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

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

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

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

What I Watched #16

ECW Guilty as Charged 1999

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

Super Crazy vs. Tajiri

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

John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent

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

Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley

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

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

TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm

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

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

Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

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

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

Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz

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

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

 

THE FINAL REACTION

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

 

THE SIGNOFF

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

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


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What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018

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

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ALL IN

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

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

What I Watched #10-B

ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018

9/1/2018

Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL

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

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

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

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

Over the Budget Battle Royal

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

Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon

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

Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

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

Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

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

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

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

THE FINAL REACTION

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

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

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

Overall Show Score: 8.5/10

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

THE SIGNOFF

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


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