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Chairshot Classics

WrestleMania 32: Texas Takedown Or How To Put On an Amazing Show on a Shoestring.

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WrestleMania 32 Arena

WrestleMania 32 comes to us from Dallas, Texas and it comes to us in strange circumstances. WWE was hit with a streak of injuries that took out about 1/3 of the roster in the fall of 2015/winter of 2016, including top stars like John Cena, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, and others. Because of that, WWE was putting on WrestleMania 32 on something of a shoestring roster. The upside to this is that we got shocking returns, and see superstars step up to the plate, for better or worse.

Shane McMahon, the prodigal son of Vince McMahon, would return to try and save his family’s company from his family, and risk everything in the most demonic structure ever thought of in professional wrestling.

Roman Reigns would do battle to regain the title he was screwed out of time and again by the McMahons in his second WrestleMania main event.

Dean Ambrose would try to prove that he was a main event player and not the forgotten member of the Shield or Roman’s sidekick, and he would do it by going up against The Beast, Brock Lesnar.

Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch would try to cement their own places in history by becoming the first women to co-main event a WrestleMania in an epic battle for the re-instated Women’s Championship.

So, will WrestleMania live up to all this potential, even with the shoestring roster? Let’s find out!

Pre-Show

We start with the Moutain Dew Kickstart Entrance, which is a little too poppy for WWE, in my opinion.

WWE United States Championship Match: Kalisto vs Ryback

Kalisto is out first in a really cool outfit, and he gets a decent pop for a half full building. Ryback gets a round of boos. Kalisto keeps trying to fake Ryback out and I don’t think it worked.

This match was…not good. I like Kalisto and he did alright, but the rest of this match stunk in terms of story and ringwork.

For whatever reason, we get a promo for the Shane/Undertaker match in the middle of this match. Even the guys in the back don’t want to watch this match, apparently.

Back to business, Ryback’s pinned Kalisto, but only gets a two count. This is a big contrast in size and styles and it just isn’t working for me.

Winner: Kalisto retains by pinfall.

Highlights: Kalisto shifting just enough to get a pin attempt on Ryback after a superplex. Salida del Sol from the middle rope.

Comments: This would be Ryback’s last WrestleMania. He would leave later in the spring and has not return.

Team Total Divas (Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, Paige, Eva Marie, and Natalya) vs Team B.A.D and Blonde (Lana, Emma, Naomi, Summer Rae, and Tamina)

Team Total Divas get a pretty good pop. Team B.A.D and Blonde don’t get much of a pop.

Summer and Alicia start off and Alicia quickly takes control, but Summer Rae isn’t going to be a pushover and quickly tags in Tamina. Things get out of control pretty quickly.

We get a promo for Total Divas, which I find annoying.

This was actually a really good match. Even the not-great member(s) of both teams got in good spots. Lana is making her in-ring debut at WrestleMania, and I can’t say I’m terribly impressed. She’s not in the ring that long and what she did didn’t wow me.

Brie finally gets tagged and starts cleaning house. Things get crazy quicky and everyone’s getting their spots in. Brie and Naomi are still the legal Superstars and Naomi goes for the moonsault , but Brie gets a knee up. Brie is knocked off the top turnbuckle, but counters Naomi into a rolling Yes! Lock for the win.

Winner: Brie Bella makes Naomi tap with the Yes! Lock for her team. As the Divas celebrate, Nikki comes out, to a great pop, in a neck brace, to join them. There are hugs all around and Brie is lifted up on her teammate’s shoulder.

Highlights: Natalya and Paige doing a Hart Attack on Naomi.

Comments: This would be Brie Bella’s last WrestleMania for awhile. She would retire to start a family, though she has started making returns to WWE.

The Usos vs the Dudley Boys

Usos are out first to a good reaction. I miss the war dance entrance. Dudleys get a great pop, even though they’re the heels.

Dudleys take control quickly, and the crowd wants tables. For some reason, this match feels like they’re both very tentative about it. It’s a really good match, but it just feels like they’re not either not clicking or aren’t sure how to make the most of a quick match.

Winner: Usos by pinfall. Dudleys attack from behind and get the tables, but the Usos counter and stereo Samoan Splash the Dudleys through the tables.

Comments: I enjoyed this match, but it feels like it never quite got started.

Opener

5th Harmony sings ‘America, the Beautiful’. And they sound lovely, too bad they’ve split up. Oddly, there’s not a video montage like there usually is, but the singing was still great.

The opener evokes the history of WrestleMania, Vince’s dream, and how it’s grown into the spectacle it is now. I’d love to know who they got to impersonate the superstars in this video. I also love the song they’re using.

Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens vs Stardust vs Zach Ryder vs Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz vs Sami Zayn vs Sin Cara

Ziggler gets a great pop, Miz gets a round of BOOs, Zayn gets a huge pop, Stardust gets a minimal reaction, even though he’s wearing his dad’s yellow polka dots, Sin Cara also gets a minimal reaction, though his outfit is cool, Ryder gets a mixed reaction, Owens gets a huge reaction.

This match gets off to a crazy start, as you would expect from a ladder match. Miz tries to climb the ladder without opening it and is saved by Zayn and Ziggler. Stardust’s tribute ladder to his dad got a great pop, but like his previous ladder, this one didn’t get much use.

Winner: Zach Ryder retrieves the belt and we have a new Intercontinental Champion! Ryder is a Heavyweight title away from being a Grand Slam Champion.

Highlights: Stardust’s Dream Ladder. Owens and Zayn. Ryder celebrating with his dad after winning his first WrestleMania match.

Comments: This was a great opener to the main card, lot of great spots and a surprise win for Zach Ryder.

Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles

Jericho gets a great pop, and so does Styles in his first WrestleMania.

This match was fantastic. When you have styles as similar as Styles and Jericho, there’s a good chance that the similarities will make the match boring, that didn’t happen here. These guys are showstealers and that’s what they did. I would compare this match ALMOST to Steamboat/Savage from WrestleMania III in terms of ring work.

One thing I didn’t like was the commentators dismissing Styles’ career before coming to WWE. Yes, TNA isn’t WWE or WCW, but when Styles was there, he competed with the likes of Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle, and was a star in Japan, it’s not something they should be sniffing at.

Winner: Chris Jericho by pinfall

Highlights: There are too many to name, just watch the match.

Comments: This was a great match. A lot of people gripe about Styles losing his first WrestleMania, but he looked really great and he and Jericho put on a barn burner match.

The League of Nations (with King Barrett) vs New Day

New Day gets a good pop and comes out of a box of Booty-Os. League of Nations come out to a round of boos.

This was a physical match. All of the LoN guys are more known for having very physical matches than for their technical skills.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t like either of these teams, so it was hard for me to get into it, I didn’t care who won or lost. That said, it was a very good match and both teams did a great job, I just wasn’t into it.

Winner: League of Nations by pinfall

Highlights: Sheamus pounding on Xavier’s chest to the tune of ‘New Day Rocks/Sucks’.

Comments: I would’ve enjoyed this more if I’d cared about one of these teams.

No Holds Barred Street Fight: Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs Dean Ambrose

Lesnar comes out first to a good pop, but the crowd is also giving him a lot of flack. There hasn’t been a Street Fight at WrestleMania since Hogan vs McMahon. Heyman is a jerk to Eden and won’t let her announce the match.

Dean gets a great pop. He’s wearing a leather jacket with ‘Fighting Spirit’ embroidered in Kanji, which I love.

This match gets physical quickly, Dean’s giving up about 50lbs in weight to Lesnar, but Dean’s been in nastier matches with scarier people than Brock Lesnar. Dean goes to the equalizers quickly, whaling Lesnar with a kendo stick.

Lesnar doesn’t seem to want to do anything but suplexes, which gets boring quickly. I feel bad for Dean have to get an actual match out someone who clearly isn’t interested.

This was a good match…on Ambrose’s end. Lesnar was clearly not interested in actually working with Ambrose and just wanted to do HIS match.

Winner: Brock Lesnar by pinfall.

Highlights: Ambrose having no fear of Lesnar and taking it to him, though Lesnar did very little. Heyman’s reaction to Ambrose beating on Lesnar with the kendo stick. Dean kissing Barbie (baseball bat wrapped in barb wire), Heyman and Lesnar’s reactions to said kiss.

Comments: I hated this match because it felt like Ambrose had a match and Lesnar was just not cooperating.

Triple Threat Match for the WWE Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (with Ric Flair) vs Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks

Becky comes out to a great pop. Sasha is sung to the ring by Snoop Dogg and she gets a great pop. She’s wearing tights inspired by her hero, Eddie Guerrero. Charlotte gets a mixed reaction. Her robes were made from the robes her father wore to his last WWE match, and it looks better on her than it did on him, at least cut wise.

Sasha and Becky team up on Charlotte and then take it to each other. Each woman is going for a quick victory. Becky is knocked out of the ring and we get a battel between Sasha and Charlotte.

This was such a great match, not just because of its significance in the Women’s Revolution, but just in terms of story and ring work. I couldn’t take notes because I didn’t want to miss anything.

Winner: Charlotte by submission, new Women’s Champion.

Highlights: The German suplex/Sunset flip spot. Sasha’s Frog splash. Becky and Sasha taking out Naitch.

Comments: I loved this match, all three women did a great job and made a real case for the women getting more time and matches on big cards.

The Streak: Undertaker vs Shane McMahon – Hell in a Cell. If Shane wins, he gets control of RAW. If Taker loses, he will no longer be allowed to compete at WrestleMania

Shane comes out first, with his three boys, to a great pop. Linda McMahon and Shane’s wife, Marissa, are at ringside and take the boys. The Deadman Cometh, and gets a great pop, to battle for his career in the structure almost synonymous with him, Hell in a Cell.

This match was insane. All Hell in a Cell matches are insane, but add in Shane O’Mac, who not only has no fear, but spits in fear’s eye with a smile on his face, is a recipe for an insane, and insanely good match.

One thing I did notice, and it didn’t really register with me in 2016, was how limited Taker was starting to become. I think the reason why no one really noticed in 2016 was because of the Cell and Shane. With those two factors, no one was expecting more than a fight out of Taker and Shane and it was an excellent cover.

I loved this match because: 1. I love a good gimmick match. and 2. It was a great match on its own merits. Taker and Shane were great together. It was a fight from start to finish, but it was a great match.

 Winner: Undertaker by pinfall. Taker salutes the fans, but this has been a brutal match for both men.

Highlights: Shane McMahon being a crazy SOB and jumping off the top of the cell. The commentators trying to talk Shane out of jumping off the cell, not sure why they bothered. The FREAKOUT when Shane crossed himself, everyone knows what that means.

Comments: This is the first time Taker’s decline was noticeable, but they got away with it because of the cell and because of Shane being able to cover for him.

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Most of the guys don’t get an individual entrance. Since the roster was so depleted, there are only twenty guys in this match. Mark Henry, being from Texas, gets his own entrance and gets a nice pop. Kane gets a mixed pop. DDP enters and gets a good pop. Big Show also gets a mixed pop.

With four giants in the ring, the other competitors realize that they need to team up. Fandango and Damian Sandow try their luck alone, but get eliminated by Show and/or Shaq.

This was a fun match, and it was a good palate cleanser for the rest of the show.

Winner: Baron Corbin by eliminating Kane.

Highlights: Big Show/Shaq face off. Shaq and Big Show chokeslamming Kane.

Comments: I don’t like Corbin, but this was a great match and got fans in a great mood.

Rock comes out and announces a new attendance record: 101, 763. There’s a confrontation with the Wyatts and Rock fights Rowan, but I’m not going to call a beatdown that only lasted six seconds a match.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Triple H (with Stephanie McMahon) vs Roman Reigns

Stephanie gets a part as the Skull Queen after a really creepy video and gets a hell of a pop. Triple H also gets a great pop, but he’s not in the Skull King stuff.

Roman gets a mixed reaction, but I don’t think he cares. The Big Dog is ready for a fight. Triple H looks more nervous than I expected him to, probably because of the build this match had.

Though Triple H is a master ring technician, this was not a technical match, this was a fight, and really, I didn’t expect anything else. The feud these two were having in the run up was insane and there was no way it could live up to the hype.

That said, this was a great match. Triple H and Roman really worked well together and told a great story of overcoming the odds.

Winner: Roman Reigns by pinfall, we have a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion! The people who booed Reigns are cheering LOUDLY for him.

Highlights: Roman spearing Stephanie right out of her shoes. Kudos to Stephanie for being game for that spot. Roman walking out with his daughter in his arms (I’m not sure that was on camera, but it was a sweet moment).

Comments: There was a lot of criticism about this match, and it didn’t quite live up to the build, but given how thin the roster was, it’s not surprising that Vince didn’t want this match to be as brutal as the build promised.

Overall Comments

So, how did WrestleMania do with a shoestring roster? It actually did really well. Yes, there were some odd matchups, but the show was really great and gave us some great moment. Also, we get to seeing Roman Reigns’ evolution to a main event player. It wasn’t quite there at WrestleMania 31, but you can see the pieces falling into place for him.

Stinkers: Kalisto vs Ryback. That was just not a good match.

Snoozers: League of Nations vs New Day. I didn’t care about either team, so it was just a drag.

Match of the Night: Undertaker vs Shane McMahon, Women’s Match.

Hall of Fame: Sting, The Godfather, Big Boss Man, Jacqueline, Stan Hanson, The Fabulous Freebirds, Snoop Dogg

Warrior Award: Joan Lunden

Final Thoughts: While I can’t say I’d watch this WrestleMania just because, I enjoyed it greatly and highly recommend it.


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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classic: Andrew’s 2019 AEW Double or Nothing Ratings & Analysis

Take a look back at AEW’s first PPV effort, the 2019 Double Or Nothing in Andrew’s Retro Ratings and Analysis!

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AEW Double Or Nothing 2019AEW Double Or Nothing 2019

Take a look back at AEW’s first PPV effort, the 2019 Double Or Nothing in Andrew’s Retro Ratings and Analysis!

With AEW Double Or Nothing–the 2022 edition–on the horizon, enjoy this trip down memory lane as Andrew Balaz reviewed the inaugural Las Vegas AEW pay-per-view…spectacular?

Well this is history boys and girls. Good, bad or indifferent, it’s the first show of the IWC’s favorite t-shirt company. What becomes of Hangman since he’s injured and PAC cancelled? What surprises will we get?

We all sit here with bated breath. Some want it to fail, many want it to succeed. Me? I just want it to not suck.

Let’s see what we got!

Ratings:

  • Casino Battle Royal: Hangman Page wins @10:45 – **
  • Sammy Guevara vs Kip Sabian: Sabian wins Argentine Facebuster @9:55 – ***
  • So Cal Uncensored vs Strong Hearts: SCU wins via Best Meltzer Ever @14:00 – *** 1/2
  • Britt Baker vs Nyla Rose vs Kylie Rae vs Awesome Kong: Britt Bakers wins via Kneecap Brainbuster @11:05 – ***
  • Best Friends vs Angelico & Jack Evans: Best Friends win via Strong Zero @12:55 – ** 1/2
  • Riho, Hikaru Shida &  Ryo Mizunami vs Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura: Hikaru wins via Three Count @13:10 – *** 1/4
  • Dustin Rhodes vs Cody Rhodes: Cody wins via Crossroads @22:35 – *****
  • AAA Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (c) vs Lucha Brothers: Bucks retain via Meltzer Driver @25:00 – *****
  • Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho: Jericho wins via Judas Effect @23:50 – **** 1/4

Analysis:

This was definitely a mess. A few spots, a bunch of messy spots and just generally awkward moments. Flying Brian Jr had a few decent spots, Luchasaurus looked good and Orange Cassidy is awful. Hangman being the 21st entrant made a lot of sense, but probably already upset a few people since it wasn’t CM Punk or Jon Moxley. Of course Page won. He can fight with a bum leg, cause he has three of them. So yeah, not an awful match, but it had a lot of issues.

Sabian looked tremendous in this match. Guevara definitely did too much. Shooting Star onto Sabian draped over the outside barricade, a bad double Moonsault and standing Shoot Star hurt the match a little. But Sabian’s technically proficient, charismatic and can hang in the air a bit too. So Sabian was the star here. Solid match.

Well now, this was great. Strong Hearts trio pulled off some great fluid offense and SCU did fantastic. This was just a great match, I can’t really accurately describe more than great match. Best Meltzer Ever is a little dumb when it comes to names, but damn was this a good match.

So Brandi comes out in her gear to swerve us that she’s adding herself to the match, but instead she adds Awesome Kong! So the Triple Threat turns into a Fatal 4 Way and it’s not bad. A lot of the early portion is focused on taking out Kong, then Nyla becomes the target. Britt and Kylie are the ones left in the ring after the collateral damage. Kylie looks to be firing up for a finish, but Britt catches her in a Kneecap Brainbuster (Adam Cole’s Last Shot in ROH).

Excessive spots, excessive near falls, I knew to expect it to a degree with these four, but that doesn’t make it better. This was definitely an ‘Indie style” match, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. There was a lights out attack on both teams from…some team, with masked minions. The “Who Are You” chant kicks up and commentary doesn’t lend any information. So that’s really not helpful.

Everyone got their stuff in, we got to see a lot of personality from the different women and the action was solid. I also appreciated Emi Sakura trying to rally momentum doing We Will Rock You stomps (since she was dressed as Freddy Mercury). Save for the big mess up with the bell ringer calling the end of the match when the referee obviously held up 2 and said 2, just messed up the flow and gave away the finish since Hikaru’s music played. Not bad, just the ending did kind of take the air out of a pretty good match.

Wow. Dustin and Cody brought it, Dustin bladed pretty deep, I think even Dusty would’ve blushed. New moves from Dustin like the Misawa style Apron Senton, a Code Red and a few classics. The blood, the desire to keep fighting, this was everything wrestling should be. It made sense for Cody to win the match of course, but wow after the match was a beautiful moment. Also call of the night might have to go to Excalibur when Cody hit a Pump Kick aka Bicycle Kick and you hear him say something like ” He hit him with a BICYCLE”.  In a huge homage to Dustin and Dusty’s Heart to Heart promo, Cody tells Dustin he can’t retire, because he needs a partner. He doesn’t just need a partner, he needs his big brother. This was a great way cap off such a hard hitting personal match. Wow.

Belt reveal with a few extra curricular and Bret Hart. Much like Bret Hart, the belt doesn’t do anything for me. It looks a lot like Big Gold, but it’s so ostentatious it’s hard to love it. Just too shimmery or whatever. It’s not bad, but I in no way love the belt.

I’m very happy there was the unveiling ceremony between the Rhodes match and this one. Cause this was a great match and moving it out too quick could’ve hurt the crowd immersion. Great tandem moves, a decent thread of the ring rust playing a part against the Young Bucks early on and just generally great spots. There definitely was a lot of stuff, big spots and it was “spot monkey” style, but it all worked. The Lucha Brothers pulled out crazy moves to try and get the AAA belts back and the Bucks were trying to prove they still had it with most of the year off. Just really really good.

Well now Jericho and Omega pick back up where they left off. Referee Paul Turner allows for a lot of out of the ring shenanigans. Jericho busts Omega open, tries to use a table as a shield, but Omega still throws himself at Jericho.Jericho focuses on Omega’s face with the Triangle Dropkick, a Lionsault went high and this was pretty damn solid. A few missteps and Jericho not countering the first One Winged Angel was car crash worthy, but aside from that, this was nice. Multiple Codebreakers followed by the new Judas Effect, leave Omega laying for the 1, 2, 3.

Jericho says AEW is for him not for fans, and he deserves a thank you. When the crowd pops, Jericho thinks it’s for him, but Jon Moxley makes his debut through the crowd! Almost as if it were a reference to Lex Luger showing up on the first Nitro, it looks like Jericho basically says “You don’t work here”. Dirty Deeds to Jericho, Dirty Deeds to referee Paul Turner and Omega manages a burst of energy to brawl for a little bit. They end up on the poker chips, Moxley hits Dirty Deeds and then just dumps him off, onto some other stage item.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

Well damn, I was skeptical since All In didn’t rate as highly for me as other fans, but this was great. Aside from a few personal gripes, and not really enjoying the cluster that was the Battle Royal, this was one of the better shows of the year thus far. Good surprises like Awesome Kong, Bret Hart and Jon Moxley. Jericho winning the main event breaks up The Elite getting the clean sweep, so that shows it’s not as predictable as All In.

Oh and yes, I can’t express how good the Rhodes match was. The match itself, the story it told, the promo after, everything was just beautiful. That is my number 1 match of the year personally, cause it was just too damn poignant.

Good job AEW. Great show, and the symbolic moment where Cody used the sledgehammer to break the replica throne Triple H used for his WrestleMania 22 entrance. It was awesome.


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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock from WWE Backlash 1999

Ahead of WrestleMania Backlash, Chris King takes a stroll back to WWE Backlash 1999 as Stone Cold Steve Austin defends his WWE Championship against The Rock. 

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WWE Backlash 1999 Steve Austin The Rock

Ahead of WrestleMania Backlash, Chris King takes a stroll back to WWE Backlash 1999 as Stone Cold Steve Austin defends his WWE Championship against The Rock.

Let’s set the scene for a minute, you’ve got “The Texas Rattlesnake” and Corporate Rock going one-on-one at WrestleMania XV. Austin wins the championship and the McMahon family is livid. Stone Cold wants his Smoking Skull Championship belt back, and Vince and Shane McMahon are trying to keep it from him by hook or by crook.

Damn, things were different during the Attitude Era, The Rock threw Stone Cold over a bridge and held a funeral for his rival. The storytelling was captivating and exciting, and it kept you guessing what would happen next. Keep in mind this match was conclusively built around a championship belt, something that would never work in the current product.

It was a high-octane no disqualification match with Shane as the special guest referee for their latest encounter. Austin began the match running straight into the ring for a brawl which spilled out all over the arena.  I miss how exciting these two superstars were. Rock hit a vicious Rock Bottom through the Spanish announce table and then got on commentary to talk some smack.

The arrogant challenger took the camera to talk trash while Austin laid on the other announce table, and ate a Stunner through the table. Man, the WWE Universe was on fire throughout the entire match. I feel like both superstars can’t put on a bad match because they have such strong in-ring chemistry.

The finish of the match came when Austin had Rock set up for the three-count but Shane refused to count. Vince came down and struck Shane with the Smoking Skull belt. Austin hit another Stunner and decked the challenger with the belt for the victory. Vince then tossed his rival his precious Smoking Skull Championship.


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