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 Championships: NWA 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
Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!
Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?
ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!
What I Watched #16
ECW Guilty as Charged 1999
Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL
Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)
Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)
- Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
- Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
- Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
- Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
- Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
- Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
- Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15
Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)
Super Crazy vs. Tajiri
Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)
John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent
So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)
Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley
Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…
The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)
TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm
Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.
The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)
Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer
The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of.
As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)
Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz
So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent.
The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)
THE FINAL REACTION
- Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
- Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
- Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
- MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.
It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.
So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.
What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018
Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!
Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.
I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.
What I Watched #10-B
ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018
Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL
Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)
Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)
- Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
- Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
- Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
- Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
- Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
- Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
- Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
- Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
- Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
- Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
- Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44
Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)
*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)
Over the Budget Battle Royal
*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross
*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)
Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)
*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)
Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)
NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)
*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)
‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela
*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)
ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon
*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)
Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)
Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio
*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)
THE FINAL REACTION
There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.
Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.
Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.
Overall Show Score: 8.5/10
MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.
And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.
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(NOAH) NOAH NEWSLETTER VOL.192 ~ 30TH NOVEMBER 2022
NOAH ends November with some big announcements! Returns, new debuts and surprising challenges!
DWI Podcast #351: How Silky Are You
This week we discuss War Games and Roman's hatred for red pants!
Mitchell’s NJPW WTL X Super Jr. Tag Results & Report! (12/2/22)
Another MASSIVE combined card!
Mitchell’s AEW Rampage Results & Report! (12/2/22)
Orange Cassidy is on a Rampage!
Mitchell’s WWE SmackDown Results & Report! (12/2/22)
The SmackDown World Cup finals are here!