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: WWE Fastlane 2015 – Reigns vs. Bryan
Looking back at WWE Fastlane 2015 with Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan!
Eric brings you the details of WWE Fastlane 2015 in this edition of Chairshot Classics!
Open: A video talking about destinations and the Road To WrestleMania, highlighting the rivalries between Bryan/Reigns, Cena/Rusev and HHH/Sting.
Match #1: Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan & Ryback vs. Big Show, Kane & “Mr. Money In The Bank” Seth Rollins w/J&J Security
A clip from last Thursday’s Smackdown, which led up to this 6 man tag. Ziggler & Rollins kick it off, with Rollins leading the charge until Dolph gets a roll-up for a quick 2, goes for a superkick and Rollins ducks out for a breather. Crowd chants “You Sold Out” at Rollins. Rollins with a quick edge, thwarted by a Ziggler dropkick and he tags Rowan who overpowers Rollins. Rowan ducks a kick and gets a pumphandle backbreaker, followed by an elbow for 2. Rollins is able to worm away to his corner and tag Kane. Rowan with a body slam, leg drop and 2nd rope back elbow, but is pushed in the wrong part of town and Big Show tags.
Show unloads in the corner, catches a boot from Rowan, but Show sends Rowan to the outside. Show out after him gets pushed into the ring post, J&J approach but get scared off by Rowan, who then goes for a heel kick, Show moves and Rowan’s leg hits the post. Show works over the injured leg and makes the tag to Kane, who follows suit before making a tag to Rollins. Rollins hits a 2nd rope blockbuster for a near fall and then brings back Big Show. Show continues to punish the leg, goes for a Chokeslam, but is countered into a DDT. Show tags Rollins, who cheap shots Ziggler in the corner, but turns around into a heel kick by Rowan using the bad leg.
Rowan is finally able to crawl over and tag Ryback, who goes to work on Rollins with heavy offense. Rollins rolls away from a splash and goes for the Curb Stomp, but gets caught into a powerbomb. Ryback sets-up for the Meat Hook, but Kane slides in and ends up taking it. Rollins misses a move off the distraction, Ryback goes for Shell Shocked, then J&J Security hit the apron giving Rollins the chance for a roll-up that gets 2, immediately followed by a head kick for another near fall. Rollins to the top for a flying knee, Ryback ducks it but takes a kick on the other side. Rollins goes for another 2nd rope blockbuster and gets caught in Shell Shocked.
Show hits the ring and splashes Ryback and quickly rolls back out. Ziggler & Kane gets tags, Ziggler dropkicks Show on the apron, Kane looks for a Chokeslam that gets reversed and Kane is pushed into Show, knocking him to the floor. Jumping DDT by Ziggler for a near fall. Dolph goes for a Fameasser and gets caught in a side slam, countered and Ziggler with a superkick. Rollins tries to get in the ring and takes a Fameasser, then Dolph mounts Kane in the corner. Show hits Ziggler with a WMD from the outside and Kane covers to grab the win.
Winners: Big Show, Kane & Seth Rollins (Kane/Interference)
- After The Bell: The Authority celebrates in the ring and Rollins delivers a Curb Stomp to Ziggler. Ryback & Rowan come in, but the numbers game is too much for them. Ryback takes a Chokeslam and Rowan eats a Curb Stomp. They set Ryback up for a Curb Stomp, but out comes the returning Randy Orton, who proceeds to clean house. Noble suffers an RKO and Mercury gets caught coming off the 2nd rope with another. Rollins takes a kick trying to get in the ring with the briefcase and Orton sets him up for the IEDDT, but Big Show grabs Rollins from behind and saves him. Orton hits Kane with an RKO as Rollins retreats through the crowd and leaves the arena.
- EA’s Take: You had to figure it was about time for Orton to return, as he was never originally scheduled to be off for that long. The match itself was decent with the pace really picking up when Ziggler & Rollins would get in the ring, as you would expect. Rowan is in a really unusual state right now. He’s just not clicking as a face with the fans, as he continues to get little to no reaction. Unless you watch Smackdown, then he’s as popular as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Hopefully now we can see Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan go do something else, they need to get away from this Authority angle already.
Video: Reviewing the dissolution of the tag team and “cosmic” brothers, Gold & Stardust.
Backstage: In the locker room is Goldust. In walks his father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He talks about Dustin doing what he has to do, but not hurting his brother in the process. Goldust says tonight he’s not facing Cody and he has to beat Stardust so bad that he will never want to wear paint again. “Tonight, I’m not leaving that ring until I bring my brother Cody home.”
Match #2: Stardust vs. Goldust
They lock-up and Goldust back Stardust into the corner, tries to clean break and Stardust with a couple shoves. Lock-up again and Stardust backs Goldust up, pushes him again and then receives a slap in return that makes Stardust rethink his approach. Crowd chants “Cody” to Stardust’s extreme disdain. We get a nice back and forth, with neither man getting an edge until Stardust is arm dragged into a corner. More loud “Cody” chants. They go back at it with more back and forth, both men posturing until Goldust gets Stardust set-up for the Director’s Cut, but Stardust slips to the outside. Dusty Rhodes is shown watching on a monitor backstage.
Stardust tries for a running bulldog that gets countered into a backbreaker, Goldust follows up with a clothesline that dumps Stardust back outside. The “Cody” chants seem to be getting to Stardust. Both men are able to hit duck-under strikes, Goldust sets-up Stardust for Shattered Dreams, but he slips out onto the apron. Stardust goes for a sunset flip, but Goldust moves and heads to the 2nd rope and Stardust gets the boot up in the mid-section. Stardust goes to work on the boot, spilling Goldust to the outside and battering him into the ring apron before rolling him back inside and punishing Goldust’s torso. Stardust with a front suplex and an arrogant cover that gets 2.
Stardust just continues going to work on the rib area. Goldust misses a springboard back elbow, Stardust sets-up for Cross Rhodes, but Goldust counters into a roll-up and gets a very shaky 3 count.
Winner: Goldust (Roll-Up)
- After The Bell: Stardust looks stunned about the end of the match. Goldust implores Stardust to shake his hand, Stardust grabs it quickly and rolls out of the ring, still looking in shock from the outcome.
- EA’s Take: Really an odd ending because of the count. Was it supposed to go that way? It almost seemed like it was meant to be part of the story with the way Stardust was reacting. I’d expect this to continue on into a match at WrestleMania for Goldust’s farewell.
Video: Seth Rollins from Monday Night Raw last week, referencing that he could host The Daily Show better than Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart has a few choice words for Rollins and then Rollins has a retort, and invites Stewart to show up at Fastlane.
Backstage: Dusty Rhodes and Goldust are talking about the previous match when Stardust walks up and says it looks like a family reunion, but they forgot to invite him. Stardust asks Goldust if he thinks they’re done and ambushes him, beating him down. Dusty implores Stardust to stop, calling him ‘Cody’. Stardust tells Dusty that he killed Cody, by sending him “this bag of bones” and that he is no longer living in Dusty’s shadow.
Match #3 For The WWE Tag Team Championships: WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) w/Naomi vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro w/Natalya
Video of the dinner between Kidd/Natalya and Jimmy/Naomi from Smackdown 3 weeks ago. Kidd & Jey begin with Jey getting the upper-hand after a flying forearm and a slam, then a tag to Jimmy. Double team move now, a combo backbreaker/top rope forearm gets a 2 count. Jimmy with heavy chops and he hits a corkscrew senton from the top for a near fall. Kidd backs Jimmy in for a tag to Cesaro, shoots Jimmy in and runs him into Cesarom Jimmy counters but Cesaro chops the leg. Jimmy tries to fight out of the wrong corner, Kidd gets a tag and langs Jimmy’s leg across the ropes.
Kidd works the leg and makes a tag to Cesaro, for more of that same prescription. Cesaro with a one-legged big swing into a single leg crab, Kidd tags and hits a slingshot leg drop for a count of 2. Kidd continues to work the leg, wrapping it on the ring apron, but Jimmy gets himself a small window of opportunity. Cesaro rolls kid back inside and gets the tag as Jimmy reaches Jey, who hits a flurry of moves exclamated by a Samoan drop. He lines up for the Umaga Hip Attack, but Kidd is on the apron with a distraction that allows Cesaro to get a roll-up for 2. Jey with an enzuigiri and this time connects on the Umaga Hip Attack, but Cesaro is out at 2. Jey ascends the turnbuckle, but Cesaro hits the ropes which crotches Jey.
Kidd makes a tag, Cesaro hits the Swiss Superplex and Kidd follows with a springboard elbow drop that nearly wins them the titles. Kidd wants the Sharpshooter, counter by Jey, Kidd hits the apron and gets a roll-up on Jey, but Jimmy made a blind tag. Uso’s hit Alley Us and Jimmy covers, but Cesaro breaks it at 2 and pulls Kidd to the outside. Jimmy eats a kick from Kidd and Jey with an outside dive onto Cesaro. Kidd takes out Jey with a kick and here comes Jimmy who misses a baseball slide, then counters a kick from Kidd to a Samoan drop into the barricade. Jimmy rolls in Kidd and heads to the top, Cesaro’s distraction on the apron is thwarted and Jimmy goes for the Samoan Splash.
Kidd gets the knees up and rolls Jimmy into a cover for a near fall, then locks Jimmy in the Sharpshooter. Jey breaks it up with a kick to the back of the head, Cesaro in now and they brawl to the outside as Jimmy crawls to a cover that’s only good for 2. Cesaro rolls Jey into the ring which distracts the ref, then swallows a kick from Jimmy. Kidd capitalizes on the distraction and hits the swinging fisherman neckbreaker to capture the gold.
Winners and New WWE Tag Team Champions: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (Kidd/Swinging Fisherman Neckbreaker)
- EA’s Take: Lillian Garcia – “Here are your winners and still….the new WWE Tag Team Champions…”. Why in the BLUE HELL did they let Justin Roberts walk again? Anyway, this was yet another example of why The Uso’s are the best tag team in the business. Not to discredit Kidd & Cesaro because they are great too and I like the different paths they could take with them going forward in terms of challengers. There’s a bunch of babyface teams right now with the breakup of Gold & Stardust and the eventual split of The Miz & Damien Mizdow. Add to that the recent call-up of Kalisto to add The Lucha Dragons into the mix.
Video: Triple H talking about his allegiance to WWE, 2 weeks ago on Raw and what has led up to Triple H calling him out for tonight.
In The Ring: It’s time for that confrontation and here comes Triple H, who is wearing street clothes and not his usual suit. Triple H talks about last week on Raw, when he was confronted by Ric Flair about Sting and how he regrets losing his cool and apologized to Flair, but doesn’t apologize for what he said about Sting. He says he is not standing in the ring as the COO, but as the heartbeat of WWE, The Game, The King of Kings and “Sting, I am waiting for you!”. He makes Triple H think about it for a moment and finally “The Vigilante” Sting makes his way to the ring. HHH says that they are past pleasantries and cuts right to the chase, he knows why Sting is here and isn’t mad about it, but feels sorry for him.
HHH says Sting backed the wrong horse by being undyingly loyal to WCW, but he respects that Sting “went down with the ship”. HHH says that guys like himself made that ship go down and he knows Sting came for him because without HHH & Stephanie the “WWE dies.”, but Sting failed and that’s what Sting does. HHH offers to let Sting have his legacy back and wants to do what’s best for business by putting all this behind them and doing business with Sting. All Sting has to do is walk away and HHH promises to make Sting bigger than ever by putting out DVD’s, action figures, loads of merchandise and possibly someday get him a Hall of Fame induction. Sting still says nothing and HHH takes his coat off and says the other option is the hard way, where he will beat the legacy out of Sting and he’ll be carried out and his legacy erased.
HHH says the choice is Sting’s, but he still doesn’t respond. HHH says he can tell by the look in Sting’s eye, he’s already made up his mind and tries to sucker punch Sting. Sting sees it coming and attacks The Game, but is hit by the microphone and HHH takes over. HHH beats down Sting, yelling at him “I gave you a chance!”, before rolling to the outside and grabbing his trusty sledgehammer. Sting pulls a baseball bat out of his jacket and catches HHH under the chin with it, pushing him into the corner until HHH drops the sledgehammer outside. He backs off and points to the WrestleMania sign with the bat, HHH tries to sneak attack, but gets pushed back into the corner and Sting points to the sign again. This time HHH agrees, Sting pushes HHH back again, points to the sign once more and begins to make his exit. HHH comes up from behind, but takes a ball-bat to the gut and receives a Scorpion Death Drop before Sting leaves.
- EA’s Take: Seems like they are paying homage to the Sting/nWo storyline here a bit, with The Authority playing the nWo role. Loved this segment, Sting didn’t have to speak to get his point across. I’m not sure the WCW vs. WWE part of the story is really something that needs to be played up as much as they have been, but they ultimately need to talk about Sting’s history for the younger crowd to really understand the mark he’s made in the industry.
Backstage: We see Daniel Bryan preparing for his match with Roman Reigns later tonight.
Video: Recap of the Kickoff Show, where The Miz’s guest on Miz TV was Paul Heyman. Heyman says it doesn’t matter who wins tonight, Bryan or Reigns because they will lose to Brock Lesnar and we can “believe that”.
Match #4 For The WWE Divas Championship: Paige vs. WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella w/Brie Bella
Video of 3 weeks ago on Raw when The Bella’s sprayed Paige with tanner, then last week when they stole her ring gear and Paige had to wrestle in Rosebud attire. According to Lillian Garcia, Nikki is the Women’s Champion. Brawl to start and Nikki rolls out of the ring, Paige after her with Brie standing in the way, Paige catches Nikki in the ring, then goes for the knees on the apron that is countered and Paige spills to the floor. Nikki sends Paige into the apron and barricade, then back in the ring for a 1 count. Nikki grounds Paige and hits an Alabama Slam for a count of 2. Nikki continues to control until Paige gets in a kick, goes for a roll-up into the bottom turnbuckle, Nikki botches it. Paige with a series of clotheslines and a dropkick for 2.
Nikki ducks a kick into a roll-up that gets 2. Paige connects with the kick this time for another near fall. Paige sets-up for RamPaige, Nikki counters to a facebuster, but Paige retorts with a side kick and crawls into a count of 2. Nikki is caught climbing up top, she counters Paige into a powerbomb for 2. Paige is able to set for the PTO, but Nikki gets the ropes before Paige fully locks it in. Nikki grabs Paige’s tights and hauls her face-first into the turnbuckle, then rolls her up and grabs the tights again for the win.
Winner and STILL WWE Divas Champion: Nikki Bella (Roll-Up)
- EA’s Take: If this is headed in the direction that I think it is, which is the return of AJ Lee to help Paige…then shouldn’t Brie have gotten involved to help Nikki win? Maybe AJ is not the plan after all.
Match #5 For The WWE Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett
Clip of last Monday’s Raw, when Ambrose zip-tied Barrett to the ring post and forced him to sign the contract for an IC Title match. Both men connect with strikes, trying to prove who’s tougher, Ambrose with the advantage hits a crossbody and some rights, Barrett avoids a clothesline and ducks outside to regroup. Barrett back in, still can’t solve the puzzle of Ambrose, absorbs punishment until he catches Ambrose on the top with a big boot. Barrett sends Ambrose face-first into the steel steps before rolling him in and now he punishes Ambrose in the corner and grounds him. Ambrose gets a couple strikes in, but runs into Barrett’s boot and to the outside.
Barrett throws Ambrose in the ring, but he counters with a variation of the pendulum clothesline on the outside. Inside they go and Ambrose hits a tornado DDT and they double down. Ambrose is on fire now with a series of strikes and a running bulldog, he goes to the top, hops Barrett and rolls through. Barrett looks for Winds Of Change, Ambrose reverses into a roll-up for 2. Ambrose delivers a dropkick and a top rope diving elbow for a near fall. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, countered into Wasteland, Ambrose gets out and takes a kick, springs off for a pendulum clothesline again countered and Barrett hits Wasteland for 2.
Barrett sets his sights on a Bullhammer, Ambrose into a roll-up for 2 and then hits with the pendulum clothesline and Barrett rolls outside. Barrett grabs his title and tries to leave, but Ambrose with a suicide dive. Barrett tries escaping through the crowd, but Ambrose gets him back in the ring. Barrett tries to crawl out again, Ambrose catches him and delivers a beat down in the ropes. Ambrose doesn’t break on the refs count and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: Bad News Barrett (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: Ambrose hits Barrett with Dirty Deeds, goes to leave, then comes back in and grabs the IC Title.
- EA’s Take: This was one of the more predictable finishes of the night, as its been rumored that they’re penciled in to go 1-1 at WrestleMania. Decent match that did what it needed to do and advanced the story and rivalry between Ambrose & Barrett.
In The Ring: The Undertaker’s druids come out carrying torches to a spiritual chant. Taker’s music hits and out comes 2 more druids, pushing a casket down the aisle and up next to the ring. The casket opens to reveal…Bray Wyatt. Bray says there’s a wicked feeling in the air tonight. He talks about the first time he saw The Undertaker and how he feared him, but now he has become like everyone else, weak and broken with his soul lost. Bray says it’s time for Taker to go home. He knows he can hear him and he wants Taker to know he’s not afraid anymore. He is the new face of fear. “At WrestleMania, I will claim the soul of The Undertaker.”
- EA’s Take: Great way to keep the suspense of whether or not Undertaker will accept the challenge by Bray. I’d leave Taker off until WrestleMania or perhaps even the Raw before. Bray Wyatt is pure gold and doesn’t need Taker to appear to make this feud interesting. Wyatt is a perfect example of someone when they’re firing on all cylinders.
Panel: Renee Young and the rest of the Kickoff panel offer their thoughts on what just happened with Bray Wyatt. Booker T, Corey Graves & Byron Saxton recap the nights events.
Video: The buildup between John Cena and Rusev, leading up to their match tonight for the United States Championship.
Match #6 For The WWE United States Championship: John Cena vs. WWE United States Champion Rusev w/Lana
They feel each other out and circle around, Cena floors Rusev with a right and grabs a headlock. Rusev with a big kick for 2, then begins to dominate Cena with strikes in the corner. Cena fights back and shoots Rusev in, but falls victim to a spinning heel kick and a count of 2, then goes back to beating Cena down. Rusev grabs another near fall off a corner avalanche, Cena’s out on the apron and Rusev drives him off into the barricase, rolls him in for a cover and gets 2. Rusev gets distracted by the crowd and hits a dropkick for 2, only to have the favor returned by Rusev for 2 as well.
Cena gets a short burst of energy and takes Rusev down, raining fists, hits a shoulder tackle off the rope, goes for another and gets caught in a fallaway slam. Rusev really in control and gets 2 off multiple elbow drops. Cena uses Rusev to get to his feet and throws some gut shots, whip into the corner and runs into a back elbow, before being grounded by Rusev again. Cena powers out of the hold and takes a kick, Rusev goes for a suplex and Cena reverses, then hits a big clothesline for a count of 2. Cena tries the AA, Rusev counters into a DDT for a 2 count. Splashes in the corner by Rusev only get another 2 and Rusev shows signs of frustration. Cena shows signs of life and makes the comeback, hitting the 5 Knuckle Shuffle and going for an AA, Rusev pushes off and kicks Cena’s head off for another near fall.
Rusev tries to go for The Accolade, Cena counters to the STF, Rusev pushes off and hits a Gunnslinger that Rusev can’t believe doesn’t get 3. Rusev charges Cena and runs into a boot, Cena to the 2nd rope hits a tornado DDT, Rusev kicks out at 2. They slug it out in the middle of the ring, Cena looks AA again, Rusev goes for another Gunnslinger, but Cena turns it into a crossface. Rusev just powers out of the hold and hits an Alabama Slam, Cena kicks after a 2 count. Rusev attempts The Accolade once more, Cena catches his foot and gets him in the STF, but Rusev makes it to the ropes. Cena sets for an AA, Rusev is out with an elbow then a kick, looks for another superkick and this time Cena connects on the AA, but still can’t get a 3 count.
Cena climbs to the top and goes for the leg drop, Rusev catches him into a powerbomb and immediately locks in The Accolade. Cena breaks the grip a couple times and is finally able to get to his feet with Rusev on his back. Lana enters the ring and distracts the ref, Rusev with a low blow and then a kick to the face. He slaps The Accolade on again and Cena passes out.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Rusev (The Accolade)
- After The Bell: Trainers check on John Cena, who is still unconscious, face down in the ring. Rusev & Lana celebrate and the Russian flag drops behind them. Cena starts to come-to, but has trouble getting to his feet. He fights off help and heads to the back.
- EA’s Take: Really liking the mid-card title scene since some of the bigger names have been getting involved. Both the IC & US titles have been begging for a revival and these kinds of feuds will do that. Lana’s interference allows for a logical reason to have the rematch at Mania, which is where this is headed. Hopefully, more layers can be added to the story to keep it interesting until then.
Panel: Back to the Kickoff Panel to recap the night before heading to the main event.
Video: The rising tension between Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns, as they vie for a spot in the main event at WrestleMania.
Match #7 – Winner Gets WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match At WrestleMania: Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
They posture, lock up and break clean. Dueling Bryan & Reigns chants. They posture, lock-up and break again. Both men still trying to feel each other out, Bryan gains a headlock, Reigns powers out and reverses, catching Bryan with a shoulder, Bryan comes back with a roll-up for 2. Bryan catches Roman’s legs and attempts a surfboard, but Reigns powers out, leading Bryan to ponder his next move. Bryan kicks at Reigns, but is overpowered. Bryan flips over Reigns and hits the ropes, Reigns with a tilt-a-whirl slam, then clotheslines Reigns to the outside. Reigns follows him and viciously attacks Bryan using the barricade.
Bryan catches Reigns with a kick back in the ring, trying to cut Reigns down at the legs. Reigns breaks a submission with heavy rights, slingshots Bryan across the top, hits a Samoan drop and a flying clothesline. He charges Bryan, but Bryan with a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. Bryan charges and is hammered with a big clothesline that turns Bryan inside-out for a count of 2. Reigns hits rolling suplexes and his signature apron dropkick, then sets-up the Superman Punch. Bryan counters with a kick and tries to take advantage, but the ref is checking on Reigns to see if he can continue. The match goes on and Bryan works the mid-section, the same area that Reigns had hernia surgery months before. Cormer dropkicks precede a top rope hurricanrana attempt by Bryan, countered by Reigns into a powerbomb for a near fall.
Reigns crushes Bryan with clotheslines in the corner, props him up top, but Bryan counters and seats Reigns on the turnbuckle. Bryan lands a top rope back suplex that only gets 2. Bryan gets the Yes Lock, but Reigns drags him to the ropes and rolls outside. Bryan hits on 2 suicide dives, goes for a third and is caught into an overhead belly to belly on the floor. Reigns has Bryan in his crosshairs for a Spear, but Bryan side swipes him into the steel steps. Both men struggle to reach the ring before the count of 10, but do. Bryan comes off the top and is caught with a Superman Punch for 2. Reigns tries a Spear and Bryan catches him in a roll-up for a near fall. Bryan with a big kick, and then connects with Knee Plus, but Reigns kicks at 2.
Reigns on his knees and Bryan goes back to the kicks, tries for a head kick, but Reigns catches the leg. Bryan slaps Reigns and snatches the arm, worming down to the mat into the Yes Lock. Reigns finally powers out and mounts Bryan, hammering down with big forearms. Bryan grabs a triangle choke, Reigns is able to lift him up and slam him to break. They double down and then get into a striking contest on the mat, Bryan to his feet and hits the big head kick before setting up for Knee Plus again. Bryan charges and Reigns catches him with a Spear to get the victory.
Winner: Roman Reigns (Spear)
- After The Bell: Both men are in the ring, spent. Bryan grabs Reigns and turns him arounf. Face to face, Bryan tells Reigns he better win at WrestleMania and then offers his hand. Roman takes it and then celebrates.
- EA’s Take: Excellent main event match that exceeded my expectations. Easily, the best match of Roman Reigns’ career. A lot of people will attribute that to working with Bryan, but Reigns really answered the call and brought it. Bryan was the perfect opponent to get Reigns ready for Lesnar. Bryan is a very physical wrestler and working that style with Reigns can only help him going into an even more physical opponent, in Brock Lesnar.
EA’s Finisher: Overall a much better show than I was anticipating. I half-went in thinking most of the finishes would be DQ’s or count-outs so they could build to rematches at WrestleMania. Have to give WWE credit for coming up with alternatives as they could easily have taken that route, especially since this is free trial month and a lot of people are probably not paying anything for this. Bryan/Reigns exceeded all expectations I had and I applaud WWE for sticking to the plan this time around and not giving in to all the post-Rumble noise. Bryan can help out in other ways without being involved in the title picture right now. Doesn’t mean he’s out of it forever. Storylines for WrestleMania became a lot clearer, with Randy Orton returning for revenge on Seth Rollins. Cena never tapped to Rusev, so that will continue. Sting & HHH are already official for the big show and as an admitted Sting mark, I for one couldn’t be more pumped (eventhough that has been the direction since Survivor Series). Also, good to see Tyson Kidd & Cesaro putting themselves on the map. I really like the tandem, especially now that Kidd actually has developed a character to go along with the tremendous in-ring skills we all knew he had. Maybe he can pull Cesaro’s out too. Great segment by Bray Wyatt, which has to ultimately lead to The Undertaker accepting the challenge. Why else would they put the thought in our heads if it wasn’t going to happen?
Top Three To Watch
1 – Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
2 – Rusev vs. John Cena
3 – The Usos vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Ch. 3: Fifty Shades of Pain
Harry brings us another throwback episode of Progress! His play by play style will paint a picture so clear Bob Ross wouldn’t even need to add trees!
Harry brings us another throwback episode of Progress! His play by play style will paint a picture so clear Bob Ross wouldn’t even need to add trees!
Two of these reviews down. Let’s go ahead and make it a trifecta. Hopefully, you are enjoying the series as ‘What I Watched’ returns under the Chairshot Classics banner for PROGRESS (as well as Impact Wrestling. Hopefully, we can eventually cover some other promotions as well). I’ll be taking note of all the comments left on these reviews and addressing them as new ones get typed out. In the interest of a somewhat regular schedule of these posting, the first couple PROGRESS reviews are being typed out in advance of their release on the website.
So, to the reason of today’s gathering. PROGRESS has had two good (but not necessarily great) shows so far. Instead of going to a more regular occurrence, they stuck with the three months between shows model. Chapter 2 had us in June, whereas this show doesn’t take place until September. The bigger story to me though is that the main event is not what I though it would be at the end of Chapter 2. Instead of getting Nathan Cruz vs. El Ligero for the PROGRESS Championship Staff, we are instead getting a tag match with Cruz and Ligero as partners. With that, we once again step into the way back machine and head to September 30th, 2012 as “What I Watched” presents ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’ or PROGRESS Chapter 3.
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: As much as I’d like to let everyone make their own decisions on the matches, giving away match results in the review will be a necessary evil. The reason being is that I will discuss what I think everything means going forward and maybe even doing a little fantasy booking of where I would go from where they presently are. I will still post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contests. The final show review will be after that as well as the ‘Final Reaction’ for the show. Going forward, I’ll have an archive to all of my previous reviews here on the Chairshot if you click on my user name.
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.
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 3 – ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: September 30th, 2012
Run Time: 2:08:49 (Demand PROGRESS)
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)
*Our opening video focuses on a tag match between the London Riots (James Davis and Rob Lynch) facing Danny Garnell and Darrell Allen. In addition, we see that Marty Scurll will be the special guest referee for our main event. Which apparently will not be the previously thought Cruz vs. Ligero for the PROGRESS Championship Staff, but a tag match instead with Cruz and Ligero as partners…
*There is no Smallman opening promo, as I believe it was it edited into the opening video with Scurll being added to the main event as the referee. Disappointing start, as I find Smallman’s opening welcome to be a nice light hearted way to get these shows started.
*Match #1: Noam Dar (1-1) vs. Paul Robinson
The Who: Noam Dar is coming off a victory over Darrell Allen via ‘Champagne Super KneeBar’ at the last show to even his record up. Paul Robinson is making his in-ring debut for the company and he is replacing MK McKinnan, who was the originally announced opponent for Dar in this contest.
The Why: My guess would be to get Dar more momentum going forward. I don’t imagine that Robinson is going to be added last minute and beat Dar, but stranger things have happened.
The Match: They still have the records on the name bar’s for the intros. I know that’s not something they do any more, but I’m curious how long it sticks around for…both guys get inset promos. Dar’s is by far the better, as he informs us that he’s going to keep winning so he can get the ‘big stick’ by which he means the PROGRESS Championship Staff, despite the crowd’s borderline racist chants towards him…opening bell rings and we’re underway…Robinson shows off the Chris Hero shoulder kips into the forward roll. Pretty sure that dates back to England before Hero, but Hero is where I personally remember first seeing it…commentary starts a little late, but there’s Jimmy Barnett, who claims he’s not affiliated with Jim Smallman despite sounding a lot like him. That cat is now long since out of the bag…backslide for two and then a super spinning backslide for another two. Seemed a little unnecessary but the fans enjoyed it. Know your audience, I guess…Paul Robinson is a very small guy. Believed the announced weight was just over one hundred forty. For a visual representation, think Spike Dudley…certainly a unique twist on the Garvin Stomp…Dar focusing on Robinson’s knee pays off the fans who have watched the previous shows and the ‘Champagne Super KneeBar’…Dar repeats the gum spot from Chapter 2. Gross. And the fans appropriately respond with a ‘you sick fuck’ chant. Not the most hygienic man in wrestling, is he?…lighting for this show is quite a bit better then it has been for previous shows…Robinson with a suicide dive, which could have been a disaster. There is almost no room between the ring and the front row of fans…said it before, say it again: the superkick and the enzugiri are the most overused moves in wrestling…airplane spin however, we could use more of…Robinson tries to drop the Guillotine Legdrop, but Dar moves and Robinson lands hard…pair of fisherman’s (both suplex and buster) lead to a grounded kneebar. Not quite the ‘Super Kneebar’, but it’s enough for the tap at 11:41…pretty basic match to kick off the show. The crowd was into it, which is good. But as a fan who watches a lot of wrestling, it never seemed to get out of the first gear and move into being more then just there. Dar’s personality make his matches an easy enough watch, but at same point, the in ring product has to be risen up to mean anything. (AVERAGE)
*Match #2: BWC Starlo Scholarship Title: Mark Andrews © (1-0) vs. Xander Cooper (1-0)
The Who: Mark Andrews is a pretty well known name here in the States now. He’s coming off a successful title defense against Mike Hitchman at Chapter 2. Xander Cooper wasn’t in a match on Chapter 2, but did win a three way match at Chapter 1 with this title on the line,
The Why: Between Chapters 1 and 2, Andrews beat Cooper for the title. Andrews had his previously mentioned defense at Chapter 2 and after that match, Cooper came in through the crowd and attacked him. That led to PROGRESS management scheduling this rematch between the two for the title.
The Match: I believe only the second match in PROGRESS history to have been set up on the show before. The only match on Chapter 2 that was set up at Chapter 1 was the main event, if memory serves…‘Man for All Seasons’ is such a proper asshole nickname. I dig it…Cooper impressed me at the first show. Andrews and Hitchman had a banger at the second. My expectations are pretty high for this one…both get inset promos. Andrews has the best line: “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and you’re just a dick”…bell goes and we’re underway…the fans insinuate that Cooper has herpes. Somewhere, Rhett Titus is pissed his chant got taken…pace finally starts to pick up around three minutes in…Cooper busts out Miz’s old Reality Check combo. Personality wise, he kind of reminds me of Miz as well…Andrews with a Bubba Bomb. Not something you usually see a guy his size use…standing moonsault senton gets two and looks really cool in the process. Andrews was a lot like Ricochet and PAC early in his career. Not everything made sense, but most of it looked cool…stranglehold Golden Rule by Cooper. That’s a first for me…rope assisted enzugiri kick knocks Cooper back into the center of the ring. Andrews comes flying in with a Shooting Star Press (over-shooting just a bit, actually) and that’s the closing bell at 8:52…better then the opener, but a step down from what both of them did before. Took a bit of time to get out of the starting block, but once it did, it picked up quite nicely. I would recommend the three way for Cooper and the Hitchman match for Andrews more personally though. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Match #3: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) (1-0) vs. The Bastard Squad- Darrell Allen and Danny Garnell (debut as a team. Allen is 0-1-1 as a single. Garnell is 1-0 as a single)
The Who: London Riots were successful in their debut at Chapter 2 against Will Ospreay and Alex Esmail in what was shaping up to be a good match until Esmail got hurt (broken leg). Allen got a no decision at Chapter 1 in the three way for the Starlo Scholarship and was tapped by Noam Dar at Chapter 2. Danny Garnell won his debut match, pinning Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 2.
The Why: Damn good question and one I don’t presently have an answer for. I checked the history of PROGRESS that is maintained at Voices of Wrestling by Rob Reid and found nothing to give any reasons as to why this is happening. Maybe Jimmy Barnett will shine some light on the reason during the match itself.
The Match: Lynch has what I thought was a paddle but was corrected by Barnett is a cricket bat in his hand. Is cricket big in England? Thought that was more of an Australian thing…Barnett informs us that a poll on the PROGRESS website has dubbed Garnell and Allen as ‘The Bastard Squad’, so my why maybe just as a way to try to build up a tag division…as per the warning I issued during Chapter 2, it is entirely possible that I will screw up Lynch and Davis. If I do so, I apologize…then again, they appear to have keep the one in singlet, one in trunks look. I should be okay…and we’re off as a brawl breaks out…man, that one roaming cam is making me sea sick. Super wobbly…Lynch drops Garnell on the floor with a Michinoku Driver…and the official PROGRESS Chapter 3 chair of that fan has been broken…Lynch and Garnell just trading bombs in the center of the ring…high angle release German by Garnell. Lynch lands almost square on the back of his damn head…Allen and Garnell do have quite the big guy/little guy dynamic going for them…first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…Allen has Davis caught in a Octopus but Davis turns it into a wheelbarrow facebuster. Again, another first…Riots grind down the pace of the match on Allen, but it makes sense for them to do so. They have a significant size edge over Allen, why not use it?…one of these shows, I’m going to keep a running enzugiri count. If we don’t hit double digits, I’d be stunned…Barnett advocates the old Gorilla Monsoon stance of multiple referees for tag matches…Lynch with an overhead superplex on Allen and Allen lands square on his tailbone. I’m guessing that probably sucked…both men on the ropes and Allen with another enzugiri to knock Lynch to mid-ring. The same thing Andrews did to Cooper in the previous match…Allen tries to come in with a cross-body off the top but gets caught by both members of the Riot Squad. Lynch helps Davis pop Allen up and into a sit out powerbomb which gets the three count at 12:25…a few good moments here and there but not enough to make it anything really worth remembering. It followed the old school tag wrestling formula to a tee. The thing about formulas is that they become formulas because they work. It does here and while it’s not going to light the world on fire or anything, it produced an above average tag match that sees the Riot Squad continue their winning ways. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Post match: The Riots lay in a beat down to Garnell, as one of the chairs from ringside is used multiple times against the knee of Garnell, before they use the cricket bat into the chair to ‘Pillmanize’ the ankle of Garnell. Microphone time for Lynch afterwards and declares war not just on the tag teams in the UK but on PROGRESS as well, laying down an open challenge for any place, any where, any time. Guess this story will develop more going forward then…
*Match #4: Jon Ryan (0-0) vs. Jimmy Havoc (0-1)
The Who: Jon Ryan makes his PROGRESS debut here, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before working for wXw out of Germany. Jimmy Havoc is back after a losing effort to Danny Garnell on Chapter 2 as a favor from his friend, Jim Smallman.
The Why: ‘Strictly No Blood, No Hardcore’ is the tag line for the match. Let’s just say that somehow I doubt this…
The Match: Ryan does get booed on his intro and the fans love Havoc, chanting ‘Jimmy’s Gonna Spoon You’, a call back to the great spooning debacle of Chapter 2…apparently Ryan was Havoc’s original trainer whereas Garnell was the one who trained him in the ways of technical wrestling…an attempted handshake by Havoc is met by a bitch slap from Ryan. That’ll end poorly for him, I feel…Havoc works in a spoon while on the mat to continue that bit…knowing Havoc’s reputation, it’s weird seeing him in normal matches…and as I type that, Havoc goes for dive and misses but lands on his feet. He turns towards Ryan, who thwacks him with a frying pan for the DQ at 3:36…normally, three minutes is about the mark where I would try to give a match a rating. I don’t feel like I can’t rate this here given what happens next, therefore I’m not going to…(N/A (ANGLE ADVANCEMENT))
*Post match- Havoc is understandably less then pleased about Ryan going upside his dome with a frying pan, which opened up Havoc’s forehead. He demands that Smallman restart the match under ‘Hardcore’ rules. Smallman warns people that don’t like this style of match to move away from the ring but as far as he is concerned: “fucking kill him, I don’t care.”
*Match #4b: Hardcore Rules: Jon Ryan (0-1) vs. Jimmy Havoc (1-1)
The Match: And thus the lack of rating for the previous match…opening bell once again here…and the first official weapon is a kendo stick. Which Ryan just beats the hell out of Havoc with. I think the kendo stick is one of those overrated weapons. Not enough reaction to justify how much those things actually hurt…cheese grater. It’s like every ECW brawl from 1998 on featuring New Jack…there’s not really a lot to discuss in a match like this. It’s basically just them hitting each other with a bunch of various shit…feel like throwing a bloody person into a group of people’s chairs is a bad idea…powerbomb through an ironing board. Not what those are intended for, but it looked cool enough…never cared for staple guns, myself. Similar to the kendo stick, but I guess a little easier to gimmick…staple to the dingus. Because of course he does…I’m guessing this is the match that leads into intermission so they have time to clean up the ring after it. It’s a combination of the old WWF hardcore brawls and the ultra-violent style matches you’d see from a CZW or a Big Japan…and now the thumbtacks make an appearance…DVD into the tacks. And the referee wusses out by grabbing a cookie sheet to count on. It was a smart move on his part, but not the most masculine….the problem with matches like this is it takes a while to set up the next spot. Spot, set-up, spot, set-up. Rinse and repeat as necessary…a ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant breaks out, followed immediately by a ‘No, it’s not’. That could make for an interesting way to go down the line with it. And a definite divide in the fan base for someone like Havoc…okay, that finish worked. They had set the BW board across two chairs. Havoc tries for a spinning head scissors and gets caught and dropped clean on his head with a package Tombstone (think Tombstone set-up and then Ryan cradled both legs under his own arms). Rather then go for the pin there though, Ryan adjusts his grip around Havoc’s waist and launches him through the BW board with a release wheelbarrow suplex. It was all over but the counting and the counting hits three at 14:36…this kind of match is going to be very divisive. There are fans of this genre and there are those who feel like it’s a black eye on the sport. I personally enjoy death match wrestling as long as we don’t go too over the top with it (needles, fire, stuff that can really hurt someone). I thought this was a pretty good match for the genre while not going too far in order to affect the crowd that may not be as interested in this style. We’ll go ‘above average’ for the rating, but your mileage will vary. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Post match- both guys get a nice ovation from the crowd and a ‘That was awesome’ chant. Let’s not go around tossing that out so freely. A sign of respect as a hug and handshake from teacher and student occurs and Havoc pops on the microphone once again to put over the crowd and Jon Ryan as well. He also asks the fans to buy him and Ryan beer and have a chat. Always working, that Havoc…
*Match #5: RJ Singh (0-0-1) vs. Rob Cage (debut)
The Who: RJ Singh returns after getting a no decision in the number one contender’s three way at Chapter 2. He still has his entourage with him as well. Rob Cage is a man that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of before so we’ll see what he can do in this match.
The Why: Can’t say I really have an answer for this. My guess would be to help flush out the roster with more people.
The Match: Can’t say my expectations are really high here, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised before. Mike Hitchman at Chapter 2 comes to mind there…the match graphic has Singh listed as 0-1. However, since he didn’t get pinned in the three way, I gave him a draw/no decision instead…inset promo for RJ Singh and the ‘Singh is King’ catchphrase remains in tact. It works for him. Promo wasn’t anything special however…opening bell goes as Singh’s accomplices make friends at ringside…apparently Rob Cage went the Jimmy Havoc route of campaigning on Twitter in order to get a spot on this show…I do still enjoy the fact that RJ calls his Camel Clutch the ‘Ethnic Submission’. It’s wrong on several levels, but still funny…Cage gets caught up with Singh’s crew and Singh gets a nice looking leaping neckbreaker, done Zig Zag style. That was smooth…running knee strike looks less smooth…Cage goes to the top and the ‘Director’ pushes him off while the referee was working on getting the other member of the Bollywood Empire out of the ring. That said, it happened so close to the referee that he had to have seen it. Really poor ring positioning…that leads to RJ Singh applying the ‘Ethnic Submission’ and it leads to a tap out from Rob Cage at 7:27…well, they reached my expectations with this. Worst match on the show thus far. I found RJ to be very entertaining for the role he had in the three way, so this was a major step down for him. As far as Rob Cage, not the best first impression made. For the first time on the show, I go with a ‘below average’ rating. It’s not awful, but if you are in a rush while watching this show, it’s seven minutes you can easily skip and not miss anything. (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Post match: it appears that all is okay as Singh offers his hand and Cage accepts it. Until RJ kicks Rob in the junk and puts him back in the Camel Clutch while his cohorts talk trash right in his face. The hold gets broken by the referee and Singh poses on the turnbuckle to celebrate his victory.
*Match #6: Stixx (0-1) vs. Lion Kid (1-0)
The Who: Stixx and Lion Kid both make their return after opening up Chapter 2 with a singles match. As previously mentioned there, I’ve heard that Lion Kid was the former Wade Fitzgerald, but have never seen any confirmation of this.
The Why: This one is easy. As mentioned, they had a match at Chapter 2. Lion Kid won. Stixx wants revenge. Pretty simple, really.
The Match: The who and the why was pretty easy to get through. I fear the match may not be. These two didn’t exactly set the world on fire at Chapter 2. Hopefully, it was just nerves and we get a better performance here…we start hot as Stixx knocks Lion off the apron and proceeds to beat him around ringside before the opening bell…Stixx rolls back in and demands a count-out, despite the fact we’ve not had an opening bell (at least, not one I’ve heard)…appears Lion Kid caught a knee injury in the floor brawl, but we’re a go now with an opening bell and everything…huge Black Hole Slam forty seconds in and I thought that was three. It wasn’t, but it wouldn’t have surprised me. Looked really good…huge Flair shin breaker by Stixx. He’s definitely looked better tonight then last outing…Lion Kid looked for a reverse rana but Stixx powered him back up. Kid transitions right into a victory roll, which I believe is how he won at Chapter 2. It only gets two this time…Stixx with a nice looking variation of the half calf, but Kid does eventually get to the ropes…series of chops sees Lion Kid ‘roar up’, but a shot to the knee keeps Stixx in charge…half crab giant swing. That’s just a dick move…Lion Kid goes for a springboard and falls. Crowd chants ‘you fucked up’, but I don’t think he did. I think it was on purpose to sell the knee and if it was, bravo…the crowd continues the ‘roar’ chant to rally Lion Kid. As Jim Smallman said in the favorite chants video he did, it’s just fun to say ‘roar’…avalanche tabletop (fall away slam to vertical) suplex. Don’t believe I’ve ever seen that done from the buckles before…Stixx is being almost Anderson like in his focus on the leg here. These guys are putting on quite the show here…very cool turnbuckle sequence leads to the big guy coming in with a frog splash on the knee…Lion Kid with a series of roll-ups to put over how desperate he is. Psychology, psychology, psychology…Stixx tries the Black Hole again but Lion Kid counters into a tornado DDT. Lion Kid goes for a 450, but Stixx rolls in. Lion Kid lands on his feet. Normally, that’s a good thing. With a bad knee, not so much. Stixx hauls Lion Kid up and drives him into the mat with Splash Mountain (Crucifix PB set-up but into a standard PB finish. I dub it the River Stixx). After a quick debate of a submission attempt, it’s a three count instead at 12:21…well done, gentlemen. Way to make me eat my words. After being significantly less then impressed with their match at Chapter 2, they turned things around and put on in my opinion the best match of Chapter 3 thus far. A big credit for this goes to big man, Stixx. He put on a technical clinic in this match, which you wouldn’t expect from a guy his size. Lion Kid more then held up his end of the bargain as well. You mix psychology with solid in ring work and no noticeable blown spots, it makes for a happy reviewer. I would rate this match as ‘very good’. (VERY GOOD)
*Match #7: Nathan Cruz (3-0, PROGRESS Championship Staff Holder) and El Ligero (2-1, #1 Contender to Nathan Cruz) (debut as a team) vs. Dave Mastiff (debut) and Greg Burridge (0-1) (debut as a team)
The Who: Cruz and Ligero are the champion and challenger elect for the next time the PROGRESS Staff is on the line. Cruz won the four way on the first show for the Staff. Ligero won a three way on the second show for the number one contendership. Dave Mastiff is making his PROGRESS debut here. From what little of him I’ve seen on NXT UK, he’s impressed me. Greg Burridge took the loss in the three way at the last show. Marty Scurll is the referee and he’s probably not going to be an unbiased one as he has issues with both Cruz and Ligero.
The Why: If I’m being entirely honest, I don’t have a damn clue for this one. I expected we’d get Cruz vs. Ligero here, but instead it’s this tag match. Burridge wanting revenge on Ligero makes sense. Burridge wanting a crack at Cruz makes sense. Where Dave Mastiff fits into this is anyone’s guess. As for Scurll, that’s easy. He was cheated out of the title by Cruz at the first show. He had Cruz beat at the second show while the referee was down. Ligero attempted to interfere and superkick Cruz, but Cruz ducked and Ligero wiped out Scurll. Despite not hitting his intended target, Ligero didn’t seem especially upset about it. Cruz got the victory and Scurll got screwed once again. How does this all tie together? Hell if I know. Let’s find out…
The Match: Man, this is a clusterfuck and a half just based on the description I had to type…once again, Cruz is greeted with the ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chants. Probably still my favorite one thus far in PROGRESS…Scurll gestures that he’ll call it down the middle during intros. I doubt that…Ligero and Mastiff are both in NXT UK. I think Burridge is now retired. I think Cruz just came back to wrestling, but I’m not sure…Mastiff’s beard is not nearly as impressive as it is these days…inset promos for only Cruz and Mastiff. Nathan Cruz is laying on the Shawn Michaels impression a bit thick. He is not only the ‘Show-Stealer’, he’s also the ‘Leader of the New Generation’. Bloody hell, mate…opening bell and we’re underway…Burridge and Ligero to start, until Ligero tags out to Cruz…I can’t entirely tell with the accent, but I believe that Burridge is calling Cruz a ‘slag’…I believe Cruz and Burridge are the two biggest guys height wise in PROGRESS (maybe outside of Stixx to this point). I’m almost certain that Mastiff is the heaviest…tags made on both side and we go to Ligero and Mastiff…do believe that Mastiff just called Ligero a cat. Or something similar. It was of the feline variety…Mastiff with a massive delayed vertical…and Burridge comes in to beat the hell out of Ligero…Ligero turns the table by going to the knee of Burridge and takes control…and that explains why Scurll wasn’t allowed to wrestle on this show. It was around the time of his ‘British Boot Camp’ run with TNA. And TNA were being dicks about their people working elsewhere due to not wanting injuries…last few minutes of this match has been all Ligero and Cruz working over Burridge’s knee. Smart wrestling, but not always the most entertaining…the f bombs are flying in this one. Viewer discretion is advised…little bit of in-fighting between Cruz and Ligero leads to Burridge making the tag to Mastiff…even back here some six years ago, Mastiff moves very well for a guy his size…Cruz and Ligero try to work together to suplex Mastiff. It doesn’t go well. Mastiff takes them both over with a double vertical…Ligero clearly gets caught calling a spot. I usually try to get the guys the benefit of the doubt, but that was blatant…Ligero trying to trade shots with Burridge. Why would he want to do that?…breaks down to Ligero and Mastiff in the ring. Top rope cross body attempt by Ligero just bounces off Mastiff. Mastiff tries to climb, but Ligero dropkicks the legs and then hits the Del Rio corner double stomp. Scurll refuses to count for Ligero and shit cans him to the floor…Cruz gets caught in a submission but manages to escape and hit his version of the Whiplash. Again, Scurll refuses to count though…Ligero goes for his tornado DDT, but Cruz tags himself in and sets up for his superkick. He goes for it on Mastiff but Ligero superkicks him mid-move. Ligero again shrugs his shoulders and rolls out of the ring as Mastiff lands on Cruz with a huge cannonball senton in the corner. He pulls Cruz to center ring and a follow-up cover gets the three count for the ‘Bastard’ Dave Mastiff at 18:10…took a bit to get going, but once it did, it was pretty entertaining. I’d say basically the first ten minutes of this match are a wash though, as it’s mostly mat wrestling and then leg work on Burridge that gets completely forgotten about in the closing stretch. I understand the idea of having Ligero and Cruz lose here. I even get the idea of Cruz taking the pinfall. To me, it would have made more sense for Burridge to get the pin since it would validate his point from the last show. Then again, we’d never see Greg Burridge in PROGRESS (to this day, I believe), so in hindsight, Mastiff was the right choice. The first half of the match was average, the closing sequence was pretty good. So we’ll settle in the middle and give this a good rating overall but easily the lowest quality of the three main events to this point. (GOOD)
*Post match: Mastiff gets mic time, saying that he did what he said he was going to do, which was something Scurll couldn’t do. He says that Cruz may be the man around here, but he’ll never be a ‘Bastard’. Mastiff and Burridge exit, with Scurll following shortly behind…Cruz gets the microphone as he’s recovering and points out that he’s still the champ and that picking up a win on the scraps of Ligero means nothing…eventually, it leads to Ligero making his way back out and security having to separate Cruz and Ligero. Smallman yells at them for screwing around at this end of his show and makes the title match official for Chapter 4. Smallman then cuts a quick version of his usual opening promo and we’re officially out for Chapter 3.
Match #1: Noam Dar taps Paul Robinson with a grapevined kneebar @ 11:41 (AVERAGE)
Match #2: BWC Starlo Scholarship Title: Mark Andrews © pins Xander Cooper with a Shooting Star Press @ 8:52 to retain (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #3: Riot Squad (J. Davis/R. Lynch) defeat Darrell Allen and Danny Garnell when Davis pins Allen after a sit out powerbomb @ 12:25 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #4: Jimmy Havoc defeats Jon Ryan by DQ @ 3:36 (N/A (ANGLE ADVANCEMENT))
Match #4b: Hardcore Rules: Jon Ryan pins Jimmy Havoc with a release wheelbarrow suplex through a barbed wire board @ 14:36 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #5: RJ Singh taps Rob Cage with the ‘Ethnic Submission’ (Camel Clutch) @ 7:27 (BELOW AVERAGE)
Match #6: Stixx pins Lion Kid after a Splash Mountain Bomb @ 12:27 (VERY GOOD)
Match #7: Dave Mastiff and Greg Burridge defeat El Ligero and Nathan Cruz when Mastiff pins Cruz following a corner cannonball senton @ 18:10 (GOOD)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
Rather then do positives and negatives here, I feel it’s easier to save those for the Final Reaction going forward. Two reasons for that…one, the Final Reaction gets a bit redundant if I’m typing the same thing there that I am here. Two and just as importantly is it’ll help decrease the length of these reviews a bit.
As far as ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’ goes overall, I’d say it’s the weakest of the three shows thus far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad show. Once again, we top out with a ‘very good’ match on the scale. This time though, we do see the ‘below average’ make a return to the scale as well. Consistency is key and while top to bottom, the shows are watchable, there is nothing really blow away that the company would eventually be known for having show in and show out down the road. We see more stuff coming together for the future of the company and the cream is starting to rise to the top in guys like Scurll, Andrews, Ligero, Cruz and the London Riots.
So, where does this leave us all? Well, it’ll leave me coming back to watch ‘The Ballad of El Ligero’ or PROGRESS Chapter 4. It’ll leave you all hopefully wanting to come back and read when I do so. I’m once again off to find food. Honey Buns sound really good right about now.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Has to be the surprise contest of the evening to me. The super redeeming effort that we got from Lion Kid and Stixx earns them best match.
Worst match/moment: That RJ Singh and Rob Cage match was rough. From both an in ring content and from a ‘suspension of disbelief’ perspective. I’ve seen better from RJ but Cage was a definite disappointment in his first outing here.
MVP: This one is going to go to Dave Mastiff, who debuted in the main event of the show for the company and didn’t even look the slightest bit out of place doing so. Not only did he get to showcase his impressive arsenal, he even got to pin the champion in the center of the ring, even if it was under somewhat dubious methods.
FINAL SCORE: 5.5/10
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter 4: “The Ballad of El Ligero”.