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WrestleMania XIII: A New Era Begins

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WrestleMania 13 Bret Hart Steve Austin Ken Shamrock

WrestleMania XIII is widely believed to be the start of the ‘Attitude Era’ thanks to an unexpectedly bloody match between one of the top guys in the company and a man who would help turn the wrestling world upside down in the span of a year.

The main event featured Undertaker in one of only three title matches he’d have at WrestleMania as part of the Streak due to a series of unfortunate events that went as such: Austin won the Royal Rumble despite already being eliminated by Bret Hart. HBK defeats Sycho Sid at Royal Rumble, becomes WWF Champion, but drops the belt due to a knee injury. Austin’s Royal Rumble win was declared null and void (only time that had happened) and there was a Fatal Four Way to decide the new WWF champion, which Bret won, but then promptly lost to Sid on RAW, thanks to Austin and the Undertaker. Everyone still with me?

Amidst that chaos, the WrestleMania XIII card also saw the WrestleMania debut of a young man that would become very loved by ‘the people’, a Chicago Street Fight, and a Fatal Four Way match for the #1 Contendership for the Tag Titles.

So, is WrestleMania XIII a great start to the Attitude Era? Let’s find out!

Opener:

We open with a montage of past WrestleMania that compares WWE with Utopia and the fact that the babyfaces were no longer the stand-up men they were in Hogan’s day and promotes the big matches. This is the first time WrestleMania is referred to as ‘The Showcase of the Immortals’.

Fatal Four Way Elimination #1 Contender’s Match for The WWF Tag Team Championship: The Headbangers vs Doug Furnas and Phil La Fon vs The Godwins (with Hillbilly Jim) vs The New Blackjacks

Godwins are out first, but it’s hard to tell if the crowd is cheering for them or just cheering in general. Another first: Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler being at the same announce table for WrestleMania and the only time Vince is with them. Godwins are gladhanding Vince, though I’m not sure why.

Headbangers are out next to an okay pop. And we’re told the rules to this thing: A tag can be made to any man. When a man is defeated, his team is eliminated. The last team remaining wins. Simple enough, I guess.

Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon are out next and mistakenly ID’d as ‘The Headbangers’. They get a minimal pop.

We get a retrospective on the Blackjacks and we get an interview of the New Blackjacks, one of whom is JBL with a handlebar mustache. The New Blackjacks say they’re going to hold up the Blackjack tradition and become WWF tag team champions. JBL’s end of this promo is extremely cringe-worthy.

New Blackjacks get a small chorus of boos and all hell breaks loose. I want to think that there is an equal number of faces and heels, but everyone seems to be against the Blackjacks.

This match has some odd spots, like both Headbangers being tagged in and having to face off against each other. They don’t, and choose to tag in either Furnas or LaFon, then beat him up. This match wasn’t an absolute crap show but it got close sometimes. A melee broke out and somehow the New Blackjacks and Furnas/LaFon were eliminated and we’re down to the Headbangers vs the Godwins.

This match was rough watching. The team styles clashed a lot and no one seemed to know what the rules were.

Winner: Headbangers by pinfall

Comments: ‘eh’.

We get a promo for In Your House (the original B shows)

Back in the ring, Honky Tonk Man is here for some reason and some WWF Hall of Famers are in the audience. Apparently, Honky is joining us on commentary.

Intercontinental Championship Match: Rocky Maivia vs The Sultan (with Iron Sheik and Bob Backlund)

The Sultan and co are out first to a loud round of boos. It’s still weird to see Backlund and Iron Sheik working together. It’s weird to hear King bash Rock, but Rocky Maivia wasn’t exactly Mr. Popularity.

Maivia’s up next and he gets a minimal pop that sounds vaguely positive, like he’d be getting in a few years.

This was a really good match. Even for being his first WrestleMania, you can see the greatness that is in Rocky. The turn to the Rock is starting to show, but he’s not quite there yet.

Winner: Rocky Maivia by pinfall. Rocky goes to leave and JR tries to get an interview, when Rocky is jumped by an irate Sultan. Sultan, Sheik, and Backlund take out their frustrations on poor Rocky, including a splash off the top from Sultan. Iron Sheik puts Rocky in the Camel Clutch when Rocky’s dad, ‘Soul Man’ Rocky Johnson charges the ring and starts swinging. Backlund and the others don’t seem to know what to do, so Rocky Sr, tries to tend to his son, but gets jumped by the heels, including getting beaten with the Iraqi or Sudanese flag. Rocky Jr gets up to defend his dad and punches the Sultan out of the ring. Dad and son take turns slamming the Iron Sheik before giving him stereo punches that get Sheik out of the ring. Then, father and son hug in a heartwarming moment (gag) and have their hands raised in victory.

Highlights: Rocky dancing like a spaz after knocking Sultan down and breaking out some aerial moves. Sultan hitting a splash off the top turnbuckle. Rocky Johnson coming to his son’s aide.

Comments: I really liked this match. Seeing future big stars at the start of their careers is usually fun.

Todd Pettengill is interviewing Ken Shamrock, who will be the special guest ref for the Submission Match later in the evening. We get a look at Billy Gunn having more guts than brains and challenging Shamrock, and getting his butt kicked. Pettengill asks about the comments of Austin and Hart, that they will not hesitate to get physical with Shamrock. Shamrock says he was hired for this match because he knows submissions and he’s not intimidated by Austin or Hart.

Dok Hendrix is interviewing Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna. Dok asks about Helmsley’s relationship with Chyna, including wondering if she’s Helmsley’s boss. Helmsley says that this is WrestleMania and they’re in Chicago, but that no one needs to know what the deal is with Chyna.

Dok asks about Goldust and Marlena. Helmsley says he can take Goldust any way he wants, but Marlena’s going to be the real loser because she had the chance to be with Helmsley, but turned it down. (Commenter: Ew, seriously?)

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Chyna) vs Goldust (with Marlena)

Helmsley and Chyna are out first to little reaction, though there are plenty of signs in the audience. This Connecticut Blue Blood/Triple H hybrid that’s going on is weird and doesn’t quite jive. Goldust and Marlena are out next to a pretty good pop. Marlena looks nervous.

The match starts with a good, old-fashioned, fistfight, with Goldust coming out on top. Goldust pretty much dominates the match at the start and the crowd seems into it, until Helmsley manages to turn things around a little, but Goldust battles back. This was a pretty good match, Goldust and Helmsley worked really well together, there was a lot of back and forth and we got to see a different side to the Goldust character.

Winner: Helmsley by pinfall after Goldust is distracted by Chyna intimidating Marlena.

Highlights: Goldust refusing to be beaten and trying to protect Marlena from Chyna.

Comments: I hated this storyline between Helmsley and Goldust. Chyna being used to punish Marlena for wanting to be faithful to her husband was awful.

We go backstage to the area where the Superstars can interact with fans via chatrooms and see HBK trying to figure out how to type, much to the amusement of the commentators.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match: Owen Hart and British Bulldog vs Mankind and Vader (with Paul Bearer)

Mankind and Vader are out first and judging by the crowd reaction, I’m guessing they’re the heels. Owen and Davey Boy are out next to a pretty good pop. It’s weird thinking of Owen Hart as a babyface, but I guess he’s one right now.

JR goes to talk to the champs and stirs the pot a little by relaying some things Owen had said about Davey Boy. Owen tells JR to shut up and that he’s a cowboy wannabe. JR points out that Owen said these things on TV, but the champs aren’t listening. Davey Boy says that they’re going to stay the champions and tells JR to stop stirring things up. When JR asks who the leader of the team is, Owen says it’s him.

This match wasn’t pretty, the styles seemed to mesh okay, but this wasn’t a pretty match to watch. This was a good match though, just not the smoothest.

Winner: Both teams are counted out. Davey Boy’s been knocked out by Mankind’s Mandible Claw. Mankind and Vader celebrate, but Owen and Davey Boy retain the title.s

Highlights: JR stirring the pot with Owen and Davey Boy. Vader’s athleticism

Comments: I liked this match okay. It wasn’t the best match in the world, but it was okay.

We get a recap of just why Bret and Austin are feuding and how Bret went from a beloved babyface to a whiny heel. (Commenter: He was always whiny, in my opinion).

Submission Match: Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin Special Guest Ref: Ken Shamrock

Ken Shamrock is already in the ring to a HUGE pop. Austin is out next to a pretty good pop. Still not what he’d get in another year, but good nonetheless. Despite being the heel in this, Bret still gets a pretty good pop. Unsurprisingly, this match starts with a fistfight and quickly spills out of the ring and into the crowd

This match is highly praised, and I can see why. These guys beat the tar out of each other and worked really well together. Shamrock did a good job of managing this circus.

This is also the match that is cited as the match that made Austin a star. I’m afraid I don’t quite agree with that assessment. The Austin 3:16 signs were everywhere in that arena, but Bret still got a slightly better pop and got quite a pop when he was declared the winner, though that didn’t last long. I do think that Austin already had starpower and people were beginning to see that, but since Austin 3:16-mania did NOT get him the title shot and since he wouldn’t win the title for another year, I can’t say that this one match MADE Austin. It helped, but it wasn’t the determining factor that made him the mega-star he became in 1998.

Winner: Bret Hart, technically, after Austin passes out from blood loss. After Bret celebrated, he attacked Austin again, to the outrage of the crowd. Bret tries to put the Sharpshooter on Austin again and kept from doing so by Shamrock. Bret gets in Shamrock’s face, but Shamrock doesn’t back down. The crowd loves it and wants a throwdown, but Bret walks away and the crowd shows its displeasure.

Shamrock turns his attention to Austin, who is coming around and tries to help him up, but Austin isn’t having it and stuns Shamrock, walking away under his own, slightly sputtering,  steam and the crowd reaction goes from mixed to leaning towards Austin.

Highlights: Austin refusing to submit and walking away under his own power. Bret losing his cool and just beating the tar out of Austin.

Comments: I really enjoyed this match. Seeing Bret losing his temper was really amusing.

We go to Todd Pettengill with the Nation of Domination, who are ready for a war. Farooq says that crooks and thugs come out at night and they are tonight. He also says Ahmed Johnson and the Road Warriors (not the Legion of Doom) will get what’s coming to them.

Chicago Street Fight: Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson vs The Nation of Domination

Nation of Domination is out first to little reaction, and they truly brought everything but the kitchen sink. Legion of Doom, of course, get a HUGE pop, not just because it’s the Legion of Doom, but because they’re billed as being from Chicago. Unlike NoD, Legion of Doom/Johnson DID bring the kitchen sink, so we’re all set.

I’m not going to try and make sense of this gang fight. Needless to say, it was chaos, but a lot of fun. It’s a good palate cleanser between the Submission Match and the WWF Championship match.

Winner: Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson. The rappers attack but get Pearl River Plunged and a double Doomsday Device for their troubles.

Highlights: Legion of Doom remembering the kitchen sink. Farooq calling the Legion of Doom ‘The Road Warriors’.

Lowlight: Savio Vega putting a noose on Ahmed Johnson and trying to hang him. Someone putting the noose on Farooq.

Comments: I liked this match overall.

We get another promo for the next In Your House.

The Streak: No Disqualification WWF Championship Match – Sycho Sid vs The Undertaker

HBK is joining us on commentary and gets a great pop. Lawler isn’t happy about this and calls HBK a ‘troublemaker’. Ross tells him to leave then, and Lawler refuses. HBK keeps them waiting so he can greet all the fans wanting high-fives and hugs. HBK does his traditional pose in the ring, testing his knee and applauds the fans.

Todd Pettengill is trying to interview Sid, and as usual, Sid only makes sense if you are on a mind-altering substance. Sid does say that he’s not scared of the dark or the Undertaker.

The bell tolls and the lights go out, The Deadman Cometh. It’s still weird to see him without Paul Bearer.  Taker, graciously, brings the lights back up and he is ready to go. JR notes that Taker has never lost at WrestleMania but does not elaborate further. HBK admits to having goosebumps and says that he thinks tonight is Taker’s night. Sid’s music hits and he comes out to a round of boos, but doesn’t seem to really notice or care.

Taker and Sid face off, but Bret comes out and gets in the ring. Apparently, Bret didn’t get the memo that this match is between Sid and Undertaker ONLY. The crowd is livid at the interruption. Bret trashes and threatens HBK, who ignores him. Bret turns his attention to Taker who is not happy and says Taker slammed the door on their friendship when he cost him the WWF Title. Sid just laughs as Bret whines and complains, and then he looks annoyed. Seriously, Bret, shut up. Sid’s had enough and powerbombs Bret, much to everyone’s approval. Sid then gets on the mic and tells Bret to take his whiny ass out. Sid then says that when he’s done with Taker, he’s going to bring Bret back out.

What Sid planned on doing to Bret is left unsaid because Taker jumps him from behind.

This match isn’t quite as good as Undertaker vs Diesel, but it wasn’t bad. It was extremely physical, and a little sloppy in spots, but it wasn’t so bad as to ruin everything.

Bret attacks Sid for powerbombing him (I think we all agree that Bret deserved it). Taker starts to go after Bret, but decides to let the officials take care of it.  HBK corrects JR’s assertion that Bret’s snapped by saying “He’s bitter because the spotlight isn’t on him.” Lawler replies that it’s the pot calling the kettle black.

Bret STILL won’t give up and comes back for more. Sid beats him up a little, which gives Taker time to recover and hit the tombstone.

Winner: Undertaker by pinfall. Streak is 6-0 and we have a new WWF Champion. Taker celebrates with the crowd and signals that this victory was for them.

Highlights: Taker hitting the Stinger Splash.  Bret not knowing when to give up, or shut up, and getting his butt kicked for it.

Comments: I liked this match, it was very physical, but very good. The inclusion of Bret was a good way to build on his heel turn.

Overall Comments:

So, was WrestleMania XIII a good start for the Attitude Era? Overall, I’d say yes. The Attitude Era was just beginning in 1997 and would grow a great deal by WrestleMania XIV, but this was a good start.

Stinkers: Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs Goldust for the simple fact that I hated the storyline and how Chyna and Marlena were used, especially Marlena. Fatal Four Way Tag Match because no one seemed to know what they were doing.

Match of the Night: Submission match.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I liked this WrestleMania. It had some rough spots, but it was fun overall.


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

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

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

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For the latest, greatest and up to datest in everything pro wrestling, sports and entertainment head to TheChairshot.com and remember to ALWAYS #UseYourHead.

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Chairshot Classics

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

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

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

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

What I Watched #15

AAW Defining Moment 2018

8/31/2018

Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, IL

Runtime: 3:18:22 (HighSpotsWrestlingNetwork)

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

 

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

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

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

Darby Allin vs. Shane Strickland

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

Jessicka Havok vs. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders

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

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

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

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

AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © vs. DJ Z

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

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

AR Fox/Myron Reed vs. Bandido/Flamita

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

Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Marko Stunt

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

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

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Sami Callihan

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

THE INCIDENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

AAW Heavyweight Title- ACH © vs. Brody King

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

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

THE FINAL REACTION

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

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

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

Best Match/Moment: Shane Strickland vs. Darby Allin

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

Overall Show Score: 8/10

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

 

THE SIGNOFF

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


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