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Chairshot Classics: NWA The Great American Bash ’88

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Here is our next event in my NWA/WCW timeline, The Great American Bash! Created by booker Dusty Rhodes, The Great American Bash, like our previous pay-per-view Bunkhouse Stampede, wasn’t the first show produced under this name, but was the only one to be broadcast. The other events, again like Bunkhouse Stampede, were simply what I call “glorified house shows”. This is the end of the road for Jim Crockett Promotions as well, selling the company to Turner Broadcasting in November, one month prior to Starrcade, but a relationship with the NWA would remain a little while longer. So it’s the finale of an era for Crockett, but the start of another for the Great American Bash event so let’s get into it and head right to the ring!

Match #1 for the NWA World Tag Team Championships: Sting & Nikita Koloff vs. NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard w/James J. Dillon
After the bell rings, all 4 men pair up and brawl. Sting and Koloff clear the ring to the delight of the crowd. The Horsemen return to the ring for round 2. Anderson and Koloff stumble out and Sting almost steals the match immediately with a small package. Anderson ambushes Sting, but he’s met with a dropkick. Anderson rolls out of the ring, but turns around to meet a plancha from Sting. The crowd’s really digging it. Koloff and Blanchard go to the corners and Sting and Anderson start the structured action. Sting with a hip toss into an arm bar submission. He drags Anderson to his corner and tags in Koloff.

Koloff leads with some stomps and a submission of his own on Anderson’s arm. Anderson works his way to his feet, he powers out of the hold but misses an elbow drop. Koloff is back in control, now working on Double A’s other arm. Anderson is slow to his feet, works Koloff to the corner and lands a left and a few kicks. Koloff reverses Anderson’s Irish whip to the opposite turnbuckle but Anderson moves. Arn looks confident that Koloff collided with the turnbuckle, but Koloff had stopped short. Anderson turns around and is met by a Russian Sickle. Blanchard rushes the ring to prevent a cover and has the same fate. Koloff with a lateral press but Anderson’s foot is on the rope. Tag made to Sting. Anderson is sent to the turnbuckle but Arn gets his knee to Sting’s midsection.

Sting quickly counters a sleeper hold by driving Anderson’s head into the turnbuckle. Sting hits a leg drop on Anderson’s left arm and continues with the submission work. Anderson works his way to his feet and Blanchard illegally enters the ring to double team Sting. The Stinger counters their hold on both his arms with a backflip for positioning and a double hiptoss. The Horsemen stand up to meet Sting’s drop kick that strikes both. After a regroup, Anderson manages a headbutt to the midsection and can mercifully make a legal tag to Blanchard. Tully is whipped for 2 hiptosses before a tag is made to Koloff.

Sting holds Blanchard in place as Nikita lands several kicks and hard rights before back to the mat for an arm submission. Blanchard tries to squirm his way to the ropes but Koloff is in control. Koloff works Blanchard’s shoulders to the mat for several near falls. Tully finally gets his leg on the bottom rope. The hold is broken but he can’t escape Koloff. Tag is made to Sting. Blanchard reverses Sting’s Irish whip but Sting moves. Sting has a near fall after Blanchard’s collision. Tully gets up dazed and stumbles to the wrong corner for a tag. Nikita takes advantage of the blunder with a cheap shot and the crowd loves it.

Tag to Koloff and he powers Blanchard into the turnbuckle. Blanchard tags Anderson with his boot but the ref will not allow it. Blanchard tries to break the submission with a knee to Koloff’s midsection, but no luck. Nikita lifts Blanchard for an atomic drop and follows it up with a hiptoss. He goes right back to work on Blanchard’s shoulder. Blanchard slowly struggles his way to his corner while locked in and he’s able to make the tag. Koloff retreats to his corner and Anderson is frustrated with the lack of opportunity to take liberties. Anderson and Koloff square each other up and lock up. They run the ropes and Koloff executes a drop toe hold. Koloff dials in a half nelson on the mat, barking that he wants the title. Anderson slowly works to his feet reaching for Blanchard but instead he ends up in a standing full nelson.

He kicks Koloff’s knee twice which allows him to make the tag to Blanchard. A run to the ropes and Koloff delivers his Russian Hammer choke hold. Blanchard is surprisingly right back up, but Koloff hits him with a shoulder block. Blanchard is then clotheslined over the top rope to the concrete and Koloff falls over with him. Blanchard makes it back to the apron at a count of 8, but his met with a vertical suplex. JJ Dillon interferes with the pin attempt and Koloff pursues him on the floor. When Koloff rushes him, Dillon moves and Koloff runs into the post. Anderson is on the floor and drives Koloff’s shoulder into the post once again. Koloff is rolled back into the ring, injured. Tag is made to Anderson. Body slam by Anderson followed by several knees to the back.

Anderson with a hammerlock submission as it is announced that there is 5 minutes left in the match. Koloff works his way to his feet with a psychotic look on his face. Anderson is whipped to the ropes. Koloff sets up for a back body drop but Anderson reverses it by catching his head and executing a DDT. Koloff kicks out at 2. Tag is made to Blanchard who comes off the top rope with an axe handle. Blanchard attempts an unsuccessful pin, and then continues the armbar submission. Tag made to Anderson. Snapmare takedown by Anderson. He goes to the 2nd turnbuckle for a splash but Koloff gets his knees up. The 2 men work to their corners slowly and make simultaneous tags.

The crowd has a HUGE pop for Sting. He rushes Blanchard, and whips him to the ropes for a back body drop, followed by a dropkick. Sting with an Irish whip to the turnbuckle and a gorilla press to Blanchard. Anderson rushes Sting and is met with a bulldog. A double atomic drop reversal by Blanchard, then Sting, and the Stinger with another great dropkick. He pulls Blanchard to Anderson’s corner and bashes their heads together. 1 minute remaining and Sting has Anderson in a sleeper hold. Anderson breaks the hold with elbows and tags in Blanchard. Sting stops the momentum of Blanchard’s sunset flip and delivers a right to Tully.

With Anderson still in the ring, Koloff rushes Anderson with a Russian Sickle. Sting with an Irish whip and a Stinger Splash to Blanchard. Sting applies the Scorpian Deathlock to Blanchard and the bell rings 7 seconds later. Sting and Koloff celebrate and grab the tag team belts. There is a discussion in the ring, and it was determined the bell rang because of the time limit and not a submission.
Winners: Time Limit Draw

  • EA’s Take: I’m not sure if Nikita is trying to match Stinger, but it’s really weird seeing him with hair, let alone a flat top. You’ve got the class of the tag team division here in Arn and Tully, the red hot Sting and a bruiser in Koloff. Magnifico! Not to mention Sting with an outside dive? You never see that in this era! This one began after Sting and Dusty challenged for the tag titles, but the newest member of The Horsemen, Barry Windham, would interfere, leading Dusty to focus on Windham and Nikita to step in. The Stinger’s coming off the heels of his famous World Title match against Ric Flair at the first Clash Of The Champions, while Nikita has dropped down the card a little, but is still over like rover. Arn and Tully are looking more and more like The Brain Busters, which we will see in the fall as Double A and Blanchard would give their notices to JCP in September, prior to the sale to Turner. It would put an end to The Horsemen and in the words of Tully, “It was the end of an era”.

Ringside: Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone review what we just saw as Sting & Nikita clear the ring, then preview our next championship match.

Match #2 for the NWA United States Tag Team Championships: The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane) w/Jim Cornette vs. NWA United States Tag Team Champions The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers)
Cornette grabs the mic and explains to the crowd that he’s not crazy. He introduces his team to a sea of boos. A stipulation of this match is that Cornette must be harnessed in a straight-jacket and hung in a cage as to not interfere. Additionally, should The Midnight Express lose, they face 10 lashes. Cornette pleads with the referee and protests the stipulation. He is consoled with hugs from the Express and begrudgingly obliges. The bell rings, Eaton and Fulton start. They lock up and Fulton grabs a headlock.They run the ropes and Fulton drops Eaton for a quick 2 count. Eaton lands a punch that sounded like a potato. Irish whip into the corner and Fulton delivers two consecutive head scissor takedowns.

Eaton stumbles to the wrong corner for the tag. Fulton lands a heavy right and Eaton regroups in his corner. Cornette is heard screaming from a distance. Eaton and Fulton lock up again and a tag is made to Lane. The crowd is heard chanting “Cornette Sucks”. Lane is in control his combo of kicks makes Fulton falls to the concrete. Back in, Fulton reverses an Irish whip and Lane is run over the turnbuckle and into the post. Tag is made to Rogers and Lane is back in the ring. Rogers lands some high energy dropkicks. Eaton is tagged in but is met with a hip toss. Back to their feet, Eaton hits a knee to Rogers’ midsection and he sets him up on the top turnbuckle. Rogers reverses an attempted vertical suplex and flips Eaton into a pin. He kicks out at 1.

Rogers jumps to the 2nd turnbuckle and hits a cross body and lateral press for another count of 1. The two regroup and are back on their feet. A tag is made to Fulton and the Fantastics hit Eaton with a double back body drop. Lane rushes the ring and they each take a partner. The Fantastics cause some confusion and get Lane to deliver another back body drop on his own tag team partner. The Express regroup on the concrete while the Fantastics strut in the ring. Fulton and Lane get the action going again but a quick tag is made to Rogers. Rogers leapfrogs his tag team partner and lands into an arm submission on Lane. Lane reverses with a knee to the midsection. He attempts a back body drop but Rogers lands on his feet.

When Rogers pushes Lane to the ropes he is unaware the tag was made to Eaton. As Rogers rolls up Lane for a pin, Eaton grabs him from behind with a bulldog. Eaton goes for a pin and gets a 2 count. Lane is tagged back in (wait, wasn’t he the legal man all along?) and wraps Rogers’ neck around the top rope. He levels Rogers with a lariat and tags Eaton back in. Eaton lands a hard elbow following a whip to the ropes. Eaton makes a cover for a 2 count. Rogers is trying to fight the momentum, but Eaton delivers a swinging neckbreaker. Quick sequence of tags back and forth between Lane and Eaton, and Beautiful Bobby finally delivers an impressive backbreaker. Fulton makes the save on the pin attempt. More double team work by the Express and they are in complete control. Eaton delivers a backbreaker on a worn down Rogers.

Eaton with a hammerlock submission. Rogers is finally to his feet. He breaks the hold with elbows and reverses Eaton’s attempted back body drop by dropping Bobby face first on the mat. Both men are down and the ref is counting. Eaton makes it to his corner first. Lane comes in with an abdominal stretch on Rogers and gets extra leverage from Eaton. When Fulton protests what he sees the ref backs him off. Rogers finds himself outside of the ring with Eaton as this happens. Rogers reverses Eaton’s attempt to bash him head first into the post and instead that is given to Bobby. He rolls back into the ring and starts fighting off Lane’s momentum. Rogers is whipped into the ropes but comes back with a beautiful sunset flip for a 2 count.

Lane is quickly up and makes the tag to Eaton. Bobby with a body slam on Rogers followed by a legdrop from the 3rd rope. Fulton breaks up the pinfall attempt and the crowd is getting behind The Fantastics. Another abdominal stretch applied to Rogers followed by leg sweep takedown. Eaton sets up for the team’s Rocket Launcher from the top rope but Rogers gets his knees up. Hot tag made to Fulton who hits a back body drop on Eaton. Stan Lane is back in the ring and Fulton is fending them both off.

He runs the ropes, leaps over both Eaton and the referee but his leg is grabbed by Lane who is standing outside the ring on his comeback. Lane pulls him through middle rope for a body slam on the concrete. Rogers rushes back into the ring and goes after Eaton but collides with the referee on a cross body tackle from the ropes. He throws Eaton into the post. Stan Lane is back in the ring with a foreign object. He rushes Rogers but Rogers hits him with a back body drop. The foreign object (chain) falls to Eaton who wraps it around his first. After Rogers sends Lane back out to the floor, Eaton hits Rogers with the chain. Pinfall victory for the Midnight Express.
Winners and NEW NWA United States Tag Team Champions: The Midnight Express (Eaton/Foreign Object)

  • After The Bell: Cornette is out of the cage but the Fantastics chase him down. They whip Cornette with referee Tommy Young’s belt. The Express pull their manager out and head to the dressing room.
  • EA’s Take: Finally The Midnight Express is used correctly on pay-per-view! After seeing them in scaffold matches for the last couple of NWA events, this was a breath of fresh air to see one of the best tag teams ever ACTUALLY get to wrestle instead of fearing for their lives. Although, having “ten lashes” on the line isn’t exactly something to scoff at. This feud really began in Mid-South in 1984, would run through WCWA and then into the NWA before The Fantastics arrived in JCP in ’88. Like their name says, they were pretty fantastic in the ring and are really one of the forgotten about tag teams in wrestling lure, at least outside of fans that consider themselves historians. Tommy Rogers is pretty undersized which is rare, but he looks much better than when I became more familiar with him during a brief stint with ECW about ten years later. My only real gripe here? It probably should have opened the show, it’s unusual that your secondary tag titles go on directly after your World Tag Titles.

Ringside: Jim Ross & Toy Schiavone review the finish of our last match as the cage is being set up for the next contest.

Match #3 is a Tower Of Doom Match: ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams, Ron Garvin, The Road Warriors (Animal & Hawk) & ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin w/Precious & Paul Ellering vs. Kevin Sullivan, Al Perez, Mike Rotunda, The Russian Assassin & Ivan Koloff w/Gary Hart
A three-level cage is set up. In two minute intervals, doors will open for a new competitor to come into the top level. At these same intervals, trap doors will open for approximately 10 seconds giving competitors a chance to jump down to the next level. The first team who has all five members of their team move through all 3 levels and exit the cage will win. Precious is in the ring and is holder of the key. Ron Garvin and Ivan Koloff will be the first to enter the tower at the smallest level on top. The two lock up and brawl. They use the cage as a weapon and exchange punches and chops. Steve Williams and Mike Rotunda wait outside the door for the first 2 minute horn to sound. All you can really do is brawl in this scenario and they slug it out.

The first horn sounds. The trap door is open and Garvin opens it. Garvin gets down successfully but Koloff is stuck on the first level. This makes it a 2 on 1 against Williams at the top level while Garvin just paces alone on the 2nd level. Despite this, Williams has plenty of offense, bashing the heels’ heads together. The 2nd horn sounds. Williams is headed for the door but Koloff grabs onto him. With no opposition, Garvin easily jumps down to level 1 and walks out of the cage. Road Warrior Animal is now on the top level, double teamed by Rotunda and Al Perez while Koloff and Steve Williams have moved on and do battle on the middle level. Animal is handling the double team well and the crowd is roaring for him. Hawk is waiting in the wings to come in next.

Steve Williams holds on to the cage and delivers stomps to Koloff. The next horn sounds and the doors are open. Al Perez easily makes it to the 2nd level and right behind him is Road Warrior Animal. No one from the 2nd level advanced, so it’s now Williams and Animal against Koloff and Perez on that middle level. Hawk brawls with Rotunda and the Assasin up top. The crowd is really reacting to the Road Warriors. Steve Williams delivers a body slam on Koloff for the first non-brawling move. The final horn sounds and here comes Jimmy Garvin and Kevin Sullivan. Al Perez and Animal make it through the doors to the ring (1st level).

Hawk escapes to the 2nd level to join teammate Steve Williams, and behind him the Assasin joins Koloff to even the field. Jimmy Garvin deals with a 2 on 1 on the top level. Animal makes quick work of Perez in the ring and exits the cage. With no one else in the ring, Perez is able to stumble out as well despite his losing effort to Animal. The horn for the trap door sounds and Rotunda is finally able to make it to the 2nd level. Koloff and the Assasin make it to ring followed by Hawk who will face a 2 on 1 for 2 minutes. Hawk runs the ropes and hits the Russians with a double clothesline. Jimmy Garvin and Kevin Sullivan are still battling on the top level. Williams and Rotunda are squaring up on the middle level.

Despite the 2 on 1, Hawk escapes the cage first. Again, with no opponents to stop them, both Russians stagger out despite Hawk getting the best of them. The next horn sounds. Steve Williams makes it to the ring and walks out. Garvin and Sullivan both make it to level 2, which makes it a 2 on 1 against Garvin as the final 3 men who are left do battle. Garvin bashes their heads together and fights off the mismatch. The horn sounds and the crowd begs Garvin to get down. Sullivan holds Garvin down on the cage allowing Rotunda to jump down to the ring and walk out with ease. The final 2 competitors, Garvin and Sullivan are on level 2.

A brawl breaks out on the floor between the 8 men who have escaped the tower. Garvin with some submission work on Sullivan’s knee, but Kevin fights back. The horn sounds, the door is open and Sullivan is first through the door but Garvin is right behind him. Sullivan goes to Precious who is holding the key and she kicks him away. Garvin does more work with legs and elbows on Sullivan’s knee. Garvin delivers a brain buster. Garvin struggles with the lock on the door for a second, but finally gets the chain off. Sullivan makes a last ditch effort to stop him from behind, but Garvin leaps to the floor.
Winners: ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams, Ron Garvin, The Road Warriors & ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin

  • After The Bell: Sullivan locks himself in the cage with Precious and pursues her. With no way in, the winning team must re-climb the ladder and drop through the levels again to save her. Sullivan pulls a rope from his trunks and chokes her until finally Hawk and Jimmy Garvin make it to level 1 take him out.
  • EA’s Take: More gimmick matches here and holy cow, was this structure quite the sight to behold. Not to mention, how forward thinking was this concept in 1988? I prefer this much more than the scaffold matches. It’s primarily brawling on the top two levels of the cage, but you can at least use the ring on the bottom level, so you’re not even close to as limited with what you can do. The time intervals also create some interesting handicap situations, something the WWF did with its Royal Rumble concept back in January. One thing I will say though, that spot where Precious was getting choked at the end…man, people would have a field day with something like that today. It would NEVER fly!

Ringside: Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone go over the action once again, showing us replays of Sullivan stalking Precious and Hawk making the save with Jimmy Garvin. They send us to Bob Caudle in another part of the arena for his thoughts on the Tower Of Doom.

Match #4 for the NWA United States Championship: NWA United States Champion Barry Windham w/James J. Dillon vs. Dusty Rhodes
The two lock up and Rhodes hits a quick arm drag. Windham rushes Rhodes, but Dusty intimidates him with his elbow. There is a side headlock and shoulder tackle from Rhodes. Windham rolls out to the concrete for a regroup. The two criss-cross through the ropes but Windham stops it with an elbow to the back of Rhodes’ head. Back to their feet, the Dream is able to send Windham into the ropes for a gorilla press followed by a DDT. Rhodes heads for the top rope and lands a cross body press. Very close 2 count by Rhodes. Windham once again is out to the floor and this time feigning like he’s walking to the dressing room.

Windham consults with Dillon takes his sweet time to get back in the ring. Finally back, Windham signals Rhodes to slow it down. They lock up and Windham delivers a series of blows in the corner, but it has little effect. Rhodes dances around the ring and returning shots to Windham. Dillon is up on the apron but Rhodes takes care of him with a big elbow. Windham is back on the floor again and barking at the ref who is counting. Windham gingerly returns to the ring and sets up a test of strength. Windham takes advantage of the open torso with some kicks to the midsection and Rhodes tumbles out to the floor. Windham stays on the attack and sends him shoulder first into the steel rail.

Windham sets up for a piledriver on the floor, but Dusty reverses with a back body drop. Rhodes hits a huge clothesline on Windham and proceeds to chase Dillon around the ring. Slowly back to the ring, Windham is able to regain some offense, pummeling Dusty in the corner. Back to the floor again and Rhodes’ head is bashed on the apron. Windham crawls back into the ring as Rhodes gets up. Dusty steps up to the apron. Windham attempts to use the ropes to flip Rhodes back into the ring but Dusty reverses it and sends him over the top and to the floor. Windham stumbles around the outside of the ring as Dillon provides a distraction for the referee.

This allows Windham to attack Rhodes from behind, and deliver a body slam to the big man. Standing elbow drop from Windham and he pulls Rhodes up for his patented claw, digging his fingers into Rhodes’ skull. Rhodes fades as the ref checks on him. Rhodes is on his back and Windham gets a couple of 2 counts. Rhodes uses the crowd’s energy to work his way to his feet, but he’s quickly forced back down. Dusty is up again for attempt number 2 at breaking the hold. He backs his way to the corner and steps up to the 2nd turnbuckle. He teases a big elbow but Windham pulls him back to his knees and taunts the crowd before he can do it.

Rhodes swings his arms around for attempt number 3 to break the hold and finally lands midsection shots as Windham holds on. Finally, Rhodes hits 3 elbows. The hold is broken and Windham is down. Rhodes attempts a figure four, but somehow Windham reaches out and has the claw applied once again. Rhodes backs his way to the 2nd turnbuckle again and he lands some rights. Windham reverses with a shot to Rhodes’ midsection and sets up for a superplex. Rhodes instead shoves him off and the ref is hit.

Rhodes misses a standing elbow and Windham heads for the top rope. Dusty pursues him and sends him flying for a huge body slam from the top rope. Dusty lands an elbow drop but there is no referee to make a cover. Ron Garvin comes down to the ring but surprisingly attacks Rhodes knocking him nearly unconcious. Dillon rolls the referee back into the ring, and Windham applies a claw once again. Rhodes is out cold and his shoulders are down. Windham gets the pinfall victory.
Winner and STILL NWA United States Champion: Barry Windham (Outside Interference)

  • EA’s Take: One thing I love about this era is how genuinely emotional the crowd gets at certain spots. For example, the panic in the crowd with fans trying to get Dusty’s attention. Small things like that are what make me miss the old days! The Dream always knows how to entertain and Jim Ross is too good at calling matches for this one to disappoint. Windham had been saddled with some bad luck in his previous Chairshot Classic appearances and we really see what he can do here when all goes well. I previously mentioned how Barry had jumped Rhodes during a tag title match, but Dusty had also previously been stripped of the US Title and suspended for attacking Jim Crockett. Of course, all kayfabe. Dusty keeps finding ways to stretch out his program with The Horsemen, moving from one member to another and keeping himself away from Flair. Most people complain that he put himself in such spots as the booker, but you can’t argue that he didn’t help guys like Windham and previously, Lex Luger by working with them. My stance is that he was grooming his young talent with his own name value. Surprising heel turn here as well with Ronnie Garvin costing Dusty the match, but it wouldn’t lead to much as he’d leave the company about a month or so later.

Backstage: Ronnie Garvin is shown with Gary Hart & James J. Dillon, celebrating and lathering himself with cash after receiving a briefcase full of it.

Match #5 for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair w/James J. Dillon vs. Lex Luger
Flair works Luger to the corner, but Luger uses power to shove Flair across the ring. They regroup and lock up again, resulting in a hip toss from Luger. They circle the ring tentatively and lock up. Luger with a big headlock until the ropes break it up. Another lock up and they move toward the turnbuckles. Flair delivers ineffective chops and kicks in the corner. Luger stalks Flair and delivers another hip toss and follows it with a drop kick. Flair rolls out of the ring and paces the concrete. Flair returns to the ring and backs up until they grapple, Flair attempts an shoulder tackle that doesn’t move Luger.

The next run and Luger catches him in a Gorilla press. Flair stumbles over the outside railing and calls for referee Tommy Young. He tries to accost Young, but Young runs and hides behind Luger. Slowly, Flair returns to the ring. After a test of strength, Luger twists Flair’s arm and whips him into another gorilla press slam. Flair is whipped to the ropes again and is caught in Luger’s bearhug. Luger drops Flair’s shoulders to the ring for a 2 count. The bearhug continues, and Flair refuses to give up. Finally they wander to the ropes and the hold is broken. Flair is whipped to the ropes, he puts the brakes on but stumbles out to the apron. Luger pursues Flair and delivers a vertical suplex back into the ring. Luger pins but Flair kicks out at 2.

Luger hits a massive elbow drop, but misses his 2nd attempt. Luger is right back to his feet and Flair begs for mercy in the corner. Luger delivers another hip toss and Flair retreats to the floor. Luger follows and the two brawl on the floor Flair uses the gate as a weapon twice. Luger stumbles back into the ring and Flair takes advantage with a snapmare take down and a knee drop. The Nature Boy drags Luger’s face across the top rope and hits another snapmare/knee combo. Luger kicks out of a pin attempt at 2. Flair uses an armbar, but is warned by Tommy Young about making a cheap shot to Luger’s ribs while doing so.

From his knees Luger fights off Flair’s next pursuit with shots to the midsection. They run the ropes, Luger ducks Flair’s elbow, stops short, and hits a clothesline on the return. Flair kicks out at 2 1/2. Both men back to their feet. Flair with another snapmare take down to Luger and he heads for the top rope. Luger is up before anything happens. He shakes the ropes and Flair falls groin first on the top rope. Luger follows with an enormous hiptoss across the ring to, but he misses the subsequent dropkick when Flair gets up. Flair can’t capitalize on the misfire and he stumbles face first on the mat. Both men are slow to get up. Flair with an Irish whip but Luger bounces off and comes back with a clothesline. Luger uses a lateral press but Flair’s foot is on the ropes. Luger is bumped to the apron, but he comes back with a sunset flip.

Flair fights for the ropes but he goes down for a 2 count. On their feet, and Flair starts working on Luger’s left knee. Multiple kicks from Flair, and he uses the bottom rope for leverage. Flair pulls Luger to the center of the ring and applies the Figure Four, pulling on the bottom rope for leverage when he can. Luger gets the crowd behind him for an attempted reversal, and he succeeds but Flair breaks the hold on the ropes. Flair is right back up and is back to work on that left leg. He pulls Luger to his feet, whips him to the ropes, Luger ducks Flair’s elbow and clotheslines Ric over the top rope. Back in the ring, Flair tries chops in the corner but it energizes Luger.

The Total Package whips Flair to the ropes for another gorilla press slam but he’s still favoring that leg. Luger is the first up, but he misses Flair on an attempted knee drop. Flair heads for the top rope with a “Wooo”, but Luger beats his attempt and delivers a 4th gorilla press slam. At the opposite corner, Luger steps to the 2nd turnbuckle and delivers rights as the crowd counts them off. Flair counters by lifting Luger for an atomic drop, but Lex gets right back up and knocks Flair out with a clothesline. Luger attempts a pin, but they’re too close to the ropes. Luger is up on the turnbuckle again for 10 punches, this time executed successfully.

Luger with an Irish whip and Flair tumbles over the opposite top turnbuckle and out to the floor. Luger gives chase and rolls Flair back in the ring. They run the ropes, and Flair can’t execute a hiptoss. Instead, Luger grabs Flair’s arms and rolls him into a backslide for a 2 count. They run the ropes again, Flair ducks an elbow and leaps awkwardly on Luger. They both get caught on the top rope and both fall to the concrete. Flair is barking about his leg, but when they’re up he’s able to run Luger face first into the post. Flair bluffs like he’s going to use a chair but Tommy Young stops him.

While Young is distracted, JJ Dillon takes a cheap shot at Luger by running his head into the post once again. Luger’s forehead is busted open and he is rolled back into the ring. Flair attempts 10 punches at the turnbuckle but Luger returns the favor with an atomic drop of his own. The Maryland Athletic Commissioner and the company doctor are ringside saying something to the referee. While this happens, Luger whips Flair to the ropes for a huge power slam. The crowd cheers as Luger puts Flair in the torture rack. The ref calls for the bell and the crowd goes wild. Sting and other babyfaces join Luger in the ring to celebrate. The crowd chants “Luger” and cheers, but the ring announcer explains that the commissioner and company doctor stopped the match due to the laceration on Luger’s face.
Winner and STILL NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair (Referee Stoppage)

  • EA’s Take: The usual Flair entertainment in this one as he works to make Luger look amazing. There were some fun spots and a lot of people groan when they see/hear Lex’s name, but honestly he was capable of putting on a good performance. It’s not until his later years when he couldn’t care less and was older that he became stale. The NWA had some outdated rules still in these days and the finish is blamed on the Maryland State Athletic Commission, which is completely storyline. We’re squeezing more time out of this rivalry and we’ll see the finale coming up at Starrcade. Overall solid match, hot feud.

EA’s Finisher: Of all my Chairshot Classics to date, top to bottom this is the most enjoyable of them all. There’s not a bad match on the card and even if maybe the Tower Of Doom is not your cup of tea, it’s watchable at worst. The crowd was into absolutely everything, which has been a factor in how a show is perceived in my book forever and I just really enjoy the mix of new stars and veterans alike. With the sale to Turner around the corner, many former NWA stars have spoken on what led to Crockett’s demise, primarily bad finance management. It really was a shame because Flair has stated that Crockett could still be in business today had he stayed within his region and frankly, I think that’s entirely possible, but mismanaging your money also is a killer. Regardless, it was thirty years ago so we are far too late to send warning! Next week, we move on as well with Starrcade ’88!

Top Three To Watch
1 – Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard vs. Sting & Nikita Koloff

2 – The Midnight Express vs. The Fantastics
3 – Barry Windham vs. Dusty Rhodes


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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WWF King Of The Ring 1993

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The nWo is reuniting next month for a very rare event where fans can see all three original members in the same place at the same time. So today, were looking back at another rare occurrence when Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were all apart of the same card before they “took over” with King Of The Ring 1993! ‘The Bad Guy’ takes part in the King Of The Ring tournament, meanwhile ‘Big Daddy Cool’ accompanies Shawn Michaels as he defends the Intercontinental Title, on top of Yokozuna challenging ‘The Hulkster’ for the WWF Championship!

Open: Vince McMahon voices over a video package highlighting tonight’s King Of The Ring Tournament, running down our Quarterfinal match-ups before we head to the arena.

Match #1 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Razor Ramon vs. Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart
The people chant “1-2-3” at Razor, they lock-up, Ramon using his power and pushes Bret away. Another collar & elbow, The Bad Guy powers The Hitman away again, a third lock-up now and Hart applies a side headlock. Razor pushes him away to the ropes, they collide shoulders, Bret back to the ropes, ducks a couple of shots and scores with right hands before taking Ramon over with an arm drag. Hitman grounds him with an armbar, Ramon back to his feet, shoots Hart to the ropes for a hip toss, it’s blocked, Bret attempts one of his own, but that is also blocked and The Bad Guy floors him with a clothesline.

Follow-up elbow drop doesn’t find the mark, The Excellence Of Execution with another arm drag, targeting the left arm again with a standing armbar. Ramon throws him to the corner and charges in, Bret side-steps it, hits another arm drag and is persistent in applying the armbar. The Bad Guy attempts to body slam his way out, The Hitman maintains his grip, drives fists into the shoulder joint, Razor coming back with a thumb to the eye. He whips Hart to the ropes and scores with a back elbow for a quick 2 count, looks to hook on a rear chinlock, Hitman quickly counters out and utilizes a hammerlock, Ramon finding his way to a corner to force a break, but sneaks in a back elbow. Irish whip to the opposite corner is reversed, Hart charges in and is met by a knee to the jaw, Razor grabs him and drives Bret shoulder-first into the ring post.

The Bad Guy takes control and hammers The Hitman on the outside, throws him back inside to more loud “1-2-3” chants, starts to pummel Hart with heavy rights and boots, tosses him with a fallaway slam and hooks the leg for a count of 2. He lifts Bret onto his shoulders and plants him with a running powerslam for another near fall, drops a succession of elbows, then hits a side slam. He goes to the ropes for another elbow drop and misses, Bret avoids a couple more attempts, fires up with stiff right hands, splits Razor with an inverted atomic drop and levels him with a clothesline for a 2 count. He whips Ramon to the ropes, goes downstairs with a right hand, scores with a side russian leg sweep for another 2, The Excellence Of Execution cracking him with a backbreaker, but still can’t get a 3 count.

The Hitman off the 2nd rope now with an elbow drop that nearly gets 3, The Bad Guy swings with a wild right, Hart ducks under, rolls him up and Razor barely kicks out again at 2. Bret sets him for a running bulldog, Ramon pushes him away sternum-first into the turnbuckles, staggers to his feet and calls for The Razor’s Edge. He gets Hart up in the air, Hitman slips out of it for a backslide, The Bad Guy blocks it, but Bret uses his feet to scale the ropes and flips himself over, grabbing a small package for a near fall. The Excellence Of Execution can’t believe it and argues with the referee, Razor takes the opening to clobber him from behind, props Hart on the top turnbuckle for a super back suplex, Hitman counters and falls on top of Ramon and gets the pinfall.
Winner: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (Super Back Suplex Counter)

  • EA’s TakeTremendous opening contest and one of the better WWF pay-per-view matches since WrestleMania VIII, if not the best one. After losing the WWF Title 3 months earlier at WrestleMania, Bret was moved away from the championship picture for a few months and although Razor had been getting cheered at Mania, the people were clearly behind The Hitman tonight. Ramon was just getting into the start of his angle that would turn him face, recently losing in a major upset to 1-2-3 Kid on RAW, hence the “1-2-3” chants aimed at him.

Video: This past weekend on WWF Superstars, Harvey Wippleman masterminded a plan to punish The Undertaker, using Giant Gonzalez as a distraction and allowing Mr. Hughes to lay him out with Paul Bearer’s urn and take possession of it.

Match #2 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Mr. Hughes w/Harvey Wippleman vs. Mr. Perfect
They lock-up to begin and Hughes uses his raw power to shove Perfect down, they tie-up again with the same results, Hughes hits the ropes, The Perfect One drops down and scores with a hip toss. Irish whip back to the ropes is reversed, Perfect leaps over a back body drop attempt, comes back through with a dropkick, but it doesn’t take Mr. Hughes off his feet. Hughes powers Mr. Perfect to the ropes off the collar & elbow, doesn’t break clean and clocks Perfect over the top to the floor, The Perfect One staggering back into the squared circle.

Mr. Hughes with heavy shots, wrenches away at the neck, Mr. Perfect battles to his feet, hits the ropes, ducks a clothesline, but gets flattened by a big boot on the other side. Hughes shoots him back to the ropes and connects with a clothesline, snapmares Perfect back over and focuses his attention on wrenching at the neck again. The Perfect One uses Hughes’ tie to works his way up, tries to hit the ropes, Mr. Hughes with a handful of hair to prevent it and he buries a knee to the abdomen. Irish whip to the corner turns Perfect inside-out, maintains control with more heavy blows as Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart offers up his comments about the outcome of this match. Mr. Hughes sends Perfect hard into the turnbuckles again, whips him to the ropes and we have a badly botched spot before Hughes rakes at the eyes, then chokes him on the middle rope.

Hughes hits the ropes to gain a head of steam and land on The Perfect One’s back, he misses and gets crotched on the 2nd rope, Perfect taking the opening to send him to the ropes for a hip toss. He shoots him back in for a back body drop, snapmares Hughes over and hits the patented neck snap, Mr. Perfect then working him over in the corner with rights and lefts to the breadbasket. The officials steps in to force a break, Wippleman hands Mr. Hughes the urn and he clobbers Perfect right in front of the referee.
Winner: Mr. Perfect (Disqualification)

  • EA’s TakeShort and a little bit rough, Perfect doing what he could to make this at least decent, Mr. Perfect moves on to meet Bret Hart in a semi-finals dream match. Also known as Big Cat, Mr. Hughes is most known for competing with sunglasses on. Hearrived in the WWF to join in with Harvey Wippleman in his rivalry with The Undertaker. He generally played more of a ringside enforcer and his in-ring career never really took off because he was sloppy at best. This stint with the WWF was very brief as this was his only PPV match. Interestingly enough, he was released not long after this match, ironically suffering an eye injury after his sunglasses shattered during a match against Tatanka.

Video: Gene Okerlund caught up with Yokozuna & Mr. Fuji earlier in the day in the locker room, Fuji reminding us that Yoko defeated Bret Hart for the WWF Title in a hard-fought match at WrestleMania. Hulk Hogan then cheated to steal the championship away, Yokozuna warning The Hulkster that tonight he and America will go down.

Match #3 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan
Duggan starts the “U-S-A!” chants, they lock-up, Bam Bam with a side headlock, Hacksaw pushes him away to the ropes, they collide shoulders and neither man budges. Bigelow goes back to the ropes to try again to no avail, hits the ropes for a clothesline on the third try, Duggan ducks it, scores with multiple clotheslines of his own to stagger the big man before finally dropping him. Bam Bam rolls to the floor to regroup, steps back inside and goes to the eyes, attempts right hands and Hacksaw fires back, forcing him to the corner.

Irish whip across is reversed, Hacksaw grabs the ribs, manages to avoid Bigelow running in and crumbles to the mat holding his midsection. He looks to deliver a body slam, can’t get The Beast From The East up, Bam Bam with big headbutts and he starts targeting the injured abdomen. He sends Duggan to the ropes and hooks on a bearhug, Hacksaw clubs his way out of it, but Bigelow goes right back to the breadbasket to stop any momentum. He bounces off the ropes to drop a headbutt, Duggan rolls out of harm’s way, gets Bam Bam up for a body slam, but can’t hold the weight, Bigelow falling on top for a count of 2 before going back to the bearhug.

Hacksaw resorts to biting Bam Bam to break the grip, he reverses a whip to the ropes, finally hits the body slam and goes into the 3 Point Stance, The Beast From The East side-stepping out of the way. Duggan goes crashing into the top turnbuckle and hits the mat, Bigelow heads to the top rope, connects with a Diving Headbutt and advances.
Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow (Top Rope Diving Headbutt)

  • EA’s TakeNot much excitement here, nothing really sloppy, but a pretty short one. Bam Bam is still being built as one of the top heels in the company, maintaining a status that was at the top of the mid-card with the ability to also work main events. Hacksaw had returned from a brief hiatus after an attack at the hands of Yokozuna, but the WWF’s youth movement put him in a position to help establish the new stars. This would be his final WWF PPV match until a nostalgia run in 2006, leaving the company just before SummerSlam in August.
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Chairshot Classics: NWA-TNA Episode 12 – Best of the X-Division

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This recap is going to be a little different from the usual. Since, at the time this episode was done, TNA was still looking for new investors after Health South withdrew its financial backing of the program, the decision was made to do a clip show of the X-Division for Week 12 to fill the timeslot. This was September 4, 2002, Week 13 wouldn’t air until the 18th due to being preempted by remembrance of the 9/11 attacks, which had happened the year before. So, let’s see what’s going on.

We start off with a RARE Lo-Ki interview with Goldilocks. Lo-Ki says there’s no bigger opportunity than this and that opportunities like him don’t get many shots like this on a national level.  We also get some fan interviews stating that they keep coming back for the X-Division matches. A lot of TNA stars like Kid Kash, Ron Killings, Monte Brown, and the Flying Elvises sing the praises of the X-Division and how great it is that anyone can compete in it, despite the fact that the division is pretty much made up of cruiserweight size guys.

Jeremy Borash and Goldylocks, who seems to be in a very good mood, probably because Borash isn’t being a jerk to her. Borash and Goldy discuss how great the X-Division has been and how you never know what to expect. We get the explanation about how the X-Division is open to all kinds of athletes regardless of size or wrestling style. Again, I will point out that except for Sonny Siaki, all of the athletes in the X-Division fall into the Cruiserweight category. Also, Siaki had BARELY competed in the X-Division, at least as far as this episode.

ANYWAY, let’s take a look at the matches TNA has dubbed the best of the X-Division.

The Flying Elvises vs Lo-Ki, AJ Styles, and Jerry Lynn

Comment: I remember being very impressed with this match. It seemed like a good opening match for TNA. These six men are easily the best of the X-Division as they actually WRESTLE and do the high-flying stuff. Sonny Siaki stands out here, not only due to his skills, but because he’s easily the tallest and largest man in the match. This was such a good match that the fact that Styles took the pin doesn’t really seem to matter.

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In the backstage interview, Estrada talks about how much pressure they were under because they were the first match. Yang says that his favorites to watch were Amazing Red, Lo-Ki, and AJ Styles. We also learn that Styles and Yang are great friends and started out together, which is a nice tidbit. Estrada talks again about paying their dues and working hard and wanting some changes. Yang talks about his WCW run and how he never felt like he’d be an impact player and that it feel different in TNA.

Tenay talks about how the Elvises were the first winners of TNA but that they’ve had communication issues and issues with Siaki’s ego, which prompts a clip of Siaki saying that he’s the best of the X-Division.

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Borash and Goldy talk about the Elvises and Borash comments about Siaki thinking Goldy is sweet on him, to which Goldy says ‘Only in his own mind.’

With that settled, we are turning our attention to Lo-Ki, Styles, and Lynn who, along with Psichosis, competed to be the first X-Division Champion.

Double Elimination Round Robin Match For the X-Division Championship: AJ Styles vs Psichosis vs Lo-Ki vs Jerry Lynn.

Comment: This match is, for me, still the best match, not just X-Division, but overall match that TNA has put on so far. That said, I still think they should’ve had a tournament to decide who would compete for the title and brought it down to Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles because it felt like Lo-Ki and Psichosis were just there to take the pins, especially Psichosis.

*-**-*–*-*–*-*-*–*-*-*-*-*-*-*–*-*-*

Borash and Goldy discuss Styles and Lynn getting the Tag Team Championship and the issues the two men have had with each other during the show’s run so far.

NWA Tag Team Championship: Jerry Lynn and AJ Style vs Slash and Tempest (with James Mitchell).

Comment: First of all, I’m annoyed that they didn’t show us the Tag Team Championship Final between the Rainbow Express and Lynn/Styles, which is what it looked like they were going to show.

Anyway, I still think this was a pretty good match. Slash and Tempest, like many guys in TNA weren’t totally ready for prime time, but still did a really great job of keeping up with Lynn and Styles.

As I’m watching this, a scroll is going across the screen, announcing that TNA will be back in two weeks, so the partnership with Panda Energy must’ve happened pretty quickly.

Watching this back, I’m not totally buying Jerry Lynn’s excuse about Styles playing mind games and pulling ribs as the reason he turned on him. Lynn is clearly not happy about Styles tagging himself in the get the pinfall. Why not just stick with that instead of ret-conning it to make Lynn more sympathetic instead of a veteran being mad about a kid showing him up?

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*–*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-

Borash and Goldy continue their discussion about the issues between Lynn and Styles, which has been the central story of the X-Division and how it was all about respect.

NWA World Tag Team Match: The Flying Elvises vs Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles.

Comment: This was another really great match from these teams. The five guys in this segment are the core of the fledgling X-Division because they consistently put on great matches together, though the Elvises tend to stumble when they work with other teams. I still don’t know who did the blade job on Lynn, but they overdid it for that little bump on the guardrail.

After this match, we get a clip of the Styles/Lynn backstage fight and them trying to work things out so that they can function as tag partners. I find it interesting that for all Lynn’s talk about respect, he goes out of his way to disrespect Styles and what Styles has done in his, then, short career. I guess no one told Lynn that the best way to get respect is to give it in return and that he should earn Styles’ respect instead of demanding it after jumping him from behind and beating him up. I guess this is why they had Lynn come up with the excuse of mind games and ribbing to justify him being the babyface despite being a jerk.

We see Styles and Lynn seeming to want to work things out and have the kinks ironed out, but that didn’t even last the one show.

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Chairshot Classics: WWE Survivor Series 2015

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With all signs pointing to The Brothers Of Destruction teaming up at WWE’s Crown Jewel on November 2nd, today we’re looking back at another time The Undertaker partnered up with his brother Kane, Survivor Series 2015! It was a celebration of 25 years of ‘The Deadman’ on this evening, but The Wyatt Family looked to spoil the party. Could ‘The New Face Of Fear’ defeat The Brothers Of Destruction and take his place as WWE’s newest evil?

Kickoff Show Match – Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Miz, Bo Dallas, Stardust & The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) vs. Neville, The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von), Titus O’Neil & Goldust

  • Gold & Stardust will kickoff the action, Stardust tries a boot, Goldust catches the foot and they slug it out, The Cosmic One falling back into his corner and tagging out. Viktor hits the ring, charges right into a powerslam, Goldust with the cover and he scores an early elimination. Viktor has been eliminated.
  • Konnor steps in and has words for The Bizarre One, Titus calling for the tag and he gets it. Collar & elbow lock-up, Konnor backs O’Neil into the corner, doesn’t break clean and hammers away with right hands before celebrating prematurely, Titus turning the tables and unleashing a series of his won. Konnor reverses a whip across, charges in, O’Neil hops up and over and delivers a slam, following with a leg drop before tagging out. D-Von enters the match, connects with a couple of rights and brings in his brother, Bubba hitting a slam and calling D-Von to the top, hitting the Wazzup Headbutt. Bubba gives the orders for tables, Stardust and Miz charge the ring, only to get clotheslined to the outside. The Man That Gravity Forgot comes in, sees Dallas running in and elevates him out to the floor, hits the ropes and flies to the outside with a moonsault plancha as we go to a break….Konnor whips Bubba into the ropes for a back body drop when we come back, drops a big elbow and covers for 1. Bubba ducks a right hand and plants Konnor with a uranage out of nowhere, hooks the leg and gets a sneaky 3 count. Konnor has been eliminated.
  • Stardust rushes the ring and runs into a hiptoss, D-Von tags in and takes a knee to the breadbasket, The Cosmic One tagging out and Miz pummels D-Von in the corner. Bo tags and does more of the same, quickly tags out and Stardust rips at D-Von’s face. The A-Lister re-enters the match, snapmares D-Von over and hits the ropes for a running boot that gets a count of 2. He goes to a front facelock, D-Von battles to his feet, Miz with a kneelift, hits the ropes and D-Von plants him with a spinebuster. Stardust gets a tag, climbs to the top for a double axe handle and catches a right hand to the midsection on the way down. D-Von crawls to a tag, The Man That Gravity Forgot spingboards into the ring over Stardust, takes down Dallas and Miz on the apron, then connects with a flurry of kicks to The Cosmic One. Neville scores with an enzuigiri, shoots him in for a back body drop and Stardust with a kick to the chest. He charges Neville in the corner, The Man That Gravity Forgot side-steps it, Bo makes a blind tag and plants him with the Running Bo-Dog, Miz with a blind tag, follows with the Skull Crushing Finale and finishes Neville off. Neville has been eliminated.
  • The A-Lister runs his mouth at The Dudleys on the apron, Goldust slides in from behind with a schoolboy and gets the 1-2-3. The Miz has been eliminated.
  • Miz can’t believe it and argues with the referees on his way out, Goldust is distracted and Stardust takes advantage as we go to another break….Bo has Goldust on the floor when we return, rolls him back inside and covers for a 2 count before going to a rear chinlock. The Bizarre One finds his footing, breaks the hold and hits the ropes, running into a dropkick by Dallas for another count of 2. Stardust tags, clobbers away at Goldust on the apron, feigns going for a table and changes his mind, stomping away at his brother in the ring. The Cosmic One grabs a crossface chickenwing, pulls Goldust up for a suplex, The Bizarre One counters to a small package for a count of 2, but gets immediately laid out by a clothesline. Stardust with some early celebration, Goldust takes advantage with a schoolboy for 2, The Cosmic One angrily pounding away and bringing Dallas back in. The Inspirational One continues the onslaught, levels Goldust with a short-arm clothesline for a near fall, then goes back to the rear chinlock to wear him out. Bo slams him to the mat trying to get to his feet, Stardust tags and they split The Bizarre One with a wishbone, then drops The Dudleys & Titus off the apron. The Cosmic One runs at Goldust in the corner, meets a boot to the midsection and The Bizarre One plants him with a sunset flip bomb. Bo gets the tag as Goldust reaches Titus, O’Neil with a shoulder to Dallas, squashes Stardust in the corner, then clotheslines Bo and shoots him in for a back body drop. The Inspirational One sees it coming and hits a kick, but gets dropped by a big boot, Titus turning around and catching Stardust coming off the top into multiple backbreakers. O’Neil stacks them in the corner, squashes them both and Goldust & Bubba enter the ring with synchronized Dusty tributes, Clash Of The Titus to Bo and we’re down to 4 on 1. Bo Dallas has been eliminated.
  • Stardust realizes he’s all by himself, drops off the apron and tries to take a walk. O’Neil goes out to meet him, Goldust comes up from behind and catches a back elbow, The Cosmic One tries to run away, slides in the ring and runs into a 3D to finish it.

Winners & Sole Survivors: The Dudley Boyz, Titus O’Neil & Goldust

  • EA’s TakeI think Renee Young is overblowing just how ‘good’ this match really was. To me it was just an appetizer, a time-filler, something to get the people in the arena a little more hyped up for the main show. The match was not bad by any means, but it was merely a bunch of thrown-together parts and the only significance was the return of Goldust.

Open: Everyone rises to their feet in the arena, as Lilian Garcia is in the ring to sing our National Anthem.

Video: “Once in a generation there comes a phenom. An individual not measured in seconds, days, weeks or even years, but by the legacy he’s built. A presence that’s risen above all challenges and gone head-first into the unknown. But, when a Phenom joins a Demon from the depths of Hell, only time will tell us what the future will bring.” Tonight marks the 25 year anniversary of The Undertaker in WWE, as he and his brother, Kane, look to cement their spot as the keepers of the darkness over The Wyatt Family. A change is coming, as tonight we crown a brand new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. “History is written, by the survivors.”

Match #1 – WWE Title Tournament Semi-Finals: Roman Reigns vs. WWE United States Champion Alberto Del Rio w/Zeb Colter
Collar & elbow tie-up to start, Alberto backs Roman into the corner and they break clean. Another lock-up, Reigns with a side headlock, Del Rio pushes him off into the ropes and gets knocked down by a shoulder, re-thinking his strategy. The champion with a leg kick, backs Reigns into the corner for more to the ribs, then fires off right hands from the 2nd rope. Roman powers out of the corner with Alberto on his shoulder, flipping him to the mat, Del Rio coming right back by pulling Reigns to the outside. The Big Dog drags Alberto out by the foot, looks to drive him into the barricade, Del Rio counters and Roman is sent into the wall, then rolled back inside.

Alberto comes off the top with an overhand chop for a count of 2, Roman reversing a whip into the corner, climbs to the 2nd rope with right hands, Del Rio pushes him off, charges in and gets planted by a tilt-a-whirl powerslam for 2. Roman drives the champion into the top turnbuckle, whips him hard into the corner, charges in and gets elevated to the apron, Alberto hanging him across the top rope and dropping him to the floor with an enzuigiri. Del Rio heads out and rams Reigns into the steel steps as Triple H watches from the back. Back in the arena, El Patron tosses Roman inside, heads up top for another overhand chop and goes to a rear chinlock.

The Big Dog battle to a standing position, whips Del Rio into the corner, rushes in and misses, hitting the ring post shoulder-first. The champion keeps the pressure on with kicks and right hands, charges for a running dropkick, Roman avoids it and Alberto flies through the ropes to the outside. Reigns rolls outside, catches Del Rio climbing up the apron with the Drive-By, bashes his head off the apron and announce desk, then rolls him back in the ring. Alberto tries a clothesline, Reigns ducks it and connects with one of his own, then clobbers the champion in the corner with a flurry more before hitting the ropes for a big boot. The Big Dog calls for the Superman Punch, El Patron ducks out of the way and scores with a Backstabber, makes the cover and gets a near fall.

Del Rio goes back to kicks in the corner, spikes Roman with a DDT for another count of 2, arguing with the ref about the count. The champion sets his sights on a superkick, The Big Dog ducks out of the way, plants Alberto with a Samoan Drop and gets 2. Reigns props Del Rio on the top turnbuckle, attempts a superplex, Alberto with headbutts, gets Reigns in the tree of woe and tries the double stomp. Roman avoids it, Del Rio’s knee buckles on the landing, Reigns coming back with a Superman Punch and positioning himself for the Spear, Alberto countering with a superkick for a near fall.

The champion thinks it’s time for the Cross Armbreaker, Reigns counters into a schoolboy powerbomb, Alberto kicking out at 2. Both men struggle to get to their feet, Alberto grabbing a Cross Armbreaker out of nowhere on the canvas, Reigns powers Del Rio up to a vertical base, but the champion hanging onto the hold in the ropes. The referee finally forces the break, El Patron heads to the top, jumps over Roman who’s getting to his feet, turns around and takes a Spear, Reigns covering to advance.
Winner: Roman Reigns (Spear)

  • EA’s TakeDel Rio clearly still hasn’t quite gotten his footing back yet, there were some mix-ups at the beginning of the match that were glaring, things were a bit choppy for a bit there. They were able to turn it around towards the end of the match, but I’ve had Roman as a lock for the finals since the tournament was announced. Nothing surprising here in a match that was similar to a Raw main event.

Backstage: Jojo brings in Roman Reigns for some words, Dean Ambrose coming right in and congratulating his friend on the victory. Roman tells Dean that all he has to do is win and it’ll be them for the title, Ambrose walking away. The Big Dog tells Jojo that once Dean’s done, it will be best friends fighting for the championship. Kevin Owens comes in to remind Roman that he’s not eliminated yet, telling Reigns he’s been close before and tonight, he’s the guy that will stop him. KO walks off, Reigns stating that Owens is about to get his ass whooped.

Match #2 – WWE Title Tournament Semi-Finals: Dean Ambrose vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens
Ambrose with a hammerlock to start, switches to a side headlock, Owens fighting out and grabbing one of his own. The Lunatic Fringe pushes KO into the ropes and gets dropped by a shoulder knockdown, Owens back into the ropes and Dean with multiple armdrags. The champion reverses whip into the ropes, Ambrose with a schoolboy for a quick 1, gets a waistlock and Owens with a back elbow, using a schoolboy for a quick 1 of his own. KO with shoulders to the midsection in the corner, shoots Dean across and charges in, The Lunatic Fringe hops up and over, hits the ropes and takes Owens down with a forearm.

He rakes KO’s face on the top rope, clotheslines him to the outside and flies with a slingshot crossbody to the floor. Ambrose sends the champion back inside, charges him in the corner with a forearm, follows with a running bulldog and covers for 1. The Lunatic Fringe heading upstairs, Owens hits the ropes and crotches Dean, dropping him to the mat with right hands and scoring with the Cannonball that gets 1. The Prize Fighter utilizes a rear chinlock, Ambrose gains a vertical base and breaks the hold with jabs and chops, Owens countering a whip into the corner and Dean goes in sternum-first.

The champion plants Dean with a torture rack neckbreaker for a 2 count, hits the ropes for a running senton and gets another count of 2. He chokes Ambrose on the middle rope, levels him with a short-arm clothesline, fires away with heavy rights, sends Dean into the ropes for a back elbow and gets another near fall. KO back to the rear chinlock, again Triple H is watching from the back as The Lunatic Fringe fights to his feet. Owens catches him in a sleeper, Dean counters to a back suplex, then avoids a running senton, hits the ropes and they double down off a double clothesline. The Lunatic Fringe tries Dirty Deeds, KO blocks it, they exchange right hands, Ambrose hits the ropes and Owens hangs him on the top rope.

He splits Dean with a gutbuster, heads up top for a moonsault and misses, The Lunatic Fringe scaling the corner to follow with a diving elbow drop and a near fall. Ambrose props Owens on the top turnbuckle, hooks for a superplex, KO blocks it and drops Dean back to the mat. The Lunatic Fringe fires back up to attempt a superplex, the champion counters and powers him into a 2nd rope fisherman’s buster, but still can’t get a 3 count. Owens yells at Dean to stay down, sends him into the ropes for a Pop-Up Powerbomb, Ambrose rebounds off the middle rope and scores with the Lunatic Lariat, KO rolling to the outside.

Ambrose flies through the ropes with a suicide dive, tosses the champion in, Owens rolls out the other side and Dean tries another suicide dive, but gets caught. KO drops The Lunatic Fringe on the announce table, tosses him back in for a Pop-Up Powerbomb, Dean avoids it and lands on his feet turning around into a superkick. Ambrose rebounds off the ropes for another Lunatic Lariat, walks into another superkick, the champion attempts the Pop-Up Powerbomb again, Dean counters with a hurricanrana, then spikes Owens with Dirty Deeds to head to the finals.
Winner: Dean Ambrose (Dirty Deeds)

  • EA’s TakeA better match, a lot cleaner than our first semi-final. I had a hard time believing Ambrose wouldn’t win this, but figured the odds were greater than that of Reigns, so it definitely helped make the match more interesting. I’m hoping for something more interesting to happen in the main event, as everything thus far has been expected.
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