WrestleMania III, easily the most talked about WrestleMania in the history of the event. The show that sparked a lot of young fans become some of the legendary wrestlers younger generations still look up to. This show sealed WWF and WrestleMania as THE premier wrestling promotion and wrestling event. Whether your favorite match was Hogan/Andre or Savage/Steamboat, WrestleMania III has cast a long shadow over, to the point that it was cited twenty years later when WWE came back to Detroit for WrestleMania XXIII.
As with anything that’s hyped that much, it’s hard for someone who doesn’t remember WrestleMania III, like me, to really know if the show is as good as they say or if it’s just that great looking back.
So, does the fabled WrestleMania III live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
We open in Pontiac Silverdome with Vince McMahon in the ring. Vince looks very proud, as he should, and he welcomes us all to WrestleMania III! The crowd loves it. We are then introduced to the person singing ‘America, the Beautiful’, it is the Queen of Soul, the incomparable Aretha Franklin
Aretha sounds amazing, as always, and the video montage was wonderful and focused on blue collar Americans.
After the video is over, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura introduce us to our celebrity co-hosts: ‘Mr. Baseball’ Bob Uecker and the host of ‘Entertainment Tonight’ Mary Hart. We’re told that they will be joining us throughout the show, we are then sent to ringside
Comments: This opener was much better than WrestleMania 2’s. The video montage was beautiful and didn’t shoehorn Hulk Hogan into it, which was nice. Vince has said that he felt the spirit of his dad, Vincent J. McMahon while he was waiting to start the show. I know Vince looked very proud in the ring and he was right to be proud.
Match 1: Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel and Tom Zenk) vs Bob Orton and The Magnificent Muraco (with Mr. Fuji)
Both teams are already in the ring when we get back to ringside. Can-Am are incredibly over as babyfaces. Orton, Muraco, and Fuji are loudly booed.
Muraco and Martel start us off. Muraco looks fantastic, but also like he’s spent too much time in a tanning bed. Martel quickly gets the upper and manages to knock Muraco down with a shoulder block. Muraco gets Martel into a corner and gets a few punches in whipping him into another corner, but Martel comes out and hip tosses Muraco. Martel then gets Muraco in a body scissors takedown for our first pin attempt, which only gets a two-count.
Muraco briefly gets the upperhand, but Martel manages to tag in Zenk. Can-Am hits a very sloppy looking double monkey flips on Muraco. Orton comes in to help his partner and gets a double hip toss for his trouble.
Orton tags in and locks up with Zenk. Orton manages to knock Zenk down, but Zenk comes back with a bodyslam before shooting Orton into the corner. Orton comes out into a hip toss and armbar on the mat.
Orton gets to his feet and takes Zenk into the corner and Zenk responds by ramming Orton’s head into the turnbuckle. Orton kicks Zenk in the stomach and goes for a Full Nelson, but Zenk counters with a Full Nelson of his own. Muraco tries to hit Zenk from behind, but Zenk moves out of the way and Muraco nails Orton instead, leading Zenk to get a two count.
Zenk tags in Martel and Martel works on Orton’s bad arm. Orton snap mares Martel but Martel keep a hold on Orton and pulls Orton down with him. Martel gets back to his feet and leg drops Orton before tagging in Zenk.
Zenk takes over, but Muraco whiffs in a tag and comes in. Zenk scoop slams Muraco and begin working on Muraco’s arm. Muraco whips Zenk into the ropes, Zenk begins to criss-cross, but Orton knees him in the back, and the heels have taken over.
Muraco hits Zenk with a neckbreaker before tagging in Orton. Orton hits a fist drop from the second turnbuckle and goes for a pin, but only gets a two-count.
Orton has Zenk in a headlock, but Zenk shoots him into the ropes, both go for a clothesline, but knock each other down. Both men manage to get to their respective corners and tag in their partners.
Martel is HOT and whips Muraco HARD into the ropes, sending him outside. Orton comes in, but so does Zenk, and the ref loses complete control of this match. A reverse whip leads to Muraco back body dropping his own partner. Can-Am send Orton outside with a double dropkick before turning to Muraco.
Martel, still the legal man comes off the ropes with a high crossbody, and with an assisting trip by Zenk, pins Muraco for a three count.
Winner: Can-Am Connection via pinfall.
Thoughts: This was a great opener to the show. Both teams looked great and there was plenty of team cohesion on both sides.
Next up, we’re shown a video recap about the feud leading to the match between Billy Jack Haynes and Hercules. In the video, we see Haynes responding to a challenge by Hercules over who has the best Full Nelson. Haynes exchanges words with Heenan and grabs him, only to be attacked from behind by Hercules before being trapped in Hercules’ Full Nelson.
We then join Mean Gene Okerlund, who is talking to Hercules and Heenan. Heenan insists on calling Haynes ‘Billy Jerk’. Hercules discusses his ‘history’ of strength and cites Greco-Roman mythology and the Bible, but sounds like he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
We go to the ring as Haynes approaches to a nice pop and he looks amazing. Hercules and Heenan come out on the conveyance provided by the Silverdome to loud boos. The ‘Weasel’ chants have already started and get louder.
Match 2: Billy Jack Haynes vs Hercules (with Bobby Heenan)
Hercules and Haynes have an intense staredown and the ref looks very nervous. The first collar-and-elbow tie up leads nowhere, but Haynes gets the upper hand in the next one. He gets Hercules into the corner, but when the ref gets in between them, Hercules uses the distraction to knee Haynes in the gut. Hercules clubs and punches Haynes into a corner before whipping him into the opposing corner. Hercules goes for an elbow but Haynes gets out of the way.
Haynes gives Hercules a knife-edged chop and press slams him. He then goes for the Full Nelson, but Hercules senses it coming and scrambles for the ropes. Haynes continues to punch and chop Hercules before whipping him into one corner and then another.
Hercules comes out of the second corner and nails Haynes with a clothesline. He follows up with punches and kicks before hitting Haynes with a back body drop. Hercules then proceeds to whip Haynes from one corner to another, repeatedly. Haynes sells being in serious pain. Hercules, feeling cocky, is slow to follow up on Haynes. He bodyslams Haynes and goes for a pinfall, but pulls Haynes up before he three, much to the annoyance of Heenan.
Hercules pulls Haynes to his feet and signals for the Full Nelson. Haynes fights back with several blows to the stomach. Haynes then goes for a suplex, but his back gives out and it looks like Haynes is in serious pain.
Hercules is back in control and focuses his attack on Haynes’ back, kicking him before hitting Haynes with a nice backbreaker. He continues to punish Haynes with punches and kicks before press slamming him. By this point, Hercules is looking pretty cocky and finally goes for the Full Nelson and locks it in.
Haynes seems to fade and the ref does the arm drop test, but Haynes keeps his arm from falling the third time and rallies, breaking the hold, but Hercules hits him in the back of the head before whipping Haynes into the ropes. Both men hit each other with a clothesline.
Hercules gets up first, but Haynes hits him with an inverted atomic drop before knocking Hercules down with a clothesline. Haynes whips Hercules into the ropes, kicking him in the gut and hitting him with another clothesline. Haynes hits a leg drop and a fist drop from second turnbuckle.
Haynes locks in his own Full Nelson, but Hercules struggles and gets into the ropes, sending both men outside. Haynes locks the Full Nelson on again, but they both get counted out, much to the crowd’s fury.
Heenan gets a cheap shot in on Haynes and Haynes rises to the bait. He chases Heenan around and into the ring, only to be stopped by the ref. Hercules uses the distraction to nail Haynes with a chain wrapped fist.
The ref tries to stop Hercules, but the assault is continued, Haynes is busted open and bleeding before Hercules and Heenan are satisfied and then Hercules adds insult to injury by slapping the Full Nelson on Haynes.
Winner: Both men are counted out, but Hercules was the last man standing.
Thoughts: This was a really good match. Haynes and Hercules looked great out there and the double count out protected both men and the assault by Hercules got sympathy for Haynes.
We go to the special interview center where Mean Gene is interviewing King Kong Bundy and his partners for the six man tag match. Bundy doesn’t look happy to be in a match where two of his partners are little people. Okerlund comments that big trouble comes in small packages, but Bundy corrects him and says that big trouble comes in 450lb packages. He also states that he wants Hillbilly Jim and if Hillbilly’s little people partners get involved that they’ll get squashed.
Bundy and company are out first to a loud round of boos.
We go back to the interview center for the interview with Hillbilly Jim and his partners. Hillbilly Jim’s worried about his partners, Haiti Kid and Little Beaver and promises to look after them during the match.
Hillbilly and company get a better reaction than Bundy’s team did, but it doesn’t seem like the crowd is into this match.
Before we get started in this match, we’re told that there are some extra rules outside of the usual ones for a wrestling match: The little people partners can only wrestle the opposing little people. Bundy and Hillbilly will be wrestling each other. If Bundy or Hillbilly does anything to one of the little people, their team will be disqualified.
Match 3: King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo, and Lord Littlebrooke vs Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid, and Little Beaver
Haiti Kid and Little Tokyo start us off but between their size and speed, this match is hard to follow. Eventually, Little Beaver gets taken into the heel corner by Lord Littlebrooke and gets a cheap shot punch to Bundy’s gut, but Bundy looks annoyed and bored.
Bundy gets tagged in and Beaver seems to have more guts than sense because he squirts between Bundy’s legs and hits an impressive dropkick to Bundy stomach that doesn’t seem to register with Bundy, before finally seeing sense and tagging in Hillbilly Jim.
The crowd is more interested in Bundy/Hillbilly than the little people. Bundy clubs Hillbilly several times, getting him into the ropes before whipping him to the other side. Hillbilly ducks the clothesline and levels Bundy with a clothesline of his own, hits an elbow drop, goes for a pin. Little Beaver and Haiti Kid pile on to help, but Bundy manages to push them all off.
Bundy clobbers Hillbilly. Little Beaver keeps interfering, it’s like he doesn’t recognize that Bundy could really hurt him if he was mad enough. Thankfully, Bundy’s more annoyed than anything, but Little Beaver is pressing his luck.
Hillbilly feels the brunt of Bundy’s growing irritation. Bundy hits the big Avalance and pounds on Hillbilly. Little Beaver tries to help again, but Bundy catches him.
The ref is too busy checking on Hillbilly to see Bundy body slam Little Beaver, much to the crowd’s rage, but thankfully turns around to see Bundy hit the elbow on the little guy and disqualifies Bundy.
The other little people come to Little Beaver’s aid and move him before Bundy can hit the Big Splash. Hillbilly chases Bundy out of the ring, and after exchanging some words with Little Tokyo, Bundy leaves.
Winner: Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver, and Haiti Kid by Disqualification
Thoughts: What the heck was that?! The little people put on a pretty good match, but why was that on a WrestleMania card? Bundy looked mad the whole time and I don’t blame him. I’m mad I sat through it.
The ‘midget’ jokes were a little cringe-worthy, but at least Monsoon tried to act like he was taking this match and the little people seriously.
We go to the interview center where Mary Hart is wanting to do an interview with Elizabeth ahead of the afternoon’s huge Intercontinental Championship match. Mary barely gets to ask Elizabeth if she’s feeling any trepidation about the match when they are interrupted by Macho Man.
Macho Man says ‘trepidatious’ is the word of the day and assumes that Mary Hart wants to interview him. He says that Mary can ask him any question she wants and he’ll answer them one by one. Mary, annoyed, says that she wants to interview Elizabeth, and asks Elizabeth if Macho is always this way. Savage, seemingly annoyed that Mary didn’t want to talk to him, makes Elizabeth leave and follows her out, much to Mary’s irritation.
Thoughts: I’m not sure if Mary Hart was smartened up to Savage and Elizabeth’s backstage relationship beforehand or not. Given her reaction, I’m guessing not. I can only imagine what she was thinking during that interview.
We are then taken to a video package about the feud between Harley Race and Junkyard Dog. Harley Race declares himself the King of all wrestling and everyone will bow in servitude. Junkyard Dog counter with the statement that America has never had a king or queen and that he was taught that only person he should bow to is God. We see JYD trying on Race’s royal regalia, a clip of JYD getting him some of Heenan, only to be attacked from behind by Race. There’s a very uncomfortable clip of Race and Heenan trying to make JYD bow down.
Mean Gene is interviewing Harley Race, who not only has Heenan with him, but the Queen of Wrestling, the WWF Women’s Champion, the Fabulous Moolah. Harley Race says that the king is going to be re-coronated. Okerlund turns to Moolah who says it’ll be her pleasure to crown Harley Race king of wrestling once again and have Junkyard Dog bow to the king as he’s supposed to.
Heenan chimes in, and in a very condescending way, tells Moolah that he’s giving her the crown and tells her to take care of it and give it to the king when the match is over. Moolah looks ready to clock him.
Back in the broadcast booth, Uecker is excited by the prospect of Moolah and takes off to go see her.
Race and company are greeted with loud boos and we’re sent back to the interview center where Mean Gene is interviewing Junkyard Dog.
Mean Gene asks JYD if he thinks he’ll be wearing the crown when the dust settles. JYD says that he thinks he will and that Harley Race has been sitting on the throne too long and that it’s time for the Dog to sit on the throne, with the crown
We go back to ringside and JYD comes out to a thunderous pop.
Match 4: Loser Must Bow Match – Harley Race (with Fabulous Moolah and Bobby Heenan) vs Junkyard Dog
Race doesn’t seem to want to get in the ring, but they hook up and Dog gets the upper hand with some punches. Heenan grabs Dog’s leg, and Dog gets out of the ring to chase him. As Dog gets back in the ring, Race kicks him in the gut, followed by an elbow to the back of the head. Race pummels Dog into the corner, but Dog comes back with some punches of his own, followed by a headbutt.
Race gets a borderline low punch to the guy on Dog and tosses him outside. Race goes after him, but misses the flying headbutt out on the floor. Dog gets back in the ring, and Heenan help Race to his feet. Dog pulls Race onto the apron by the hair and reverse clotheslines him back into the ring.
JYD thumps Race and sends him back outside. Heenan again helps Race to his feet and Race gets back onto the apron, where Dog scoop slams him back into the ring. Dog gets Rack in an abdominal stretch, but Race counters with a hip toss. Race hits the falling headbutt on Dog, but nearly knocks himself out.
JYD sends Race outside for the third or fourth time and headbutts Race as Race climbs back in.
Heenan distracts JYD just long enough to allow Race to hit the belly to belly suplex. The ref counts three, despite JYD kicking out.
An ecstatic Heenan and Moolah climb in the ring to set up the coronation, but JYD isn’t happy. However, he abides by the stipulation…sort of, he curtseys, but bows when Heenan insists. When Race stands up to celebrate, JYD grabs ‘the throne’ and clocks Race with it. He then grabs the royal robes and takes off with them, putting the robes on in the ring, before climbing out and leaving the ringside area.
Winner: Harley Race by pinfall
Thoughts: This feud made me very uncomfortable. The idea that this storyline existed in 1987 astounds me. Add to that, Heenan’s treatment of Moolah, even if it was a work, also made me uncomfortable, especially since Moolah was one of the legit toughest women in wrestling history.
We go to Vince McMahon, who is interviewing Hulk Hogan. Much like Muraco earlier, Hogan looks like he’s spent too much time in the tanning bed. McMahon comments on the upcoming match with Andre. Hogan replies that people have been saying it’s his last ride. He then says that all he has to do is defeat a 7’, 500lb giant, but Andre has the tougher job. Andre doesn’t just have to beat Hogan, he has to defeat all of the Hulkamaniacs standing behind Hogan.
Hogan says the reason Hulkamania will beat Andre is that it’s the purest form of the truth and that he can’t wait to see Andre be defeated by the truth of Hulkamania.
We go to the ring for our next match, a tag team match. The babyfaces are already in the ring and it’s the Rougeau Brothers.
Back in the interview center, Mean Gene is interviewing the Dream Team, with their manager, Johnny Valiant, and a new friend, Dino Bravo, who will be at ringside with Johnny Valiant. Mean Gene asks why they need Bravo there, Johnny Valiant answers, but between his incoherent squawking, and my very bad French when Bravo pipes up, I have no idea what anyone said, so let’s get to the match.
Dream Team comes out to loud boos. Rougeaus aren’t happy about Bravo being there, but things get started okay.
Match 5: The Rougeau Brothers vs The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake and Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine) (with ‘Luscious’ Johnny Valiant and Dino Bravo)
Raymond and Beefcakes start us off. Quick collar-and-elbow tie up leads to a hammerlock by Beefcake. Raymond first counters with a flip, then with an atomic drop. Jacques is tagged in and Beefcake eats a double dropkick before tagging in Valentine.
Jacques and Valentine trade punches before Jacques tags Raymond in. Rougeaus do a quick double team before Raymond hits a high crossbody for a two-count.
Raymond tags Jacques in and Jacques hits a reverse elbow for another two-count. Valentine whips Jacques into a corner, Jacques tries to come back with a high crossbody, but Valentine ducks out of the way
Valentine is in control and hammers Jacques with elbow drops. Valentine then body slams Jacques before tagging in Beefcake.
Beefcake stomps on Jacques several times before punching him and getting a two-count. Beefcake tags Valentine back in and they double team Jacques.
At this point, Heenan has joined the broadcast group. He’s in a good mood and declares that he’s 2 for 2 today in terms of his guys having success at WrestleMania. Monsoon points out that Hercules was counted out, and thus, didn’t win. Heenan makes excuses and blames Billy Jack Haynes, but points out that Harely Race DID win his match.
Back in the ring, Valentine has Jacques in the Figure-Four Leglock and Jacques successfully gets to the ropes. Valentine takes a cheap shot at Raymond before stomping Jacques a couple of times. Valentine then tries to set Jacques up for a piledriver, but Jacques counters with a back body drop, that Valentine tries to turn into a sunset flip. Jacque wavers for a minute before punching Valentine and tagging in Raymond.
Raymond lights Valentine up light a Christmas tree before slapping a sleeper hold on him. Beefcake tries to help his partner but Raymond moves so Beefcake hits Valentine instead. The ref makes Beefcake get out of the ring, which gives the Rougeaus time to double team Valentine and getting him in a pinning predicament. Beefcake tries again to help Valentine but is stopped by Jacques.
Bravo takes advantage of that distraction and breaks up the pinning predicament by hitting a flying chop into Raymond’s stomach, helping Valentine get the pin and the win.
Jacques and Beefcake are confused by what happened. Beefcake is even more confused when his partner refuses to come in the ring with him, choosing to celebrate with Valiant and Bravo out on the floor before leaving with Beefcake still in the ring.
Winner: The Dream Team
Thoughts: This was a great match. Both teams looked great out there. We got a tease of the Rougeau’s future heel run and got a face turn that didn’t involve one partner violently turning on another.
Up next is a video package about the feud between Roddy Piper and Adrian Adonis. We’re shown Adonis, Muraco, and Orton attacking Piper in the ‘Flower Shop’/’Piper’s Pit’ segment. We next see Piper tearing the ‘Flower Shop’ set up with a baseball bat. Next we see Jimmy Hart slapping Piper and Piper losing his cool and choking Hart, only for Adonis to attack him again. Next is a clip of Piper getting his hands on Jimmy Hart, only to be sprayed with perfume by Adonis.
We go to an interview where Piper vows that in his final match, he won’t be embarrassed by a man wearing a dress that looks like something that was stolen from a Days Inn and that there’s no retreat or surrender.
Back at the ring, Adonis and Hart are on their way to the ring to a loud chorus of boos. Adonis isn’t in a dress, but he’s armed with some hedge clippers, the perfume sprayer, and a mirror.
Back in the interview center, we see a pre-recorded interview with Adonis and Hart. Adonis mentions that he’s named his hedge clippers ‘Irene’ and vows that no matter which cut Piper wants, he will be shaved bald at the end of the match.
In the arena, Piper comes out to a loud cheer and we are again reminded that this is Piper’s retirement match.
Match 5: Hair Match – Roddy Piper vs Adrian Adonis (with Jimmy Hart)
A slugfest starts this match off, both men taking out their aggression on each other. Piper takes off the belt he wore with his kilt and proceeds to beat Adonis around the ring with it. Jimmy Hart causes a distraction and Piper grabs him around the neck with the belt, giving Adonis time to recover.
Adonis hits Piper from behind and gets the belt from Hart and proceeds to beat Piper with his own belt. The ref does nothing to stop either man though this wasn’t announced as a No-Holds Barred Match.
Piper reverses the whip and Adonis does the inside out very badly, going to the outside. Piper drags Adonis in, and brings Hart in too, when he grabs Adonis to keep him from going into the ring. We are treated to a double noggin-knocker. Jimmy Hart is given an Irish whip, right into Adonis’ arms, sending both men outside.
Piper gets Adonis back in the ring and punches him in the corner several times before going for a whip. Hart gets on the top turnbuckle and is promptly launched into Adonis by Piper. Adonis shoots Piper into the ropes, where he is tripped up by Hart, giving Adonis the advantage. Adonis rakes Piper’s chest several times.
Adonis whips Piper into the ropes and hits him with a stiff clothesline. Hart has located the perfume spray. Adonis punches Piper a few times, Piper responds with a poke in the eye that angers Adonis. Adonis hits an elbow, knocking Piper down, and Piper goes outside.
Adonis rams Piper face-first into one of the tables and Piper is seeing stars. Seeing an advantage, Hart uses a distraction to hit Piper with the perfume sprayer. Piper is angry and climbs back into the ring, only to be hit by Adonis, who has some kind of weapon on his hand. The ref takes the weapon away, but Piper is looking dazed and angry.
Another slugfest ensues, and Adonis distracts the ref long enough for Hart to spray Piper with the perfume. Adonis slaps on the sleeper hold while Piper tries to fight out of it. With the adrenaline flowing, it doesn’t take long for Piper to start fading. He tries to break the hold by ramming Adonis into the corner but doesn’t have enough power left to do it.
Ref does the arm check and Adonis believes he’s won, even though Piper’s arm didn’t go down for the third time. While Adonis and Hart celebrate, Brutus Beefcake comes running out and tries to revive Piper, and Piper gets to his feet. Hart, realizing what’s happening tries to warn Adonis. When Adonis sees Piper, he tries to hit him with Irene, but only manages to hit himself.
Piper’s had enough and slaps a sleeper of his own on Adonis and Adonis goes down. While Beefcake chases Hart around the ring to keep him from interfering, the ref does an arm check and declares Piper the winner.
Now comes the fun part. Beefcake, for whatever reason, is given the honor of shaving Adonis’ head. When Hart tries to stop it, Piper knocks him down and keeps him on the mat with one foot while Beefcake works. The job is half-assed at best, but everyone not named Hart or Adonis is happy.
While Beefcake and Piper celebrate in the ring, Adonis finally comes around and Piper forces him to see his new ‘do. Adonis is furious and chases Piper, but Piper nails him with the mirror. To spare Adonis, Hart throws his jacket over Adonis’ head and they run to the back.
In the ring, Finkel announces the winner and Piper’s retirement. Piper leaves to a chorus of cheers, shaking hands with the ringside crew, being sure to kiss Finkel’s head.
Winner: Roddy Piper by submission
Thoughts: This was a fun match and a nice send off for Piper. Adonis actually looked like a credible threat. The arrival of the newly babyface Beefcake was interesting but needed a little more explanation. However, the crowd was happy and Piper got a really good moment to end his run in WWF.
Up in the broadcast booth, Mary Hart and Bob Uecker are back, but Ventura is gone. We’re told that Ventura has gone to ringside to be announced for our next match.
Finkel is announcing the upcoming Six Man Tag match and Ventura takes offense when Finkel calls him ‘The Man Who Allegedly Calls It Like It Is’.
The match being announced is a Six Man Tag Match feature the WWF Tag Team Champions, the Hart Foundation, but this time, the titles aren’t on the line. The third man for the Hart Foundation is ‘Dangerous’ Danny Davis, the corrupt referee who helped the Hart Foundation win the titles off the British Bulldogs. Monsoon tells us that due to his conduct, Davis has been suspended for life plus ten years as a referee.
The Harts and Davis come out to loud boos and we’re sent to a pre-recorded interview with the heels. Everyone’s excited about Davis joining the Hart Foundation and Jimmy Hart vows that there will be nothing left of the British Bulldogs or Tito Santana when the match is over.
Speaking of the babyfaces, when we go back to the ring, the faces are on their way out and Matilda the Bulldog is with them. Monsoon comments about Davis cost the Bulldogs and Santana the Tag and Intercontinental titles, respectively.
Match 7: Six Man Tag Match – The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis (with Jimmy Hart) vs The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana
The match starts with Matilda going for Jimmy Hart and the heels bailing out. Bulldogs and Santana go after them and things rapidly get crazy. Ventura leaves, and takes Matilda with him, probably a good idea, but no explanation is given.
Finally, order is restored, and we start off with Santana and Bret Hart. Bret tries to go for a body scissors takedown, but Santana counters with a body slam. Bret cheapshots the Bulldogs but Santana is in control, but not enough to keep Bret from tagging in Neidhart.
The Bulldogs and Santana demonstrate great teamwork with some quick tags, but Bret manages to distract Davey Boy long enough for Neidhart to nail him. Bret and Dynamite are tagged in and after a cheapshot by Neidhart, the Hart Foundation and Davis get to show their own phenomenal teamwork.
Davis is tagged in a few times, but only does a few kicks before tagging in either Bret or Neidhart. The tide briefly turns when an attempt to slingshot Davis into a splash is countered by Dynamite getting his knees up and buying enough time for him to tag in Santana.
Tito seems mad enough to spit nails, he cheapshots Bret and begins clobbering Davis, not trying to go for a pin when he easily could’ve gotten the win before tagging in Davey Boy.
Davey Boy takes his own pound of flesh from Davis, clobbering him before hitting a rough looking tombstone piledriver, but again, he doesn’t go for the pin, choosing to suplex, then powerslam Davis instead before going for the pin.
Bret breaks up the pin and gets a flying forearm from Santana for his trouble. The match again descends into chaos, give Davis time to clock Davey Boy with Hart’s megaphone and getting the pinfall. The faces, and the crowd, are furious, but it’s a win for the heels.
Winner: The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis
Thoughts: This was a really good match. Everyone looked good. Davis was used really well, only getting a few blows in before letting the ‘real’ pros do the work.
Next up, we go to the interview center, where Mean Gene is interviewing Bobby Heenan and Andre. Despite the fact that Andre is a heel, Okerlund admits to being honored to be standing next to Andre. It’s pointed out that Andre has never before tried to go for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Heenan cites Andre’s size and strength, as well as his ‘undefeated’ streak. Heenan speaks to Hogan, saying he knows that Hogan’s nervous, because he, Heenan, has huge butterflies in his stomach.
Next up is a match between the debuting ‘Natural’ Butch Reed and Koko B. Ware. Reed is already in the ring with his manager, Slick, who looks like a gilded grasshopper in an ugly gold houndstooth suit.
Koko, with Frankie the parrot comes out to a nice pop and the match begins quickly.
Match 8: ‘The Natural’ Butch Reed (with Slick) vs Koko B. Ware.
We start with a collar-and-elbow tie up that pushes Reed into the ropes, where he complains that Ware has grabbed his hair. Second tie up sends Ware into the ropes, where he’s pounded by Reed. Reed counters a flip attempt, but Ware lands on his feet and sends Reed outside with a dropkick.
Ware whips Reed into the ropes and punches him in the stomach. Ware punches Reed several times before whipping him back into the ropes, but Reed counters with a club to the back of the neck.
Reed is now in control and kicks Ware several times before taking Ware to the corner, slamming Ware’s head into the turnbuckle several times before going for another whip. Ware counters, coming back with a hip toss, several punches and then a dropkick, going for a cover, but Reed kicks out.
Blows are traded, then Ware goes for an inside cradle, but Reed’s a little too big for Ware to pull that off. More blows are traded before Reed whips Ware into the ropes. Ware hits a high crossbody, but Reed rolls through and, using a handful of tights, gets the pinfall. The crowd is furious and so is Ware, who attacks Reed. Slick comes to Reed’s aid, but Tito Santana, still sore from the loss earlier, comes to Ware’s aid and attacks Slick.
Santana tries to rip Slick’s ugly suit off of him before Slick gets away and runs for the back. Santana and Ware turn their attention back to Reed and dropkick him out of the ring.
Winner: Butch Reed by pinfal
Thoughts: This was an okay match. It seems to be more of a palate cleanser before the big matches.
Next up is the big one, the Intercontinental Championship match. We get a video recap showing the feud between Savage and Steamboat, including Savage hurting Steamboat’s throat and then hitting him with the ring bell. We also see Steamboat’s return, George ‘The Animal’ Steel kidnapping Elizabeth, and the viscious exchange of words between Savage and Steam boat.
In the interview center, Savage is cutting a promo on Steamboat. He vows to not only embarrass Steamboat at WrestleMania III, he vows to retire him. He also claims that Steamboat can’t beat him, because Savage was the lord and master of the ring.
Back at ringside, Savage and Elizabeth are coming out to a pretty good pop. Once they get in the ring, Savage makes Elizabeth move so he can have the spotlight to himself.
In the interview center, Okerlund is interviewing Steamboat and points out that this could be Steamboat’s last chance at Savage. In an interesting moment of premonition, Steamboat says that Savage’s day has come and that this is their moment. He warns that the Dragon is breathing fire and is going to scorch Savage’s back. He vows to leave as Intercontinental Champion and looking forward to new horizons.
At ringside, Steamboat and Steel come out to a loud pop and the electricity is popping.
Match 9: Intercontinental Championship Match – Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage (with Elizabeth) vs Ricky Steamboat (with George ‘The Animal’ Steel)
This match was so good, I didn’t take notes because I didn’t want to miss anything! Steamboat gets the win with a little help from Steel and Savage leaves the ring, despondent. Watch this match!
Winner: Ricky Steamboat via pinfall
Thoughts: This match has often been cited as one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history and it certainly was. Savage and Steamboat tore the house down, both men looked great and a good story was told.
Up next, Mean Gene sets up the Jake Roberts vs Honky Tonk Man match. Okerlund asks about Honky Tonk’s attack on Roberts during the ‘Snake Pit’ segment, and Roberts berates him for thinking that he’d forgotten about that. He then says that Alice Cooper is there to keep Jimmy Hart from interfering with the match. Roberts then says that Hart had to have planted the seeds for Honky Tonk’s attack because Honky Tonk doesn’t have the guts to do it himself. Roberts then tells Honky Tonk that he should’ve made that guitar shot on Roberts count because Roberts is coming for him.
Okerlund turns to Alice Cooper and notes that Cooper is wearing spurs before asking about keeping tabs on Hart. Cooper vows to be Hart’s worst nightmare. He also gives us the reason he’s part of this match: He’s from Detroit and Detroit is the birthplace of heavy metal.
Okerlund then interviews Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart. Honky Tonk says that all the fans, including Peggy Sue (Sherri Martel) are tired of waiting and that fans don’t want to hear Alice Cooper or heavy metal, they want to hear the Honky Tonk Man and he’s going to sing for them. Honky Tonk also says Alice Cooper won’t lay a hand on Jimmy Hart.
We go the ring, Roberts and Cooper come out to a loud pop, especially Cooper. As always, Jake has his slithery friend with him.
Honky Tonk and Jimmy Hart are out next to a chorus of boos.
Match 10: Jake Roberts (with Alice Cooper) vs Honky Tonk Man (with Jimmy Hart)
Roberts gets the jump on Honky Tonk and starts pounding on him before Honky Tonk can get his jumpsuit off. Roberts kicks Honky Tonk in the face, which sends him outside. Following him out, Roberts beats up Honky Tonk some more and strips him out of his jumpsuit.
Roberts throws Honky Tonk back into the ring, but Honky Tonk climbs back out and Roberts goes after him, giving him a scoop slam outside before throwing him back into the ring.
The punching continues until Roberts throws into the corner. Roberts follows, but Honky Tonk catches him coming in.
Honky Tonk kicks Roberts and applies an arm wringer. Honky Tonk punches Roberts and Roberts retaliates. Roberts hits a facebreaker and Honky Tonk rolls outside.
Following him outside, Roberts attacks Honky Tonk and goes after Hart. Honky Tonk tries to hit Roberts from behind, but Roberts counters. Honky Tonk reverses whip and sends Roberts into the ringpost, and he almost trips over Hart and falls into the barricade.
Cooper helps Roberts up, but Honky Tonk, now back in the ring, won’t let Roberts get back in the ring. After a few goes of this, Roberts is allowed back in the ring and is given a scoop slam for his efforts.
Honky Tonk goes to the second turnbuckle and hits a fist drop to the LOUD boos of the crowd, and begins working on Roberts’ shoulders. Roberts is so addled from the punches, he misses a punch and Honky Tonk hits him with a reverse elbow.
Honky Tonk goes for his finisher, but Roberts gets into the corner and Honky Tonk follows. Honky Tonk does some elevated punches, but Roberts counters with an inverted atomic drop, and both men go down.
Honky Tonk is up first and goes for an ax handle, but Roberts counters with a kick. Back in control, Roberts punches Honky Tonk while he begs for mercy. Roberts whips Honky Tonk in and hits a back body drop. Honky Tonk gets caught in between the ropes and gets punched a few times.
Feeling the end, Roberts signals for the DDT, but Hart grabs his leg before he can hit it. Taking advantage, Honky Tonk rolls Roberts up and uses the ropes for leverage and gets the pin.
Roberts is furious, grabs Honky Tonk’s guitar and tries to return the guitar shot, but Honky Tonk ducks and the guitar is destroyed, and Honky Tonk runs for his hair, leaving Hart behind. Cooper gets in the ring and Hart acts like he thinks he can fight Cooper. Roberts sneaks up from behind and gets Hart in a Full Nelson, while Cooper gets Damien out of the bag for some fun.
Hart struggles to get loose, looking ready to crap his white pants. He eventually gets free and runs for the back, aided by Honky Tonk.
Winner: Honky Tonk Man by pinfall.
Thoughts: This was a pretty good match. Both guys looked good. Alice Cooper was used really well here and Roberts was able to get a little revenge on Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart.
Once the ring is cleared, Finkel gets into the ring and says that there’s going to be a special announcement. Mean Gene comes in and announces that everyone in the building has been a part of history because WrestleMania III has set a new all-time attendance record of 93, 173. The crowd is excited and gives a loud cheer.
Our next match features the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, with their new manager, Slick going up against the Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell).
Iron Sheik and Volkoff come out with Slick, who is still wearing his ruined suit, to loud boos. As usual, Volkoff sings the Soviet National Anthem, but they are interrupted by Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who comes out with his 2×4, which has a little American flag. Volkoff and Sheik are angry with the interruption. Duggan gets on the mic and says that Volkoff can’t sing the Soviet National Anthem because this is the home of the free, and the home of the brave. The Killer Bees come out to loud cheers.
Match 11: The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff (with Slick) vs The Killer Bees
To be honest, I had a lot of trouble following this match and couldn’t tell one Killer Bee from the other, especially since the camera kept going to wide shot. Duggan costs the Killer Bees the match by hitting Iron Sheik with the 2×4 in the ring, so Sheik and company get the victory.
Winner: Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff by DQ
Thoughts: This was an okay match, but the use of Duggan bothers me. His attitude was very heelish and blatantly attacking Iron Sheik, who was about to make one of the Bees tap fair and square should’ve been the start of a turn.
Next up is the big one, the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant.
We are back for another interview with Andre and Heenan. Mean Gene asks for Andre’s thoughts about the upcoming match. Andre says that it won’t be long before he’s coming back with the World Heavyweight Championship around his waist. Heenan chimes in, saying that he’s excited, he can feel the adrenalin pumping and says that Andre’s going to make him famous as World Heavyweight Champion.
We see a video recap of the feud between Hogan and Andre, showing their friendship and how things broke down between them.
In the interview center, Mean Gene is interviewing Hogan and says Hogan has to be ready. Hogan replies that he hopes Pontiac recovers from WrestleMania and says that the people outside will in danger when the earth shakes when Hulkamania defeats Andre.
In the ring, Finkel introduces Uecker as the guest ring announcer. Uecker gets a great pop and introduces Mary Hart as the guest timekeeper.
Andre and Heenan come out to LOUD boos an Andre looks winded just getting out of their conveyance. Hogan comes out to an enormous pop. Instead of using the conveyance thing, Hogan walks to the ring. I have no shame in saying that I got chills watching this in 2018.
Match 12: WWF World Heavyweight Championship Match – Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant (with Bobby Heenan)
We start with the most infamous staredown in wrestling history. Shoves are exchanged, Andre goes for the punch and Hogan retaliates. Hogan goes to slam Andre, but gets squashed for his trouble and Andre nearly gets the pinfall.
It appears that Hogan has thrown out his back and Andre is given a target and focuses on it. Andre urges Hogan to get off while Hogan sells his back injury like his paycheck depends on it (which it probably did). Andre slams Hogan, but he’s looking winded and seems to be limiting his moves to things that require little movement. Andre stands on Hogan’s back and now Hogan looks like he’s REALLY in pain.
Andre picks Hogan up by the trunks and whips him into the corner twice and then shoulder blocks, before turning around and hitting a couple of butt bumps before nailing Hogan with a headbutt. Hogan manages to avoid the second headbutt and Andre headbutts the turnbuckle instead.
Hogan is hitting Andre with everything he’s got and Andre’s still not off his feet. Hogan starts ramming Andre’s head into the turnbuckle. Hogan goes for the clothesline, but eats Andre’s boot instead.
Andre looks ready to drop and we hear Heenan asking Andre if he’s okay. Andre chops Hogan and goes for the bearhug. Hogan tries to get out of it but he’s fading. The crowd is willing Hogan to fight. Marella goes to check Hogan’s arm and Hogan doesn’t let the arm go down for the third time. He starts Hulking up and punches Andre in the ear until Andre lets go. Hogan’s hit Andre’s head so many times, he hurt his hand.
Hogan tries to send Andre out, but Andre stops that with a chop. A whiffed kick by Andre sends Hogan through the ropes. The next kick by Andre seems to connect and he goes for a headbutt, but Hogan ducks and Andre’s head meets the ringpost.
While Andre seeing stars, Hogan pulls up the mats and tries to set Andre up for a piledriver, but Andre counters with a back body drop onto the concrete.
Hogan is thrown back into the ring and Andre whips him into the ropes, bounces off the ropes and hits Andre so hard, he FINALLY knocks Andre off his feet.
The crowd LOSES it, so does Heenan, who begs Andre to get up. Hogan is the most surprised, but seeing Andre flat on his back seems to give Hogan a third wind and he hulks up again. Getting to his feet, he FINALLY slams Andre, hits the big leg drop and gets the three count.
The crowd gets even louder, if that was possible. Andre and Heenan are arguing with the ref, while Hogan urges Andre to come back, but Andre and Heenan leave, vowing revenge. The show ends with Hogan posing for the crowd.
Winner: Hulk Hogan by pinfall
Thoughts: The verdict of this match seems to be it was either great or terrible. It was a good match. Hogan got the best he could out of Andre, but it was not match of the night by a longshot.
So, did WrestleMania III live up to it’s impossibly high hype? For once, the actual show exceeded the hype. This was a great show overall. Just about every match was great and was a great foundation for the main events. Even the palate cleanser matches were good.
I cannot overemphasize how great Steamboat/Savage was to watch. I was so entranced, I forgot to take notes because I didn’t want to miss anything.
The only match I didn’t really like was the Six Man with the little people. I still have no idea what was going on and if Bundy was really as bored and annoyed as he seemed, I wouldn’t have blamed him. He went from competing for the World Heavyweight Championship to elbow dropping a little person dressed like a Native American in the span of a year. I have to say that I even found something nice about that mess: Little Beaver. He truly seemed to have no fear and watching him go after Bundy was pretty funny.
Vince seems to have realized that celebrity guests are only worth booking if you keep the number small and use them correctly. There were only three celebrities in this show and they did the job they were supposed to. Uecker and Hart were a lot of fun, and Cooper and Franklin were great nods to the musical influence of Detroit (Motown, Soul, and Heavy Metal).
Overall, this was definitely a great show, and if the wrestling legends many of us look up to were inspired by this show, I think that’s the best verdict of all.
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”.