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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: WWE TLC (2015) featuring Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns

As we approach the 2020 edition of WWE TLC, we look back at one from the past featuring  a very different Sheamus against a very different Roman Reigns!

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WWE TLC 2015 Roman Reigns Sheamus

As we approach the 2020 edition of WWE TLC, we look back at one from the past featuring  a very different Sheamus against a very different Roman Reigns!

As we get closer to closing the book on 2018, we’re approaching WWE’s December pay-per-view TLC, so today we’re looking back at one from the past with TLC 2015! After cashing in Money In The Bank on Roman Reigns after a grueling tournament to crown a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Sheamus must now face Reigns fair and square in a TLC Match! Let’s get into the action…

Kickoff Show Match: Sasha Banks w/Naomi & Tamina vs. Becky Lynch
Collar & elbow tie-up to kick things off, Sasha with a side headlock, Becky counters into one of her own, Banks attempts to roll her away, but Lynch hangs on. The Boss reverses an irish whip to the corner, charges in and scores with a monkey flip into a cover, celebrates a little early and Becky rolls her up for a quick 2. Banks tries to pick the leg, Becky counters and gains a side headlock, Sasha pushing her to the ropes and scoring with a shoulder knockdown for a count of 2. Back to the ropes they go, The Boss tries a leapfrog, Lynch hooks the leg and Banks faceplants into the canvas, The Lass Kicker looking for the Dis-Arm-Her, but Sasha squirms to the ropes to escape.

Lynch tries to slingshot The Boss to the mat, Sasha lands on her feet and connects with a big forearm, rushes in and gets caught in an armbar. She pushes Becky off to the ropes, follows in and Lynch with an armdrag, going right back to the armbar. Banks attempts to roll her away, Becky maintaining the hold, ducks a right hand and rolls Banks up for multiple 1 counts, then slaps the armbar back on. The Boss creates some separation with stiff forearms, sends Lynch to the corner and charges in, The Lass Kicker hopping up and over, controlling Sasha with another armbar. The Boss backs her into the corner using the hair, briefly breaks clean and tries to sneak in a forearm, Becky avoids it and connects with a springboard kick.

Naomi climbs to the apron and gets dropped back down for her troubles, Lynch turns back to The Boss and rushes in, Sasha side-steps and Becky hits the ring post shoulder-first. Banks planks her across the middle rope and drops down the double knees, taking control as we head to a break….The Boss chokes Lynch on the bottom rope when we come back, Tamina with a cheap shot behind the official’s back. The Lass Kicker tries to battle back with forearms, sends Sasha to the ropes for a clothesline, Banks counters into a tilt-a-whirl and cracks her with a backstabber. She rolls through, crosses Becky’s arms across her faces and wrenches back, grinding Lynch down to the canvas.

The Lass Kicker powers to her feet with Banks on her shoulders The Boss turns it into a victory roll for a near fall, Becky with a roll-up off the kick-out and she gets 2. She catches Banks rushing in with another roll-up for 2, drops The Boss face-first on the 2nd turnbuckle, then builds momentum with a flurry of clotheslines and a heel kick. She drops a leg, tries for another and Sasha avoids it, planting her with a cross-arm neckbreaker, covering numerous times and only getting 2 counts. The Boss slaps Lynch in the face, Becky comes back with a heavy shot, pushes Sasha to the ropes and throws her with a LassPlex, Banks grabbing the bottom rope at a count of 2.

Sasha kicks her way back to her feet, Becky takes her down with an armwhip, slaps on a cross armbreaker, The Boss tries to roll her way out and Lynch hangs on for the Dis-Arm-Her. Banks switches the momentum into a roll-up for 2, The Lass Kicker hangs onto the arm on the kick-out, going right back to the Dis-Arm-Her, Tamina getting to the apron to distract the referee, allowing Naomi to sneak in and kick Lynch in the face. The Boss takes the opening and scores with the backstabber, rolls through into the Bank Statement and Lynch is forced to tap.
Winner: Sasha Banks (Bank Statement)

  • EA’s TakeSolid showing on our Kickoff match from both ladies, The Boss getting the big win in her hometown with help from the unity of Team B.A.D. Becky’s in an odd spot right now, seemingly playing the 3rd wheel between her former Team PCB members, Paige & Charlotte. With performances like this it will be very difficult to keep Becky & Sasha near the bottom tier of the Divas division for much longer, especially if the “We Want Sasha” chants continue.

Open: After Seth Rollins cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase at WrestleMania, Roman Reigns’ luck as it pertains to winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship has been less than stellar. He finally reached the mountaintop at Survivor Series, winning a tournament to gain the vacant title, only to have Sheamus cash in his Money In The Bank and steal the championship. Tonight, Roman looks for revenge with tables, ladders and chairs.

Match #1 – Triple Threat Ladder Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships: WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) w/Xavier Woods vs. Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey)
Xavier joins commentary for this match, the bell rings and the brawl is on, Jimmy & Sin Cara send Big E to the ropes, Jimmy drops down and Sin Cara scores with a dropkick. Jey, Kalisto & Kofi attempt to bring ladders in, Big E clears the ring, pushes back on Kalisto & Jey, then pulls Kingston’s ladder inside. New Day stand it up and start to climb, The Usos are there to meet them, toss Kofi outside and then pair-off with Big E & Sin Cara. Kingston & Kalisto climb up opposite sides of the apron, springboard into the ring and land on their feet on the ladder.

The Usos playing defense, everyone takes a turn climbing up with no success. Big E & Kofi get thrown outside, climbs to the 2nd rope on the apron and fly with synchronized moonsaults to New Day. The Usos grab the ladder in the ring, knock The Lucha Dragons off the apron with it, then throw it outside, New Day & Luchas catching it in the air. The Usos hit the ropes and take flight with crossbody planchas onto the ladder, taking all 4 of their opponents out. They head back in and set the ladder up under the titles, Kingston slides in, hops through the middle of the ladder for a dropkick, gets his feet caught and The Usos dump him over the top to the floor. Big E rolls in behind them, pushes the ladder into The Usos and sends Jimmy flying outside.

Kofi smashes him with a ladder as Big E stomps a hole into Jey in the corner, Kingston comes in and they sandwich him behind the ladder. Big E whips Kingston in for a basement dropkick, Jimmy rolls inside and gets caught, E tossing him onto the ladder with an overhead belly to belly suplex. The Dragons are back in the ring and clock Kingston with another ladder, attempt to smash Big E, but he powers them back to the corner. Kalisto climbs to the top, hops through the ladder and lands on Big E with a seated senton, Kofi gets to his feet and drills him with a superkick. Sin Cara goes to the 2nd rope with the ladder, Kingston scales up to meet him, gets knocked down and Sin Cara rides the ladder down into a splash on him.

He takes The Usos out on the outside with a baseball slide into a ladder, hits the ropes and jumps onto the ladder on the floor with a somersault senton on Jimmy & Jey. Kalisto spears Big E with a ladder back inside, sets it up over his prone body and starts the climb up, Big E benchpressing him up, but Sin Cara hops on it to bring it back down. E benchpresses it again with both Luchas on it, Sin Cara falls and gets hanged on the top rope, The Usos slide in and Kalisto jumps off with a crossbody. Jimmy & Jey catch him in the air, Jey plants him with a spinning side slam, then they drop Big E with a double superkick. The Usos prop him in the corner and sandwich him with a ladder, Kingston comes in for a save and gets leveled, Jimmy & Jey charging into the corner with a dropkick to the ladder.

Kofi comes to and elevates Jimmy to the outside, Jey pulls a smaller ladder into the ring, slams Kingston on it then heads up top. Kingston crotches him on the top turnbuckle, climbs up and gets sent back down, getting his foot caught in the ropes and hanging in the tree of woe. Jimmy passes a ladder to Jey and he hammers Kingston, holds it in front of Kofi and Jimmy charges in with the hip attack. The Usos are alone in the ring now, stand a ladder up, The Dragons are their to meet them and we get a staredown before everyone takes a shot at climbing. Sin Cara assists Kalisto into a senton on Jimmy, they place a ladder over his body and Sin Cara flips his partner into a 450 splash on top.

Lucha Dragons now holding the ring and starting to ascend the ladder, Kofi’s back in to lay them out with forearms, then planks another ladder between the ropes and the standing ladder. He attempts to drive Kalisto into it, Kalisto slides under, pushes the ladder into Kingston’s ribs, springs off of it with a hurricanrana and Kofi hits the ladder head-first, spilling to the floor. Kalisto heads up after the titles, The Usos hit the ring climbing up opposite sides, Sin Cara pulls Jimmy down to the canvas as Kalisto is sent down as well. Kalisto springs back up, climbs over Jey, hooks him for Salida Del Sol and they both go crashing through the planked ladder. Sin Cara climbs upstairs and follows with a somersault senton.

Kalisto & Jimmy drag themselves up the ladder and reach for the championships, Kalisto gets knocked down and Jimmy’s all alone. Big E hits the ring to make the save, pulling him down and pushing the ladder over, looks to toss Jimmy to the floor, but he turns tables and E is sent outside. Jimmy attempts a suicide dive and runs into a forearm, E grabs a ladder to bring into the ring and Jimmy hits with a baseball slide. He looks to the corner, scales to the top rope and jumps to the floor onto the ladder, squashing Big E with the Uso Splash. Kalisto stirs around in the squared circle and drags himself up the ladder, Woods leaves commentary, grabs the trombone and throws it into Kalisto’s back, Kingston quickly sliding in and flipping him off the ladder to the mat. Kofi climbs up, unhooks the titles and The New Day retains.
Winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day

  • EA’s TakeWow, the tag division just spat on the rest of the roster and proclaimed “Follow that!” with this match. Amazing high-spots and some pretty innovative stuff here, Kalisto’s Salida Del Sol being the showstealer. This is going to be very difficult for anyone to measure up to the rest of the night and we’re just getting started. I think it’s a little odd that New Day retained, they’re starting to run out of babyface challengers at this point after running through everyone for the majority of 2015. Unless someone’s getting called up from NXT, they may end up having to turn themselves.

Match #2: Rusev w/Lana vs. Ryback
Rusev jumps Ryback right at the bell, clobbers him in the back and whips him to the ropes, The Big Guy hanging on and catching Rusev coming in with a back elbow. He sends The Bulgarian Brute to the outside after a shoulder tackle, follows him out and drives Rusev into the barricade before rolling him back in. The Big Guy heads up top and scores with a double axe handle, presses Rusev over his head, drops him face-first and follows with a splash for a count of 2. He rams The Bulgarian Brute back into the corner and fires away, climbs to the 2nd rope for right hands, Rusev powers him out and drops him on the ropes with a hot shot.

He takes control and chokes Ryback on the bottom rope, rams him head-first into the top turnbuckle and drives shoulders to the solarplexes, flattening The Big Guy with a short-arm clothesline. Rusev grabs the neck with a nervehold to ground Ryback, The Big Guy fights to a vertical base, gets clubbed in the back and The Bulgarian Brute hooks him for a vertical suplex. Ryback blocks and they trade suplex attempts back and forth, The Big Guy finally plants Rusev and starts to build a head of steam with multiple shoulder blocks. He squashes The Bulgarian Brute in the corner, Rusev reverses a whip across, charges in and runs into a boot, Ryback following up with a 2nd rope dropkick that gets a 2 count.

The Big Guy’s ready to finish it, picks Rusev up and gets driven into the corner, The Bulgarian Brute attempting a splash, but Ryback side-steps and goes to the top rope. He connects with a crossbody that gains a near fall, drops the straps and sets Rusev in his crosshairs for a Meat Hook. The Bulgarian Brute wisely rolls out of the ring and walks off with Lana at his side, Ryback giving chase up the aisle and brings him back by the hair. Rusev breaks the grip with a back elbow, he pushes The Big Guy and he falls back, running into Lana and sending her down. Ryback is distracted, turns around and gets clocked by a superkick, Lana springing to her feet and celebrating after deceiving The Big Guy.

The Bulgarian Brute rolls Ryback in the squared circle and covers for 2, calls for The Accolade, but The Big Guy blocks it, powering to his feet with Rusev on his shoulders for Shellshocked. Rusev slips out of it, scores with a roundhouse to the head, locks in The Accolade to a knocked out Ryback and the official calls for the bell.
Winner: Rusev (The Accolade)

  • EA’s TakeNow don’t get me wrong, it’s not that this was a bad match. It’s just that…who cares? The story was a little absurd heading into it and both of these guys have really fallen off the map in comparison to where they were at the height of their WWE runs thus far. Ryback is still missing something, it’s tough to put my finger on exactly what it is. It’s certainly not his ability, which you can also say about Rusev as well.

Backstage: Dean Ambrose warms up for his match when Roman Reigns comes in. He tells Dean he was just speaking to The Usos and it’s down to them tonight to hold it down for the family. Reigns is excited for tonight, describing how good it will feel to regain the WWE Title and put a hole in Sheamus’ head with a ladder. Win, lose or draw, tonight’s about making a statement. Ambrose says he had a different vision and that’s for both of them to be standing in the ring later as champions.

Match #3 – Chairs Match for the WWE United States Championship: WWE United States Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
Ringside is littered with set-up chairs, both guys slide out to the floor after a chair at the bell, roll back in and the duel is on. They drop the chairs and Swagger hits a clothesline, the champion rolls to the outside, The Real American in pursuit and Del Rio tries to drive him into the post, only to get rammed into the steel instead. The challenger bounces Alberto’s head off a chair multiple times, back into the ring they go and The Real American looks for the Swagger Bomb, El Patron sticking a chair up and catches him in the throat. The champion scores with a clothesline that gets 1, sends Swagger sternum-first into the turnbuckles, then rams the chair to the ribs and smacks it over his back.

He props the chair flat between the ropes in the corner, the challenger firing away with right hands, Alberto reverses a whip into the chair, The Real American puts on the brakes to avoid it, but Del Rio makes him pay with a backstabber for a count of 2. El Patron hammers the challenger in the back with a chair, sets his sights on a superkick, but Swagger is able to throw the chair in his face to avoid it. He ducks a clothesline, hits the ropes for one of his own, follows with another, then connects with two more in the corners. The Real American wants the Swagger Bomb again, Del Rio gets the feet up, Swagger catches the foot and goes for the Patriot Lock, but the champion is able to kick him away. Swagger rushes right back in and is split with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a near fall, tosses The Real American out to the floor, then throws a pile of chairs onto him.

He sends the challenger back in the squared circle and covers for 2, calls for the Cross Armbreaker, Swagger counters out and sends him shoulder-first into the ring post, follows with a roll-up and nearly gets the 3 count. The Real American pounds Del Rio’s back with a chair, wraps his ankle in it and slaps on the Patriot Lock, the champion crawling to grabs the apron, but there’s no breaks in this match. El Patron works his way out of the ring using the ring skirting, Swagger ducks his head out to grab the champion and takes a chair shot to the breadbasket. Alberto heads upstairs with a chair-in-hand, The Real American catches him coming down with a slam, finally hits the Swagger Bomb and Del Rio kicks at 2.

The challenger slides to the outside and sends a handful of chairs into the ring, pummels Alberto in the back again, then props him on the top turnbuckle and climbs up. The champion pushes him away, picks the arm and hangs over the ropes with the Cross Armbreaker, releasing the hold on his own accord. He heads back inside and unleashes a barrage of chair shots to the back in the corner, stacks the chairs up under Swagger, climbs up top and delivers tree of woe double stomp for the 1-2-3.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Alberto Del Rio (Tree Of Woe Double Stomp)

  • EA’s TakeBrutal, physical match between two of the better technicians in the company, showing they can also deliver a good brawl. The chairs were really used to perfection and were a real focal point of the match, which is what you’d expect from a chairs match. I get that Swagger & Del Rio have a history, so it only makes sense for The Real American to be one of the first challengers to Alberto’s title. I just don’t like that I’m supposed to take Swagger as a serious contender after months and months of being relegated to Superstars, most of the time on the losing end.


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Chairshot Classics: 2015 WWE Hell In A Cell

With WWE Hell In A Cell 2020 looming, Eric takes a look back at the 2015 edition featuring The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar inside the Cell!

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WWE Hell In A Cell 2015 The Undertaker Brock Lesnar

With WWE Hell In A Cell 2020 looming, Eric takes a look back at the 2015 edition featuring The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar inside the Cell!

Before you get to Sasha vs Bayley, Roman vs Jey and Drew vs Randy, check out the happenings of the 2015 version of WWE Hell In A Cell, emanating from the Staples Center in Los Angeles!

Kickoff Show Match: Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro & Neville vs. Rusev, King Barrett & ‘Mr. Money In The Bank’ Sheamus
Stardust & The Ascension are sitting at ringside again with a “Stardust Section” sign. The Man That Gravity Forgot & The Celtic Warrior to kick things off, collar & elbow, Sheamus powers Neville into the corner and goes to the midsection. He whips him into the ropes, Neville slides through the legs and scores with a flurry of kicks, misses a dropkick, then slips out of a slam attempt for an enzuigiri. Cesaro gets the tag, slams Sheamus, goes to all fours and Neville jumps off his back into a corkscrew splash on Mr. MITB that gets 2 for The Swiss Superman. He quick tags back out to Neville, Sheamus sends him hard into the corner and brings in Barrett.

The King fires away a headbutt, quick tags out to Rusev and The Bulgarian Brute pummels The Man That Gravity Forgot. The Celtic Warrior off the tag with more heavy shots, Neville tries to battle back, but Sheamus catches him for a suplex. The Man That Gravity Forgot counters and lands on his feet, gets the tag to Ziggler and he comes in on fire, dropping Mr. MITB with a jumping clothesline. The Show Off splashes Sheamys in the corner, drops him with a neckbreaker and plants an elbow drop to the chest. Dolph knocks Rusev & Barrett off the apron, goes for a Fameasser, The Celtic Warrior catches him into a powerbomb, but Ziggler with a reversal back into the Fameasser for a near fall. Barrett slides in and distracts the ref, Rusev coming in from behind and decapitates Dolph with a superkick, Mr. MITB slides over into a cover and Ziggler kicks out at 2 as we go to break…

The King controls The Show Off with a rear chinlock when we come back, Dolph tries to gain his footing and gets slammed to the canvas by the hair. Barrett maintains control, posting his knee to Ziggler’s spine and wrenching back on the arms. The Show Off powers to a vertical base, gets sent into the corner, tries to hop over a charging Barrett and takes a kick to the midsection for 2. Sheamus off the tag with stiff right hands, The Bulgarian Brute takes a turn and stomps away at Ziggler in the corner. He eggs The Show Off on to make a tag, but unloads with clubbing blows when Dolph reaches out. Rusev scores with a kick to the back for a count of 2, The Celtic Warrior re-enters the match and plants Ziggler with a release vertical suplex before going to a rear chinlock.

Dolph battles to his feet and spikes Sheamus with a jumping DDT, Rusev gets a tag and barely prevents Ziggler from making it to his corner. He props The Show Off up in the corner, runs to the other side to build a head of steam and goes to splash Dolph, but misses and hits the ring post. Barrett gets a tag as Cesaro enters, he drops Sheamus off the apron with a big boot, then unleashes a series of running uppercuts to the King, going from corner to corner. The Swiss Superman levels Barrett with a running big boot, the King reverses a whip into the ropes and Cesaro flips himself out to the apron, lifting a boot to Barrett’s face. The King Of Swing jumps onto Sheamus from the apron with a somersault senton, runs around ringside and unloads an uppercut to Rusev, then back around to deliver one to Mr. MITB.

Cesaro heads to the top rope, connects with a crossbody back in the ring to Barrett, but only gets a 2 count. The Swiss Superman calls for the Cesaro Swing, Rusev slides in to stop it and takes a back body drop. Neville hits the ring, Cesaro tells him to hit the ropes and sends The Man That Gravity Forgot to the outside onto Sheamus & Rusev. Barrett sets for the Bullhammer behind Cesaro, Dolph slides in and hits a superkick, Cesaro puts him in the swing and Neville tags to finish the King with the Red Arrow.
Winners: Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro & Neville (Neville/Red Arrow)

  • EA’s Take: GREAT opening contest here, the babyfaces get the win, but Cesaro looks like a million bucks coming out of this. I would have preferred to see the heels win with help from either Stardust at ringside or Tyler Breeze, generally I prefer to advance a story when it comes to who wins matches. Certainly one of the better kickoff show matches I can remember seeing though.

Open: “Hell comes in many forms.” Tonight, Seth Rollins looks to hang on to his WWE World Heavyweight Title, while Kane looks to keep his job as Director Of Operations. After a controversial finish at SummerSlam, Brock Lesnar & The Undertaker walk into Hell In A Cell seeking revenge in the final chapter of their rivalry. “It all ends…in hell.”

In The Arena: WWE United States Champion John Cena heads to the squared circle to a chorus of boos. The champ says he had a long winded speech, but it sounds like everyone’s ready to get down to business. The US Open Challenge starts….now. Zeb Colter comes out on a motorized scooter, talking about how some people like Cena and some people don’t. He calls Cena a divider and it’s time for people from all different countries and backgrounds to come together. More importantly, it’s time for John to lose the US Title to this man…

Match #1 for the WWE United States Championship: WWE United States Champion John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio w/Zeb Colter
Collar & elbow tie-up to start, Cena goes to a side headlock, Del Rio pushes him into the ropes and John scores with a shoulder knockdown. They lock-up again, Alberto grabs a side headlock this time, Cena pushes him into the ropes, leapfrogs over and Del Rio with a kick to the leg that forces John to regroup outside. Loud dueling Cena chants as John goes to the striking game, firing away with right hands in the corner, whips Del Rio across, charges in and Alberto side-steps, going into an armdrag and holding an armbar. Alberto goes back to a leg kick, Cena crawls to the 2nd rope, Del Rio attempts a running senton and misses, spilling to the outside. The champ rolls Alberto back inside, charges at him and Del Rio splits him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a count of 2.

El Patron heads upstairs, connects with an overhead chop and gains another 2 count before utilizing a rear chinlock. The champion powers to his feet, Del Rio with a kick to the breadbasket and an attempted suplex, Cena blocks and hits one of his own. John climbs to the top, the challenger quickly scales the corner and scores with an enzuigiri, dropping the champion to the canvas for another near fall. Del Rio climbs to the top once more and again hits an overhead chop for a count of 2, then calls for the Cross Armbreaker.

Cena explodes to his feet, flattening Alberto with a clothesline. They exchange right hands, Cena hits his shoulder tackles, plants Alberto with a spinning back suplex and hits the 5 Knuckle Shuffle. He sets for the AA, Del Rio slips out and cracks Cena with a backstabber, follows with a superkick and we have a new champion.
Winner and NEW WWE United States Champion: Alberto Del Rio (Superkick)

  • EA’s Take: What a surprise return, it takes a lot for me to not see something coming and I was stunned, eventhough I knew there had been talks between Del Rio and WWE about coming back. I’m a little shocked at the way that it happened also though, as I feel like the execution was not as it should have been. Cena has had incredible US Title matches during his reign and successfully defended it, but this match didn’t quite live up to any of those. Great coup for WWE either way, hopefully they can keep the title relevant as Cena is slated to step away until the end of December.

Backstage: The Authority is watching with enjoyment at the start of the show, Seth Rollins comes in and agrees with them. However, Rollins has some thoughts about tonight when Kane interrupts. He tries to apologize, but Seth isn’t buying it and they bicker back and forth. Hunter stops them and says this is a private meeting, Kane’s attendane isn’t required. Kane wishes Seth luck, telling him he’s going to need it.

Match #2 is Hell In A Cell: Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns
Roman strikes first with a kick to the gut and right hands, drives Wyatt into the top turnbuckle and continues to fire away. Bray takes it right back to Reigns, shoots him into the ropes and The Big Dog explodes with a jumping clothesline, then tosses Wyatt with multiple pumphandle throws. He goes for a Samoan Drop, Bray battles out, but eats a big right hand, crawling to the ropes. Roman to the outside, looks for the Drive-By, Wyatt avoids it, but Reigns comes right back with another right hand, this time hitting the Drive-By. The Big Dog introduces Bray to the cage, sends him into the steps, then rolls him into the ring.

The New Face Of Fear rolls back to the outside, goes to Reigns’ eyes, then pulls out a kendo stick and goes to work, taking control of the match and swinging away at Roman’s back. Wyatt tries to send The Big Dog into the corner, Reigns fights back briefly, but Bray goes to the lower back with the kendo stick again. He clotheslines Roman to the outside using the cane, heads out after him and tosses him into the cage. The Eater Of Worlds finds a chair under the ring, goes to swing at Reigns, changes his mind and instead sits down, whacking Roman with the kendo stick and begging him to fight back. Bray props the chair and cane in the fencing, Reigns with a quick burst of energy, but Wyatt drives him into the cane, splitting it in two.

The Big Dog with another adrenaline rush, hammers Bray with fists and sends him into the chair, then back into the cage. He finds 2 kendo sticks and stalks Wyatt before combining them and unloading to Bray’s chest. Roman seeks out a table and slides it in the ring, then pulls out another and sets it up on the floor. Wyatt throws the other table out of the ring, Reigns notices and connects with another Drive-By, setting the other table up on the opposite side of the ring. Reigns pulls himself to the apron, avoids a charging Bray and hits a series of kicks, goes to suplex Wyatt through the table, but gets put through it himself with a one-arm slam.

The Eater Of Worlds rolls Roman in and covers for a count of 2, squashes him with a running senton for another 2. Wyatt dumps Roman to the outside, rushes at him and squashes him into the side of the cell. He pins Roman’s head up against the ring post, gains some speed and squashes him again. The New Face Of Fear pulls another table out and slides it in the ring, places Reigns in the corner and drives a knee to the head before setting the table up. Bray props The Big Dog on the top turnbuckle, hooks him for a superplex, Reigns blocks, drops down and powerbombs Wyatt through the table for a near fall. Both guys struggle to their feet, Roman unleashes a flurry of clotheslines in the corner, hits the ropes and Bray catches him for Sister Abigail.

Reigns counters into a schoolboy for a count of 2, then comes right back with a Superman Punch, Wyatt kicking out at 2. The New Face Of Fear rolls out to the apron, Roman goes out to meet him, hitting a Spear off the apron to the floor and going through a table. The Big Dog drags Wyatt into the ring, crawls to a cover and still can’t get a 3 count. Roman sets up for a Spear, Bray gets his boot up and plants him with Sister Abigail, but he can’t get the 3 either. The Eater Of Worlds goes to the 2 kendo sticks, delivers a shot to the midsection and hooks them up in the turnbuckles like javelins. Bray goes to drive Reigns into it and he blocks, connecting with kendo stick shots, sends Wyatt into the cane instead, then follows with a Spear to get the win.
Winner: Roman Reigns (Spear)

  • EA’s Take: Excellent brawl here with a couple of nice spots. Reigns finally seemingly gains revenge on Bray which makes me wonder if he’ll turn his attention back to the WWE Title. I can’t find much to complain about with the match, however the “No Color Policy” always seems to put a bit of a damper on these kinds of matches. Cage matches are supposed to be brutal, bloody brawls and these kind of matches make me miss those days.

Match #3 for the WWE Tag Team Championships: WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von)
Prior to the match, Kofi thanks the WWE Universe for all their support towards Xavier Woods. Big E calls today a sad day, almost as sad because the broken trombone is all they have of Woods. They promise to play the drums with D-Von’s head and Bubba’s belly. Kingston & D-Von kick off the action, Big E provides a distraction and Kofi takes quick control. He sends D-Von into the ropes, D-Von with a jumping back elbow, follows with a diving headbutt and covers for a count of 2. Bubba tags in, The Dudleys with a double shoulder knockdown and double elbow drop for 2, Bubba whips Kofi to the corner and he scales to the top, but gets caught and slammed to the canvas.

New Day collects themselves on the outside, Big E tries to give Kofi another distraction to no avail, Bubba shooting him into the corner for a splash. D-Von back in, The Dudleys go for a double team move and botch it terribly. D-Von whips Kofi into the ropes, ducks his head and eats a kick, Big E tagging in and leveling D-Von with a clothesline. New Day with frequent tags in their corner, taking turns stomping away at D-Von, Big E eventually whipping Kofi into a corner dropkick. Kingston chokes D-Von on the 2nd rope, spikes him with a DDT and covers for a 2 count before going to a wristlock. D-Von battles to his feet, Kofi hits him with a jawbreaker, then drags him to the corner and brings Big E in for a splash that gets a count of 2.

Kingston back in, they set D-Von up for a Wazzup Headbutt, but D-Von kicks Kofi away and crawls to a tag. Bubba with clotheslines to Kingston, elevates him with a back body drop, then scores with lefts and rights to Big E. The Dudleys connect with the Wazzup Headbutt, Bubba is about to call for the tables, but Kofi springboards in the ring, taking them out with a dropkick. He slides out and grabs the trombone, tosses it to Bubba and drops to the mat as if Bubba nailed him with it The ref argues with Bubba and goes to call for the bell, but decides against it because he didn’t see it.

Bubba snaps the trombone in half over his knee, D-Von tags and they plant Kingston with a combination back suplex/neckbreaker for a near fall. Bubba tags back in, they call for 3D, Big E slides in and drills Bubba with the trombone behind the ref’s back, then disposes of D-Von. Kingston scores with Trouble In Paradise to Bubba, makes the cover and retains.
Winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day (Kofi/Trouble In Paradise)

  • EA’s Take: Maybe it’s just me, but the shine of The Dudley Boyz’s return seems to be wearing off already. I’m not sure what move they were going for during the match, but they botched it horribly and couldn’t cover for it. I still believe that The Dudleys will get their 10th title run, but the time just isn’t right. There are not enough heel teams to justify taking the titles off New Day, not to mention the fact that New Day are arguably the hottest heels in the company.

Match #4 for the WWE Divas Championship – Everyone Banned From Ringside: Nikki Bella vs. WWE Divas Champion Charlotte
They lock-up to start, Charlotte backs Nikki into the ropes, the ref forces a clean break and they tie-up again, this time Charlotte backing Nikki into the corner. Nikki doesn’t break clean, charges out of the corner with a clothesline, Charlotte ducks it and scores with a modified neckbreaker. She puts the challenger in the corner, climbs to the 2nd rope and reigns down right hands, Nikki tries to counter to a powerbomb, but the champion reverses with a hurricanrana. Charlotte with more right hands, hits the ropes and the challenger fires a stiff forearm that sends the champion to the outside.

Nikki gives chase, tosses Charlotte out into the crowd, the champion looks to bring the fight back at her and gets caught, Nikki jumping off the barricade with a kick. She drives Charlotte spine-first into the ring post, tosses her into the barricade, then rolls her in the ring for a count of 2. Nikki sticks the point of the knee into the back and pulls back on the champion’s neck, drags her to her feet and hits a snap suplex for another 2 count. The challenger goes for a slingshot suplex, Charlotte lands on her feet, delivers a plate of patented Flair chops, Nikki ducks one and goes to a backslide for a near fall, then turning it into a modified facebuster, but still can’t get 3.

Nikki uses a single leg crab to punish the champion, breaking it on her own accord. She catapults Charlotte off the ropes down on the knees, covers for 2 and then sends the champion into the corner. Charlotte flips around, explodes out and levels the challenger with a big boot for a near fall. The champion tries a suplex, but her back gives out and Nikki keeps control, continuing to pummel the lower back. The champion ducks a right hand, turns around into a spinebuster and Nikki gets another count of 2 before trash talking Charlotte and slapping her in the face. Charlotte comes back with chops, the ref has to seperate them and Nikki takes advantage, looking for a springboard kick and missing, hurting her knee in the process.

The champion takes the opening planting Nikki and then climbing to the top for a moonsault. Nikki sees it coming climbs up with her for a german suplex and Charlotte lands on her feet, splitting the challenger with a spear. She locks in the Figure Eight, but can’t bridge due to her injured back, Nikki crawling to the ropes to force the break. Charlotte charges Nikki and gets dumped to the floor, the challenger following her outside and scoring with an Albama Slam on the apron. She rolls Charlotte back inside, attempts the Rack Attack and the champ counters, locking in the Figure Eight and Nikki’s forced to tap.
Winner and STILL WWE Divas Champion: Charlotte (Figure Eight)

  • After The Bell: Paige & Becky Lynch hit the ring to celebrate with Charlotte, raising her hand in victory.
  • EA’s Take: Finally a good Divas match for the main roster. Not anything on par with what Sasha Banks & Bayley have been doing down in NXT, but I really enjoyed this one. The Divas Division has been begging for a 1 on 1 match like this and while it won’t change things overnight, WWE keeps making steps in the right direction. Too bad they couldn’t have taken those steps at the beginning of the ‘Divas Revolution’.

Backstage: Sitting in the locker room is Roman Reigns when Dean Ambrose comes in offering congratulations on finishing things with Bray Wyatt. Dean talks about them knowing what’s next, but Reigns wants to talk about that tomorrow. Ambrose agrees because tonight they’ll celebrate.

Match #5 for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship – If Kane Loses, He’s No Longer Director Of Operations: WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins vs. Kane
The champion has some harsh words for the challenger at the bell, pushes him and ducks a right hand, delivering a series of his own. He shoots Kane into the ropes, ducks his head and The Devil’s Favorite Demon spikes him with a DDT, following with a low dropkick. He knocks the champion to the floor with a right hand, goes out after him and drives him head-first into the announce table. The challenger clears the spanish announce table, Rollins tries to scurry away into the ring, hits the ropes for a suicide dive and gets caught, then planted on the floor. Kane rolls him back inside, whips Seth into the ropes and hits with a flapjack.

The Director Of Operations heads to the top, The Architect sees it and drops Kane to the apron, then hangs him on the top rope, dropping Kane to the floor. Seth flies to the outside with a somersault plancha, places The Devil’s Favorite Demon on the apron and drives elbows to the throat. Back in the ring, Seth scores with a sling blade that only gets a 1 count, chokes The Big Red Machine on the 2nd rope, then plants him with a neckbreaker that barely gets 2. The champion goes to a rear chinlock, Kane attempts to battle up and Rollins with a kick to the chest. He scales the top turnbuckle, jumps down and meets a big right hand, but side-steps a big boot in the corner.

Seth splashes him and stomps away, runs to the other side to build momentum and scores with a running forearm. The Architect goes to the well again and gets leveled with a clothesline, but again avoids a charging Kane in the corner. Seth climbs up top, Kane catches him with a right hand and then connects with a superplex. The Big Red Machine hits multiple corner clotheslines, attempts a tilt-a-whirl slam, Rollins lands on his feet, hits the ropes and runs into a big boot that gives Kane a 2 count. The Devil’s Favorite Demon goes to the top again, the champion runs up the turnbuckle to meet him, gets pushed off and Kane scores with a top rope clothesline. He grabs Seth for a Chokeslam, Rollins slips out and hits an enzuigiri, tries to follow with the Pedigree, the challenger powers out and plants the champion with a Chokeslam, but only gets 2.

He calls for the Tombstone, The Architect slips out and retreats to the outside, Kane in pursuit to drive the champion spine-first into the apron. Kane drops Rollins back-first on the announce table, clears it off and tosses Seth over it. He drags Rollins up, Seth slides out and powerbombs the challenger on the spanish announce table, but it doesn’t break. Rollins rolls in the ring and the ref starts his count, Kane making it back in at a count of 8. The Architect goes for another Pedigree, gets tossed to the apron, Seth scores with an enzuigiri, then comes off the top with a flying knee.

The champion goes back up and connects with another flying knee, then lands two superkicks to finally drop the challenger. Seth goes up once more and hits a frog splash, but still can’t put The Devil’s Favorite Demon away. The champion can’t believe it and seemingly has a conversation with himself, goes back over to The Big Red Machine and he gets Seth by the throat. Rollins delivers a kick to the breadbasket, drives Kane into the canvas with a Pedigree and picks up the 1-2-3.
Winner and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Rollins (Pedigree)

  • EA’s Take: I’m not certain that I’d call this match good or not. I wouldn’t say it was bad, but it went exactly the way I figured it would go. There was never any doubt in my mind that Seth wouldn’t retain, so this didn’t do a whole lot for me. I am glad however that they allowed Rollins to win clean. They’ve done a good job of weening Seth off of the tainted wins which will serve his character well (not to mention whoever finally beats him) in the long run.

Match #6 for the WWE Intercontinental Championship: Ryback vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens
The bell rings and The Big Guy goes right at the champion, Owens trying to retreat to the outside, then back in and catching Ryback with boots. KO hits the ropes and runs into a big shoulder, the challenger powers Owens into the corner and drives shoulders to the midsection, lifting him and tossing KO with a back body drop. The Big Guy goes for a military press, the champion slips out, attempts a suplex and Ryback counters into one of his own. He charges KO in the corner, Owens side-steps and Ryback goes shoulder-first into the ring post. The champion looks to take control, Ryback uses his power again and plants Owens with a powerslam, KO rolling to the apron and getting blasted to the floor with a clothesline.

Ryback tosses Owens back inside, puts him in the corner and reigns down rights from the 2nd rope. The champion escapes out, crotches the challenger on the 2nd turnbuckle, following with a running senton for a 2 count. Owens sets his sights on a Cannonball, The Big Guy pops to his feet and catches him in a spinebuster, then puts Owens in his crosshairs for the Meat Hook. KO ducks it, but can’t avoid Ryback’s powerbomb and the challenger gains a near fall before climbing to the top. Owens has it scouted, dropping the challenger to the apron and then connecting with a superkick, spilling Ryback to the floor.

The Big Guy makes it back in the ring at the ref’s count of 9, charges into the ring and gets dropped throat-first across the 2nd rope, KO grabbing him in a schoolboy for a near fall. He sends the challenger into the ropes for a Pop-Up Powerbomb, Ryback counters with a Meat Hook, then lifts him for Shellshocked. KO grabs the ropes to get out of it, goes out to the apron and rakes the eyes, following with the Pop-Up Powerbomb to finish it.
Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: Kevin Owens (Pop-Up Powerbomb)

  • EA’s Take: It’s officially time for both of these guys to move on. I’ll be honest, I completely forgot this match was even on the card and it appears as if most everyone else did too. It shows how much the company really cares about this feud, as they’re given the spot between the WWE Title match and the main event. Generally, this spot on the card is the one that gets time taken away from it or cut completely. This rivalry has done nothing for either of these guys.

Match #7 is Hell In A Cell: Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman vs. The Undertaker
They meet face to face in the ring, Taker giving Lesnar the throat-cut sign and the bell rings. Lesnar uses his quickness to duck right hands, looks for a german right off the bat, but Taker hangs onto the ropes. The Beast goes to the midsection, drives shoulders into the breadbasket in the corner, The Deadman reverses a whip across and follows in with a clothesline. The Conqueror buries a knee to the ribs, hooks The Phenom for a german suplex again and Taker sends him flying to the outside. Undertaker follows, delivering right hands, Lesnar countering a whip into the cage and he elevates Taker for an F5. The Demon Of Death Valley slips out of it, pushes Brock face-first into the ring post and he’s been busted open.

The Phenom uses the cell to his advantage, driving Lesnar face-first into the cage, then pulls a chair out and heads back inside. The Beast is there to meet him, planting Taker into the mat with a double leg, getting his hands on the chair and smashing it into The Deadman’s back. Brock falls into the corner and the ringside doctor comes in to check on Brock’s cut, cleans him up a little bit and Lesnar takes the chair again, smashing it into Undertaker on the floor. The Conqueror tosses Taker into the cage again, attempts a suplex on the floor and The Phenom blocks, delivering one of his own. The American Badass has been cut now, rolls Lesnar inside, props the chair under his throat and slams down on it, covering Brock for a count of 2.

Undertaker hammers away at Lesnar’s cut, shoots him into the corner, Brock rebounds out and ducks a right hand, snapping off a german suplex. The Beast scores with a couple more, elevates Taker and connects with an F5, but The Deadman kicks out at 2. The ringside doctor comes in the ring again to check on both guys, Lesnar tosses the doctor aside and plants The Phenom with another F5, but still can’t get 3. The Conqueror goes out to grab the steel stairs, tosses them in the squared circle and clobbers The Deadman for a near fall. He takes the steps again, attempts to slam them on Taker’s leg, but he’s able to roll out of the way. The Beast goes for it again, Taker kicks him away and the stairs land on Lesnar’s head, cutting him open again.

The Deadman locks in Hell’s Gate, Brock fires off lefts and rights and pounds Taker into the mat to break the hold. Lesnar notices a rop in the ring mat, tears it open and exposes the boards underneath, allowing The Phenom time to get to his feet, grab Brock and plant him with a Chokeslam on the wood. Taker powers Brock up, spikes him with a Tombstone, covers and The Conqueror kicks out at 2. The Deadman calls for another Tombstone, Brock goes with a low blow, delivers an F5 on the exposed boards and finally ends it.
Winner: Brock Lesnar (F5)

  • After The Bell: Lesnar gets help getting to the back from Heyman, leaving Undertaker in the ring alone. It takes a couple of attempts for him to be able to sit-up, but he finally does to a loud “Thank You Taker” chant. Undertaker makes it to his feet, but the lights go out and The Wyatt Family makes their way to the ring. They surround the ring, step-up to the apron and go on the attack with Bray watching. Strowman, Harper & Rowan hold The Deadman up for Bray and he continues the beatdown, mocking The Phenom in the process. They carry Taker out of the arena as the show comes to an end.
  • EA’s Take: What an absolute war and rightfully so, the end to this rivalry needed to be done justice and this match provided it. I’m left wondering about the “No Color Policy” I spoke about earlier, as both men get busted open here. I completely understand why they do it, but nobody can sit there and tell me with a straight-face that it didn’t add to the drama of this match. This was one of the few times where the match lived up to all of the hype and now we have another classic Lesnar/Taker Hell In A Cell match to go back and watch on the WWE Network.

EA’s Finisher: This PPV is one of those “in-betweeners” for me, there were some decent matches and some nice moments, but it was not the greatest thing WWE has ever produced either. The return of Alberto Del Rio was a great surprise and choice to hold the US Title while Cena’s away, as long as WWE can capitalize on Del Rio’s return. Both HIAC matches delivered to me, especially Taker/Brock as it was an absolute war, the likes of which we don’t see enough of at this point in time. The Divas stepped up to the plate tonight finally as well, but the other 3 title matches were nothing to write home about. Owens/Ryback was completely forgettable, the tag match was basic at best and the WWE Title match went exactly how I pictured it would.

Top Three To Watch
1 – Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker
2 – Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt
3 – Nikki Bella vs. Charlotte


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