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!
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.
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.
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: NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988
Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA make their first foray into more pay-per-view events with the inaugural and only Bunkhouse Stampede! There were four Bunkhouse events, but this is the lone one to be broadcast as JCP follows in the WWF’s footsteps of adding to their PPV schedule. The match itself is another Dusty Rhodes creation to headline the show, however the WWF would fire back yet again with JCP in their stomping grounds of Uniondale, New York. After running the inaugural Survivor Series up against Starrcade ’87, Vince McMahon would do it again here with the first Royal Rumble event broadcast. Not on PPV mind you, but on the USA Network in an attempt to stop people from buying JCP’s product. Let’s see how it plays out as our opening match gets ready to begin, but first…
Ringside: Bob Caudle & Jim Ross run down the card for the night which consists of three title matches, plus the finals of the Bunkhouse Stampede.
Match #1 for the NWA World Television Championship: NWA United States Tag Team Champion ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton w/Jim Cornette vs. NWA World Television Champion Nikita Koloff
A big pop for Koloff at his ring announcement. The two lock up and quickly release. Eaton immediately checks in with Cornette. They lock up a few more times and Eaton works Koloff into the corner before another clean break. The next lock up features brief chain wrestling before Eaton breaks it up in the ropes. At the next lockup, Eaton works Koloff into the corner and delivers punches that wake Koloff up. Nikita responds with a shoulder tackle. They lock up again and Koloff wins a test of strength. Koloff applies an arm bar followed by repeated blows on the back. Koloff works Eaton to the mat with a wristlock submission.
Back to their feet, Eaton breaks the hold with an elbow to the nose and kicks Koloff who stumbles through the middle rope to the floor. Some brawling ensues on the floor before Eaton rolls Koloff back into the ring. Eaton attempts to knock Koloff into the turnbuckle but Nikita reverses. They slow it down and both men are squaring up back in the ring. Eaton with a take down off of a side headlock and he maintains a headlock on the mat. Cornette is constantly barking at the referee. Koloff slowly makes his way back to his feet with the headlock still on. He whips Eaton to the rope but is hit with a shoulder tackle. They run the ropes after this and Koloff is able to land a power slam. Eaton regroups with Cornette at the side of the ring.
The two lock up again and Eaton hits another side headlock take down. Koloff rolls from the lock and attempts a pin but only gets 2. Eaton maintains control with the headlock on the mat. Back to their feet, Eaton once again powers Koloff to the concrete floor. He follows Nikita and lands some punches before Koloff throws him off and into the ring post. Koloff follows up with a hip toss on the concrete floor. More brawling happens on the floor before Koloff is pushed back into the ring. Eaton delivers a snapmare takedown followed by a standing elbow drop. There is a pin attempt and a 2 count. Eaton applies a hammerlock submission on the mat. Cornette plugs his ears as the crowd cheers for Koloff to get up.
The crowd loudly cheers “Cornette Sucks!”, Koloff slowly works up to his knees and finally stands, delivering 2 elbows and a shoulder tackle before Eaton gets a knee up in defense. Eaton climbs to the top rope and lands a missile dropkick. Pin attempt for a 2 count. Eaton applies another hammerlock submission. The crowd is really giving it to Jim Cornette. After a hammerlock that feels like forever, Tony Schiavone announces there are 5 minutes left in the time limit over the loud speaker. Koloff is back to his knees but he is still trapped in the hammerlock. Koloff finally breaks the hold with a few elbows and hits Eaton with a half-hearted Russian Sickle that hangs him up in the ropes.
They get to their feet at approximately the same time and Eaton has another arm submission takedown. 3 minutes remain. Koloff refuses to submit, and Eaton puts his knee into his opponents back. 2 minutes remain. Koloff back to his feet, with elbows to the stomach but Eaton responds with some kicks of his own and a modified arm bar take down. More submission work on the mat. 1 minute remaining. Koloff strengths back to his feet. They exchange stiff punches. Eaton begs for mercy. Koloff drives Eaton to the corner and delivers 6 punches before an Irish whip to the other corner. Koloff lands a solid Russian Sickle, but there’s not enough time for a pin.
Winner: Time Limit Draw
- After The Bell: Cornette is in the ring, but he loses his tennis racket in a terrified jump. Eaton attacks Koloff from behind and ‘Sweet’ Stan Lane of the Midnight Express runs in to make it a double team. The partners kick Koloff out to the concrete.
- EA’s Take: These two solid NWA stars delivered quite a stinker here. If I ever re-watch the match, I’m getting a stop watch out and timimg how many of these twenty minutes were simply spent laying on the mat in a hammerlock submission. JR did his best to make sense of the “strategy”, but there was no logic or strategy here. If the crowd wasn’t so interested in heckling Jim Cornette, you probably could have heard some snores. After Cornette claimed Eaton & Lane were respectively going after singles titles, that leads to our match tonight. Eventually, Nikita will team with Dusty (the champion Lane went after) to evolve the feud, but I don’t get the finish here. To me, Nikita goes over here, lays claim to a title shot due to the victory, THEN pairs up with Dusty to switch the focus to the US Tag Titles. That’s how this should have gone down.
Match #2 for the UWF Western States Championship: Larry Zbysko w/Baby Doll vs. UWF Western States Champion Barry Windham
Zbysko argues with the ref while Baby Doll argues with Windham. The ref finally demands Baby Doll get out of the ring. The two lock up and have a clean break. Windham gets the better end of the next lockup, powering Zbysko to the mat. Windham applies a head lock, runs the ropes and delivers two shoulder tackles and a hiptoss. A frustrated Zbysko consults Baby Doll outside the ring. He takes his time getting back in. Zbykso hits a single leg take down and a short leg submission.
Back to their feet, Zbysko is complaining that Windham is illegally pulling his hair. Windham applies another headlock. The two run the ropes and Windham stops short causing Zbysko to miss a dropkick. They lock up and Windham reverses a hammerlock into a fireman’s carry take down. The two work their way to the turnbuckle and they exchange right hands. Zbysko attempts a martial arts kick but Windham catches his foot. Zbysko is back to the concrete again, very frustrated.
Baby Doll appears to be trying to distract Windham, but to no avail. Zbysko is back in and hits another single leg take down. Zbysko tries to work on the seemingly injured leg but Windham breaks the hold by yanking on Zbysko‘s face. The two run the ropes. Zbysko hits a shoulder tackle, followed shortly by a drop toe hold. Zbysko is applying what looks like a modified half-crab submission. He turns Windham over into a toehold submission. Windham works his way to one foot and breaks the hold with a kick to the head. They regroup, run the ropes and Windham delivers a power slam followed by a 2 count. Windham to the top rope but misses his jump. Zbysko goes right back to work on the vulnerable knee. Windham is back up and hopping on 1 leg but Zbysko maintains the hold until Barry finally lands a few punches. Zbysko delivers sloppy bodyslam and a lateral press for a 2 count.
Zbysko puts a head lock on, but Windham reverses it with a 1 armed belly to back suplex. Windham can’t build off the momentum as Zbysko hits another drop toe hold and goes back to that half-crab. One back to their feet, the two exchange hard rights until Windham lands 3 in a row and Zbysko goes down on his back. A whip into the ropes and Windham lands a dropkick. Windham with a vertical suplex and another 2 count. Windham with a side solto suplex and another 2 count. He whips Zbysko into the ropes and grabs him in a sleeper hold. Zybysko breaks the hold by stumbling to the ropes and he rolls out to Baby Doll. Windham has none of the attempted slow down and follows him out.
Some brief brawling before Zbysko rolls into the ring first. 15 minutes have expired. Zbysko walks toward the apron and Windham grabs his ankles dropping Larry on his back. Windham pulls him over for a low blow against the post. Windham re-enters the ring. Zbysko is whipped to the ropes but ducks down on the comeback. Windham attempts a massive lariat and his momentum takes him through the middle rope and back to the floor. He’s able to take control when Larry follows though, and Zbysko is smashed face first on a nearby table. As Windham slowly gets to the apron, he hits a shoulder to Zbysko’s stomach and attempts a sunset flip. This is countered by Zbysko’s right hand. Zbysko attempts a neckbreaker but Windham reverses it into a backslide for a 2 count.
Zbysko sets up for a piledriver but it is reversed into a back body drop. Back to their feet, Zybysko is whipped into the ropes. The two collide in the middle of the ring and they both drop to the mat. Slowly to their feet, Windham moves on an Irish whip to the turnbuckle. Windham steps up to the 2nd turnbuckle and the crowd counts the punches off. On the following Irish whip to the opposite turnbuckle, Zbysko collides with the referee. Windham has Zbysko rolled up into an apparent 3 count, but the ref is down. Windham celebrates but then realizes the situation. He checks on the ref and Zbysko appears to hit him from behind with a foreign object. Zbysko gets the pinfall win.
Winner and NEW UWF Western States Champion: Larry Zbysko (Foreign Object)
- EA’s Take: This is definitely better than our first match, but that wasn’t hard to accomplish. As I stated in my Starrcade ’87 review, Barry’s being setup for a push towards the top so losing the non-prestigious Western States Title is a good thing. Zbysko would take off from the NWA the following year still as the champion and it was subsequently retired, so that shows how “revered” it was. It wouldn’t be but a couple of months later that Windham will turn heel and join The Horsemen, possibly the most recognizable incarnation of the group in its history.
Match #3 for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Road Warrior Hawk w/Paul Ellering vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair w/James J. Dillon
The two lock up and Hawk quickly powers Flair down. Flair takes his time contemplating his next move. Hawk with a side headlock. Flair works Hawk into the corner for a chop, but Hawk just stares him down. Flair walks out to the apron and paces, baffled by his opponent. The two lock up again, Flair delivers a knee and chop to the midsection. Flair attempts a shoulder tackle that doesn’t even move Hawk. He goes for a 2nd shoulder tackle and instead Hawk catches him in a gorilla press slam.
JJ Dillon tries to call timeout but the ref won’t have it. Yet another gorilla press from Hawk. Flair is backing up on the mat screaming “no”. Hawk delivers a barrage of kicks to Flair’s midsection. Flair with plenty of theatrics after this attack. Hawk pulls him up and lands a standing dropkick followed by a blow to the head. Hawk relentlessly pulls Flair up for a hiptoss. Flair rolls out of the ring and Dillon tries to give him some encouragement. Hawk meets him at the apron upon his return and vertically suplexes Flair back in. Flair is whipped into the rope and is caught in a bear hug. Hawk works Flair’s shoulders down to the mat for a two count. Flair is back to his feet and lands more useless chops. Flair is whipped into the ropes and Hawk lands a shoulder block.
Flair rolls out of the ring and around on the concrete while Ellering stares down Dillon. Hawk joins Flair on the floor who is able to rake the eyes. This only makes Hawk angry and he stalks Flair around the ring. Once back in the ring, Hawk muscles Flair to his knees and Ric finally gets some offense with a low blow. Flair with seemingly more effective kicks, chops and an eye rake after this disruption. The crowd is chanting for Hawk. Flair with a snapmare take down followed by a knee to the head. He covers Hawk for a 2 count. Flair pulls Hawk up and throws him through the middle rope and onto the floor. Flair follows him out and whips Hawk into the steel gate twice. Hawk stumbles back toward the ring as Flair taunts the crowd.
Flair climbs the turnbuckle and hits a double axe handle and another knee to the head. Lateral press from Flair for a 2 count. Flair whips Hawk to the rope who surprises Ric by reversing it into a neck breaker. Hawk to the turnbuckle but misses his attempt at a knee drop. His left knee is apparently injured so Flair takes advantage and works it over in a variety of ways. Outside, Ellering is stalking Dillon to make sure there is no funny business. Flair taunts Hawk yelling “Come on, tough guy” as he delivers more blows to the injured knee. Flair with some chops followed by a belly to back suplex. Flair pulls Hawk to the ring post and swings the injured knee into the metal. Back in the ring, Flair successfully applies the figure four leg lock and uses the ropes for leverage when he can. Hawk refuses to quit. Hawk starts an attempted reversal as Schiavone’s voice is heard saying 15 minutes has expired.
The crowd cheers loudly as Hawk completes the submission reversal. Flair is screaming in pain before breaking the hold at the ropes. Both men are slow to get up. Flair hits an elbow to the head and goes to the top rope. Hawk beats him to the punch and Flair takes his patented gorilla press bump from the top. Hawk with chops in the corner. Flair turns him around and sends him to the opposite side with an Irish whip. Hawk comes off the turnbuckle strong and lands a clothesline but he accidentally hits the ref as well. The two run the ropes. Hawk ducks a clothesline and comes back, sending Flair over the top rope with a clothesline of his own. Outside the ring, Hawk runs Flair face first into the post twice. Flair is bleeding.
They work their way back into the ring where Hawk delivers a power slam. Flair cowers into the corner and Hawk lands some rights, followed by an Irish whip and a clothesline. Somehow, Flair climbs to the top turnbuckle but Hawk meets him there. Hawk superplexes Flair, and there is plenty of time for a successful pinfall but there is no conscious ref. JJ Dillon enters the ring and hits Hawk with a chair. This barely phases Hawk who gets up and stalks Dillon down. Flair picks up the chair and delivers a headshot when Hawk turns around.
The ref rolls back in the ring shortly after this as Flair has a lateral press on Hawk but only gets a 2 count. Flair delivers a massive vertical suplex but is shocked to see Hawk is right back to his feet, completely unphased. Flair begs for mercy but Hawk climbs to the 2nd turnbuckle and the crowd counts off the 10 punches. Flair stumbles and falls in the middle of the ring. Flair retreats back to the turnbuckle but sneaks in a knee to the midsection and rushes to get the chair. He hits Hawk with the chair across the back and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner: Road Warrior Hawk (Disqualification)
- EA’s Take: Classic Flair here as Hawk looks like a million bucks. Lots of no-selling from one of of The Road Warriors and Naitch sells the crap out of the offense, so while I don’t care for screwy finishes, I don’t know how else you keep the belt on Flair while accomplishing the overall goal. It was interesting to see Hawk going for a singles title, which adds to my intrigue in the match. I have always been of the opinion that Hawk could have been a singles star had he wanted it and had his head screwed on straight. Animal? I’m not so sure, Hawk just always seemed to have much more charisma and was certainly a better promo. They would always come back together however, as we all know.
Match #4 is a Steel Cage Bunkhouse Stampede: Arn Anderson vs. The Barbarian vs. Tully Blanchard vs. Ivan Koloff vs. Road Warrior Animal vs. The Warlord vs. Dusty Rhodes vs. Lex Luger
Everyone takes a dance partner and goes to work. Arn Anderson and Dusty double team Ivan Koloff. Dusty almost eliminates Tully Blanchard immediately through the door. Luger and Warlord exchange blows as Dusty changes his attention back to Koloff. He goes for another elimination but Koloff holds on. Anderson and Blanchard try to double team Luger out of the cage to no avail. Koloff, Rhodes and Barbarian are all up on the top rope in one corner exchanging blows.
Barbarian tries to send Dream over but can’t get the big man over. Animal is stalking Tully Blanchard as they tight rope walk across the top rope. Animal grinds Blanchard’s face on the cage. Arn is being pursued by Dusty for an elimination but is saved when Koloff hits Dream from behind. Luger is up on the 2nd turnbuckle delivering blows to the head Barbarian. Rhodes throws Blanchard head first into the cage, where back in the center, Luger hits an atomic drop on Koloff. Arn Anderson is bloody and getting his face grated on the cage. Barbarian and Warlord double team Animal. Barbarian bites the bridge of Animal’s nose.
Luger is going crazy throwing rights to all comers and the crowd pops as Rhodes uses a strap on everyone else. The Barbarian is able to pull the strap away from Rhodes and uses it against him in the corner. Luger’s momentum slows and Arn Anderson delivers some rights. Animal has Dusty’s strap now and uses it on Koloff before giving it back to Rhodes. Dream whips Koloff who really seems outmatched. The Warlord and Barbarian with a double team clothesline on Animal. Arn Anderson has removed one of his boots. Koloff steals the strap and uses it against Rhodes’ bleeding arm. Luger takes the boot away from Arn Anderson and threatens to use it on Blanchard. Animal saves Rhodes from Koloff.
Luger is driven into the cage by the Warlord and receives a set of double team chops from he and Barbarian. We see Anderson being close to thrown over by Animal while partner Blanchard now has the strap around the neck of Koloff at the door. Anderson fights it off and is back in the ring delivering a double axe handle. Rhodes’ arm is a bloody mess. Ivan Koloff is eliminated over the top of the cage by Animal. Back in the ring, Luger rakes Barbarian’s eyes over the top rope. Barbarian fights back with some chops, but is met with an attack from Rhodes. At the door, the Warlord is hanging on tight as Animal is punching him out.
Animal is attacked from behind by the Barbarian and they both go out at the same time. Road Warrior Animal & The Warlord have been eliminated.The Horsemen and Rhodes and Luger team up and go at it. Power slam from Luger on Blanchard and he gets Tully into a brief torture rack submission. Barbarian takes over with Rhodes while Anderson tries to save his partner. Luger tries to fight both of them off but can’t overcome the double team. Barbarian is biting the bloody arm of Rhodes while the Horsemen carry Luger to the door. Luger fights back. Blanchard goes to the top rope, but Luger knocks him off.
All 3 men are battling at the door. Anderson hovers over a punching Luger on the apron. Blanchard is using his feet to slide Luger out but Anderson is father outside than Lex. All 3 men simultaneously fall out to the concrete. Arn Anderson, Lex Luger & Tully Blanchard have been eliminated. Only Dusty Rhodes and The Barbarian remain in the ring. Rhodes delivers some bionic elbows near the ropes but Paul Jones sneaks a foreign object into Barbarian’s hand. Barbarian wastes no time to use it.
Paul Jones cheers him on as Dusty is on his back in the middle of the ring. Barbarian goes to the top rope and delivers a diving headbutt. Barbarian drags Rhodes to the door. Both men are slowly out to the apron. Dream appears to be in trouble but comes back with more bionic elbows. Back in the ring, Rhodes whips Barbarian and hits an elbow. Both men to the turnbuckle and both men climb to the top rope. Rhodes lifts Barbarian to a seated position atop the cage. A first bionic elbow knocks Barbarian to the outside of the cage. A 2nd elbow knocks him to the floor.
Winner: Dusty Rhodes
- EA’s Take: Kind of like the scaffold matches, this gimmick match is visually interesting, but conceptually nonsensical. Granted, five of the competitors were eliminated at the door which is at least a realistic sell, but over the top of the cage? It meant there were a lot of spots where multiple wrestlers were up on the top turnbuckle and walking across the top rope in a way they never would in a normal match. Most of the time, the wrestlers were simultaneously climbing up the ropes willingly and unprompted. If your goal is to avoid being thrown over the cage, why would you put yourself in a more dangerous spot? It made as much sense as someone in a modern Royal Rumble choosing to jump over the top rope and fight guys off from the apron. Being eliminated at the door is more realistic, but the door eliminations weren’t very exciting. The guys gave a good brawl in the ring, but I think they would have been better off with a traditional battle royal concept.
EA’s Finisher: This two hour event leaves a lot to be desired and quite frankly, that would be reflected in the number of buys it would gain. It was widely ridiculed by the pundits, primarily because Dusty booked himself to win all four Bunkhouse Stampedes. Was it justified? Who am I to say? I think it may have helped had the dark match been on the main card, which was Sting & Jimmy Garvin vs. The Sheepherders, better known as The Bushwhackers. With only four matches, there was no reason that couldn’t be part of the broadcast. While many on this card are beloved Hall of Famers, none of these matches were exactly Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart putting on a technical clinic that captivates our attention for a long period of time. JCP will be back at it as they go to a whopping THREE PPVs in 1988, with The Great American Bash up next in June. It’s refreshing to cover an event other than Starrcade and JCP does have talent, but unless you are interested in seeing what this Bunkhouse Stampede match is all about, you should avoid this one.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Ric Flair vs. Road Warrior Hawk
2 – Bunkhouse Stampede
3 – Barry Windham vs. Larry Zbysko
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Leaping Through The Network: WCW Thunder #32 [September 17 1998]
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.
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.
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!”
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Flashback Friday: AJ Styles vs. Tyler Black (Seth Rollins) 4/28/06
Welcome to the first installment for Flashback Friday. The premise of the piece is to review an old match between opponents’ fans probably didn’t know had faced each other in the past; the matches will be accessible at the end of each column. For this month’s installment, the match is said to be the only time these two men faced each other to date, and it wasn’t in a WWE ring. The match took place on April 28th, 2006 in Muscatine, IA at an NWA No Limits show. The two men facing each other were current WWE champion AJ Styles and former WWE champion Seth Rollins. We should mention that this match was before there was a ‘Seth Rollins;’ at the time he went under the moniker of Tyler Black. The match went just over twenty-eight minutes and featured a more seasoned Styles against a green Tyler Black.
AJ Styles s. Tyler Black (Seth Rollins)
April 28, 2001, IWA No Limits (Muscatine, IA)
Times have changed for both men since then. The match took place in a gymnasium in front of a crowd of possibly a couple of hundred people. It begins with the camera focused on the entrance, and a very young, fresh-faced Tyler Black emerging from behind the heavy-duty steel doors. Fans immediately gravitated towards him as he slapped hands with everyone in attendance on his way to the ring. He was quite enthusiastic, soaking in all the adulation of the crowd as he stood on a table and slapped his chest, showing how pumped up he was for this match-up. Once Black is in the ring, the camera pans away to the doors to focus in on the next participant. Emerging from behind the doors was an equally fresh-faced AJ Styles, with his clean-cut look and short hair, and missing the AJ tattoo that runs down the right side of his rib cage. Styles, much like Black, walked in with much fanfare and carried a little more notoriety at the time. He also slapped hands with fans along his way to the ring. We can tell that this was relatively new for all involved, as it didn’t have the refined finish that we have become accustomed to seeing in the WWE today.
Both men stood in the ring prepared to go as they were announced for the match. We have to remember that, this being twelve years removed from today, it lends itself to seeing things from both men we may not necessarily see from them anymore. This is what proves to be so exciting about this match-up. The match started off simple enough with both men trying to feel their way along, trying to lock up not unlike what fans will see from either man today. Both men’s physiques have certainly developed since this match. Both have developed the strength of their upper body and core. The physical differences also make what we see from them here quite unique.
Early on, the match was fairly technical, with Styles taking Black down momentarily only to have it countered and Black recovering and gaining the advantage. Both men pretty much used a ground game to try to wear down and exhaust the other guy. Those in attendance appreciated the story these two were telling early on. Both men then began to exchange arm drags in what seemed like a progressive moment in the match. However, just when it appeared as though Black had the advantage, Styles regained the advantage with a side headlock on the mat. There were a few attempts to use leverage in order to make a pinning attempt. There weren’t a lot of high spots early on, with each man spending more time trying to work on their opposition. This was until Styles hit Black with a phenomenal dropkick and followed that up with a plancha to the outside the ring onto Black.
This was when it began to pick up. Styles rolled Black into the ring and attempted a pinfall, only getting a two count. He then proceeded to hit Black with a side backbreaker and once again got a two count. A vertical suplex led to another count of two. It was at this point where Black attempted to make a comeback by hitting Styles with a few kicks, almost defensively in order to keep distance between himself and the phenomenal one. However, that only went so far as Styles hit a vertical shoulder breaker leading to another pinfall attempt. Styles then transitioned to what appeared to be the last chancery, a submission maneuver made famous by Austin Aries. Black writhed in pain then struck Styles out of desperation in order to break the hold.
Black was battered and beaten, having been systematically worked on by Styles, who was proving that he is the veteran, of the two. However, when Styles attempted a springboard move, Black dropkicked the top rope knocking his opponent down. Black then climbed the top rope and hit a standing moonsault onto Styles on the outside, with nothing to brace their fall, but steel folding chairs. He then rolled Styles in the ring and attempted his own pinfall, but again only a two count was made. Black, still trying to recover himself from the earlier beating he received, was moving slowly as he slammed Styles. He then proceeded to hit a running senton. Styles attempted to make a comeback, but Black continued to get the advantage with a variation of a side headlock and reverse chin lock, wearing down the phenomenal one.
Once both men returned to a vertical base, Black hit a bridging suplex on Styles. He then followed it up with a rolling fireman’s carry into a standing moonsault, but only to a count of two. Styles slowly began to mount a comeback, only for Black to counter. Styles ended the sequence with a Pele kick, taking Black down and buying time to recover. Both men attempted standings suplexes, countering each other’s effort until Styles ultimately succeeded. He followed that up with a suplex into a standing reverse neckbreaker, once again to no avail. Styles signaled for the Styles Clash, but Black countered it and then caught AJ in mid-air for a powerbomb pinning combination.
The match truly began to pick up. Spots included Styles’ famous moonsault into a Scorpion death drop. Black then perched his opponent on the top rope and hit a superplex from the top rope, once again for a count of two. Both men appear completely exhausted at this point, but Black managed to hit a running kick and a standing 450 splash. Styles revived and again signaled for the Styles Clash, this time hitting it for the three count. While there may have only been a few hundred in attendance that didn’t take away from the action these two showcased in this match.
Winner via pinfall: AJ Styles
After the match, Styles got on the microphone and pointed out how good Black was. He said that he is the future and gave him the match of his life. It ended with a handshake a hug out of mutual respect. Fans shared their appreciation, and then Black got on the microphone and said ‘Thank you’ to AJ for helping make a dream come true. Once Black left the ring fans showed their respect for him by patting him on the back or giving him hugs.
All wrestlers have to start somewhere, and this match gave fans a glimpse of how these two tremendous athletes give it their all regardless of the size of the crowd. Styles had a higher level of recognition and popularity due to his being in TNA at the time, but Black was an unknown in comparison. The match took place prior to Black joining Ring of Honor, which was where a wider range of fans began to see just how talented he was. This small venue gave fans an opportunity to see this promising young talent in action.
The running time of the video is over 28 minutes, but that isn’t really an accurate account of the match. It was probably closer to about 20 minutes of in-ring action, which is quite telling as both men got a great deal of offense. When we consider the time when the match took place it makes sense that Styles walked away from the winner. However, Black (or Rollins) was certainly given an opportunity to show just how good he was. Before watching the match, it would have been easy to think that Black was green going in, but that wasn’t true at all. His moves looked polished, his selling of offense appeared refined, and this was twelve years before he was in WWE, where he has only gotten better.
It is incredible to think that nearly twelve years after this match, both men are now prominently featured performers in WWE, but have never faced each other while with the company. A number of the moves the men performed in the match perhaps couldn’t be done today. However, it is probably safe to assume that they could put on an even better performance today. We have to consider that in WWE oftentimes a day is dedicated to planning out a match, in order to have it appear as flawless as possible in its execution.
We hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, and encourage you to watch the match for your own enjoyment.
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