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Chairshot Classics

WrestleMania V: The Mega Powers Explode and the Road to a Hall of Fame Career Begins in Obscurity

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WrestleMania V seems to be one of the least liked WrestleManias. The reviews are pretty negative, despite what seems, on paper at least, to be a pretty great main event. Does WrestleMania V deserve to be forgotten? Let’s find out.

We’re back in Atlantic City, but there are no slot machine graphics. We go to the ring and ‘America, the Beautiful’ will be sung by the Women’s Champion, Rockin’ Robin. Robin gets a nice pop, but her singing isn’t the best and she looks uncomfortable. The video montage is lovely, as always.

Hercules vs King Haku (wth Bobby Heenan)

Our first match is King Haku, with Bobby Heenan, vs the mighty Hercules. I don’t remember why Haku is a king, but he looks nice in the regalia. He’s greeted with boos from the fans. Heenan takes the mic and tries to tell the fans to bow to King Haku. The fans aren’t having it. Hercules is out next to a really nice pop. Hercules swings the chain around and everyone bails out.

This was a really good starter. Hercules was a really good wrestler, especially for as jacked as he was. Haku was very good and both guys looked great.

Winner: Hercules by pinfall.

Highlights: There were a couple of high-flying moves that were surprising for such big guys.

Thoughts: I liked this match. There was solid, good wrestling and both guys did a great job. Only regret is that Hercules didn’t get his hands on Heenan, but since Heenan was going to be part of several matches, that’s understandable.

We go to the locker room, Mean Gene is interviewing the Rockers. Both guys are super excited to be there. HBK says this the moment of truth and that they’re going to show the Twin Towers a thing or two. Jannetty pipes up and says that just coming out intact would be enough, considering that they’re up against two huge guys, but they would like to win.

Comments: It’s always funny to see future big stars when they’re just starting out and this interview with HBK and Jannetty was no exception. Knowing what was down the road for HBK, seeing him at his first WrestleMania was fun. Oh, the places you’re going to go, young man.

Twin Towers (Akeem and Big Boss Man) with Slick vs the Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty)

The Twin Towers are already in the ring and the crowd boos. This team is weird. The Rockers get an okay pop, but I don’t think they’ve been in the WWF very long. The ladies seem to like the Rockers.

This was a really good match. Rockers looked great, even in defeat. It’s too bad that they never officially won the Tag Titles.

Winner: The Twin Towers by pinfall.

Highlights: HBK and Akeem’s dance off, who knew HBK could moonwalk? HBK is always fun to watch, he’s like a terrier that thinks he’s a Rottweiler.

Thoughts: I’m not sure what One Man Gang did to deserve the Akeem gimmick, but it couldn’t have been this bad. He looked ridiculous. The match sort of looked like two grown men playing with kids.

We go back to the locker room where Tony Schiavone is interviewing the Million Dollar Man. Virgil’s there, looking like he’d rather be doing something else. DiBiase says that he’s been waiting for WrestleMania V because he’s going to be with his elite friends, and name drops a few, and they’ll watch him demolish Beefcake. He claims to spend thousands on the cheap bleach job he’s got and that Beefcake isn’t going near him with his ‘grubby’ hands. He calls himself the greatest athlete in the WWF and cites the Million Dollar Championship belt as proof.

Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake vs Ted DiBiase (with Virgil)

DiBiase comes out to boos and glad-hands some wealthy people at ringside. Beefcake comes out to a nice pop and he’s got the clippers with him, judging by the bag.

This was a really good match. The difference in styles really worked and both guys looked really good. There was a lot back and forth.

Winner: Both men are counted out, but continue to duke it out on the floor until Beefcake runs DiBiase into the post and chases Virgil into the ring. Virgil tries to fight, but gets an atomic drop for his efforts. Beefcake slaps a sleeper on him, DiBiase tries to get the jump, but Beefcakes sees it and punches DiBiase and scoop slams him before going for the clippers. DiBiase scrams and pull Virgil out with him, surprisingly.

Highlights: Brutus countering the Million Dollar dream by getting into the ropes was nice.

Thoughts: I liked this match. Beefcake looked really good, Virgil took a nice bump, crowd got to see DiBiase get his a little.

We go to Lord Alfred Hayes who is doing a pre-recorded interview with the Bushwhackers at the annual WrestleMania brunch. The Bushwhackers have the worst table manners and they keep talking with their mouths full. Hayes is failing to keep a straight face and ends the interview.

The Bushwhackers vs The Fabulous Rougeaus (with Jimmy Hart)

Rougeaus are out first and the crowd boos loudly, not believing that the Rougeaus are from Memphis. Bushwhackers out next to loud cheers. One of the Bushwhackers chases Jimmy Hart and gets his lovely jacket.

This was just a weird one. The contrast in styles worked…sort of, but it seemed like a poor use of the Rougeaus.

Winner: Bushwhackers by pinfall after ramming Raymond.

Highlights: Bushwhackers getting Jimmy Hart’s jacket.

Thoughts: Well, that happened. I loved the Bushwhackers when I was a kid, but now it’s just ‘WTAF’ a I watching.

Sean Mooney is on the floor interviewing fans and gets licked by the Bushwhackers for his efforts. He’s a good sport about it, at least.

Mr. Perfect vs The Blue Blazer

Mr. Perfect is out to loud boos, though it looks weird to not see Heenan with him. The Blue Blazer is out net to an okay cheer. His music is really generic. Blue Blazer appears to be the late, great Owen Hart.

To no one’s shock, this was a great match.  Perfect and Blazer looked great. Perfect’s perfect streak is preserved, but it was more out of luck than being better than Blazer

Winner: Mr. Perfect by pinfall

Highlights: The match was a great highlight. Ventura taking time to say hi to his kids was sweet.

Thoughts: My match of the night so far. Definitely a hidden gem kind of match. It wasn’t quite a show stealer, but it was an excellent effort by both men.

Ventura announces his ‘surprise’, which seems to be announcing that he’s there so the crowd can cheer for him.  Monsoon is not impressed.

We go back Lord Alfred Hayes in a pre-recorded segment at the 5k run. Mr. Fuji enters the race, still in his suit and says that he did it to prove that the Powers of Pain will win the Tag Team Championship. Mr. Fuji starts before everyone else. Of course, they don’t show him running the whole race, just part of it.

Run DMC comes out to raucous applause and performs the ‘WrestleMania Rap’.

We get our first feud video recap. This one highlights the issues between the Powers of Pain and Demolition, starting with Survivor Series.

We go to Mean Gene, who interviewing Demolition. Okerlund asks about the upcoming match. Smash says that they’re in their war gear and ready for the match.  All they have to do is knock teeth down throats.

WWF Tag Team Championship Handicap Match: Demolition vs The Powers of Pain and Mr. Fuji

The Powers of Pain and Fuji are already in the ring to loud boos. Fuji actually looks in reasonable shape. Demolition comes out to loud cheers. It’s not clear if Fuji will become champion if the Powers of Pain were to win.

This was a surprisingly good match. It wasn’t pretty, but it was good. Fuji’s spots were good and everyone looked great.

Winner: Demolition

Highlights: The sound the crowd made when Fuji missed the move off the top turnbuckle. Fuji missing with the salt and hitting the Warlord instead. Demolition getting their hands on Fuji and making history by holding the Tag Belts for a full year.

Thoughts: I have to admit to being surprised by how good this was.

We go to Tony Schiavone, who is outside the Macho Man’s dressing room, and from the sound of it, Savage is trashing the place.  Savage comes out, attacks the camera and says that he doesn’t want to be interviewed and that he’s ready for Hulk Hogan.

Dino Bravo (with Frenchy Martin) vs Ronnie Garvin

Bravo and Frency are coming out to the ring to loud boos.  Garvin is already in the ring to an okay pop, certainly not what Garvin would be used to getting from an NWA/WCW crowd.

For some reason, Jimmy Snuka comes out, to a quite nice pop. Not sure why he’s there, but the crowd seems happy to see him.

This match was not as good as I would have expected from Ronnie Garvin.

Winner: Dino Bravo by pinfall.

Highlights: Garvin attacking Bravo and Martin and getting a Garvin Stomp on Martin.

Thoughts: I’m really not sure what this match was about. Garvin never really got out of the box. Snuka showing up was really strange and the whole thing was ‘eh’.

We go right into the next match.

The Brain Busters (with Bobby Heenan) vs Strike Force

Brain Busters are on their way to the ring with Heenan to boos. Strike Force get a better pop.

Unsurprisingly, given the four men involved, this was a really good match. However, the point of this match seems to be to turn Martel heel.

Winner: Brainbusters by pinfall after Martel refuses to tag in and leaves Santana to his fate after Santana accidentally hits him after Blanchard ducked a crossbody.

Highlights: Stereo Figure Fours by Strike Force on former members of The Four Horsemen. Anderson getting caught on the turnbuckle and slammed is never not funny.

Thoughts: I liked this match, but I can’t say that Martel turning heel was a surprise. Monsoon and Ventura telegraphed it a little with their comments.

We go backstage where Mean Gene is confronting Martel over what happened. Martel says that, as far as he’s concerned, Santana got what he deserved and that he’s tired of carrying Santana and that Santana’s been riding his coattails. Okerlund angrily points out that Strike Force was supposed to be a team. Martel says that he’s sick of Santana, that Santana’s timing was off when he accidentally hit him (instead of Blanchard ducking). Okerlund’s had enough and ends the interview.

Piper’s Pit Segment

Next up is a special Piper’s Pit. ‘Piper’ comes out and it’s Brother Love and the crowd isn’t happy about it. Love starts out talking to an imaginary ‘Brother Rodney’ and making fun of Piper, which just makes the crowd angrier. Our guest is Morton Downey Jr (whoever that is). The crowd seems to like him and he’s puffing on a cigarette. Downey doesn’t seem impressed by Brother Love and is just a real jerk about the whole thing.

FINALLY, the real Piper comes out to save us all to a great pop, once the crowd realized it was actually Piper. Piper has that look where someone’s going to get it. Piper takes it to Brother Love, much to the crowd’s amusement. Downey seems put out at not being the center of attention.

As Piper takes it to Love, Downey gets sick of being ignored and throws a cigarette at Piper’s back, bad move. Piper ignores him for now and continues to rip apart Brother Love. Downey offers Love a cigarette and Piper looks about done with this nonsense. Piper finally strips Love down to his red briefs and turns his attention to Downey.  Piper calls Downey ‘Morticia’. Downey seems to take Piper lightly because he’s not listening. Even Monsoon and Ventura know s**t’s about to go down. Downey makes the mistake of doing a ‘Your mama’ joke to Piper. Piper’s about to blow a couple of gaskets. Piper insults Downey’s girlfriend and it’s getting nasty. Piper, again, asks Downey to not blow smoke in his face. Downey replies that since Piper’s wearing a skirt, he doesn’t have to listen to him, another bad move. Piper tells him it’s a kilt and Downey spells it ‘killed’. Piper explains it to the crowd and slaps his knee, but his temper is getting short. He just compared Piper to a transvestite and the crowd is livid, and so is Piper. Piper, AGAIN, asks Downey to not smoke and blow the smoke in his face.  Downey seems to comply and then deliberately blows the smoke in Piper’s face.  Downey does it again, saying it’s good for ya (despite his smoker’s cough). As Downey turns away, thinking he’s won, Piper pulls up the third stool, revealing a fire extinguisher. He asks Downey for a smoke and blasts him with the fire extinguisher. Piper leaves in triumph.

Thoughts: This why you don’t bring in outsiders who don’t respect the business onto the show and let them talk. It says something about the feeling about Downey’s attitude that Ventura didn’t criticize what Piper did.

We go back to Mean Gene who is plugging ‘No Holds Barred’.  This movie looked bad even in previews.

Sean Mooney is meeting with the sponsor of WrestleMania. The owner of the casino says that he’s very honored to have the WWF there and that it’s been a big boon to business and that he hopes WWF will come back.

Ventura is mad that Hogan’s doing a movie and encroaching on Ventura’s territory, despite Hogan having already done a movie long before ‘No Holds Barred’.

We get a recap of how the Mega Powers came to be and how things broke down, including the infamous Saturday Night’s Main Event.

We go to Mean Gene, who is with Hogan and he mentions what happened last year. Hogan agrees and says that if you’d told him that he and Savage would be locking at WrestleMania V, he’d have called that person a liar. He then says he should’ve seen it coming and that Savage made him believe that he was all in and that Savage was jealous and angry that he couldn’t be the man that the Hulkamaniacs wanted him to be and that his jealousy over Hulkamania and Elizabeth is what really tore them apart. Says the owner of the arena was worried about the foundation when the Mega Powers exploded. He then says his Hulkamaniacs are survivors and that he doesn’t care what Savage wants, he just wants Savage’s best so that there are no excuses.

Comments: That was a good promo for Hogan and continues the story that Savage’s turn was a surprise.

We’re back in the ring and Finkel introduces our special guest referee: Big John Studd. Studd looks good in a ref’s shirt.

Jake Roberts vs Andre the Giant (with Bobby Heenan)

Andre is out first with Bobby Heenan. Andre’s sporting mutton chops from ‘The Princess Bride’. Andre and Studd trade words. Jake’s out next to a nice pop.

This was not a pretty match and no one expected it to be. Studd did an okay job as ref, but he let stuff go. Andre’s performance was even worse than at WrestleMania III.

Winner: Jake Roberts by disqualification after Andre deliberately hits Studd from behind. DiBiase tries to take off with Damien while Andre chokes Studd. Jake throws Damien into the ring and Andre bails out.

Highlights: Jake hurting his hand on Andre’s head. Andre and Studd getting into it and Andre deciding he doesn’t have to listen to Studd.

Thoughts: This match was awful. Roberts and Andre really tried, but there was nothing saving this match.

Sean Mooney interviews a fan that’s a big Jake Roberts fan.

We go to Tony Schiavone, who is interviewing Sensational Sherri. Sherri throws some shade at Rockin’ Robin’s singing and wrestling skills. Sherri says that she’ll be taking the title back from Rockin’ Robin when she’s ready. She also throws shade at Elizabeth and says she’s not beautiful and that she (Sherri) is beautiful and vicious. Sherri thinks the destruction of the Mega Powers is funny and the interview ends.

Comments: This seems to be a set up of Sherri becoming Savage’s manager after WrestleMania V and the verbal feud with Elizabeth. There also seems to be a hint that Sherri had something to do with Savage’s turn.

Next up is another tag team match.

The Hart Foundation vs Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine and Honky Tonk Man (with Jimmy Hart)

Valentine, Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart are coming out to lukewarm boos. Hart Foundation gets a nice pop.

This match was solid and not much else. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a match featuring Bret Hart and Greg Valentine.

Winner: The Hart Foundation by pinfall

Highlights:  Bret and Anvil breaking out some aerial moves was pretty good. Hart Foundation using Jimmy Hart’s megaphone against Honky Tonk Man for the pin was hilarious.

Thoughts: I liked this match. I loved seeing the Hart Foundation using heel tactics against heels and so did the crowd.

We get a recap of the feud between Rude and Ultimate Warrior, starting with the pose down at the Royal Rumble and Warrior blowing his stack.

Intercontinental Championship Match: The Ultimate Warrior vs ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude (with Bobby Heenan)

Rude and Heenan are out first and Rude is getting a mixed reaction: Men are booing, women want to see the robe come off. Warrior comes out to a loud pop, running like demons are on his tail.

This match was better than last year’s trainwreck with Hercules, Warrior seems to have learned to do the moves correctly, but this was still a rough outing. Some of the whips into the corner looked like they legit hurt Rude’s back,

Winner: Ravishing Rick Rude by pinfall after Heenan pulled Warrior’s leg out from under him and held onto it.  Warrior chases Heenan into the ring, punches him and press slams him, very sloppily.

Highlights: As usual, Rick Rude’s selling was about the only saving grace of this match

Thoughts: That match happened and I’m glad it’s over.

Bad News Brown vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Bad News Brown is on his way to the ring to boos, and doesn’t seem to really care. Duggan comes out to loud cheers.

This match was bowling shoe ugly, to quote Jim Ross. There was no finesse or technical precision, it was just a fight.

Winner: Both men are disqualified and continue fighting. Duggan finally gives Bad News an atomic drop and uses the 2×4 to push him out of the ring.

Thoughts: Another ‘Well, that happened’ matches

Mean Gene is with the Red Rooster. Rooster says he’s going to teach Heenan to lose and that there will be nothing left of the Weasel when the Rooster’s done.

The Red Rooster vs Bobby Heenan (with the Brooklyn Brawler)

Heenan’s out first, looking sore, and the Brooklyn Brawler is with him.  The Red Rooster gets a nice pop

This match was short and sweet. Heenan didn’t really have a prayer, though he got in one Irish whip.

Winner: Red Rooster by pinfall. Brawler attacks from behind and beats Rooster up. Rooster chases Brawler and Heenan out of the ring, but looks as mad as wet hen (yeah, I went there)

Thoughts: Whoever made Terry Taylor the Red Rooster must’ve been mad at him for something. That gimmick was awful. The match was okay, Taylor took care of Heenan and the crowd got to see Heenan get beat up.

Mean Gene is with Miss Elizabeth. Elizabeth says this is very difficult and that she’ll be in a neutral corner, rather than side with Savage or Hogan, but she’ll support them both. She thinks it’s unfortunate that Savage and Hogan think they have to settle this in the ring and that she prays that neither of them will seriously injured in this match.

Comments: Well, now I see why Elizabeth never did much talking as a manager. She looked very awkward and uncomfortable, which was probably the point.

We go to Tony Schiavone , who says the locker room has cleared out so the wrestlers can watch the match.

Sean Mooney is taking a poll with fans and the decision split.

WWF World Heavyweight Championship Match: Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage vs Hulk Hogan

Savage is out to a mixed reaction. Miss Elizabeth is out next, she’s got more security than Savage does, Pat Patterson right behind her to protect her. Savage isn’t happy about this, and tells Elizabeth to go to the back. Hogan comes out last to a loud pop. Hogan seems to have missed his cue.

This was a great match in my opinion. Hogan and Savage really brought out the best in each other. Elizabeth’s bid to stay neutral wasn’t going to last, but it was interesting.

Winner: Hulk Hogan by pinfall

Highlights: Elizabeth coming out surrounded by security, but being protected by Pat Patterson was funny.

Thoughts: I liked this match okay, it’s not my favorite, but it didn’t suck. It’s too bad that it was on a mediocre card.

Overall Comments: So, does WrestleMania V deserve its rotten reputation? Well, it wasn’t a total trainwreck, but it definitely wasn’t good. The collision of the Mega Powers was great, but the rest of the card was more misses than hits.

Stinkers : Lord, where do I start? This card was full of stinkers. I think the worst offenders were Roberts/Andre, Bushwhackers/Rougeaus, and Warrior/Rude.

The ‘Eh’: Hart Foundation vs Honky Tonk Man and Greg ‘TheHammer’ Valentine was good on paper, but boring in practice, same with Bravo/Garvin.

Celebrities: The Morton Downey thing was awful, I have no idea why he was on there and if your attitude is so rotten that the heel commentator won’t defend you, there’s a problem

Match of the Night: Mr. Perfect vs The Blue Blazer, hands down.

Final Thoughts: While I don’t think this WrestleMania wasn’t great, I don’t think it was the worst ever.  We saw a Hall of Fame career start and there were a few bright spots.


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Chairshot Classics

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

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

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

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

What I Watched #16

ECW Guilty as Charged 1999

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

Super Crazy vs. Tajiri

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

John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent

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

Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley

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

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

TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm

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

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

Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

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

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

Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz

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

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

 

THE FINAL REACTION

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

 

THE SIGNOFF

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

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


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What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018

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

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ALL IN

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

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

What I Watched #10-B

ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018

9/1/2018

Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL

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

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

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

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

Over the Budget Battle Royal

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

Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon

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

Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

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

Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

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

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

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

THE FINAL REACTION

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

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

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

Overall Show Score: 8.5/10

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

THE SIGNOFF

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


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