The war between NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair and Terry Funk heats up at The Great American Bash 1989! The WWF ‘s grasp of the mainstream attention remains, where WCW continues quietly bringing in foreign and young talent alike, while keeping themselves going with legends like Flair and the Funker. Turner’s organization has yet to get too silly, which we’ll see in the coming years, but this card has a load of names so let’s get to it!
Match #1 is a Two-Ring King Of The Hill Battle Royal: ‘Hot Stuff’ Eddie Gilbert, Terry Gordy, Scott Hall, ‘Wild’ Bill Irwin, ‘Flyin’ Brian Pillman, Ranger Ross, Sid Vicious, Mike Rotunda, Ron Simmons, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Dan Spivey, ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams & ‘Gamesmaster’ Kevin Sullivan
RULES: All participants begin in ring #1. You may only eliminate your opponent in this round by throwing them over the top rope and into ring 2. This ring becomes a traditional battle royal in which any top rope is in play for elimination. The winners of ring 1 and ring 2 will have a match for $50,000. Sid Vicious and Brian Pillman are the final remaining participants in ring #1. The out-sized Pillman attempts a cross body, but Vicious ducks and Flyin’ Brian leaps over the top rope. Sid is the winner of ring #1.
Dan Spivey, Steve Williams and Mike Rotunda are the final participants in ring #2. Williams is fired up and wants to take on both heels. He whips Rotunda to the ropes for a power slam. Williams pulls his opponent up and Rotunda reverses a 2nd whip to the ropes. He tries to clothesline Williams over but misses and tumbles to the floor and is eliminated. Spivey wastes no time to capitalize on Williams, but Dr. Death reverses his Irish whip and hits him with a clothesline. Williams can’t seem to knock the big man over the top rope though.
There is a shoulder tackle from Williams, but on his 2nd attempt he is tripped by Rotunda who is standing on the floor. When Williams gets up, he’s distracted by Rotunda and is hit from behind. Steve Williams is eliminated and Dan Spivey wins ring #2. Outside of the ring, Teddy Long comes down with a microphone in hand explaining that he’s not stupid enough to let his tag-team partners fight. They will split the $50,000
Winners: Sid Vicious & Dan Spivey
- EA’s Take: So this is a pretty unusual way to start the show, seeing as only a couple of guys in this match aren’t pulling double-duty tonight. It featured a cluster of eliminations in a quick timeframe, but hey, a hearty welcome to a steroid-bound, mustachioed version of Scott Hall! This was also the pay-per-view debut for Pillman, Simmons and Scott Steiner (in-ring).
Match #2: ‘Flyin’ Brian Pillman vs. ‘Wild’ Bill Irwin
Irwin wastes no time in attacking Pillman into the corner. He sends him with an Irish whip to the opposite corner, but Pillman uses the turnbuckle and leaps over his head. Pillman delivers a hip toss and follows it with a drop kick. He grabs Irwin with a side headlock and uses the turnbuckles for momentum to whip his opponent down to the mat. Irwin tries to reverse and roll him over for a pin, but Pillman hangs on to the lock and gets him back into position. The two men work to their feet and power to the corner.
Irwin delivers a few forearm shots. He whips Pillman to the opposite corner, but again Pillman lifts himself up from the middle turnbuckle and catches Irwin’s head. Irwin is flung out of the ring to the floor with a head scissor take down. When Irwin tries to stand up, he is hit by Pillman’s baseball slide. Irwin returns to the ring, and Pillman executes a few hip tosses and keeps him down on the mat with an arm bar submission. They work back to their feet, they run the ropes but it’s Irwin who regains control with a hiptoss. He tries to follow it with an elbow but Pillman moves.
Pillman is back to his feet and uses an arm drag and another arm bar submission. Irwin works his way back up once again and breaks the hold. They run the ropes, but he is hit by Pillman’s cross body tackle and it’s followed by another armdrag/armbar combo. Once the hold is broken, they run again. Pillman leaps over Irwin the first time but is caught by a side slam the second. Irwin follows it up with a vertical suplex and he taunts Pillman. Irwin throws Pillman through the middle rope taunting his desire to “fly”. Back to the apron for Pillman, and he’s met with Irwin’s forearm.
Irwin continues to bully Pillman. He slams Pillman into the turnbuckle, and follows it with a snapmare take down and into a reverse chin lock. The crowd begins clapping for Pillman who is struggling while trapped in the chin lock. Pillman works to his feet, but Pillman delivers shots to the side. Pillman comes back with shots of his own, but the momentum is stopped when he’s kicked on an attempted back body drop. Irwin delivers a vicious clothesline and gets a near fall.
He ties Pillman up on the middle rope, and Irwin lands a massive knee to his back. Irwin chokes Pillman on the rope until the referee gets him off. Pillman is once again thrown through the middle rope and Irwin continues to vocalize. Pillman comes back into the ring, dazed, and Irwin puts him right across the middle rope again. Irwin attempts another running knee to Pillman’s back but Pillman moves and Irwin bounces off the rope. Flyin’ Brian lands two drop kicks, and he whips Irwin to the ropes for a flying clothes line and a big splash.
Pillman covers for 2. Pillman chops Irwin to the mat and heads for the top rope. He misses a flying drop kick and lands on his back. Irwin stomps Pillman’s head and pulls him back to his feet. Side salto suplex by Irwin who only gets a two count. He pulls Pillman back up and throws him from ring #1 to ring #2. The referee stops Irwin from following him and Irwin begins to argue. Pillman gets up on the top rope of ring #2 and lands a flying cross body into ring #1 which is good enough for the pin.
Winner: ‘Flyin’ Brian Pillman (Top Rope Crossbody)
- Off The Top: Here’s a great example of how WCW is upping the athleticism and youth on its roster, as Pillman really shines here. Coming out of Stampede Wrestling and a product of the famous Hart Family, this former Cincinnati Bengal brought something to WCW that we’ve really only seen out of Muta to this point. ‘Flyin’ Brian will always be remembered for his ‘Loose Cannon’ persona much later on, bu this version of Pillman was a pioneer. His “Goon” of an opponent is the veteran from Mid-South and WCCW, Bill Irwin, who only saw his real success in those promotions. If you didn’t get my Goon reference, spoiler alert; he ends up being The Goon.
Backstage: Paul E. Dangerously explains that he saw Jim Cornette fall off the scaffold in 1986 and he plans to target the knee.
Match #3: The Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Dan Spivey) w/Teddy Long vs. The Dynamic Dudes (Johnny Ace & Shane Douglas)
Spivey and Ace start the match. They lock up and Spivey takes several shots to the midsection. Johnny Ace hits him with a dropkick off the ropes, but Spivey is unaffected. Spivey delivers huge forearm shots and follows it with a clothesline. Ace tries to run at him, but he’s powered down by Spivey’s shoulder block. Ace is back to his feet, and he baseball slides under Spivey. Douglas comes into the ring untagged and they hit Spivey with a double drop kick. This is followed by a double Irish whip and a double monkey flip.
Douglas whips his partner into Spivey, but when he himself runs at him for a clothesline he is knocked down by Spivey’s big boot. Douglas ducks a clothesline when he is whipped to the rope. He spins over Spivey’s back while Ace heads for the top rope. Johnny hits a cross body as Douglas trips him from behind. The Dudes get a 1 count. They slow it down, and it’s still Ace and Spivey. They lock up, Spivey delivers straight lefts, Irish whips him to the corner and hits a clothesline. Vicious is tagged in and he delivers a double axe handle before a huge chop. Ace can’t fight back and Spivey is tagged back in.
Another huge clothesline delivered to Ace followed by a body slam. Ace moves on Spivey’s elbow and Douglas is tagged in. Douglas tries his best to go on the offense, but they run the ropes and he is caught with a side slam. The crowd chants “We Want Sid!”. Spivey lifts Douglas up for a powerbomb. Douglas is pulled back up, whipped to the ropes and is knocked out of the ring with a big boot. Teddy Long takes some liberties. Douglas is hit with a vertical suplex to re-enter the ring. Spivey gets a 2 count and Sid is tagged back in. The crowd pops for him.
Vicious delivers a big clothesline and soaks up the fans’ cheering. He chokes Douglas into the corner and knocks him down with an Irish whip. Vicious holds Douglas down on the mat, squeezing his lower back. He tags Spivey back in and the crowd boos. Side slam by the big Dan Spivey. Douglas attempts a cross body but he’s caught and put into a back breaker. Spivey goes to the top rope but misses a diving head but. Douglas escapes Spivey and a tag is made to Ace who goes to work with kicks to the midsection.
Johnny hits a flying clothesline from the top. He goes for the pin, but Vicious breaks it up. Douglas attacks Vicious, but Sid rakes the eyes and tosses him out to the apron. The Skyscrapers stand in opposite corners as Ace gets up to his feet slowly. They go for a double clothesline, but Ace ducks and the big men hit each other. The Dudes double drop kick Vicious and hit Spivey with a double hip toss. The ref demands Douglas leave the ring and while he’s distracted, Vicious pulls Ace to the mat hair first when he is set up for Spivey’s powerbomb. The ref turns back around and Spivey goes for another powerbomb. It’s very sloppy but it’s enough for the win.
Winners: The Skyscrapers (Spivey/Powerbomb)
- EA’s Take: It’s still really early in his career, but the crowd was infatuated with Sid, likely for his unique size and look. He looked like a monster, but he wasn’t really involved much in the match and it seemed to disappoint the crowd. Unfortunately, he was only two years into the business after a chance encounter with Randy Savage and Lanny Poffo, so he was probably being protected here, which was the whole point of putting The Skyscrapers together.
Backstage: Jim Cornette explains that he doesn’t care if Dangerously breaks his leg, he’ll crawl and keep fighting. He accuses Dangerously of stealing all the tricks of his trade.
Match #4 is a Tuxedo Match: Paul E. Dangerously vs. Jim Cornette
Enormous pop for Jim Cornette’s entrance – better than any wrestler so far in the show. Cornette clocks Dangerously in the face and rips off his coat. Dangerously throws a powder substance in Cornette’s face and uses his phone to beat Jim’s knee. Cornette has lost his jacket. Paul E. with a right hand and delivers stomps to the bad knee. Paul E. wraps Cornette’s leg around the middle rope to apply more pressure before Cornette slaps him off. Paul E. uses his cumber bun to choke Cornette.
Jimmy delivers a low blow to break it up. He chokes Dangerously with his own cumber bun. Paul E. breaks it up in the corner. Cornette tries a kick as he’s struggling to stand and Paul E. spits in his direction. Cornette rolls out to the floor and Dangerously continues to strike the knee. Cornette is rammed shoulder first into the post and Dangerously rolls into the ring and taunts confidently. Cornette rolls back into the ring, but Paul E. slaps him down to the mat. Paul E goes for an elbow but Cornette rolls out of the way.
Paul E uses straight rights to Cornette, but Jim gets a burst of adrenaline and turns the momentum on him. Dangerously is pounded down to the mat with a series of right hands and he strips Dangerously of his shirt. Dangerously is whipped into the ropes, and the two men collide in a ridiculous shoulder tackle attempt. Dangerously appears to get more powder in his hand to throw at Cornette. Instead Jim kicks his hand and the plan backfires. Cornette rips off the pants and Dangerously sprints back to the locker room.
Winner: Jim Cornette
- EA’s Take: I know Bra & Panties matches were popular during the Attitude Era, but the concept of two un-athletic dudes ripping each other’s clothes off is a strange draw in my book! Especially when Bob Caudle is saying things like, “OK, let’s see some clothes come off!”. Whatever melts your butter, Bob.
Backstage: Gary Hart is backstage explaining that the Great Muta isn’t doing an interview so he is not distracted. He reminds Sting that Muta is undefeated.
Match #5 is a Texas Tornado Match: The Varsity Club (Mike Rotunda & ‘Gamesmaster’ Kevin Sullivan) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) w/Missy Hyatt
The teams waste no time to get the action rolling. Rick and Sullivan head for the floor while Scott hits a back body drop and clothesline. Rick is hit with a chair but it doesn’t effect him. He turns the table and hits Sullivan with it. The two continue to trade blows and Rick is hit with an atomic drop on the gate. Rick and Sullivan bash each other with a table while Rotunda gets a nearfall in the ring. Rick and Sullivan continue their back and forth shots while Scott has turned the momentum.
Scott with 10 punches to the head of Rotunda before launching him across the ring with a hip toss. Rick is rolled back in the ring as Scott is tossed to the floor. The Varsity Club take advantage of the 2:1 with a clothesline to Rick. Rotunda holds Rick for Sullivan but Scott is back in the ring so Rotunda redirects his attention. Sullivan hits Steiner with a clothesline off the middle turn buckle while Scott reverses Rotunda’s attempt to run his head into the far turnbuckle. Rick fights back against Sullivan and hits him with a belly to belly suplex. At the same time, Scott lifts Rotunda up and hangs him upside down at the far turnbuckle and delivers kicks to the midsection.
Rick hits Sullivan with a power slam and manages a 2 count. On the other side of the ring, Scott rolls Rotunda up into a small package and he also gets 2. Rick stands on the middle turnbuckle to deliver rights to Sullivan but he’s tossed over the top rope. Rotunda has also turned momentum and hits Scott with a snap suplex. Sullivan stomps Rick’s face from the apron while Rotunda holds Scott in place until he and Sullivan can deliver a double clothesline. The Club gets a 2 count. Sullivan attempts a back body drop which Rick tries to reverse into a sunset flip. When he can’t Rick uses his head for a low blow.
Rick hits Sullivan with a Steiner-line but Rotunda ties him up after. Scott Steiner sneaks behind Rotunda for a small package and a 2 count. Rick Steiner is tossed through the middle ropes by Sullivan. The Varsity Club hits Scott with a double back body drop. Rick Steiner rolls back into the ring with a chair but Sullivan steals it and hits him on the head with it while Rotunda tosses Scott out of the ring. The Club whip Rick to the ropes for a double clothes line. Rick ducks and Scott is on the apron and he pulls down the rope.
Rotunda tumbles over the top rope but Sullivan hits Rick with a clothesline on the way back. Sullivan pulls up Rick for a body slam, but Scott is on the top rope and he lands a crossbody. With both Steiners on top of him, Sullivan can’t kick out.
Winners: The Steiner Brothers (Scott/Top Rope Crossbody)
- EA’s Take: It was pretty cool to see the start of one of the greatest tag teams to ever step into the ring, The Steiners. Scotty had been working previously, but only was in his 4th year as a pro by the time he hit WCW, starting off in some singles matches before pairing up with Rick. You could see early on, despite the fact that he did a lot of work with a guy who could help him along (Rotunda), Scott had a lot of potential.
Match #6 for the NWA World Television Championship: NWA World Television Champion Sting w/’Hot Stuff’ Eddie Gilbert vs. The Great Muta w/Gary Hart
The two men are in opposite rings and Sting does a flying plancha from ring 1 into ring 2. Stings rolls out to the floor to enter ring 1, where their match is supposed to take place. While he does this, Muta heads for the top rope to greet him with a judo chop. Another chop from Muta and he whips Sting to the turnbuckle and delivers a power elbow. A backbreaker from Muta, but Sting moves on the follow up moonsault. Muta misses a spinning kick, but hits Sting with his follow up kicks and Sting tumbles to the floor.
A flying crossbody over the top rope to Sting by Muta. Sting gets back up to the apron and meets Muta with a kick to the midsection and a clothesline. Sting goes for the top rope, lands a flying clothesline and gets a 2 count. Sting delivers a standing drop kick and Muta rolls out to the floor. Sting leaps over the top rope to the floor, but Muta isn’t there and Sting lands on his feet. Some rights from Sting before Muta rolls back into the ring. A body slam from Sting but he can only get a 1 count. Muta reverses a vertical suplex and applies an oriental sleeper hold on Sting.
Sting works out of it, but he’s still caught in a reverse chin lock. Sting gets to the ropes, but Muta stays right on him. Sting reverses a whip to the ropes and hits Muta with a military press. The Great Muta moves on Sting’s elbow attempt. Instead, Muta lands one of his own and he goes into a seated reverse chin lock with his knee on Sting’s spine. Sting strengths his way to his feet but Muta moves the hold into an abdominal stretch. Eddie Gilbert tells the ref that Muta is using the ropes for leverage. Muta rolls him down to the mat and gets a 2 count.
Muta hits an elbow to Sting’s neck and dumps him to the floor but the Stinger is immediately back into the ring ready to fight. Muta slows the momentum by getting his fingers in Sting’s eyes. Kicks to the midsection by Muta He attempts another Irish whip/elbow combination but Sting moves. Sting with tons of energy hits a series of clotheslines and completes it with a bulldog. Another standing dropkick by Sting and Muta rolls to the outside temporarily. They run the ropes. Muta attempts to spray his red substance into Sting’s face.
Sting ducks and it instead hits referee Nick Patrick. Sting grabs Muta, but Muta moves on the Stinger Splash. Snapmare take down by Muta who lands his moonsault. Referee Tommy Young is down to replace Patrick, but the delay results in only a 2 count. Sting ducks a kick and catches Muta in belly to back suplex. Sting gets the 3 count and ends Muta’s undefeated streak. Gary Hart is questioning whether or not Sting had his shoulders down as well. The referees consult and Hart gives Muta the belt. The two head back to the locker room with it as the confused crowd chants “Bullshit”.
Winner and STILL NWA World Television Champion: Sting (Bridging Back Suplex)
- EA’s Take: Don’t mind my Sting bias, but this was really a great match. The Stinger is clearly a big part of the company’s future, but they really did him a disservice in the last two pay-per-views. This was a nice change after the previous 6 minute match with Butch Reed (which I swear featured 3 minutes of reverse chin locks) and the 2 minute match with The Iron Sheik. This was a nice showcase for the young Sting, who got to show he could go with someone other than Flair. The highly skilled Muta posed a different kind of challenge that fans here in the States had yet to see Sting face.
Backstage: Lex Luger demands that this match not be no DQ, or there won’t be a match.
Match #7 is No Disqualification for the NWA United States Championship: NWA United States Champion Lex Luger vs. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat
The ring announcer verifies that this is a no-DQ match. Luger protests and demands Steamboat waive it or he will not get a chance at the belt, giving him 30 seconds. Steamboat obliges reluctantly. The two tie up aggressively and Luger shoves him off twice. The third tie up and Luger tries to take a cheap shot. Steamboat ducks the attempt and rolls up Luger for a 1 count. Back to their feet, they run the ropes Steamboat reverses a back body drop with an inside cradle. Steamboat hits Luger with 2 drop kicks and follows it up with some vicious chops.
Irish whip to the corner and Steamboat lands a back body drop. He chops Luger to the ground and Lex tries to escape to the floor. Steamboat gives chase and continues his chops and hits Luger with an atomic drop. Back on the apron, Luger slows the momentum with a knee with the midsection. Luger kicks Steamboat back out to the floor, follows him and delivers an axe handle followed by a clothesline. Steamboat fights back as they circle the ring. Steamboat hits Luger’s head off the commissioner’s table and rolls Lex back in. Steamboat attempts to come off the top, but Luger punches him in the stomach. Luger follows it with a side back breaker.
The Total Package works over Steamboats back with big fists. Luger with straight rights to Steamboat’s face before throwing him over with a military press. Luger continues to work on the back, this time with knees. Lateral press by Luger but he can only get 2. Luger argues with the referee, and Steamboat rolls him over for a surprise pin. Luger comes back with a few tough clotheslines and Steamboat fights to stay up but cannot. Luger pursues Steamboat and hot shots him off the top rope. Steamboat tries fight back with more chops. Referee Tommy Young stops Steamboat’s hand when Luger hits the corner and the Package takes a cheapshot while he’s tied up.
Powerslam by Luger and he gets a 2 count. Steamboat ducks Luger’s clothesline and delivers a cross body but cannot get 3. Luger lifts Steamboat for an inverted atomic drop and then taunts the first row of fans. Steamboat reverses an attempted back body drop with a swinging neck breaker. Steamboat lifts Luger up, but Lex lands on his feet behind him. He runs at Steamboat who hits the mat and Luger tumbles over the top rope to the floor. Back on the apron, Steamboat delivers straight rights to a frazzled Luger.
Steamboat pounds Luger’s chest. He attempts to lift Luger back into the ring with a power slam but Luger falls on top of him and gets a count of 2 and a half. Irish Whip by Luger but Steamboat jumps to the middle rope. He leapfrogs over Luger, but Lex gets his boot up to prevent Steamboat from attacking. Luger heads for the top rope, but Steamboat is up to his feet and delivers a military press. Luger works his way to his feet and Steamboat lands a big chop from the top rope. He covers him and gets a near fall. Luger pulls himself up.
Steamboat goes in for a clothesline but instead Luger hits a back body drop from ring 2 into ring 1. Luger follows him into ring 1, but he goes to the floor and finds a chair. The referee tries to stop him but can’t and he’s thrown out of the way. Steamboat grabs Luger by the legs and whips him into the turnbuckle which uses the chair against him. Referee Tommy Young comes back seeing Steamboat attempting to use the chair on Luger and demands that he doesn’t. Steamboat lightly shoves him out of the way which earns him a DQ.
Winner and STILL NWA United States Champion: Lex Luger (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: To the fans’ delight, Steamboat attacks Luger with the chair, eventually chasing him all the way up the entryway.
- EA’s Take: There was no way the match wasn’t going to end in a DQ after a big stink was made about it by Luger, so the obviousness of the finish hurt a little. This means no matter what, Luger was keeping the belt. I was incorrect on how I thought it would play out, as I just thought Luger would do something cheap, Steamboat would win and that’s how he’d keep it. It was surprising to see Steamboat, who is carrying the squeaky clean image, be the one who not only earned the DQ, but aggressively pursued Luger after. It did really pop the people though!
Match #8 is the War Games: The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal), The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane) & ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams w/Paul Ellering & Jim Cornette vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin, Michael ‘P.S.’ Hayes & Terry Gordy) & The Samoan Swat Team (Samu & Fatu) w/Paul E. Dangerously
Jimmy Garvin and Bobby Eaton will start the preliminary 5 minute round. The two lock up and exchange rights. In the corner, Garvin delivers knees, but Eaton fights back. They exchange Irish whips and Eaton hits a neckbreaker. He misses an elbow drop and Garvin takes over. Body slam by Garvin. The two run the ropes and Eaton catches him with an atomic drop. More back and forth offense before Garvin tosses Eaton face first into the cage. Terry Gordy pulls on Eaton’s hair from outside of the cage while Garvin stomps.
On their feet, Eaton reverses an attempt to hit his head on the turn buckle. He slaps Garvin and delivers a snap mare. He throws Garvin to the ropes but Jimmy outstrengths him on the shoulder tackle. Garvin holds Eaton on the rope in a reverse chin lock while Michael Hayes taunts him from the outside. Garvin hammers Eaton’s head. Eaton rakes the eyes and delivers a backbreaker on Garvin. A couple rights from Eaton and another back breaker. Eaton has the upper hand with a body slam as Garvin’s team is about to send another member in. Eaton locks in a Boston Crab and the bell rings.
Terry Gordy rushes the ring and takes Eaton down with a right. Gordy throws Eaton into the cage and the teammates take advantage of the double team. Eaton is completely incapacitated and is on the receiving end of a double elbow. The two Freebirds just mercilessly punch and stomp Eaton down on the mat. Garvin holds Eaton upright but Bobby ducks a punch and Jimmy is clocked. The 2 on 1 is too much though and Eaton is again double teamed into the cage. The bell rings and Steve Williams enters and heads right up the turnbuckles. He’s met quickly by the Freebirds. They brawl before Williams clotheslines both of them.
Gordy and Williams enter the other ring and Williams does reps with him in a military press. Garvin chokes Eaton between the rings and Gordy hits Williams with a clothesline. Eaton and Gordy exchange rights and Williams comes back with a clothesline of his own on Gordy. The clock counts down and Samu is the next to enter the ring. He immediately goes after Williams with an impressive karate kick. His teammates join in on the stomping. Samu and Gordy take turns elbowing Williams on the back as Garvin rips at Eaton’s face. A head butt from Samu on Eaton who is being held by Garvin. A double snap suplex is delivered on Williams as time is running down.
Animal is the next to enter the ring. The crowd is loving it and he immedaitely goes after Samu. He tosses Samu out of the ring and delivers two clotheslines to Gordy. Animal follows Samu into ring #2 and he delivers a series of rights. He throws Samu back into the other ring and follows him with a diving shoulder tackle. Eaton helps Animal deliver a vicious clothesline on Garvin. He does the same for Williams’ sake. Michael Hayes is outside of the ring instructing Fatu to “kill” when he gets in there. Animal holds Samu for Eaton and vice versa. The clock counts down and here comes Fatu.
He goes right after Animal and both Samoans head butt him in the corner. The Samoans double clothesline animal and stretch his hamstrings on the mat. Animal is getting stomped on the mat and the crowd is screaming for Hawk. Gordy holds Williams in a choke over the ropes, but Williams reverses it into a side slam. Garvin rakes at Eaton’s face, but Eaton fights back with punches to the kidneys and a head butt. The clock is counting and here comes Stan Lane. Lane comes in on fire, and slams all 4 of his opponents head first into the cage. This helps his teammates get the upper hand and the 8 men brawl. Michael Hayes realizes he has to go next and he sounds disappointed. Williams and Animal take turns with clotheslines on Fatu. Eaton uses the cage to swing and take a kick at Gordy.
The Samoans gang up on Animal until Eaton breaks it up. The countdown is on and Michael Hayes enters the ring. Hayes goes around and lands his DDT on several of his worn down opponents. He goes to the other ring to strut. He taunts Hawk before stomping on Animal more. The crowd chants “We Want Hawk!”. A few wide shots as the team of heels is in control. Stan Lane is able to reverse Hayes’ momentum with a spinning kick to the mid section and follows it by bashing his head off the turn buckle. Terry Gordy snaps Williams’ head back with a clothesline.
The countdown is on and here comes Hawk. He goes right to the top turn buckle and double clotheslines the Samoans. He hits a clothesline on Michael Hayes and heads for the other ring. He beats on Terry Gordy on the ropes, whips him to the opposite rope and Williams helps Hawk lay him out. He lifts Garvin over his head and hot shots him on the top turn buckle. In the other ring, Eaton hits a DDT on Michael Hayes. He follows it with a DDT on Samu. Hawk dives into the opposite ring with a shoulder block.
Eaton drives Hayes head first into the cage. Samu tries to get Dangerously’s phone but it won’t fit through the cage. Action happening all over with the babyface team in control. Michael Hayes is thrown into the cage again by Eaton while Hawk works on Garvin in the corner. Animal is alone in the ring with Gordy until Hawk joins him and they call for the Doomsday Device. Jimmy Garvin rushes over to break it up. Instead, Hawk hits Garvin with a flying clothesline. Animal hits shots on Gordy and the two work over and into ring 2. Hawk delivers a neck breaker on Garvin and then puts him in the hangman’s neck breaker. Garvin can’t take it and he gives up.
Winners: The Road Warriors, The Midnight Express & ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams (Hawk/Hangman’s Neckbreaker)
- EA’s Take: I know I’m not alone in saying that the War Games concept might be the coolest thing NWA/WCW ever did and I always found myself enjoying them, no matter how much of a Gong Show they could turn out to be. The people are really clamoring for Hawk here, which is why I think he could have been a big star on his own had he A: wanted to be and B: had his head on straight. A lot of great foils here as well, one who really stood out to me was Terry Gordy.
Backstage: Ric Flair gives an uncharacteristically quiet interview and they discuss the condition of his neck. Funk injured Flair’s neck and they discuss the fact that he hasn’t even had a warm up match before going back out there. Flair says he requested matches, but they were not granted. Nonetheless, he feels ready.
Match #9 for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: NWA World Heavyweight Champion ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk w/Gary Hart
Funk and Flair start by brawling on the outside. Flair gets the upper-hand and struts in the ring. Funk is frustrated and he pulls at the railing. Funk is distracted by a fan and Flair jumps off the apron with an axe handle. Back into the ring for Flair as Funk whips a chair in the ring. Flair backs the ref off and the two men finally tie up in the ring. Funk takes control with physical chops, but Flair returns the favor and chops him over the top rope and to the Flair. The champ delivers another axehandle from the apron. Funk lures him in and runs Flair into the ring post.
Funk is up on the apron kicking Flair in the face. Flair holds onto Funk’s foot; Funk punches him off. Funk is in the ring, and Flair is on the apron. Funk slaps Flair’s around before delivering a vertical suplex back into the ring. There is a 2 count. Funk cannot get Flair up for a follow up suplex. He holds Flair temporarily in a front face lock, but Flair rolls out to the floor. Back to the apron for Flair, and Funk delivers shots to the back of the neck. Flair fights back and sets up for a suplex to the floor. He gets Funk over but it’s sloppy.
The two exchange hard chops on the outside. Funk tries to roll back into the ring but Flair doesn’t let him. More chops before Funk rakes the eyes of Flair. They rolls back into the ring. Funk sets up for a DDT, but Flair lifts him for a back body drop outside of the ring. Flair gives chase and delivers a snapmare take down on the outside. Flair works over the neck of Terry Funk as Gary Hart looks on. They roll back into the ring and Flair is relentless on Funk’s neck. He drops a big knee on the back of Funk’s neck twice. Flair rolls him over for a lateral press but he can only get 2.
Flair lifts Funk and delivers a pile driver of his own. The crowd cheers as Flair does it again. Terry Funk falls backward out of the ring and crawls down the entry way. Flair gives chase and twists Funk’s neck once again. Flair rolls Funk back into the ring and slaps him in the face. Funk tries to fight back but the Nature Boy delivers a huge forearm. A belly to back suplex from the champ and he looks for the figure four. Flair locks it in. Gary Hart throws a branding iron into the ring and then gets the refs attention.
The ref doesn’t see the foreign object and Funk breaks the hold with its use. Flair is reeling and bleeding. Funk delivers a series a lefts to Flair’s head and sets up for a pile driver. He executes it and goes for the pin but Flair’s foot is on the rope. Funk goes to the floor and lifts the pad to expose the concrete. Funk unrolls the tape from his wrist and chokes Flair on the apron. He shoves Tommy Young away from him and sets up for the pile driver on the concrete. Flair reverses it into a back body drop. They’re both slow to get up and Funk is the first to return to the offense.
They roll back into the ring and Funk swings Flair over for several neck breakers. Funk yells for Flair to “SAY IT”. Funk pulls Flair up to his knees and hits him with more lefts. At the turnbuckle, Funk tries to use the branding iron again but Flair grabs it and hammers it on his head. Funk tumbles out to the floor and Flair slowly gives chase. Funk is rammed face first into the post before Flair pulls him back into the ring. Flair gets up on the middle turnbuckle to deliver a ton of rights and now Funk is bleeding. Funk falls backwards onto the mat and Flair stays on him.
More rights and elbows from the champ. Flair tries a big knee in the corner but Funk moves. Funk moves in for his spinning toe hold. Flair reverses it and pulls Funk down to the mat for the figure four. Funk reverses that maneuver into an inside cradle, but Flair pulls another reversal and pins Funk with an inside cradle of his own.
Winner and STILL NWA World Heavyweight Champion: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair (Inside Cradle)
- After The Bell: The Great Muta runs into the ring and blinds Flair with a spray to the eyes. Muta attacks Flair and holds him for Funk. Funk goes for a pile driver on a chair and it’s temporarily broken up by Doug Dellinger. Sting rushes the ring to save Flair. They attempt to double team Sting, but Flair is back to his feet and they each choose a dance partner. Sting and Flair clear the ring. It seems like it’s over but Funk and Muta throw a chair into the ring and the 4 brawl in the entryway. Jim Ross attempts to give final thoughts but they’re not done yet, brawling behind them. Flair has the branding iron and Muta takes a beating with it.
- EA’s Take: This sort of match makes you realize that Flair was quite adaptable. Terry Funk is a hardcore legend and this featured a lot of unconventional brawling, but Flair stood toe-to-toe. The Muta run-in was confusing at first, but when Sting got involved, the 4-man brawl made for a particularly fun ending to the show. Plus, Funk and Flair are just getting started and will continue battling into the late-fall.
EA’s Finisher: As we get closer to wrapping up 1989, this may be the promotion’s best show yet. The production quality was SO much better (thanks Billionaire Ted!), there really wasn’t a dull match and they did some unconventional things not yet seen in what was a seemingly more conservative company. I did take notice that Ricky Steamboat was the only babyface to lose (you could argue that the Dynamic Dudes also qualify, but the crowd was loudest for Sid in that match and gave a satisfied pop when the Skyscrapers won). WWF continues to have the larger-than-life characters, but it does seem that the better ring work still resides in WCW/NWA.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Sting vs. The Great Muta
2 – Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk
3 – The Steiners vs. The Varsity Club
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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