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Last year’s runner-up wins BOLA as Chris Jericho makes his PWG debut

Sammy Guevara’s Twitter

Iconic Southern California independent promotion Pro Wrestling Guerrilla held its seventeenth Battle of Los Angeles tournament over the weekend. In addition to the usual buzz about great wrestling (which is entirely dependent on the thousand or so fans & media at the Globe Theatre, since PWG’s model doesn’t include live streaming so with VOD/DVD release in a month or so), this year’s show was trending due to an appearance by a big name not usually associated with the indies.

But we have to start at the beginning, with the first round on Sat., Jan. 7. Lio Rush was scheduled to take part, but one year after he was injured while competing in this event, he had to be pulled from it due to the broken nose he suffered at Wrestle Kingdom 17 last week. Rush was replaced by Bryan Keith out of Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling.

Masha Slamovich def Alex Shelley via pinfall

Bryan Keith def. SB KENTo via pinfall

Komander def. Latigo

Jordynne Grace def. Jonathan Gresham

Shun Skywalker def. Aramis via pinfall

Konosuke Takeshita over Michael Oku via pinfall. Widely touted as one of the nights best matches. The live crowd threw money at the DDT Pro/AEW and RevPro stars and gave them a standing ovation.

Titus Alexander over Daniel Garcia via disqualification. Last year’s BOLA winner clocked Alexander with his PWG World championship belt right in front of the referee.

Bandido def. Black Taurus and El Hijo del Vikingo. A lucha showcase that also got a lot of “match of the night” talk, Bandido pinned Taurus after a Tombstone Piledriver.

The tournament was also readjusted to allow last year’s BOLA runner-up “Speedball” Mike Bailey to take part despite a conflict on Saturday night. He faced fellow Impact star Jordynne Grace in a first round match on Sun., Jan. 8, pinning her after a Flamingo Driver. That gave us the following quarterfinals:

Konosuke Takeshita def. Titus Alexander via pinfall

Bryan Keith def. Masha Slamovich via pinfall

Komander def. Bandido via pinfall. Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer said Bandido was “hurting” for this one.

Mike Bailey def. Shun Skywalker via pinfall

A tag match gave the semi-finalists a break before their next matches, with Latigo & Black Taurus picking up a win over Rey Horus & Aramis when Taurus pinned Horus. Then it was back to the tourney...

• Konosuke Takeshita def. Komander via pinfall

• Mike Bailey def. Bryan Keith via pinfall

The next multi-person match did a little more than just fill time, it featured the PWG debut of Chris Jericho, who showed up along with the rest of the Jericho Appreciation Society. Accompanied by Anna Jay, Tay Melo & Jake Hager, Chris Jericho, Daniel Garcia, Sammy Guevara, Daddy Magic & Cool Hand Ang def. Jonathan Gresham, Michael Oku, SB KENTo, Evil Uno & Kevin Blackwood.

While the PWG faithful loved it, and Jericho was said to have done a great job putting over Oku & Blackwood during the match before eventually scoring the pin after Judas Effect, this one will probably take a spin on the wrestling podcast take cycle since they worked a bit of the match while “stuck” in slow motion. That’s a popular indie bit, and a BOLA tradition for the match in this spot on the Night Two card. But it’s also the kind of thing often deemed too silly and in a class of things accused of killing the business, so we’ll see if Jericho’s involvement makes it a talking point.

Anyway...

It lead to the big finish, the BOLA 2023 final!

Mike Bailey def. Konosuke Takeshita via pinfall

Afterwards, Bailey put over PWG as a place wrestlers want to perform because of the level of talent. He also called the weekend a win for Takeshita, who many expected to end the weekend on top. With his victory, Speedball gets a shot at Garcia — the man who beat him in the 2022 BOLA final — for the PWG World title.

In addition to the JAS match, Eddie Kingston worked commentary with Excalibur (a PWG owner) on Night Two. Don Callis was also on hand, with AEW cameras filming his attempts to recruit Takeshita.

AEW is in Los Angeles this week for a live Dynamite and a Rampage taping at the Forum on Wednesday night.

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