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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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Attitude Of Aggression #275- The Big Four Project Chapter 3: Royal Rumble ’88 & WrestleMania IV

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Attitude of Aggression
Attitude Of Aggression #275- The Big Four Project Chapter 3: Royal Rumble ’88 & WrestleMania IV

The Attitude Of Aggression returns for Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project, a chronological analysis, review, and discussion about WWE’s Big Four PPVs/ Premium Live Events. On this Episode, Dave welcomes back the one and only PC Tunney to discuss two more immensely important events in pro wrestling history, the inaugural Royal Rumble and WrestleMania IV. The 1988 Royal Rumble was different than any other Rumble in history and not just because it was the first. Dave and Tunney break down the fascinating history of the first installment of an event that would evolve into an annual favorite for many in the WWE Universe. From there, the guys recap the surreal events that led to the end of Hulk Hogan’s 4-year reign as WWF Champion and set the stage for, arguably, the most important tournament in WWE History at WrestleMania IV. Macho Madness reached new heights that night. But was Savage the first choice of Vince McMahon to emerge from Atlantic City with the gold that night? We have the whole story for you here on Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project!

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Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #15 – AAW Defining Moment 2018

Harry covers a show that helped to continue Sami Callihan’s 2018 infamy. AAW Defining Moment should be a fun trip down memory lane!

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Apologies for the slight delay getting to this but it’s Harry here once again. And for as verbose as I can be at times, I don’t feel the need to waste any time getting to this one. This is the second part of the double shot for AAW on ‘All In’ weekend in Chicago. 

The WayBack Machine takes us to August 31st, 2018 as we once again arrive at the Logan Square Auditorium (and oh boy does that become important later) for AAW’s Defining Moment 2018.

What I Watched #15

AAW Defining Moment 2018

8/31/2018

Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, IL

Runtime: 3:18:22 (HighSpotsWrestlingNetwork)

Commentary By: Tyler Volz (PBP) and Marty DeRosa (Color)

 

THE RESULTS

  • Match 1: Curt Stallion/Jake Something def. Ace Romero/Colt Cabana, Something pins Cabana @ 8:41
  • Match 2: Shane Strickland pins Darby Allin, top-rope Swerve Stomp @ 13:30
  • Match 3: Jessicka Havoc def. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders, pinning Cruise with a Chokeslam @ 2:52
  • Match 4: OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist) def. Ace Austin/Brian Cage, Dave pins Austin @ 5:55
  • Match 5: AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © pins DJ Z (Shiima Xion), roll-through on CBB with tights @ 13:30
  • Match 6: AR Fox/Myron Reed def. Bandido/Flamita, double cover @ 15:42
  • Match 7: Maxwell Jacob Friedman taps Marko Stunt, Salt of the Earth @ 10:41
  • Match 8: Sami Callihan pins Jimmy Jacobs, Cactus Driver on a bridged guardrail @ 17:52
  • Match 9: AAW Tag Titles- Eddie Kingston/Jeff Cobb © def. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett, Cobb pins Fitchett @ 14:19
  • Match 10: AAW Heavyweight Title- Brody King pins ACH ©, All Seeing Eye (Whiplash) @ 22:46

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Curt Stallion/Jake Something vs. Ace Romero/Colt Cabana

*The match was decent but nothing special. A pretty big win for Something at the end with the three count over Cabana, who has a storied past in Chicago and was one of the biggest names in independent wrestling. That said, I personally don’t love the flukish nature that Something pins Cabana, as I think Something could have used a defining pinfall to really give him a rub going forward. 

Cabana usually makes for a fun watch and I’ve grown to enjoy Ace Romero the more I see him (he especially stands out for Limitless, which I hope to get to one day soon). Jake Something is a huge star in the making and you can see it even early in the run of AAW that he has. Stallion is what Stallion is. Solid opener, but nothing you’ll remember post show. (**½)

Darby Allin vs. Shane Strickland

*Showstealer, plain and simple. Strickland had been with AAW for a while but to the best of my memory, it was more often in a tag team with Keith Lee (funny how that works out with 2022 eyes on it, as Swerve and Keith are the current AEW tag champions at the time of writing). I do believe this is only Darby’s second match in AAW (the prior being a five-ish minute loss to Brody King). Both guys are huge names now and with efforts like this, it’s easy to see how. Darby tries to keep pace with Swerve and is able to do so for a good portion of the contest until Swerve finds that next gear down the stretch and puts Allin down with the Swerve Stomp to a massive (deserved) ovation from the crowd. (****)

Jessicka Havok vs. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders

*I dislike handicap matches in general. However, unlike certain other writers for this site, I don’t mind intergender wrestling. But the suspension of disbelief gets lost here when you have two dudes the size of Cruise and Manders struggling with Jessicka Havok, who should realistically not being coming in at 100% after taking the Ganso Bomb from Brody King through the chairs the night before. I won’t rate the match due to the Larry Csonka (RIP) Rule of not rating anything shorter than three minutes, but I’m calling this a miss regardless. (X)

OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist) vs. Ace Austin/Brian Cage

*The Brothers Crist come out to ringside to stand next to Havok after said match and call out Brody King and Jimmy Jacobs. They get one of those two men as Jacobs makes his way out, but informs Dave and Jake that neither he nor Brody will be facing them due to having prior obligations, but he did find the perfect opponents for OI4K. As for the opponent, Cage does make for a good size fill-in for Brody King. Ace Austin is a OI4K trainee that hadn’t quite made a name for himself at the time but has since turned into a pretty good wrestler, having just competed for NJPW in Best of the Super Jr’s as well as being Impact Wrestling’s X Division champion for a while.

The match itself was not memorable at all. I will admit to typing this review on a bit of a delay and other than the finish (a Tiger Driver ‘98 by Dave to Austin), I don’t remember anything that happened during the course of the contest. Not the best impression for these four men to leave. (**)

AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © vs. DJ Z

*I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I like DJ Z. I liked him more under his previous identity, but this was him using the Impact Wrestling name for more notoriety with the casual fan. That being said, despite DJZ winning a three way relatively quickly the night before while Trevor was in a war with Ace Romero, I never felt the title was in jeopardy here. For as much as I like DJZ’s run with AAW, this misfortune of his injury just so happened to coincide with Trevor Lee becoming one of the hottest acts on the undercard and there wasn’t anything in the build up to the rematch (despite some good promo work from Z) that made me think that the strap was switching here. 

As for the match itself, they have really good chemistry together and that isn’t a surprise given how many of the same promotions they were working for at the time as well as their history in AAW up to this point. I do think this match does a nice job of setting the stage for a return match as it is DJZ’s offensive attack at the end of the contest that gets reversed into the cradle (with a handful of tights) for the finish. The nature of the victory leads me to believe that the story with these two isn’t over quite yet. (***½)

AR Fox/Myron Reed vs. Bandido/Flamita

*This was similar to the main event the night before, but didn’t have the same crowd investment that match did. Bandido and Flamita once again shine here and it is easy to see why they become semi-regulars in AAW after this weekend. AR Fox and Myron Reed (Team Firefox, as they were referred to by Sarah Shockey) get a massive victory with a double pinfall following stereo 450 splashes. This sets up Fox and Reed for a title match against the winners of WRSTLING vs. Besties later in the night, but honestly, I think that Bandido/Flamita was the better pairing to have go forward to a title shot. Firefox had previously unsuccessfully challenged for the tag belts and if I’m being fully honest, I prefer AR Fox as a singles wrestler over being in a tag team. Good match, but I think the wrong team wins. (***½)

Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Marko Stunt

*Marko had just made a name for himself at GCW’s Lost in New York (a show I have watched) and this was a way for him to break out back in his Midwest home. MJF has been on a hot streak point up to this point (believe he is the current CZW Heavyweight champion, though I don’t think he ever actually defends that title) and MJF would make himself a known commodity the next night opening the ‘All In’ PPV against Matt Cross (in a losing effort)

Easy story to tell with MJF taking the much smaller Stunt lightly and Marko making him pay for it. It is unfortunate that more people didn’t get to see what Stunt is capable of, because his run in the indie scene before he went to AEW was quite special to watch due to his ability to connect with a crowd (no different here). The finish sees MJF take advantage of the arm work that he did early in match and after Marko escapes a fujiwara armbar, MJF is able to catch Marko in ‘Salt of the Earth’, a wakigatame (Marko on stomach as MJF applies a cross-armbreaker) for the the tapout. Very good work and Marko does really well for himself in his debut with another high end US Independent. (***)

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Sami Callihan

*Ooooh, boy. A lot to unwrap with this one. Let’s get the match first, because the drama that it creates leads to the fallout that has to be discussed. It is honestly a pretty standard Sami brawl for the time frame. PWG used to have what was known as the “Sami Sprint”…by which it would be Callihan vs. Opponent and the match would run anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes of hard hitting back and forth action with little in terms of a cohesive story or selling. Pretty much a ‘can you top this?’ kind of situation. This feels like that in a sense because the match features both Sami and Jimmy going into their well of tricks (the crowd brawling, the spike, the guardrail that gets used in the finish) while maintaining the crowd reaction from the prior night’s tag match. Fittingly, the finish is visually impressive as Callihan hits the ‘Cactus Driver’ (pulling piledriver) on a guardrail bridged across two metal folding chairs to secure the three count. (***½)

THE INCIDENT

The bigger story coming out of this is that this match almost costs AAW the Logan Square Auditorium and almost ends even more disastrously personally for Callihan. At one point, Callihan and Jacobs are brawling over by the stage in the venue (traditionally used for concerts) where Callihan buries Jacobs under a portion of the stage. Callihan then starts winging metal sitting chairs (not the standard folding ones you see in most companies because the four legged dinner table type chairs) at Jacobs. A voice comes over the house mic telling Callihan to stop, causing a loud visceral boo from the crowd. Callihan more or less tells said voice to “fuck himself” and hurls more chairs at Jacobs. 

At first, I thought it was Danny Daniels telling Callihan to stop, but it turns out it was actually building management. This becomes important when after the three count goes down, building security surrounds the ring to escort Callihan out of the building as they were pissed at Sami for throwing chairs that the venue used for other events. As I’ve heard the story, Callihan thinks this is part of a storyline and begins to push the security guys until one of them shows Callihan that he is carrying a real pistol and will use it if necessary. Things break down from there with the rest of OI4K getting involved and eventually Sami is escorted to the back (and presumably out of the building).

How much of this is real? How much of this is scripted? How much of this was sensationalized for additional attention? I don’t have the answers for those questions. I do know that cooler heads would prevail and AAW was able to continue running at LSA, however I feel the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It may have been a planned altercation to play off the recklessness of Callihan. It may have been a real reaction from the building to what they perceived as damage to personal property. The old axiom in wrestling is “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see”. Overall, it makes for a great story with a relatively happy ending all considered. But man does it take the wind of the crowd for quite a while. And I will have to check out the follow up AAW shows to see what the fallout truly is.

AAW Tag Titles- Eddie Kingston/Jeff Cobb © vs. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett

*Trevor Lee’s promo before the match is not one I can do justice. I recommend the show in general, but Trevor’s asshole smarmy heel persona in AAW (Impact Superstar Trevor Lee) is one of the best things going in the company.

Match is good but you’d have to expect that from the four men involved. Kingston and Cobb work surprisingly well as a team and despite being on separate pages for most of the bout, Vega and Fitchett do link up for a few double teams (corner enzuigiri/Kippou kick combo being standout among them) to continue to prove why they are one of the best tag teams in pro wrestling (still are to this day, though not known as the Besties in the World anymore). The finish sees the final stab from Vega to Fitchett as Vega chooses to take Scarlett to the back after she gets knocked off the apron, leaving Fitchett alone to take a one-two combo of the Backfist to the Future from Kingston that staggers him into a Tour of the Islands from Cobb to finish the contest. The ring work is on point, the story is very well told and you can hear the disappointment from the crowd when Vega chooses the hussy over his long-time tag partner. (****)

AAW Heavyweight Title- ACH © vs. Brody King

*Unfortunately, something gets lost during the course of this contest through no direct fault of the participants. As I understand it, Brody King got concussed relatively early in the bout. Credit to ACH for keeping things together as well as he did, but I would be curious to see what they are capable of with both competitors at 100% capacity for the full duration of the match.

As for the match, it does tell a pretty good story. ACH comes in still pretty beat up from the match with Jeff Cobb the night before. However, ACH lets his pride (or perhaps his ego) get the better of him as he once again tries to hang step for step, strike for strike and move for move with a man much bigger than he is. It ends up coming back to bite him at the end as a distraction from Jimmy Jacobs allows Brody King to take a distracted ACH up into the All Seeing Eye (fireman’s carry into a Michinoku Driver) for the three count to crown a new champion. Slightly cheap on the distraction ending but does help get Jimmy some of the heat he lost earlier in the evening back after dropping the contest to Callihan. (***½)

THE FINAL REACTION

Overall, a better show then the day before but not without a couple flaws. Obviously, the big story to come out of this show would be the fact that AAW almost lost Logan Square Auditorium due to the issues in the Callihan-Jacobs match. Thankfully, those would be resolved and to my knowledge, AAW is still running there. But it gets awfully hairy there for a few.

The highs: two four star matches on this show and they come in completely different type contests. Eddie Kingston continues his march of dominance in AAW and cuts one hell of a promo at the end of the show to run down how ACH let him down by losing the title. Marko Stunt has a fun debut and quickly gets the crowd behind him. The lows: that handicap match helped no one and the tag match that followed wasn’t much better. The main event isn’t what it could have been either, but that’s a case of shit happens with the early concussion to King. I will also say that I thought Sarah Shockey did a better job on color commentary yesterday then Marty DeRosa does here.

We’ll call it an 8 overall. As I said, it is a better top to bottom show then Destination Chicago is. And while high on the guest stars (for obvious reasons), you also get a really good look at what the overall AAW roster is all about too. I look forward to coming back to AAW down the road (ironically, upcoming shows are a double shot as well for the ‘Jim Lynam Memorial’ tournament), but I do want to mix in some other odds and ends before I do so.

Best Match/Moment: Shane Strickland vs. Darby Allin

Worst Match/Moment: The Havok handicap. Especially when you consider what Steve Manders would come to mean for AAW, it’s a really inauspicious debut.

Overall Show Score: 8/10

MVP: Eddie Kingston. The key part of a match that tied for best match of the night honors and absolutely shows why he is viewed the way he is when it comes to talking with an amazing promo to close out the show.

 

THE SIGNOFF

So, where does ‘What I Watched’ go from here? I go on vacation in about a week’s time and will be gone for most of August. I spoke to Andrew and what I hope to do is reformat the ‘All In’ report that I did to the new style so you guys have something to tide you over.  As for where I go when I get back from vacation…well, the Peacock WWE Network watch-through that I am working on has reached a show that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen (and if I have, it has been quite a while). Therefore, ‘What I Watched’ #16 will be ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999 to set the tone for a year where all hell breaks loose in two of the three major promotions. Hopefully, you guys enjoy the ‘All In’ redo to hold you over and I’ll be back later in August with Guilty as Charged. I appreciate everyone who has been checking these out and if you’ve missed any, feel free to click on my name at the top of the article to check out my archive. Thanks for reading.


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