After a relatively flat 'Eight', 'BOLA 2011' was highly entertaining and akin to its winner in spirit - light in tone and refreshing as ice water. Despite being firmly in Slay J's camp, here are a few more thoughts about Saturday's show.
1. I hope Willie Mack fans were not too dissappointed. He's charismatic in the ring, tightly performs his moveset, remarkably agile for his size, and conveys simultaneously plucky and goofy facial expressions throughout his matches. But, he is not yet a great worker. There were moments while he was working over Generico that were so plodding & clunky it felt as if telling the second act of a three-act match is not yet intuitive/innate for him. Though Generico has deficiencies, (more on that later,) he has mastered the ways of the babyface (be it arching his chin, mouth agape, outstretching his arms) to elicit the audience's emotions. Although Willie's charm is similar to 'H Tornado' in that he evokes an amiable, post-adolescent member of Bill Cosby's 'Our Gang,' Mack's too physically imposing to play the underdog babyface for the majority of his career. In the middle of his match vs. Generico, Willie came off as confused as to how to express his offense - it's tough for the bigger, thicker man to play the underdog against a resilient perennial babyface character like Generico. How do we see Willie developing over the next 12 months so he begins to attract attention from some of the more active national federations?
2. I don't think there is another competitor who if we combine their in-ring style/match quality/feud intensity/parameters of the match - who has been able to be as injury free and fresh as Roderick Strong has since 2003. Look at every indie-world competitor of the 2000s -
3. Eddie Edwards is a fantastic competitor who adds a rightful presence and grit to every match he's in. Yet I have no interest in seeing him hold the PWG title until 2013. Furthermore, he is neither remarkably talented or tenured enough to hold the mantle of being ROH's first and only Grand Slam champion. Frankly, if the purpose of titles is to legitimize a competitor, the only locale Eddie should be rewarded with a belt is in NOAH. Like the far majority of Suzuki's challengers, (Nakajima/Genba/Ricky Marvin,) Eddie outperformed Suzuki when they headlined Karakouen and is deserving of a run with one of the two junior belts. But is it true, like Davey said, that 'NOAH does not reward hard work?'
4. Fit Finlay is built like Rhino - a thick, stout beast - and I very much enjoyed the first few minutes of his match with Steen. The serious intent and manner at which he grabbed/knocked Steen's nose about was very cool. I was upset that he appeared to leave after the first half as even a coarsened competitor like 50-plus Finlay would have responded to the overwhelming, mostly positive energy that built up over the final two matches. Likewise, the indie wrestlers would have appreciated hearing from/knowing that a former, and perhaps future, member of the WWE bureaucracy was around - motivator for that elusive try-out.
5. The KOW were the right team to have humiliated the Jackson boys during the awesomely entertaining first 10 minutes of their tag match.
6. Although the emotion behind Tozawa's departure was pure and deserved, I can't help but feel disappointed that we the audience, or the script, did not call for a celebration and public gratitude for all that Claudio and especially Chris Hero have given to PWG over the years. What is it about the Kings that doesn't/didn't allow for a profession of pride and joy over their many PWG accomplishments and sacrifices?
7. The Young Bucks claim to be the greatest tag team in the world today. There's no doubt that their acrobatics put the wrestling world on-notice back in 2008-9 and they made a surprisingly awesome transition from babyfaces to heels; but, they are not great wrestlers. There is no excuse for the following: After their humiliation, and it was, the heel tandem needed to regain their heat and the best way to do that is return to the basics of wrestling. I thought Nick understood this as he began to work over Claudio's arm as Claudio bases a lot of his offense (uppercuts/lifting) on the arms. Yet why did Nick start attacking right-handed Claudio's left arm? And to make matters worse, upon the tag to Matt, the elder sibling completely neglected Nick's offense by not once going after the same body part Nick spent the past 3 minutes attacking. Thus, their 7 minute heat segment fell flat and my opinion of the brothers' wrestling acumen also dropped.
8. Outside of John Cena and maybe Tanahashi, El Generico is the best wrestling babyface of the past decade. Examples include his awesome music, (not the ROH crap,) identifiable moveset, underdog mentality, believable resilience, the grace of his high-flying, etc. I've been a fan of his since my first PWG shows in early 2005 and have celebrated his triumphs in WXW, Chikara, ROH, etc. I understand the importance of maintaining character. Yet I left Bola feeling a little underwhelmed and it was due to Generico not knowing that this was an opportune and appropriate time for the fans to be treated to a slight peak into the man behind the mask. The script or he should have prepared something that was just real - emotionally filling. At some point soon his career will be at a crossroads. If '07-'10 was all about growing in terms of recognition and the quality of competitors/opportunities being given (WXW vs. Sekimoto/going over Waltman at King of Trios) - he must be feeling a little melancholy in August of '11. His main employer just removed his single title after only 45 days and no successful title defenses - it's not as if TNA/WWE are knocking on his door. This is not to denigrate - it's the ups and downs of every entertainer. Yet there's been one constant - PWG. It's the first major organization that treated him as a star/champion. There is an argument to be made that he is PWG's all-time MVP. Wasn't BOLA then the moment when he could have let his guard down a little and communicated something genuine outside of the easy and cliche 'PWG' chant? I know this may come off as a 'mark,' but this is something that has hurt his career. Let's be honest, Steen and even Corino/Cabana did the heavy lifting in allowing the 'feud of the year' to last an entire year. At what point and what crowd is deserving for that reflective golden nugget? And is there an end to the seemingly endless supply of good vibes people have for El Generico?
9. Kevin Steen may be the most exciting/dynamic wrestling performer in all of the world - he's an anomaly - a fat, T-shirt wearing, odious, crude, Cartman. Yet his knowledge of the business, (despite that unneeded potty mouth, his sequestering of the 5-6 yr olds attention was the right heel move as it is natural for any decent-minded audience member to hate on anyone who would traumatize a kid...and that's when/why I knew Generico had/was going to win) and his willingness to say/do anything makes every appearance of his 'must-see.' (Sorry Miz)
Thanks for reading - and, most of all, thanks to PWG for everything. Their run is remarkable - if PWG runs 12 shows a year - 8 are must see. No other company has ever had their limited schedule and yet produces a product that Every wrestling fan should watch to satisfy their pro wrestling jones. Amazing! Thanks again.