This weekend, one of the most famous and influential tournaments in Independent Wrestling returns after running the last tournament in 2019 which was won by current PWG Champion Bandido. This year’s tournament is different as it will only have 16 contenders and will be held over 2 nights rather than the 3-night events in years’ prior. After seeing the announced bouts, it is hard to pinpoint how we will get to the finals as in my opinion there are at least 3 potential winners in the field. I’ll be predicting each of the 8 first round matches, along with how we get to the finals and ultimately the winner of the event.
Jonah vs Buddy Matthews
One of the 3 matches I see the winner of the event could possibly be in. Jonah has been on a wave of success since returning to the Indepenent scene. While Buddy Matthews had a great match against now current IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada and working the recent tapings of MLW. I can definetly seeing either man winning, however with how PWG traditionally is, the newcomer almost always loses in their debut match, with this being Buddy Matthews debut match, I am going with Jonah
JD Drake vs Black Taurus
A matchup of two beasts, JD Drake has been of the consistent best match performers in recent PWG events just watch the WorkhorseMen vs Kings of the Black Throne match, great ring work and chemistry any match of Drake and Brody King sign me up. Black Taurus who has had a chance at both championships at the last two PWG shows first unsuccessfully challenging Bandido for the PWG World title then in a losing effort alongside Demonic Flamita against the Kings of the Black Throne for the PWG World Tag Team titles. Both men, will absolutely beat the crap out of each other and it will be majestic as both have shown their abilities in the ring, With Black Taurus having the recent attempts at championship gold, I believe the winner in this one will be JD Drake.
ROH World Champion Jonathan Gresham vs Davey Richards
In the second matchup I have the potential winner of the event coming out of, we have Gresham vs Richards which will most likely be the most technical matchup of the event. Gresham is probably one of if not the hottest wrestler going with his road to winning the ROH classic championship at Final Battle against longtime partner and rival Jay Lethal to defending it on multiple occasions in GCW now he enters this year’s tournament as one of the favorites. Gresham was the runner up to Bandido in 2019 and if PWG tradition continues, Gresham will be the victory as the runner up for the year prior becomes the winner in the following year (2017 Jeff Cobb was runner up, won in 2018; Bandido was runner up in 2018 and won in 2019). However, if Gresham wants to make it to the next round, he will need to beat Davey Richards who already has a BOLA winner back in 2006 when he beat Cima in the finals. Richards is looking to be only the 2nd man to win 2 BOLA events the other being Ricochet who won in 2014 and 2017. If anyone can end the tradition of stopping the runner up from the year prior it certainly can be a previous BOLA winner. This matchup will more than likely be given the most time and will be my most technical of the night my prediction is Gresham just passing by.
Lee Moriarty vs Alex Shelley
In this matchup we have two fan favorites in Moriarty and Shelley. Both incredible workers with Moriarty working AEW and improving in every match he has whether it’s AEW or PWG. Shelley after having unsuccessfully capturing the PWG World title from Bandido at the last show will be coming into this matchup wanting another crack at the title especially since of Bandido’s defenses this was the one that took him to the limit. I can see the winner going to either competitor as both have been doing their best work in PWG. I think this matchup will come down to experience and craftsmanship with that being said I do believe in another very will contested and exciting match we see Alex Shelley advance.
Jack Cartwheel vs Lio Rush
Rising star Jack Cartwheel will look to make the 2022 tournament his arrival as many of others have in recent years. I do believe this matchup will really put a stamp on Cartwheel and his ability as a wrestler and someone to watch going forward. Lio Rush the pending free agent will look to start his 2022 by winning BOLA, what better way to show just how important and how much of asset you can be for a company other than winning one of the most famous Indy tournaments. Cartwheel will be riding high as he will be coming off a main event match from Crash in Mexico while Lio Rush will be coming from having one of the better wrestling matches from the recent GCW show. This match will be one of the more exciting of the night and I believe this will be the perfect opportunity to give a push to Jack Cartwheel. With that being said, I believe Jack Cartwheel wins this matchup in an upset and advance.
Kevin Blackwood vs Daniel Garcia
Blackwood and Garcia, in what I expect to be the darkhorse match of the night. Blackwood had an amazing showing at the last PWG show and has been throughout all of the west coast. Garcia, having a match of the year against Gresham last year. Blackwood is in the same position as Jack Cartwheel in which they can make this year’s event their moment in the Indies. I definitely feel like this will be the match that is most talked about just like the Jungle Boy vs Jake Atlas match from the 2019 tournament which fans all around declared as their indies wrestling moment. Garcia, with a strong showing in AEW and before that in the Indies on the East Coast I do believe this is the first step in making Garcia the next in line for a championship bout. Garcia being one of the most gifted technical wrestlers outside of ZSJ and Gresham, I believe he will give everything he has in this year’s tournament and in a competitive bout will win this matchup and advance to the next round.
Aramis vs Rey Horus
Long time tag team partners collide in the only matchup between luchadores. Aramis has improved in every matchup he has had in PWG thus far. While Rey Horus being the consistent great worker in every promotion, he is in. This matchup will be the most high flying of the tournament as both will look to wow and dazzle an electric crowd this weekend. Aramis in his first big singles matchup in PWG will attempt to overcome his partner, however I do believe this will be another matchup determined by experience and with Horus already been in the tournament prior I do believe this one of the opportunities that Rey Horus will use to attempt win and earn himself a long overdue championship bout against current champion Bandido which is hard to think we have not have them square off in PWG in singles action so far in their tenure. I have Rey Horus winning and giving another lesson to Aramis for him to continue his growth and improvement.
PWG World Champion Bandido vs “Speedball” Mike Bailey
In what will likely headline night 1, we have the current champion Bandido going 1 on 1 with the returning “Speedball” Mike Bailey. This is the 3rd match I had that the potential winner would come out from. You have Bandido the current champion and defending BOLA winner who has put out great match after great match looking to be another 2-time winner and be the first current champion to win the event. Bandido will have these chances at glory however it will not be an easy path, yes he can make history by becoming the first back-to-back winner, first champion to win and 2-time winner. Mike Bailey, who is fully capable to win the tournament he did make it to the finals of the 2015 event and was one of the stars of that year’s event. He has worked more than a dozen PWG matches and this matchup with Bandido is the front runner for match of the night. This is the one matchup I have gone back and forth on as Mike Bailey advancing will create a lot of fun and exciting matchups, however I do not see Bandido losing this matchup and therefore I have Bandido advancing to night 2 in what will sure be a match of the night contender.
The Elite 8
Jonah, JD Drake, Jonathan Gresham, Alex Shelley, Jack Cartwheel, Daniel Garcia, Rey Horus and Bandido.
Here is the tricky aspect of this year’s tournament as usually the finals would be a 3-way elimination match. However, with only 8 moving to the second round they have two options to go with. They can either do another round of matches, then into a final 4 and finally into a 1 on 1 match. The second option would have the 8 remaining face off in singles bout with the winners all meeting in an elimination fatal 4 way. With the remaining 8 competitors all wrestling on night 2 which will also declare the winner, we are looking at the 4 matches between the 8 finalists, then 2 more for the 4 remaining and our final, which would have night 2 having a total of 7 bouts and which is the way I see this one playing out even though I would prefer an elimination fatal 4 way. Since the matchups are hidden, we will not know who will face who, so for this article, I will just predict the final 4 and the finals.
Jonah, Jonathan Gresham, Daniel Garcia and Bandido
Of the 8 who I predicted to advance I believe the Final 4 will be Jonah, Jonathan Gresham, Daniel Garcia and Bandido. Here comes the tricky part, since the announced entrants these 4 have been my go-to competitors as the winner of the 2022 Battle of Los Angeles. I do believe somehow, we do not have a rematch of the 2019 finals,
Jonathan Gresham vs Daniel Garcia
I do not see a rematch of the 2019 final; however, I do see this year’s finals being a rematch of a different match. The 2021 PWG match of the year between Daniel Garcia and Jonathan Gresham. I was there for this match live and my goodness it definetly was the best bout of PWG in 2021, I do see Gresham and Garcia topping their 2021 bout and having a legendary final hopefully they give them 20 minutes and allow them to just do what they do best and show everyone that they are among the best technical wrestlers and grapplers in wrestling as a whole. That being said since the announced return of the Battle of Los Angeles my go to pick was Gresham which I still stand with as the winner of the 2022 Battle of Los Angeles being Jonahan Gresham.
Please be sure to follow Bodyslam on Twitter as I will be providing live tweet coverage of this year’s event. if you are attending do not hesitate to say hello, here’s to another great start to 2022.