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WrestleMania XIV: A Turning Point or Inconsequential, But Promising, Show?

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WrestleMania 14 Shawn Michaels Mike Tyson Steve Austin

WrestleMania XIV has been seen as a turning point in WWF history. It was the WrestleMania that saw us saying goodbye to Shawn Michaels, the volatile, rebellious, but very talented champion, due to a back injury that looked to be a career ender. Taking his place at the top of the mountain was Stone Cold Steve Austin, ready to embark on a revolutionary feud with the tyrannical, scheming, nefarious owner of WWF, Vince McMahon.

 

In the revolutionary group HBK had helped found, Degeneration-X, Triple H was ready to take the renegade group to new heights of popularity and take the Monday Night Wars that had been going on for three years, and that WWF seemed to be losing, to the doorstep of WCW, turning the tide of the war.

 

The Undertaker, long the seemingly immortal Phenom, had been revealed to be all too human, with the revelation that his younger brother, Kane, was still alive. One of the greatest and longest running feuds in WWF was just beginning and would become career definers for both men for decades.

 

Rocky Maivia has completed his transformation into The Rock and about to take his first real steps to becoming a major league player as leader of the Nation of Domination.

 

So many good or great things were about to happen in WWF, it was just waiting for this night to happen.

 

Except that they weren’t, or no one knew they were going to happen because of WrestleMania XIV.  Nothing I’ve described was guaranteed or waiting in the wings for the last bell to ring, so they could burst forth onto the stage.

 

Does that mean that WrestleMania XIV should be completely dismissed as inconsequential because the fallout was incidental to the event? Or should it be appreciated for its own merits and the doors it opened that allowed so many cool things to take place? Let’s find out.

 

Opener:

We get a montage about the place of tradition and the Attitude Era at WrestleMania, and why it’s still important, even in the Attitude Era.

 

This is the first WrestleMania to feature JR and Lawler together as the commentators.

 

Battle Royal To Determine the #1 Contender For The WWF Tag Team Championship

We start with fourteen of the fifteen team already at ringside. We’re told that if one member of the team is thrown over the top rope, both members are out. That sounds kind of stupid to me, but what do I know?

 

Legion of Doom’s music hits, to everyone’s surprise. LoD comes out with Sunny and with a whole new look, including helmets. The crowd is ecstatic at seeing LoD back and chants for them.

 

I’m not going to try and keep up with this, it’s a battle royal. It’s a good match and the crowd enjoyed it.

 

Winner: Legion of Doom by eliminating the New Midnight Express. LoD celebrate. Hawk is a little hesitant to hug Sunny.

Comment: I think some of the rules for this were kind of stupid, but I enjoyed the match anyway.

 

We get a look at some of the public appearances WWF did in Boston leading up to WrestleMania, including HBK and Tyson kissing Austin on the head when his arms were caught in the ropes.

 

WWF Light Heavyweight Championship: Taka Michinoku vs Aguila

 

Taka is out to an okay pop. Aguila gets no reaction.

 

I have trouble following Light Heavyweight/Cruiserweights and typing because they move so fast, so I’m not going to try. These guys are great athletes, but this match had its rough and slightly sloppy spots. This match was really good and the crowd seemed to enjoy it.

 

Winner: Taka Michinoku by pinfall. Aguila is a good sport and raises Taka’s hand in victory

Highlights: This whole match is a highlight reel.

Comment: I love Cruiserweight matches, so this was a thumbs up for me.

 

Ginnifer Flowers (one of then President Bill Clinton’s many alleged affairs) is with The Rock. Rock insists on calling Ms. Flowers ‘Ginny’ and says that he’s ‘The People’s Champion’. Ms. Flowers is not impressed and asks Rock about what he would if he was the leader of the country. Rock says that the term ‘Leader’ is beneath him and a better term would be ‘ruler’.

 

Ms. Flowers is still not impressed and brings up the homeless situation(Commenter: The heck does this have to do with wrestling or the IC Title?). Rock plays up the heel and basically says that he doesn’t really care about the homeless situation, as long as he has his palatial palace. Ms. Flowers keeps bringing up political stuff that has nothing to do with WrestleMania, or the Intercontinental Championship, so I fast forwarded through it.

 

WWF European Championship: Triple H (with Chyna) vs Owen Hart

 

The DX Band plays Triple H and Chyna to the ring and they get a pretty good pop. Trips is still going by ‘Hunter Hearst Helmsley’, but he’s basically the Triple H he would become after this show. We’re told that Chyna will be handcuffed to Commissioner Slaughter in order to try and keep her from interfering. We get a recap of the feud between Helmsley and Owen Hart.

 

Chyna is not happy about having to be cuffed to Slaughter and neither is Helmsley. Trips tells Slaughter that if he wants Chyna cuffed to him, he’ll have to do it himself. Slaughter obliges, but Chyna still refuses to cooperate, but Slaughter won’t back down and Chyna is seemingly neutralized.

 

Owen is out to a pretty good pop and this match starts with a slugfest. Owen’s injured ankle gives him a little trouble, but not a lot. Owen slides outside and taunts Chyna, who tries to take a swing at him, but can’t because of Slaughter.

 

This was a really great match. Both guys really tore the house down. Chyna does find a way to help Helmsley, even cuffed to Slaughter, but she gets sick of the restraint and throws powder in his eyes, which distracts Owen, allowing Helmsley to get the pin.

 

Winner: Triple H by pinfall after the Pedigree. Once Chyna is freed of Slaughter, she cheapshots him and throws him over the guardrail.

Highlights: Chyna being stuck with Slaughter. Owen taunting Chyna.

Comment: I enjoyed this match immensely.

 

We get a recap about the feud leading up to the third Mixed Tag Team Match at WrestleMania, which is more about how badly Mero treated Sable because she became more popular than him. Just going by this video recap, I’m already dreading this match.

 

Mixed Tag Team Match: Marc Mero and Sable vs The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust and Luna Vachon

 

Goldust and Luna are out first to a mixed to negative reaction. Mero and Sable are out next to a really great pop. Sable looks like she’d rather be doing something else.

 

Goldust and Mero start out, and I’m already tired of this. Goldust and Luna were okay, but Sable and Mero were awful.

 

Winner: Sable gets the win for her team by pinning Luna after the TKO. Mero isn’t happy that Sable got the win but celebrates anyway. Sable goes to leave, but Mero stops her so they can celebrate in the ring together.

Highlights: It ended.

Comment: Oh, I’m glad that’s over.

 

We were about to get a video recap about the Rock/Shamrock feud, but someone named Tennessee Lee, who looks and sounds like Colonel Robert Parker from WCW, is introducing us to Ginnifer Flowers, who is on the arm of Jeff Jarrett. I’m not sure why Jarrett’s there since he is NOT part of this IC Title match and his suit is ugly.

 

Jarrett asks Ms. Flowers if he’s great. Ms. Flowers says that she’s been with great, and he is great. Okay, apparently Ms. Flowers is going to be the special guest ring announcer for the Intercontinental Match, but I’m still not sure why Jarrett or Lee are there.

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship: The Rock (with the Nation of Domination) vs Ken Shamrock

 

Rock is out first with Nation of Domination to raucous boos. The ‘Rocky sucks’ chants are LOUD. A noticeable absence from the Nation members is Farooq. Shamrock is out next to a thunderous pop.

This match starts fast, furious and all over the place. This was a great match. Both guys brought a lot of intensity to this match and the crowd was definitely on Shamrock’s side.

 

Winner: Ken Shamrock gets the initial win by submission by making Rock tap like a drum, but when he refuses to break his ankle lock, the decision is reversed, and he’s disqualified, and Rock retains the belt. Shamrock, not to mention to the crowd, are furious by this decision and goes after Rock and beats him up some more on the DX Band stage.

Highlights: Shamrock suplexing the members of the Nation trying to come to Rock’s aid. Farooq coming out and then refusing to help Rock.

Comment: I liked this match a lot. It told a good story and left the crowd wanting more.

 

We get a promo about the wrestlers and how they are real athletes.

 

JR and King are back and we’re told that WrestleMania XIV has grossed over $1 million, the highest grossing event in the history of Boston.

 

Dumpster Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: The New Age Outlaws vs Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk)

 

Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie are out first to a loud pop. New Age Outlaws are act next and they ‘re getting a pretty decent pop and cut a promo on Cactus and Chainsaw.

 

This match isn’t pretty and is pretty chaotic, as you would expect from anything featuring Mick Foley and Terry Funk teaming up. There was a spot of the Outlaws beating up Terry Funk, and if it weren’t for the fact that I knew Terry Funk had done crazier s**t and dealt with crazier people than the Outlaws, I might have felt bad. Actually, I did feel bad…for the Outlaws.

 

This was actually a really good match, hardcore premise notwithstanding. These teams worked really well together and really made this match a lot better than its premise sounded.

 

Winner: Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie after getting both Outlaws in the dumpster and pinning the lid down with a forklift so they couldn’t get out.

Highlights: Terry Funk driving a forklift and swearing at the Outlaws. Funk and Cactus hitting the dumpster, deafening the Outlaws.

Comment: That was fun, I liked that match.

 

We get a recap of the Undertaker/Kane feud, starting Paul Bearer’s warnings to the Undertaker that Kane was alive and coming for him. Kane’s arrival at IYH: Bad Blood, to the casket match between Undertaker and HBK, that would end up ending HBK’s career for awhile. And Undertaker’s return and vow to defeat Kane.

 

The Streak: The Undertaker vs Kane (with Paul Bearer)

Pete Rose comes to the ring to a mixed reaction to be the guest ring announcer and he trashes the Boston fans, pointing out that they hadn’t won a World Series in almost eighty years (this is 1998, remember) and that the last time he was in Boston, they (the Reds) had kicked the collective butts of the Red Sox in 1975(that’s not really true, almost every game was close and the Reds took the series 4-3).

 

Finally, Kane comes out with Paul Bearer to a loud pop. Pete doesn’t know what to make of this, until Kane grabs him and tombstones him, to the joy of the crowd before the lights go out.

 

The Deadman Cometh in one of the most iconic entrances in WrestleMania history. The druids come out with lighted torches, and there are a TON of them, to what Wikipedia says is ‘O Fortuna’.  After there are enough druids to light Taker’s walk down the long aisle, Taker, looking a little like Count Dracula, comes out to an AMAZING pop. This is a great match for this entrance alone, you truly have to see it to believe it. Taker brings the lights back up and this match is almost ready to go.

 

We start off with a slugfest and just keep going. This match isn’t technical or scientific, this is a fight. Kane was a still a little rough around the edges, but this was a really good match. Of the four ‘big guy’ matches Taker had in the 90s, this was probably the best in terms of story and physicality.

 

Winner: Undertaker by pinfall, but Paul Bearer attacks him from behind, Taker retaliates, but Kane beats Taker with a steel chair before tombstoning him on the chair and leaves him lying on the mat. The Streak is 7-0

Highlights: Pete Rose taking a tombstone. Undertaker’s entrance. Taker taking out the Spanish announce table and the Spanish announcers. Tito Santana (who was part of the Spanish announce team) continuing to do commentary on the floor. Taker tombstoning Kane three times and Kane JUST missing the kickout on the last one.

Comment: This is my favorite match of the Streak in the 90s. The story was fantastic, and the match was amazing, while leaving room for the feud to continue.

 

We get one of my favorite promos with the old-timers, talking about how things were done in their day, but putting over the new generation by cheering on the younger generation.

 

We get a recap of the HBK/Austin feud and Tyson’s place in it.

 

WWF Championship Match: Shawn Michaels vs Stone Cold Steve Austin (Special Enforcer: ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson).

 

Tyson comes out to a loud round of boos, probably due to him being aligned with DX at the time. Tyson keeps doing the DX sign, to the crowd’s annoyance.

 

Austin comes out next to the thunderous pop we’re used to hearing him get. Austin and Tyson have a staredown and exchange some words.

 

We see DX backstage, to a mixed reaction, getting ready to go out for what few knew would be HBK’s last match for four years. HBK looks high, but confident. According to legend, Undertaker confronted and threatened HBK to make sure Michaels did what he was supposed to in the finish. Not saying that it’s true, but that’s the legend.

The DX Band starts up. HBK is out to raucous boos, but he doesn’t seem to care.

This match was really good. Everyone did a good job helping HBK get through the first part, but HBK still performed pretty much like he always did. If I didn’t know that he’d suffered what seemed to be a career-ending injury, I wouldn’t have known the difference, except for a few spots where it was clear he was in a lot of pain.

 

Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin by pinfall due to a fast count by Tyson after Mike Chioda was taken out. Austin gives Tyson an Austin 3:16 shirt. HBK is livid and has words with Tyson but makes the big mistake of hitting The Baddest Man on the Planet. Tyson responds with a right hook and down goes Shawn Michaels. Austin and Tyson celebrate in the ring. Tyson lays the Austin 3:16 shirt over HBK like you’d cover a corpse.

 

Highlights: HBK still being able to perform despite being in what had to be excruciating pain and taking a knockout punch by Mike Tyson. Austin pulling HBK’s pants partially down and HBK still being to run.  HBK kipping up, despite the pain in his back

 

Comment: This was a really good swan song (or so it seemed) for HBK. Even knowing he’d be back in a few years, I cried a little because he was always one of my favorites.

 

Overall Comments:

So, was WrestleMania XIV inconsequential since the fallout couldn’t have been known when the show started? In my opinion, no.  Even though this WrestleMania is only a turning point in retrospect, it was still a great show and certainly set up a lot of interesting storylines for the future.

 

It is easy to see this WrestleMania as a turning point knowing what was down the road for just about everyone on the card, but watching it on its own, I honestly found myself wondering what was going to happen on RAW the following day. No one knew what this WrestleMania’s fallout would be, so while I don’t see it as the turning point it’s touted to be, I do see it as an interesting and fun show that enticed me to go to the post Mania RAW for that year and see what was going to happen next.

 

Celebrities: Pete Rose was a damn good sport, but why the heck was Ginnifer Flowers asking The Rock about politics?

 

Stinkers: Mixed Tag Team.

 

Match of the Night: Undertaker vs Kane

 

Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this show, and would’ve tuned into RAW next night if it was happening today.


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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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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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