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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WCW Halloween Havoc 1989

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WCW continues adding to its pay-per-view lineup with the inaugural Halloween Havoc! This October event would become a mainstay for the company, this first event venturing into the WWF’s territory in Philadelphia. It also sported one of the most memorable (at least to me) cover arts for a video tape, as The Road Warriors and their face paint really fit the Halloween theme. Let’s see what WCW has to offer after their last effort was arguably their top-to-bottom best!

Match #1: ‘Captain’ Mike Rotunda vs. ‘Z-Man’ Tom Zenk
Rotunda starts the action with a waist lock take down. Collar and elbow tie up and Zenk catches him in a side headlock. Rotunda runs the ropes but he’s taken down by Zenk’s shoulder block. Another collar and elbow into a side headlock. They run the ropes and Zenk again gets the better of him with a football tackle. The crowd gets behind Zenk and Rotunda paces on the outside. Back into the ring and Zenk gets another side headlock. They run ropes, Rotunda leaps Zenk and uses a hip toss.

He cannot follow up as Zenk moves on the attempted elbow drop. Zenk is quickly back up and hits Rotunda with a drop kick. Rotunda rolls to the outside and the referee counts. The Captain gets back up on the apron and slowly enters the ring. Collar and elbow tie up and the two men move to the corner. Rotunda takes a cheap knee to Zenk’s mid section. Rotunda catches Zenk in a headlock and sticks a thumb into his eyes before sending him out to the floor. Zenk climbs back to the apron and meets Rotunda with a shoulder to the midsection and executes a sunset flip.

He can only get a 2 count and Rotunda rolls out of the ring once again. Rotunda rolls into the ring, and Zenk locks in an arm bar. Rotunda is up and down from his knees. Rotunda gets a knee to the mid section and sends Zenk running. Zenk comes back with a modified arm drag take down and locks Rotunda in a hammerlock. Rotunda strengths his way up and breaks the hold on the ropes. Another collar and elbow and Zenk delivers a side headlock take down and gets a 2 count. Rotunda uses his positioning and captures Zenk in a head scissor submission.

He uses the ropes for leverage when he can. He is caught using the ropes and the hold is broken. Rotunda paces the outside and re-enters the ring. Collar and elbow tie up and Zenk works Rotunda down to his knees with another side head lock. A run of the ropes and Rotunda dumps Zenk out of the ring and to the floor. Rotunda stalks him on the floor and slams his head on the ring apron. Rotunda pulls Zenk back to the apron and chokes his neck over the top rope before kicking him back out. Rotunda viciously kicks Zenk down in his effort to re-enter the ring. Back to the apron for Zenk and Rotunda hits a vertical suplex.

Rotunda hesitates before the lateral press and he only gets a 2 count. Frustrated, Rotunda applies an abdominal stretch and uses the ropes once again. Referee Nick Patrick catches Rotunda using the ropes and breaks the hold. Rotunda and Patrick get in each other’s face. Rotunda applies a reverse chin lock and Zenk falls to his knees. He fights back and delivers elbows to the mid section. The hold is broken and he runs for the ropes. Rotunda foils his plan and delivers a massive clothesline.

Rotunda whips Zenk to the ropes, but the Z-Man holds on to them causing Rotunda to miss his drop kick. Irish whip from Zenk and he follows it with a big elbow. Rotunda stops the momentum with an eye rake. Zenk reverses an Irish whip but Rotunda spring boards from the 2nd turnbuckle for a cross body. He rolls up Zenk, but the Z-Man reverses it and gets the pin.
Winner: ‘Z-Man’ Tom Zenk (Roll-Up Counter)

  • EA’s Take: Pretty standard affair kicks this one off, nothing really good or bad about it. Rotunda was a good opponent for the freshly debuted Z-Man who arrived from the AWA the month prior. He always struck me as a guy with a great look and potential, but just never realized it and severely lacked in the charisma department. He also looked really soft here, just watch how he applies his side headlocks. Theree’s no real aggressiveness there and for me, something like that is always glaring.

Backstage: Bruno Sammartino discusses his role as special guest referee in the main event. He see’s nothing about this match that will cause him to stop it beyond a manager throwing in the towel.

Match #2: The Samoan Swat Team (Samu, Fatu & The Samoan Savage) w/Big Kahuna vs. The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane) & ‘Dr Death’ Steve Williams w/Jim Cornette
The Samoans are out of control and causing problems outside of the ring. The referee is doing his best to maintain order. The Savage and Stan Lane start the action. Brief collar and elbow tie up before the Savage rakes the eyes, hits an elbow and delivers a kick to the midsection. Stan Lane reverses a whip to the ropes and lands a back body drop on th Savage before clothes lining him to the floor. Eaton takes advantage on the outside with a straight right and now all 6 men have a stand off on the floor. Things slow down and they enter the ring.

Armbar by Lane and a tag is made to Eaton. The Express deliver a double elbow and Eaton takes control. Straight right from Eaton but the Savage reverses an arm bar. Eaton returns the favor with a reversal of his own but the Savage rakes his eyes. Body slam from the Savage and a tag is made to Samu. He misses an elbow on his entrance and Bobby goes to work with rights and fends off distractions. Another 6 man stand off before Eaton and Samu slow it down for some one on one action. Big chops from Samu. Irish whip by Samu but Bobby moves away from the big splash and a tag is made to Williams.

Dr. Death fights all the Samoans off and delivers a football tackle to Fatu. The crowd goes wild and the Samoans are reeling on the outside. The Samoans regroup and a tag is made to Fatu. The two exchange rights, but Fatu rakes the eyes. Williams reverses the Irish whip and hits a clothesline. Williams fights off the Samoans who are trying to interfere with the match. He hits more football tackles on Fatu and clears the ring once again. Cornette taunts the Big Kahuna from the outside. A tag is made to Eaton who catches Fatu in a standing arm bar. Quick tag made back to Lane who delivers a series of kicks before holding a side headlock.

There is a whip to the ropes and Fatu stiffens up before Lane can deliver a hip toss. Instead there is a big right from Fatu and a tag is made to Samu. Samu delivers a karate kick and a standing drop kick to Lane. From his knees, Lane tries to fight back with lefts and rights to the abdomen. He’s able to buy enough time to get a tag to Dr. Death. Williams and Samu with a collar and elbow tie up. Samu rakes the eyes and works Williams to the corner. Irish whip is reversed by Williams who delivers a big clothesline. Williams sends Samu to his corner to meet Bobby Eaton’s big right hand. Williams keeps on him with a snapmare and a legdrop.

Williams picks him up and makes a tag to Eaton. A big right from Eaton followed by a running clothesline. He executes a lateral press but only gets a 2 count. Cornette gets the crowd clapping by banging on the apron. Collar and elbow tie up between Eaton and Samu. They run the ropes, Samu leaps Eaton but when he ducks down to the mat, Eaton delivers an elbow drop. A tag is made to Stan Lane and Fatu. A collar and elbow tie up before Lane delivers a drop toe hold. Lane holds Fatu in an arm bar but he works his way to his feet. Lane is thrown to the ropes. He attempts a crossbody but Fatu catches him and slams him to the mat.

Fatu attempts an elbow drop but misses and Lane is quick to his feet and ties up the Savage’s arm on the rope before making a tag to Eaton. Fatu rakes the eyes and gets a double team after a tag is made to the Samoan Savage. Eaton lands a couple rights. He goes for a bulldog, but The Savage uses the momentum and drives him groin first into the post. Eaton is dumped to the outside and he is double teamed by the Samoans while the referee is distracted. On the outside, Eaton is hiptossed on the concrete as his teammates try to regain control. Eaton is back in the ring, he’s whipped to the ropes and reverses into a sunset flip but can only get a 2 count.

The Savage is still in control and chops Eaton when he’s on his feet. A tag is made to Fatu. Eaton is whipped to the ropes for a double clothesline and Fatu gets a 2 count on a lateral press. Fatu holds Eaton on the mat in a pressure point lock. Eaton works back to his feet slowly. He delivers a few rights before running the ropes and reversing a back body drop by slamming Fatu’s face into the mat. Fatu is unfased and comes back with a clothesline. The Savage attacks Eaton on the apron and rolls him back into the ring. A tag is made to Samu who keeps the offense going with a leg drop and a head butt. Eaton is pulled to his feet and receives an elbow to the head before the Samoan partners deliver cheap shots on the outside.

There is a 3 on 1 against Eaton as the referee is distracted by Stan Lane attempting to help his partner. The Savage is tagged in and he delivers a head butt to Eaton before biting his arm. The Savage delivers a side slam and gets a 2 count before Dr Death breaks up the pin. A tag is made back to Fatu who re-applies a nerve submission maneuver. A tag is made back to The Samoan Savage. The Savage goes for a splash from the first turnbuckle but Eaton gets his knees up. Eaton is looking for his corner and a hot tag is made to Williams who enters with a double axe handle on The Savage and follows it with kicks to the ribs and big clothesline.

He takes care of the Samoans rushing the ring and military presses the Savage into Samu and Fatu. Powerslam by Williams on the Savage but he only gets two before the pin is broken up. A tag is made to Lane who delivers a botched neck breakers and he fights off Samu and Fatu. A karate kick to the head on The Savage from Lane, but all the participants are entering the ring and picking a dance partner. The ref is struggling to maintain order. The Big Kahuna is distracting the referee on the apron and Cornette comes over and hits him with his tennis racket to a big pop. Lane walks toward Cornette, but he’s hit from behind by The Samoan Savage. Lane clocks heads with Cornette and The Savage picks up the pin.
Winners: The Samoan Swat Team (Savage/Outside Interference)

  • EA’s Take: Another really good bout from these two teams who work beautifully together. The Express continues to use heel tactics as babyfaces with the crowd loving it, which is really something that WCW/NWA was ahead of their time on. We wouldn’t see anything like that in the WWF for a much longer time, so credit to WCW on that. Regardless, next time we see them, they’ll be back to their old ways of being heels. Little bit of a strange finish here. Who knew Cornette’s head was so hard that it could cost his team a match?!

Match #3: The Cuban Assassin vs. ‘Wildfire’ Tommy Rich
The Assassin goes to work with many hard rights and bashes Rich’s head into turnbuckles. Rich ducks a clothesline and comes back with a big right hand of his own. Two power slams given by Rich before knocking the Assassin outside of the ring with a right elbow. The Assassin is back in and there is a collar and elbow tie up. They exchange right hands before another tie up. Rich is worked to the ropes and hits a shoulder to the abdomen before a delivering a head butt.

An Irish whip is reversed by Rich but the Assassin comes back with a cross body and he gets a 1 count. Quickly back to their feet and Rich executes an arm drag takedown and holds the arm bar. The Assassin fights out of it and tries to dump Rich to the outside. Rich stops on the apron, he delivers a shoulder to the mid section and jumps back in with a sunset flip and he gets a 1 count. A collar and elbow turns into an arm drag by Rich who holds on for an arm bar. The Assassin is back to his feet. He breaks the hold and works Rich to the corner. The Assassin delivers chops and sends Rich for an Irish Whip to the corner. Rich moves and the Assassin runs into the turnbuckle.

Rich takes him down with an arm drag and goes right back to the arm bar. Back to their feet and Rich works the arm more with an elbow. The Assassin rakes Rich’s eyes and delivers some rights. He chops Rich to the mat and delivers another right. The Assassin executes a body slam but he misses the follow up elbow. Rich comes back with an arm drag and continues to go to work on that arm. The Assassin reverses it back into an arm bar of his own. He uses Rich’s hair to pull him down to the mat and he maintains the hold. Rich is slowly back to his feet.

He uses a head butt to break the hold. The Assassin goes for a pile driver but Rich reverses it into a back body drop. The Assassin lands a head onto Rich’s solarplex and gets a 2 count on a lateral press. Reverse chin lock from The Assassin, and he works up to a vertical suplex. The Assassin heads for the top rope but he’s caught by Rich. Down to the mat and Rich sends him for a big elbow. Rich comes off the ropes with a fast press and gets the win.
Winner: ‘Wildfire’ Tommy Rich (Lou Thesz Press)

  • EA’s Take: This is just a “get over” match as its the shortest of the night at just over 8 minutes. Some consider Tommy Rich a legend, but personally I think he’s more of a legendary underachiever. There was a handful of veterans that were brought in when Turner purchased the company from Crockett, including Bill Irwin, The Iron Sheik and Rich. Unfortunately, the young talents the promotion also brought in wouldn’t leave a whole lot of room for these kinds of guys.

Match #4 for the NWA World Tag Team ChampionshipsNWA World Tag Team Champions The Fabulous Freebirds (‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin & Michael ‘P.S.’ Hayes) vs. The Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace) w/Jim Cornette
Hayes and Douglas get things started. A quick arm drag from Hayes and the two regroup. Side headlock from Hayes, they run the ropes and Hayes delivers a sunset flip to no avail. The crowd is firmly behind the birds. Kick to the midsection and a chop by Hayes. They run to the ropes, and Douglas grabs a side headlock. They run and Douglas delivers a neckbreaker. Garvin and Ace are tagged in. Collar and elbow and Garvin immediately goes on the offense. Ace fights back.

Garvin misses a clothesline and Ace delivers an arm drag and works into an arm bar. A tag is made to Douglas who maintains the arm bar. Garvin shoots Douglas to the corner and delivers some rights. Douglas reverses an Irish whip and lands a back body drop. Garvin is quick to his feet, grabs a side headlock and a tag is made to Hayes. Shane uses a nifty flip to reverse a wristlock and makes the tag to Ace. Johnny comes off the top with an elbow and maintains a wrist lock. Hayes fights back with a right and a chop, but a tag is made to Douglas on the run and the double team ends with a scoop slam from Douglas. Garvin runs into the ring, but the Dudes deliver a double drop kick.

The Birds take a walk around the ring and Hayes is slow to re-enter the ring. Plenty of enthusiasm from the crowd for the Birds. Collar and elbow and Shane holds an arm bar. Hayes misses a drop kick, and he’s the victim of another double team off a tag. Face buster by Ace and he gets a 2 count. A tag is made to Garvin. Ace consults with Douglas. Collar and elbow and Ace grabs the side headlock. Shots to the midsection by Garvin. Ace kicks Hayes’ hand away from a tag attempt twice. Hayes is angry and he enters the ring but gets a back body drop.

Ace manages to take Hayes down with a head scissor while holding the side headlock. The Birds regroup outside of the ring. Garvin and Ace lock up, and it’s back to the side headlock for Ace. They run and Ace delivers a football tackle followed by a roll up. Garvin kicks out and sends Ace to the Birds’ corner where Hayes delivers a right. Douglas protests but the crowd loves it. Kick to the mid section followed by a running knee by Garvin. Ace is down on the floor and Douglas and Cornette check on him.

Michael Hayes takes a cheap shot on the floor and struts on the apron. Garvin keeps Ace out every time he tries crawling back up. Once back in the ring, Garvin sends him to the turnbuckle and tags in Hayes. They exchange a series of rights before Hayes delivers an elbow to the head and tags Garvin back in. Big back body drop by Garvin followed by an Irish whip. He tags Hayes back in and sends him flying into Ace for a clothesline in the corner. He sets up for the DDT and the crowd pops. Ace fights it off and shoves him away.

Tags are made to Garvin and Douglas. Douglas executes a back body drop followed by a series of drop kicks. Hayes enters the ring, but he receives a double clothesline from the entering Ace. Hayes is sent to the ropes for a double knee. They attempt to double team Garvin who is the legal man with a double side suplex, but Hayes pulls their feet and Garvin lands on Douglas with a cross body. They get a 3 count and retain the titles.
Winners and STILL NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Freebirds (Garvin/Crossbody)

  • EA’s Take: This isn’t our first time seeing them obviously, but man, The Dynamic Dudes have to have one of the most dated, ridiculous gimmicks of all time! As “tubular” as their schtick was, they could give a quick pace and that’s what we saw here. Hayes continues to impress me as well and if you want to see some of his great stuff that’s got better production value, these years are for you.

Backstage: Scott Steiner cuts what feels like a nervous, weak promo and Rick is playing up the “crazy” card big time. Rick assures everyone he won’t be distracted by Woman.

Match #5: The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) vs. Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed) w/Woman
Doom enters the ring and the Steiners waste no time brawl. They send Doom into one another for an Irish whip collision and each take one for a belly to back suplex. Doom is back in the ring but the Steiners clothesline them over the top rope. Doom regroups on the outside with Woman. The structured action will start with Scott and Reed. Scott shoves him to the corner and the ref can’t break the action. A reversal of an Irish whip followed by a clothesline by Scott. Snapmare takedown and a knee to the chest by Steiner and he gets 2 off of a lateral press. A tag is made to the Dog Faced Gremlin who enters the ring with fury.

He delivers Steinerlines to both members of Doom who need another regroup outside. Back in the ring, it’s Rick and Simmons. Simmons gets the upper hand with straight rights but Rick comes back with a big right hand. He can only get a 2 count but he locks in a reverse chin lock. Simmons reverses this with an atomic drop and sends him into his partners boot. A tag is made to Reed who keeps the momentum going until Rick blocks a front face lock. A vertical suplex by Rick and a tag is made to Scott. The younger Steiner comes off the rope with a clothsline and locks in a reverse chin lock of his own. A quick tag is made back to Rick, but he’s quickly met with a jaw breaker and a tag is made back to Simmons.

A punch to the head by Simmons who then whips him for a clothesline. Simmons hot shots Rick and only gets a 1 count. They run the ropes and Rick kicks the doom member who was attempting a back body drop and makes a tag to brother Scott. A kick to the mid section and a face first suplex comes from Scott. He gets a near fall and Reed is tagged back in. Scott is sent to the ropes but grabs a waist lock and a belly to back suplex. Two elbow drops from Steiner and a two count. Scott holds Reed in a reverse chin lock but Reed strengths his way up.

They run the ropes and Simmons takes a cheap shot on Steiner from the apron. Reed takes advantage and goes to work. A snapmare from Reed followed by a tag to Simmons who enters with a double axe handle blow. Scott is booted outside of the ring and Reed takes cheap shots while the referee is distracted by Rick. Scott takes several hot shots on the security railing before being rolled back in the ring. A tag is made the Scott receives a double elbow. Two lateral presses but Doom cannot get a 3 count. Scott fights out of a headlock but not for long. He is kneed to the midsection and Reed is tagged back in.

Scott is hung up on the 2nd and is the victim of some extracurriclars. Rick protests but Scott is dumped over the top to the outside. Scott is kicked off the apron on his first attempt. On his 2nd attempt he gets a knee to the midsection and rolls Reed over on a sunset flip. Reed still has the energy and momentum and lands a neckbreaker getting a 2 count. A tag is made to Simmons as Scott tries to fight both members of Doom out of the corner. He’s sent to the ropes though and receives a power slam. The referee is distracted and Scott gets a double vertical suplex. A tag is made to Reed who holds Scott down in a front face lock.

Scott powers his way back up and makes the tag, but the referee didn’t see it and won’t allow it. Scott is instead pile driven into the mat but he kicks out at 2. Simmons holds him in a reverse chin lock and the crowd is getting behind Scott. Simmons is kicked in the face while attempting a back body drop. A tag is made to Reed but the hot tag is made to Rick. A back body drop from Rick followed by a couple of Steiner lines.Scott takes Simmons over with a head scissor while Rick Power Slams Reed. Woman comes up on the apron and Rick is having none of it. Rick turns around to fend off Simmons and Woman puts a foreign object in Reed’s mask. Rick picks up his opponent but receives a headbutt with the foreign object.
Winners: Doom (Reed/Foreign Object)

  • EA’s Take: Where, oh where is Mean Gene? I know he was in the WWF at the time, but I couldn’t help thinking of him because during this match, I heard the first reference to the hotline. 1-900-909-9900, folks. Are 900 numbers still a thing? I hope not. What a money making scheme those were, eh? Anyways, this is your typical Steiners match, but the debut of Woman on PPV after using her…charms, to toy with the dimwitted Rick. I guess technically I broke kayfabe here since Doom is not using their names yet, but I mean, come on. It’s so obviously Ron Simmons and Butch Reed!

Backstage: NWA United States Champion Lex Luger tells Brian Pillman that this match is the real deal. He will prove to Pillman why he is the premier wrestler and the champion of the 90s.

Match #6 for the NWA United States Championship: NWA United States Champion Lex Luger vs. ‘Flyin’ Brian Pillman
Collar and elbow tie up and Luger powers Pillman to the corner. Pillman squirms out. Another tie up and another corner break up. A third tie up and Luger hits a knee to the mid section and sends him face first into the turn buckle. Straight rights followed by a body slam by Luger. The Package sends Pillman through the middle rope, but Flyin Brian comes back with a fire in his belly. A chop, Irish whip, backbody drop and drop kick sequence by Pillman. Luger rolls out and Pillman stalks him with chops. Luger is rolled back in the ring, but he moves from Brian’s attempted leap off the ropes.

Pillman chases Luger around the ring who baits him back into the ring and greets him with stomps. Luger pulls him up and delivers an elbow to the back of the head. Straight rights by Luger before a series of kicks to the gut. Pillman leaps off the turnbuckle on an Irish whip attempts. He runs to the opposite turnbuckle and gets a two count off of a cross body press. Arm drag from Pillman who hangs on for an arm bar. Pillman keeps the pressure on Luger’s left arm and turns it into a wrist lock. Luger breaks the hold with a knee to the mid section. Straight right from Luger and he sends Pillman to the ropes.

Pillman reverses a hip toss, lands a drop kick and an arm drag and he goes back to the arm bar. Back to their feet and Luger delivers a big right hand and a kick. He delivers a football tackle to Pillman twice. After another run and Pillman is able to regain momentum with a similar series as before. Luger is trapped in the arm bar once again. Pillman delivers a right shot to the shoulder as well as a kick to the mid section. Luger works his way up from a wrist lock and fights Pillman off with rights. Pillman leap frogs over Luger and on the come back, wraps around his back and rolls him to the mat. He can only get a 2 count.

Arm drag and arm bar sequence once again from Pillman. Luger tells the fans to shut up while he’s held in the submission. Luger strengths Pillman into the corner and sends him for an Irish whip but Brian gets his feet up. Flyin Brian heads for the top rope but Luger moves out of the way. Lex shows his strength by lifting Pillman from a front slam and hot shots him on the top rope. Luger taunts the crowd. Off the ropes, Luger hits a massive clothesline and he continues taunting the fans. A stumbling Pillman fights Luger off with chops and kicks.

He sends Luger to the ropes but Lex is too fresh and he delivers clotheslines in front and from behind. Luger viciously stomps Pillman and drops big forearms. Standing vertical suplex from Luger and he is slow to make a cover. He only gets two. Luger drops an elbow to the chest twice on Pillman. Brian takes shots to Luger’s midsection but he’s dumped through the middle rope to the floor. Luger pulls Pillman back to the apron and clubs him on the chest. Luger goes to pull his opponent back into the ring, but Pillman delivers a shoulder to the midsection and a sunset flip for a two count.

Luger attempts a clothesline but Pillman ducks and Luger falls out to the floor. Pillman pulls Luger back in, delivers a big chops and stands up for straight rights. Luger strengths him away with an inverted atomic drop. Luger sets Pillman up in a seated position on the top turnbuckle. Luger goes for the superplex but Pillman pushes him off. Pillman attempts a sunset flip from the top rope but Luger scissors his legs and gets out of it. Pillman is quickly back to his feet delivering chops to Luger. He comes off the ropes with a flying elbow and Luger begs for him to slow down. Irish whip and a back body drop by Pillman.

‘Flyin’ Brian comes off the ropes with a clothesline but Luger gets his foot on the ropes. Pillman hits a neck breaker and heads to the top rope for a high risk move. Luger moves away from Pillman’s drop kick. Lex pulls him to his feet. They run the ropes and Luger lifts Pillman for a hot shot across the top rope. The champ gets the pin.
Winner and STILL NWA United States Champion: Lex Luger (Hot Shot)

  • Off The Top: The commentary team is really propping Luger up verbally. They went on and on about his football career, his physique, and pushing the narrative that he will be one of the top stars of the 90s. While he did go on to win a share of gold that decade, in retrospect it reminded me of ESPN heralding the top overall pick in the NFL draft as a generational talent, but then his career production was more in line with a 2nd or 3rd rounder. Good match though, Pillman certainly knew how to get the most out of everyone.

Backstage: The Road Warriors discuss their chances against the undefeated Skyscrapers. They explain that people build skyscrapers, but they also tear them down.

Match #7: The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) w/Paul Ellering vs. The Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Dan Spivey) w/Theodore R. Long
A nose to nose stare down when the two teams meet in the ring. The action starts with Spivey and Animal. Collar and elbow tie up and Spivey gets the early advantage. Animal comes back with two clotheslines but it doesn’t take Spivey all the way down to the mat. Arm bar from Animal who tags Hawk and he maintains the hold. A run to the ropes and the two collide, neither giving an inch. Finally on the third attempt, Hawk knocks Spivey outside of the ring with a flying shoulder block. A tag is made to Sid. Tie up and Sid delivers some rights. Sid misses a clothesline and Hawk hits one. It only knocks Sid down to his knees. Sid works Hawk to the corner.

He tries a flying shoulder off an Irish whip but Hawk moves. Animal is tagged in and they double team Sid for a double elbow. Sid is right back up, though. Animal and Sid tie up, Animal ducks a clothesline but can’t move Sid on his first couple shoulder tackle attempts. He finally lands a flying clothesline and Vicious rolls outside of the ring and regroups with Long. A tag is made to Hawk as Sid is slow to re-enter the ring. Hawk asks for a test of strength. The two are at a stalemate until Sid finally works Hawk down.

The crowd gets behind the Warriors and Hawk strengths back up. He throws Vicious to the corner and hits him with a monkey flip. Hawk hits Vicious with a clothesline and holds him with an arm bar before tagging Animal back in. Animal keeps the hold but Sid strengths him to the Skyscrapers’ corner. A tag is made to Spivey, but Animal maintains the offense. Hawk is back in, but he’s thrown to the opponents corner and Sid is back in. Snapmare takedown by Sid and he follows it with a clothesline. Sid lifts Hawk and executes a helicopter carry.

A tag is made to Spivey who gets a side slam on Hawk before a 2 count. They run the ropes and Hawk comes back with a clothesline. Spivey is the first one up and he baseball slides Hawk outside of the ring where Sid takes advantage. Hawk receives a hot shot on the guard rail and is slow to return to the ring. Spivey greets him with a vertical suplex and can only get a two count. A tag is made to Sid. Hawk is whipped to the corner and receives a clothesline from Spivey followed by a knee from Sid.

Vicious pulls Hawk up and delivers a straight right before choking him on the middle rope. Hawk tries to fight back but Sid takes him down and gives a blatant choke until the ref breaks it up. A tag is made to Spivey. Hawk kicks Spivey in the head but it has no effect. Spivey delivers a clothesline. Hawk counters a vertical suplex with one of his own but he’s not able to make the tag. Sid is tagged back in and he’s holding Hawk in a front face lock. Hawk lifts Sid up in his arms and makes the tag to Animal but the ref is blind to it. Hawk and Sid march back to the Skyscrapers’ corner where a tag is made to Spivey.

The referee calls off Animal’s tag that he didn’t see but allows Spivey’s. Irish whip from Spivey with a run to the corner, He attempts a second but Hawk gets his boot up. Finally, the hot tag is made to Animal who ambushes Spivey with a drop kick followed by a flying shoulder block. Sid enters the ring and takes up Animal while Hawk and Spivey brawl. There is a powerslam from Animal on Sid, but Sid is not the legal man and the referee isn’t looking. Long enters the ring with a foreign object and Ellering gives chase. Long tosses the object to Spivey who uses it on Hawk. Nick Patrick sees the object and calls for the bell.
Winners: The Road Warriors (Disqualification)

  • After The Bell: The Skyscrapers mug Animal until Hawk makes the save with a clothesline off the top rope.
  • EA’s Take: Much more action from Sid in this one than his last PPV appearance. You know they’re building up The Skyscrapers as a power team when on multiple occasions, The Road Warriors are bouncing off of them like immovable objects. If they’re being told to frequently no sell Hawk and Animal, I’m not sure how you could sell teams like The Midnight Express and The Dynamic Dudes as even standing a prayer against these guys. I’m not sure what the Starrcade card looks like yet, but I’d like to see how they’re booked at this time against a team like The Steiners.

Backstage: Ric Flair, Sting and Ole Anderson are standing by. Ole is asked when he’ll throw in the towel. Anderson explains that the towel is wrapped around his arm for a reason: he won’t throw it in under any circumstance.

Match #8 is a Thunderdome Cage Match – Special Referee Bruno Sammartino: NWA World Heavyweight Champion ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair & Sting w/Ole Anderson vs. NWA World Television Champion The Great Muta &Terry Funk w/Gary Hart
Your opponents’ corner man must throw in the towel to end this contest. Flair and Funk start the action and Funk takes him down with a shoulder block. Flair works some chops in the corner and whips him into partner Sting who takes a free shot. Muta enters the ring but Sammartino kicks him out. Collar and elbow tie up with Funk and Flair. Terry gets a body slam in, but Flair comes back with a chop and two slams of his own. Funk is thrown out of the ring onto his head. He’s slow to return and Flair hits him with an elbow from the apron.

A tag is made to Sting who delivers a right and dumps Funk outside. Sting hangs Funk up on the cage and rakes his back. Back in the ring and Sting makes a tag to the Nature Boy. The teammates deliver a double elbow. Flair sends Funk for two consecutive Irish whips and knocks Funk down with a huge chop. He delivers his patented knee to Funk’s head and goes after Muta who is standing on the apron. Funk is dazed as Flair delivers straight rights before tagging in Sting who lands a drop kick. Funk is frustrated and he tags in Muta.

Sting delivers a flurry of punches before throwing Muta on Funk with a military press. Sting delivers a vertical suplex and he tags in Flair. Snap mare takedown by Flair who follows it with an atomic drop. Flair chops Muta in the corner and takes him down again and delivers a knee drop. Stinger is tagged back in and he dumps Muta to the outside. Sting uses the cage as a weapon and pushes Muta’s head through the cage. Flair and Funk brawl on the outside while Muta changes the momentum inside of the ring. Snapmare followed by an elbow by Muta. Standing leg drop as Muta keeps the momentum rolling.

He dumps Sting to the outside for Funk to deal with while Flair rushes Muta. Funk chokes Sting with his boot as Muta takes Flair to the floor. As they round the corner, Funk cuts them off and goes to work on Flair. The legal men are in the ring and Sting is on the receiving end of a standing suplex before his opponents deliver a series of knees. Flair makes the save and hits a vertical suplex on Funk. Sting comes back with a running bulldog on Muta and gives one to Funk for good measure. He measures Muta’s neck over the top rope and makes a tag to Flair.

The champ backs Muta up for an atomic drop and Sting hits a clothesline. Stinger goes for the Scorpian Deathlock but Funk interupts it. Funk goes to work on Sting in the corner and Muta comes back with a kick to the mid section. There seems to be no control over the match and Flair chases Funk out of the ring. Sting is dumped to the outside and pursued by Funk. Sting rolls back into the ring and he’s choked with a boot from Muta. Flair chops Funk on the apron and bashes Funk into the steel cage. Inside the ring, Sting hits a vertical suplex on Muta. Muta and Sting climb the cage and Muta gets shocked by the cage.

Sting bashes Muta face first into the metal while Flair and Funk continue to brawl themselves. Muta and Sting are back in the ring and Sting received a low blow. Flair and Funk climb around the cage and Flair delivers chops from that height. Funk is trapped on the cage, while Sting holds Muta up over his head for a prolonged military press. Sting dumps Muta outside of the ring while Funk is still trapped on the cage. Muta appears to have snuck under the ring while Sting pursues Funk. Muta comes out of the ring and brawls with Flair on the floor. They exchange chops and roll back into the ring. Belly to back suplex by Flair on Muta.

Sting uses a rope hanging from the cage for leverage to slam himself into Funk. Back in the ring, Ric Flair locks in the Figure Four on Muta. Flair breaks the hold unprompted and simply dumps Muta outside. Flair inspects what is going on with Sting and Funk on the cage, but Muta comes back and kicks him in the back of the head. Sting has a misstep on the cage and Funk attempts to tie him up. Back in the ring, Muta locks Flair in a reverse toe hold. Muta keeps the toe hold and grabs a front face lock. Sting appears to be tied to the cage and Ole comes over to save him.

In the meantime, Funk and Muta double team Flair. Funk hits his pile driver on Flair as Ole struggles to get the rope off of Sting. Flair is stuck in their mercy until Sting is finally freed. He climbs up the wall of the cage and leaps off of it hitting Funk with a cross body. Sting is fired up and delivers rights to Muta. Once outside, Muta climbs the cage and Sting pursues him while Flair and Funk fight in the ring. Flair works over Funk’s knee with a variety of maneuvers. Sting and Muta are back in the ring and Muta hits a back breaker.

Muta is going up for a moonsault but he’s knocked to the floor by Sting. Flair locks in the Figure Four on Funk and Sting leaps off the top rope with a splash. Hart refuses to the throw in the towel, so Sting does it again. Muta crawls back into the ring and takes a chop at referee Sammartino. Bruno delivers a strong right and knocks Muta out of the ring. Gary Hart climbs the apron and Ole Anderson rushes to stop him from interfering. Ole delivers a right to Hart who drops the towel upon impact.
Winners‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair & Sting

  • EA’s Take: If you’re looking for some big stars participating in a car crash match, you’ll enjoy this one. Just don’t try to make ANY sense of it. You’ve got the special cage and a special stipulation which is fine, but the first quarter of the match had the vibe of a traditional tag team match with partners waiting in the corners and the referee backing off outside interference. The second quarter of the match was a bit more disorganized with dance partners swapping, despite not being tagged. With no distinction or reasoning laid out, the last half of the match was a complete free-for-all which was apparently fine now. Also, there were a half dozen times when guys would just start climbing the cage and their opponents would give chase. Why were they doing this? You can’t win by escaping the cage,where were they going? Some good legends in this bout, but I found myself confused through most of the match.

EA’s Finisher: Wow, 5 tag team matches on an 8 match card. I’ll say it made for plenty of movement and very few rest holds, which was good. The company would frequently and understandably try to distinct themselves from the WWF. I’m really glad they laid off saying “This is NWA… We wrestle here!” 6 times in the show, but the most interesting, subtle comment made tonight was JR citing Sting’s days as a member of The Blade Runners. He “uipped, “I think he’s developed better than his partner has”, of course referring to The Ultimate Warrior. If this card was on a prime time cable show for the company, I’d say it was good, but the main draw (Thunderdome) turned out to be a total cluster. Let’s look at it positively though because I think too many focus on the negatives of WCW. At least they were always trying new things!

Top Three To Watch
1 – The Fabulous Freebirds vs. The Dynamic Dudes
2 – Lex Luger vs. Brian Pillman
3 – The Steiner Brothers vs. Doom

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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WCW Fall Brawl ’94 – WarGames

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Our weekly Chairshot Classics WCW PPV series continues with Fall Brawl ’94!

Open: Martin Delray performs the Stars Spangled Banner. Bobby Heenan is sporting a neckbrace and they’re joined at ringside by ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund. Gene will be talking to WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan via satellite later tonight, and he’s been informed that WCW United States Champion Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat has suffered an injury, so he will see what he can find out in the way of a replacement match.





Match #1 for the WCW World Television Championship: Johnny B. Badd vs. WCW World Television Champion Lord Steven Regal w/Sir William
The bell rings and Regal takes his time, and instructs the ref to give him some space. Collar and elbow tie up, Badd gets position in the corner and breaks it off in frustration. Another tie up, Badd twists the wrist, Regal rolls out and grabs a side headlock. Badd works up to top wrist but cannot escape. He tries to hit the ropes, but Badd grabs the wrist, Regal is forced to break it on the ropes. Badd ducks the collar and elbow and goes back to the wrist. Regal chains out temporarily, side headlock by Regal.

To the ropes, Badd leapfrogs, Regal attempts to get the upperhand but he’s dropkicked, and taken down with a drop toe hold. Badd cranks the arm to the delight of the crowd. Regal takes control and backs Badd into the corner, he monkeyflips Badd but Johnny hangs on, pops up and throws a hip toss. He tries a pin and the champ kicks out. Badd grabs an arm bar on the mat, Regal kicks to his feet and breaks it on the ropes. The crowd boos and Sir William massages his arm. Regal reaches out, it’s Badd with the wrist, Regal comes back with forearms. To the ropes and they exchange sunset flips, drop toe hold by Badd and he goes back to the arm. Regal lays in more forearms, fireman’s carry pick up and Regal is spun like a helicopter.

He rolls out of the ring dizzy, but here comes Badd flying over the top rope with a crossbody. From the apron, Regal is slung across the top rope. Badd charges with another crossbody, Regal moves and he hits the top rope hard. Regal is on the attack, the ref backs him away and Sir William uses the cane to his advantage. Badd is pummeled with forearms but he wants some more. Regal with a hair takedown and he drives the forearm across the nose. He scissors Johnny’s arm and pounds away, yanking on the neck while he’s at it. Ringside Doug Dillinger is getting into it with a “fan” who has been causing trouble everywhere they go. European uppercut and a reverse chin lock by Regal.

Badd powers to his feet, hits some shots on the gut and scores with a knee lift. Regal pops back up and knocks him to the mat with another European uppercut. They exchange blows in the corner, Regal with the drop toe hold and he moves into a full nelson on the mat. Badd uses the fan support to get back to vertical, he bumps Regal’s gut hits the ropes and runs into a back elbow. Badd kicks out at two. Badd with a combo and an atomic drop. He sends Regal for the ride and a high elevation back drop. Regal reverses the whip and lifts Badd, Johnny counters with a head scissor takedown. Badd is dumped to the floor.

Back on the apron, he tries a sunset flip, William offers Regal the cane but the ref kicks it away, the champ escapes at two. William holds bad from the apron, Johnny moves and is clubbed by Lord Steven. Badd almost scores the upset on a schoolboy but Regal kicks at two. Arm drag by Badd but Regal moves away from the elbow. More uppercuts from Regal, on the third try, Badd counters by hooking the arms. He pulls Regal to the mat with a backslide, we have a new champion!
Winner and NEW WCW World Television Champion: Johnny B. Badd (Backslide)

  • EA’s TakeWell, they finally paid off Johnny’s popularity with the fans. He’s been given US and TV Title matches, but has been an ‘Also Ran’ for a while. Regal looked hilarious in the powdered wig and while he would speak about enjoying being a comedic character on an episode of Table For 3 along with Sheamus and King Barrett many years later, it’s a part of his career that’s vastly underrated.

Video: At Clash of the Champions, Ric Flair sent a masked man to attack Hulk Hogan from behind. Nick Bockwinkel explains that if Hogan can’t get in the ring, he’d have to forfeit the title to challenger Flair. The Nature Boy taunts Hogan while his music playing, not expecting Hulkster to show his face. The champion comes out with his knee heavily taped and goes wild on Flair. There was a disqualification when the masked man reappears, and the two gang up on him. Ric Flair was suspended as a result.

Match #2 – Loser Leaves WCW: Kevin Sullivan w/Dave Sullivan vs. Cactus Jack
The action starts on the floor right away, Sullivan throws Jack over the guard rail. They slug it out and Jack tosses Sullivan back to ringside. They move to the ring and Sullivan drops a headbutt. Jack reverses the momentum and introduces him to the top turnbuckle. Sullivan tumbles back to the floor after a right. Jack throws Sullivan into the ring post and lifts the mat off the concrete. Sullivan crawls as Jack goes to the 2nd turnbuckle. Dave Sullivan stops him from jumping and Kevin climbs up and tosses Cactus on the cement.

He follows it with a scoop slam on the exposed floor. He comes in with a knee lift and throws him head first into the apron. Sullivan attacks Jack’s recently injured ear. Jack fights back with some kicks and knocks him down with a right, *bang bang*. To the ropes, Sullivan runs into an elbow and Jack connects with an elbow drop. Sullivan is dumped back to the floor and Jack sets up a piledriver, Sullivan reverses with a back body drop on the concrete. Sullivan rushes him with a clothesline, again on the exposed floor. Jack struggles back to the apron and Sullivan keeps kicking him away. Jack throws a chair in the ring but Nick Patrick takes it away.

Irish whip reversal by Jack but he runs into a boot. Sullivan dumps him outside, Jack tries to use the chair but Dave grabs it away. Sullivan throws him face first into the steel steps and rolls Jack back into the ring. Kevin grabs a new chair, he winds up, Dave Sullivan grabs it, Kevin looks confused. Cactus Jack rushes in with a knee lift, Sullivan moves out of the way. Jack’s head connects with Dave’s, knocking him on his back. Kevin makes the pin, and Jack must leave WCW.
Winner: Kevin Sullivan (Outside Interference)

  • Off The Top: Hi ho, Hi ho, to ECW Jack goes! Well, it’s time to start the exodus of WCW mid to upper-mid carders who became massive stars in WWF’s Attitude Era. We aren’t far removed from Dustin Rhodes getting a pink slip for blading. You wouldn’t even know Jean Paul-Levesque (Triple H) is in the company right now, as he hasn’t been featured on a PPV yet, but he’s out the door in a few months. Steve Austin gets injured in early 1995 and is subsequently (and infamously) fired via FedEx. Amazing to think all four left or were fired in well under a calendar year. We all know the rest of their stories.

Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by The Stud Stable who will be competing in the WarGames match tonight. Bunkhouse Buck and Col. Robert Parker explain that the Col. was not supposed to be in this match, it’s supposed to be Meng, but he’ll do what he has to. Terry Funk chimes in and is looking forward to going after the “FBI” – Fat Boys Incorporated. Arn Anderson talks about the score that must be settled between he and the Rhodes. The time has come to reach down and finding something to make another man quit. They came here to die tonight if they must, because they are not going to quit.

In the Ring: WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel explains that since WCW United States Champion Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat cannot compete, he must forfeit to his scheduled opponent ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin. Steamboat explains that tomorrow he starts his rehab tomorrow and reminds Stunning Steve that he beat him for the title, he never was defeated. Austin explains that Steamboat saved himself a hell of an ass kicking. Austin heads for the back, but Bockwinkel says he will need to defend it. Stunning Steve is not interested, but Bockwinkel explains that he is contractually obligated. His opponent is a debuting ‘Hacksaw Jim Duggan’.

Match #3 for the WCW United States Championship: ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan vs. WCW United States Champion ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin
USA chants break out and the bell rings. Austin desperately protests wrestling. Bockwinkel tells him if he doesn’t he’s taking his title away. Austin tries to leave, Bockwinkel pulls him back into the center of the ring. Duggan hits a back body drop and splashes on top for the pin. We already have a new champion!
Winner and NEW WCW United States Champion: ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan (Splash)

  • After The Bell: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by the new champion. This is the greatest night of Hacksaw’s life, the hair on the back of his neck is standing. He’s sympathetic to Steamboat, but he’s pumped. Additionally, he’s never seen anything as disgraceful as what Ric Flair did to Hulk Hogan, when Hulk gets his hands on him he will pay.
  • EA’s TakeWell, two title changes and a Loser Leaves Town Match…you can’t say this has been an inconsequential night so far. That was a nice long reign by Austin, huh? Shocked that he was on the receiving end of a squash, but it was entertaining. Unfortunately for WCW, it’s one of the many things that pisses Austin off and contributes to his attitude starting to suck, which ultimately leads to Bischoff basically having to let him go (Austin even admits these days he was NOT a happy camper and deserved it).

Match #4 for the WCW World Tag Team Championships: Stars & Stripes (The Patriot & Marcus Alexander Bagwell) vs. WCW World Tag Team Champions Pretty Wonderful (‘Pretty’ Paul Roma & ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff)
Doug Dillinger kicks the disruptive fan (Blacktop Bully) out of the arena after he goes crazy yelling at Stars and Stripes. Bagwell gets the USA chants going while Pretty Wonderful takes their time removing their robes and sunglasses. Bagwell and Roma will start us off, Bagwell helps the fans chant Paula. Roma ambushes Bagwell and knocks him down with rights and stomps a hole in him. A forearm across the shoulder blades and they hit the ropes. Bagwell ducks multiple clotheslines and takes Roma out with a crossbody, Roma kicks out. Hiptoss by Bagwell and he grabs the wrist, cranking on it.

Tag is made to Patriot, he sticks with the wrist cranking it around and around. Forearm shot from Roma and Orndorff is tagged in. They try a double team but Patriot gets his fist in Wonderful’s gut. Full arm drag and twist and a tag is made to Bagwell. It’s Orndorff’s turn to have his wrist and arm abused. Orndorff drops to his knees. Orndorff fights with forearms, they hit the ropes and it’s Bagwell with a shoulder block followed by a cross body. Patriot is tagged in and emulates his partner. Orndorff escapes to his corner and checks in with Roma, tagging him in. Collar and elbow, Patriot grabs a wristlock, tags in Bagwell and they hit a double team hiptoss.

Back to the arm for Bagwell, shoulder block to Roma. Bagwell hits the ropes again but he’s struck from behind by Orndorff. Wonderful claims he did nothing but when the ref turns his back he takes more cheapshots. Roma from behind with a reverse chin lock, and he lifts him up by the neck and drops Bagwell on his back. Orndorff with some theatrics and he drops an elbow across Bagwell’s neck. Bagwell is thrown into the corner, Orndorff driving his shoulder into the gut. Snapmare and another elbow by the champ. Front facelock applied to Bagwell, he works up to his feet, Bagwell is sent to the ropes and he leaps for a sunset flip. He can’t get Orndorff over, Wonderful sits on Bagwell’s chest and poses for a cover.

Bagwell hooks his arms and rolls him up, Orndorff kicks at two. Tag is made to Roma, high elevation drop kick to Bagwell. He’s slow to cover and Bagwell kicks out. Scoop slam by Roma and he climbs to the top rope, scoring with a big elbow drop. He taunts before making the cover, Patriot makes the save. With the ref’s back turned, Bagwell is thrown over the top rope by Orndorff. Wonderful drives Bagwell head first into Bobby Heenan’s cooler. Patriot checks on his partner while Pretty Wonderful poses. Bagwell tries to work his way up, and Orndorff grabs the cooler and dumps out the contents on Marcus. Bagwell is rolled into the ring and immediately sent for a clothesline.

Orndorff sets up for a piledriver, Bagwell reverses with a desperation backdrop. Orndorff is up first and tags in Roma. Front face lock applied, but Bagwell works back to vertical. He lifts Roma but Pretty Paul hangs on. He slowly inches his way to the Patriot and the hot tag is made. Orndorff rushes the ring and Patriot takes care of both of them with scoop slams and drop kicks. He clotheslines both of the tag champs and Orndorff rolls out of the ring. Wonderful attacks the still recovering Bagwell and drops him with a piledriver. Inside the ring, Patriot hits a side slam and goes for a cover, the ref won’t count because he’s not the legal man. Bagwell is rolled back in and Patriot goes back to the apron and reaches for a tag but Roma reaches over and covers Bagwell to retain the titles.
Winners and STILL WCW World Tag Team Champions: Pretty Wonderful (Roma/Orndorff Piledriver)

  • EA’s TakeBagwell has had a couple of interesting tag team partners along the way. I guess I’ll revisit who my favorite was after the American Males days, but I still think his pairing with Scorpio had way more potential than what they accomplished. Really confusing finish here because I never got the impression the referee didn’t see the tag. But, overall a much better match for the tag champs than last PPV by a wide margin.
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Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1 (3/25/2012)

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Branching out beyond the safety of the American coastlines, Chairshot Classics begins to delve into PROGRESS. Harry starts the journey at the logical, with in depth coverage and finer details on what made the matches happen.






What I Watched – A Chairshot Classics Presentation
PROGRESS Chapter 1: ‘In The Beginning’
By Harry Broadhurst

Man, been a while since I’ve done one of these. Greetings and salutations all. My name is Harry Broadhurst. A little bit about myself: I am the host of the ‘Raw Reaction’ here on the Chairshot Radio Network along with Tony Acero and Andrew Balaz (one of the big wigs here at thechairshot.com). I’ve been a part of the podcast network since it launched as the Raw Reaction just celebrated it’s fifth anniversary back in April.

Back in the days when this website was still WrestlingSmash, I used to be the guy who did what Steven Mitchell does. I would review Raw, SmackDown, Impact and Main Event under the title of “What I Watched”. I did some DVD reviews for another website a while ago as well but those eventually slowed down when schedules changed. I’ve been wanting to get back into reviews and I figure that now that I have a bit more free time, I want to spotlight more independent companies that don’t usually get highlighted.

I spoke to Greg about this and we both agreed that one of the hottest promotions in the world right now is the England based PROGRESS Wrestling. While we were talking, the idea that there isn’t a lot available on the history of the company came up and we intend to change that. Jim Smallman and his crew have created some of the most buzz we’ve ever seen for an independent wrestling company. They have even gotten themselves noticed to the point that the WWE’s NXT is going to be partnering with PROGRESS when it launches NXT:UK. The WWE UK Championship has been defended in PROGRESS and multiple members of the active WWE roster have appeared on the shows, both before and during their times in the WWE itself.

Well, even a promotion as big as PROGRESS has a beginning. ‘In The Beginning’, to be specific. We go back to the twenty fifth of March in 2012 for this one. And this show helps set the stage for the first PROGRESS Wrestling Heavyweight champion to be crowned. Into the way back machine we go and it’s now time for ‘In The Beginning’ or PROGRESS Chapter 1.

WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.

WRITER’S NOTE #2: Due to the fact that Greg considers reviews to be opinion pieces, I am of the opinion that you should be able to form your own thoughts of the matches. Therefore, I will not be posting any of the finishes inside the review itself. But if you want to know, I will post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contest. The final show review will be after that, so if you want to read that without seeing results, I recommend scrolling to the bottom and moving up the page.

MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating. In addition, keeping with my run here with the Chairshot, I’m going to issue a ‘Final Reaction’ at the end of the reviews. Best match/moment, worst match/moment, Final Score and MVP (Most Valuable Performer).




PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1
‘In The Beginning’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: March 25th, 2012
Run Time: 1:55:45
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton and www.backbodydrop.com for some of the research that I did while working on this review.

*No opening promo from Smallman, which would become a fixture of the company. Instead, a quick graphic for the company takes us to a quick graphic for our opening contest.

*General Notes: The lighting for this venue is awful. At least a third of the ring is in relative darkness. Hopefully that gets fixed quickly going forward…the crowd is super hot for this show. The play-by-play announcer? Not so much. Not sure if he’s the same guy around to this day. If he is, he has improved tremendously. If it’s not, it’s easy to see why…commentary note: upon doing a bit of research, apparently it was Jim Smallman doing commentary in studio afterward under the name Jimmy Barnett. Makes sense that he would turn those reigns over, given his other duties with the company…setup is really weird with where they have the hard cam placed. You can clearly see monitors directly in front of the hard cam. One of them is clearly for music. The other looks like it’s set to Microsoft Excel…the ending graphics give all the information about social media presence. I can start including that stuff in the reviews if you guys want me too.

*Semifinal #1: Noam Dar vs. El Ligero
The Who: Yes, the Cruiserweight Classic’s (and now 205 Lives‘) Noam Dar as he is one of the guys who would move on to work for the WWE after getting some notoriety here in PROGRESS. El Ligero is a guy who fans of What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW from here on, though it is now known as Defiant Wrestling) are very familiar. I can’t say I’ve seen a whole lot of him personally, but I have heard good things
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the first of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: I may be wrong, but I think Smallman is the ring announcer, which I believe is a job he still does to this day…the inset promos are a nice touch. Not something you traditionally get from what basically amounts to an independent show…crowd makes it very clear very early who they are rooting for in this contest…have to say, a little sloppier then I expected to open. I’ll chalk that up to nerves though…and the first dive out of the ring happens at the minute and a half mark. Yep, indie wrestling…at least to me, Dar is clearly the more proficient of the two. It really doesn’t surprise me that he has found his way to a WWE contract…Dar with a really nice airplane spin that he combos into a Northern Lights. Very well done…Ligero with what looks like a version of the ‘S.O.S.’ but coming out of it, Dar catches him with a good looking burning clothesline…the roaming cam is not the same quality as the hard cam, but it’s a lot less distracting due to the monitors…Dar with a leg grapevine for an extended period before Ligero gets the ropes. Luckily, the crowd doesn’t seem to mind it as they are still very into it, especially for Ligero’s escape…one of the issues with PROGRESS can be the fan’s snarkiness. Pretty sure I just heard a slur for homosexual chanted by them here. Not exactly the impression you want to leave with potential first time viewers. Little surprised that hasn’t been edited out…and there’s the finish. Solid little match to open. Nothing super groundbreaking, but still worth the time that it runs for. (ABOVE AVERAGE)




*Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz vs. Colossus Kennedy
The Who: I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about Nathan Cruz. I don’t believe I have seen him compete before and if I have, I clearly don’t remember it. I’ve heard of him though. I can’t say the same of his opponent as this is the first time I’ve even heard of Colossus Kennedy. The name is definitely fitting though as the guy looks to be every bit of six foot five or six and three hundred pounds.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the second of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: That is a big boy in Colossus for sure…both men get inset promos for this match. Nathan comes off far more charismatic then Kennedy does. Nathan knows the character he wants to portray, whereas Colossus is just your average generic big guy…six foot six and three hundred sixty pounds. Really big boy by Indy wrestling standards…early chants from the crowd compare Kennedy to both the ‘Funkasaurus’ (that was a thing on Raw at the time) and Earthquake. Let’s not throw around the good name of John Tenta too freely, shall we?…Kennedy is a little clunky, so I don’t imagine he’s been wrestling all that long at this point. He does move well for a guy his size. He does a tabletop suplex (fall away slam position into a vertical) that looks really sloppy, though…they play up a pretty simple ‘big guy, smaller guy’ dynamic here. The crowd is into hating on Cruz, so it works. The ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chant does make me chuckle…the announcer attempts to put the crowd over as one of the most comedic he’s ever been around. He just says it so blandly that it loses meaning. To be fair (and I know I’ve ripped the guy twice already), he’s commentating by himself. Few can pull that off serviceably. Even fewer (Joey Styles and Lenny Leonard spring to mind) can do so and be entertaining…Kennedy impresses me with the selling of the leg, as he reverses Cruz into the corner. He then tries an avalanche but the leg gives out on him as he attempts to get across the ring…the commentator spent the entire match putting over Kennedy’s Lariat, even mentioning that his favorite wrestler to watch was Stan Hansen. So, it’s a little bit of a surprise that it’s not the finish when he hits it, as Cruz cleanly kicks out…and there’s the finish. I think the right guy wins here, as there is clearly a drop in talent between the two. The match itself is serviceable, but nothing you would remember by the end of the show most likely. They tell a good story but it never really gets out of first gear. (AVERAGE)



*Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason (with Becky James) vs. Colt Cabana
The Who: Mike Mason and Becky James, I have never heard of. To give a visual comparison for fellow independent wrestling fans, the closest I could give you would probably be “Mr. Showtime” Scot Summers or Davey Richards. Colt Cabana, I don’t think I need to expand upon. Arguably the biggest competitor currently in independent wrestling at the time, Still to this day, Cabana is a huge draw on the Indy circuit, even if his appearances are a lot less frequent then they used to be.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the third of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Cabana is one of those guys promoters bring in to give a local a marquee match against a name talent. That or he’s there to make people laugh. I’ll assume one of those is going to be the M.O. here…pre-match, Colt throws what I believe are tennis balls at Mason and Becky. Make your own jokes here…man, there is a noticeable size disparity between the two. Colt is not a huge guy by any stretch (he’s muscular but not tall), but he towers over Mason…it’s the not family friendly Colt this evening as he stands on the bottom turnbuckle, pushes out his groin and states “I do have a foreign object” or something to that effect…the crowd gets on the referee for not checking Cabana, but really, it’s the right call…Cabana stuffs his singlet with a tennis ball and the announcer quickly takes the ‘pleased to see us’ route…this is all before the opening bell, mind you…opening bell finally does ring and it’s tennis ball shenanigans…a series of tennis ball tosses with the crowd lead to a very snarky ‘this is wrestling’ chant as the announcer points out that Mason is a replacement for RJ Singh…it eventually breaks into a bit of a mat wrestling contest, where Cabana dominates…more shenanigans such as a dancing sequence and then an airplane spin that leads to Colt exclaiming “I’m getting so fucking dizzy”…James gets involved and Cabana tumbles through the ropes to finally put Mason in control of the contest…there’s a dog theme to Mason’s gimmick, but if I’m being honest, I’m not seeing a lot of steak to go with the sizzle thus far…a shoulder into the ring post turns the tide back into Cabana’s favor…it’s hard to describe Colt matches, because while there is a lot of stuff going on, most of it isn’t actual wrestling…Cabana gets the Billy Goat’s Curse (reverse Boston Crab) on, but Becky James gets onto the apron and distracts both Cabana and the referee…and that leads directly into the finish. As I said during the course of the match, Cabana matches make for entertaining experiences, but not a ton on the actual wrestling scale. This was basically Colt playing the hits of the kind of matches he would normally have. Mason could have really been anyone else in the locker room, outside of the shenanigans with the tennis ball (BELOW AVERAGE)




*Semifinal #4: Zach Sabre Jr. vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: Where to begin here? Not that either of these guys need a formal introduction from me, but here goes: Sabre Jr. people will know from the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and a host of other places. I think you can make the argument that Sabre is the best technical wrestler in the world. ‘Party Marty’ as he’s known here has become an international superstar in his own right as the ‘Villain’ Marty Scurll in many of the same places that Sabre Jr. frequents, with the exception of the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, but that was due to Marty being under a NJPW contract at the time of that taping. Back here at this show in March of 2012, these guys were part of a tag team known as the ‘Leaders of the New School’. This is by far my most anticipated of the first round matches.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the fourth and final participant in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Sabre Jr. points out that he ‘chuffing loves arm-bars’ in his pre-match promo. That may be the understatement of the DVD thus far…my intro to Marty Scurll was as ‘Party Marty’ in wXw (Germany), but man is it weird watching a Scurll match in 2018 and not seeing the ‘Villain’…even as early as we are here, you can see the ‘Villain’ in there. Especially with how he works the crowd. One of the most charismatic men in wrestling…noticeable differences for these two with the power game of Scurll and the mat game of Sabre. It’s an easy story to tell…and we have the first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant that would become a staple of the company going forward…despite not being as good as Sabre on the mat, Scurll more then holds his own. It’s easy to forget with the frat boy character he had at the time that Marty could really go…dead lift suplex attempt by Scurll countered into a rolling cross-arm breaker by Sabre. So pretty…Sabre really put the torque on an abdominal stretch variation. Despite being partners, they are definitely not holding back against each other…super high and tight on the Liger Bomb and rolled right into another arm bar variation. Scurll quick to the ropes, but man, did it look vicious…everything is so fluid between these two…and right as I type that, a pretty decent piece of miscommunication going into the double down, but they recover well enough from it…for all the praise he gets for being so technically gifted, Sabre’s kicks either look really good and don’t hurt or are legit stiff as all hell…and there’s the finish. A little surprised by the decision but given where they’d both end up in the company, not a complete surprise. That said, quite far and away the best thing on the card thus far. These two do not hold back, as they lay in the strikes and kicks. Not only that, but the ground game was on point as well. Multiple ‘This is PROGRESS’ chants are well earned here. Early leader in the clubhouse for best match in PROGRESS history. (VERY GOOD, CLOSE TO EXCELLENT)

*BWC (British Wrestling Council) Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Zack ‘Diamond’ Gibson vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen vs. Xander Cooper ©
The Who: I have not a clue who two of the three people in this match are. The names Darrell Allen and Xander Cooper mean nothing to me, as this is the first I’ve heard of both. Zack Gibson I am familiar, though. Zack was the winner of the UKCT 2, giving him a chance to take on Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship on Night 2 of the WWE UKCT2 special. He is no where near ‘Liverpool’s Number One’ here though. Even though he’s a heel (being announced from Liverpool drew boos from the fans, who wouldn’t know good ‘footy’ if it bite them in the ass), he has long hair here, looking nothing like what we would see of him in the WWE.
The Why: Triple threat, one fall to a finish (I think) for the BWC Scarlo Scholarship. Apparently, upon doing a bit of research, this belt was put together as a well to promote talent from the most reputable schools on the British scene.
The Match: Inset promos from all three before the match. As a Liverpool FC fan, I’m immediately biased towards Gibson. Much like I was during the aforementioned UKCT2…commentator mentions that there will be a BWC match on every PROGRESS show going forward. We’ll see how long that lasts…not sure what the hell that was supposed to be, but they managed to save it…‘Man for All Seasons’ is a pretty nice little nickname. Give Cooper credit for that one…seems weird to see a high flyer as a heel, but that’s what Cooper is. Allen is a high flyer as well, but he’s a baby face…sunset bomb out of the corner with a avalanche exploder gets the sixth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant and first of the match…and one of the fans informs Cooper that he sucks a large dick. Keep it classy, lads…this match is falling into that traditional three way troupe of two guys in, one man out. It takes away from the special feeling of a triple threat when there is rarely any interaction between all three…fans are definitely not with Cooper. I believe they are calling him the ‘drizzling shits’…Cooper is relatively fluid in the ring and works the crowd well. Curious if he’s still involved with wrestling…sunset flip/German combo is only the second or third spot since the start of the match to involve all three…Gibson looks surprisingly tall here to me. Wonder if I just didn’t realize it or if the other two are just that small…maybe just me, but Gibson kind of looks like CM Punk during his ROH days here…alright, I’ve never seen that spot before. Very innovative…some very cool looking rollups in the ‘fish out of water’ sequence…Cooper looks like he was going for a hammerlock DDT, but Gibson gets out and eventually into a flying lungblower…fans are turning around on Gibson here. They started booing the crap out of him, but now appear to be behind him. Ring work won them over…this is the match of the enzugiri. At least six of them…Allen botches a 450 splash, landing with his knees right across the chest of Gibson. Don’t think that was supposed to happen…and there’s the finish. For what is essentially a ‘student’s match’, this actually turned out to be pretty good. Nothing great from any of the three, but there are several innovative spots (I watch a ton of wrestling and even I saw some stuff for the first time here) and there is nothing blown to the point that it takes you out of the match. The finish is cheap, but given where the belt ends up, it makes sense that they’d go the way they did here. Color me impressed by all three lads here. (GOOD)




*Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Championship Staff (Not Title): Fatal Four Way Elimination: El Ligero vs. Nathan Cruz vs. ‘Loco’ Mike Mason vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: The four men who were victorious in the qualifying matches earlier in the show. It is at this point that I realize spoilers are inevitable for this contest. My bad, ya’ll. This one’s on me.
The Why: To crown the first ever PROGRESS champion. Seems pretty obvious. It’s an Staff instead of a title. Pretty sure that would end up sticking around for a while if memory serves.
The Match: Smallman getting shitty about the fans calling the PROGRESS Staff a ‘Nazi Staff’ is by far and away the most entertaining that he ever is at commentary. It’s easily the most personality he’s shown, even with the unnecessary shot at Santino Marella thrown in…rolling flip dive over the ring post and to the floor by El Ligero. Impressive…and through the crowd they all go, as fans are already complaining about lack of visibility. It’s like a 1998 WWF pay-per-view main event…and some crowd interaction leads to a double chop on Cruz by Ligero and Scurll…upon thinking about it, definitely would compare Mason more towards Richards then Summers. Not sure if that’s a compliment, though…we’re focused on Ligero and Cruz, but you can clear as day hear Scurll shill his t-shirts and photos (12 and 3 pounds respectively). Ever the worker that Marty is…El Ligero gets the ‘ole’ chants in support. Makes me wonder if he’s any relation to that ‘Generico’ fellow who is now helping orphans down in Mexico…Ligero takes a backdrop out of a piledriver attempt on the stage. The building is a bar with a stage area, similar to the building CHIKARA has run in NYC before…hey, we’ve actually turned into something resembling a real wrestling match now. It only took us ten minutes to get there…why isn’t Mason disqualified for Becky pulling out the referee? If this is elimination, that seems like it would be grounds…shortly thereafter, a distracted Ligero is the first one gone…and then he immediately leads into the elimination of Mason…crowd is solidly behind Scurll here, but that’s no real surprise…Cruz keeps the edge for a bit, but Scurll gets an inverted fireman’s carry into a back cracker to put both men down…you’d think Cruz would have better conditioning here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Scurll looks ready to go still, despite his match earlier being about twice as long as Cruz’s…‘Nazi Staff’ chants again from the crowd as Smallman moans about it on commentary. Still kind of funny, so, curious if it becomes a running theme…Smallman calling out John Cena for a move annoys me though. You are a little fish, Jim. Cena’s a shark…never understood the count the next number thing that crowds do on a double down…the ref bump looked terribly contrived. Just awful…visual fall for Scurll leads to him trying to wake up the referee. A low blow followed by a diamond cutter from Cruz gets two…and there’s the finish one last time on the evening. I think the who makes sense. The how even makes sense as well, as they set up Chapter Two. What I didn’t care for was spending the first ten minutes of this match to be spent brawling all around the small building (attendance was approximately 250) with bad camera angles and a ton of missed moments. Once we got into the ring however, the match itself was well worked and very easily sets up the way for things going forward into the company. Call the main event a success, but with some reservations. (VERY GOOD, OPENING KEEPS FROM EXCELLENT)




RESULTS
Semifinal #1: El Ligero pins Noam Dar with a in-ring rope springboard tornado DDT @ 12:01 (Above Average)
Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz pins Colossus Kennedy with a sliding dropkick to the side of the head @ 10:40 (Average)
Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason pins Colt Cabana with a chain shot to the head @ 10:06 (Below Average)
Semifinal #4: ‘Party’ Marty Scurll pins Zach Sabre Jr. with a deep cradle sunset flip @ 21:44 (Very Good+)
BWC Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Xander Cooper © defeats Darrell Allen and Zack Gibson when he pins Gibson after stealing the pin from Allen @ 13:43 (Good)
Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff: Nathan Cruz wins 4 way elimination match @ 26:04, last pinning ‘Party’ Marty Scurll with a sliding dropkick to side of head (El Ligero eliminated @ 15:16 via sliding dropkick from Cruz. Mike Mason eliminated @ 15:53 via roll-up by Marty Scurll) (Very Good)

FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
NEGATIVES
The biggest issue I feel is the venue itself. It does not translate well to video. Thankfully, it would get better I hear. But as I mentioned at the top of the review, when half the ring is in darkness, that’s a problem.

Another issue that I had is lack of knowledge on competitors. Yes, there were people I knew. Colt Cabana, Zach Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll, Noam Dar and Zack Gibson being the main ones. But of a 11 man roster, that’s less then half that I’ve previously heard of. Granted, the idea was to have PROGRESS focus on the future of British and not be a super Indy. I get that, but a few more big names for the debut at least (like they way they used Cabana) wouldn’t have hurt.

Jim Smallman has done a wonderful job for himself with where PROGRESS has gotten to. The one thing Jim Smallman should not be allowed to do ever again is commentary by himself. He has a few moments here and there, but by and large, the commentary is a major turn off. Unnecessary shots at big name talent, general indifference to what’s going on in the ring and worst of all, not being able to even hear anything Smallman is saying hurts the show from a audio prospective.

POSITIVES
Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. does not disappoint. I raved and raved about it during the review, so I won’t do so again here. The main event is a very strong match once we get past the brawling throughout the arena. Fun for the fans in the crowd? Sure but there were those who were complaining about the lack of visibility. Fun for the guy at home with a Roku remote in his hand? Not so much. The triple threat match for the ‘students’ is actually pretty good as well and a fun story was told by it.

They knew they had to crown a champion and they did so in the very first show. A lot of companies make the mistake of postponing the crowning of a champion and it leads to drops in attendance because you don’t know who the marquee attraction of the promotion is going to be. Here, going into Chapter Two, you have a champion people will pay to see get beaten and a probable challenger that the fans will be willing to pay to see win the title. It’s brilliant marketing.

OVERALL
Overall, a pretty fun little debut for the company that would end up taking British wrestling by storm. PROGRESS would obviously have things that would need to be worked on, as I addressed above. But where does that leave us? Well, it leaves me looking forward to going back to check out Chapter Two. It hopefully leaves you willing to come back and check out the show in question here to see if you agree or disagree with me. It leaves PROGRESS at the start of it’s path to being one of the, if not thee, driving force in the resurrection of the British Indy wrestling scene. Finally, it also leaves me needing something to eat. It’s been a long review.

THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Without a doubt, it’s a match and it’ll be the Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. match. Honorably mention to ‘Nazi Staff’ chant which drew a legit chuckle.
Worst match/moment: Moment here and it’s the setup. The lighting and the design of the arena was just awful. Made especially difficult with the opening to the main event.
MVP: I’m going to ‘Party’ Marty Scurll here. Despite the fact that he doesn’t walk out with the title, he stands out as the clear #1 guy for the company going forward. In addition, he was involved in both of the best matches on the show.
FINAL SCORE: 6.5/10

Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter Two.






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