spots. Matt Riddle is poised to add to his collection as EVOLVE Wrestling champion and WALTER vs Riddle was an exceptional series last year that needs to be revisited. We will be looking at a full Preview of all three nights before September but for now Matt Riddle is the early pick to win BOLA.  This would be Matt Riddle’s first tournament victory since leaving UFC for professional wrestling in 2015. Matt Riddle’s tag team partner Jeff Cobb will have a problem with that and we may get a battle between “The Chosen Bros” again after they previously met in EVOLVE Wrestling and PROGRESS Wrestling.


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