PWG announces first seven participants for 2022 Battle of Los Angeles

Along with the Ted Petty Invitational (est. 2000) and the ECWA Super 8 (est. 1997), The Battle of Los Angeles stands as one of the most prestigious tournaments in North American independent wrestling, and it will be coming back on January 29 and 30, 2022, after a two-year hiatus in part due to COVID-19. With the number of high-profile free agents peppering the pro wrestling landscape and a wide variety of up-and-coming independent stars available, the California-based independent promotion has already announced a number participants for this year’s tournament.

Save for a few years since its inception in 2005, the tournament has followed a similar format: 24 participants in a single elimination format, usually held over three nights, with the finals held as a three-way elimination match. Some years the tournament dropped to 18, 16, one year as low as eight. These years featured a traditional one-on-one final.

The list of all-time winners reads as a who’s who of independent professional wrestling. Davey Richards, Low Ki, El Generico, Ricochet, Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, Zack Sabre Jr., Jeff Cobb, Bandido, Kenny Omega, and more have all won the crown, with Ricochet holding the honor of being the only two-time BOLA winner.

Thus far, seven participants have been announced for the 2022 edition of this prestigious tournament. Here, we’ll go over them one by one. We will also offer a little primer on where they’ve been and what they’ve done and any history in the tournament. Expect a couple more similar updates each week with a few more participants at a time until the field is revealed. You can also follow the releases on PWG’s Twitter.

And without further ado:

Jonah Rock – A veteran of the Australian independent circuit before coming stateside, this is Jonah’s third BOLA tournament. In the 2017 edition, Jonah saw a first round exit via submission to Zack Sabre Jr., but in 2018, he got past Sammy Guevara in the first round before falling to WALTER in the quarterfinals. Months later, WWE announced Jonah’s signing, and in July of 2019, he made his TV debut as Bronson Reed. A little over two years and a six-week North American Championship run later, Reed was released in August of 2021. Since his release, he has appeared for Impact and NJPW Strong

Alex Shelley – 2022 only marks Shelley’s second BOLA tournament appearance, a surprisingly low number for a performer that has been around the world and held titles at nearly every stop. As prestigious indy tournaments go, Shelley had more success in the IWA Mid-South Ted Petty Invitational, with a big run in 2003, before a first round exit in 2004 to Bryan Danielson and in 2005 to Mike Quackenbush. In 2007, Shelley appeared in his first BOLA tournament as a substitute for Danielson, and made a run to the semifinals with wins over Tyler Black and Matt Sydal, before falling to eventual tournament runner-up Roderick Strong. In the last two-plus years, Shelley has appeared for ROH, NXT, Impact, and MLW, among many others.

Kevin Blackwood – One of the lesser known names on this list, Blackwood is only a five year pro from upstate New York. He has one previous date in PWG, a loss to Lee Moriarty in late November of this year. Blackwood has also worked Limitless Wrestling, DEFY, AAW, Montreal’s IWS, and has worked a handful of tag matches on AEW Dark, including two matches in September of 2020 with his usual tag team partner Daniel Garcia. We’ll get to him later.

Lio Rush – This year marks Lio Rush’s BOLA debut. Still only 27 years old, Rush is already a 7-year pro, and has already held the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, won the 2016 ROH Top Prospect Tournament and held the CZW World Heavyweight Championship. Rush was something of a regular for a time in PWG, making several appearances for the promotion in 2017 until signing with WWE in July of that year. He made his return to PWG in November of 2021, in a winning effort against Davey Richards.

Black Taurus – The 2022 edition will be Black Taurus’s second BOLA appearance, his first being a first-round loss to Darby Allin in 2019. His last appearance for PWG was in September of 2021, teaming with Demonic Flamita in a losing effort to The Kings of the Black Throne (Malakai Black and Brody King) for the vacant PWG Tag Team Championship. Currently, Taurus is predominantly splitting time between Impact and AAA in Mexico, where he currently holds the AAA Latin America Championship.

Daniel Garcia – In what has been a year of astronomical growth for the career of Daniel Garcia, it’s only appropriate that it continues with a date in the Battle of Los Angeles. At just 23 years of age, Garcia’s name is one that comes up frequently regarding the future of professional wrestling and it isn’t hard to see why. In a one month period from late September to late October of 2021, Garcia wrestled singles matches against Jay White, CM Punk, Alex Shelley, Minoru Suzuki, Davey Richards and Christopher Daniels. While yes, he was 1-5 in those matches, the wins will come with time. Garcia is a star in the making and was signed by AEW in the last few months, where he continues to work with the tag team act of 2(point)0.

Jack Cartwheel – Another young name who made his professional debut in 2019, Jack Cartwheel debuted in PWG in August of this year at Mystery Vortex VII and has worked three dates for the promotion thus far. Shortly after his PWG debut, Dave Meltzer proclaimed that Jack would be “a big star very soon.” He’s spent a significant amount of time in GCW, and recently made his debut in VXS. Jack is looking to pick up his first PWG singles victory in the Battle of Los Angeles.

Bodyslam will continue to post updates for BOLA as more names are announced for the tournament field. The 2022 PWG Battle of Los Angeles Tournament takes place January 29 and 30, 2022.

Follow Kyle Sparks on Twitter at @kyleksparks.

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