Let the nostalgia begin with the start of this new series covering classic NWA and WCW pay-per-views! We will be opening things up where it all really began, the first ever “supercard” produced by the National Wrestling Alliance and Jim Crockett Promotions. This event was actually before the advent of what we know today as “pay-per-view” and the broadcast was mostly only available in southern states through closed circuit television. For those wanting to see it live, you’d buy tickets to show up at local arenas and watch on a big screen. Quite a far cry from today where everything we get is streamed directly into our homes and honestly, crazy to think you’d ever have to do that with all of our current luxuries.
There’s nothing showy, we get no pomp and circumstance to begin the show and head directly into the ring where the combatants for our first match-up are ready to go…
Match #1: The Assassins (#1 & #2) w/Paul Jones vs. Bugsy McGraw & NWA Mid-Atlantic Champion Rufus R. Jones
Bugsy and Assassin #1 start things off. They lock up, #1 with a side headlock, irish whip into the ropes and shoulder knockdown on Bugsy. Back to the ropes, Bugsy with a hip-toss. He misses an elbow, but #1 misses one of his own and Bugsy hits a body slam. He goes for the mask, but #1 rolls out of the ring and takes a breather. The ref only gets to 3 before #1 is back in the ring. Another lockup, as #1 takes the advantage with a knee. Irish whips Bugsy into the ropes, Bugsy ducks a backhand and hits a jumping elbow knocking The Assassin down. He goes for the mask again, both men back up and we get a slugfest with Bugsy getting the better end of it. #1 is down and he makes the tag to #2. They lockup and go into the same spot that started the match except Bugsy ends it with another body slam followed by a hip toss.
Tag into Rufus R. Jones and he’s a house of fire, connecting with rights, chops and an elbow while shucking and jiving. Irish whips #2 and connects with a big gut punch that gets a 2 count. Rufus picks #2 back up, hits a hip toss and follows with a wrist lock. #2 tries to break free with a right hand to no avail. Rufus keeping the pressure on tags Bugsy back in who maintains the wrist lock. #2 gets in some rights before backing Bugsy into his corner and tagging in #1. Bugsy fights off a double team with rights and an elbow. They lock up and #1 grasps Bugsy in a wrist lock. Bugsy counters with one of his own and tags Rufus back in who keeps the wrist lock going. He keeps working the arm with headbutts. Rufus breaks it and a knockdown on #1. Backs #1 into the corner and a big irish whip to the opposite corner takes #1 down. #1 able to gain an advantage with some eye rakes.
He tags in #2 who continues to go after the eyes. Right hands on Rufus, but he shakes them off and mounts a comeback with rights and headbutts. Rufus crawls to his corner and makes the tag to Bugsy who goes to work on both Assassins with rights and elbows. Big right on #2 knocks him down and now #1 and Rufus jump into the ring and we get a brawl. Bugsy with an atomic drop on #2 as Rufus shoulders #1 back out to the apron. Bugsy with an irish whip followed by a back body drop on #2. #1 comes into the ring from behind with a schoolboy roll-up on Bugsy and gets a 3 count for the win.
Winners: The Assassins (Assassin #1/Schoolboy)
- EA’s Take: I’m going off the assumption that anyone reading this is not overly familiar, if at all, with either of these duos. Not unless you watched late-1980’s/early-1990’s WCW when one of The Assassins was a manager. In a time before the big, bold characters that the WWF would present, Bugsy plays some of that role and serves as the entertainment for this contest. There was some decent action throughout with McGraw really pushing the pace early. Rufus wears one of the most forgotten about titles in history and comes off as a poor-man’s version of Junkyard Dog if this is your first time seeing him. A lot of striking fills out Rufus’ move-set (which there will almost certainly be a lot of throughout the show) and the inevitable, but confusing, switch from The Assassins gets them a win. Which literally happened right in front of the official.
Match #2: Johnny Weaver & Scott McGhee vs. Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewen w/Gary Hart
Sullivan and McGhee start us off. Sullivan with a waist lock takedown. They quickly go into the ropes, Sullivan goes for a back body drop, but McGhee hops over and hits consecutive dropkicks. Sullivan tags in Lewen. They lock up and Lewen backs McGhee in the corner, but he ducks an elbow and escapes. Lewen tags Sullivan back in. They lock up, McGhee with a side headlock as he tags in Weaver. Weaver continues with a side headlock. Sullivan irish whips Weaver to the ropes and they go into a criss-cross. Weaver feigns a big right, but Sullivan hangs onto the ropes to avoid it. Tag back into Lewen. Lewen and Weaver lock knuckles with Lewen applying a wrist lock only to be countered by Weaver into one of his own. He works Lewen’s arm with a couple elbows and tags in McGhee.
Double axe handle to Lewen’s arm and McGhee continues the wrist lock. Lewen with a brief counter into one of his own, but McGhee escapes. They lock up and Lewen with a top headlock tags in Sullivan. Sullivan with a snapmare into a wrist lock and he works over McGhee’s arm. He tags Lewen back in who connects with a chop to McGhee’s arm and goes back into a wrist lock. Another quick tag to Sullivan who comes in with a running knee to McGhee and goes back to a wrist lock. Another tag to Lewen and he applies a version of a bow and arrow. McGhee makes a tag, but Sullivan had the ref distracted and he sends Weaver back out. Sullivan and Lewen with a double team behind the ref’s back with Sullivan nailing a nice looking jumping knee. Sullivan comes in without making a tag and goes back to a wrist lock. They’re really working that arm of Scott McGhee.
Tag back to Lewen who hooks a front face lock. Yet another tag to Sullivan. McGhee tries to mount a comeback, but is stopped by a headbutt from Sullivan. Tag to Lewen who rakes the back of McGhee and then applies a nerve hold. McGhee crawls to his corner to tag, but Lewen stops him by grabbing the hair and pulling him back to his own corner. Another tag to Sullivan. Sullivan goes to ram McGhee’s head into the turnbuckle, but he blocks it and rams Sullivan. He makes the hot tag to Johnny Weaver who knocks around Sullivan and Lewen with right hands. Into the corner and Weaver hits a running bulldog on Sullivan for a 2 count. Lewen breaks it up.
Weaver goes for another running bulldog, but Sullivan counters and pushes him off. Lewen in with a couple kicks on Weaver before heading back to the apron where Sullivan tags out, making Lewen the legal man. Lewen with a few kicks and he tags Sullivan back in. Wrist lock on Weaver and another tag to Lewen who maintains the wrist lock. Tag to Sullivan, still maintaining the hold and we get a brief double team wrist lock on Weaver. McGhee comes in to stop the double team, but distracts the ref which allows it to continue. Lewen with a top rope knee drop on Weaver while Sullivan holds the arm. Lewen goes for the cover and gets 3 for the victory.
Winners: Mark Lewen & Kevin Sullivan (Lewen/Top Rope Knee Drop)
- After The Bell: Scott McGhee comes in and attacks the heels, hitting a dropkick on Gary Hart in the process. Hart pulls something out of his boot and Sullivan and Lewen go to town on McGhee’s head, busting him open. Angelo Mosca comes in to help, but he gets lacerated with the object as well. McGhee is bleeding profusely as Lewen and Sullivan continue the beating until Mosca gets back to his feet and clears the ring.
- EA’s Take: Clearly, Kevin Sullivan is the most remembered name in this contest and was very well known at this time for his dark persona, mostly in Florida. One thing you will continue to see a lot of in comparison to what the WWF would be doing is the pacing. I mentioned it in my take for the first match and we saw some more of the same early before it would slow down. Beginning with two straight tag matches is a bit of a puzzler, but you’ll also notice the classic tag team tactics which seem to be lost at times on today’s talents. You know, the kind of stuff that The Revival is always badgering on about!
Match #3: Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah The Butcher
Collar and elbow tie up with Abdullah getting Carlos into the corner. Abdullah appears to have pulled a foreign object from his tights already and he lays Carlos out with it. Abdullah with rights and headbutts followed by a choke in the corner. More rights and headbutts with Carlos unable to get anything going. Irish whip to the ropes and Abdullah hits a clothesline and follows with an elbow drop for a count of 2. Abdullah with a throat shot and he rakes at Carlos’ face. Carlos finally able to mount some offense with a series of rights, backing Abdullah into the corner. Carlos grabs the foreign object from Abdullah and gives him a taste of his own medicine.
Carlos works Abdullah over with it, busting him open. More rights to the cut and he even bites Abdullah on the forehead. Carlos is really beating Abdullah with that object, making Abdullah the proverbial crimson mask. Irish whip to the ropes and Carlos knocks Abdullah down with a big right to the gut. Jumping leg drop and elbow drop to Abdullah for a 2 count. As Abdullah kicks out he throws Carlos onto the referee. With Carlos still on top of the ref, Abdullah goes for an elbow drop, but Carlos moves and Abdullah nails the referee. Referee is laid out as Carlos hits a succession of right hands followed up with a drop kick, taking Abdullah down. Carlos now working on Abdullah’s knee and he applies a figure four. Somebody just entered the ring and smashed Carlos. It was Hugo Savinovich. Abdullah crawls over for the cover and gets the 3.
Winner: Abdullah The Butcher (Interference)
- EA’s Take: From the “shining star” of the Caribbean comes the WWE Hall Of Famer Carlos Colon, father to Primo and Carlito, uncle of Epico. This is a classic rivalry in Puerto Rico where Carlos is essentially the embodiment of pro wrestling. It makes sense that the NWA would want this a part of their “supercard”. The kind of violence it presented, albeit a little tame compared to their work on the island, is not common place (Yes, I realize we’ve already seen this is now multiple blade-jobs. Different matter altogether). Do yourself a favor and peep some highlights of any Butcher/Carlos matches from Puerto Rick if you can find them. You’ll see the difference.
Match #4: Chief Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood vs. Dick Slater & Bob Orton Jr.
Wahoo and Slater begin the match. Collar and elbow tie up the corner with Slater getting a small advantage. Wahoo whips him into the corner and Slater hops up over the corner to the apron. Back in the ring another collar and elbow tie up. Slater with a wrist lock, but Wahoo counters into one of his own and drags Slater to his corner to tag in Youngblood. Youngblood with a leg drop to Slater’s arm and he applies a wrist lock. Slater counters with an irish whip, but Youngblood then counters and hits a body slam. Back up, Slater with a double leg takedown rolls over into a cover for a 2 count. Both men up and we get a standoff. Collar and elbow tie up into a hammer lock by Slater, countered into one by Youngblood. Slater picks the leg, but Youngblood kicks him off and over the top rope to the apron. Slater wants a DQ for going over the top, but the ref won’t give it to him. Youngblood and Slater lock knuckles as Slater gets the advantage and executes a Russian leg sweep on Youngblood.
Front facelock as he backs into his corner and tags Orton in. Orton off the ropes with a big knee to Youngblood. Orton grabs Youngblood in a military press and drops him down into a backbreaker, tossing Youngblood away like a rag doll. Wahoo begins to come in, but is quickly stopped by the ref. Orton with a snapmare and he hits the ropes looking for an elbow drop, but Youngblood moves. Orton slides to the outside and Youngblood gives chase. Orton off the ropes, but Youngblood with a hip toss. Orton with a quick strategy session with Slater in the corner. Collar and elbow tie up into a side head lock by Orton. Irish whip into the ropes and they go into a short criss-cross with Orton making a blind tag to Slater.
Orton with a backbreaker as Slater enters the ring and hits an elbow with Orton propping Youngblood up. Slater hits some big punches followed by a gutwrench suplex for a count of 2. Slater throws Youngblood to the outside where Orton takes advantage and works him over with boots. Wahoo tries to intervene, but again the ref stops him. Orton grabs Youngblood into a backbreaker over the steel barricade. Wahoo checks on Youngblood who gets into the ring with Slater laying in wait. Slater with a headbutt and a boot, then tags Orton in who applies a crossface type move. Youngblood is able to get out with shots to the gut and hits the ropes for a shoulder knockdown on Orton. Back to the ropes, but Orton counters with a big boot to the mush, knocking Youngblood back down. Orton with a side head lock tags in Slater. Youngblood with a short comeback, but is prevented from making the tag by Orton.
Slater sends Youngblood to the ropes and hits a big elbow. Slater follows it up with a vertical suplex for a 2 count. Slater attempts a piledriver, but Youngblood counters with a back body drop. Youngblood into the ropes and he runs into Slater, colliding heads. Both men are down, as Youngblood crawls towards his corner to try and tag. Orton comes in to stop it, but he’s too late and in comes Wahoo McDaniel. Big chops to Orton and Slater, followed by a noggin knocker. Irish whip to Orton in the corner followed by a big gut shot. Inverted atomic drop on Orton and Wahoo is really cooking now. Irish whips Orton and hits a body slam for a 2 count. Orton is able to get to his corner and tag in Slater who stops the onslaught by Wahoo. Slater and Wahoo exchange rights with Wahoo gaining the advantage until taking a shot to the gut by Orton on the outside.
Slater hits a belly to back suplex for 3 consecutive 2 counts. Tag back to Orton for a double team back elbow. Orton driving the point of his elbow and knee onto a prone Wahoo for a 2 count. Tag to Slater who goes to the top while Orton holds Wahoo. Wahoo moves and Slater nails Orton. Wahoo with an atomic drop on Slater, sending him flying into the wrong corner where Youngblood is waiting with right hands. Tag to Youngblood and he and Wahoo hit a double team chop on Slater. Orton comes in with a knee to Wahoo’s back sending him to the outside as Youngblood works on Slater.
Slater gets a tag to Orton who slows Youngblood down, but not for long as he hits multiple dropkicks to Slater and Orton. Slater and Wahoo brawl on the outside as Youngblood irish whips Orton into the ropes. Youngblood goes for another dropkick, but Slater grabs Orton from the outside which prevents Youngblood from connecting. Slater jumps in and he and Orton double team Youngblood, propping him onto the turnbuckle. Orton goes up with Youngblood and hits a superplex, followed by a cover and a 3 count giving his team the win.
Winners: Bob Orton Jr. & Dick Slater (Orton Jr./Superplex)
- After The Bell: Wahoo is in going to work on Slater and Orton. Slater gains the advantage on Wahoo and they double team him. Slater holds Wahoo’s arm under the bottom rope as Orton climbs the turnbuckle and hits a knee onto Wahoo’s arm on the outside.
- EA’s Take: That’s three tag matches out of the four to start the show, an interesting route to take to say the least. If you’re going to have a “supercard” however, I guess you want to get as many guys on the show as possible. Seems to me like they should be a little more spread out though. Also, the heels have now one four straight…possible foreshadowing? Regardless, I’d find it hard pressed for anybody to not take notice of Slater, but more particularly Orton. Dick Slater is certainly a forgotten star and a guy who could really do it all. Orton on the other hand, even being a WWE Hall Of Famer, is still vastly underrated in my eyes (Do I smell a future Underrated Files? Perhaps). Of course he would be most known for playing Roddy Piper’s sidekick in years to come, but he is about as smooth in the ring as they get. Just watch everything Orton Jr. does here and you will clearly see that his son, Randy, did not get his gifts from the man upstairs, but from his family.
Match #5 is a Title vs. Mask Match for the NWA Television Championship: ‘Downtown’ Charlie Brown vs. NWA Television Champion The Great Kabuki w/Gary Hart
Charlie Brown is actually Jimmy Valiant for those that are not aware. Charlie kicks it off with big rights sending Kabuki to the outside. He slams Kabuki into multiple ring posts and then goes to work on Kabuki with a chair. Rolling Kabuki back in, Charlie wraps Kabuki’s legs around the post and crotches him on it. He drags Kabuki by the legs to the center of the ring and connects with a low blow behind the refs back. Irish whip into the ropes and Charlie locks on a sleeper on Kabuki. Charlie has it locked on good as Kabuki appears to be going out before escaping with a rake of the eyes. Charlie ducks a chop by Kabuki and goes right back into the sleeper, dropping Kabuki down to the mat again.
Gary Hart reaches into the ring and rakes Charlie’s eyes behind the refs back to help Kabuki escape the hold once again. Both men up and Kabuki nails a couple martial arts kicks before sending Charlie into the ropes and applying a claw hold. Charlie gets out of it as both men go into opposite ropes with Charlie hitting multiple back body drops before Kabuki ends the run with a martial arts kick. Kabuki to the second rope and he comes down on Charlie with another claw hold to the head. Kabuki really has it locked in. Charlie finally fights back to his feet before hitting right hands and a boot. Irish whips Kabuki into the corner and follows him in, but Kabuki hits a boot to stop the threat. Kabuki up to the top rope comes down on Charlie with yet another claw hold. The ref checks Charlie’s arm and it hits the mat twice. Ref gets a count of 2 before Charlie kicks out.
Kabuki lets go of the claw, climbs the top rope and comes down with a chop to the head for another 2 count. Kabuki is going for Charlie’s mask, but the referee stops him. Both men up, but Kabuki with a knockdown off another martial arts kick. Kabuki with rights, but Charlie starts to come back as he hits the ropes and gets a knockdown off a right hand. Charlie irish whips Kabuki into the corner, but Kabuki reverses sending Charlie in. Kabuki tries to follow with a kick, but Charlie moves and Kabuki hits the mat. Charlie off the ropes with an elbow drop on Kabuki and he picks up the pinfall and the W.
Winner: New NWA Television Champion ‘Downtown’ Charlie Brown (Elbow Drop)
- EA’s Take: Very unique stipulation to this match with the TV Title being on the line against the mask, but only for the first fifteen minutes if I understood the ring announcer correctly. I suppose that doesn’t matter since we finish up around the ten-minute mark. So here’s the spoiler alert of the century; Charlie Brown is Jimmy Valiant, who had previously come up short in a Loser Leaves Town match against Kabuki. Thus, we get Valiant in a mask and everyone who has working eyes is aware it’s him. This gives the match a little bit of entertainment value because of the over-the-top charisma from Charlie Brown. The in-ring work’s not great and the finish is a bit confusing since you don’t really know if there was a title change with no time updates from the announcer.
Match #6 is a Non-Title Dog Collar Match: ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper vs. NWA United States Champion Greg Valentine
Both men have a leather collar around their necks with a steel chain attaching to one another. They start off with a tug of war of sorts using just their necks before starting to pull in on the chain. Piper with a quick shot on Valentine with the chain and they back off to opposite corners again. Both men coming in close again and Valentine misses multiple shots on Piper with the chain before they both back off once again. Standoff in the center of the ring and they exchange rights before backing off again. Both men creep in before Piper hits a chain shot pushing Valentine into the corner. Multiple rights and chain shots on Valentine. Valentine gets tangled with the chain going between his legs, Piper picks up the slack real quick delivering a low blow on Valentine. Another chain shot to Valentine and he falls to the mat. Back up and Valentine takes control with rights, elbows and chain shots. Snapmare on Piper with the chain and Valentine wraps the chain around Piper’s face, dragging it across his eyes.
Valentine with a couple shots in the corner, but Piper counters with the chain and a knee lift. Snapmare on Valentine and now Piper wraps the chain around Valentine’s mouth. Piper over to the corner and he wraps the chain around the post, using it like a winch choking Valentine in the corner. Piper is vicious right now with right hands and even biting Valentine in the corner. Valentine’s been busted open, but he comes out of the corner with a vengeance, choking Piper with the chain. Both men to the outside and they start to whip each other with the chain. Piper up on the apron and he takes the tension up on the chain, hanging Valentine by the neck. Valentine is able to counter with a chain shot that catches Piper in the ear, but also knocks down the referee.
Still out on the apron and Valentine is going to work on Piper’s ear using right hands, the chain and even the steel ring post. Piper’s bleeding bad from his ear. Valentine rolls back into the ring as Piper has trouble standing on the outside. Valentine pulls Piper back in the ring and continues working on the bloodied ear of Piper with the chain. Piper finally gets back to his feet only to be pummeled by Valentine on the ear in the corner. Valentine sets Piper up for a suplex, but Piper counters with the chain wrapped around his hand. It’s a short comeback as Valentine goes back to the ear, laying Piper out again. Valentine with an elbow drop gets a count of 2. Another elbow and another 2 count. Valentine goes for a third elbow, but Piper tightens up on the chain and drops Valentine.
Piper back to his feet charges Valentine and tackles him to the mat, following it up with a flurry of right hands and boots. Piper sees the blood coming from his ear and begins to go berserk on Valentine with the chain. Valentine goes back to the ear, but Piper comes back with more rights to stop Valentine in his tracks. Valentine back up wraps the chain around Piper’s neck. Irish whip and Valentine knocks Piper down with a clothesline. Big knee drop by Valentine for back to back 2 counts. Valentine goes for a suplex, but Piper counters into one of his own and they double down. The ref gets to 8 before both men are up and we get a slugfest. Valentine whips Piper into the corner and follows it up with a sleeper hold. Piper wraps the chain around his fist while in the sleeper and connects on Valentine to break the hold. Valentine up to the second rope comes down with an elbow. Valentine up to the second rope again, but this time Piper pulls him off using the chain, lasso’s Valentine’s legs up and covers for a count of 3.
Winner: ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper (Chain-Assisted Pinfall)
- EA’s Take: Aside from the main event, this is by far the most remembered match from the inaugural Starrcade and if you were to introduce someone new to wrestling with a list of matches to check out, this should be on there. A little unusual that the title’s not on the line, but it was about more than that. The issues between Piper and Valentine were personal and this brutal dog collar match fully encompassed that. In case you don’t know the story, Valentine legit busted Roddy’s ear drum and lose at least 50% of his hearing. Valentine was quoted in the WWE Roddy Piper documentary as saying, “Roddy Piper is a tough guy. He may not look it, but that is a tough guy”. Piper would also add, “To do another one of those man…whew, that’s tough”. For the younger readers out there who may wonder why Greg Valentine is a Hall Of Famer, I present to you Exhibit A. Also, this is a perfect example of how to have a hardcore-like match and still tell a great story.
Match #7 for the NWA World Tag Team Championships w/Special Referee Angelo Mosca: Jay Youngblood & Ricky Steamboat vs. NWA World Tag Team Champions The Briscos (Jack & Jerry)
Steamboat and Jack kick it off with a collar and elbow tie up, with Steamboat backing Jack in a corner and getting a clean break. Another collar and elbow with Jack putting Steamboat into a side head lock. Irish whip into the ropes and Steamboat with a couple of hops over Jack before going for a chop, but Jack saw it coming and hangs onto the ropes. Another lockup and Jack with a wrist lock, tags in Jerry who keeps the wrist lock on before a drop toe hold by Steamboat. Jerry quickly tags Jack back in who gets control with a hammer lock. Steamboat gets out by flipping backwards over Jack and hits an arm drag. Jack back tags Jerry in. Another lockup and Jerry gets the advantage, backing Steamboat in the corner and hitting right hands. Mosca in between to break it up, but Jerry back in with a front face lock on Steamboat. Mosca gets in the middle of it again to break it up.
They lockup in the center with Jerry whipping Steamboat in the corner. Steamboat counters and hits a couple chops before a side head lock on Jerry and a tag to Youngblood. Youngblood with a side head lock takedown on Jerry and then they get backed into the corner before Mosca breaks them up. They lock knuckles and Youngblood gets a hammer lock on Jerry. Jerry goes for a body slam, but Youngblood hangs onto the arm and gets a 2 count before dragging Jerry over to tag in Steamboat. Youngblood has the arm as Steamboat climbs to the top and hits a big chop. Another quick tag back to Youngblood who hits a chop off the top of his own for another count of 2. Into the opposite corner, Youngblood knocks down Jack on the apron before ramming Jerry into the turnbuckle and tagging Steamboat.
Steamboat charges Jerry, but he counters with boots before tagging Jack. Jerry holds Steamboat for Jack to hit some right hands. Jack has Steamboat over his shoulder and throats him across the top rope. Rear chin lock by Jack on Steamboat. Steamboat fights back to his feet, before getting out of it with a couple elbows. Shoulder knockdown on Jack, Steamboat into the ropes again as Jack leapfrogs him and then hits a back body drop. Jack tags Jerry who comes in and hits a double underhook suplex. He follows it up with a waist lock into a bridge for consecutive 2 counts on Steamboat. Steamboat back up again, but Jerry with a hip toss into a key lock. Steamboat gets up to his feet and he uses brute strength to lift Jerry off the mat into a slam to escape the hold. Jerry tags Jack and tries to prevent Steamboat from tagging, but he gets there anyway and in comes Youngblood.
Youngblood really working over Jack, goes for a suplex but Jack counters and hits one of his own. Tag to Jerry and we get a double team, irish whipping Youngblood into the ropes for a double shoulder tackle. Jerry comes in and gets a 2 count, but Youngblood’s foot was on the ropes. Jerry with a vertical suplex for another 2 count. A couple left hands by Jerry, then into an abdominal stretch pinning combination for a count of 2. Jerry is upset with the referee, Angelo Mosca, so he gives him a shove. Mosca doesn’t appreciate it and shoves Jerry back, knocking him to the mat. This gives Youngblood a chance to recover and make the tag to Steamboat.
Steamboat to the top with a chop to Jerry. Jack comes in, but he catches a right hand for his troubles and Steamboat goes back to work on Jerry. Irish whip into the ropes and Steamboat nails Jerry with a double chop. Tag to Youngblood and they double up on Jerry, sending him into the ropes for tandem chops. Tag back to Steamboat, they send Jerry into the ropes. Steamboat picks Youngblood up for a dropkick on Jerry, before Youngblood goes back on the apron. Chop to Jerry and another tag to Youngblood. Steamboat with a body slam to Jerry, Youngblood hits the ropes and Steamboat picks him up into a military press over Jerry’s prone body. Steamboat drops his partner into a splash onto Jerry and Youngblood gets a count of 3 and we have new champs.
Winners and NEW NWA World Tag Team Champions: Jay Youngblood & Ricky Steamboat (Youngblood/Combo Press-Splash)
- After The Bell: Jack comes in and attacks everyone except for his brother Jerry, including referee Angelo Mosca. The Brisco’s double team Mosca, sending him into the steel post. Jerry locks a figure four onto Steamboat while Jack hits a big splash. Jack now up to the top goes for another big splash, but Mosca is back up and catches Jack in the air. Youngblood is back in the ring, now he and Steamboat go to town on The Briscos and clear the ring.
- EA’s Take: The recipe for wrestling goodness; you take some Ricky Steamboat, add a pinch of the lesser known ingredient called Jay Youngblood, then top it off with a helping of The Briscos. Three out of four Hall Of Famers comprise the combatants and if it weren’t for his unexpected, premature death, Youngblood had a shot at being one too. Steamboat’s accolades speak for themselves, but not many are familiar with how good of a tandem he formed with Youngblood. They meshed perfectly with the veteran Briscos, both of whom were winding down their in-ring runs. Jack and Jerry aren’t completely done after a post-match ambush, but two former NWA World Champions just put over two younger stars. That’s how it should be!
Match #8 is a Steel Cage Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship w/Special Referee Gene Kiniski: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race
We’re finally set for the main event of the evening. Collar and elbow tie up and Flair takes the advantage with a side headlock takedown. Race escapes and we get a brief standoff. They lockup with Flair taking control with another side headlock. Race backs him into the ropes and Kiniski forces a clean break. Another lockup and Flair hits a knee followed by a snapmare into a rear chin lock. Race turns into it, making it a side headlock. He whips Flair into the ropes and hits a jumping knee, knocking Flair down. Race goes for his patented falling headbutt, but Flair moves, hits a chop and gets a cover for a 1 count. Flair in control again with a side headlock takedown as he grounds Race. Race rolls Flair over into a pinning predicament, but only gets a 1 count before Flair rolls back over putting the pressure back onto Race.
Flair floats over and gets a 2 count, before turning it into a front face lock. Race counters and hits a vertical suplex for a count of 2. Race with an attempt at an elbow drop, but Flair moves. Flair goes for a body slam, but Race shifts his weight into a pin and gets another 2 count. Race starts working over Flair with knees and a choke until Kiniski grabs Race and pulls him away. Race rams Flair into the turnbuckle and hits some clubbing blows before going back to the choke. Kiniski again gets involved, shoving Race off of Flair. Race sets up Flair for a piledriver and he hits it. Elbow drop on Flair followed by a cover and a 2 count. Race with a swinging neck breaker only gets a 2 count again. More knees to the head of Flair, then Race lets Flair up only to ram him face first into the cage. Race picks Flair up and hits a slam for another 2 count.
Flair starts to fire back with gut shots, but Race stops him with a head butt, followed by a falling headbutt to a laid out Flair. Flair gets smashed into the cage multiple times and now he’s been bloodied. Race is choking Flair in the corner, but Kiniski pulls Race out of the corner once again which allows Flair to get a couple shots in. To the other corner and now Kiniski pulls Flair out, which lets Race get a shot in and take the advantage. Race with a whip into the corner, but Flair reverses sending Race into the cage. Now Race is busted open and Flair starts his assault with shots to the cage. Snapmare on Race, followed by Flair’s knee drop.
Flair with a piledriver of his own, but he only gets a count of 2. Flair with a neck twist, then a double underhook suplex for a 2 count. Race goes face first into the cage a couple of times and Kiniski is getting involved yet again, which gives Race time to gain control. He drags Flair’s face across the cage like a cheese grater before Kiniski drags Race off. Flair is sent into the cage yet again, but this time he gets a rush of adrenaline and fights Race off. Flair gets a 2 count before going to town with right hands on Race and giving us a “Woo!” followed by a strut. Flair gets Race in the center of the ring and locks in his patented figure four leg lock. Race is able to turn it over, switching the pressure onto Flair, before Flair rolls it back and they’re in the ropes. Kiniski breaks the hold and both men are back up now. Race goes for a vertical suplex, but Flair switches the momentum landing on top of Race for a 2 count.
Race stalls Flair with a headbutt, then heads to the second rope and connects with his trademark diving headbutt for a count of 2. Vertical suplex on Flair, but he only gets 2 again. Race is getting frustrated as he begins to pummel Flair with left hands to the forehead. Flair attempts a comeback, but being rammed into the cage stops him in his tracks. Race with a choke on Flair and Kiniski grabs Race by the hair to break it. Race goes for another vertical suplex, but Flair blocks and connects with his own. Race gets a side head lock on Flair, but Flair pushes him off and Race rams heads with Kiniski. Kiniski goes down, as Flair and Race battle in the corner. Flair with rights and chops gets Race to back off. Flair to the top rope hits a cross body, as Race falls backwards over the referee. Kiniski rolls over and counts 3 as we have a new World Champion.
Winner and NEW NWA World Heavyweight Champion: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair (Top Rope Crossbody)
- After The Bell: All the babyfaces jump in the ring and we get a big celebration for Ric Flair in his home state. Flair cuts an emotional promo about how much the night meant to him and the show comes to a close.
- EA’s Take: That is all the pageantry we’re going to get with those entrances and if you couldn’t tell by him getting fireworks AND music over the defending champion, Flair has the proverbial “rocket pack” strapped to his back. The stories of Harley and his toughness are that of legend, but the future King Of The WWF’s best days are quickly coming to an end and he knew it. It’s not Flair’s first go-around with the strap, but he’s even admitted that he wasn’t ready and with a stamp of approval from Race this time around, he was a made man. This was the finale of a long build to get The Nature Boy there and it doesn’t take a physicist to figure out that it was certainly the right call anointing him the “flag bearer”. The match is a bit lethargic at times with bursts of speed, eventually breaking into a slugfest with the cage finally coming into play. If you want great Flair matches then this is good because of its significance in history and his career, but there is absolutely better work to come. Space Mountain is officially open for business.
EA’s Finisher: As with most firsts, there are always things to improve on. Too many backstage segments involving the same people, too many meaningless fan interviews asking who they thought would win. This was in North Carolina, of course they all wanted Flair to win! Most of the matches had little to no build-up as the whole show was almost completely built around the Flair/Race match. It WAS entitled ‘Starrcade ’83: A Flair For The Gold’ after all. Was there ever any doubt that Flair would not win? Aside from the main event and the tag team title match, Piper and Valentine quite possibly stole the show. That was a really vicious bout that a lot of people had never seen the likes of. This event that was the brainchild of Dusty Rhodes was the first of its kind and through tech issues like some audio and kinks to be worked out, without it there may have never been a WrestleMania (or at least a blueprint for it to follow). This was still a historic night, but admittedly some of it can be hard to get through. Don’t expect offensive innovation, just the dawn of an era and one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) performers the business has ever seen.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine
2 – Ric Flair vs. Harley Race
3 – Dick Slater & Bob Orton vs. Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood
Chairshot Classics: WWE Fastlane 2015 – Reigns vs. Bryan
Looking back at WWE Fastlane 2015 with Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan!
Eric brings you the details of WWE Fastlane 2015 in this edition of Chairshot Classics!
Open: A video talking about destinations and the Road To WrestleMania, highlighting the rivalries between Bryan/Reigns, Cena/Rusev and HHH/Sting.
Match #1: Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan & Ryback vs. Big Show, Kane & “Mr. Money In The Bank” Seth Rollins w/J&J Security
A clip from last Thursday’s Smackdown, which led up to this 6 man tag. Ziggler & Rollins kick it off, with Rollins leading the charge until Dolph gets a roll-up for a quick 2, goes for a superkick and Rollins ducks out for a breather. Crowd chants “You Sold Out” at Rollins. Rollins with a quick edge, thwarted by a Ziggler dropkick and he tags Rowan who overpowers Rollins. Rowan ducks a kick and gets a pumphandle backbreaker, followed by an elbow for 2. Rollins is able to worm away to his corner and tag Kane. Rowan with a body slam, leg drop and 2nd rope back elbow, but is pushed in the wrong part of town and Big Show tags.
Show unloads in the corner, catches a boot from Rowan, but Show sends Rowan to the outside. Show out after him gets pushed into the ring post, J&J approach but get scared off by Rowan, who then goes for a heel kick, Show moves and Rowan’s leg hits the post. Show works over the injured leg and makes the tag to Kane, who follows suit before making a tag to Rollins. Rollins hits a 2nd rope blockbuster for a near fall and then brings back Big Show. Show continues to punish the leg, goes for a Chokeslam, but is countered into a DDT. Show tags Rollins, who cheap shots Ziggler in the corner, but turns around into a heel kick by Rowan using the bad leg.
Rowan is finally able to crawl over and tag Ryback, who goes to work on Rollins with heavy offense. Rollins rolls away from a splash and goes for the Curb Stomp, but gets caught into a powerbomb. Ryback sets-up for the Meat Hook, but Kane slides in and ends up taking it. Rollins misses a move off the distraction, Ryback goes for Shell Shocked, then J&J Security hit the apron giving Rollins the chance for a roll-up that gets 2, immediately followed by a head kick for another near fall. Rollins to the top for a flying knee, Ryback ducks it but takes a kick on the other side. Rollins goes for another 2nd rope blockbuster and gets caught in Shell Shocked.
Show hits the ring and splashes Ryback and quickly rolls back out. Ziggler & Kane gets tags, Ziggler dropkicks Show on the apron, Kane looks for a Chokeslam that gets reversed and Kane is pushed into Show, knocking him to the floor. Jumping DDT by Ziggler for a near fall. Dolph goes for a Fameasser and gets caught in a side slam, countered and Ziggler with a superkick. Rollins tries to get in the ring and takes a Fameasser, then Dolph mounts Kane in the corner. Show hits Ziggler with a WMD from the outside and Kane covers to grab the win.
Winners: Big Show, Kane & Seth Rollins (Kane/Interference)
- After The Bell: The Authority celebrates in the ring and Rollins delivers a Curb Stomp to Ziggler. Ryback & Rowan come in, but the numbers game is too much for them. Ryback takes a Chokeslam and Rowan eats a Curb Stomp. They set Ryback up for a Curb Stomp, but out comes the returning Randy Orton, who proceeds to clean house. Noble suffers an RKO and Mercury gets caught coming off the 2nd rope with another. Rollins takes a kick trying to get in the ring with the briefcase and Orton sets him up for the IEDDT, but Big Show grabs Rollins from behind and saves him. Orton hits Kane with an RKO as Rollins retreats through the crowd and leaves the arena.
- EA’s Take: You had to figure it was about time for Orton to return, as he was never originally scheduled to be off for that long. The match itself was decent with the pace really picking up when Ziggler & Rollins would get in the ring, as you would expect. Rowan is in a really unusual state right now. He’s just not clicking as a face with the fans, as he continues to get little to no reaction. Unless you watch Smackdown, then he’s as popular as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Hopefully now we can see Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan go do something else, they need to get away from this Authority angle already.
Video: Reviewing the dissolution of the tag team and “cosmic” brothers, Gold & Stardust.
Backstage: In the locker room is Goldust. In walks his father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He talks about Dustin doing what he has to do, but not hurting his brother in the process. Goldust says tonight he’s not facing Cody and he has to beat Stardust so bad that he will never want to wear paint again. “Tonight, I’m not leaving that ring until I bring my brother Cody home.”
Match #2: Stardust vs. Goldust
They lock-up and Goldust back Stardust into the corner, tries to clean break and Stardust with a couple shoves. Lock-up again and Stardust backs Goldust up, pushes him again and then receives a slap in return that makes Stardust rethink his approach. Crowd chants “Cody” to Stardust’s extreme disdain. We get a nice back and forth, with neither man getting an edge until Stardust is arm dragged into a corner. More loud “Cody” chants. They go back at it with more back and forth, both men posturing until Goldust gets Stardust set-up for the Director’s Cut, but Stardust slips to the outside. Dusty Rhodes is shown watching on a monitor backstage.
Stardust tries for a running bulldog that gets countered into a backbreaker, Goldust follows up with a clothesline that dumps Stardust back outside. The “Cody” chants seem to be getting to Stardust. Both men are able to hit duck-under strikes, Goldust sets-up Stardust for Shattered Dreams, but he slips out onto the apron. Stardust goes for a sunset flip, but Goldust moves and heads to the 2nd rope and Stardust gets the boot up in the mid-section. Stardust goes to work on the boot, spilling Goldust to the outside and battering him into the ring apron before rolling him back inside and punishing Goldust’s torso. Stardust with a front suplex and an arrogant cover that gets 2.
Stardust just continues going to work on the rib area. Goldust misses a springboard back elbow, Stardust sets-up for Cross Rhodes, but Goldust counters into a roll-up and gets a very shaky 3 count.
Winner: Goldust (Roll-Up)
- After The Bell: Stardust looks stunned about the end of the match. Goldust implores Stardust to shake his hand, Stardust grabs it quickly and rolls out of the ring, still looking in shock from the outcome.
- EA’s Take: Really an odd ending because of the count. Was it supposed to go that way? It almost seemed like it was meant to be part of the story with the way Stardust was reacting. I’d expect this to continue on into a match at WrestleMania for Goldust’s farewell.
Video: Seth Rollins from Monday Night Raw last week, referencing that he could host The Daily Show better than Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart has a few choice words for Rollins and then Rollins has a retort, and invites Stewart to show up at Fastlane.
Backstage: Dusty Rhodes and Goldust are talking about the previous match when Stardust walks up and says it looks like a family reunion, but they forgot to invite him. Stardust asks Goldust if he thinks they’re done and ambushes him, beating him down. Dusty implores Stardust to stop, calling him ‘Cody’. Stardust tells Dusty that he killed Cody, by sending him “this bag of bones” and that he is no longer living in Dusty’s shadow.
Match #3 For The WWE Tag Team Championships: WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) w/Naomi vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro w/Natalya
Video of the dinner between Kidd/Natalya and Jimmy/Naomi from Smackdown 3 weeks ago. Kidd & Jey begin with Jey getting the upper-hand after a flying forearm and a slam, then a tag to Jimmy. Double team move now, a combo backbreaker/top rope forearm gets a 2 count. Jimmy with heavy chops and he hits a corkscrew senton from the top for a near fall. Kidd backs Jimmy in for a tag to Cesaro, shoots Jimmy in and runs him into Cesarom Jimmy counters but Cesaro chops the leg. Jimmy tries to fight out of the wrong corner, Kidd gets a tag and langs Jimmy’s leg across the ropes.
Kidd works the leg and makes a tag to Cesaro, for more of that same prescription. Cesaro with a one-legged big swing into a single leg crab, Kidd tags and hits a slingshot leg drop for a count of 2. Kidd continues to work the leg, wrapping it on the ring apron, but Jimmy gets himself a small window of opportunity. Cesaro rolls kid back inside and gets the tag as Jimmy reaches Jey, who hits a flurry of moves exclamated by a Samoan drop. He lines up for the Umaga Hip Attack, but Kidd is on the apron with a distraction that allows Cesaro to get a roll-up for 2. Jey with an enzuigiri and this time connects on the Umaga Hip Attack, but Cesaro is out at 2. Jey ascends the turnbuckle, but Cesaro hits the ropes which crotches Jey.
Kidd makes a tag, Cesaro hits the Swiss Superplex and Kidd follows with a springboard elbow drop that nearly wins them the titles. Kidd wants the Sharpshooter, counter by Jey, Kidd hits the apron and gets a roll-up on Jey, but Jimmy made a blind tag. Uso’s hit Alley Us and Jimmy covers, but Cesaro breaks it at 2 and pulls Kidd to the outside. Jimmy eats a kick from Kidd and Jey with an outside dive onto Cesaro. Kidd takes out Jey with a kick and here comes Jimmy who misses a baseball slide, then counters a kick from Kidd to a Samoan drop into the barricade. Jimmy rolls in Kidd and heads to the top, Cesaro’s distraction on the apron is thwarted and Jimmy goes for the Samoan Splash.
Kidd gets the knees up and rolls Jimmy into a cover for a near fall, then locks Jimmy in the Sharpshooter. Jey breaks it up with a kick to the back of the head, Cesaro in now and they brawl to the outside as Jimmy crawls to a cover that’s only good for 2. Cesaro rolls Jey into the ring which distracts the ref, then swallows a kick from Jimmy. Kidd capitalizes on the distraction and hits the swinging fisherman neckbreaker to capture the gold.
Winners and New WWE Tag Team Champions: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (Kidd/Swinging Fisherman Neckbreaker)
- EA’s Take: Lillian Garcia – “Here are your winners and still….the new WWE Tag Team Champions…”. Why in the BLUE HELL did they let Justin Roberts walk again? Anyway, this was yet another example of why The Uso’s are the best tag team in the business. Not to discredit Kidd & Cesaro because they are great too and I like the different paths they could take with them going forward in terms of challengers. There’s a bunch of babyface teams right now with the breakup of Gold & Stardust and the eventual split of The Miz & Damien Mizdow. Add to that the recent call-up of Kalisto to add The Lucha Dragons into the mix.
Video: Triple H talking about his allegiance to WWE, 2 weeks ago on Raw and what has led up to Triple H calling him out for tonight.
In The Ring: It’s time for that confrontation and here comes Triple H, who is wearing street clothes and not his usual suit. Triple H talks about last week on Raw, when he was confronted by Ric Flair about Sting and how he regrets losing his cool and apologized to Flair, but doesn’t apologize for what he said about Sting. He says he is not standing in the ring as the COO, but as the heartbeat of WWE, The Game, The King of Kings and “Sting, I am waiting for you!”. He makes Triple H think about it for a moment and finally “The Vigilante” Sting makes his way to the ring. HHH says that they are past pleasantries and cuts right to the chase, he knows why Sting is here and isn’t mad about it, but feels sorry for him.
HHH says Sting backed the wrong horse by being undyingly loyal to WCW, but he respects that Sting “went down with the ship”. HHH says that guys like himself made that ship go down and he knows Sting came for him because without HHH & Stephanie the “WWE dies.”, but Sting failed and that’s what Sting does. HHH offers to let Sting have his legacy back and wants to do what’s best for business by putting all this behind them and doing business with Sting. All Sting has to do is walk away and HHH promises to make Sting bigger than ever by putting out DVD’s, action figures, loads of merchandise and possibly someday get him a Hall of Fame induction. Sting still says nothing and HHH takes his coat off and says the other option is the hard way, where he will beat the legacy out of Sting and he’ll be carried out and his legacy erased.
HHH says the choice is Sting’s, but he still doesn’t respond. HHH says he can tell by the look in Sting’s eye, he’s already made up his mind and tries to sucker punch Sting. Sting sees it coming and attacks The Game, but is hit by the microphone and HHH takes over. HHH beats down Sting, yelling at him “I gave you a chance!”, before rolling to the outside and grabbing his trusty sledgehammer. Sting pulls a baseball bat out of his jacket and catches HHH under the chin with it, pushing him into the corner until HHH drops the sledgehammer outside. He backs off and points to the WrestleMania sign with the bat, HHH tries to sneak attack, but gets pushed back into the corner and Sting points to the sign again. This time HHH agrees, Sting pushes HHH back again, points to the sign once more and begins to make his exit. HHH comes up from behind, but takes a ball-bat to the gut and receives a Scorpion Death Drop before Sting leaves.
- EA’s Take: Seems like they are paying homage to the Sting/nWo storyline here a bit, with The Authority playing the nWo role. Loved this segment, Sting didn’t have to speak to get his point across. I’m not sure the WCW vs. WWE part of the story is really something that needs to be played up as much as they have been, but they ultimately need to talk about Sting’s history for the younger crowd to really understand the mark he’s made in the industry.
Backstage: We see Daniel Bryan preparing for his match with Roman Reigns later tonight.
Video: Recap of the Kickoff Show, where The Miz’s guest on Miz TV was Paul Heyman. Heyman says it doesn’t matter who wins tonight, Bryan or Reigns because they will lose to Brock Lesnar and we can “believe that”.
Match #4 For The WWE Divas Championship: Paige vs. WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella w/Brie Bella
Video of 3 weeks ago on Raw when The Bella’s sprayed Paige with tanner, then last week when they stole her ring gear and Paige had to wrestle in Rosebud attire. According to Lillian Garcia, Nikki is the Women’s Champion. Brawl to start and Nikki rolls out of the ring, Paige after her with Brie standing in the way, Paige catches Nikki in the ring, then goes for the knees on the apron that is countered and Paige spills to the floor. Nikki sends Paige into the apron and barricade, then back in the ring for a 1 count. Nikki grounds Paige and hits an Alabama Slam for a count of 2. Nikki continues to control until Paige gets in a kick, goes for a roll-up into the bottom turnbuckle, Nikki botches it. Paige with a series of clotheslines and a dropkick for 2.
Nikki ducks a kick into a roll-up that gets 2. Paige connects with the kick this time for another near fall. Paige sets-up for RamPaige, Nikki counters to a facebuster, but Paige retorts with a side kick and crawls into a count of 2. Nikki is caught climbing up top, she counters Paige into a powerbomb for 2. Paige is able to set for the PTO, but Nikki gets the ropes before Paige fully locks it in. Nikki grabs Paige’s tights and hauls her face-first into the turnbuckle, then rolls her up and grabs the tights again for the win.
Winner and STILL WWE Divas Champion: Nikki Bella (Roll-Up)
- EA’s Take: If this is headed in the direction that I think it is, which is the return of AJ Lee to help Paige…then shouldn’t Brie have gotten involved to help Nikki win? Maybe AJ is not the plan after all.
Match #5 For The WWE Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett
Clip of last Monday’s Raw, when Ambrose zip-tied Barrett to the ring post and forced him to sign the contract for an IC Title match. Both men connect with strikes, trying to prove who’s tougher, Ambrose with the advantage hits a crossbody and some rights, Barrett avoids a clothesline and ducks outside to regroup. Barrett back in, still can’t solve the puzzle of Ambrose, absorbs punishment until he catches Ambrose on the top with a big boot. Barrett sends Ambrose face-first into the steel steps before rolling him in and now he punishes Ambrose in the corner and grounds him. Ambrose gets a couple strikes in, but runs into Barrett’s boot and to the outside.
Barrett throws Ambrose in the ring, but he counters with a variation of the pendulum clothesline on the outside. Inside they go and Ambrose hits a tornado DDT and they double down. Ambrose is on fire now with a series of strikes and a running bulldog, he goes to the top, hops Barrett and rolls through. Barrett looks for Winds Of Change, Ambrose reverses into a roll-up for 2. Ambrose delivers a dropkick and a top rope diving elbow for a near fall. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, countered into Wasteland, Ambrose gets out and takes a kick, springs off for a pendulum clothesline again countered and Barrett hits Wasteland for 2.
Barrett sets his sights on a Bullhammer, Ambrose into a roll-up for 2 and then hits with the pendulum clothesline and Barrett rolls outside. Barrett grabs his title and tries to leave, but Ambrose with a suicide dive. Barrett tries escaping through the crowd, but Ambrose gets him back in the ring. Barrett tries to crawl out again, Ambrose catches him and delivers a beat down in the ropes. Ambrose doesn’t break on the refs count and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: Bad News Barrett (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: Ambrose hits Barrett with Dirty Deeds, goes to leave, then comes back in and grabs the IC Title.
- EA’s Take: This was one of the more predictable finishes of the night, as its been rumored that they’re penciled in to go 1-1 at WrestleMania. Decent match that did what it needed to do and advanced the story and rivalry between Ambrose & Barrett.
In The Ring: The Undertaker’s druids come out carrying torches to a spiritual chant. Taker’s music hits and out comes 2 more druids, pushing a casket down the aisle and up next to the ring. The casket opens to reveal…Bray Wyatt. Bray says there’s a wicked feeling in the air tonight. He talks about the first time he saw The Undertaker and how he feared him, but now he has become like everyone else, weak and broken with his soul lost. Bray says it’s time for Taker to go home. He knows he can hear him and he wants Taker to know he’s not afraid anymore. He is the new face of fear. “At WrestleMania, I will claim the soul of The Undertaker.”
- EA’s Take: Great way to keep the suspense of whether or not Undertaker will accept the challenge by Bray. I’d leave Taker off until WrestleMania or perhaps even the Raw before. Bray Wyatt is pure gold and doesn’t need Taker to appear to make this feud interesting. Wyatt is a perfect example of someone when they’re firing on all cylinders.
Panel: Renee Young and the rest of the Kickoff panel offer their thoughts on what just happened with Bray Wyatt. Booker T, Corey Graves & Byron Saxton recap the nights events.
Video: The buildup between John Cena and Rusev, leading up to their match tonight for the United States Championship.
Match #6 For The WWE United States Championship: John Cena vs. WWE United States Champion Rusev w/Lana
They feel each other out and circle around, Cena floors Rusev with a right and grabs a headlock. Rusev with a big kick for 2, then begins to dominate Cena with strikes in the corner. Cena fights back and shoots Rusev in, but falls victim to a spinning heel kick and a count of 2, then goes back to beating Cena down. Rusev grabs another near fall off a corner avalanche, Cena’s out on the apron and Rusev drives him off into the barricase, rolls him in for a cover and gets 2. Rusev gets distracted by the crowd and hits a dropkick for 2, only to have the favor returned by Rusev for 2 as well.
Cena gets a short burst of energy and takes Rusev down, raining fists, hits a shoulder tackle off the rope, goes for another and gets caught in a fallaway slam. Rusev really in control and gets 2 off multiple elbow drops. Cena uses Rusev to get to his feet and throws some gut shots, whip into the corner and runs into a back elbow, before being grounded by Rusev again. Cena powers out of the hold and takes a kick, Rusev goes for a suplex and Cena reverses, then hits a big clothesline for a count of 2. Cena tries the AA, Rusev counters into a DDT for a 2 count. Splashes in the corner by Rusev only get another 2 and Rusev shows signs of frustration. Cena shows signs of life and makes the comeback, hitting the 5 Knuckle Shuffle and going for an AA, Rusev pushes off and kicks Cena’s head off for another near fall.
Rusev tries to go for The Accolade, Cena counters to the STF, Rusev pushes off and hits a Gunnslinger that Rusev can’t believe doesn’t get 3. Rusev charges Cena and runs into a boot, Cena to the 2nd rope hits a tornado DDT, Rusev kicks out at 2. They slug it out in the middle of the ring, Cena looks AA again, Rusev goes for another Gunnslinger, but Cena turns it into a crossface. Rusev just powers out of the hold and hits an Alabama Slam, Cena kicks after a 2 count. Rusev attempts The Accolade once more, Cena catches his foot and gets him in the STF, but Rusev makes it to the ropes. Cena sets for an AA, Rusev is out with an elbow then a kick, looks for another superkick and this time Cena connects on the AA, but still can’t get a 3 count.
Cena climbs to the top and goes for the leg drop, Rusev catches him into a powerbomb and immediately locks in The Accolade. Cena breaks the grip a couple times and is finally able to get to his feet with Rusev on his back. Lana enters the ring and distracts the ref, Rusev with a low blow and then a kick to the face. He slaps The Accolade on again and Cena passes out.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Rusev (The Accolade)
- After The Bell: Trainers check on John Cena, who is still unconscious, face down in the ring. Rusev & Lana celebrate and the Russian flag drops behind them. Cena starts to come-to, but has trouble getting to his feet. He fights off help and heads to the back.
- EA’s Take: Really liking the mid-card title scene since some of the bigger names have been getting involved. Both the IC & US titles have been begging for a revival and these kinds of feuds will do that. Lana’s interference allows for a logical reason to have the rematch at Mania, which is where this is headed. Hopefully, more layers can be added to the story to keep it interesting until then.
Panel: Back to the Kickoff Panel to recap the night before heading to the main event.
Video: The rising tension between Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns, as they vie for a spot in the main event at WrestleMania.
Match #7 – Winner Gets WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match At WrestleMania: Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
They posture, lock up and break clean. Dueling Bryan & Reigns chants. They posture, lock-up and break again. Both men still trying to feel each other out, Bryan gains a headlock, Reigns powers out and reverses, catching Bryan with a shoulder, Bryan comes back with a roll-up for 2. Bryan catches Roman’s legs and attempts a surfboard, but Reigns powers out, leading Bryan to ponder his next move. Bryan kicks at Reigns, but is overpowered. Bryan flips over Reigns and hits the ropes, Reigns with a tilt-a-whirl slam, then clotheslines Reigns to the outside. Reigns follows him and viciously attacks Bryan using the barricade.
Bryan catches Reigns with a kick back in the ring, trying to cut Reigns down at the legs. Reigns breaks a submission with heavy rights, slingshots Bryan across the top, hits a Samoan drop and a flying clothesline. He charges Bryan, but Bryan with a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. Bryan charges and is hammered with a big clothesline that turns Bryan inside-out for a count of 2. Reigns hits rolling suplexes and his signature apron dropkick, then sets-up the Superman Punch. Bryan counters with a kick and tries to take advantage, but the ref is checking on Reigns to see if he can continue. The match goes on and Bryan works the mid-section, the same area that Reigns had hernia surgery months before. Cormer dropkicks precede a top rope hurricanrana attempt by Bryan, countered by Reigns into a powerbomb for a near fall.
Reigns crushes Bryan with clotheslines in the corner, props him up top, but Bryan counters and seats Reigns on the turnbuckle. Bryan lands a top rope back suplex that only gets 2. Bryan gets the Yes Lock, but Reigns drags him to the ropes and rolls outside. Bryan hits on 2 suicide dives, goes for a third and is caught into an overhead belly to belly on the floor. Reigns has Bryan in his crosshairs for a Spear, but Bryan side swipes him into the steel steps. Both men struggle to reach the ring before the count of 10, but do. Bryan comes off the top and is caught with a Superman Punch for 2. Reigns tries a Spear and Bryan catches him in a roll-up for a near fall. Bryan with a big kick, and then connects with Knee Plus, but Reigns kicks at 2.
Reigns on his knees and Bryan goes back to the kicks, tries for a head kick, but Reigns catches the leg. Bryan slaps Reigns and snatches the arm, worming down to the mat into the Yes Lock. Reigns finally powers out and mounts Bryan, hammering down with big forearms. Bryan grabs a triangle choke, Reigns is able to lift him up and slam him to break. They double down and then get into a striking contest on the mat, Bryan to his feet and hits the big head kick before setting up for Knee Plus again. Bryan charges and Reigns catches him with a Spear to get the victory.
Winner: Roman Reigns (Spear)
- After The Bell: Both men are in the ring, spent. Bryan grabs Reigns and turns him arounf. Face to face, Bryan tells Reigns he better win at WrestleMania and then offers his hand. Roman takes it and then celebrates.
- EA’s Take: Excellent main event match that exceeded my expectations. Easily, the best match of Roman Reigns’ career. A lot of people will attribute that to working with Bryan, but Reigns really answered the call and brought it. Bryan was the perfect opponent to get Reigns ready for Lesnar. Bryan is a very physical wrestler and working that style with Reigns can only help him going into an even more physical opponent, in Brock Lesnar.
EA’s Finisher: Overall a much better show than I was anticipating. I half-went in thinking most of the finishes would be DQ’s or count-outs so they could build to rematches at WrestleMania. Have to give WWE credit for coming up with alternatives as they could easily have taken that route, especially since this is free trial month and a lot of people are probably not paying anything for this. Bryan/Reigns exceeded all expectations I had and I applaud WWE for sticking to the plan this time around and not giving in to all the post-Rumble noise. Bryan can help out in other ways without being involved in the title picture right now. Doesn’t mean he’s out of it forever. Storylines for WrestleMania became a lot clearer, with Randy Orton returning for revenge on Seth Rollins. Cena never tapped to Rusev, so that will continue. Sting & HHH are already official for the big show and as an admitted Sting mark, I for one couldn’t be more pumped (eventhough that has been the direction since Survivor Series). Also, good to see Tyson Kidd & Cesaro putting themselves on the map. I really like the tandem, especially now that Kidd actually has developed a character to go along with the tremendous in-ring skills we all knew he had. Maybe he can pull Cesaro’s out too. Great segment by Bray Wyatt, which has to ultimately lead to The Undertaker accepting the challenge. Why else would they put the thought in our heads if it wasn’t going to happen?
Top Three To Watch
1 – Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
2 – Rusev vs. John Cena
3 – The Usos vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Ch. 3: Fifty Shades of Pain
Harry brings us another throwback episode of Progress! His play by play style will paint a picture so clear Bob Ross wouldn’t even need to add trees!
Harry brings us another throwback episode of Progress! His play by play style will paint a picture so clear Bob Ross wouldn’t even need to add trees!
Two of these reviews down. Let’s go ahead and make it a trifecta. Hopefully, you are enjoying the series as ‘What I Watched’ returns under the Chairshot Classics banner for PROGRESS (as well as Impact Wrestling. Hopefully, we can eventually cover some other promotions as well). I’ll be taking note of all the comments left on these reviews and addressing them as new ones get typed out. In the interest of a somewhat regular schedule of these posting, the first couple PROGRESS reviews are being typed out in advance of their release on the website.
So, to the reason of today’s gathering. PROGRESS has had two good (but not necessarily great) shows so far. Instead of going to a more regular occurrence, they stuck with the three months between shows model. Chapter 2 had us in June, whereas this show doesn’t take place until September. The bigger story to me though is that the main event is not what I though it would be at the end of Chapter 2. Instead of getting Nathan Cruz vs. El Ligero for the PROGRESS Championship Staff, we are instead getting a tag match with Cruz and Ligero as partners. With that, we once again step into the way back machine and head to September 30th, 2012 as “What I Watched” presents ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’ or PROGRESS Chapter 3.
WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.
WRITER’S NOTE #2: As much as I’d like to let everyone make their own decisions on the matches, giving away match results in the review will be a necessary evil. The reason being is that I will discuss what I think everything means going forward and maybe even doing a little fantasy booking of where I would go from where they presently are. I will still post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contests. The final show review will be after that as well as the ‘Final Reaction’ for the show. Going forward, I’ll have an archive to all of my previous reviews here on the Chairshot if you click on my user name.
MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating.
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 3 – ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: September 30th, 2012
Run Time: 2:08:49 (Demand PROGRESS)
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)
*Our opening video focuses on a tag match between the London Riots (James Davis and Rob Lynch) facing Danny Garnell and Darrell Allen. In addition, we see that Marty Scurll will be the special guest referee for our main event. Which apparently will not be the previously thought Cruz vs. Ligero for the PROGRESS Championship Staff, but a tag match instead with Cruz and Ligero as partners…
*There is no Smallman opening promo, as I believe it was it edited into the opening video with Scurll being added to the main event as the referee. Disappointing start, as I find Smallman’s opening welcome to be a nice light hearted way to get these shows started.
*Match #1: Noam Dar (1-1) vs. Paul Robinson
The Who: Noam Dar is coming off a victory over Darrell Allen via ‘Champagne Super KneeBar’ at the last show to even his record up. Paul Robinson is making his in-ring debut for the company and he is replacing MK McKinnan, who was the originally announced opponent for Dar in this contest.
The Why: My guess would be to get Dar more momentum going forward. I don’t imagine that Robinson is going to be added last minute and beat Dar, but stranger things have happened.
The Match: They still have the records on the name bar’s for the intros. I know that’s not something they do any more, but I’m curious how long it sticks around for…both guys get inset promos. Dar’s is by far the better, as he informs us that he’s going to keep winning so he can get the ‘big stick’ by which he means the PROGRESS Championship Staff, despite the crowd’s borderline racist chants towards him…opening bell rings and we’re underway…Robinson shows off the Chris Hero shoulder kips into the forward roll. Pretty sure that dates back to England before Hero, but Hero is where I personally remember first seeing it…commentary starts a little late, but there’s Jimmy Barnett, who claims he’s not affiliated with Jim Smallman despite sounding a lot like him. That cat is now long since out of the bag…backslide for two and then a super spinning backslide for another two. Seemed a little unnecessary but the fans enjoyed it. Know your audience, I guess…Paul Robinson is a very small guy. Believed the announced weight was just over one hundred forty. For a visual representation, think Spike Dudley…certainly a unique twist on the Garvin Stomp…Dar focusing on Robinson’s knee pays off the fans who have watched the previous shows and the ‘Champagne Super KneeBar’…Dar repeats the gum spot from Chapter 2. Gross. And the fans appropriately respond with a ‘you sick fuck’ chant. Not the most hygienic man in wrestling, is he?…lighting for this show is quite a bit better then it has been for previous shows…Robinson with a suicide dive, which could have been a disaster. There is almost no room between the ring and the front row of fans…said it before, say it again: the superkick and the enzugiri are the most overused moves in wrestling…airplane spin however, we could use more of…Robinson tries to drop the Guillotine Legdrop, but Dar moves and Robinson lands hard…pair of fisherman’s (both suplex and buster) lead to a grounded kneebar. Not quite the ‘Super Kneebar’, but it’s enough for the tap at 11:41…pretty basic match to kick off the show. The crowd was into it, which is good. But as a fan who watches a lot of wrestling, it never seemed to get out of the first gear and move into being more then just there. Dar’s personality make his matches an easy enough watch, but at same point, the in ring product has to be risen up to mean anything. (AVERAGE)
*Match #2: BWC Starlo Scholarship Title: Mark Andrews © (1-0) vs. Xander Cooper (1-0)
The Who: Mark Andrews is a pretty well known name here in the States now. He’s coming off a successful title defense against Mike Hitchman at Chapter 2. Xander Cooper wasn’t in a match on Chapter 2, but did win a three way match at Chapter 1 with this title on the line,
The Why: Between Chapters 1 and 2, Andrews beat Cooper for the title. Andrews had his previously mentioned defense at Chapter 2 and after that match, Cooper came in through the crowd and attacked him. That led to PROGRESS management scheduling this rematch between the two for the title.
The Match: I believe only the second match in PROGRESS history to have been set up on the show before. The only match on Chapter 2 that was set up at Chapter 1 was the main event, if memory serves…‘Man for All Seasons’ is such a proper asshole nickname. I dig it…Cooper impressed me at the first show. Andrews and Hitchman had a banger at the second. My expectations are pretty high for this one…both get inset promos. Andrews has the best line: “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and you’re just a dick”…bell goes and we’re underway…the fans insinuate that Cooper has herpes. Somewhere, Rhett Titus is pissed his chant got taken…pace finally starts to pick up around three minutes in…Cooper busts out Miz’s old Reality Check combo. Personality wise, he kind of reminds me of Miz as well…Andrews with a Bubba Bomb. Not something you usually see a guy his size use…standing moonsault senton gets two and looks really cool in the process. Andrews was a lot like Ricochet and PAC early in his career. Not everything made sense, but most of it looked cool…stranglehold Golden Rule by Cooper. That’s a first for me…rope assisted enzugiri kick knocks Cooper back into the center of the ring. Andrews comes flying in with a Shooting Star Press (over-shooting just a bit, actually) and that’s the closing bell at 8:52…better then the opener, but a step down from what both of them did before. Took a bit of time to get out of the starting block, but once it did, it picked up quite nicely. I would recommend the three way for Cooper and the Hitchman match for Andrews more personally though. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Match #3: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) (1-0) vs. The Bastard Squad- Darrell Allen and Danny Garnell (debut as a team. Allen is 0-1-1 as a single. Garnell is 1-0 as a single)
The Who: London Riots were successful in their debut at Chapter 2 against Will Ospreay and Alex Esmail in what was shaping up to be a good match until Esmail got hurt (broken leg). Allen got a no decision at Chapter 1 in the three way for the Starlo Scholarship and was tapped by Noam Dar at Chapter 2. Danny Garnell won his debut match, pinning Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 2.
The Why: Damn good question and one I don’t presently have an answer for. I checked the history of PROGRESS that is maintained at Voices of Wrestling by Rob Reid and found nothing to give any reasons as to why this is happening. Maybe Jimmy Barnett will shine some light on the reason during the match itself.
The Match: Lynch has what I thought was a paddle but was corrected by Barnett is a cricket bat in his hand. Is cricket big in England? Thought that was more of an Australian thing…Barnett informs us that a poll on the PROGRESS website has dubbed Garnell and Allen as ‘The Bastard Squad’, so my why maybe just as a way to try to build up a tag division…as per the warning I issued during Chapter 2, it is entirely possible that I will screw up Lynch and Davis. If I do so, I apologize…then again, they appear to have keep the one in singlet, one in trunks look. I should be okay…and we’re off as a brawl breaks out…man, that one roaming cam is making me sea sick. Super wobbly…Lynch drops Garnell on the floor with a Michinoku Driver…and the official PROGRESS Chapter 3 chair of that fan has been broken…Lynch and Garnell just trading bombs in the center of the ring…high angle release German by Garnell. Lynch lands almost square on the back of his damn head…Allen and Garnell do have quite the big guy/little guy dynamic going for them…first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…Allen has Davis caught in a Octopus but Davis turns it into a wheelbarrow facebuster. Again, another first…Riots grind down the pace of the match on Allen, but it makes sense for them to do so. They have a significant size edge over Allen, why not use it?…one of these shows, I’m going to keep a running enzugiri count. If we don’t hit double digits, I’d be stunned…Barnett advocates the old Gorilla Monsoon stance of multiple referees for tag matches…Lynch with an overhead superplex on Allen and Allen lands square on his tailbone. I’m guessing that probably sucked…both men on the ropes and Allen with another enzugiri to knock Lynch to mid-ring. The same thing Andrews did to Cooper in the previous match…Allen tries to come in with a cross-body off the top but gets caught by both members of the Riot Squad. Lynch helps Davis pop Allen up and into a sit out powerbomb which gets the three count at 12:25…a few good moments here and there but not enough to make it anything really worth remembering. It followed the old school tag wrestling formula to a tee. The thing about formulas is that they become formulas because they work. It does here and while it’s not going to light the world on fire or anything, it produced an above average tag match that sees the Riot Squad continue their winning ways. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Post match: The Riots lay in a beat down to Garnell, as one of the chairs from ringside is used multiple times against the knee of Garnell, before they use the cricket bat into the chair to ‘Pillmanize’ the ankle of Garnell. Microphone time for Lynch afterwards and declares war not just on the tag teams in the UK but on PROGRESS as well, laying down an open challenge for any place, any where, any time. Guess this story will develop more going forward then…
*Match #4: Jon Ryan (0-0) vs. Jimmy Havoc (0-1)
The Who: Jon Ryan makes his PROGRESS debut here, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before working for wXw out of Germany. Jimmy Havoc is back after a losing effort to Danny Garnell on Chapter 2 as a favor from his friend, Jim Smallman.
The Why: ‘Strictly No Blood, No Hardcore’ is the tag line for the match. Let’s just say that somehow I doubt this…
The Match: Ryan does get booed on his intro and the fans love Havoc, chanting ‘Jimmy’s Gonna Spoon You’, a call back to the great spooning debacle of Chapter 2…apparently Ryan was Havoc’s original trainer whereas Garnell was the one who trained him in the ways of technical wrestling…an attempted handshake by Havoc is met by a bitch slap from Ryan. That’ll end poorly for him, I feel…Havoc works in a spoon while on the mat to continue that bit…knowing Havoc’s reputation, it’s weird seeing him in normal matches…and as I type that, Havoc goes for dive and misses but lands on his feet. He turns towards Ryan, who thwacks him with a frying pan for the DQ at 3:36…normally, three minutes is about the mark where I would try to give a match a rating. I don’t feel like I can’t rate this here given what happens next, therefore I’m not going to…(N/A (ANGLE ADVANCEMENT))
*Post match- Havoc is understandably less then pleased about Ryan going upside his dome with a frying pan, which opened up Havoc’s forehead. He demands that Smallman restart the match under ‘Hardcore’ rules. Smallman warns people that don’t like this style of match to move away from the ring but as far as he is concerned: “fucking kill him, I don’t care.”
*Match #4b: Hardcore Rules: Jon Ryan (0-1) vs. Jimmy Havoc (1-1)
The Match: And thus the lack of rating for the previous match…opening bell once again here…and the first official weapon is a kendo stick. Which Ryan just beats the hell out of Havoc with. I think the kendo stick is one of those overrated weapons. Not enough reaction to justify how much those things actually hurt…cheese grater. It’s like every ECW brawl from 1998 on featuring New Jack…there’s not really a lot to discuss in a match like this. It’s basically just them hitting each other with a bunch of various shit…feel like throwing a bloody person into a group of people’s chairs is a bad idea…powerbomb through an ironing board. Not what those are intended for, but it looked cool enough…never cared for staple guns, myself. Similar to the kendo stick, but I guess a little easier to gimmick…staple to the dingus. Because of course he does…I’m guessing this is the match that leads into intermission so they have time to clean up the ring after it. It’s a combination of the old WWF hardcore brawls and the ultra-violent style matches you’d see from a CZW or a Big Japan…and now the thumbtacks make an appearance…DVD into the tacks. And the referee wusses out by grabbing a cookie sheet to count on. It was a smart move on his part, but not the most masculine….the problem with matches like this is it takes a while to set up the next spot. Spot, set-up, spot, set-up. Rinse and repeat as necessary…a ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant breaks out, followed immediately by a ‘No, it’s not’. That could make for an interesting way to go down the line with it. And a definite divide in the fan base for someone like Havoc…okay, that finish worked. They had set the BW board across two chairs. Havoc tries for a spinning head scissors and gets caught and dropped clean on his head with a package Tombstone (think Tombstone set-up and then Ryan cradled both legs under his own arms). Rather then go for the pin there though, Ryan adjusts his grip around Havoc’s waist and launches him through the BW board with a release wheelbarrow suplex. It was all over but the counting and the counting hits three at 14:36…this kind of match is going to be very divisive. There are fans of this genre and there are those who feel like it’s a black eye on the sport. I personally enjoy death match wrestling as long as we don’t go too over the top with it (needles, fire, stuff that can really hurt someone). I thought this was a pretty good match for the genre while not going too far in order to affect the crowd that may not be as interested in this style. We’ll go ‘above average’ for the rating, but your mileage will vary. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Post match- both guys get a nice ovation from the crowd and a ‘That was awesome’ chant. Let’s not go around tossing that out so freely. A sign of respect as a hug and handshake from teacher and student occurs and Havoc pops on the microphone once again to put over the crowd and Jon Ryan as well. He also asks the fans to buy him and Ryan beer and have a chat. Always working, that Havoc…
*Match #5: RJ Singh (0-0-1) vs. Rob Cage (debut)
The Who: RJ Singh returns after getting a no decision in the number one contender’s three way at Chapter 2. He still has his entourage with him as well. Rob Cage is a man that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of before so we’ll see what he can do in this match.
The Why: Can’t say I really have an answer for this. My guess would be to help flush out the roster with more people.
The Match: Can’t say my expectations are really high here, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised before. Mike Hitchman at Chapter 2 comes to mind there…the match graphic has Singh listed as 0-1. However, since he didn’t get pinned in the three way, I gave him a draw/no decision instead…inset promo for RJ Singh and the ‘Singh is King’ catchphrase remains in tact. It works for him. Promo wasn’t anything special however…opening bell goes as Singh’s accomplices make friends at ringside…apparently Rob Cage went the Jimmy Havoc route of campaigning on Twitter in order to get a spot on this show…I do still enjoy the fact that RJ calls his Camel Clutch the ‘Ethnic Submission’. It’s wrong on several levels, but still funny…Cage gets caught up with Singh’s crew and Singh gets a nice looking leaping neckbreaker, done Zig Zag style. That was smooth…running knee strike looks less smooth…Cage goes to the top and the ‘Director’ pushes him off while the referee was working on getting the other member of the Bollywood Empire out of the ring. That said, it happened so close to the referee that he had to have seen it. Really poor ring positioning…that leads to RJ Singh applying the ‘Ethnic Submission’ and it leads to a tap out from Rob Cage at 7:27…well, they reached my expectations with this. Worst match on the show thus far. I found RJ to be very entertaining for the role he had in the three way, so this was a major step down for him. As far as Rob Cage, not the best first impression made. For the first time on the show, I go with a ‘below average’ rating. It’s not awful, but if you are in a rush while watching this show, it’s seven minutes you can easily skip and not miss anything. (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Post match: it appears that all is okay as Singh offers his hand and Cage accepts it. Until RJ kicks Rob in the junk and puts him back in the Camel Clutch while his cohorts talk trash right in his face. The hold gets broken by the referee and Singh poses on the turnbuckle to celebrate his victory.
*Match #6: Stixx (0-1) vs. Lion Kid (1-0)
The Who: Stixx and Lion Kid both make their return after opening up Chapter 2 with a singles match. As previously mentioned there, I’ve heard that Lion Kid was the former Wade Fitzgerald, but have never seen any confirmation of this.
The Why: This one is easy. As mentioned, they had a match at Chapter 2. Lion Kid won. Stixx wants revenge. Pretty simple, really.
The Match: The who and the why was pretty easy to get through. I fear the match may not be. These two didn’t exactly set the world on fire at Chapter 2. Hopefully, it was just nerves and we get a better performance here…we start hot as Stixx knocks Lion off the apron and proceeds to beat him around ringside before the opening bell…Stixx rolls back in and demands a count-out, despite the fact we’ve not had an opening bell (at least, not one I’ve heard)…appears Lion Kid caught a knee injury in the floor brawl, but we’re a go now with an opening bell and everything…huge Black Hole Slam forty seconds in and I thought that was three. It wasn’t, but it wouldn’t have surprised me. Looked really good…huge Flair shin breaker by Stixx. He’s definitely looked better tonight then last outing…Lion Kid looked for a reverse rana but Stixx powered him back up. Kid transitions right into a victory roll, which I believe is how he won at Chapter 2. It only gets two this time…Stixx with a nice looking variation of the half calf, but Kid does eventually get to the ropes…series of chops sees Lion Kid ‘roar up’, but a shot to the knee keeps Stixx in charge…half crab giant swing. That’s just a dick move…Lion Kid goes for a springboard and falls. Crowd chants ‘you fucked up’, but I don’t think he did. I think it was on purpose to sell the knee and if it was, bravo…the crowd continues the ‘roar’ chant to rally Lion Kid. As Jim Smallman said in the favorite chants video he did, it’s just fun to say ‘roar’…avalanche tabletop (fall away slam to vertical) suplex. Don’t believe I’ve ever seen that done from the buckles before…Stixx is being almost Anderson like in his focus on the leg here. These guys are putting on quite the show here…very cool turnbuckle sequence leads to the big guy coming in with a frog splash on the knee…Lion Kid with a series of roll-ups to put over how desperate he is. Psychology, psychology, psychology…Stixx tries the Black Hole again but Lion Kid counters into a tornado DDT. Lion Kid goes for a 450, but Stixx rolls in. Lion Kid lands on his feet. Normally, that’s a good thing. With a bad knee, not so much. Stixx hauls Lion Kid up and drives him into the mat with Splash Mountain (Crucifix PB set-up but into a standard PB finish. I dub it the River Stixx). After a quick debate of a submission attempt, it’s a three count instead at 12:21…well done, gentlemen. Way to make me eat my words. After being significantly less then impressed with their match at Chapter 2, they turned things around and put on in my opinion the best match of Chapter 3 thus far. A big credit for this goes to big man, Stixx. He put on a technical clinic in this match, which you wouldn’t expect from a guy his size. Lion Kid more then held up his end of the bargain as well. You mix psychology with solid in ring work and no noticeable blown spots, it makes for a happy reviewer. I would rate this match as ‘very good’. (VERY GOOD)
*Match #7: Nathan Cruz (3-0, PROGRESS Championship Staff Holder) and El Ligero (2-1, #1 Contender to Nathan Cruz) (debut as a team) vs. Dave Mastiff (debut) and Greg Burridge (0-1) (debut as a team)
The Who: Cruz and Ligero are the champion and challenger elect for the next time the PROGRESS Staff is on the line. Cruz won the four way on the first show for the Staff. Ligero won a three way on the second show for the number one contendership. Dave Mastiff is making his PROGRESS debut here. From what little of him I’ve seen on NXT UK, he’s impressed me. Greg Burridge took the loss in the three way at the last show. Marty Scurll is the referee and he’s probably not going to be an unbiased one as he has issues with both Cruz and Ligero.
The Why: If I’m being entirely honest, I don’t have a damn clue for this one. I expected we’d get Cruz vs. Ligero here, but instead it’s this tag match. Burridge wanting revenge on Ligero makes sense. Burridge wanting a crack at Cruz makes sense. Where Dave Mastiff fits into this is anyone’s guess. As for Scurll, that’s easy. He was cheated out of the title by Cruz at the first show. He had Cruz beat at the second show while the referee was down. Ligero attempted to interfere and superkick Cruz, but Cruz ducked and Ligero wiped out Scurll. Despite not hitting his intended target, Ligero didn’t seem especially upset about it. Cruz got the victory and Scurll got screwed once again. How does this all tie together? Hell if I know. Let’s find out…
The Match: Man, this is a clusterfuck and a half just based on the description I had to type…once again, Cruz is greeted with the ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chants. Probably still my favorite one thus far in PROGRESS…Scurll gestures that he’ll call it down the middle during intros. I doubt that…Ligero and Mastiff are both in NXT UK. I think Burridge is now retired. I think Cruz just came back to wrestling, but I’m not sure…Mastiff’s beard is not nearly as impressive as it is these days…inset promos for only Cruz and Mastiff. Nathan Cruz is laying on the Shawn Michaels impression a bit thick. He is not only the ‘Show-Stealer’, he’s also the ‘Leader of the New Generation’. Bloody hell, mate…opening bell and we’re underway…Burridge and Ligero to start, until Ligero tags out to Cruz…I can’t entirely tell with the accent, but I believe that Burridge is calling Cruz a ‘slag’…I believe Cruz and Burridge are the two biggest guys height wise in PROGRESS (maybe outside of Stixx to this point). I’m almost certain that Mastiff is the heaviest…tags made on both side and we go to Ligero and Mastiff…do believe that Mastiff just called Ligero a cat. Or something similar. It was of the feline variety…Mastiff with a massive delayed vertical…and Burridge comes in to beat the hell out of Ligero…Ligero turns the table by going to the knee of Burridge and takes control…and that explains why Scurll wasn’t allowed to wrestle on this show. It was around the time of his ‘British Boot Camp’ run with TNA. And TNA were being dicks about their people working elsewhere due to not wanting injuries…last few minutes of this match has been all Ligero and Cruz working over Burridge’s knee. Smart wrestling, but not always the most entertaining…the f bombs are flying in this one. Viewer discretion is advised…little bit of in-fighting between Cruz and Ligero leads to Burridge making the tag to Mastiff…even back here some six years ago, Mastiff moves very well for a guy his size…Cruz and Ligero try to work together to suplex Mastiff. It doesn’t go well. Mastiff takes them both over with a double vertical…Ligero clearly gets caught calling a spot. I usually try to get the guys the benefit of the doubt, but that was blatant…Ligero trying to trade shots with Burridge. Why would he want to do that?…breaks down to Ligero and Mastiff in the ring. Top rope cross body attempt by Ligero just bounces off Mastiff. Mastiff tries to climb, but Ligero dropkicks the legs and then hits the Del Rio corner double stomp. Scurll refuses to count for Ligero and shit cans him to the floor…Cruz gets caught in a submission but manages to escape and hit his version of the Whiplash. Again, Scurll refuses to count though…Ligero goes for his tornado DDT, but Cruz tags himself in and sets up for his superkick. He goes for it on Mastiff but Ligero superkicks him mid-move. Ligero again shrugs his shoulders and rolls out of the ring as Mastiff lands on Cruz with a huge cannonball senton in the corner. He pulls Cruz to center ring and a follow-up cover gets the three count for the ‘Bastard’ Dave Mastiff at 18:10…took a bit to get going, but once it did, it was pretty entertaining. I’d say basically the first ten minutes of this match are a wash though, as it’s mostly mat wrestling and then leg work on Burridge that gets completely forgotten about in the closing stretch. I understand the idea of having Ligero and Cruz lose here. I even get the idea of Cruz taking the pinfall. To me, it would have made more sense for Burridge to get the pin since it would validate his point from the last show. Then again, we’d never see Greg Burridge in PROGRESS (to this day, I believe), so in hindsight, Mastiff was the right choice. The first half of the match was average, the closing sequence was pretty good. So we’ll settle in the middle and give this a good rating overall but easily the lowest quality of the three main events to this point. (GOOD)
*Post match: Mastiff gets mic time, saying that he did what he said he was going to do, which was something Scurll couldn’t do. He says that Cruz may be the man around here, but he’ll never be a ‘Bastard’. Mastiff and Burridge exit, with Scurll following shortly behind…Cruz gets the microphone as he’s recovering and points out that he’s still the champ and that picking up a win on the scraps of Ligero means nothing…eventually, it leads to Ligero making his way back out and security having to separate Cruz and Ligero. Smallman yells at them for screwing around at this end of his show and makes the title match official for Chapter 4. Smallman then cuts a quick version of his usual opening promo and we’re officially out for Chapter 3.
Match #1: Noam Dar taps Paul Robinson with a grapevined kneebar @ 11:41 (AVERAGE)
Match #2: BWC Starlo Scholarship Title: Mark Andrews © pins Xander Cooper with a Shooting Star Press @ 8:52 to retain (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #3: Riot Squad (J. Davis/R. Lynch) defeat Darrell Allen and Danny Garnell when Davis pins Allen after a sit out powerbomb @ 12:25 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #4: Jimmy Havoc defeats Jon Ryan by DQ @ 3:36 (N/A (ANGLE ADVANCEMENT))
Match #4b: Hardcore Rules: Jon Ryan pins Jimmy Havoc with a release wheelbarrow suplex through a barbed wire board @ 14:36 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #5: RJ Singh taps Rob Cage with the ‘Ethnic Submission’ (Camel Clutch) @ 7:27 (BELOW AVERAGE)
Match #6: Stixx pins Lion Kid after a Splash Mountain Bomb @ 12:27 (VERY GOOD)
Match #7: Dave Mastiff and Greg Burridge defeat El Ligero and Nathan Cruz when Mastiff pins Cruz following a corner cannonball senton @ 18:10 (GOOD)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
Rather then do positives and negatives here, I feel it’s easier to save those for the Final Reaction going forward. Two reasons for that…one, the Final Reaction gets a bit redundant if I’m typing the same thing there that I am here. Two and just as importantly is it’ll help decrease the length of these reviews a bit.
As far as ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’ goes overall, I’d say it’s the weakest of the three shows thus far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad show. Once again, we top out with a ‘very good’ match on the scale. This time though, we do see the ‘below average’ make a return to the scale as well. Consistency is key and while top to bottom, the shows are watchable, there is nothing really blow away that the company would eventually be known for having show in and show out down the road. We see more stuff coming together for the future of the company and the cream is starting to rise to the top in guys like Scurll, Andrews, Ligero, Cruz and the London Riots.
So, where does this leave us all? Well, it’ll leave me coming back to watch ‘The Ballad of El Ligero’ or PROGRESS Chapter 4. It’ll leave you all hopefully wanting to come back and read when I do so. I’m once again off to find food. Honey Buns sound really good right about now.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Has to be the surprise contest of the evening to me. The super redeeming effort that we got from Lion Kid and Stixx earns them best match.
Worst match/moment: That RJ Singh and Rob Cage match was rough. From both an in ring content and from a ‘suspension of disbelief’ perspective. I’ve seen better from RJ but Cage was a definite disappointment in his first outing here.
MVP: This one is going to go to Dave Mastiff, who debuted in the main event of the show for the company and didn’t even look the slightest bit out of place doing so. Not only did he get to showcase his impressive arsenal, he even got to pin the champion in the center of the ring, even if it was under somewhat dubious methods.
FINAL SCORE: 5.5/10
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter 4: “The Ballad of El Ligero”.