5-Star Match Reviews: The Superkliq vs. Matt Sydal, Will Ospreay and Ricochet – PWG BOLA 2016
I found it; at long last I found it. This is the match that really started the trend of “super-indy” spot-fest matches becoming “the norm” in modern wrestling. Before this point, these crazy acrobatics-focused matches were limited to smaller promotions and the fringes of the wrestling fandom.
But then this match got praised to the moon and served as the launching pad all six wrestlers needed to elevate their respective careers to new heights. As soon as this match was elevated to ‘classic’ level by Dave Meltzer, that was all the proof these guys and their followers needed to believe that this style of match was the way forward for wrestling.
But was this match really that good? Did it truly deserve such high praise from the Wrestling Observer and from fans watching around the world? Read on to find out.
Today we look back at the six-man tag match between the Superkliq (the Young Bucks & Adam Cole) and Will Ospreay, Matt Sydal & Ricochet from Pro Wrestling Guerilla’s 2016 Battle of Los Angeles.
As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star and almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes back to the 1980s and I’m going to pick different matches from different eras to see how they look today. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here.
BOLA is an annual tournament held over three nights. To end the first night on a high note, a special six-man tag match was announced. On one side was the Superkliq: The Young Bucks and Adam Cole. On the other side was a trio of three of the world’s top high-flyers thrown together. There was no need for a story, deeper reason, or any angles in this case. This was meant to be an exhibition, a sampler platter, for what all of these men could do. But given the names involved, there were some expectations of what would be seen: lots of tandem offense, superkicks galore, and people spending more time either above the ring or in the air in general than on the mat or between the ropes. But could it live up to all that hype?
This match originally took place on September 3rd, 2016.
Ricochet and Cole start with Cole flipping the crowd off for their pro-Ricochet cheering. Cole applies a standing armlock but Ricochet flips out. Not as in ‘goes nuts’ but literally ‘does a bunch of flips to escape’. Cole answers with an eye poke and does his catchphrase but Ricochet kicks him from behind. Ricochet ducks a clothesline from Matt and Matt gets hurricanrana’s by Sydal. Nick charges in and eats a flying forearm from Ospreay. That’s followed by some coordinated flips that do nothing but show off. The Bucks and Cole come back in and go face-to-face with the three flippers in the ring and taunt them, which leads to three simultaneous superkicks to the Superkliq. Sydal goes for an aided springboard dive to the floor but he botches something and lands badly. But he brushes it off so that Ospreay and Ricochet can land simultaneous Sasuke Special dives to the floor. The Superkliq all get thrown back into the ring but they superkick all three other guys off the apron and back to the floor. They all channel Kenny Omega and tease suicide dives but get pulled to the floor. Each of the Superkliq guys powerbombs one of their opponents onto the ring apron, all at the same time. Then the Superkliq complete their pre-planned sequence and hit perfectly-timed dives through the ropes and to the floor.
Back in the ring, Cole stomps and foot chokes Ricochet in a corner. Matt tags in and hits a gutbuster/swinging neckbreaker combo alongside Nick. Then Nick tags in and shoots Ricochet into a corner but Ricochet kicks him to stop a charge. Ricochet hits a roll into a DDT and then tags Ospreay, who knocks Nick off the apron as Matt tags in as well. Ospreay hits a headscissor but Nick cuts him off. The Bucks try a double-team move but Ospreay ducks it and hits a double flipping armdrag on both of them. Matt ducks a charge and sends Ospreay onto the apron but Ospreay kicks both him and Nick and then lands a slingshot senton, and then walks into a superkick from Cole. Matt comes, kicks Ricochet off the apron and uses that momentum to kick Sydal off as well. Matt lands his own dropkick to the floor onto both Ospreay and Sydal and then holds the ropes down so that Nick can land a suicide dive onto those two guys as well. Not sure what the point of Matt holding the ropes is since Nick clears the ropes without any effort. Then Cole teases a dive but does his catchphrase instead.
Cole slams Ospreay and sends him careening into a corner. Nick tags in and keeps Ospreay down as Matt plays with the crowd and gets them to sing some silly chants. Ospreay tries hitting back but Nick drops him with a wheel kick. Matt tags in as Nick holds Ospreay in place. Matt does some silly cartwheels to build up the crowd and that whole sequence ends…with a back rake. Which the fans react to like it’s a big deal. Sigh…PWG, I guess. Ospreay kicks out at one so Cole tags in and does a suplex/camel clutch combo. As he holds Ospreay in place, the bucks knock Ospreay’s partners off the apron and start charging. They go for a kiss of all things but Ospreay ducks down and the brothers end up kissing each other. Seriously, what is this? Ospreay takes advantage with a handspring elbow that knocks all three Superkliq guys down. Ricochet tags in, knocks Nick off the apron, gets locked in a full nelson by Cole, kicks Matt, sends Cole into Matt, catches Cole on a rebound, kicks Matt again, and DDT’s Cole. He lands a northern lights suplex on Matt and goes for a follow-through second suplex but Nick catches his brother in the wheelbarrow position. Ricochet catches both Bucks of guard, leading to a facebuster and a big book on Nick and a Brainbuster on Matt. The commentator says that Ricochet is ridiculous and he’s right. But that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Ricochet tries a Regal-plex on Cole but Cole elbows out. Ricochet pulls Cole back to block a charge but Cole escapes from Ricochet’s shoulders and boots his face. A second charge by Cole leads to a drop toehold from Ricochet and a basement dropkick from Sydal. Standing moonsault/shooting star splashes by Sydal/Ricochet. Cole kicks out of a pin at two. Sydal tags in but Cole kicks both him and Ricochet does a flip to sell his impact. Sydal lands a snap hurricanrana on Cole and then a second one on both Bucks at the same time. He ducks a clothesline from Cole and then drops him with a Half Nelson Driver for another two-count. Sydal places Cole on the top turnbuckle and goes for a super Frankensteiner but Cole throws him off. Sydal bounces off the top rope and hits the may hard. Nick tags in and runs wild with a kick to Ricochet as Matt lands a triangle DDT on Ospreay on the apron. Both Nick and Cole land running kicks to Sydal’s head and Matt lifts Sydal into the powerbomb position. The Superkliq land a bucklebomb/double enzuigiri combo, followed by a running corner cannonball splash from Matt. Cole superkicks Ospreay and drapes him on the second rope alongside Sydal. Nick dives off the top rope with a 450 splash and hits both Sydal and Ospreay with the same dive but only gets a two-count off a pin.
The Bucks go for a Meltzer Driver but Sydal blocks and hits a jawbreaker/leg-split DDT combo on both of them. Both Ospreay and Cole tag in and Ospreay lands a shoulder to Cole’s gut from the apron. Ospreay hits a high-speed strike combo and goes for his handspring enzuigiri but Cole superkicks his head in midair. Cole follows up with an ushigoroshi for a two-count and then hits the ten corner punches. Except after nine he starts doing pelvic thrusts which apparently count as strikes in this match. Ospreay responds by…biting Cole’s crotch? Strange. Ospreay kicks Cole’s head through his legs and then Ricochet comes out of nowhere and flies over Cole and the ringpost to dive onto one of the Bucks on the floor below. Sydal comes out nowhere and hits a poisoned Frankensteiner from the top rope. Ospreay follows that with a Robinson Special corkscrew kick. And then Ricochet hits a diving 450 splash onto Cole. Ospreay finishes the sequence with a Cancun Tornado dive and pins, but the Bucks save Cole.
Ricochet tags in as the fans chant “this is awesome”. He ducks a back elbow and lands another northern lights suplex, but before he can hit the Brainbuster to complete the combo he gets double superkicked by both Bucks. Cole uses that to counter into a Brainbuster to the knee. But then he gets double superkicked by Sydal and Ospreay. Those two guys block superkicks from the Bucks and send Nick’s foot into Matt’s head. They superkick both Bucks and Sydal lands another poisoned Frankensntreiner on Matt. Ospreay lands a standing Spanish Fly on Matt and goes to attack Nick but Cole superkicks him first. Cole goes for the Panama Sunrise but Sydal cuts him off with a super hurricanrana. Sydal goes for the shooting star press. He sees Cole move and lands on his feet…and then gets superkicked by Nick, who then superkicks Ricochet. There have been nineteen superkicks in this match so far. It’s just ludicrous. Cole takes advantage of the chaos and lands the Panama Sunrise on Sydal. Ospreay goes for a springboard attack on both Bucks but they superkick him and he ends up on Ricochet’s shoulders. But instead of saving him, that move dooms him as Matt another superkick that sends Ospreay falling to the floor. Ricochet lands a springboard dropkick to Matt in the ring. Nick goes for a springboard Dragonrana but Ricochet catches him and goes for a fireman’s carry spinkick. Nick dodges and lifts Ricochet onto Matt who holds Ricochet in place for the Indytaker aided Tombstone. Cole lifts Nick up so that he can complete the Indytaker and spike Ricochet. One, two, Ricochet kicks out at 2.9.
Matt tags in and teases the More Bang For Your Buck combo finisher. Ricochet escapes and sends Matt into Nick, causing Nick to crotch himself on the top rope. Ricochet pump kicks Matt and hits a kick combo to Cole’s head alongside Sydal. Cole slumps down but Matt superkicks Sydal. Ricochet kicks Matt and charges but Matt counters a headscissor and gets Ricochet in the Tombstone position. But instead of spiking Ricochet he waits for Nick to do the relatively-useless diving component. Nick springboards…but so does Ospreay. Ospreay cuts Nick off with an RKO in midair! Ricochet reverses the Tombstone and he and Sydal hit a Shooting star Indytaker! Ospreay, Ricochet, and Sydal all climb different turnbuckles….and hit triple shooting star presses onto the Superkliq. One, two, and three! There’s the match!
Winners after 20:06: Will Ospreay, Matt Sydal & Ricochet
I’ve said a few times already that some matches are more like eye candy instead of eye protein. Well this match was like a Halloween bucket filled with the most sugary, diabetes-inducing candy in the world. It was a purely superficial spectacle. It wasn’t a serious match at all despite some crazy daredevilry and high-risk spots (as seen with Sydal wiping out on a botched dive to the floor). It’s not an outwardly bad match by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s very much like fast food or a kid’s commercial filled with loud and bold colors: a lot happening on the surface yet nothing of substance found beneath.
The Bucks and Cole were in their element here as they focused purely on spectacle and doing flashy things while playing to the crowd. Most of what they did was purely self-indulgent and the crowd played along with their antics. Seriously, after hearing and seeing this crowd’s reaction I’m astonished that AEW made their home base in Florida and not in SoCal. There wasn’t much in the way of psychology here; instead, it was pure bedazzlement with flashy moves, high-risk dives, and superkicks galore. They weren’t taking the match seriously; but then again, neither were their opponents, or even the commentators. One of them said about Ricochet, completely deadpan, “completely unnecessary flips, turning his arm six different ways, just to get a wristlock.” It was obvious right then and there what this match was going to be: a snarky parody of serious wrestling. The match did live up to its expectations, ridiculous as they were.
The match had an inconsistent pace that was hampered by lots of wasted motion. Ricochet did his usual roll into a DDT that made no sense (which one of the commentators also pointed out). The choreographed flip was pure exposition and self-indulgence that didn’t add to the match whatsoever. The tag rules were barely enforced, leaving the ref just standing there doing nothing for long portions of the match. Cole did this long wind up for a dive, only to fake it and do his silly taunt that, to this day, is incomprehensively over. There was this long wind-up sprint sequence that led to a ‘double kiss spot’ that was just more silliness that was somehow supposed to be seen as a big deal in the context of the match. Then of course, there was Matt’s ridiculous backflips into a back rake. All of these things were silly and wasted time yet, bizarrely, all of them got ludicrous reactions. Maybe that’s why Meltzer (who was live in attendance and apparently got kissed by Matt Jackson) rated this match so highly. He was so bewildered that such simple and exaggerated nonsense that barely qualifies as ‘professional wrestling’ was entertaining this crowd so thoroughly. And while that says a lot about these wrestlers’ collective abilities to entertain and get strong reactions, it also shows how effortless wrestling has become in some places.
The only guy that actually did anything serious was, funny enough, Ospreay. He moved faster than anyone and hit his moves perfectly. He did these insane flip bumps and ragdolled himself like crazy to make any move he took look way more impactful. And while Ricochet landed just as many cool moves as Ospreay did, Ospreay also took better bumps and gave this match more of a semblance of a structure and story. He was the MVP of this match for sure (but that’s a pretty low bar in this case).
The match did get good during the last five minutes, though. It became pure chaos at that point with moves coming literally from nowhere. It was impossible to see what was coming next and the craziness just piled up. Ospreay delivered quite possibly the greatest ‘out of nowhere’ counter I have ever seen with an RKO out of nowhere that put Randy Orton to shame. And yet, that closing sequence of greatness was once again hampered by something utterly nonsensical. It exposed a fatal flaw in the Bucks’ wrestling style: their tandem moves rely on one person more than the other. Right before Ospreay hit the RKO to end all RKOs, Matt held Ricochet in the Tombstone position and waited forever for his brother to springboard to complete the Indytaker tandem Spike piledriver. But Nick got cut off and Matt just stood there and let Ricochet reverse the move onto him. Matt could’ve easily just knelt down and spiked Ricochet on his head like the move’s supposed to. And yet, because Nick wasn’t there to ‘complete the move’ Ricochet was able to make a sudden reversal and win the match for his team. Maybe I’m reading too much into this but seeing matches change direction over such silly stuff really irks me as a viewer. While it’s unreasonable to expect everything in wrestling to be logical, there are some examples where the spectacle and flash straight-up insult the viewer and this was one of them.
Final Rating: ***1/2
This match was and is like the Family Guy of wrestling: a simple and easygoing experience that doesn’t ask or require much of its audience. It’s as much of a guilty pleasure as it gets in wrestling. It’s so silly and over-the-top that you can’t help but smirk. It serves its purpose as something to watch and chuckle at. But it’s not really that amazing. Yes, the crowd is wild, but a wild crowd alone doesn’t make a match into something historically great. The match itself had more holes in it than a slice of Swiss cheese. It was so ridiculous and almost making fun of itself and of wrestling in general.
This is another match that’s worth watching once and only once. If anything, the only real bright spot is seeing Ospreay do incredible things and hit one of the greatest springboard counters in years if not decades. But that’s really it. Aside from that, there’s nothing truly unique or memorable about this match. It’s yet another car crash-style match with small guys doing gravity-defying things. That might sound special, but given that daredevil acrobatics is the bread-and-butter for five of the six men in this match, it isn’t as special as one might think.
Thanks for reading. You can email me with any questions or comments, and be sure to check out my 5-Star and Almost 5-Star Match Reviews series here.