WrestleMania XII is largely known for one match: The Iron Man Match between Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart and Shawn Michaels. The storyline spun for this match was that Shawn had wanted to be WWF champion since he was a boy and after overcoming a legit-turned-into-a-storyline concussion (legit was from an altercation with some Marines, storyline was from Owen Hart), he won the Royal Rumble two times in a row, only the second man to do it (the first was Hulk Hogan, but that won’t be mentioned). The story of these two legendary rivals and this match is what comes to mind when WrestleMania XII is mentioned.
What about the rest of the card? The rest of this card had a pretty interesting line up: A Hollywood Backlot Brawl featuring a very odd match up, a six-man tag, a match between the tallest men in WWF at the time, and the WrestleMania debuts of two men that would be taking the WWF into a new direction in a very short time.
So, is the legendary Iron Man Match the only match worth watching at WrestleMania XII? Let’s find out!
We start off with a montage about Bret and Shawn and their dreams, and their contrasting personalities. We also get a great promo for the Iron Man Match.
Vince and Lawler welcome us and give us the rundown of the card.
Six Man Tag: The British Bulldog, Owen Hart, and Vader (with Jim Cornette) vs Yokozuna, Ahmed Johnson, and Jake Roberts (with Mr. Fuji)
Vader and Cornette are out first to little reaction. We’re told that if Team Yokozuna wins, Yokozuna gets five minutes with Cornette. Owen and Bulldog are out next to the same.
We get a small recap of Yokozuna getting tired of Cornette and turning face.
Team Yokozuna are out together to a great pop. Lawler is wigged out by Damien coming out too.
This match starts with chaos, but the faces clear the ring. Ahmed goes for a flight, and Jake joins him.
This was a rough match to watch. Yokozuna’s increased size really hindered his athleticism and ability to keep up. Also, the contrast in styles of the six men didn’t mesh very seamlessly, the pairing for Team Yokozuna felt a little random That said, everyone did a pretty good job and the match wasn’t total waste of roughly fifteen minutes.
Winner: Team Cornette by pinfall.
Highlights: Owen going for a dropkick on Yokozuna and bouncing off him. Mr. Fuji waving the American Flag. Jake the Snake still getting a great pop for the DDT. Yokozuna hitting a Samoan Drop on Davey Boy.
Comments: I’m a little ‘meh’ on this match. It feels like it was supposed to be Yokozuna vs Vader, and the other four men were put in to take the pressure off Yokozuna.
We get a recap of Piper/Goldust, starting with a retrospective on Piper’s career and why this match is happening. Vince and Lawler tell us that earlier (presumably in the Free-For-All, which was the 90s version of Kickoff shows) that Piper was seen with a baseball bat and a hose. Marlena is at the arena with champagne on ice for the expected Goldust victory.
Hollywood Backlot Brawl Part 1: Roddy Piper vs Goldust (with Marlena)
Piper’s there, bat in tow. A gold Cadillac (I needed Vince and Lawler to say what kind of car it was, BTW) pulls up. Piper doesn’t seem scared, but Vince does. Piper takes the fire hose and sprays it all over the car’s windshield (maybe he was trying to take the godawful gold paint off). Piper grabs his bat and start bashing out the windows of the car with a shout that would’ve made Mel Gibson’s William Wallace proud.
Goldust gets out of the car and tries to run for it (BTW, this thing is being watched by people at whatever studio lot this is at). Piper begins choking Goldust with the bat. The lot crowd seems to love this, at least. Piper uses Goldust’s head to wreck catering.
After a lot of trash talk, Piper turns the hose on Goldust, and then uses him to dent that poor Cadillac. Piper’s wearing out, so Goldust low blows him and decides to get the hell out of Dodge. In trying to get out of this alley, he hits a white Ford Bronco (more on that and why I know what kind of car that is later) and hits Piper. Goldust then takes off with Piper still on the hood, before Piper gets off. Goldust leaves and Piper goes after him, in the white Ford Bronco. If you were alive and aware of the news in the spring of 1996, you know where this is going.
Winner: I’m going to call this a draw.
Highlights: First use of ‘Vintage _’. Piper beating the s**t out of Goldust. Piper stiff shoting Goldust right in the face (you could hear the ‘smack’)
Comments: I actually liked this part of the match. We got to see Piper in his element.
Back in the arena, the crowd seems to have enjoyed that and its time for our next match.
Stone Cold Steve Austin (with Ted DiBiase) vs Savio Vega
Austin and DiBiase are out first to little reaction (yes, there was a time when Austin did not get a huge pop).
Dok Hendrix is with Savio Vega and we get a recap of why Austin and Vega are feuding: They were randomly paired up in a tag match in the Tag Team Championship Tournament, and Austin refused to tag in, then took out Vega out when it looked like they had the match won. Vega says his dream of being at WrestleMania has come true and he’s ready to fight and says Austin better be ready too.
Vega doesn’t get much of a reaction either, but this match starts as a slugfest and we’re off.
This was more of a fight than a wrestling match. Austin and Vega were literally rolling around at one point. That said, these guys are great together. This was a lowcard match with an ‘eh’ story, but the match quality was outstanding.
Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin by submission. The crowd is livid with Austin.
Highlights: DiBiase’s fake tan. DiBiase using a fan’s drink to wake up the ref.
Comments: I really liked this match, this could be a contender for match of the night.
As that match was going on and we were getting ‘aerial’ footage of the Piper/Goldust chase that looks very familiar to anyone who remembers the summer of 1995. Now that the match is over we’re getting some more footage and it’s so shameless, I’m actually laughing.
We go to Mr. Perfect, who is interviewing Diesel and rehashing what lead up the match with Undertaker and the mind games Taker had been playing with him. Diesel isn’t bothered by the mind games, and says Undertaker is a big obstacle, but Big Daddy Cool is going to take care it and then wishes HBK good luck in his match but promises to get him next.
Some more footage and we’re on to the next match
The Ultimate Warrior vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Helmsley is out first with the woman that would become known as Sable on his arm. Warrior is out next to a huge pop. He’s got a new look, but it’s the same old Warrior. This match was quick and dirty, the most I can say is that Warrior didn’t stink the place up.
Winner: Ultimate Warrior by pinfall
Comments: This match was ugly. I would feel sorry for Helmsley for the ignominious loss, but then I remember the much better things that are down the road for this young man.
We go to Todd Pettengill, who is out in the truck area and we are introduced to ‘Wild Man’ Marc Mero. Pettengill botches the name a little. Mero says that he’s been waiting five long years to come to WWF and now he’s finally arrived and at the SuperBowl of Sports Entertainment. Pettengill asks about the quality of opponents (he includes the Ultimate Warrior in the list with a straight face). Mero says he’s up to the challenge. We are interrupted by Helmsley and Sable and a shoving match starts. Helmsley gets in Sable’s face, and when Mero grabs him, Helmsley gives a straight right hook. A fistfight breaks out and the two have to be separated.
We get more ‘footage’, but it’s now time for the next match.
The Streak: Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) vs Diesel
Diesel is out first to a LOUD round of boos, which is wild considering how loved he was just a year ago. Diesel seems untroubled by the crowd, and is actually smiling. The gong sounds and the lights go out to a huge pop. Taker and Paul Bearer have the urn back, and the crowd is ecstatic to see them. Lawler compares Undertaker’s mind games to the plagues of Egypt and Freddie Krueger.
Taker brings up the lights a little and begins getting prepared for the reaping. Diesel still isn’t bothered by the spectacle. This match starts with a fistfight and sets the tone for the match. If you’re looking for scientific or technical stuff, this is not the match for you. This is a fistfight, pure and simple. However, these guys worked well together, both move very well for guys nearly seven feet tall.
Winner: Undertaker by pinfall. Streak is 5-0
Highlights: Seeing two seven footers breaking out some surprisingly agile moves.
Comments: This was a surprisingly great match. Taker and Diesel really brought out the best in each other despite having very similar styles.
Note: This match marks the first time that Undertaker’s win/loss record at WrestleMania is ever mentioned, though it was said in an offhand way. This would also be the final WrestleMania appearance by Kevin Nash, he would leave for WCW in May. He would return to WWF/E in 2002 as part of the NWO.
We go to Todd Pettengill, who is in security. We see the poor, gold Cadillac tearing in with the Bronco right behind it. And part two of the Brawl is underway.
Hollywood Backlot Brawl Part 2: Roddy Piper vs Goldust (with Marlena)
Marlena is with Goldust, but Piper is on their heels, ranting like a madman in a horror movie. Strangely, no one seems really interested in stopping him. Goldust and Piper are heading for the ring, Goldust begging for mercy, but Piper’s not in the mood after that drive through LA traffic.
This match starts as a fistfight and keeps going. Goldust dominates throughout, but Piper is wily and won’t back down. Goldust makes a huge mistake when he kisses Piper on the mouth, something that you didn’t do or show in 1996. Piper is incensed, and all hell breaks loose. Piper grabs Goldust by the family jewels, gives Goldust a quick spanking and shows us all what is under the jumpsuit, and it was probably something no one wanted to know: women’s lingerie, complete with panties, a bustier (that quickly falls apart), garters and stockings. Piper gives Goldust a kiss of his own and does his best to take off the suit. Marlena comes out and whisks Goldust away.
Winner: Roddy Piper. Piper celebrates with the crowd. This would be his last WrestleMania appearance for over a decade, as he would go to WCW and feud with the NWO.
Highlight: Goldust showing some fighting skills. Dustin Runnels being man enough to let himself be stripped down and seen in women’s lingerie on PPV television. That did NOT happen in 1996.
Comments: This match was a great palate cleanser since the fans were going to be watching an hour-long match in a few minutes.
As Vince and Lawler discuss the Iron Man Match, Lawler briefly breaks character and comments that only Bret vs Shawn could top the Hollywood Backlot Brawl, and considering that he’d been feuding with the Harts (minus Owen), that’s quite a compliment.
We get a recap (and our first introduction to Michael Cole, or his voice) of the feud and the Iron Man Match.
We talk to HBK who, for once doesn’t have a whole lot left to say. He says everyone knows the story. Bret says that this is finally coming to a head and that the Iron Man will show just how good HBK is and how good Bret himself is.
60 Minute Iron Man Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs Shawn Michaels (with Jose Lothario)
Finkel introduces us to WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon who will be overseeing this match.
HBK is out first to an okay pop, but instead of HBK, we get only Jose Lothario. Lawler thinks HBK’s chickened out. The music stops, Mr. Lothario comes into the ring, climbs onto the second turnbuckle and points to the rafters. HBK’s music starts up again and we see him up in the rafters. The crowd goes crazy as HBK comes down on the wire (that Vince tried first earlier in the day to prove it was safe). HBK lands in the midst of the fans. HBK looks so excited, but his dancing still stinks.
Bret’s entrance isn’t nearly as exciting, but he gets a pretty good pop.
Hebner gives the rules: The man who scores the most decision (pinfalls, submissions, countouts, disqualifications) in sixty minutes will become the WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He warns both men that he will not hesitate to DQ either of them if they don’t break by the count of five and that they will be counted out if they don’t get back in the ring by the count of ten. Both men agree, no more questions are asked.
Bret gives Hebner the belt and goes out to give his sunglasses away. We see him teasing a child before handing over his sunglasses. We’re told that that child is Bret’s son, Blane. This was a good match, but it was boring in places. Things didn’t pick up until the last five or ten minutes.
At the end of the sixty minutes, there has still not been a single pinfall scored. The crowd is NOT happy and no one is sure of what to do.
Bret and Hebner assume that since the match was technically a draw, Bret retained his championship. Hebner gives Bret the belt and Bret leaves the ring. Monsoon gets in the ring and talks to Hebner. Bret is about halfway to the back when the announcement that the match is being continued so that there is a winner. Bret is not happy and makes his way to the ring. He throws down the belt and gets in the ring, pausing to argue with Monsoon. Bret’s mad and taking it out on HBK. He shoots HBK into the corner, HBK leaps over him and connects with Sweet Chin Music but doesn’t get all of it. Bret and HBK both stagger to their feet and HBK superkicks Bret again and nails him for the three. The crowd LOSES it, so does HBK.
Winner: Shawn Michaels by pinfall in Sudden Death.
Highlights: HBK showing technical skills, to Bret’s surprise. HBK accidentally taking out the timekeeper. HBK’s reaction to FINALLY winning the WWF Title.
Comments: This was a good match, it wasn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it was good. I have to admit that even though I’ve seen this match a few times, I still jumped to my feet and screamed ‘He got him!’ when the second Sweet Chin Music connected.
So, should the WrestleMania XII card only be known for the Iron Man Match? In my opinion, no. Except for a couple of stinkers, this was a great card. Yes, the Iron Man Match was a good, if somewhat boring, match that definitely deserves to be remembered, the rest of the card was nothing to be sneezed at.
Snoozers: I have to be honest, the Iron Man match was boring until the end. It was a good match, but sixty minutes of it was too much.
Stinkers: Ultimate Warrior vs Helmsley. That was a waste of a slot, they should’ve given that spot to the Tag Team Championship match instead of having it on the Free For All.
Match of the Night: Undertaker vs Diesel. Honorable mentions for Austin/Vega and Piper/Goldust.
Shameless Moment of the Night: The use of the OJ Simpson White Bronco chase footage was so blatant that it was hysterical.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I liked this WrestleMania. It was a solid card, except for a couple of stinkers.
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!
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
Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL
Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)
Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)
- 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
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.
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.
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!
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
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)
- 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
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.
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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