The NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions bring us their fourth annual Starrcade from Chicago and we’re no longer on closed circuit, but pay-per-view! JCP has also just recently purchased the Universal Wresting Federation (formerly Mid-South Wrestling) from Bill Watts, so we have a number of new talents including one on our announce team. Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross welcome us to the UIC Pavilion and send us directly to the ring, where the combatants for our first match are on their way out!
Match #1: ‘Hot Stuff’ Eddie Gilbert, Rick Steiner & Larry Zbysko w/Baby Doll vs. Sting, Michael ‘P.S.’ Hayes & ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin w/Precious
Sting and Rick Steiner will get this one started. Steiner blindsides Sting with a lariat followed by a shoulder block. On an attempted 3rd attack, Sting issues a drop toe hold and Steiner stumbles through the middle rope onto the floor. As Steiner gets to his feet, Sting launches over the top rope with a plancha. He rolls Steiner back into the ring, climbs to the top rope and lands a missile dropkick. Zbysko and Gilbert rush the ring but they’re cutoff by dropkicks from Hayes and Garvin. Sting’s team knocks Gilbert’s team into one another with simultaneous Irish whips and they knock the heels to the floor.
Steiner tries slowing things down by taking his time back to the ring. He meets Michael Hayes who goes to work on Steiner’s left arm before a quick tag to Garvin. Jimmy whips him to the rope and delivers a backbody drop. Steiner gives, and crawls to his corner to tag Zbysko. The two lock up and Garvin lands several shoulder blocks before it’s Hayes’ turn again. The Freebird lands an elbow and struts around the ring. The defeated Zbysko tags in Gilbert, but it is all Michael Hayes. Sting is tagged in, climbs to the 2nd rope and delivers an axe handle followed by a clothesline. Gilbert thwarts the offensive attack and comes back with a body slam. He makes the tag to Steiner who is greeted with an arm drag. Sting tags Garvin who goes up for a sunset flip and gets a 2 count. Back to their feet, Steiner is able to work Garvin into his corner and tag in Zbysko.
The “Living Legend” pulls the ref’s attention away so Gilbert and Steiner can take advantage of Garvin in the corner. Zybysko delivers a power slam to Garvin. 2 count. Gilbert is tagged back in. He executes an atomic drop and a back breaker before trying another pin. Another 2 count. Gilbert lifts Garvin for a body slam. He runs the ropes for an elbow drop but Garvin moves. Nonetheless, he is the first one to make a tag and Rick Steiner is back in. The Michigan shooter delivers a power slam for a near-fall. Steiner puts Garvin in a long bearhug. He tries to run Garvin into the corner unsuccessfully. Steiner makes the tag to Zbysko and Garvin is prevented from making his. The crowd is hot for Garvin to make that tag.
Zbysko applies an abdominal stretch on Garvin, but Jimmy is able to reverse out of it and give a hip toss and make that tag to Sting. He is attacked by all 3 heels but is able to get the better of them until finally Zbysko rakes his eyes. The ref is once again distracted by the heels and Gilbert gets some cheap work in before throwing Sting over the top rope. The heels regroup and Gilbert is now the legal man even though I never saw a tag. Gilbert with a vertical suplex to Sting for a near fall. He issues a knee to Sting’s head and tags in Zbysko. Zbysko attempts a vertical suplex twice but Sting reverses and both men are down. Zbysko is the first to make the tag and in comes Rick Steiner. After a few punches and kicks, Sting is locked in a sleeper hold.
There is less than 3 minutes left in the time limit. Sting is able to break the sleeper hold by running Steiner into the turnbuckle, but Sting cannot make a tag yet. Zbysko returns to the ring but Sting reverses his Irish whip to the corner and Larry is down. Near simultaneous tags are made to Hayes and Gilbert and Hayes is first to strike with a back body drop. The heels rush Hayes and the babyfaces respond. All 6 men are in the ring brawling in their respective corners. Hayes hits Zbysko with a huge running bulldog. He appears to get the 3 count, but Zbysko had his leg on the rope.
Desperate for a decision before the time limit, Hayes puts Zbykso into a sleeper, but it’s broken up by Gilbert’s axehandle. A tag is made and Rick Steiner is now the legal man. Hayes is once again in Steiner’s bear hug. Rick flips him for a belly to belly suplex and a near fall. Gilbert is tagged in but Hayes reverses his attempt at a back body drop with a small package for a 2 count as the arena announcer exclaims that there are 15 seconds left. The other 4 men rush the ring as the countdown is on. Hayes executes a sunset flip for an apparent 3 count, but the time limit is hit when the ref gets to 2.
Winners: Time Limit Draw
- EA’s Take: Unlike any other Starrcade, this year we start off with a bang. The crowd was popping for everything the babyfaces did in this pretty basic 6-man tag team match. It’s strange that Hayes & Garvin are getting cheered since they were primarily known as being heels, but Zbysko & Gilbert make it easy to cheer the future incarnation of The Freebirds. Rick Steiner is one of the UWF stars who has arrived via the sale of the company and is not yet sporting his trademark headgear, as Scott is not around yet. Another guy who we’re used to seeing “on the other side of the fence” so to speak in regards to his heel/face status. Our biggest name in this match is of course The Stinger, who the crowd is wildly into already. This match was used by booker Dusty Rhodes as a means to showcase his young star, because The American Dream saw the writing on the wall. Sting would very soon be pushing for the World Title.
Match #2 for the UWF Heavyweight Championship: UWF Heavyweight Champion ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams vs. NWA Western States Champion Barry Windham
The commentators explain that these two are friends out of the ring and they shake hands as the bell rings. The two run the ropes perpendicularly before Williams hits a hip toss. Williams attempts a gorilla press slam and actually lifts his opponent several times over his head but Windham is able to reverse it, get down, run Williams to the rope and get a near fall. The two start a series of what looks like amateur wrestling and they eventually roll out onto the floor in undramatic fashion. The crowd seems restless and they boo when the two mutually agree to return to the ring. Windham with a headlock that is reversed by Williams into a side suplex.
The two lock up and Windham lands a gutwrench suplex. The two lock up and Williams has Windham in a headlock, turning it into a suplex while maintaining the hold. The headlock is held for a while and I think I can hear random people yelling “boring”. Windham is finally able to free himself and lands a shoulder block. There seems to be a little confusion, followed by the two running the ropes. Windham leaps over a ducking Williams and on the comeback, Williams attempts to leap over Windham and bashes his crotch right into Windham’s head and yelps in pain. Williams is down in what appears to be a legitimate injury.
The ref starts counting but Windham stops the count. Windham is checking on Williams and it takes a while for Williams to get up. Williams is adjusting himself in a way that tells you that bump was not a work. When the action returns, Windham breaks a head-scissors attempt. Williams is limping. Windham takes Williams down with another shoulderblock, then tries a cross body, only to fly over the top rope. Windham climbs back into the ring, but is immediately rolled up for a pinfall.
Winner and STILL UWF Heavyweight Champion: ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams (Roll-Up)
- EA’sTake: After an opening match that featured some great crowd work and a lot of action, this was frankly boring for two notable stars, even before their big botch. There was absolutely some sort of miscommunication on that leapfrog spot, Williams took a legit low blow, then it just got strange with the finish coming off a surprise roll-up. The son of BlackJack Mulligan is a tremendous worker, so we know that he can do much better than what we got here. Dr. Death comes with a big reputation from the UWF, but personally I never saw his appeal. Total dud.
Match #3 is a Skywalkers Match: NWA United States Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane) w/Jim Cornette & Big Bubba vs. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)
There is a little bit of hesitancy to climb the ladder from both sides as the teams jaw at each other. The Midnight Express and Gibson from The Rock n’ Roll Express climb up, but before Morton can get there, he is attacked by Big Bubba. Cornette is directing traffic as always. Midnight takes advantage of the 2 on 1 and drives Gibson’s face into the grate. Big Bubba is on his way up the latter to make it 3 on 1, but before he could get there, Morton steals Cornette’s tennis racket and gives him repetitive shots.
Morton climbs up with the racket and takes a shot at Lane’s knee with it, followed by a head shot. With Gibson down, Morton attacks Eaton with the racket. As Eaton starts to get up, we see some powder in his hand that he throws in Morton’s face. Morton has a “near fall” if you will. Lane is holding Gibson for Eaton to go to work on, but Gibson moves and Lane is hit. Eaton is once again hit with the racket and a punch. The two go back and forth with some very careful work and attempted shove-offs.
A railing on the scaffold appears to break and Gibson uses it as a weapon on Eaton. Gibson goes for a double team on Lane who is slowly “slipping” from the scaffold to the lower bars. The tennis racket had fallen and Cornette throws it back up to Eaton who is back to his feet and uses it on Gibson. Lane is now underneath the scaffold and Morton is giving chase. Gibson is working over Eaton with the racket up top. Lane tries to monkey-bar his way away from Morton but instead swings a few times and falls to the ring. Cornette is incensed. It’s 2 on 1 and the Rock n Roll express make quick work of Beautiful Bobby, beating him to his stomach, Eaton grabs the bars underneath and falls.
Winners: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express
- After The Bell: Cornette orders Big Bubba to climb the scaffold and attack the RnR. Gibson had been climbing down one ladder but Morton is still there. Bubba is wielding the racket and the two have a long stare down. Bubba takes off his coat and Morton appears to oblige. Morton distracts Bubba by pointing off in another direction and uses the distraction to hit a low-blow and quickly descends from the ladder.
- EA’s Take: Like I said during my last Starrcade review, I could really live without the scaffold match. You’ve got two of the better tag teams of all-time and unlike last year with The Road Warriors, all of these guys are workers. Yet, you have them in a match where they really can’t do anything. Honestly, beyond the morbid curiosity of whether or not someone is going to have a horrible accident, what’s the appeal? I get that they were trying to make this almost a signature match for The ME due to Cornette’s fear of heights, but the match doesn’t deliver. It CAN’T. The majority of offense has to be done from your knees since everyone’s forced to be so careful, plus when someone goes to “fall”, they have to do so in a manner that they end up hanging first to make it a controlled fall. Even then, we saw last year a controlled fall can still go haywire. No thanks, I’m cool with the scaffold match.
Backstage: Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes are interviewed by Bob Caudle. They explain that they want to challenge the winner of the NWA Tag Team Championship match and Jimmy Garvin gives a rambling (but decent) promo putting over every babyface on the card. ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams comes in next and speaks about the controversy in his win, comparing it to a recent Oklahoma Sooners football game, then stumbles through a promo about what he’ll do to remain champion.
Match #4 is a Unification Match: NWA Television Champion Nikita Koloff vs. UWF Television Champion Terry Taylor w/’Hot Stuff’ Eddie Gilbert
The two men are showing a lot of animosity with their stare down. The crowd is chanting for Nikita. The two lock up and Nikita powers him off twice. The two jaw in each other’s face. An aggressive lock up is broken in the corner. Another lock up and Taylor with an arm drag but Nikita is up quickly. Nikita applies a headlock and whips Taylor for a shoulder block. The ref breaks up a subsequent lockup. Taylor applies a wristlock to Nikita who is simply taunting him. Nikita reverses the wristlock and turns it into an arm drag. Nikita follows this up with some submission work on the mat. Taylor tries to escape but he is dragged right back in.
Gilbert is barking to the ref, and Nikita taunts him. Nikita continues the submission attack and gets a near fall. Taylor rolls out of the ring to slow it down. Upon his return they are back in each other’s faces and exchange slaps and punches and Taylor can’t keep up. Nikita hits a back body drop and Taylor escapes to the floor. The ref is forcing Taylor to get back into the ring. He rolls in but rolls right back out. Nikita comes over, grabs Taylor by the hair and pulls him back into the ring. Nikita pounding on the head and back of Taylor. Arm bar to the corner. Irish whip. Taylor reverses with a knee to the midsection. Taylor.
Arm bar to the corner. Irish whip. Taylor reverses with a knee to the midsection. Taylor gets a nearfall and before he knows it, he’s back in a hammerlock. Nikita works him up to a half nelson on the mat. Taylor is able to work himself to the ropes. Back to their feet, Taylor rakes Koloff’s eyes. Taylor with some shots in the corner and snapmare but he misses an elbow drop. Koloff right back to work with the arm. Both men back to their feet with the lock still on and Taylor gets to the corner. The ref breaks the hold and Taylor headbutts Koloff. Nikita is enraged and executes the Russian Hammer chokehold. Koloff is up and positioned for the Sickle, but he misses and runs into the turnbuckle instead. Koloff is dangling off the apron and Taylor kicks him to the floor.
Taylor bashes Koloff into the steel rail and runs him into the post. He then uses the post. Koloff is slow to roll into the ring and the crowd is chanting his name. Taylor distracts the ref as Gilbert takes a cheap shot. Snapmare takedown by Taylor followed by a couple knees to the head. Taylor attempts a pin and gets 2. Koloff tries to pull himself up by the ropes but Taylor is back to work on the arm. They run the ropes and Taylor attempts a sunset flip that is reversed by Koloff’s punch to the head. Taylor with a kick to the midsection. Koloff reverses Taylor’s attempted vertical suplex with one of his own. Taylor is still the first on the attack, but after a few punches, Koloff bashes his own head off the turnbuckle and turns around looking fired up. He works Taylor into the corner for 10 punches.
For some reason, Hebner breaks this up and Taylor takes advantage of the pause with an atomic drop. Taylor slowly rolls him for a pin but Koloff’s foot was on the rope. Taylor argues with the ref and Koloff almost catches him with a small package. Koloff reverses an attempted piledriver with a back body drop. Koloff pounds on him until Taylor leaves the ring and runs away. When Koloff follows him back to the ring, Taylor greets him with a knee to the midsection. The ref lectures him on this and Gilbert uses the distraction to cheapshot Koloff on the knee. Taylor stomps on the injured knee and executes the figure four.
A couple near falls when his shoulders are down. Hebner turns around to see Gilbert giving Taylor leverage and the hold is broken. Taylor and Hebner are arguing again and Gilbert tries to take another cheapshot. Instead, Gilbert is dragged up to the apron by Koloff. When Taylor attempts to hit him from behind, Koloff moves and runs into his friend knocking him off the apron. After Taylor falls back, Koloff lands the Sickle for the pinfall.
Winner and Unified NWA & UWF Television Champion: Nikita Koloff (Sickle)
- EA’s Take: Very solid match to unify the TV Titles where the crowd was hot for Nikita, but there was still a miniscule smattering of boos for him at the beginning. The now-former UWF TV Champion Terry Taylor had left the NWA once, becoming arguably the UWF’s hottest star. It’s funny how things work out sometimes though, as he was obviously brought right back into the NWA with JCP’s purchase of the promotion. Ultimately, this would be a quick trip as the consistently solid Taylor would take off again not long after this match for WCCW.
Match #5 for the NWA World Tag Team Championships: The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) w/Paul Ellering vs. NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard w/James J. Dillon
Arn and Hawk start the match. Arn fights off a choke hold, but is sent to the corner by Hawk. Arn reverses with a knee and climbs the ropes. Hawk rushes to the corner and picks him up and a gorilla press. Arn rolls out of the ring and JJ Dillon wants a timeout. The ref demands Arn return to the ring. Arn cautiously approaches Hawk. Arn gets a headlock on but Hawk strengths his way out of it and pulls Arn to the mat. Arn rolls out again. Anderson slow to get in the ring and there is a standoff between Ellering and the Horseman outside.
A tag is made to Blanchard and Hawk strengths him down. Blanchard attacks but is met with a clothesline. Blanchard tries to escape the ring but Animal presses him back to the ring. Blanchard has had enough and goes down the entry way but he is chased down and brought back to the ring. Hawk with a dropkick and lateral press for a two count. Tag made to Animal. Blanchard reverses an Irish whip with a knee to the mid section. Blanchard heads for the top rope but Animal catches him for a body slam from mid air and the crowd explodes. Animal attempts a pin but it’s broken up by Anderson. Animal stares down Anderson who is getting heat from the crowd. Anderson is tagged in and he’s barking for Hawk to back up. Anderson gets the first offensive blows in, but Hawk hits a clothesline following a whip to the corner.
Anderson is back in the ring, standing in his corner and checking on his face. Anderson whispers something to Blanchard. Anderson with some kicks, but is caught in a bear hug that is quickly broken by Blanchard’s interference. Anderson and Blanchard double team Hawk, they whip him to the corner but he comes back with a double clothesline. Hawk pins the legal man but his leg is on the rope. A couple big rights from Hawk and a tag is made to Animal. They double team Blanchard into a big bear hug followed by an atomic drop. Tully is up and he tries to land some chops to no avail. Animal goes to work on Blanchard until he can take no more and from his knees tags Anderson back in.
Anderson with a headlock, the two run the ropes, and Anderson cowardly grabs the rope, rolls out of the ring and runs away. Once back in the ring, Animal with a gorilla press slam to Anderson. Blanchard is tagged back in but is looking at the same fate from Hawk who is now legal. Anderson takes a cheap shot at Animal’s knee before he can do so. Blanchard goes to work on the knee and Hawk looks for a tag. Hawk rolls out of the ring where he is double teamed, with Anderson and Blanchard using the post and a chair to the injured knee. Hawk is rolled back into the ring for a DDT from Anderson. He kicks out at 2. Blanchard is tagged, and tries a figure four but Hawk reverses with a small package. 2 count. Blanchard doing more damage to the leg before Anderson is back in. Anderson attempts a spinning leg lock but Hawk pushes him off. Anderson regroups and prevents Hawk from the tag before Blanchard is tagged in again.
This time, Tully gets the figure four locked in. After a long while, Anderson is tagged in and attempts a couple of pins only getting 2 counts. When Anderson attempts a double knee while Hawk is on his back, his groin is met by Hawks knees. This gives Hawk time to make the hot tag. Animal drop kicks Anderson and fends off the charging Blanchard. When Animal goes to the ropes for a clothesline on Anderson, he is tripped from the outside by Blanchard.
Hawk gives chase to Blanchard around the ring while Anderson tries to take advantage. Running from Hawk, Blanchard rolls back into the ring, runs across and bumps referee Tommy Young out of the ring hard. When Anderson tries to clothesline Animal over the ropes, a dazed Animal ducks and lifts Arn over instead. Inside the ring, the Road Warriors connect with the Doomsday Device. Earl Hebner is now out to the ring and makes a 3 count. The bell sounds for a Road Warrior win. The crowd goes bezerk.
Winners and NEW NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Road Warriors (Animal/Doomsday Device)
- After The Bell: The original referee returns to the ring, vetoing Hebner’s decision. He says he saw Arn flipped over the top rope, which was grounds for automatic DQ and awards the victory to Arn and Tully.
Winners and STILL NWA Tag Team Champions: Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard (Disqualification)
- EA’s Take: Excellent match here and we get the swerve finish as the hometown boys get screwed over. I think I would have gone the other way here, The Horsemen didn’t need any more heat and the crowd went ballistic for the pinfall. This could have been a great moment, but we know that has always been the WWE’s forte, not JCP or WCW. The air seemed to be let out of the room anyways, so if the goal was more heat on Arn & Tully, it didn’t really work that way. Historically speaking, obviously the big change here is there’s no more Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Ole, who had been kicked out of The Horsemen in early 1987 and replaced by Lex Luger, retired shortly after.
In The Arena: Jack Gregory & Magnum T.A. talk about The Road Warriors getting hosed for the Tag Titles, then run down our next two matches for the US and World Heavy weight Championships. They throw it to Bob Caudle who is standing by with the new Unified TV Champion Nikita Koloff. Nikita goes off in broken English about defeating Terry Taylor and how good he feels to be the only holder of the TV Title, but next one his agenda is the World Championship. James J. Dillon steps in next and speaks about his busy night, stating he’s relieved that Arn & Tully got justice and held onto the Tag Titles. He talks about helping Ric Flair get ready for his match tonight, but admits he’s spent more time focusing on Dusty Rhodes and getting US Champion Lex Luger ready. JJ claims he’s got the perfect athlete and the perfect plan.
Match #6 is a Steel Cage for the NWA United States Championship: Dusty Rhodes vs. NWA United States Champion Lex Luger w/James J. Dillon
The two circle the ring and lock up and tie up in the corner. They back off and restart. Luger lands some kicks and tries to run Rhodes into the cage. Rhodes blocks it and reverses with an elbow. The two circle again and Luger taunts Rhodes with his trademark flex. Rhodes laughs him off and struts to the crowd’s cheer. Another tie up in the corner, they exchange punches before Rhodes rattles off about 8 in a row before another elbow. Rhodes goes for the Weaver Lock but Luger runs to the corner to break the hold. Dillon cheers Luger on as he gets Dusty in a headlock. They run the ropes and Luger hits a shoulder block. On 2nd attempt, Dusty catches him in a sleeper – Luger runs to the ropes again to break the hold.
They lock up, Luger lands a couple punches and a snapmare. Dusty moves when Luger tries to land an elbow and Rhodes is up for an arm submission. Luger is trying to get to the ropes but is caught for a while. Rhodes delivers his patented elbow on the shoulder and continues the hold. Luger is finally able to push Rhodes to the corner, delivers a punch and whips Rhodes to the corner. Rhodes moves and Luger hits the turnbuckle hard. They are back to the mat with Rhodes working that arm. Rhodes lets up and stomps on Luger’s back before pounding on him in the corner. Luger takes advantage of the ref breaking it up with a cheap shot.
This opens up Luger for an attack that culminates in running Dusty into the cage and grinding his head against it. Luger hammers on Rhodes who is now bleeding in the corner. Again, Rhodes is thrown against the cage. Rhodes kicks out of a pinfall attempt at two. Luger pounds him in the corner, delivers a snapmare and an elbow drop. Rhodes kicks out at 2. Luger taunts with another flex. Both on their feet, Rhodes reverses a whip to the rope and hits an impressive (for his size) dropkick. But Rhodes is still too beaten down to take advantage and Luger is back on offense. He signals for his patented torture rack but he can’t get the big man all the way up. He stumbles to the corner and that’s where Rhodes lands.
The frustrated Luger grinds his face on the cage some more, as well as chokes him on the top rope before Hebner breaks it up. Luger applies a wristlock submission, but the crowd is rallying behind Rhodes who gradually rises to his feet. He gets there, but Luger knocks him right back down. JJ Dillon is looking very cocky as Luger is in control. The crowd rallies more and Rhodes is back to his feet, Luger pulls him back down by his hair. A determined Rhodes is up again. Luger works him to the corner and lays in punches and kicks which only seems to be firing Rhodes up. Dusty fights back to the delight of the crowd. He works Luger down to the mat and gets a 2 count.
Both men are back to their feet, Luger whips Rhodes to ropes, Dusty ducks a clothesline and Rhodes applies the Weaver lock. A distressed JJ Dillon knocks out Johnny Weaver and takes the key. Hebner won’t let him in. Instead, Dillon throws a chair over the cage top as Luger bashes into Hebner to break the lock. Luger reaches for the chair but as he does, Rhodes catches him bent over and lands a DDT on the chair. He gets the pin for the win. Rhodes and Weaver embrace as Rhodes exits.
Winner and NEW NWA United States Champion: Dusty Rhodes (DDT)
- EA’s Take: The relative upstart champion surprised me here. We all know Luger was definitely more of a “look” guy than a worker, but he managed to hold his own. However, he was also led by and opposite one of the all-time greats. Dusty’s workrate wasn’t stellar in his later years, but he could still lead the right horse to water AND make him drink it. Two years into the business and less-than one year into his JCP tenure, Luger comes from Florida and was immediately thrust into The Horsemen when Ole chose to retire. He quickly took the US Title from Nikita Koloff in July, building to tonight where the seeds were planted for his departure from The Horsemen.
Match #7 is a Steel Cage for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair w/James J. Dillon vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ronnie Garvin
The two lock up and have a clean break. Ric Flair gives a taunting “Wooo”! They exchange chops and lock up again. More exchanges of chops and slaps before Garvin hits a hip toss. Flair cowers again. Garvin with a side headlock, and whips Flair into the corner for a shoulder block. Garvin with more chops to Flair in the corner and Ric walks away with his patented fall on his face. Back body drop from Garvin followed by an armbar submission. He leads Flair around the ring and into the corner. Garvin with a series of rights to the head as the crowd counts to 10. Garvin with an Irish whip into the corner and another back body drop.
The crowd cheers as he delivers the Garvin Stomp. Flair is back up and they have a vicious exchange of punches, chops and slaps and Flair hits the mat first. Garvin tries pulling him back up but Flair hits a low blow. Flair methodically back to his feet and he lifts Garvin for an atomic drop. The crowd responds to his “Wooo!” Flair with more chops and punches in the corner followed by a kick to the midsection and a snapmare. Flair backs up and hits his patented knee to the head for a near fall. Flair uses the bottom rope to work on the left leg of Garvin. Flair intimidates Garvin as he pulls him to his feet. Flair drops Garvin on his knee and turns it immediately into the Figure Four leg lock. Garvin is struggling.
Flair uses the rope for leverage each time the ref is not looking. Garvin’s shoulders drop for a couple near falls. Garvin is trying to turn the hold and the crowd cheers. He is successful but Flair immediately grabs the ropes. Flair is up to his feet first. Flair delivers an elbow the head and a kick to the knee. Garvin is taking a lot of punishment right now. Flair tries to use the cage as a weapon but Garvin is able to block all of his attempts. Garvin reverses a whip to the ropes and instead throws Flair head first into the cage. Garvin rubs Flair’s face on the cage and he is bleeding. Garvin bites Flair’s head and the Nature Boy tries to escape by climbing over the top of the cage. Garvin stops him and both men are up on the turnbuckle.
Garvin bashes Flair several times into the top of the cage and he tumbles back to the mat. Garvin slaps Flair in the corner. Flair fights back with some kicks and goes to the top rope but Garvin is up too soon and hits him with a gorilla press slam. Garvin tries to use Flair’s move against him and puts him in the Figure Four! A couple near falls as Flair yelps in pain. Flair finally works his way to the ropes to break the hold but Garvin continues to work on Flair’s right leg. More exchanges of chops in the corner before Flair tries to throw Garvin into the cage, but again Garvin blocks it. He instead reverses it, knocks Flair to the mat and heads for the top rope. Garvin lands a cross body block from the top rope and gets a near fall. Garvin attempts a backslide, once again for a 2 count.
Flair’s head is raked against the cage some more and is slapped around on the apron. Flair tries to escape again and Garvin follows him to the top turnbuckle. Garvin bashes his head on the top of the cage and delivers a headbutt. Flair falls groin first onto the top rope and back in the ring. Garvin sets up for a sunset flip but he can’t get Flair on his back. Flair sits on Garvin’s shoulders for a pin but the ref notices he’s holding the top rope and breaks it. Garvin rolls Flair back over again for a 2 count. Garvin goes for 10 punches in the corner but Flair carries him across the ring to the other corner, hitting the ref along the way. Garvin bounces off and hits Flair with his knockout punch. Tommy Young is delayed getting over there and Flair kicks out at two. The two run the ropes, Garvin leaps up and is caught by Flair who uses the momentum to drive him into the cage. Flair pins him 1-2-3.
Winner and NEW NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair (Cage Shot)
- EA’s Take: I think I would have rather seen a screwed finish than that one because it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. First of all, why is Garvin jumping into Flair like he wanted to be caught in a bearhug? Secondly, the first and only time Garvin’s head touches the cage, he’s out cold? It would be sold better if Flair hadn’t been abused by the cage all match, taking probably a dozen similar shots. It’s pretty unusual seeing Garvin come in as the champion in a feud that started over Flair’s lusting after Precious, the wife of Ronnie’s kayfabe brother Jimmy. However, she wasn’t referred to as such on television. Also, Ronnie Garvin was the legit stepfather of Jimmy Garvin. What is this, Jerry Springer?!?
EA’s Finisher: JCP no longer has the roster depth to give us a 12-match card, making this a shorter show, but it seemed more star-studded. The main event is easily the weakest of all the Starrcade events to date and unless you were up on the angle, you probably didn’t care. Then again, it felt that way in ’86. At least your undercard is loaded with young talent. Again, this is vital with the ongoing battle against the WWF, which continued tonight. Vince McMahon would run the first Survivor Series on the same night as Starrcade and do better numbers, just one of many shots in the back-and-forth between the promotions. JCP does beat the Fed on adding affects for wrestler entrances like smoke and colorful lighting, but if this is supposed to be their version of WrestleMania after the WWF put 90,000-plus in the Silverdome, there’s just no comparison.
Top Three To Watch
1 – The Road Warriors vs. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard
2 – Gilbert, Zbysko & Steiner vs. Hayes, Garvin & Sting
3 – Nikita Koloff vs. Terry Taylor
Chairshot Classics: WCW Fall Brawl ’94 – WarGames
Our weekly Chairshot Classics WCW PPV series continues with Fall Brawl ’94!
Open: Martin Delray performs the Stars Spangled Banner. Bobby Heenan is sporting a neckbrace and they’re joined at ringside by ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund. Gene will be talking to WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan via satellite later tonight, and he’s been informed that WCW United States Champion Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat has suffered an injury, so he will see what he can find out in the way of a replacement match.
Match #1 for the WCW World Television Championship: Johnny B. Badd vs. WCW World Television Champion Lord Steven Regal w/Sir William
The bell rings and Regal takes his time, and instructs the ref to give him some space. Collar and elbow tie up, Badd gets position in the corner and breaks it off in frustration. Another tie up, Badd twists the wrist, Regal rolls out and grabs a side headlock. Badd works up to top wrist but cannot escape. He tries to hit the ropes, but Badd grabs the wrist, Regal is forced to break it on the ropes. Badd ducks the collar and elbow and goes back to the wrist. Regal chains out temporarily, side headlock by Regal.
To the ropes, Badd leapfrogs, Regal attempts to get the upperhand but he’s dropkicked, and taken down with a drop toe hold. Badd cranks the arm to the delight of the crowd. Regal takes control and backs Badd into the corner, he monkeyflips Badd but Johnny hangs on, pops up and throws a hip toss. He tries a pin and the champ kicks out. Badd grabs an arm bar on the mat, Regal kicks to his feet and breaks it on the ropes. The crowd boos and Sir William massages his arm. Regal reaches out, it’s Badd with the wrist, Regal comes back with forearms. To the ropes and they exchange sunset flips, drop toe hold by Badd and he goes back to the arm. Regal lays in more forearms, fireman’s carry pick up and Regal is spun like a helicopter.
He rolls out of the ring dizzy, but here comes Badd flying over the top rope with a crossbody. From the apron, Regal is slung across the top rope. Badd charges with another crossbody, Regal moves and he hits the top rope hard. Regal is on the attack, the ref backs him away and Sir William uses the cane to his advantage. Badd is pummeled with forearms but he wants some more. Regal with a hair takedown and he drives the forearm across the nose. He scissors Johnny’s arm and pounds away, yanking on the neck while he’s at it. Ringside Doug Dillinger is getting into it with a “fan” who has been causing trouble everywhere they go. European uppercut and a reverse chin lock by Regal.
Badd powers to his feet, hits some shots on the gut and scores with a knee lift. Regal pops back up and knocks him to the mat with another European uppercut. They exchange blows in the corner, Regal with the drop toe hold and he moves into a full nelson on the mat. Badd uses the fan support to get back to vertical, he bumps Regal’s gut hits the ropes and runs into a back elbow. Badd kicks out at two. Badd with a combo and an atomic drop. He sends Regal for the ride and a high elevation back drop. Regal reverses the whip and lifts Badd, Johnny counters with a head scissor takedown. Badd is dumped to the floor.
Back on the apron, he tries a sunset flip, William offers Regal the cane but the ref kicks it away, the champ escapes at two. William holds bad from the apron, Johnny moves and is clubbed by Lord Steven. Badd almost scores the upset on a schoolboy but Regal kicks at two. Arm drag by Badd but Regal moves away from the elbow. More uppercuts from Regal, on the third try, Badd counters by hooking the arms. He pulls Regal to the mat with a backslide, we have a new champion!
Winner and NEW WCW World Television Champion: Johnny B. Badd (Backslide)
- EA’s Take: Well, they finally paid off Johnny’s popularity with the fans. He’s been given US and TV Title matches, but has been an ‘Also Ran’ for a while. Regal looked hilarious in the powdered wig and while he would speak about enjoying being a comedic character on an episode of Table For 3 along with Sheamus and King Barrett many years later, it’s a part of his career that’s vastly underrated.
Video: At Clash of the Champions, Ric Flair sent a masked man to attack Hulk Hogan from behind. Nick Bockwinkel explains that if Hogan can’t get in the ring, he’d have to forfeit the title to challenger Flair. The Nature Boy taunts Hogan while his music playing, not expecting Hulkster to show his face. The champion comes out with his knee heavily taped and goes wild on Flair. There was a disqualification when the masked man reappears, and the two gang up on him. Ric Flair was suspended as a result.
Match #2 – Loser Leaves WCW: Kevin Sullivan w/Dave Sullivan vs. Cactus Jack
The action starts on the floor right away, Sullivan throws Jack over the guard rail. They slug it out and Jack tosses Sullivan back to ringside. They move to the ring and Sullivan drops a headbutt. Jack reverses the momentum and introduces him to the top turnbuckle. Sullivan tumbles back to the floor after a right. Jack throws Sullivan into the ring post and lifts the mat off the concrete. Sullivan crawls as Jack goes to the 2nd turnbuckle. Dave Sullivan stops him from jumping and Kevin climbs up and tosses Cactus on the cement.
He follows it with a scoop slam on the exposed floor. He comes in with a knee lift and throws him head first into the apron. Sullivan attacks Jack’s recently injured ear. Jack fights back with some kicks and knocks him down with a right, *bang bang*. To the ropes, Sullivan runs into an elbow and Jack connects with an elbow drop. Sullivan is dumped back to the floor and Jack sets up a piledriver, Sullivan reverses with a back body drop on the concrete. Sullivan rushes him with a clothesline, again on the exposed floor. Jack struggles back to the apron and Sullivan keeps kicking him away. Jack throws a chair in the ring but Nick Patrick takes it away.
Irish whip reversal by Jack but he runs into a boot. Sullivan dumps him outside, Jack tries to use the chair but Dave grabs it away. Sullivan throws him face first into the steel steps and rolls Jack back into the ring. Kevin grabs a new chair, he winds up, Dave Sullivan grabs it, Kevin looks confused. Cactus Jack rushes in with a knee lift, Sullivan moves out of the way. Jack’s head connects with Dave’s, knocking him on his back. Kevin makes the pin, and Jack must leave WCW.
Winner: Kevin Sullivan (Outside Interference)
- Off The Top: Hi ho, Hi ho, to ECW Jack goes! Well, it’s time to start the exodus of WCW mid to upper-mid carders who became massive stars in WWF’s Attitude Era. We aren’t far removed from Dustin Rhodes getting a pink slip for blading. You wouldn’t even know Jean Paul-Levesque (Triple H) is in the company right now, as he hasn’t been featured on a PPV yet, but he’s out the door in a few months. Steve Austin gets injured in early 1995 and is subsequently (and infamously) fired via FedEx. Amazing to think all four left or were fired in well under a calendar year. We all know the rest of their stories.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by The Stud Stable who will be competing in the WarGames match tonight. Bunkhouse Buck and Col. Robert Parker explain that the Col. was not supposed to be in this match, it’s supposed to be Meng, but he’ll do what he has to. Terry Funk chimes in and is looking forward to going after the “FBI” – Fat Boys Incorporated. Arn Anderson talks about the score that must be settled between he and the Rhodes. The time has come to reach down and finding something to make another man quit. They came here to die tonight if they must, because they are not going to quit.
In the Ring: WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel explains that since WCW United States Champion Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat cannot compete, he must forfeit to his scheduled opponent ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin. Steamboat explains that tomorrow he starts his rehab tomorrow and reminds Stunning Steve that he beat him for the title, he never was defeated. Austin explains that Steamboat saved himself a hell of an ass kicking. Austin heads for the back, but Bockwinkel says he will need to defend it. Stunning Steve is not interested, but Bockwinkel explains that he is contractually obligated. His opponent is a debuting ‘Hacksaw Jim Duggan’.
Match #3 for the WCW United States Championship: ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan vs. WCW United States Champion ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin
USA chants break out and the bell rings. Austin desperately protests wrestling. Bockwinkel tells him if he doesn’t he’s taking his title away. Austin tries to leave, Bockwinkel pulls him back into the center of the ring. Duggan hits a back body drop and splashes on top for the pin. We already have a new champion!
Winner and NEW WCW United States Champion: ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan (Splash)
- After The Bell: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by the new champion. This is the greatest night of Hacksaw’s life, the hair on the back of his neck is standing. He’s sympathetic to Steamboat, but he’s pumped. Additionally, he’s never seen anything as disgraceful as what Ric Flair did to Hulk Hogan, when Hulk gets his hands on him he will pay.
- EA’s Take: Well, two title changes and a Loser Leaves Town Match…you can’t say this has been an inconsequential night so far. That was a nice long reign by Austin, huh? Shocked that he was on the receiving end of a squash, but it was entertaining. Unfortunately for WCW, it’s one of the many things that pisses Austin off and contributes to his attitude starting to suck, which ultimately leads to Bischoff basically having to let him go (Austin even admits these days he was NOT a happy camper and deserved it).
Match #4 for the WCW World Tag Team Championships: Stars & Stripes (The Patriot & Marcus Alexander Bagwell) vs. WCW World Tag Team Champions Pretty Wonderful (‘Pretty’ Paul Roma & ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff)
Doug Dillinger kicks the disruptive fan (Blacktop Bully) out of the arena after he goes crazy yelling at Stars and Stripes. Bagwell gets the USA chants going while Pretty Wonderful takes their time removing their robes and sunglasses. Bagwell and Roma will start us off, Bagwell helps the fans chant Paula. Roma ambushes Bagwell and knocks him down with rights and stomps a hole in him. A forearm across the shoulder blades and they hit the ropes. Bagwell ducks multiple clotheslines and takes Roma out with a crossbody, Roma kicks out. Hiptoss by Bagwell and he grabs the wrist, cranking on it.
Tag is made to Patriot, he sticks with the wrist cranking it around and around. Forearm shot from Roma and Orndorff is tagged in. They try a double team but Patriot gets his fist in Wonderful’s gut. Full arm drag and twist and a tag is made to Bagwell. It’s Orndorff’s turn to have his wrist and arm abused. Orndorff drops to his knees. Orndorff fights with forearms, they hit the ropes and it’s Bagwell with a shoulder block followed by a cross body. Patriot is tagged in and emulates his partner. Orndorff escapes to his corner and checks in with Roma, tagging him in. Collar and elbow, Patriot grabs a wristlock, tags in Bagwell and they hit a double team hiptoss.
Back to the arm for Bagwell, shoulder block to Roma. Bagwell hits the ropes again but he’s struck from behind by Orndorff. Wonderful claims he did nothing but when the ref turns his back he takes more cheapshots. Roma from behind with a reverse chin lock, and he lifts him up by the neck and drops Bagwell on his back. Orndorff with some theatrics and he drops an elbow across Bagwell’s neck. Bagwell is thrown into the corner, Orndorff driving his shoulder into the gut. Snapmare and another elbow by the champ. Front facelock applied to Bagwell, he works up to his feet, Bagwell is sent to the ropes and he leaps for a sunset flip. He can’t get Orndorff over, Wonderful sits on Bagwell’s chest and poses for a cover.
Bagwell hooks his arms and rolls him up, Orndorff kicks at two. Tag is made to Roma, high elevation drop kick to Bagwell. He’s slow to cover and Bagwell kicks out. Scoop slam by Roma and he climbs to the top rope, scoring with a big elbow drop. He taunts before making the cover, Patriot makes the save. With the ref’s back turned, Bagwell is thrown over the top rope by Orndorff. Wonderful drives Bagwell head first into Bobby Heenan’s cooler. Patriot checks on his partner while Pretty Wonderful poses. Bagwell tries to work his way up, and Orndorff grabs the cooler and dumps out the contents on Marcus. Bagwell is rolled into the ring and immediately sent for a clothesline.
Orndorff sets up for a piledriver, Bagwell reverses with a desperation backdrop. Orndorff is up first and tags in Roma. Front face lock applied, but Bagwell works back to vertical. He lifts Roma but Pretty Paul hangs on. He slowly inches his way to the Patriot and the hot tag is made. Orndorff rushes the ring and Patriot takes care of both of them with scoop slams and drop kicks. He clotheslines both of the tag champs and Orndorff rolls out of the ring. Wonderful attacks the still recovering Bagwell and drops him with a piledriver. Inside the ring, Patriot hits a side slam and goes for a cover, the ref won’t count because he’s not the legal man. Bagwell is rolled back in and Patriot goes back to the apron and reaches for a tag but Roma reaches over and covers Bagwell to retain the titles.
Winners and STILL WCW World Tag Team Champions: Pretty Wonderful (Roma/Orndorff Piledriver)
- EA’s Take: Bagwell has had a couple of interesting tag team partners along the way. I guess I’ll revisit who my favorite was after the American Males days, but I still think his pairing with Scorpio had way more potential than what they accomplished. Really confusing finish here because I never got the impression the referee didn’t see the tag. But, overall a much better match for the tag champs than last PPV by a wide margin.
Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1 (3/25/2012)
Branching out beyond the safety of the American coastlines, Chairshot Classics begins to delve into PROGRESS. Harry starts the journey at the logical, with in depth coverage and finer details on what made the matches happen.
What I Watched – A Chairshot Classics Presentation
PROGRESS Chapter 1: ‘In The Beginning’
By Harry Broadhurst
Man, been a while since I’ve done one of these. Greetings and salutations all. My name is Harry Broadhurst. A little bit about myself: I am the host of the ‘Raw Reaction’ here on the Chairshot Radio Network along with Tony Acero and Andrew Balaz (one of the big wigs here at thechairshot.com). I’ve been a part of the podcast network since it launched as the Raw Reaction just celebrated it’s fifth anniversary back in April.
Back in the days when this website was still WrestlingSmash, I used to be the guy who did what Steven Mitchell does. I would review Raw, SmackDown, Impact and Main Event under the title of “What I Watched”. I did some DVD reviews for another website a while ago as well but those eventually slowed down when schedules changed. I’ve been wanting to get back into reviews and I figure that now that I have a bit more free time, I want to spotlight more independent companies that don’t usually get highlighted.
I spoke to Greg about this and we both agreed that one of the hottest promotions in the world right now is the England based PROGRESS Wrestling. While we were talking, the idea that there isn’t a lot available on the history of the company came up and we intend to change that. Jim Smallman and his crew have created some of the most buzz we’ve ever seen for an independent wrestling company. They have even gotten themselves noticed to the point that the WWE’s NXT is going to be partnering with PROGRESS when it launches NXT:UK. The WWE UK Championship has been defended in PROGRESS and multiple members of the active WWE roster have appeared on the shows, both before and during their times in the WWE itself.
Well, even a promotion as big as PROGRESS has a beginning. ‘In The Beginning’, to be specific. We go back to the twenty fifth of March in 2012 for this one. And this show helps set the stage for the first PROGRESS Wrestling Heavyweight champion to be crowned. Into the way back machine we go and it’s now time for ‘In The Beginning’ or PROGRESS Chapter 1.
WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.
WRITER’S NOTE #2: Due to the fact that Greg considers reviews to be opinion pieces, I am of the opinion that you should be able to form your own thoughts of the matches. Therefore, I will not be posting any of the finishes inside the review itself. But if you want to know, I will post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contest. The final show review will be after that, so if you want to read that without seeing results, I recommend scrolling to the bottom and moving up the page.
MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating. In addition, keeping with my run here with the Chairshot, I’m going to issue a ‘Final Reaction’ at the end of the reviews. Best match/moment, worst match/moment, Final Score and MVP (Most Valuable Performer).
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1
‘In The Beginning’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: March 25th, 2012
Run Time: 1:55:45
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton and www.backbodydrop.com for some of the research that I did while working on this review.
*No opening promo from Smallman, which would become a fixture of the company. Instead, a quick graphic for the company takes us to a quick graphic for our opening contest.
*General Notes: The lighting for this venue is awful. At least a third of the ring is in relative darkness. Hopefully that gets fixed quickly going forward…the crowd is super hot for this show. The play-by-play announcer? Not so much. Not sure if he’s the same guy around to this day. If he is, he has improved tremendously. If it’s not, it’s easy to see why…commentary note: upon doing a bit of research, apparently it was Jim Smallman doing commentary in studio afterward under the name Jimmy Barnett. Makes sense that he would turn those reigns over, given his other duties with the company…setup is really weird with where they have the hard cam placed. You can clearly see monitors directly in front of the hard cam. One of them is clearly for music. The other looks like it’s set to Microsoft Excel…the ending graphics give all the information about social media presence. I can start including that stuff in the reviews if you guys want me too.
*Semifinal #1: Noam Dar vs. El Ligero
The Who: Yes, the Cruiserweight Classic’s (and now 205 Lives‘) Noam Dar as he is one of the guys who would move on to work for the WWE after getting some notoriety here in PROGRESS. El Ligero is a guy who fans of What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW from here on, though it is now known as Defiant Wrestling) are very familiar. I can’t say I’ve seen a whole lot of him personally, but I have heard good things
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the first of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: I may be wrong, but I think Smallman is the ring announcer, which I believe is a job he still does to this day…the inset promos are a nice touch. Not something you traditionally get from what basically amounts to an independent show…crowd makes it very clear very early who they are rooting for in this contest…have to say, a little sloppier then I expected to open. I’ll chalk that up to nerves though…and the first dive out of the ring happens at the minute and a half mark. Yep, indie wrestling…at least to me, Dar is clearly the more proficient of the two. It really doesn’t surprise me that he has found his way to a WWE contract…Dar with a really nice airplane spin that he combos into a Northern Lights. Very well done…Ligero with what looks like a version of the ‘S.O.S.’ but coming out of it, Dar catches him with a good looking burning clothesline…the roaming cam is not the same quality as the hard cam, but it’s a lot less distracting due to the monitors…Dar with a leg grapevine for an extended period before Ligero gets the ropes. Luckily, the crowd doesn’t seem to mind it as they are still very into it, especially for Ligero’s escape…one of the issues with PROGRESS can be the fan’s snarkiness. Pretty sure I just heard a slur for homosexual chanted by them here. Not exactly the impression you want to leave with potential first time viewers. Little surprised that hasn’t been edited out…and there’s the finish. Solid little match to open. Nothing super groundbreaking, but still worth the time that it runs for. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz vs. Colossus Kennedy
The Who: I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about Nathan Cruz. I don’t believe I have seen him compete before and if I have, I clearly don’t remember it. I’ve heard of him though. I can’t say the same of his opponent as this is the first time I’ve even heard of Colossus Kennedy. The name is definitely fitting though as the guy looks to be every bit of six foot five or six and three hundred pounds.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the second of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: That is a big boy in Colossus for sure…both men get inset promos for this match. Nathan comes off far more charismatic then Kennedy does. Nathan knows the character he wants to portray, whereas Colossus is just your average generic big guy…six foot six and three hundred sixty pounds. Really big boy by Indy wrestling standards…early chants from the crowd compare Kennedy to both the ‘Funkasaurus’ (that was a thing on Raw at the time) and Earthquake. Let’s not throw around the good name of John Tenta too freely, shall we?…Kennedy is a little clunky, so I don’t imagine he’s been wrestling all that long at this point. He does move well for a guy his size. He does a tabletop suplex (fall away slam position into a vertical) that looks really sloppy, though…they play up a pretty simple ‘big guy, smaller guy’ dynamic here. The crowd is into hating on Cruz, so it works. The ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chant does make me chuckle…the announcer attempts to put the crowd over as one of the most comedic he’s ever been around. He just says it so blandly that it loses meaning. To be fair (and I know I’ve ripped the guy twice already), he’s commentating by himself. Few can pull that off serviceably. Even fewer (Joey Styles and Lenny Leonard spring to mind) can do so and be entertaining…Kennedy impresses me with the selling of the leg, as he reverses Cruz into the corner. He then tries an avalanche but the leg gives out on him as he attempts to get across the ring…the commentator spent the entire match putting over Kennedy’s Lariat, even mentioning that his favorite wrestler to watch was Stan Hansen. So, it’s a little bit of a surprise that it’s not the finish when he hits it, as Cruz cleanly kicks out…and there’s the finish. I think the right guy wins here, as there is clearly a drop in talent between the two. The match itself is serviceable, but nothing you would remember by the end of the show most likely. They tell a good story but it never really gets out of first gear. (AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason (with Becky James) vs. Colt Cabana
The Who: Mike Mason and Becky James, I have never heard of. To give a visual comparison for fellow independent wrestling fans, the closest I could give you would probably be “Mr. Showtime” Scot Summers or Davey Richards. Colt Cabana, I don’t think I need to expand upon. Arguably the biggest competitor currently in independent wrestling at the time, Still to this day, Cabana is a huge draw on the Indy circuit, even if his appearances are a lot less frequent then they used to be.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the third of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Cabana is one of those guys promoters bring in to give a local a marquee match against a name talent. That or he’s there to make people laugh. I’ll assume one of those is going to be the M.O. here…pre-match, Colt throws what I believe are tennis balls at Mason and Becky. Make your own jokes here…man, there is a noticeable size disparity between the two. Colt is not a huge guy by any stretch (he’s muscular but not tall), but he towers over Mason…it’s the not family friendly Colt this evening as he stands on the bottom turnbuckle, pushes out his groin and states “I do have a foreign object” or something to that effect…the crowd gets on the referee for not checking Cabana, but really, it’s the right call…Cabana stuffs his singlet with a tennis ball and the announcer quickly takes the ‘pleased to see us’ route…this is all before the opening bell, mind you…opening bell finally does ring and it’s tennis ball shenanigans…a series of tennis ball tosses with the crowd lead to a very snarky ‘this is wrestling’ chant as the announcer points out that Mason is a replacement for RJ Singh…it eventually breaks into a bit of a mat wrestling contest, where Cabana dominates…more shenanigans such as a dancing sequence and then an airplane spin that leads to Colt exclaiming “I’m getting so fucking dizzy”…James gets involved and Cabana tumbles through the ropes to finally put Mason in control of the contest…there’s a dog theme to Mason’s gimmick, but if I’m being honest, I’m not seeing a lot of steak to go with the sizzle thus far…a shoulder into the ring post turns the tide back into Cabana’s favor…it’s hard to describe Colt matches, because while there is a lot of stuff going on, most of it isn’t actual wrestling…Cabana gets the Billy Goat’s Curse (reverse Boston Crab) on, but Becky James gets onto the apron and distracts both Cabana and the referee…and that leads directly into the finish. As I said during the course of the match, Cabana matches make for entertaining experiences, but not a ton on the actual wrestling scale. This was basically Colt playing the hits of the kind of matches he would normally have. Mason could have really been anyone else in the locker room, outside of the shenanigans with the tennis ball (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #4: Zach Sabre Jr. vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: Where to begin here? Not that either of these guys need a formal introduction from me, but here goes: Sabre Jr. people will know from the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and a host of other places. I think you can make the argument that Sabre is the best technical wrestler in the world. ‘Party Marty’ as he’s known here has become an international superstar in his own right as the ‘Villain’ Marty Scurll in many of the same places that Sabre Jr. frequents, with the exception of the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, but that was due to Marty being under a NJPW contract at the time of that taping. Back here at this show in March of 2012, these guys were part of a tag team known as the ‘Leaders of the New School’. This is by far my most anticipated of the first round matches.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the fourth and final participant in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Sabre Jr. points out that he ‘chuffing loves arm-bars’ in his pre-match promo. That may be the understatement of the DVD thus far…my intro to Marty Scurll was as ‘Party Marty’ in wXw (Germany), but man is it weird watching a Scurll match in 2018 and not seeing the ‘Villain’…even as early as we are here, you can see the ‘Villain’ in there. Especially with how he works the crowd. One of the most charismatic men in wrestling…noticeable differences for these two with the power game of Scurll and the mat game of Sabre. It’s an easy story to tell…and we have the first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant that would become a staple of the company going forward…despite not being as good as Sabre on the mat, Scurll more then holds his own. It’s easy to forget with the frat boy character he had at the time that Marty could really go…dead lift suplex attempt by Scurll countered into a rolling cross-arm breaker by Sabre. So pretty…Sabre really put the torque on an abdominal stretch variation. Despite being partners, they are definitely not holding back against each other…super high and tight on the Liger Bomb and rolled right into another arm bar variation. Scurll quick to the ropes, but man, did it look vicious…everything is so fluid between these two…and right as I type that, a pretty decent piece of miscommunication going into the double down, but they recover well enough from it…for all the praise he gets for being so technically gifted, Sabre’s kicks either look really good and don’t hurt or are legit stiff as all hell…and there’s the finish. A little surprised by the decision but given where they’d both end up in the company, not a complete surprise. That said, quite far and away the best thing on the card thus far. These two do not hold back, as they lay in the strikes and kicks. Not only that, but the ground game was on point as well. Multiple ‘This is PROGRESS’ chants are well earned here. Early leader in the clubhouse for best match in PROGRESS history. (VERY GOOD, CLOSE TO EXCELLENT)
*BWC (British Wrestling Council) Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Zack ‘Diamond’ Gibson vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen vs. Xander Cooper ©
The Who: I have not a clue who two of the three people in this match are. The names Darrell Allen and Xander Cooper mean nothing to me, as this is the first I’ve heard of both. Zack Gibson I am familiar, though. Zack was the winner of the UKCT 2, giving him a chance to take on Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship on Night 2 of the WWE UKCT2 special. He is no where near ‘Liverpool’s Number One’ here though. Even though he’s a heel (being announced from Liverpool drew boos from the fans, who wouldn’t know good ‘footy’ if it bite them in the ass), he has long hair here, looking nothing like what we would see of him in the WWE.
The Why: Triple threat, one fall to a finish (I think) for the BWC Scarlo Scholarship. Apparently, upon doing a bit of research, this belt was put together as a well to promote talent from the most reputable schools on the British scene.
The Match: Inset promos from all three before the match. As a Liverpool FC fan, I’m immediately biased towards Gibson. Much like I was during the aforementioned UKCT2…commentator mentions that there will be a BWC match on every PROGRESS show going forward. We’ll see how long that lasts…not sure what the hell that was supposed to be, but they managed to save it…‘Man for All Seasons’ is a pretty nice little nickname. Give Cooper credit for that one…seems weird to see a high flyer as a heel, but that’s what Cooper is. Allen is a high flyer as well, but he’s a baby face…sunset bomb out of the corner with a avalanche exploder gets the sixth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant and first of the match…and one of the fans informs Cooper that he sucks a large dick. Keep it classy, lads…this match is falling into that traditional three way troupe of two guys in, one man out. It takes away from the special feeling of a triple threat when there is rarely any interaction between all three…fans are definitely not with Cooper. I believe they are calling him the ‘drizzling shits’…Cooper is relatively fluid in the ring and works the crowd well. Curious if he’s still involved with wrestling…sunset flip/German combo is only the second or third spot since the start of the match to involve all three…Gibson looks surprisingly tall here to me. Wonder if I just didn’t realize it or if the other two are just that small…maybe just me, but Gibson kind of looks like CM Punk during his ROH days here…alright, I’ve never seen that spot before. Very innovative…some very cool looking rollups in the ‘fish out of water’ sequence…Cooper looks like he was going for a hammerlock DDT, but Gibson gets out and eventually into a flying lungblower…fans are turning around on Gibson here. They started booing the crap out of him, but now appear to be behind him. Ring work won them over…this is the match of the enzugiri. At least six of them…Allen botches a 450 splash, landing with his knees right across the chest of Gibson. Don’t think that was supposed to happen…and there’s the finish. For what is essentially a ‘student’s match’, this actually turned out to be pretty good. Nothing great from any of the three, but there are several innovative spots (I watch a ton of wrestling and even I saw some stuff for the first time here) and there is nothing blown to the point that it takes you out of the match. The finish is cheap, but given where the belt ends up, it makes sense that they’d go the way they did here. Color me impressed by all three lads here. (GOOD)
*Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Championship Staff (Not Title): Fatal Four Way Elimination: El Ligero vs. Nathan Cruz vs. ‘Loco’ Mike Mason vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: The four men who were victorious in the qualifying matches earlier in the show. It is at this point that I realize spoilers are inevitable for this contest. My bad, ya’ll. This one’s on me.
The Why: To crown the first ever PROGRESS champion. Seems pretty obvious. It’s an Staff instead of a title. Pretty sure that would end up sticking around for a while if memory serves.
The Match: Smallman getting shitty about the fans calling the PROGRESS Staff a ‘Nazi Staff’ is by far and away the most entertaining that he ever is at commentary. It’s easily the most personality he’s shown, even with the unnecessary shot at Santino Marella thrown in…rolling flip dive over the ring post and to the floor by El Ligero. Impressive…and through the crowd they all go, as fans are already complaining about lack of visibility. It’s like a 1998 WWF pay-per-view main event…and some crowd interaction leads to a double chop on Cruz by Ligero and Scurll…upon thinking about it, definitely would compare Mason more towards Richards then Summers. Not sure if that’s a compliment, though…we’re focused on Ligero and Cruz, but you can clear as day hear Scurll shill his t-shirts and photos (12 and 3 pounds respectively). Ever the worker that Marty is…El Ligero gets the ‘ole’ chants in support. Makes me wonder if he’s any relation to that ‘Generico’ fellow who is now helping orphans down in Mexico…Ligero takes a backdrop out of a piledriver attempt on the stage. The building is a bar with a stage area, similar to the building CHIKARA has run in NYC before…hey, we’ve actually turned into something resembling a real wrestling match now. It only took us ten minutes to get there…why isn’t Mason disqualified for Becky pulling out the referee? If this is elimination, that seems like it would be grounds…shortly thereafter, a distracted Ligero is the first one gone…and then he immediately leads into the elimination of Mason…crowd is solidly behind Scurll here, but that’s no real surprise…Cruz keeps the edge for a bit, but Scurll gets an inverted fireman’s carry into a back cracker to put both men down…you’d think Cruz would have better conditioning here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Scurll looks ready to go still, despite his match earlier being about twice as long as Cruz’s…‘Nazi Staff’ chants again from the crowd as Smallman moans about it on commentary. Still kind of funny, so, curious if it becomes a running theme…Smallman calling out John Cena for a move annoys me though. You are a little fish, Jim. Cena’s a shark…never understood the count the next number thing that crowds do on a double down…the ref bump looked terribly contrived. Just awful…visual fall for Scurll leads to him trying to wake up the referee. A low blow followed by a diamond cutter from Cruz gets two…and there’s the finish one last time on the evening. I think the who makes sense. The how even makes sense as well, as they set up Chapter Two. What I didn’t care for was spending the first ten minutes of this match to be spent brawling all around the small building (attendance was approximately 250) with bad camera angles and a ton of missed moments. Once we got into the ring however, the match itself was well worked and very easily sets up the way for things going forward into the company. Call the main event a success, but with some reservations. (VERY GOOD, OPENING KEEPS FROM EXCELLENT)
Semifinal #1: El Ligero pins Noam Dar with a in-ring rope springboard tornado DDT @ 12:01 (Above Average)
Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz pins Colossus Kennedy with a sliding dropkick to the side of the head @ 10:40 (Average)
Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason pins Colt Cabana with a chain shot to the head @ 10:06 (Below Average)
Semifinal #4: ‘Party’ Marty Scurll pins Zach Sabre Jr. with a deep cradle sunset flip @ 21:44 (Very Good+)
BWC Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Xander Cooper © defeats Darrell Allen and Zack Gibson when he pins Gibson after stealing the pin from Allen @ 13:43 (Good)
Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff: Nathan Cruz wins 4 way elimination match @ 26:04, last pinning ‘Party’ Marty Scurll with a sliding dropkick to side of head (El Ligero eliminated @ 15:16 via sliding dropkick from Cruz. Mike Mason eliminated @ 15:53 via roll-up by Marty Scurll) (Very Good)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
The biggest issue I feel is the venue itself. It does not translate well to video. Thankfully, it would get better I hear. But as I mentioned at the top of the review, when half the ring is in darkness, that’s a problem.
Another issue that I had is lack of knowledge on competitors. Yes, there were people I knew. Colt Cabana, Zach Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll, Noam Dar and Zack Gibson being the main ones. But of a 11 man roster, that’s less then half that I’ve previously heard of. Granted, the idea was to have PROGRESS focus on the future of British and not be a super Indy. I get that, but a few more big names for the debut at least (like they way they used Cabana) wouldn’t have hurt.
Jim Smallman has done a wonderful job for himself with where PROGRESS has gotten to. The one thing Jim Smallman should not be allowed to do ever again is commentary by himself. He has a few moments here and there, but by and large, the commentary is a major turn off. Unnecessary shots at big name talent, general indifference to what’s going on in the ring and worst of all, not being able to even hear anything Smallman is saying hurts the show from a audio prospective.
Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. does not disappoint. I raved and raved about it during the review, so I won’t do so again here. The main event is a very strong match once we get past the brawling throughout the arena. Fun for the fans in the crowd? Sure but there were those who were complaining about the lack of visibility. Fun for the guy at home with a Roku remote in his hand? Not so much. The triple threat match for the ‘students’ is actually pretty good as well and a fun story was told by it.
They knew they had to crown a champion and they did so in the very first show. A lot of companies make the mistake of postponing the crowning of a champion and it leads to drops in attendance because you don’t know who the marquee attraction of the promotion is going to be. Here, going into Chapter Two, you have a champion people will pay to see get beaten and a probable challenger that the fans will be willing to pay to see win the title. It’s brilliant marketing.
Overall, a pretty fun little debut for the company that would end up taking British wrestling by storm. PROGRESS would obviously have things that would need to be worked on, as I addressed above. But where does that leave us? Well, it leaves me looking forward to going back to check out Chapter Two. It hopefully leaves you willing to come back and check out the show in question here to see if you agree or disagree with me. It leaves PROGRESS at the start of it’s path to being one of the, if not thee, driving force in the resurrection of the British Indy wrestling scene. Finally, it also leaves me needing something to eat. It’s been a long review.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Without a doubt, it’s a match and it’ll be the Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. match. Honorably mention to ‘Nazi Staff’ chant which drew a legit chuckle.
Worst match/moment: Moment here and it’s the setup. The lighting and the design of the arena was just awful. Made especially difficult with the opening to the main event.
MVP: I’m going to ‘Party’ Marty Scurll here. Despite the fact that he doesn’t walk out with the title, he stands out as the clear #1 guy for the company going forward. In addition, he was involved in both of the best matches on the show.
FINAL SCORE: 6.5/10
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter Two.