We have arrived onto a new year and with the new year every wrestling fan’s first impression is on WWE Royal Rumble, however for the second straight year Pro Wrestling Guerrilla is gracing us by starting their year with what I consider the most sought-after tournament in independent wrestling the Battle of Los Angeles aka BOLA.
This year’s tournament features some of the best PWG wrestlers along with some fantastic debuts for the company. The list includes the following.
Former PWG World Champion and BOLA winner Bandido who is looking to be only the second wrestler to win 2 BOLA titles, the other being Ricochet.
Current, and defeating 2022 BOLA winner Daniel Garcia is also in the field and looks to be the first champion to enter and win the event.
Speedball Mike Bailey, who is not competing on night 1 of the event. Will look to finally make it to the finals and win the tournament, as he been to the finals in 2 seperate BOLA tournaments.
Jordynne Grace and Masha Slamovich, the first two women in a single BOLA event.
The debuts of SB KENTo, Shun Skywalker, Michael Oku, along with the highly anticipated debut of El Hijo Del Vikingo
With the unique format of BOLA, I will select the winners of each of the first-round matches and from there will select the wrestlers who I think will advance through the semifinals, finals and the winner.
Komander vs Latigo First Round match
Classic first round lucha style match. Komander has been lighting it up in every promotion he has competed in over the last few months, this was no different at the last PWG event. With the highlight reel of aerial maneuvers I do see Komander taking this first round match over the not to be forgotten Latigo who was in the same 6 man tag match where both wrestlers debuted in PWG
SB KENTo vs Bryan Keith First Round match
With the unfortunate news coming from Wrestle Kingdom, the originally announced Lio Rush is unable to compete. This has opened the door for the debuting Bryan Keith to enter the tournament and go against another debuting wrestler in the name of SB KENTo. With fantastic matches from Prestige SB KENTo I believe is the favorite going into this first round match of debuting wrestlers. This match is definitely the second most difficult to select a winner as it can go either way.
Alex Shelley vs Masha Slamovich First Round match
Shelley one of the most influential wrestlers in the last decade, he has had his influence in the likes of Jay White, Young Bucks among many others. Masha has been on a tear in her own right after two fantastic matches again Jordynne Grace in Impact and PWG. In my surprise pick, I do have Masha knocking out Alex Shelley of this year’s tournament as Masha can be the true dark horse pick to win it all this year.
Aramis vs Shun Skywalker First Round match
Aramis is one of the most consistent workers in PWG and has delivered some great outings just look back when he went against the debuting Konosuke Takeshita at PWG Delivering the Goods along with being involved in the 6 man Lucha tag team match with the likes of Komander, Bandido, Black Taurus and Latigo from PWG Dink. Do not let that fool you, as Shun Skywalker has also had some fantastic matches in GCW most notably his match against Nick Wayne. As is the custom in PWG, the debuting wrestler will often fall short and with the recent outings of Aramis I do believe he will advance out of the first round.
Jordynne Grace vs Jonathan Gresham First Round match
I believe this is the first match up of a couple in BOLA history. With that being said, I expect both to bring their A game for this match to show exactly how capable each one is in the ring. Grace holding the Impact women’s title and having fantastic matches with all the women in the roster. With her recent PWG outing having another true classic against Masha in their series of matches. Gresham who was my odds on favorite last year before being unable to attend the event, is a former Progress and ROH champion even holding both titles simultaneously. Personally, it is difficult to decide the winner of this match, however I do believe Gresham will go on to win this match and have a lengthy run in the tournament as much expected last year when he was announced, and I see this year’s event as what could have happened last year.
Michael Oku vs Konosuke Takeshita First Round match
Oku, the sole entrant from the UK who made a name in Rev Pro being holding multiple titles in the promotion. One of the entrants I am looking forward to seeing live as the match against Will Osprey is one of the best matches Rev Pro delivered. Takeshita, is one of the favorites going into this year’s event after coming short against Daniel Garcia at NINETEEN and having great matches against Mox, Kingston and the rest of the Blackpool Combat Club in AEW. Oku seems likely to fall short as the unwritten law of debuts often losing their first match, however, do not sleep on this match as both competitors are more than capable of delivering one of the standout matches of the night. Takeshita by a slight margin.
Titus Alexander vs Daniel Garcia First Round match
Can Garcia walk into this year’s event as the defending PWG champion and reigning BOLA winner to go on to win his 2nd tournament and become only the second in the history of the tournament to do so. Alexander will have something to say, the current West Coast Pro champion Alexander will look to make the biggest statement of the first round by stopping Garcia from achieving everything that is at stake. From an in-ring view, this match will be the match of the night. Garcia aggression and Alexander’s tenacity. I do believe Alexander is one of the many to watch in 2023, with that being said Garcia is on another level when in PWG and I believe he will win this match as he looks to become a two-time tournament winner.
Bandido vs Black Taurus vs El Hijo del Vikingo First Round match
In what will be the main event of night 1 this year, we have the consensus match of the night as we have former PWG champion Bandido going against of his longtime nemesis in Black Taurus and the wild card of this year’s tournament El Hijo del Vikingo. I do not like to do this and with all due respect to Black Taurus and everything he has done in PWG, but this match is really down to Bandido and Vikingo. Bandido the most beloved wrestler in PWG for the last couple of years looking to also become a 2-time winner while Vikingo looks to make this tournament his centerpiece of his US tour. The variables in this match are countless, you can strap a rocket to Vikingo and watch him take the tournament by storm as Garcia did in 2022 or you can have Bandido start his 2023 PWG year by winning the tournament. This is by far the hardest match to select a winner as all 3 have a great case to win. The winner of this match will most likely find themselves in the finals and I do believe somehow, someway Bandido makes it out of this Lucha 3 way.
Your winners of the First Stage of the 2023 Battle of Los Angeles:
Speedball Mike Bailey, Komander, SB KENTo, Masha Slamovich, Aramis , Jonathan Gresham, Konosuke Takeshita, Daniel Garcia, and Bandido.
Tune in tomorrow morning, for the prediction of the Final Stage of the 2023 Battle of Los Angeles.
As always, when it comes to PWG events I will be live tweeting the results for Bodyslam, you can follow me on Twitter at @Cuellar_cck.