Pro Wrestling Guerilla might not the biggest company in independent wrestling, but they certainly carry the most importance.
On the surface, there aren’t many differences between PWG and the rest of the independent wrestling world, but, beneath the surface, one thing stands out: the talent. All the top talents want to test themselves in front of that insane crowd that PWG has at every show, and the decision-makers at PWG do a good job of knowing what talents belong there.
The best example of this is the Battle of Los Angeles tournament. Past winners of BOLA include Davey Richards (now with TNA), Lo Ki (fka Kaval in WWE and NXT, currently with TNA), Joey Ryan (formerly with TNA), and El Generico (aka NXT’s Sami Zayn). In the past two years, BOLA has been won by two bright, young stars on the independent scene, Adam Cole in 2012, and Kyle O’Reilly in 2013.
In 2012, Cole was just a guy with a lot of potential. After winning BOLA, Cole went on to become PWG World Champion. The title win opened the wrestling world’s eyes, as he would eventually win the ROH World Championship, and go from a guy with a lot of potential, to a star.
In 2013, O’Reilly was best known for his ROH tag team reDRagon, with Bobby Fish, and his time teaming with Cole in Future Shock. He won BOLA, and though he went on to lose his PWG World Championship shot against Cole, it brought him to the front of the independent wrestling scene. That all gave him more momentum, when he eventually beat Cole for the title in May. O’Reilly was known as a tag team wrestler, until PWG and BOLA gave him a chance.
Not to mention the man who went to the finals of BOLA the past two years, Michael Elgin. Though Elgin came up short both years, his performance in the tournament has helped catapult him to the top, which includes his current run as ROH World Champion.
PWG tends to be a little ahead of the curve when it comes to the biggest names on the independent scene, and I think it will be that way for a while. The last night of this year’s BOLA is Sunday, with the show kicking off at 5 pm PDT/8pm EDT. A man with a lot of momentum on the independents right now is Johnny Gargano, and I think he will emerge from the remaining 12 competitors as the winner of BOLA 2014, and he will have a rise to the top that mirrors that of O’Reilly and Cole.