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WrestleMania III: Bigger, Badder, Better?

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WrestleMania 3 Andre The Giant Hulk Hogan

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.


Opener

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.


Overall Thoughts

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.


Celebrities

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.

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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1 (3/25/2012)

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Branching out beyond the safety of the American coastlines, Chairshot Classics begins to delve into PROGRESS. Harry starts the journey at the logical, with in depth coverage and finer details on what made the matches happen.






What I Watched – A Chairshot Classics Presentation
PROGRESS Chapter 1: ‘In The Beginning’
By Harry Broadhurst

Man, been a while since I’ve done one of these. Greetings and salutations all. My name is Harry Broadhurst. A little bit about myself: I am the host of the ‘Raw Reaction’ here on the Chairshot Radio Network along with Tony Acero and Andrew Balaz (one of the big wigs here at thechairshot.com). I’ve been a part of the podcast network since it launched as the Raw Reaction just celebrated it’s fifth anniversary back in April.

Back in the days when this website was still WrestlingSmash, I used to be the guy who did what Steven Mitchell does. I would review Raw, SmackDown, Impact and Main Event under the title of “What I Watched”. I did some DVD reviews for another website a while ago as well but those eventually slowed down when schedules changed. I’ve been wanting to get back into reviews and I figure that now that I have a bit more free time, I want to spotlight more independent companies that don’t usually get highlighted.

I spoke to Greg about this and we both agreed that one of the hottest promotions in the world right now is the England based PROGRESS Wrestling. While we were talking, the idea that there isn’t a lot available on the history of the company came up and we intend to change that. Jim Smallman and his crew have created some of the most buzz we’ve ever seen for an independent wrestling company. They have even gotten themselves noticed to the point that the WWE’s NXT is going to be partnering with PROGRESS when it launches NXT:UK. The WWE UK Championship has been defended in PROGRESS and multiple members of the active WWE roster have appeared on the shows, both before and during their times in the WWE itself.

Well, even a promotion as big as PROGRESS has a beginning. ‘In The Beginning’, to be specific. We go back to the twenty fifth of March in 2012 for this one. And this show helps set the stage for the first PROGRESS Wrestling Heavyweight champion to be crowned. Into the way back machine we go and it’s now time for ‘In The Beginning’ or PROGRESS Chapter 1.

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: Due to the fact that Greg considers reviews to be opinion pieces, I am of the opinion that you should be able to form your own thoughts of the matches. Therefore, I will not be posting any of the finishes inside the review itself. But if you want to know, I will post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contest. The final show review will be after that, so if you want to read that without seeing results, I recommend scrolling to the bottom and moving up the page.

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. In addition, keeping with my run here with the Chairshot, I’m going to issue a ‘Final Reaction’ at the end of the reviews. Best match/moment, worst match/moment, Final Score and MVP (Most Valuable Performer).




PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1
‘In The Beginning’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: March 25th, 2012
Run Time: 1:55:45
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton and www.backbodydrop.com for some of the research that I did while working on this review.

*No opening promo from Smallman, which would become a fixture of the company. Instead, a quick graphic for the company takes us to a quick graphic for our opening contest.

*General Notes: The lighting for this venue is awful. At least a third of the ring is in relative darkness. Hopefully that gets fixed quickly going forward…the crowd is super hot for this show. The play-by-play announcer? Not so much. Not sure if he’s the same guy around to this day. If he is, he has improved tremendously. If it’s not, it’s easy to see why…commentary note: upon doing a bit of research, apparently it was Jim Smallman doing commentary in studio afterward under the name Jimmy Barnett. Makes sense that he would turn those reigns over, given his other duties with the company…setup is really weird with where they have the hard cam placed. You can clearly see monitors directly in front of the hard cam. One of them is clearly for music. The other looks like it’s set to Microsoft Excel…the ending graphics give all the information about social media presence. I can start including that stuff in the reviews if you guys want me too.

*Semifinal #1: Noam Dar vs. El Ligero
The Who: Yes, the Cruiserweight Classic’s (and now 205 Lives‘) Noam Dar as he is one of the guys who would move on to work for the WWE after getting some notoriety here in PROGRESS. El Ligero is a guy who fans of What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW from here on, though it is now known as Defiant Wrestling) are very familiar. I can’t say I’ve seen a whole lot of him personally, but I have heard good things
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the first of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: I may be wrong, but I think Smallman is the ring announcer, which I believe is a job he still does to this day…the inset promos are a nice touch. Not something you traditionally get from what basically amounts to an independent show…crowd makes it very clear very early who they are rooting for in this contest…have to say, a little sloppier then I expected to open. I’ll chalk that up to nerves though…and the first dive out of the ring happens at the minute and a half mark. Yep, indie wrestling…at least to me, Dar is clearly the more proficient of the two. It really doesn’t surprise me that he has found his way to a WWE contract…Dar with a really nice airplane spin that he combos into a Northern Lights. Very well done…Ligero with what looks like a version of the ‘S.O.S.’ but coming out of it, Dar catches him with a good looking burning clothesline…the roaming cam is not the same quality as the hard cam, but it’s a lot less distracting due to the monitors…Dar with a leg grapevine for an extended period before Ligero gets the ropes. Luckily, the crowd doesn’t seem to mind it as they are still very into it, especially for Ligero’s escape…one of the issues with PROGRESS can be the fan’s snarkiness. Pretty sure I just heard a slur for homosexual chanted by them here. Not exactly the impression you want to leave with potential first time viewers. Little surprised that hasn’t been edited out…and there’s the finish. Solid little match to open. Nothing super groundbreaking, but still worth the time that it runs for. (ABOVE AVERAGE)




*Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz vs. Colossus Kennedy
The Who: I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about Nathan Cruz. I don’t believe I have seen him compete before and if I have, I clearly don’t remember it. I’ve heard of him though. I can’t say the same of his opponent as this is the first time I’ve even heard of Colossus Kennedy. The name is definitely fitting though as the guy looks to be every bit of six foot five or six and three hundred pounds.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the second of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: That is a big boy in Colossus for sure…both men get inset promos for this match. Nathan comes off far more charismatic then Kennedy does. Nathan knows the character he wants to portray, whereas Colossus is just your average generic big guy…six foot six and three hundred sixty pounds. Really big boy by Indy wrestling standards…early chants from the crowd compare Kennedy to both the ‘Funkasaurus’ (that was a thing on Raw at the time) and Earthquake. Let’s not throw around the good name of John Tenta too freely, shall we?…Kennedy is a little clunky, so I don’t imagine he’s been wrestling all that long at this point. He does move well for a guy his size. He does a tabletop suplex (fall away slam position into a vertical) that looks really sloppy, though…they play up a pretty simple ‘big guy, smaller guy’ dynamic here. The crowd is into hating on Cruz, so it works. The ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chant does make me chuckle…the announcer attempts to put the crowd over as one of the most comedic he’s ever been around. He just says it so blandly that it loses meaning. To be fair (and I know I’ve ripped the guy twice already), he’s commentating by himself. Few can pull that off serviceably. Even fewer (Joey Styles and Lenny Leonard spring to mind) can do so and be entertaining…Kennedy impresses me with the selling of the leg, as he reverses Cruz into the corner. He then tries an avalanche but the leg gives out on him as he attempts to get across the ring…the commentator spent the entire match putting over Kennedy’s Lariat, even mentioning that his favorite wrestler to watch was Stan Hansen. So, it’s a little bit of a surprise that it’s not the finish when he hits it, as Cruz cleanly kicks out…and there’s the finish. I think the right guy wins here, as there is clearly a drop in talent between the two. The match itself is serviceable, but nothing you would remember by the end of the show most likely. They tell a good story but it never really gets out of first gear. (AVERAGE)



*Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason (with Becky James) vs. Colt Cabana
The Who: Mike Mason and Becky James, I have never heard of. To give a visual comparison for fellow independent wrestling fans, the closest I could give you would probably be “Mr. Showtime” Scot Summers or Davey Richards. Colt Cabana, I don’t think I need to expand upon. Arguably the biggest competitor currently in independent wrestling at the time, Still to this day, Cabana is a huge draw on the Indy circuit, even if his appearances are a lot less frequent then they used to be.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the third of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Cabana is one of those guys promoters bring in to give a local a marquee match against a name talent. That or he’s there to make people laugh. I’ll assume one of those is going to be the M.O. here…pre-match, Colt throws what I believe are tennis balls at Mason and Becky. Make your own jokes here…man, there is a noticeable size disparity between the two. Colt is not a huge guy by any stretch (he’s muscular but not tall), but he towers over Mason…it’s the not family friendly Colt this evening as he stands on the bottom turnbuckle, pushes out his groin and states “I do have a foreign object” or something to that effect…the crowd gets on the referee for not checking Cabana, but really, it’s the right call…Cabana stuffs his singlet with a tennis ball and the announcer quickly takes the ‘pleased to see us’ route…this is all before the opening bell, mind you…opening bell finally does ring and it’s tennis ball shenanigans…a series of tennis ball tosses with the crowd lead to a very snarky ‘this is wrestling’ chant as the announcer points out that Mason is a replacement for RJ Singh…it eventually breaks into a bit of a mat wrestling contest, where Cabana dominates…more shenanigans such as a dancing sequence and then an airplane spin that leads to Colt exclaiming “I’m getting so fucking dizzy”…James gets involved and Cabana tumbles through the ropes to finally put Mason in control of the contest…there’s a dog theme to Mason’s gimmick, but if I’m being honest, I’m not seeing a lot of steak to go with the sizzle thus far…a shoulder into the ring post turns the tide back into Cabana’s favor…it’s hard to describe Colt matches, because while there is a lot of stuff going on, most of it isn’t actual wrestling…Cabana gets the Billy Goat’s Curse (reverse Boston Crab) on, but Becky James gets onto the apron and distracts both Cabana and the referee…and that leads directly into the finish. As I said during the course of the match, Cabana matches make for entertaining experiences, but not a ton on the actual wrestling scale. This was basically Colt playing the hits of the kind of matches he would normally have. Mason could have really been anyone else in the locker room, outside of the shenanigans with the tennis ball (BELOW AVERAGE)




*Semifinal #4: Zach Sabre Jr. vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: Where to begin here? Not that either of these guys need a formal introduction from me, but here goes: Sabre Jr. people will know from the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and a host of other places. I think you can make the argument that Sabre is the best technical wrestler in the world. ‘Party Marty’ as he’s known here has become an international superstar in his own right as the ‘Villain’ Marty Scurll in many of the same places that Sabre Jr. frequents, with the exception of the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, but that was due to Marty being under a NJPW contract at the time of that taping. Back here at this show in March of 2012, these guys were part of a tag team known as the ‘Leaders of the New School’. This is by far my most anticipated of the first round matches.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the fourth and final participant in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Sabre Jr. points out that he ‘chuffing loves arm-bars’ in his pre-match promo. That may be the understatement of the DVD thus far…my intro to Marty Scurll was as ‘Party Marty’ in wXw (Germany), but man is it weird watching a Scurll match in 2018 and not seeing the ‘Villain’…even as early as we are here, you can see the ‘Villain’ in there. Especially with how he works the crowd. One of the most charismatic men in wrestling…noticeable differences for these two with the power game of Scurll and the mat game of Sabre. It’s an easy story to tell…and we have the first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant that would become a staple of the company going forward…despite not being as good as Sabre on the mat, Scurll more then holds his own. It’s easy to forget with the frat boy character he had at the time that Marty could really go…dead lift suplex attempt by Scurll countered into a rolling cross-arm breaker by Sabre. So pretty…Sabre really put the torque on an abdominal stretch variation. Despite being partners, they are definitely not holding back against each other…super high and tight on the Liger Bomb and rolled right into another arm bar variation. Scurll quick to the ropes, but man, did it look vicious…everything is so fluid between these two…and right as I type that, a pretty decent piece of miscommunication going into the double down, but they recover well enough from it…for all the praise he gets for being so technically gifted, Sabre’s kicks either look really good and don’t hurt or are legit stiff as all hell…and there’s the finish. A little surprised by the decision but given where they’d both end up in the company, not a complete surprise. That said, quite far and away the best thing on the card thus far. These two do not hold back, as they lay in the strikes and kicks. Not only that, but the ground game was on point as well. Multiple ‘This is PROGRESS’ chants are well earned here. Early leader in the clubhouse for best match in PROGRESS history. (VERY GOOD, CLOSE TO EXCELLENT)

*BWC (British Wrestling Council) Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Zack ‘Diamond’ Gibson vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen vs. Xander Cooper ©
The Who: I have not a clue who two of the three people in this match are. The names Darrell Allen and Xander Cooper mean nothing to me, as this is the first I’ve heard of both. Zack Gibson I am familiar, though. Zack was the winner of the UKCT 2, giving him a chance to take on Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship on Night 2 of the WWE UKCT2 special. He is no where near ‘Liverpool’s Number One’ here though. Even though he’s a heel (being announced from Liverpool drew boos from the fans, who wouldn’t know good ‘footy’ if it bite them in the ass), he has long hair here, looking nothing like what we would see of him in the WWE.
The Why: Triple threat, one fall to a finish (I think) for the BWC Scarlo Scholarship. Apparently, upon doing a bit of research, this belt was put together as a well to promote talent from the most reputable schools on the British scene.
The Match: Inset promos from all three before the match. As a Liverpool FC fan, I’m immediately biased towards Gibson. Much like I was during the aforementioned UKCT2…commentator mentions that there will be a BWC match on every PROGRESS show going forward. We’ll see how long that lasts…not sure what the hell that was supposed to be, but they managed to save it…‘Man for All Seasons’ is a pretty nice little nickname. Give Cooper credit for that one…seems weird to see a high flyer as a heel, but that’s what Cooper is. Allen is a high flyer as well, but he’s a baby face…sunset bomb out of the corner with a avalanche exploder gets the sixth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant and first of the match…and one of the fans informs Cooper that he sucks a large dick. Keep it classy, lads…this match is falling into that traditional three way troupe of two guys in, one man out. It takes away from the special feeling of a triple threat when there is rarely any interaction between all three…fans are definitely not with Cooper. I believe they are calling him the ‘drizzling shits’…Cooper is relatively fluid in the ring and works the crowd well. Curious if he’s still involved with wrestling…sunset flip/German combo is only the second or third spot since the start of the match to involve all three…Gibson looks surprisingly tall here to me. Wonder if I just didn’t realize it or if the other two are just that small…maybe just me, but Gibson kind of looks like CM Punk during his ROH days here…alright, I’ve never seen that spot before. Very innovative…some very cool looking rollups in the ‘fish out of water’ sequence…Cooper looks like he was going for a hammerlock DDT, but Gibson gets out and eventually into a flying lungblower…fans are turning around on Gibson here. They started booing the crap out of him, but now appear to be behind him. Ring work won them over…this is the match of the enzugiri. At least six of them…Allen botches a 450 splash, landing with his knees right across the chest of Gibson. Don’t think that was supposed to happen…and there’s the finish. For what is essentially a ‘student’s match’, this actually turned out to be pretty good. Nothing great from any of the three, but there are several innovative spots (I watch a ton of wrestling and even I saw some stuff for the first time here) and there is nothing blown to the point that it takes you out of the match. The finish is cheap, but given where the belt ends up, it makes sense that they’d go the way they did here. Color me impressed by all three lads here. (GOOD)




*Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Championship Staff (Not Title): Fatal Four Way Elimination: El Ligero vs. Nathan Cruz vs. ‘Loco’ Mike Mason vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: The four men who were victorious in the qualifying matches earlier in the show. It is at this point that I realize spoilers are inevitable for this contest. My bad, ya’ll. This one’s on me.
The Why: To crown the first ever PROGRESS champion. Seems pretty obvious. It’s an Staff instead of a title. Pretty sure that would end up sticking around for a while if memory serves.
The Match: Smallman getting shitty about the fans calling the PROGRESS Staff a ‘Nazi Staff’ is by far and away the most entertaining that he ever is at commentary. It’s easily the most personality he’s shown, even with the unnecessary shot at Santino Marella thrown in…rolling flip dive over the ring post and to the floor by El Ligero. Impressive…and through the crowd they all go, as fans are already complaining about lack of visibility. It’s like a 1998 WWF pay-per-view main event…and some crowd interaction leads to a double chop on Cruz by Ligero and Scurll…upon thinking about it, definitely would compare Mason more towards Richards then Summers. Not sure if that’s a compliment, though…we’re focused on Ligero and Cruz, but you can clear as day hear Scurll shill his t-shirts and photos (12 and 3 pounds respectively). Ever the worker that Marty is…El Ligero gets the ‘ole’ chants in support. Makes me wonder if he’s any relation to that ‘Generico’ fellow who is now helping orphans down in Mexico…Ligero takes a backdrop out of a piledriver attempt on the stage. The building is a bar with a stage area, similar to the building CHIKARA has run in NYC before…hey, we’ve actually turned into something resembling a real wrestling match now. It only took us ten minutes to get there…why isn’t Mason disqualified for Becky pulling out the referee? If this is elimination, that seems like it would be grounds…shortly thereafter, a distracted Ligero is the first one gone…and then he immediately leads into the elimination of Mason…crowd is solidly behind Scurll here, but that’s no real surprise…Cruz keeps the edge for a bit, but Scurll gets an inverted fireman’s carry into a back cracker to put both men down…you’d think Cruz would have better conditioning here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Scurll looks ready to go still, despite his match earlier being about twice as long as Cruz’s…‘Nazi Staff’ chants again from the crowd as Smallman moans about it on commentary. Still kind of funny, so, curious if it becomes a running theme…Smallman calling out John Cena for a move annoys me though. You are a little fish, Jim. Cena’s a shark…never understood the count the next number thing that crowds do on a double down…the ref bump looked terribly contrived. Just awful…visual fall for Scurll leads to him trying to wake up the referee. A low blow followed by a diamond cutter from Cruz gets two…and there’s the finish one last time on the evening. I think the who makes sense. The how even makes sense as well, as they set up Chapter Two. What I didn’t care for was spending the first ten minutes of this match to be spent brawling all around the small building (attendance was approximately 250) with bad camera angles and a ton of missed moments. Once we got into the ring however, the match itself was well worked and very easily sets up the way for things going forward into the company. Call the main event a success, but with some reservations. (VERY GOOD, OPENING KEEPS FROM EXCELLENT)




RESULTS
Semifinal #1: El Ligero pins Noam Dar with a in-ring rope springboard tornado DDT @ 12:01 (Above Average)
Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz pins Colossus Kennedy with a sliding dropkick to the side of the head @ 10:40 (Average)
Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason pins Colt Cabana with a chain shot to the head @ 10:06 (Below Average)
Semifinal #4: ‘Party’ Marty Scurll pins Zach Sabre Jr. with a deep cradle sunset flip @ 21:44 (Very Good+)
BWC Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Xander Cooper © defeats Darrell Allen and Zack Gibson when he pins Gibson after stealing the pin from Allen @ 13:43 (Good)
Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff: Nathan Cruz wins 4 way elimination match @ 26:04, last pinning ‘Party’ Marty Scurll with a sliding dropkick to side of head (El Ligero eliminated @ 15:16 via sliding dropkick from Cruz. Mike Mason eliminated @ 15:53 via roll-up by Marty Scurll) (Very Good)

FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
NEGATIVES
The biggest issue I feel is the venue itself. It does not translate well to video. Thankfully, it would get better I hear. But as I mentioned at the top of the review, when half the ring is in darkness, that’s a problem.

Another issue that I had is lack of knowledge on competitors. Yes, there were people I knew. Colt Cabana, Zach Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll, Noam Dar and Zack Gibson being the main ones. But of a 11 man roster, that’s less then half that I’ve previously heard of. Granted, the idea was to have PROGRESS focus on the future of British and not be a super Indy. I get that, but a few more big names for the debut at least (like they way they used Cabana) wouldn’t have hurt.

Jim Smallman has done a wonderful job for himself with where PROGRESS has gotten to. The one thing Jim Smallman should not be allowed to do ever again is commentary by himself. He has a few moments here and there, but by and large, the commentary is a major turn off. Unnecessary shots at big name talent, general indifference to what’s going on in the ring and worst of all, not being able to even hear anything Smallman is saying hurts the show from a audio prospective.

POSITIVES
Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. does not disappoint. I raved and raved about it during the review, so I won’t do so again here. The main event is a very strong match once we get past the brawling throughout the arena. Fun for the fans in the crowd? Sure but there were those who were complaining about the lack of visibility. Fun for the guy at home with a Roku remote in his hand? Not so much. The triple threat match for the ‘students’ is actually pretty good as well and a fun story was told by it.

They knew they had to crown a champion and they did so in the very first show. A lot of companies make the mistake of postponing the crowning of a champion and it leads to drops in attendance because you don’t know who the marquee attraction of the promotion is going to be. Here, going into Chapter Two, you have a champion people will pay to see get beaten and a probable challenger that the fans will be willing to pay to see win the title. It’s brilliant marketing.

OVERALL
Overall, a pretty fun little debut for the company that would end up taking British wrestling by storm. PROGRESS would obviously have things that would need to be worked on, as I addressed above. But where does that leave us? Well, it leaves me looking forward to going back to check out Chapter Two. It hopefully leaves you willing to come back and check out the show in question here to see if you agree or disagree with me. It leaves PROGRESS at the start of it’s path to being one of the, if not thee, driving force in the resurrection of the British Indy wrestling scene. Finally, it also leaves me needing something to eat. It’s been a long review.

THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Without a doubt, it’s a match and it’ll be the Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. match. Honorably mention to ‘Nazi Staff’ chant which drew a legit chuckle.
Worst match/moment: Moment here and it’s the setup. The lighting and the design of the arena was just awful. Made especially difficult with the opening to the main event.
MVP: I’m going to ‘Party’ Marty Scurll here. Despite the fact that he doesn’t walk out with the title, he stands out as the clear #1 guy for the company going forward. In addition, he was involved in both of the best matches on the show.
FINAL SCORE: 6.5/10

Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter Two.






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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: NWA-TNA Episode 23

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NWA-TNA Episode 23: November 27, 2002





Goldy is introduced and sings ‘God Bless America’ and sounds lovely as usual.

Opening: We open with Borash in the ring and he says that since it’s the day before Thanksgiving and because everyone is feeling grateful, despite everything the country has been through and is about to go through (the War in Afghanistan was about to start, I think), everyone at TNA is thankful to the fans for supporting them.

Briscoe Brothers vs Divine Storm (with Trinity): The Briscoes are back! They’re going up against generic new comers, Divine Storm.

This match was much better than Divine Storm’s previous outing last week. They and the Briscoes worked together very well and put on a really good match. Trinity got involved, hitting a hurricanrana on one of the Briscoes. There was also a really cool spot where one member of the Briscoes and one member of Divine Storm hit stereo diving sentons on each other’s opponent.

Ultimately, Divine Storm would win this round with a cradle suplex.

At ringside, Tenay addresses the revelation that Vince Russo was Mr. Wrestling III. The usually calm, neutral Tenay minces no words about how he feels. He does NOT like Vince Russo, he does NOT want to be associated with him, and vows to not let Russo destroy TNA the way he did WCW. West is a little stunned by Tenay’s anger, claiming that he didn’t realize that Tenay disliked Russo that much.

After the commercial break, Tenay is in the ring and he’s wanting to interview Jeff Jarrett. He gets Vince Russo instead. Russo seems to see no reason to play nice. He throws Tenay out of the ring and tells him to go sulk in the commentary area. Apparently Tenay had vowed to quit if Russo was allowed into TNA and Russo called his bluff, telling him he can go home and pout like Sean Waltman and they’ll replace him with a chimpanzee that will have more personality.

Addressing the audience, and seemingly unaware of just how many people hold him responsible for the destruction of WCW, Russo introduced himself as the Anti-Christ of wrestling and said that he came back because the business was ‘in the shitter’, without seeming to accept that he’s very much to blame for the state of the business.

Russo then tries to claim credit for Jarrett’s rise in the late 90s, claiming to have befriended him in WWE, despite the Double J gimmick, though it should be pointed out that Russo’s ‘friendship’ didn’t help Jarrett get out of the mid-cards in WWE. Russo then clams that the Jarrett’s begged him to come in and help TNA, saying that TNA means ‘Tits and Ass’ not ‘Total Non-Stop Acton’.

Proving that he has no clue what he’s doing, Russo disrespects the NWA greats who have been putting up with his garbage, and claims he’s saving TNA, instead of destroying it.

But Russo’s wants us all to know that he’s not a total psychopath. He offers Jarrett, who owns the company and put up with Russo’s BS even when it nearly closed the company down, be in on what he’s got planned for TNA, which will include some drastic changes. He will expect an answer by the end of the show.

After Russo leaves, an incensed Tenay calls Russo a cancer, stating that Russo is everything that is wrong with professional wrestling and says, point blank, that Russo killed WCW.

Throughout the evening’s show, there were various TNA on-screen talent plugging a silent auction to benefit a school for autistic children and for breast cancer awareness. The segments were pretty lame, so I’m not going to mention them past this point.

America’s Most Wanted vs The Hot Shots: Hot Shots don’t get a ton of love from the crowd,but there are some cheers. AMW are extremely over, but they aren’t in good moods after losing their rematch to New Church last week. The match was pretty typical for these teams. AMW was ground and pound, while the Hot Shots were a lot of flash and cockiness, butthe match was really good.

During the match, James Mitchell and Bella Donna come out, which distracts Storm and Harris, just when they had the match won. AMW pursued the Not-So-Good Minister and his lady, getting themselves counted out in the process. Mitchell, proving that there is no honor among thieves, ran for his life and left Bella Donna to the wolves.

 Storm and Harris, proving that they are equal opportunity ass-kickers, were ready to hit the Death Sentence on Bella Donna, when Mitchell returned to half-heartedly try to save her. As the AMW were distracted, the New Church attacked from behind. Mitchell grabbed Bella and they got away, but Bella needs to rethink her life choices.

Backstage, Goldylocks is looking to talk to Jeff Jarrett about his upcoming match against Ron Killings and, presumably, Russo’s offer, but Dory Funk Jr is barring the door.

Funk, lets Goldy know that while Jarrett IS in the locker room, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone since he’s focusing on the match. When Goldy asks if he’s Jarrett’s manager, Funk simply says that he’s got a vested interest in the match.

NWA Tag Team Championship Match: BG James and Curt Hennig vs New Church (with James Mitchell and Bella Donna): I’m not sure why the Harris Twins aren’t in this match since they’re supposed to be the #1 Contenders for the tag titles, but we’re getting James and Hennig. It was supposed to be James/Waltman, but Tenay informs us that Waltman has refused to show up because he doesn’t to be associated with Russo.

Michell gets on the mic and says that he doesn’t care about the difference between professional wrestling and sports entertainment, he’s just interested in being evil.

This match was really basic, which is probably the best option for everyone involved. Hennig looks like he’s laid off the booze and hit the gym a little more, but there’s no hiding the fact that his ring skills are lacking, though he shows some of his former brilliance with an interesting modified figure-four.

AMW run in, causing James and Hennig to be DQ’d just when they thought they had the match won. All hell breaks loose with AMW not only brawling with the New Church, but with the angered James and Hennig who feel that they were robbed of their opportunity. AMW would chase New Church into the back, but it’s clear that AMW have made enemies of James and Hennig.

Alyx Winters vs EZ Money: For reasons that I can’t explain, EZ Money has gotten over with the higher ups at TNA and is back for another match. His opponent is Alyx Winters,who reminds me a little of the Wunderkind from WCW.

The match has a pretty basic start, but there’s an interesting reverse Boston Crab/swing hold by Money. There’s a spot where Winters was supposed to float over Money, but Money didn’t run in and when Winters landed, it was balls first on Money’s knee. After that stupid spot,that Money was very proud of, the match went rapidly downhill.  Money picked up the win with a cradle suplex and left poor Winters in the ring.

Backstage, we find Goldylocks with Bruce, who has been in middle of the drama that is the relationship of Brian Lawler and April. After seeming to be caught in the shower with April and probably NOT conserving water, unless April gets turned on by saving the Earth’s oceans, Bruce found himself fending off not only an enraged Lawler, but his former partner, Lenny Lane, who tried to claim that Bruce was ineligible to be Miss TNA because he was actually straight. If you find that confusing, join the club.

This week, Bruce has ditched the pastels and his fetching Miss TNA number for a pretty basic…guy look, long-sleeved shirt, baseball cap.When Goldy introduces him as Bruce, he corrects her and says that his name is now Allen Funk. A confused Goldy asks him about the April situation and Funk claims that he felt sorry for April because of how Lawler treated her and tried to comfort her. What that has to do with showering together, I have no idea.

Furthermore, Bruce states that he is gay, but that his heart got involved and  that April is a very sexual person. Goldy makes a really bad joke, but asks what Funk plans to do with the Miss TNA gear, and Funk says he’ll give it to April.

Crimson Dragon vs Sonny Siaki: Last week, Crimson Dragon made a mediocre debut in a match involving AJ Styles. This week, Dragon and Siaki meet one on one. Dragon’s changed his look and looks like a very stylish ninja, while Siaki looks bored,though he gets a bit of a pop from the crowd.

The match was okay, Siaki does his best, but Dragon sucks. He botches several spots before Siaki can put him away with a super overhead-toss and a Money clip.

Once Crimson Dragon is vanquished, a disgusted Siaki gets on the mic and states that he’s tired of the lackluster opponents he’s been getting. If TNA won’t give him better competition than this, he doesn’t want to say. Sonny Siaki, in his own mind, should only be wrestling top guys and be in title matches.

Backstage, Goldylocks is with April, apparently, Goldy was wanting to interview Lawler, but found April instead. April says that Lawler has been in the production truck watching the footage of the shower scene all day. April doesn’t seem to get what the problem is, Bruce is gay and she’s faithful to Brian, which shows that either she’s an idiot or he is.

Goldy points out that no one believes her, especially after last week, to which April coyly implies that Goldy’s jealous. Angry and fed up…FINALLY, Goldy tells the cameraman to cut off the interview because she’s ‘done with this bullshit’.

To add more drama to this mess, Lawler goes to ringside, not dressed to wrestle and looking very sad. According to him, he gave everything he had to a woman and that April cheated on him and made him look like an idiot, though it must be said that Lawler was already doing a good job of making himself look like an idiot before April got there. In play at sympathy, Lawler then claims that April and Goldylocks had an affair, which didn’t win him much sympathy. Fed up, Lawler says he’s quitting the wrestling business and does his really bad crying act before walking away.

Tenay and West are dumbstruck, with even West saying that that was weird.

Thing get weirder back stage when Goldylocks tries to talk to Lawler, but finds him being comforted by Priscilla, Jorge Estrada’s manager. Lawler is STILL doing the fake crying thing, telling Priscilla that she’s the only one that cares. They walk away together, but we see Lawler grabbing Priscilla’s butt, so I don’t think we have to worry about him bouncing back from April.

X-Division Championship Match: Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles (with Mortimer Plumtree): The rivalry between Styles and Lynn is well-known, so I won’t go into it here. Styles won the right to face Lynn last week after defeating Jorge Estrada and Crimson Dragon.

The match was okay. Even the best rivals have a clunker and this was that match for Styles and Lynn. I’m not sure what was going on,but they just could seem to mesh as seamlessly as they usually do.

Added to the trouble was Plumtree, who was trying to use some heel manager tactics and not doing a great job at it. Unfortunately, Plumtree’s antics would end up costing Styles the match when the brass knucks Plumtree tossed him ended up with Lynn, who knocked Styles into next week for the pin.

In a pre-show interview, Tenay interviewed Dory Funk Jr. Funk, who has none of his brother’s personality, talked about how much being NWA champion meant to him, and talked about what he learned from all the greats he worked with, and plugged the Funking Conservatory wrestling school. For whatever reason, the person typing up the names of the former NWA greats Funk mentions spells Jack Brisco’s name as ‘Briscoe’.

Funk stated that he believed that the Jarrett/Killings feud was the future of the NWA and would be seen as a great rivalry in twenty years. As for Russo, Funk makes no bones about the fact that he doesn’t like Russo and feels that Russo’s sports entertainment had no place in professional wrestling.

NWA Championship Match: Jeff Jarrett vs Ron Killings: It’s time for the rematch. Both men get great pops, though Jarrett’s is a little mixed. This was a really great match, much better than last week’s. Jarrett and Killings took each other all over the arena, actually resulting in a double countout, but Bob Armstrong demanded that the match be restarted so that there could be a definitive winner.

There was a really lame ‘take out ref’ spot that was only saved by Armstrong’s selling, While Armstrong was ‘out’, Russo showed up, seeming to help Jarrett, handing Jarrett his guitar to finish Killings off. Instead, Jarrett breaks the guitar over the turnbuckle to the crowd’s delight, choosing to put Killings away with three Strokes to retain the title.

Angered, Russo go on the mic as Jarrett was leaving,demanding to know Jarrett’s answer, but the show ends before we hear what Jarrett has to say.

Overall Thoughts: So, how was Week 23 of NWA-TNA? Not great. There were a lot of blah matches andstupid/awful segments and only a couple of really good matches to cover for it.

The use of Russo was interesting, he seemed to truly NOT get that most people hold him responsible for what happened to WCW, a fact that bears out if you ever listen to him and seemed to honestly think that the wrestling business needed him. Spoilers: It doesn’t.  In my opinion, having watched this show from the first episode to now, Russo’s involvement has been what’s kept TNA from really flourishing in the early stages, which nearly put the company out of business.

I’m glad the Lawler/April/Bruce/Goldy thing seems to be finally over because it was godawful to watch. Siaki getting fed up with having to deal with mediocre job guys was interesting, but they’re still trying to make him a Rock clone and it’s not getting over with fans.

Overall, this was an okay show. I’m hopeful next week will be better.  

 





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