Adam Cole won the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World Championship Saturday night (Dec 1) at the promotion's final 2012 event, Mystery Vortex. Cole had already been in possession of the title, from his theft of it from Kevin Steen, at this year's Battle of Los Angeles Tournament, which he also won.
For those who are surprised the Southern California promotion gave the ball to a guy who could very well be the next big, swinging dong on the independent circuit, before any of the other high-level companies out there: Go to the Principal's office and get a late slip!
For years now, PWG has been the first to give the main event spotlight to many of the same guys who Ring of Honor (ROH) would later opt to shine it on, as well. Whether it be Davey Richards or El Generico, Chris Hero or Kevin Steen, Claudio Castagnoli or the Super Smash Brothers, PWG has been the launching point for guys ready for the national stage for years now.
It always seems as if PWG has a nose for who is going to capture the imaginations of wrestling fans across the nation -- and they don't drag their feet on thrusting them into the spotlight either. If a wrestler or wrestlers get the crowd's attention, they get big time matches and title runs.
Maybe that's part of the reason why PWG's cards almost always have an all-star feel to them. The matches are important because they treat them as important.
When Willie Mack gets a shot at Roderick Strong, after impressing PWG brass and the Reseda crowd in opening tags and atomicos, he doesn't get run out of the building in five minutes. He gets a good, long, portion of time to hang with Strong, and show he indeed belongs.
When Sami Callihan ventures over from the East Coast with a ton of buzz behind him, he doesn't get forced to wrestle against Famous B in a second-match-on-the-card laid out like it's straight out of wrestling school. He wrestles twice in one night, the second time being an ALL-OUT WAR for the World Title against Steen.
And when, at the ROH anniversary show, Adam Cole gets to pin Richards (then ROH World Champion) in a tag match, thus showing the world he has arrived and is able to hang with the top guys (despite his relative newbie status), he doesn't get shunted into matches on the other side of the country with lackeys, managers, or people who don't matter.
Instead, he and his tag partner run game in exciting Tag Title matches, within a tag scene that's arguably better than any in the country in the last decade. He gets to win the biggest singles tournament on the PWG calendar and follow it up with a title win.
One of ROH's greatest faults, whether under Adam Pearce or Jim Cornette, was that they took too long to pull the trigger on wrestlers who had struck a chord with the fans.
Tyler Black is the most classic example of this.
Black was blazing hot following the Age of the Fall angle, but he didn't get his big title win until over two years later, having to watch guys like Jerry Lynn and Austin Aries get runs with the title ahead of him.
Not knocking either of those performers; even now, Lynn, hurt and nearing retirement, is a great wrestler, and Aries is one of my all-time favorites. However, they weren't options a company which was interested in exploiting fan momentum for critical and financial success would have gone with.
They were on the road to making the same mistakes again with Cole. They followed up his win against Richards in that tag match with a Television Title reign and a subsequent iPPV match against... Brutal Bob Evans. Of course, this was because Richards would then be tied up with Steen, but that was another feud that came way too late.
Thankfully, Cornette is now gone and Hunter Johnston is back in place as the head guy. Of the three people ROH has had in charge since they parted ways with Gabe Sapolsky, Johnston has been the one who has shown the most willingness to go with a hot hand. He was the guy who strapped Eddie Edwards before anyone thought he would have gotten the title.
Johnston would be wise to take cues from the West Coast. PWG has a proven track record of riding the edge and having it pay dividends for them because they gave the fans something new, as well as something good.
Wrestling doesn't move forward by rehashing the past.
The corporate wrestling entities are proving this week in and week out. Fortune favors the bold, and right now, there's no company bolder than Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.