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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988

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Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA make their first foray into more pay-per-view events with the inaugural and only Bunkhouse Stampede! There were four Bunkhouse events, but this is the lone one to be broadcast as JCP follows in the WWF’s footsteps of adding to their PPV schedule. The match itself is another Dusty Rhodes creation to headline the show, however the WWF would fire back yet again with JCP in their stomping grounds of Uniondale, New York. After running the inaugural Survivor Series up against Starrcade ’87, Vince McMahon would do it again here with the first Royal Rumble event broadcast. Not on PPV mind you, but on the USA Network in an attempt to stop people from buying JCP’s product. Let’s see how it plays out as our opening match gets ready to begin, but first…

Ringside: Bob Caudle & Jim Ross run down the card for the night which consists of three title matches, plus the finals of the Bunkhouse Stampede.

Match #1 for the NWA World Television Championship: NWA United States Tag Team Champion ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton w/Jim Cornette vs. NWA World Television Champion Nikita Koloff
A big pop for Koloff at his ring announcement. The two lock up and quickly release. Eaton immediately checks in with Cornette. They lock up a few more times and Eaton works Koloff into the corner before another clean break. The next lock up features brief chain wrestling before Eaton breaks it up in the ropes. At the next lockup, Eaton works Koloff into the corner and delivers punches that wake Koloff up. Nikita responds with a shoulder tackle. They lock up again and Koloff wins a test of strength. Koloff applies an arm bar followed by repeated blows on the back. Koloff works Eaton to the mat with a wristlock submission.

Back to their feet, Eaton breaks the hold with an elbow to the nose and kicks Koloff who stumbles through the middle rope to the floor. Some brawling ensues on the floor before Eaton rolls Koloff back into the ring. Eaton attempts to knock Koloff into the turnbuckle but Nikita reverses. They slow it down and both men are squaring up back in the ring. Eaton with a take down off of a side headlock and he maintains a headlock on the mat. Cornette is constantly barking at the referee. Koloff slowly makes his way back to his feet with the headlock still on. He whips Eaton to the rope but is hit with a shoulder tackle. They run the ropes after this and Koloff is able to land a power slam. Eaton regroups with Cornette at the side of the ring.

The two lock up again and Eaton hits another side headlock take down. Koloff rolls from the lock and attempts a pin but only gets 2. Eaton maintains control with the headlock on the mat. Back to their feet, Eaton once again powers Koloff to the concrete floor. He follows Nikita and lands some punches before Koloff throws him off and into the ring post. Koloff follows up with a hip toss on the concrete floor. More brawling happens on the floor before Koloff is pushed back into the ring. Eaton delivers a snapmare takedown followed by a standing elbow drop. There is a pin attempt and a 2 count. Eaton applies a hammerlock submission on the mat. Cornette plugs his ears as the crowd cheers for Koloff to get up.

The crowd loudly cheers “Cornette Sucks!”, Koloff slowly works up to his knees and finally stands, delivering 2 elbows and a shoulder tackle before Eaton gets a knee up in defense. Eaton climbs to the top rope and lands a missile dropkick. Pin attempt for a 2 count. Eaton applies another hammerlock submission. The crowd is really giving it to Jim Cornette. After a hammerlock that feels like forever, Tony Schiavone announces there are 5 minutes left in the time limit over the loud speaker. Koloff is back to his knees but he is still trapped in the hammerlock. Koloff finally breaks the hold with a few elbows and hits Eaton with a half-hearted Russian Sickle that hangs him up in the ropes.

They get to their feet at approximately the same time and Eaton has another arm submission takedown. 3 minutes remain. Koloff refuses to submit, and Eaton puts his knee into his opponents back. 2 minutes remain. Koloff back to his feet, with elbows to the stomach but Eaton responds with some kicks of his own and a modified arm bar take down. More submission work on the mat. 1 minute remaining. Koloff strengths back to his feet. They exchange stiff punches. Eaton begs for mercy. Koloff drives Eaton to the corner and delivers 6 punches before an Irish whip to the other corner. Koloff lands a solid Russian Sickle, but there’s not enough time for a pin.
Winner: Time Limit Draw

  • After The Bell: Cornette is in the ring, but he loses his tennis racket in a terrified jump. Eaton attacks Koloff from behind and ‘Sweet’ Stan Lane of the Midnight Express runs in to make it a double team. The partners kick Koloff out to the concrete.
  • EA’s Take: These two solid NWA stars delivered quite a stinker here. If I ever re-watch the match, I’m getting a stop watch out and timimg how many of these twenty minutes were simply spent laying on the mat in a hammerlock submission. JR did his best to make sense of the “strategy”, but there was no logic or strategy here. If the crowd wasn’t so interested in heckling Jim Cornette, you probably could have heard some snores. After Cornette claimed Eaton & Lane were respectively going after singles titles, that leads to our match tonight. Eventually, Nikita will team with Dusty (the champion Lane went after) to evolve the feud, but I don’t get the finish here. To me, Nikita goes over here, lays claim to a title shot due to the victory, THEN pairs up with Dusty to switch the focus to the US Tag Titles. That’s how this should have gone down.

Match #2 for the UWF Western States Championship: Larry Zbysko w/Baby Doll vs. UWF Western States Champion Barry Windham
Zbysko argues with the ref while Baby Doll argues with Windham. The ref finally demands Baby Doll get out of the ring. The two lock up and have a clean break. Windham gets the better end of the next lockup, powering Zbysko to the mat. Windham applies a head lock, runs the ropes and delivers two shoulder tackles and a hiptoss. A frustrated Zbysko consults Baby Doll outside the ring. He takes his time getting back in. Zbykso hits a single leg take down and a short leg submission.

Back to their feet, Zbysko is complaining that Windham is illegally pulling his hair. Windham applies another headlock. The two run the ropes and Windham stops short causing Zbysko to miss a dropkick. They lock up and Windham reverses a hammerlock into a fireman’s carry take down. The two work their way to the turnbuckle and they exchange right hands. Zbysko attempts a martial arts kick but Windham catches his foot. Zbysko is back to the concrete again, very frustrated.

Baby Doll appears to be trying to distract Windham, but to no avail. Zbysko is back in and hits another single leg take down. Zbysko tries to work on the seemingly injured leg but Windham breaks the hold by yanking on Zbyskos face. The two run the ropes. Zbysko hits a shoulder tackle, followed shortly by a drop toe hold. Zbysko is applying what looks like a modified half-crab submission. He turns Windham over into a toehold submission. Windham works his way to one foot and breaks the hold with a kick to the head. They regroup, run the ropes and Windham delivers a power slam followed by a 2 count. Windham to the top rope but misses his jump. Zbysko goes right back to work on the vulnerable knee. Windham is back up and hopping on 1 leg but Zbysko maintains the hold until Barry finally lands a few punches. Zbysko delivers sloppy bodyslam and a lateral press for a 2 count.

Zbysko puts a head lock on, but Windham reverses it with a 1 armed belly to back suplex. Windham can’t build off the momentum as Zbysko hits another drop toe hold and goes back to that half-crab. One back to their feet, the two exchange hard rights until Windham lands 3 in a row and Zbysko goes down on his back. A whip into the ropes and Windham lands a dropkick. Windham with a vertical suplex and another 2 count. Windham with a side solto suplex and another 2 count. He whips Zbysko into the ropes and grabs him in a sleeper hold. Zybysko breaks the hold by stumbling to the ropes and he rolls out to Baby Doll. Windham has none of the attempted slow down and follows him out.

Some brief brawling before Zbysko rolls into the ring first. 15 minutes have expired. Zbysko walks toward the apron and Windham grabs his ankles dropping Larry on his back. Windham pulls him over for a low blow against the post. Windham re-enters the ring. Zbysko is whipped to the ropes but ducks down on the comeback. Windham attempts a massive lariat and his momentum takes him through the middle rope and back to the floor. He’s able to take control when Larry follows though, and Zbysko is smashed face first on a nearby table. As Windham slowly gets to the apron, he hits a shoulder to Zbysko’s stomach and attempts a sunset flip. This is countered by Zbysko’s right hand. Zbysko attempts a neckbreaker but Windham reverses it into a backslide for a 2 count.

Zbysko sets up for a piledriver but it is reversed into a back body drop. Back to their feet, Zybysko is whipped into the ropes. The two collide in the middle of the ring and they both drop to the mat. Slowly to their feet, Windham moves on an Irish whip to the turnbuckle. Windham steps up to the 2nd turnbuckle and the crowd counts the punches off. On the following Irish whip to the opposite turnbuckle, Zbysko collides with the referee. Windham has Zbysko rolled up into an apparent 3 count, but the ref is down. Windham celebrates but then realizes the situation. He checks on the ref and Zbysko appears to hit him from behind with a foreign object. Zbysko gets the pinfall win.
Winner and NEW UWF Western States Champion: Larry Zbysko (Foreign Object)

  • EA’s Take: This is definitely better than our first match, but that wasn’t hard to accomplish. As I stated in my Starrcade ’87 review, Barry’s being setup for a push towards the top so losing the non-prestigious Western States Title is a good thing. Zbysko would take off from the NWA the following year still as the champion and it was subsequently retired, so that shows how “revered” it was. It wouldn’t be but a couple of months later that Windham will turn heel and join The Horsemen, possibly the most recognizable incarnation of the group in its history.

Match #3 for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Road Warrior Hawk w/Paul Ellering vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair w/James J. Dillon
The two lock up and Hawk quickly powers Flair down. Flair takes his time contemplating his next move. Hawk with a side headlock. Flair works Hawk into the corner for a chop, but Hawk just stares him down. Flair walks out to the apron and paces, baffled by his opponent. The two lock up again, Flair delivers a knee and chop to the midsection. Flair attempts a shoulder tackle that doesn’t even move Hawk. He goes for a 2nd shoulder tackle and instead Hawk catches him in a gorilla press slam.

JJ Dillon tries to call timeout but the ref won’t have it. Yet another gorilla press from Hawk. Flair is backing up on the mat screaming “no”. Hawk delivers a barrage of kicks to Flair’s midsection. Flair with plenty of theatrics after this attack. Hawk pulls him up and lands a standing dropkick followed by a blow to the head. Hawk relentlessly pulls Flair up for a hiptoss. Flair rolls out of the ring and Dillon tries to give him some encouragement. Hawk meets him at the apron upon his return and vertically suplexes Flair back in. Flair is whipped into the rope and is caught in a bear hug. Hawk works Flair’s shoulders down to the mat for a two count. Flair is back to his feet and lands more useless chops. Flair is whipped into the ropes and Hawk lands a shoulder block.

Flair rolls out of the ring and around on the concrete while Ellering stares down Dillon. Hawk joins Flair on the floor who is able to rake the eyes. This only makes Hawk angry and he stalks Flair around the ring. Once back in the ring, Hawk muscles Flair to his knees and Ric finally gets some offense with a low blow. Flair with seemingly more effective kicks, chops and an eye rake after this disruption. The crowd is chanting for Hawk. Flair with a snapmare take down followed by a knee to the head. He covers Hawk for a 2 count. Flair pulls Hawk up and throws him through the middle rope and onto the floor. Flair follows him out and whips Hawk into the steel gate twice. Hawk stumbles back toward the ring as Flair taunts the crowd.

Flair climbs the turnbuckle and hits a double axe handle and another knee to the head. Lateral press from Flair for a 2 count. Flair whips Hawk to the rope who surprises Ric by reversing it into a neck breaker. Hawk to the turnbuckle but misses his attempt at a knee drop. His left knee is apparently injured so Flair takes advantage and works it over in a variety of ways. Outside, Ellering is stalking Dillon to make sure there is no funny business. Flair taunts Hawk yelling “Come on, tough guy” as he delivers more blows to the injured knee. Flair with some chops followed by a belly to back suplex. Flair pulls Hawk to the ring post and swings the injured knee into the metal. Back in the ring, Flair successfully applies the figure four leg lock and uses the ropes for leverage when he can. Hawk refuses to quit. Hawk starts an attempted reversal as Schiavone’s voice is heard saying 15 minutes has expired.

The crowd cheers loudly as Hawk completes the submission reversal. Flair is screaming in pain before breaking the hold at the ropes. Both men are slow to get up. Flair hits an elbow to the head and goes to the top rope. Hawk beats him to the punch and Flair takes his patented gorilla press bump from the top. Hawk with chops in the corner. Flair turns him around and sends him to the opposite side with an Irish whip. Hawk comes off the turnbuckle strong and lands a clothesline but he accidentally hits the ref as well. The two run the ropes. Hawk ducks a clothesline and comes back, sending Flair over the top rope with a clothesline of his own. Outside the ring, Hawk runs Flair face first into the post twice. Flair is bleeding.

They work their way back into the ring where Hawk delivers a power slam. Flair cowers into the corner and Hawk lands some rights, followed by an Irish whip and a clothesline. Somehow, Flair climbs to the top turnbuckle but Hawk meets him there. Hawk superplexes Flair, and there is plenty of time for a successful pinfall but there is no conscious ref. JJ Dillon enters the ring and hits Hawk with a chair. This barely phases Hawk who gets up and stalks Dillon down. Flair picks up the chair and delivers a headshot when Hawk turns around.

The ref rolls back in the ring shortly after this as Flair has a lateral press on Hawk but only gets a 2 count. Flair delivers a massive vertical suplex but is shocked to see Hawk is right back to his feet, completely unphased. Flair begs for mercy but Hawk climbs to the 2nd turnbuckle and the crowd counts off the 10 punches. Flair stumbles and falls in the middle of the ring. Flair retreats back to the turnbuckle but sneaks in a knee to the midsection and rushes to get the chair. He hits Hawk with the chair across the back and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner: Road Warrior Hawk (Disqualification)

  • EA’s Take: Classic Flair here as Hawk looks like a million bucks. Lots of no-selling from one of of The Road Warriors and Naitch sells the crap out of the offense, so while I don’t care for screwy finishes, I don’t know how else you keep the belt on Flair while accomplishing the overall goal. It was interesting to see Hawk going for a singles title, which adds to my intrigue in the match. I have always been of the opinion that Hawk could have been a singles star had he wanted it and had his head screwed on straight. Animal? I’m not so sure, Hawk just always seemed to have much more charisma and was certainly a better promo. They would always come back together however, as we all know.

Match #4 is a Steel Cage Bunkhouse Stampede: Arn Anderson vs. The Barbarian vs. Tully Blanchard vs. Ivan Koloff vs. Road Warrior Animal vs. The Warlord vs. Dusty Rhodes vs. Lex Luger
Everyone takes a dance partner and goes to work. Arn Anderson and Dusty double team Ivan Koloff. Dusty almost eliminates Tully Blanchard immediately through the door. Luger and Warlord exchange blows as Dusty changes his attention back to Koloff. He goes for another elimination but Koloff holds on. Anderson and Blanchard try to double team Luger out of the cage to no avail. Koloff, Rhodes and Barbarian are all up on the top rope in one corner exchanging blows.

Barbarian tries to send Dream over but can’t get the big man over. Animal is stalking Tully Blanchard as they tight rope walk across the top rope. Animal grinds Blanchard’s face on the cage. Arn is being pursued by Dusty for an elimination but is saved when Koloff hits Dream from behind. Luger is up on the 2nd turnbuckle delivering blows to the head Barbarian. Rhodes throws Blanchard head first into the cage, where back in the center, Luger hits an atomic drop on Koloff. Arn Anderson is bloody and getting his face grated on the cage. Barbarian and Warlord double team Animal. Barbarian bites the bridge of Animal’s nose.

Luger is going crazy throwing rights to all comers and the crowd pops as Rhodes uses a strap on everyone else. The Barbarian is able to pull the strap away from Rhodes and uses it against him in the corner. Luger’s momentum slows and Arn Anderson delivers some rights. Animal has Dusty’s strap now and uses it on Koloff before giving it back to Rhodes. Dream whips Koloff who really seems outmatched. The Warlord and Barbarian with a double team clothesline on Animal. Arn Anderson has removed one of his boots. Koloff steals the strap and uses it against Rhodes’ bleeding arm. Luger takes the boot away from Arn Anderson and threatens to use it on Blanchard. Animal saves Rhodes from Koloff.

Luger is driven into the cage by the Warlord and receives a set of double team chops from he and Barbarian. We see Anderson being close to thrown over by Animal while partner Blanchard now has the strap around the neck of Koloff at the door. Anderson fights it off and is back in the ring delivering a double axe handle. Rhodes’ arm is a bloody mess. Ivan Koloff is eliminated over the top of the cage by Animal. Back in the ring, Luger rakes Barbarian’s eyes over the top rope. Barbarian fights back with some chops, but is met with an attack from Rhodes. At the door, the Warlord is hanging on tight as Animal is punching him out.

Animal is attacked from behind by the Barbarian and they both go out at the same time. Road Warrior Animal & The Warlord have been eliminated.The Horsemen and Rhodes and Luger team up and go at it. Power slam from Luger on Blanchard and he gets Tully into a brief torture rack submission. Barbarian takes over with Rhodes while Anderson tries to save his partner. Luger tries to fight both of them off but can’t overcome the double team. Barbarian is biting the bloody arm of Rhodes while the Horsemen carry Luger to the door. Luger fights back. Blanchard goes to the top rope, but Luger knocks him off.

All 3 men are battling at the door. Anderson hovers over a punching Luger on the apron. Blanchard is using his feet to slide Luger out but Anderson is father outside than Lex. All 3 men simultaneously fall out to the concrete. Arn Anderson, Lex Luger & Tully Blanchard have been eliminated. Only Dusty Rhodes and The Barbarian remain in the ring. Rhodes delivers some bionic elbows near the ropes but Paul Jones sneaks a foreign object into Barbarian’s hand. Barbarian wastes no time to use it.

Paul Jones cheers him on as Dusty is on his back in the middle of the ring. Barbarian goes to the top rope and delivers a diving headbutt. Barbarian drags Rhodes to the door. Both men are slowly out to the apron. Dream appears to be in trouble but comes back with more bionic elbows. Back in the ring, Rhodes whips Barbarian and hits an elbow. Both men to the turnbuckle and both men climb to the top rope. Rhodes lifts Barbarian to a seated position atop the cage. A first bionic elbow knocks Barbarian to the outside of the cage. A 2nd elbow knocks him to the floor.
Winner: Dusty Rhodes

  • EA’s Take: Kind of like the scaffold matches, this gimmick match is visually interesting, but conceptually nonsensical. Granted, five of the competitors were eliminated at the door which is at least a realistic sell, but over the top of the cage? It meant there were a lot of spots where multiple wrestlers were up on the top turnbuckle and walking across the top rope in a way they never would in a normal match. Most of the time, the wrestlers were simultaneously climbing up the ropes willingly and unprompted. If your goal is to avoid being thrown over the cage, why would you put yourself in a more dangerous spot? It made as much sense as someone in a modern Royal Rumble choosing to jump over the top rope and fight guys off from the apron. Being eliminated at the door is more realistic, but the door eliminations weren’t very exciting. The guys gave a good brawl in the ring, but I think they would have been better off with a traditional battle royal concept.

EA’s Finisher: This two hour event leaves a lot to be desired and quite frankly, that would be reflected in the number of buys it would gain. It was widely ridiculed by the pundits, primarily because Dusty booked himself to win all four Bunkhouse Stampedes. Was it justified? Who am I to say? I think it may have helped had the dark match been on the main card, which was Sting & Jimmy Garvin vs. The Sheepherders, better known as The Bushwhackers. With only four matches, there was no reason that couldn’t be part of the broadcast. While many on this card are beloved Hall of Famers, none of these matches were exactly Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart putting on a technical clinic that captivates our attention for a long period of time. JCP will be back at it as they go to a whopping THREE PPVs in 1988, with The Great American Bash up next in June. It’s refreshing to cover an event other than Starrcade and JCP does have talent, but unless you are interested in seeing what this Bunkhouse Stampede match is all about, you should avoid this one.

Top Three To Watch
1 – Ric Flair vs. Road Warrior Hawk

2 – Bunkhouse Stampede
3 – Barry Windham vs. Larry Zbysko


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Classic Royal Rumble

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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