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WrestleMania 2000: Millennium Flop or Underappreciated Classic?

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WrestleMania 16 The Rock Mick Foley Triple H

The first WrestleMania of the new Millennium is widely regarded as a flop. Why is that? Even though Stone Cold Steve Austin is out following neck surgery, the card looks really good or, at least, interesting. This WrestleMania saw the first Triangle Ladder Match for the WWF Tag Titles, that would eventually spawn off into their own PPV event. We have a Fatal Four Way for the WWF Title featuring four future legends and all four McMahons involved.

Does WrestleMania 2000 deserve to be considered a flop? Or is it an underappreciated classic that deserves more respect? Let’s find out!

Opener:

We are back in Anaheim, the home of WrestleMania XII. Lilian Garcia sings at WrestleMania for the first time.  We get a quick history montage of WrestleMania and a great promo for the Main Event. JR and Lawler sound so excited, it’s nice to hear.

The Godfather and D’Lo Brown (with Ice-T) vs Big Boss Man and Bull Buchanan

Godfather, D’Lo, Ice-T, and Godfather’s ladies get a HUGE pop. The crowd is really into Ice-T’s rap. The ladies are hugely over with the crowd. After all that fun, Boss Man and Bull Buchanan are over like a pair of wet blankets.

This was a really good match. Bull Buchanan is rough as a cob, but the skill is there and the other three gentlemen in the match covered for him very well.

Winner: Boss Man and Bull Buchanan by pinfall. After the win, Boss Man and Bull chase Godfather’s ladies to the back.

Highlights: Ice-T.

Comments: This was a pretty good opener. Ice-T and the ladies got the crowd in a good mood. I enjoyed it.

We find Triple H and Stephanie in their dressing room, admiring their respective title belts (Stephanie had just won the Women’s Championship). Triple H comments that he wants to put diamonds on the WWF Championship. Steph replies that she’s already got a big diamond (her engagement ring), which Hunter admits was pretty expensive, much to her amusement. He then says that the fact that they are both champions at WrestleMania and that the McMahon-Helmsley era is putting on the biggest WrestleMania in history is pretty sweet, which Steph agrees with.

JR and King discuss Triple H’s calmness over the match and speculate that Hunter might have a plan in place to retain the WWF title.

We then go to a pre-recorded segment where we get the nominal rules for the Hardcore Battle Royal: The match will be 15 minutes long, not a second longer or shorter. There can be as many title changes as you can possibly squeeze into that time frame, or have none at all, if you listen to Crash Holly. When the fifteen minutes are up, so go the chances for a title win.

Hardcore Battle Royal

The thirteen participants come out to various amounts of pops, Crash getting the best pop due to his hilarious 24/7 title defenses, which I seriously recommend watching if you’re having a bad day.

This match is so chaotic, I won’t try to keep up with the title changes. This was just a fun match to watch.

Winner: There’s a little dispute over this. Officially, Hardcore Holly won, but Crash got his shoulder up at the last possible second, but the ref didn’t count the full three. Crash went to leave with the belt, thinking he’d held on, and was surprised to hear Hardcore declared the champion.

Highlights:

  1. Tazz instinctively going for pins when he didn’t have to.
  2. Pete Gas getting truly hardcore.
  3. Rodney having barely enough time to say ‘I won!’ before being pinned by Joey Abs.
  4. JR and Lawler’s commentary. J
  5. R’s reaction to realizing that Hardcore used his candy jar to hit Crash.

Comments: I have to be honest, this is my all-time favorite WrestleMania match, just because there was no story or drama, it was just pure chaos. The commentary was hysterical, and it was just a fun match to watch.

We get a recap of WrestleMania Axxess, I think this is the first one WWF put on. Among the cool things there, we got a possible SPOILER about Undertaker’s American Badass gimmick.

We go to one of the restrooms with Al Snow talking to someone, who seems to be complaining about the smell. Al tells him to shut up because he’s going to be part of the greatest WrestleMania of all time. Blackman comes in and wants to know what Al is up to. Al swears he’s not up to anything, but Blackman warns him not do something stupid. Al tries to play innocent, but whoever is in the stall flushes the toilet and now Blackman’s really suspicious and warns Al again.

We get a VERY close shot of Trish Stratus’…chest. She turns and tells Test and Albert that it’s time to show WrestleMania some T&A (think you’re doing that already, Trish).

T&A (with Trish Stratus) vs Al Snow and Steve Blackman (with Chester McCheeserton)

Blackman and Al Snow, aka ‘Head Cheese’ (I kid you not!), are out first. Al Snow is his usual silly self, but Blackman has the personality of a mop. Al tells Blackman that he’s got a surprise and we’re introduce to Chester McCheeserton, who is a guy wearing a foam cheese costume. Blackman looks ready to either die or laugh. The crowd likes it though. Thankfully, T&A and Trish are out next to a nice pop.

We have some technical issues with JR’s, so Lawler tries to pick up the slack (oh, dear). This was a good match, distracting managers and human cheese wedges aside. Both sides were worked well as teams and opponents. It’s not a hidden gem, but it was very good.

Winner: T&A by pinfall. Afterwards, Al and Blackman are irritated with each other for the loss and take it out on poor Chester.

Highlights:

  1. Chester McChesserton.
  2. Lawler trying to cover for JR’s audio issues,
  3. T&A showing some great moves for big guys.

Comments: I always like seeing future stars when they first start in the business and seeing Trish at her first WrestleMania, knowing how big she was going to become, was fun.

We go backstage where Mae Young is talking with Kat, who seems to be wearing nothing but a towel on her head and a smile. This whole segment is basically to titillate the audience to try and see if Kat is actually naked.

Up next is the legendary Triangle Ladder Match. We go to Michael Cole, who is interviewing the Dudleys, who are the current Champs. D-Von says that WWF keeps trying to put the Dudleys down, especially by putting them in a ladder but that the Dudley Boys will emerge victorious. Bubba agrees and says that tonight, the Dudley Boys take WrestleMania, and the ladder match, to a whole new level of violence. (Commenter: They’re doing this interview in atrocious Southern accents. C’mon guys, we know you’re actually from NYC, act like it.)

Triangle Ladder Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: Edge and Christian vs The Hardy Boys vs The Dudley Boys.

Edge and Christian come out through the crowd first to a nice pop. Hardys get a nice pop, and Jeff makes a point of going under two ladders. The Dudleys are out last to a nice pop too.

his match was so crazy, I can’t take notes. This match was amazing. All six guys tore the house down.

Winner: Officially: Edge and Christian leave with the belts. Unofficially: All six men, and WWF/E fans

Highlights: Too many to name.

Comments: I love ladder matches, so this was big thumbs up for me.

We go backstage where Linda McMahon and Mick Foley are talking to Kevin Kelly. We’re reminded that this was (at the time) probably Mick Foley’s last match. Linda tells Mick that she’s just happy he gets the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream of main-eventing at WrestleMania. Mick says that the ladder match proves that no one is holding anything back and that this is the biggest year in WWF history and that it’s the biggest main event in WWF history and in his career. He thanks Linda for bringing him back and says that this is his chance to make a last impression. He believes that this is a fairy tale for him and that he believes fairy tales can come true and that he’ll become WWF Champion tonight.

Lawler and JR are still in awe of what happened in that ladder match. Lawler says that people will be talking about that ladder match for years to come.

Cat Fight: Terri Runnels (with Fabulous Moolah) vs The Kat (with Mae Young) – Special Guest Referee: Val Venis

We get the rules first: The first person to throw their opponent out of the ring, to the floor is the winner.

Val Venis, our referee, is out first to a good pop. JR makes an comment that sounds like a disclaimer warning: Neither Terri nor the Kat are experienced wrestlers. (Commenter: Oh dear). Venis his usual borderline pornographic promo, and it’s time for the ladies.

Terri and Moolah are out first. Terri wants to shake her rear for the crowd, but Moolah won’t allow that. We get another disclaimer that this is not going to be a classic wrestling match.

Kat and Mae are out next. Kat’s bleached her hair and is wearing what looks like a catsuit from an adult store.

I’m not sure what this was, but I’m pretty sure it was a hit with the guys…and some of the ladies. The wrestling was crap, but it had its funny moments.

Winner: Kat should’ve won, as she threw Terri outside twice, but Mae kept distracting Val. Kat is furious that Terri won. Mae, who is mostly to blame for what happened gives Moolah a Bronco, and Kat rips up Terri’s outfit (which came apart quite easily, TBH).

Highlights: Terri laying one on Val, only to be dumped, literally, when Kat saw it. Val getting kissed by Mae.

Comments: I didn’t hate this match nearly as much as the Women’s Championship Match the year before because there was no pretense that these women had any actual wrestling skill beyond takedowns and spears.

We find the Radicalz backstage and Eddie is more concerned with fixing his mullet and looking nice for Chyna than he is the actual match.

In one of the locker rooms, Chyna and Too Cool are watching footage of the Radicalz comments and Chyna is disgusted by Eddie’s comments. Grand Master tells her not to worry about it.

Six Person Intergender Match: Chyna and Too Cool vs The Radicalz

The Radicalz are out first to almost no reaction, which is shocking, but they’d only debuted in WWF/E a month before. We get our first mention of ‘Latino Heat’. Chyna is out first to a big pop and she has a firework gun thing. Too Cool are out next to a nice pop too. Eddie keeps making eyes at Chyna, who looks ready to deck him.

As far as match quality goes, this was an okay, it wasn’t the best, but it didn’t suck.

Winner: Chyna and Too Cool

Highlights:

  1. Eddie being attracted to Chyna, but not wanting to fight her.
  2. Saturn taking Grand Master Sexay’s doorag for himself.
  3. Eddie Guerrero.
  4. Chyna competing with the one seam of her pants ripped to the point that her pants were partially falling down.

Comments: Seeing Eddie at the beginning of his WrestleMania career, knowing where he’d be in four years, was nice.

We get a video about a family from Pennsylvania that won tickets to WrestleMania. The winner is the middle of having a smoke when the team show up.

We go into one of the backstage areas with Big Show and Shane. Shane predicts that Big Show will be the next WWF Champion. Somewhere in this, control of WWF was made part of the match, or that’s what it sounds like from Shane’s comments.

We get a recap of Kurt finding out that his manager, Bob Backlund, had put BOTH his Intercontinental and European titles on the line against Benoit and Jericho. Needless to say, Kurt wasn’t happy and chokes Backlund out with the Crossface Chickenwing. We find Kurt talking down to a big security guard, and getting on the guy’s nerves.

Two Fall Triple Threat Match for the WWF Intercontinental and European Championships: Kurt Angle vs Chris Benoit vs Chris Jericho

This is essentially two Triple Threat Matches in succession. The first fall will be for the Intercontinental Championship, the second fall will be the European Championship.

Jericho comes out first to a fantastic pop. JR notes that all three men in this match are making their WrestleMania debuts. Jericho cuts a promo about being at his first WrestleMania and that while he can’t promise leaving with a title, but he will prove himself as the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla and that he’s going to kick the butts of ‘Kirk Angel’ and ‘Mr. Roboto’. Benoit is out next to little reaction. Kurt comes out to the usual ‘You suck!’ chants.

Benoit jumps Angle from the back and the match quickly turns chaotic. Unsurprisingly, given the three people involved, this match is fantastic.

Winner: Benoit wins the IC title by pinning Jericho, Jericho wins the European Title by pinning Benoit.

Highlights: Kurt Angle losing both titles without being pinned and being livid about it.

Comments: This is a match of the night contender.

Michael Cole is with Vince and asks him about the Fatal Four Way and if he’ll be a factor in who wins.  Vince says he’d like to think that he would be, but the Rock is very confident and that has nothing to do with him, Vince. Cole asks about the other McMahons, Vince says that while he doesn’t view his family as dysfunctional, he guarantees to make things right.

In the McMahon-Helmsley dressing room, Triple H says he doesn’t care about making things right, this about who is the best and the best is him. He won’t allow himself to be beaten.

Kane and Rikishi (with Paul Bearer) vs Degeneration X (with Tori)

DX and Tori are out to boos, which is shocking. Road Dogg cuts a promo, but it doesn’t seem to get the kind of reaction the DX promos used to get.

Rikishi comes out to a nice pop.  Kane and Paul Bearer come out to a good pop too. Lawler and JR are worried about Pete Rose, who was on Sunday Night Heat. Tori and Paul get into it, Tori slaps Paul but Paul barely reacts.

This match was a mess and seems to have been there only to fill the time.

Winner: Kane and Rikishi. Too Cool comes out to dance in celebration, along with the San Diego Chicken. Kane is suspicious of the feathery intruder, while Rikishi doesn’t seem to want to dance. Kane attacks the poor Chicken, thinking it’s Pete Rose, but it’s a trick. Pete comes in with a baseball bat but is stopped by Rikishi. Pete eats a tombstone and a stinkface for his troubles.

Highlights:

  1. Pete Rose not knowing when to quit. Thankfully, this will be the last time Charlie Hustle tries to mess with Kane.
  2. 400lb Rikishi being able to bust a move.
  3. Paul Bearer doing the DX sign
  4. Pete Rose getting stinkfaced.

Comments: Meh.

 Kevin Kelly is with the Rock. Rock says it’s been 12mos of backstabbing, interviews, and run-ins, and Rock says he regrets nothing because it brought the Rock back to WrestleMania. He doesn’t care about anything but WWF Championship and he will do whatever it takes to win the title.

Fatal Four Way Elimination Match For the WWF Championship: Triple H (with Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley) vs The Rock (with Vince McMahon) vs Big Show (with Shane McMahon) vs Mick Foley (with Linda McMahon)

Mick Foley and Linda are out first to a great pop. Big Show and Shane are out next to a not audible reaction. The Rock gets his expected thunderous reaction. Triple H and Stephanie get a pretty good reaction.

This was a really good match. All four guys worked really worked well together and a great story was told, with a nice twist at the end.

Winner: Triple H after Vince hits The Rock with a chair. Stephanie is stunned but realizes that Vince did it to bring the family back together, behind Triple H. Vince and Stephanie embrace while the crowd throws trash at them. When Rock realizes what just happened, he charges the ring and takes out Vince and Shane. Stephanie is visibly upset and checks on her family while Rock stares at her. She and Rock exchange words and Steph slaps Rock and eats a Rock Bottom. Triple H tries to come to his wife’s aid and gets punched for his troubles. Rock hits Stephanie with a People’s Elbow.

Highlights:

  1. Rock, Trips, and Foley taking out Big Show.
  2. Rock and Mick teaming up on Triple H.
  3. Mick turning on Rock for the chance to retire WWF Champion.
  4. Mick going hardcore for his final (at the time) match.
  5. The standing ovation Mick received from the fans.
  6. Shane and Vince fighting while obviously trying to not hurt each other, Stephanie’s selling of the fight.
  7. Vince screwing the Rock out of the belt.
  8. Stephanie taking a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow.
  9. Rock protecting Stephanie by not taking his elbow pad off for the People’s Elbow.

Comments: I enjoyed this match. I think it ran a little long and felt a little thrown together, despite the build. It feels like with Austin and Undertaker out, two of the men involved were put in to have them on the card, but I’m not sure which two that was supposed to be.

Overall Comments

So, does WrestleMania 2000 deserve to be labeled a flop? In my opinion, no. This wasn’t the most compelling card in the world, but this wasn’t a bad event, in my opinion. I don’t think it quite live up to its potential, but it wasn’t awful.

Stinkers: Kane/Rikishi vs DX. That was a mess and the Pete Rose . The Cat fight gets a pass because they didn’t try to pretend that Terri and the Kat were going to wrestle, and the match wasn’t awful.

Match of the Night: While the Hardcore Battle Royal is my personal favorite, I have to give Match of the Night to the Triangle Ladder Match. That match never stops being amazing.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I enjoyed this show. Considering that Undertaker and Austin were out because of injuries at that point, this show did a pretty good job.


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Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999

Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!

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Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?

ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!

What I Watched #16

ECW Guilty as Charged 1999

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

  • Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
  • Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
  • Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
  • Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
  • Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
  • Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
  • Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think  that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)

Super Crazy vs. Tajiri

Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)

John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent

So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)

Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley

Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…

The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)

TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm

Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.

The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)

Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of. 

As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)

Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz

So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent. 

The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)

 

THE FINAL REACTION

  • Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
  • Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
  • Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
  • MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.

 

THE SIGNOFF

It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.

So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.


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What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018

Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!

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ALL IN

Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.

I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.

What I Watched #10-B

ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018

9/1/2018

Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL

Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)

Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)

THE RESULTS

  • Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
  • Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
  • Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
  • Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
  • Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
  • Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
  • Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
  • Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
  • Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
  • Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
  • Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)

*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)

Over the Budget Battle Royal

*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)

Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross

*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)

Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)

*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)

Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard

*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)

NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)

*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)

‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela

*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)

ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon

*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)

Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)

Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)

Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio

*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)

THE FINAL REACTION

There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.

Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.

Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.

Overall Show Score: 8.5/10

MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.

THE SIGNOFF

And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.


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