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Chairshot Classics

Leaping Through The Network: WCW Thunder #32 [September 17 1998]

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It’s that time again to put the ‘Flashback Friday‘ into Flashback Friday as we leap through the WWE Network Pay Per View by Pay Per View and show by show in as random a way possible.

No sooner had the people at The Chairshot. com worked out that I can leap into a certain place like a random Wrestlemania or for that matter a Raw after Wrestlemania, they decided to impliment a vote allowing you, the reader, to vote for where you want me to go.

Vote you did and you chose WCW Thunder.

Back in the day WCW and WWE competed on opposite channels every Monday night from 1995 until 2001. With the rise of the NWO in WCW and a fairly tired format from WWE, WCW sat undefeated at the very top of the Monday Night ratings for 84 consecutive weeks. Cashing in on the popularity of Nitro/ milking what they could out of Nitro, WCW announced Thunder to air on Thusday nights would begin in early 1998. Many said it would dilute the hot product that was Nitro.

But was Thunder any good? To answer that one, it’s time for us to leap into….

Thunder #32 [September 17 1998]

Following the opening credits, we open with our comentary team of Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Lee Marshall who tell us that Ric Flair’s career is on the line tonight in an Arm Wrestling Match.

Wrath vs Bobby Eaton

Wrath grabs Eaton by the throat and pushes him into the corner to start this one following up with a boot and a chop. An Irish Whip and a Clothesline by Wrath before he steps on Eaton’s throat choking him and following that by standing on the apron and using the ropes for leverage to choke Eaton again. Wrath whips Eaton off the ropes but Eaton comes back with a series of punches. It doesn’t last long as a Pump Kick sends Eaton rolling to the outside. On the outside, Wrath pushes Eaton face first into the turnbuckle post before shoving Eaton back into the ring, climbing to the top turnbuckle and launching himself at Eaton connecting with a Flying Clothesline. After a Shoulder Block Wrath hits a Meltdown (a Pump Handle Powerslam) and gets the pinfall victory.

Winner: Wrath

We see a brief highlight package of Ric Flair as his career is on the line later. Tony tells us that Hulk Hogan versus The Warrior has been signed for the upcoming Halloween Havoc pay per view. I can’t wait to cover that one.

Mike Enos vs Lenny Lane

Lenny Lane looks a lot like a young Chris Jericho which is odd because he isn’t Jericho and Mike Enos looks nothing like Blake Beverly from the old Beverly Brothers tag team which is odder because he is Blake Beverly.

A Collar and Elbow Tie-up goes nowhere so Enos pushes Lane into the corner and follows up with boots. Are they re-creating the previous match, because that’s exactly how that one started? Enos grabs Lane and, impresively, launches him across three quarters of the ring. Enos follows up with a Gorilla Press Slam and a couple of Elbow drops before Lane rolls out of the ring. Enos gives chase but Lane rolls back into the ring. He then drops Enos throat first across the top rope before launching himself over the top rope with a Plancha. In the ring, Lane gets a two from a Bulldog but Enos counters a Leap Frog by Lane into a Powerslam and a Clothesline before getting a two of his own from a Neckbreaker and follows up with a Stun Gun which is only broken because Lane gets a foot on the rope. Enos slows things down with a Chin Lock before unloading on Lane with kicks and punches but argues with the referee for a bit allowing Lane to get a two from a School Boy. A Cross Body by Lane is caught and countered into a Whirlwind Faceplant (best I can call it) and gets the pin and win for Enos.

Winner: Mike Enos

Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage with Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell. Okerlund tells Scott that a match has been signed for Halloween Havoc between Scott and his brother, Rick Steiner. Scott says he’s looking forward to the match after he proved at Fall Brawl that he is bigger, stonger and faster than Rick. He proved it at Fall Brawl and he will do the same at Halloween Havoc.

We see highlights from last Sunday’s Fall Brawl where Chris Jericho took on a clearly fake Bill Goldberg and beat him with a Walls Of Jericho. Following that, we’re treated to another Ric Flair highlight video.

Vincent vs Steve Armstrong

Vincent misses a Clothesline and Armstrong catches him with an Inverted Atomic Drop before pulling Vincent’s bandana over his face and peppering him with punches that knock Vincent into the corner. AGAIN? It must be made of a thin material as Vincent gets his feet up to block a charging Armstrong before Vincent throws Armstrong over the top rope and out of the ring. Years ago in WCW this would have gotten him a DQ loss. Shame they dropped that rule. Vincent dives off the apron catching Armstrong with a flying Clothesline followed by a whip into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Vincent scales the turnbuckles and hits Armstrong with an Axe Handle. Vincent pulls on an Arm Wringer sending Armstrong down to the canvas and follows that up by legdropping Armstrong as he leans over the middle rope. A single arm DDT is transitioned into an Armbar and this one is over. Doesn’t explain why it happened though.

Winner: Vincent

We get footage of WCW fans discussing their love of Ric Flair followed by a clip of Monday’s Nitro when Ernest Miller interfered in a Van Hammer vs Alex Wright match and got arrested.

Ernest Miller vs Rick Fuller

Miller gives Fuller three seconds to get out of the ring or he’s in trouble. Fuller doesn’t take it so Miller starts the match with Roundhouse Kicks to Fuller’s hamstring and tries choking Fuller with his jacket before hitting Fuller’s shoulder off the turnbuckle post and choking him with a wire. The referee takes a steel chair from Miller and Fuller applies a Bear Hug outside the ring. Miller bites his way out of that (and no that isn’t a spelling mistake he really did bite him) and whips Fuller into the ringside steps.

Back in the ring, MIller attacks Fuller’s left shoulder with knees and an Armbar. Fuller fights back with a Heart Chop and a Bodyslam but misses a second rope Splash allowing Miller to run up the ropes and hit a Roundhouse Kick he calls ‘the Feliner‘ for the win.

Winner: Ernest Miller

Yet another highlight video of Ric Flair airs.

Curt Hennig vs Norman Smiley

A Collar and Elbow Tie-up again just sort of ends. Hennig grabs Smiley in a Waistlock that Smiley reverses into one of his own forcing Hennig to grab the ropes to break it. Smiley applies a Hammerlock that he turns into a Front Face Lock and turns that into an Arm Wringer that he uses to Suplex Hennig which gets him an early two count. A side Headlock by Smiley is sent into the ropes but Smiley rebounds with a Shoulder Block. A second bounce of the ropes by Smiley is countered by Hennig with a Drop Toe Hold before Hennig works on Smiley’s left knee bringing his weight down on it and following that with a sort of knee wrench before taking it to the corner with kicks to the hamstring. Smiley fights back with an Uppercut and gets his feet up to block a charging Hennig. It’s not enough as Hennig catches Smiley with a Perfect Plex and not many kick out of that. Certainly not Smiley anyway.

Winner: Curt Hennig

More Flair highlights!!!

Kevin Nash & Konnan vs Scott Hall & Stevie Ray

Oh joy, it’s the drunk Scott Hall angle (!) Stevie Ray and Konnan start and Ray rakes Konnan’s eyes and smashes him down with Axe Handle Smashes and boots but Konnan fights back with a forward roll into a Clothesline, a Snapmare and a basement Dropkick. Konnan whips Ray into the corner and charges but is met by Ray’s boot and a Clothesline followed by a Bodyslam and stomps before tagging Hall who goes for an Abdominal Stretch but Konnan counters it with a Drop Toe Hold. After much stalling, a second Drop Toe Hold is transitioned into a Chinlock. Konnan lets Hall up and bounces him off the rope but Hall reverses it sending Konnan into the ropes where he’s met by Ray’s boot in the shoulder blades and a kick to the head from Hall. Hall gets distracted and is rolled up in a School Boy and a Small Package that both get two counts. A single punch by Konnan knocks Hall on his seat. Following a brief Coffee brak Hall fights back going for a Razor’s Edge but Konnan Back Drops his way out of it and applies another Chinlock before hitting a back kick and an X Factor that staggers Hall to the point that he falls out of the ring where is is counted out. Crowd boos loudly.

Winners: Kevin Nash & Konnan

We see highlights from Monday’s Nitro when Ric Flair returned to The Horsemen. This is a fairly famous promo where Arn Anderson brings out the current Horsemen while the crowd scream for Ric Flair. I’m skimming over it now but I’ll cover it better if/when we get to that Nitro. Mildly amusing is the contrast between Flair and Benoit. Flair is ranting about Bischoff and his face is going redder and redder and Benoit looks so dead pan.

Arn Anderson vs Eric Bischoff [Arm Wrestling Match]

Referee Nick Patrick explains the rules to both men. Bischoff reminds Arn it’s a left handed Arm Wrestling Match. Despite having nerve damage in his left arm, Arn’s OK with this. Bischoff isn’t. He backs off and stalls before ‘tagging out‘ and replacing himself with Buff Bagwell

Arn Anderson vs Buff Bagwell [Arm Wrestling Match]

Buff reminds Arn that he’s retired and mocks Arn’s ‘withered toothpick of an arm‘. Arn tells Buff the next time he sees Buff, he’ll have a tyre iron. In mere seconds, Buff wins over Arn’s injured arm.

Winner: Buff Bagwell

Buff and Bischoff celebrate and we fade out.

Post Show: This felt a lot like a B show. A 1998 version of Main Event, Superstars or Xplosion instead of being on the same level as Nitro. Most of the matches on here wouldn’t make it onto Nitro never mind pay per view. Worse still the matches were short making them feel even more pointless.

Match Of The Night: Curt Hennig vs Norman Smiley. I liked it. It was an enjoyable little taster of what they can do and it left me wanting more. None of the rest did.

MVP: I feel it has to be Ric Flair. Not even on the show and yet the whole episode felt built around him. While I may be the only wrestling fan that doesn’t like Ric Flair, WCW clearly loves him.

And with that it’s time to pack up and move on as I leap to another show. I can be found on Twitter @Callaweasy2220 where I live-Tweet my way through Raw, Smackdown, NXT and, when there’s one on, Pay Per View. As always there is a vote going on over @theCHAIRSHOTcom for where I’ll be heading to for upcoming shows so #UseYourHead and go there for that and while you are there, there are articles on Raw, Smackdown, 205, NXT, pay per Vews, News, reviews and Brock Lesnar.

I’m going blue and about to leap so have a fun week, I’ll be back next Friday and in the meantime ALWAYS have an Angle.

“Help me! Help me! The WWE Champion is kicking my butt! Help Me!”

Oh boy.


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Chairshot Classics

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

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

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

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

What I Watched #16

ECW Guilty as Charged 1999

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

Super Crazy vs. Tajiri

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

John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent

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

Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley

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

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

TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm

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

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

Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

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

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

Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz

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

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

 

THE FINAL REACTION

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

 

THE SIGNOFF

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

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


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What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018

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

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ALL IN

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

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

What I Watched #10-B

ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018

9/1/2018

Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL

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

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

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

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

Over the Budget Battle Royal

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

Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon

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

Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

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

Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

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

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

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

THE FINAL REACTION

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

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

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

Overall Show Score: 8.5/10

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

THE SIGNOFF

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


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