Open: Earlier in the day, The Lex Express finally reached it’s destination to a crowd of fans. Tonight, Lex Luger looks to regain the WWF Championship for America.
Match #1: ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase vs. Razor Ramon
DiBiase strikes before the bell while Razor’s handing off his jewelry, the bell rings and MDM continues to hammer away with boots and now chops in the corner. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Ramon elevates him with a back body drop, throws The MDM across the ring with a fallaway slam, then scores with a stiff right hand, DiBiase rolling to the outside to take a breather. He climbs back inside, collar & elbow tie-up, Razor backs MDM to the corner, DiBiase switches out and buries rights to the breadbasket.
Irish whip across is reversed, The Bad Guy levels DiBiase off the rebound with a clothesline, delivers another, then a third that sends him over the top rope to the floor. The MDM staggers to his feet and pulls himself up to the apron, Ramon flips him back into the squared circle and DiBiase tries to beg him off, baiting him in to pull Razor into the middle turnbuckle face-first. Million Dollar Man now taking control by choking Razor on the top rope, flings him down to the mat and again grabs him by the throat. He shoots Ramon to the ropes for a back elbow, cracks him with a backbreaker, hooks the leg and only gets a count of 2.
The MDM sends him back to the ropes for a clothesline that gets another 2, picks him up only to snapmare The Bad Guy back down and grabs a rear chinlock. Ramon starts to fade away, the referee checks the arms, Razor holds them up on the third attempt and battles back to his feet, hits the ropes, but MDM buries a knee to the midsection, He plants Razor with a neckbreaker, hits a vertical suplex, calls for the Million Dollar Dream, but The Bad Guy staves it off with an elbow to the gut. He can’t build off of it and gets clobbered across the back, DiBiase shoots him to the ropes, Ramon reverses and flattens The MDM with a clothesline, both guys struggling to their feet.
MDM strikes first by driving Razor’s head into the top turnbuckle, The Bad Guy spills to the outside, the ref starts the 10 count and DiBiase exposes one of the turnbuckles. Ramon rolls back in, The MDM meets him with boots, attempts to ram him into the exposed turnbuckle, but Razor turns the tables and introduces DiBiase instead. He lifts The MDM up and drives him down with the Razor’s Edge, hooks the leg and gets the win.
Winner: Razor Ramon (Razor’s Edge)
- EA’s Take: Crowd is pretty hot for this opening match, Razor’s character had finally turned that babyface corner and he was incredibly over. Although you could make a case that The Four Horsemen started it, Razor Ramon was one of the first wrestling heels that was so cool, he became loved, which really was prevalent back at WrestleMania IX when the people were 100% behind him against Bob Backlund. This was his first PPV match after “seeing the light” as they say, DiBiase was really the perfect opponent to help solidify Ramon as a good guy. Money Inc. had been poking fun at Razor over his upset loss to 1-2-3 Kid, leading to the turn and two of our singles matches tonight. The Bad Guy’s ascent would continue, but tonight would be the last WWF match for Million Dollar Man, leaving the company until 1994 when he would return in a managerial role.
In The Arena: Todd Pettengill is standing by with the mom and sister of The Steiner Brothers for their thoughts on what it was like growing up with Rick and Scott as children. Jim Cornette interrupts from the ring to introduce the challengers in our next match.
Match #2: The Heavenly Bodies (Dr. Tom Prichard & ‘Gigolo’ Jimmy Del Ray) w/Jim Cornette vs. WWF Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott)
The Heavenly Bodies attack as The Steiners enter the ring, the bell sounds and we’re officially underway, Del Ray dumping Scott to the outside, then hitting Rick with a double suplex. They continue to keep Scott from entering the squared circle, shoot Rick to the ropes for a double flapjack and continue to put a number on him. Scotty’s finally able to get inside and sends Prichard hard into the corner, Rick comes to and the champions send The Gigolo into the same corner to squash his partner.
Scott charges in and monkey flips Del Ray, double hip toss for Dr. Tom, he ducks a clothesline from Rick, The Gigolo gets hit instead and Scott tosses Prichard with a belly-to-belly suplex. The Steiners whip Del Ray to the ropes, Scott plants him with a tilt-a-whirl slam and The Heavenly Bodies finally escape the ring to try and regroup. Order is finally restored, Scott & Prichard taking the ring, collar & elbow tie-up sees Dr. Tom back him to the ropes, but doesn’t break clean. Irish whip into the ropes is reversed, Scotty elevates Prichard with a military press slam, Del Ray tries to insert himself and pays for it via a back body drop.
Scott turns back to Dr. Tom, snapmares him over for a front facelock, tags out and Rick steps in now, locks up with Prichard and Dr. Tom gains a side headlock. Rick pushes him away to the ropes, Prichard counters a hip toss attempt to one of his own, Rick blocks it, levels him with a clothesline, then catches The Gigolo coming in yet again with another clothesline. The Dog-Faced Gremlin delivers a body slam to Del Ray, The Heavenly Bodies hit the floor to re-think their strategy with Cornette. Dr. Tom rolls back in, Rick goes to a wristlock, makes a tag, Scott sends him to the ropes for an inverted atomic drop, Del Ray still hasn’t learned his lesson and comes in again, only to get split by another inverted atomic drop.
Scotty shoots him to the ropes, The Gigolo slides through between his legs, Prichard from behind with a bulldog and the challengers finally get in some offense. Dr. Tom looks for a kick, Scott catches his foot, doesn’t avoid an enzuigiri, Prichard deposits him to the outside and baits Rick into the ring to get the referee’s attention. This allows The Gigolo to jump onto Scotty from the apron with a somersault senton, throws him back into the ring and legally tags in. He comes off the top with a double axe handle to the back, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Scott attempts a clothesline, but The Gigolo counters and spikes him with a DDT.
Prichard tags back in, Del Ray sends Scotty to the ropes for a drop toe hold, Dr. Tom follows with a knee drop to the head, briefly chokes him on the canvas and slaps on a rear chinlock. He changes his mind and picks Scott up for right hands, Scotty tries to battle back, but Prichard picks the leg and makes a tag, Del Ray coming in to maintain control. He sends Scott to the ropes and clocks him with a superkick for a count of 2, tags back out, Dr. Tom choking Scott on the middle rope, Cornette getting in a cheap shot while the ref backs Prichard away. This baits Rick to come around on the apron, the official works him back to his corner, allowing the challengers to switch out without making a tag and The Gigolo goes back to a choke on the mat.
He makes a legal tag and Dr. Tom drives a knee lift to the abdomen, another tag sees Scott reverse an irish whip to the ropes for a clothesline, Del Ray tries to use the same counter into a DDT from earlier, but this time it’s blocked. Scott throws him with a suplex, crawls toward his corner, Prichard gets the tag first to cut him off, shoots him to the ropes for a back body drop, but Scotty puts on the brakes and plants him with a double underhook powerbomb. Both guys make it to their respective corners this time, Rick comes in with right hands for The Gigolo, sends him to the ropes for a big clothesline, flattens Dr. Tom with another, then delivers body slams to both.
Scott comes back in and clears Prichard out with a dropkick, drops Del Ray with one, The Dog-Faced Gremlin goes up top, spikes The Gigolo with a bulldog and makes the cover. Dr. Tom is back in to break the count at 2, Scott grabs him, throws him into the corner, climbs to the 2nd rope for right hands, but Prichard pushes him over the top to the floor. Meanwhile, Del Ray reverses an irish whip to the ropes from Rick, attempts to leapfrog over, Rick catches him in the air and plants him with a suplex which causes Cornette to climb up to the apron. The official has his back turned as Cornette throws his tennis racket over Rick’s head, Dr. Tom catches it, wallops The Dog-Faced Gremlin in the back, disposes of the evidence and The Gigolo covers, but only gets a near fall.
The Heavenly Bodies with more double teaming, Prichard holds Rick up for Del Ray to head upstairs for a moonsault, Scott makes it back in to pull his brother out of the way, Dr. Tom getting clobbered instead. Rick sends The Gigolo to the ropes, Scott connects with a Frankensteiner, The Dog-Faced Gremlin hooks the leg and the champions retain.
Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers (Rick/Frankensteiner)
- EA’s Take: A really exciting match with The Steiners getting the big home town victory, some nice moves from The Heavenly Bodies (specifically Del Ray) that were almost unheard of in this era as well. After finally defeating Money Inc. for the WWF Tag Titles, The Steiners were far-and-away the face of the tag division, but unfortunately the competition was scarce for the company at this time. The Heavenly Bodies were a team that saw a few iterations, previously being comprised of Prichard & ‘Sweet’ Stan Lane, formerly of The Midnight Express. They would compete in the WWF as part of a talent exchange agreement that the company had with Smoky Mountain Wrestling, a promotion based out of Tennessee run by Cornette. This arrangement would see SMW stars not only compete for both companies, but also led to SMW Titles even being defended on WWF TV.
Backstage: Joe Fowler is in the interview area with WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels & Diesel. Michaels says it’s time for all the questions to be answered, such as who is the greatest IC Champ of all-time, himself or Mr. Perfect? Tonight, Shawn vows to prove that he is that man, Fowler reminds him Perfect caused Michaels to lose the title before, but he only regained it with help from Diesel. The champion states that he’s the one wearing it, Diesel letting us all know that HBK can get it done in the ring and he’s just around to keep all the chicks from going too crazy.
Match #3 for the WWF Intercontinental Championship: WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels w/Diesel vs. Mr. Perfect
Collar & elbow tie-up to begin, Michaels with a wristlock, switches to a top wristlock and trips Perfect, arrogantly fixing his hair. They lock-up again, this time Perfect with a hammerlock, snapmares Shawn over and returns the taunting. Third tie-up sees the champion gain a side headlock, The Perfect One pushes him off to the ropes, Shawn slides between the legs, misses a wild right hand and the challenger sets him for a back suplex. Michaels ducks under it, hits the ropes for a clothesline and misses, Perfect tries one of his own with the same result, but catches Shawn coming back through with one from the left side.
The Perfect One takes the champion down with a hammerlock, drives knees into the elbow and wrenches away, Michaels gaining a vertical base and they trade-off hammerlocks. Shawn switches to a side headlock, scales the ropes to take Perfect over, the challenger utitlizes a headscissors to break the hold, then avoids an elbow drop to frustrate the champion. Michaels is more cautious, collar & elbow tie-up sees Perfect back Shawn to the corner, the champion, switches out and doesn’t break clean, scoring with stiff right hands. The challenger gets a surge of energy and turns the tables, serves up a plate of chops, whips him across, Shawn tries to hop up and over, Mr. Perfect sees it coming and puts on the brakes, the Michaels sneaks in a back elbow.
He tries to send Perfect back into the corner, it’s reversed, the champion scales the ropes to the top for a moonsault, The Perfect One ducks it and Shawn lands on his feet, but gets turned inside-out by a clothesline for a count of 2. The challenger goes back to the left arm with an armbar, Heartbreak Kid finds his footing, backs him to the corner and buries shoulders to the midsection. Irish whip across is reversed by Perfect, he follows Michaels in, the champion side-steps out of the way and the challenger runs himself into the turnbuckles. Shawn hops to the top rope, jumps off and gets caught in the air with an arm drag, The Perfect One scores with another, nearly gets a 3 count and slaps the armbar back on.
The Heartbreak Kid gets to a standing position and sends Mr. Perfect off to the ropes, he misses a couple of shots, attempts a dropkick, the challenger catches him by the legs and catapults Shawn over the top to the floor. The Perfect One heads outside after him, Diesel creeps up behind him to get his attention, he turns around and Michaels clocks him with a superkick, then climbs to the apron and comes off with a clothesline. The champion throws Mr. Perfect back in the ring, buries knees into the spine, drops numerous elbows to the lower back, then enjoys his work a little.
He whips the challenger hard into the corner to further damage the back, delivers clubbing blows, then shoots him hard to the turnbuckles again. Michaels cracks The Perfect One with a backbreaker, stretches him over his knee, the fans start coming to life and the challenger breaks out after a fews fists. He battles to his feet from the canvas, Shawn whips him to the ropes, misses a right hand, Perfect hops over a back body drop attempt and connects with a dropkick. The challenger sends Michaels back to the ropes for a back body drop, buries a big knee lift to the chest, then splits Shawn with an inverted atomic drop for a near fall.
The Perfect One shoots the champion back in, scores with a forearm to the face for another 2 count, The Heartbreak Kid reverses another whip to the ropes for a hip toss, but Perfect blocks it and attempts a backslide. Instead Michaels is flipped over, the challenger quickly plants him with a Perfect-Plex, the referee counts to 2, but Diesel reaches in and sweeps The Perfect One’s leg to break the count. The Perfect One is livid, hops to the outside and unleashes a flurry of right hands on Diesel, Shawn tries to clobber him from behind with a double axe handle off the apron, but Mr. Perfect avoids it and The Insurance Policy gets drilled.
The challenger rolls Michaels into the ring, the official’s in the way and Shawn accidentally takes him down, Diesel taking the opening to drive Perfect’s head into the ring post, the referee is back to his feet and finishes his 10 count.
Winner and STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels (Count-Out)
- After The Bell: Diesel raises Shawn’s hand in the ring, Mr. Perfect recovers and ambushes them both from behind, puts up a good fight, but the numbers game catches up to him, getting knocked out cold by a Diesel right hand.
- EA’s Take: Fairly exciting contest between two of the greatest workers to ever lace up a pair, but I think it could have been better. To be fair, the fact that these are two of the greatest athletes in WWE history makes my expectations higher, so don’t get me wrong and think this was a bad match because it wasn’t. I just think it could have been more. Oddly enough, this was the first time in SummerSlam history that the IC Title did not change hands. The feud between Perfect & Michaels was fairly brief, Shawn would end up getting suspended for a positive steroids test the following month. For Mr. Perfect, this would serve as his final WWF PPV match. He’d stick with the company until October, but after being by-passed for the IC Title due to Shawn’s suspension, he was taken off the road by the company for allowing his anger to get the better of him. He’d make a brief return in 1994, attempting to get back into the ring until his back issues flared up again and eventually leaving the company…for a short while.
Backstage: Joining Joe Fowler is The 1-2-3 Kid, making his WWF pay-per-view debut tonight. The Kid speaks about stepping in the ring with IRS and being excited to be out there. He talks about how Schyster is bigger and stronger, but everyone he gets into the ring with is bigger and stronger, so that’s nothing new.
Match #4: Irwin R. Schyster vs. The 1-2-3 Kid
They lock-up to start, IRS backs Kid to the corner and buries right hands to the breadbasket, then grabs a side headlock. The Kid pushes him away to the ropes and gets knocked down by a shoulder, Schyster back into the ropes, Kid leapfrogs over, then catches him coming back through with a spinning heel kick for a quick 2 count. IRS checks his mouth, adjusts his suspenders and they tie-up again, Schyster burying a knee to the abdomen, whips Kid to the ropes and tosses him into the air, 1-2-3 Kid landing face-first on the canvas.
He picks Kid back up, shoots him to the ropes again, attempts a clothesline from the left side, The Kid ducks it, Schyster tosses him into the air again, but this time 1-2-3 Kid counters with a dropkick, gaining another 2 count. He looks to whip IRS to the ropes now, it’s reversed, Schyster drops him with a back elbow, then throws him over the top to the floor. Kid climbs back to the apron only to get clubbed back down, The Kid pulls himself back up, gets flipped into the ring, but grabs a schoolboy on IRS and gets another quick 2.
He can’t build off of it and IRS rakes his eyes, sends him to the ropes for another back elbow, drops one across the chest and hooks the leg for a count of 2. Schyster looking to wear Kid down now with an abdominal stretch, uses the top rope for leverage behind the official’s back, finally gets caught and is forced to release the hold. He snapmares The Kid over and utilizes a rear chinlock, the people chant “1-2-3” and Kid works to his feet, IRS tries to drive his head into the top turnbuckle, but it’s blocked and he gets driven in instead.
1-2-3 Kid with a series of kicks in the corner, whips Schyster across hard, IRS hits the mat, Kid connectsing with a moonsault from the top for a near fall. He stays on IRS with a mahistral cradle for another 2 count, shoots him to the ropes for a spinning heel kick, Schyster catches the foot, but doesn’t see the other coming back around and gets clocked. Kid covers and only gains 2, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, IRS flattens him with the Write-Off and picks up the victory.
Winner: Irwin R. Schyster (Write-Off)
- EA’s Take: Pretty quick match here, lots of high energy as you would expect from The Kid with IRS trying to keep him grounded. IRS was getting back into singles competition because of Ted DiBiase’s hiatus and eventual retirement from in-ring competition, but it’s a little strange that he got the win here. The Kid was making his PPV debut, but had already picked up upset victories over competitors that I’d classify as higher up on the food chain, such as Razor Ramon. 1-2-3 Kid had really taken on the underdog role and was something much different than we had seen in previous years, adding a new element as the company continued to push younger stars.
In The Arena: Todd Pettengill is with Owen & Bruce Hart, the Hart boys informing Todd that their parents aren’t here tonight after Stu had to have knee surgery because of Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler’s antics this past Monday on RAW. Owen states that his parents may not be in attendance, but he and his brother will be at ringside watching in support of Bret.
Match #5: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs. Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler
The King makes his entrance and is on crutches. Todd Pettengill meets his in the aisle to find out what’s going on, Lawler stating that he hates Bret and his family. He can’t wait to get his hands on The Hitman, but he got into a car accident on his way to the building tonight. He claims to have pulled himself from a fiery wreck and showed up at the arena to fight, however the doctors backstage gave him strict orders to not compete. Bret won’t get off easy though, as Lawler brings out his court jester, Doink The Clown to take his place.
Match #5: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs. Doink The Clown
Doink comes down to ringside and finds himself in front of Bret’s brothers, tosses a bucket of water in Bruce’s face. Bret comes up from behind and fires away with right hands, the bell rings and the match is officially underway. He tosses The Clown inside, a group of referees have to stop Bruce & Owen from entering the ring, The Hitman hammering Doink with punches, then clotheslines him over the top to the floor.
Lawler watches on from ringside, The Excellence of Execution climbs outside to keep the punishment going on Doink, driving his head into the ring apron and then sending him to the post. He rolls The Clown back in again, Doink’s trying to beg off, backs himself into the corner and Hart unloads with more big rights, then whips him across and charges in. Doink puts the boot up, The Hitman sees it and blocks it, spins him around for another heavy right hand and sends The Clown spilling to the outside again.
The King gives some words of advice to Doink as he pulls himself up to the apron, Bret walks over and takes a shoulder to the abdomen, The Clown goes to the top, Hitman’s back up and he crotches him on the top turnbuckle. The Excellence of Execution drops Doink face-first on the mat, keeps pummeling him with boots, has words with Lawler, turns around and blocks a number of right and lefts before dropping The Clown with a headbutt. Hitman climbs to the outside and wants to go after The King, this gives Doink the opening to ambush him from behind, drives Bret’s head into the steel steps, rolls him back and and goes up top for a double axe handle to the back.
The Clown starts to take control, Hart tries to battle back, but gets lifted up into a kneebreaker. Doink rolls out to the floor, drags The Hitman to the ring post and wraps his leg into it over and over, slides back in and makes a cover for a 1 count. Doink keeping on the left knee and he hooks on an STF, Bret squirms his way out and to his feet, hits the ropes and runs into a knee to the breadbasket. The Clown hits the ropes for an elbow drop and a count of 2, keeps on the hurt leg by locking on a stump puller, Doink uses the ropes for extra leverage, gets caught by the referee and the official kicks his arm to break the grip. He positions Bret with a body slam, goes to the top rope for the Whoopie Cushion, The Hitman gets his knees up and Doink gets hit right in the groin.
The Excellence of Execution starts to build momentum now with fists, shoots Doink to the rope for one to the midsection, scores with a side russian leg sweep and comes off the 2nd rope with an elbow drop. He goes to put it away with a Sharpshooter and locks it on, The King slides into the ring from behind, clobbers Bret with his crutch and reveals that he’s not injured.
Winner: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: Lawler’s assault continues until he’s destroyed the crutch completely over Bret’s back, a group of referees have to hold Owen & Bruce from getting into the ring and The King finally starts to leave, bringing Doink with him. WWF President Jack Tunney comes out and cuts them off, informs Lawler that people paid to see him wrestle The Hitman while Bret tries to fight through more officials to get his hands on The King. Tunney comes down to ringside and passes news along to Howard Finkel, The Fink announcing that if Lawler doesn’t face Bret, he will be banned from the WWF for life.
Match #6: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs. Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler
Hart finally breaks through the officials and the brawl is on in the entrance way, Hitman pounding The King with punches and driving him into the barricade back to the ring. The bell rings making it official, Bret really aggressive biting Lawler’s forehead in the corner and smashing him with another big right hand. He whips The King to the ropes for a back body drop, drops an elbow, grabs him by the legs and drops a headbutt to the lower abdomen.
The Excellence of Execution throws Lawler outside, grabs the other crutch and bashes him across the back, sends him into the barricade again and throws him back into the squared circle. Lawler rolls back out the other side, Hitman stays in pursuit, King getting ahold of a piece of the crutch and buries it into Bret’s stomach, then hits him in the throat. He walks around ringside and delivers a cheap shot to Bruce, runs back to Bret as the referee keeps Owen at bay, The King choking the life out of The Hitman with the butt of the crutch.
He sends Bret into the ring, pulls him to the ring post and crotches him on it, King sneaks in behind the official with the crutch to deliver another shot to the throat before disposing of the evidence. Jerry rams The Hitman head-first into the top turnbuckle, talks some trash to the fans, goes to get Bret again and Hart scores with a low blow. Bret drops the straps and Lawler tries to beg him off, The Hitman hammers him in the corner with big rights, shoots him to the ropes for a back body drop, cracks The King with a backbreaker and gets a count of 2. The Excellence of Execution spikes King with a piledriver, comes off the 2nd turnbuckle with an elbow drop, slaps on the Sharpshooter and Lawler gives up.
Winner: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (Sharpshooter)
- After The Bell: The Hitman keeps the Sharpshooter on after the bell and refuses to let go of it, multiple referees having to pry him away. The original ref confers with Howard Finkel, reversing the decision and disqualifying Bret for not relinquishing the hold. This only angers Hitman more and he attacks Lawler, WWF officials are able to keep him away, Bruce & Owen hop the barricade and get a couple of shots in before The King is stretchered away.
Winner: Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler (Disqualification)
- EA’s Take: A very heated rivalry here after Lawler’s attack of Bret at King Of The Ring. The Hitman’s hatred for The King really showed a side of Bret that we had never seen before, becoming more vicious and aggressive and leading to very different kinds of matches from him than we’re used to seeing. Jerry was a magnificent heel and talker and although he was older at this point and his in-ring work was never the best, this feud with Bret really hid those deficiencies. The WWF would engage in cross-promotion with Lawler’s USWA company while the rivalry with The Hitman continued into the fall. The King would be set to captain a team at Survivor Series against Bret and his brothers, but had to step away for a period of time. Lawler was facing legal issues after being accused of rape, a charge that he was found not guilty on before returning to the company in 1994.
Video: Ludvig Borga was checking out some of Detroit earlier in the day, speaking about Lex Luger going for the WWF Title tonight and trying to fulfill the “American dream”. Borga is in a run-down part of the city and wonders if this is the “American dream”, broken buildings and crime. Tonight, he will show his opponent Marty Jannetty and Lex exactly the kind of nightmare he is.
Match #7: Marty Jannetty vs. Ludvig Borga
The bell rings and Jannetty gets in Ludvig’s face to have a couple words, unwisely turns his back and Borga ambushes him from behind, putting him in the corner and delivering rights and lefts to the ribs. He whips Marty across and flattens him with a clothesline off the rebound, puts him back in the corner for knees to the abdomen, sends him to the ropes and elevates him into the air, delivering another big punch to the breadbasket in mid-air. He lifts Jannetty with a choke and drops him in the corner, more heavy blows to the midsection and Marty can’t get anything going.
Borga whips him back across, charges in for a splash, Jannetty side-steps it, scores with right hands, hits the ropes and Ludvig levels him with another clothesline. Borga sends Marty back to the ropes for a back body drop, Jannetty tries to counter with a sunset flip, can’t get him over and Ludvig scores with another big right hand, then utilizes a bearhug. Marty with a barrage of rights and lefts to break out of it, attempts a body slam and his back gives out, Borga turning him inside-out with another big clothesline.
He whips Jannetty to the ropes to try the back body drop again, Marty with another sunset flip try, Ludvig goes to deliver another punch like last time, but Jannetty avoids it. Marty staggers him with multiple superkicks, goes to the 2nd rope for a crossbody, Borga catches him in the air and drives him down to the canvas. The Hellraiser from Helsinki with more shots to the ribs, puts him in the Torture Rack and Jannetty gives up.
Winner: Ludvig Borga (Torture Rack)
- EA’s Take: Pretty unexciting match and easily the worst contest of the night to this point, a total squash. Ludvig Borga came to the WWF from New Japan, the Superstar from Finland making his debut on the July 10th episode of Superstars and beginning an undefeated streak similar to Tatanka’s. Interestingly enough, after pulverizing Marty Jannetty here, he would go on to end The Native American’s streak in late September before embarking into a feud with Lex Luger. Jannetty would venture back into the tag division after a lackluster singles run, even though he did manage to gain an IC Title out of it.
Match #8 – Rest In Peace Match: Giant Gonzalez w/Harvey Wippleman vs. The Undertaker
This match is no DQ’s or count-outs, there must be a winner. The bell rings and Undertaker goes right at Gonzalez with uppercuts in the corner, grabs him by the throat and climbs to the 2nd rope to choke the breath out of him. Wippleman hops to the apron to gain his attention, Taker breaking the hold, turns around and The Giant catches him with a big boot, then fires away with headbutts and clubbing shots. He shoots him to the ropes for a clothesline, The Deadman ducks under it and hits one of his own to stagger the big man, then another.
He goes back to the well again and Gonzalez drops him with a shot to the throat, tosses him to the outside and climbs out after him. They trade shots on the floor, The Giant rips at his eyes, drives Taker into the apron, then the ring steps and goes around ringside after a chair. He clobbers The Deadman across the back with it, whips him knees-first into the steel steps and sends him back into the squared circle. The Undertaker crawls towards the urn, Gonzalez clubs him with the heavy artillery, Taker battles back to his feet, goes back for the urn, but Harvey snatches it away.
The Giant shoots him hard into the turnbuckles, The Deadman keeps crawling for the urn, the gong hits and Paul Bearer makes his way to ringside carrying a black wreath. Meanwhile, Gonzalez chokes the life out of Undertaker in the corner, hammers him with big punches, Wippleman charges at Bearer on the outside and gets dropped by a clothesline. He goes around ringside and reclaims the urn, The Giant delivering a body slam to Taker in the ring, notices Bearer with the urn and The Deadman sits up. He unloads on The Giant with uppercuts, hits multiple clotheslines that get the big man reeling, goes to the top rope for a flying clothesline, finally knocking him down and covering for the 1-2-3.
Winner: The Undertaker (Top Rope Clothesline)
- After The Bell: The Deadman places the black wreath next to Giant Gonzalez’s prone body, kneeling to the power of the urn before taking his leave with Paul Bearer. Gonzalez comes to and Wippleman is giving him the business, The Giant hearing enough of it and grabbing by the neck for a Chokeslam, then placing the wreath on his body.
- EA’s Take: Back-to-back rough matches to watch, this one being better than the last. The Undertaker really was getting saddled with some hard opponents to work with and get over, the company really sticking to the formula of matching him up with pro wrestling’s biggest monsters. His face turn would set the stage for a feud with Wippleman’s newest charge, Adam Bomb, however it never came to fruition as Gonzalez would leave the company in October. He would pass away in 2010 at the age of 44 due to complications from diabetes and severe heart issues (Side note: shouldn’t the gimmick for a ‘Rest In Peace Match’ be having to put your opponent in a body bag or something?).
Backstage: Joe Fowler is standing by with WWF Champion Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette. Cornette talks about hometown bias being the reason for The Heavenly Bodies losing earlier in the night, but the same thing will not happen to Yokozuna. He warns Lex Luger to listen up good, explaining that Yoko has no fear or compassion for his fellow man, something the power Luger draws from the American people can’t match. The time for talking is over and the last thing we will hear tonight is “Banzai!”.
Match #9: The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart) & Tatanka vs. The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu) & Bam Bam Bigelow w/Afa & Luna Vachon
The bell rings and all 6 guys start brawling, Bam Bam and The Headshrinkers clearing out the ring, leaving Bigelow and Tatanka. The Beast from the East shoots Tatanka to the ropes and scores with a shoulder knockdown, sends him back in for a clothesline, The Native American ducks under it, hits a shoulder block of his own to stagger Bam Bam, then takes him off his feet with a dropkick. Heavy rights from The Native American, whips Bigelow to the ropes for a back body drop, another irish whip is reversed, The Beast from the East misses another clothesline, both guys are thinking crossbody and they collide in the air.
They crawl to their corners and tag out, Fatu meeting Billy to exchange right hands, Billy gets the better of it briefly, but Fatu clocks him with a superkick. He hooks him up for a vertical suplex, Billy counters, dropping him face-first to the canvas, climbs to the top turnbuckle and scores with a bulldog. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Fatu flattens him with a shoulder knockdown, Samu tags in and The Headshrinkers with a double headbutt. Samu shoots him Billy to the ropes and drops him on the top rope with a hot shot, Billy rolls to the outside to collect his breath, Samu distracting the official and allowing Afa to get in a cheap shot.
Billy crawls back into the ring and gets decked by another superkick, falls backwards into his corner, Bart tagging himself in and he unloads a barrage of left hands to Samu. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Bart ducks under a clothesline, scores with a crossbody for a quick 1 count, catches Samu with an arm drag and goes to an armbar. Bart swiftly brings him back up, whip to the ropes is reversed, Bart ducks another clothesline, tries to go to a crossbody again, but Samu meets him in mid-air with a back elbow. He shoots Bart back to the ropes and plants him with a facebuster, Bam Bam tags back in, sends Bart to the ropes again and connects with a dropkick for a count of 2.
Fatu re-enters the match, whips Bart to the ropes for a powerslam that gains a near fall, brings Samu back and he maintains control with shots to the throat, then bites Bart on the ropes. Fatu gets a tag and The Headshrinkers with another double headbutt, Bigelow back in and drops Bart with a shoulder knockdown, then uses The Headshrinkers’ skulls to bash Bart’s head off of. Tag back to Fatu, he shoots him to the ropes for a back body drop, Bart puts on the brakes, drives Fatu face-first into the mat, but it has no affect and Fatu floors him with a clothesline. He baits Tatanka & Bart into the ring to hold ref’s attention, Samu comes in with no tag for some double teaming, then he chokes Bart in the corner, baiting Billy back in for Bam Bam & Fatu to do a number on Bart.
Bigelow tags in, double irish whip to the ropes with Samu for a double back elbow, The Beast from the East whips Bart to the corner, charges in for a splash, but he misses and hits his head off the top of the ring post. Bart finally tags out, Tatanka hitting the ring with a clothesline, fires away at The Headshrinkers in the corner, hits the ropes for multiple overhand chops to Bam Bam, then plants him with a body slam. He spikes Bigelow with a DDT, goes up top for a crossbody, covers and gets a near fall
The Native American has an issue with the count and argues with the referee, The Beast from the East takes the opening to drive fists to the breadbasket, rams him head-first into the top turnbuckle, but Tatanka absorbs it and goes into the war dance. He absorbs more shots from Bigelow, Bam Bam cracks him with an enzuigiri to put an end to it, tags out and Samu positions The Native American to come off the 2nd rope with a headbutt. Bart comes in to break up the count at 2, Fatu hits the ring and makes him pay with a superkick, Billy’s right behind him to deliver a dropkick, but here comes Bam Bam and he clotheslines Billy to the outside.
It’s a 3-1 advantage in the ring on Tatanka, The Headshrinkers shoot him into the corner, whip Bigelow in with a splash, triple headbutt to The Native American, The Beast from the East and The Headshrinkers all climbing up opposite turnbuckles to the top rope. They look to hit synchronized diving headbutts, Tatanka’s able to roll out of the way, The Smoking Gunns slide back in, take out Fatu & Bam Bam on the outside with slingshot crossbodies, The Native American utilizes a schoolboy on Samu and steals a 3 count.
Winners: The Smoking Gunns & Tatanka (Tatanka/Schoolboy)
- EA’s Take: A solid contest in what seems to be a bit of a thrown together match with little backstory to it, but pretty good for a 6-man which is something the WWF had always seemed to be less than sub-par at. Tatanka & Bigelow had been feuding a little bit on WWF television, The Gunns & Headshrinkers with no real issue other than they are both tag teams. Billy & Bart are two young talents that are still looking to make a name for themselves as a tandem, their cowboy gimmicks and flare for shooting off blanks with real guns being used to try and bolster their standing with the people.
Backstage: Joe Fowler is in the parking lot on the Lex Express, speaking with the driver of the bus who has been watching the show on a monitor. He speaks about spending the last two months with Lex Luger and how genuine of a guy he is, visiting children’s hospitals on their cross-country trip and lighting up kids faces.
In The Arena: Todd Pettengill is in the crowd speaking with some of the fans about their support for the USA in tonight’s main event. In the ring, Howard Finkel asks everyone to rise and show their respect for the Japanese National Anthem. The Fink then introduces our master of ceremonies for the WWF Title match, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage accompanied by Aaron Neville, Aaron singing the USA National Anthem.
Match #10 for the WWF Championship: WWF Champion Yokozuna w/Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette vs. Lex Luger
The official calls for the bell and Luger goes face-to-face with the champion, Fuji sneaks his way up to the apron, tries to get into the ring, Lex feels it coming, turns his back and Yokozuna attacks, but its unsuccesful. Luger with big right hands, shoots Yoko to the ropes for a back elbow, goes for another big haymaker, the champion blocks it and attempts a body slam, but the challenger slips out. He pushes Yokozuna to the ropes and gets clobbered by a back elbow, the champion hits the ropes for a leg drop, Lex avoids it and then targets the leg with kicks to the knee.
Yoko steps to the outside to escape, Luger kicks the ropes for a low blow, Yokozuna falls flat to the canvas, the challenger following with an elbow drop for a 2 count. Lex hits the ropes, the champion catches him with a body slam, hits the ropes for an elbow drop that doesn’t connect, Luger firing away with fists and kicks in the corner. He rams Yokozuna head-first off the top turnbuckle, shoots him across, follows in with a clothesline, then climbs to the 2nd rope for a flurry of punches. The official steps in and forces a break, the champion seizing the opening for a chop to the throat, then chokes the challenger in the corner.
The ref now backs Yokozuna away, Fuji climbs up the steps to throw salt in Luger’s face, but Lex sees it coming and avoids it. He hammers Yoko with heavy rights, goes for a slam, can’t lift the big man and the champion cracks him with a superkick. Yokozuna delivers a headbutt that sends Luger to the outside, Lex tries to pull himself back into the ring, getting dropped back down to the floor after another headbutt. The champion climbs out after him, wraps part of his mawashi around the challenger’s throat, positions him on the ring post and squashes Luger with a splash. Yoko goes after a chair now, takes a big swing, Lex ducks it, fires off a series or fists, rolls the champion back inside, then heads back in and comes off the 2nd rope with a double axe handle.
Yokozuna is rocked, the challenger goes to the top rope and hits another double axe, then back up again, finally taking him off his feet with a forearm shot. Lex covers for a near fall, hits the ropes for a head of steam, flattens Yoko with a clothesline to the back of the head, hooks the big leg and gains another count of 2. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Luger ducks under a right hand, both guys go for a clothesline, connect and drop to the canvas, doubling down. Cornette hops onto the apron and grabs the official, Fuji throws the salt bucket in to the champion, Yoko waffles Luger in the head with it and lays him out.
Yokozuna crawls to a cover and only gets 2, scores with stinging knife-edge chops, plants him with a side belly-to-belly suplex, hooks the leg and still can’t finish it. The champion chokes the challenger on the 2nd rope, rips at his face and is totally dominating now. Yokozuna hits him with a back suplex for a 2 count, the champion can’t believe it, snapmares Lex over and slaps on a nerve hold to the trap muscle. Luger gets a rush of adrenaline and works to his feet, battles out of the hold, goes for a slam, Yokozuna falls on top of him, but is still unable to get a 3 count.
The champion drops a big leg drop for another near fall, drags Lex to the corner and positions him for the Banzai Drop, the challenger just rolling out of the way in the nick of time. The challenger tries to regroup, gets his head rammed into the top turnbuckle, absorbs it to fight back, but the champion resorts to biting him on the forehead. Yoko hits stiff chops in the corner, whips Lex across, measures him for a back splash and misses, Lex lifting him off the rebound for a body slam. Fuji climbs onto the apron and pays for it, Luger exposes his forearm with the metal plate in it, clobbers Yokozuna and he spills to the outside, the ref putting the count on as Cornette climbs to the apron, eating a right hand as the count reaches 10.
Winner: Lex Luger (Count-Out)
- After The Bell: Savage, The Steiner Brothers & Tatanka meet Lex in the ring, hoisting him on their shoulders and waving the American flag high in the air as confetti and balloons drop from the ceiling. A montage video is shown about America and The Lex Express making its way across the country towards the site of SummerSlam. Joe Fowler catches up with Luger in the locker room following the video, Lex stating it was an honor to represent his country and wrestle for the WWF Title, Ludvig Borga interrupting. He informs Luger that he’s not impressed with him, his friends or the country he stands for and if he ever steps in the ring with him, he’ll crumble much like the USA is crumbling.
- EA’s Take: Definitely not the best main event I’ve ever seen and certainly an unusual ending. Lex Luger got the epitome of a “mega push” over the previous two months, the WWF doing its damnedest to catapult him into the spot that had been occupied by Hulk Hogan for the past nine years. For some reason however, they chose not to give Luger the WWF Title after all of that build-up, which makes absolutely zero sense. He really should have won the championship here. He may not have been as popular as Hulk, but there’s no denying how over Lex was at this time and it was borderline absurd to hold a big celebration at the end of the night after he won by count-out, but didn’t gain the strap. This would not be the end of the rivalry as they’d continue to off-and-on over the next year.
EA’s Finisher: Another in a lineup of WWF pay-per-views since WrestleMania VIII that really failed to put out any matches that really were memorable or that stood out from the rest, but overall an entertaining show. Luger not winning the WWF Championship at the end was a big mistake and would have given us a memorable moment from this show, but for whatever reason the company went a different direction. The Superstars of the 1980s are continuing to fade away as the company remains persistent in pushing younger talent, this being the final in-ring PPV for an 80’s mainstay, Ted DiBiase. Some failed gimmicks and characters would be moved away from, another trend that will be repeated in the coming years with the WWF sticking by their “cartoon-like” creations of characters, leading to some down years for the company.
Top Three To Watch
1 – The Steiner Brothers vs. The Heavenly Bodies
2 – Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect
3 – Bret Hart vs. Doink The Clown/Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler
Doctor’s Orders: Ranking The Greatest Matches and Rivalries in NXT Takeover History
Objectively subjectifying all-time greatness on NXT’s premiere stage, Takeover. See what matches are on the list!
The Doctor is in as Chad Matthews updates his list of greatest WWE NXT Takeover matches and rivalries with a look at two of the very best, from different NXT eras.
Attempting to contextualize greatness in pro wrestling is a fascinating exercise, a much more multi-faceted conversation than it is often given credit for. To some in the business, for instance, Rock vs. Cena is the greatest match of all-time because it set the pay-per-view buy mark, while others would say the greatest match is Austin vs. Bret because of the exemplary storytelling. Why should greatness be limited to a plethora “one or the other” positions (best vs. most popular or anything of the sort)? Such has been my stance during this entire decade (see The Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the WrestleMania Era), tackling the process of adding measures of objectivity to a topic deemed completely and utterly subjective and attempting to broaden the way that we have these discussions. I can also apply that to NXT.
Greatness has become regularly associated with NXT. I am personally enamored with what the yellow brand has accomplished over the past few years, with the Takeover franchise especially. The reputation that Takeover has built should astound any diehard WWE fan who, at times during the WrestleMania Era, may have felt like Vince and Co. unnecessarily (and oddly) put a critical ceiling on its in-ring product. Bold statement: Takeover has, based purely on what happens from bell-to-bell, produced nearly as many bonafide classic wrestling matches as WrestleMania in just five years of existence. Think about that for a moment, because it was with that idea in mind that I started asking, “What’s the greatest in NXT history?”
My second book (referenced above) was published last summer and in it I crafted a detailed formula to thoroughly assess the various aspects that shape how fans and pundits use the term “greatest.” Turning my attention to NXT, I took that formula and tweaked it to fit Takeover. On a 1-5 star scale, appropriately, I graded the best match in each of the top rivalries in NXT history, picked from a pool of consensus classics, on the psychology, storytelling, selling, execution, and climax of their in-ring performances, their historic ramifications on NXT lore, the setting (as defined by a pre-made scale for crowd size), the strength of their pre-match build-up, and the rating given by Dave Meltzer to account for popular opinion, as well as a few additional points (not on a scale of 1-5, mind you) for any intangible qualities (i.e. a special entrance, an innovative move or sequence never before seen, a rivalry-befitting gimmick, etc.). The sum total of the scoring yields the rivalry’s standing, which will be continuously updated as this long-term process advances.
Today’s entries grow the list from fourteen to sixteen matches, which have been selected at random throughout this project’s history dating back to last fall. Here are the rankings ahead of today’s additions (the links will take you to the objectively subjective breakdown of each match):
#1- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#2- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#3- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#4- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#5- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#6- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#7- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#8- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#9- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#10- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#11- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#12- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#13- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#14- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship at Takeover: Philadelphia
Psychology: 5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 5 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 5 / Popular Opinion: 5 / Build: 4.5 / Intangibles: +4
Total Score: 48.0
There have been very few matches in WWE history that have found me clapping while watching them in replay, and Cien vs. Johnny Wrestling from Philly is one of them. Hand to heart, I am unsure that there has ever been a better performance in WWE, which is partly what makes the added dynamic of including NXT lore when historically ranking matches throughout the WrestleMania Era so challenging and simultaneously so fascinating. The depth of storytelling and the instances when believably this match could have been over but somehow was not is virtually unmatched in mainstream North American wrestling over the past thirty plus years. Gargano and Almas judged everything picture-perfectly, selling their butts off, adding layers of psychology as they reached an utterly captivating climax, and drawing every ounce of intrigue out of the in-ring chemistry that they first prominently put on display against each other at Takever: Brooklyn III.
Gargano vs. Andrade is truly one of the greats as “epic” matches go, and the Philadelphia match certainly fits the profile of the genre (an “epic match”) that I have been quietly working on popularizing in the IWC, offered up to properly label a lengthy main-event style performance that builds to crescendo after crescendo and features finisher kick-outs as one of its primary hope spot wells to tap. I have been critical of the over-use of it, as many of its staples have trickled down to ten minute mid-card matches, and I do believe that epics, like Cena vs. Styles for example, are suffering from a distinct lack of rewatchability because of how ardently they cling to bout-ending signature offense, but Cien vs. Johnny is not to be lumped in with such over-done peers because it is smarter, more intricate, better executed, and expertly paced, its gaps in action replaced with the outstanding managerial act of Zelina Vega (and the eventual cameo by Candice Wrestling).
I believe it was a truly remarkable achievement. Maybe Banks vs. Bayley, Gargano vs. Ciampa, or Gargano vs. Adam Cole beats it in the scoring system, but even if one of them or another Takeover match in the pipeline down the road unseats it, I think it is going to be a long time before something removes it from the pedestal of what yours truly would call the finest match in Takeover history. Aesthetically, athletically, psychologically, I just struggle to see how anyone could really argue that another match was better. I was fortunate enough to see them wrestle one of their prequels in Brooklyn, and that was one of the four or five best mid-card type bouts in Takeover lore too, so when you combine that match with what happened in Philly – of the nine scoring categories here, their NXT Title match scored a 5 in seven of them – you have an all-time great.
You know, it is funny that Dave Meltzer awarded the Takeover: Philadelphia match the first “5-star” rating for a WWE match since Punk vs. Cena in Chicago, and if you watch any of New Japan Pro Wrestling and know of Meltzer’s fascination with it, you can appreciate why. Almas vs. Gargano was an NJPW match in an NXT ring with WWE production value. If in the coming years, a main-event of that style and caliber is featured on Summerslam or eventually works it way to the WrestleMania headlining position, I think we may have Gargano vs. Almas to thank for it.
Neville vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship at Takeover: R-Evolution
Psychology: 4.5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 3 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 4.5 / Popular Opinion: 4.75 / Build: 5 / Intangibles: +3
Total Score: 44.25
While in the beginning of this process, it seemed probable that Cien Almas vs. Johnny Wrestling had a shot at topping this match to advance ever closer to the #1 spot, what seemed assured from the out-set was that Zayn vs. Neville would rate among the premiere title matches in NXT lore because, in terms of storytelling, there may still have never been a championship bout that possesses the same sense of urgency or the same sense of occasion.
Here you had Neville, a bit shy of a year-long reigning as NXT Champion (who held the title during the promotion’s rise to WWE Network prominence) and possessing one of the most amazing offensive arsenals in pro wrestling’s entire history, coming up against Zayn, arguably the quintessential example of how legends are capable of being made in NXT. No matter what happens elsewhere within the Titan ranks, Zayn will be someone revered by any who watched what he did in NXT from 2014 to 2016.
One of the greatest things that NXT brings to the table is how wrestlers, as personalities, are characters first, their labels (or face-heel dichotomies) rather arbitrary by comparison. Neville strayed a bit more toward a black and white personic construct during the match, but he was clearly pushed toward the line that Zayn managed to straddle a bit better and showed glimpses of the viciousness and single-mindedness (toward winning) that made his run on 205 Live so engaging to purple brand followers in 2017; it was Zayn who was truly marvelous, though, displaying a depth of character so rarely seen from protagonists in WWE proper, and far more relatable for it, as evidenced by the incredibly raucous crowd support that he garnered in what was still ostensibly a babyface match. Zayn’s ability to connect on that deeper emotional level lifted this effort to pantheon status.
The end result – the total package from the storyline build-up to the hype video package to the atmosphere it generated to the bell-to-bell fight (and it felt like the fight that pro wrestling should be in the modern era main-event scene with the athletic potential of the combatants) – closed the first chapter in the history of NXT in the Network Era with a timeless classic destined for massive hindsight accolades in the near and distant future.
#1- Andrade vs. Gargano (48.0)
#2- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#3- Neville vs. Zayn (44.25)
#4- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#5- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#6- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#7- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#8- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#9- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#10- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#11- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#12- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#13- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#14- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#15- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#16- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)
If you want to discuss NXT or other wrestling matters with Doc, follow and tweet @TheDocLOP !
Check out the latest episode of The Doc Says podcast, featuring a review of NXT Takeover 25!
Chairshot Classics: All In 2018
With Double of Nothing on the horizon, Harry decides to keep the fires stoked by revisiting All In! Relive the precursor to the AEW experience!
With Double of Nothing on the horizon, Harry decides to keep the fires stoked by revisiting All In! Relive the precursor to the AEW experience!
Hey everyone and welcome back to ‘What I Watched’. This will be I believe the tenth of these to make air on Chairshot, so little mini milestone there for me. For the links to all of my previous reviews, you can access my archive here on the site by clicking my name at the top of the article. As far as where ‘What I Watched’ goes from here…the obvious answer to that is back to PROGRESS, the reason I came to the Chairshot again in the first place. The first four Chapters are in the archives and the fifth one is in the queue. Work will start on the sixth Chapter shortly, called “We <3 Violence”. In addition, I creep closer and closer to CHIKARA 2005 which is where commentary begins for the company. As such, I’m thinking I may pick that up as a further expansion into the Indies.
Now to why we are here today: On May 25th, All Elite Wrestling officially launches with its first show called ‘Double or Nothing’. Technically though, this isn’t the first show put on by the group who are running things for ‘DoN’ though. Cody (can’t call him Rhodes legally), the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega tried their luck at the promoter thing before (yes, technically the Bucks did with PWG, but still) as they ran a joint show with Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling called ‘All In’. In order to get everyone ready for ‘Double or Nothing’, I decided to take a long back at where it all began. All this said, it’s into the way back machine as we head to the Sears Centre in suburban Chicago. We head to September 1st, 2018 as ‘What I Watched’ presents ‘All In’.
WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews are meant to be more of a stream of consciousness review. The idea being that while I will do some play by play when the time calls for it, I’ll also talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.
WRITER’S NOTE #2: As much as I’d like to let everyone make their own decisions on the matches, giving away match results in the review will be a necessary evil. The reason being is that I will discuss what I think everything means going forward and maybe even doing a little fantasy booking of where I would go from where they presently are. I will still post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contests. The final show review will be after that as well as the ‘Final Reaction’ for the show.
MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating.
WRITER’S DEDICATION: Though he has nothing specifically to do with this show, this review is dedicated to the memory of Silver King. As a teenager getting back into wrestling in the early 2000s, one of the first things I got was a copy of WCW Fall Brawl 1998 on VHS. The show by and large sucks, there’s no denying that. But one of the highlights for me was the Cruiserweight title match between Juventud Guerrera and Silver King. Vaya con Dios, amigo.
ROH/NJPW/Friends: ‘All In’
From: Sears Centre in Chicago, IL (technically Hoffman Estates, IL)
Date: September 1st, 2018
Total Run Time: 4:45:24
Announcers: Ian Riccaboni, Excalibur and Don Callis
*GENERAL NOTES: I must give credit where credit is due. It looks impressive. A lot of people were worried that the Bucks and Cody’s vision wouldn’t translate into an arena setting and it clearly does.
*I found the Zero Hour pre-show on YouTube, so much the same way as I did for the ‘United We Stand’ PPV; we cover the pre-show first.
ROH/NJPW/Friends: ‘Zero Hour’ (47:27)
*Young Bucks and Cody kick off the pre-show. Makes sense to get them out there early…it’s a pretty basic segment. Couple of inside jokes get tossed around, a light amount of pyro goes off and the Bucks introduce their wrestling legend of choice for this show: Road Warrior Animal in full get-up, who rides a motorcycle into the area. Being in Chicago, the use of the Road Warriors makes sense…The Bucks and Cody then shoot some t-shirts into the crowd with help from the Pro Wrestling Tee’s and Hot Topic representatives.
*Pro Wrestling Tee’s commercial. It’s so campy that it works. I’m not sponsored by them though, so no links from me…
*Match #1: Kazarian/Scorpio Sky (representing SCU (So Cal Uncensored) vs. Jay/Mark Briscoe
The Who: Frankie Kazarian is a former multiple time TNA/Impact X Division champion and actually briefly had a run with the WWE back in the early 2000s (2003, I think?) Scorpio Sky has appeared for TNA as well as Mason Andrews. He’s probably the least nationally exposed of the four men in this contest though. Jay and Mark Briscoe are long considered one of the best tag teams in independent wrestling. They were even briefly on the WWE’s radar before some comments from Jay’s past came out that caused interest to lean away. They are multiple time ROH tag team champions and I think have held the NJPW tag belts before as well (but I’m not sure on that)
The Why: Sadly, I am not fully caught up on Being the Elite to this point, so I don’t really have a proper answer for this.
The Match: It’s nice to see Justin Roberts again. Always thought he was really good at what he did…believe your referee is Paul Turner. This show is an Indies whose who, even down to the referees…quickie promo from SCU to do what SCU does…little surprised to see the Briscoes on the pre-show, but this would be a best foot forward situation. Throw out names people may have heard of and use them to attract potential viewers for the pending PPV. Let’s not forget that ‘Zero Hour’ aired live on WGN America right before the ‘All In’. It is, in essence, an episode of Sunday Night Heat before the PPV in WWF/E terms…I miss the days of the guys using music on the Indies. ‘Give Me Back My Bullets’ fit the Briscoes so well…opening bell here…the YouTube version of this does not have the amount of time of commercials listed, so the total time at the end of this match and the battle royal will be what aired…Kazarian and Jay start…one would have to think this would be the biggest crowd any of these four have performed in front of…okay, maybe Kazarian in his WWE run. Maybe…I feel that Riccaboni’s presence isn’t necessary here. It’s not that I don’t like him, but I feel like Excalibur doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves a PBP guy and Callis is more then capable of handling color…it was quite impressive that they got all these companies to work together. It didn’t last long, but fun while it lasted…they were trending worldwide. Because of course that’s a thing…Briscoe’s are so smooth in the ring. The characters are rough around the edges, but Dem Boyz can go…I dig Scorpio’s Rocky attire. Given that SCU have been established as the faces here, it works on multiple levels…hot tag!…two Briscoes for the price of one there. Nice combination offense by Kazarian…I’m trying not to do as much in the way of PBP during this show. It’s going to be ten matches, so that would be an incredibly long review…Scorpio with an overhead belly2belly to Mark, throwing him from the ring into an involuntary plancha on Jay. Well then…well played Kaz. Well played…Scorpio gets the tope con hilo and Excalibur calls the tope con hello. Again, why is Ian necessary?…we’ve officially lost all track of who is and isn’t legal…Jay is such a bastard…and now the Briscoes have singled out the neck of Kazarian…in previous reviews, I’ve talked about how much I like LAX’s double teams. The Briscoes have one of my favorites as well with ‘Redneck Boogie’ (powerbomb with a leaping neckbreaker assist)…take a Briscoe home night at ‘All In’…Scorpio’s agility is quite impressive…uranage lungblower combo. I’ve seen that before but can’t remember who. Feels like a PROGRESS thing…oh, I bit real hard on Froggy Bow as the finish there…Briscoe’s calling for the Doomsday. Mark leaps right into a powerslam from Kaz off Jay’s shoulders! Scorpio comes charging with a bicycle knee to Jay and it’s a three count for Kaz on Mark at 12:35…that was VERY GOOD. 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.
*Backstage interview with Kenny Omega and I think that’s Alicia Atout. I’m not sure though…they poke fun at the WWE interviewer stance and the tippy toes promos. Kenny then addresses the match with Pentagon Jr. later on in the show. Pretty basic Kenny interview other then the bit at the top.
*Hype video airs for Aldis vs. Cody using ‘All In’ by Downstrait (the band that does Miz’s theme). It’s really nicely done. Production is key for these kind of events and so far, they’ve been on point here.
*Match #2: Over the Budget Battle Royal
The Who: Yeah, not a chance you are getting an individual breakdown here. Sorry, not sorry.
The Why: Winner of this battle royal would go on to the main PPV itself to face Jay Lethal for the ROH World Heavyweight championship.
The Match: A lot of dudes (and Jordynne Grace) surrounding the ring before we get started and we go back over to commentary to see that Dalton Castle has decided to grace us…fans decide to serenade Bully with a ‘Bully’s an asshole’ chant…opening bell here…I hope you guys aren’t expecting a lot from me here. It’s a battle royal, which I don’t rate based on sheer principle…hey, Hurricane!…I think Chico is out as Bully powerbombs him through the timekeepers table…Ethan Page just kicked Jordynne square in the goddamn face! That was just wrong, man…maybe a battle royal but the dives are coming in bunches…Moose is over as a face here which is weird given that he’s such an asshat in Impact…and Marko Stunt may die…Ethan Page is such an asshole…Brian Cage just Cesaro superplexed Tommy Dreamer. I don’t have the words to describe how strong Brian Cage is…the problem I have with reviewing battle royals is there is a lot and nothing going on at the same time. There’s a lot of people in the match, but most of them are just collected by the ropes except for pockets of action here and there…Trent and Chuckie T work well together. I hope they get a good run in AEW proper. Trent’s one of those guys that every company could use, similar to a Curt Hawkins. He’s never going to be a high end star but he’s a dependable hand who does what’s asked of him with no questions asked. And Chuck Taylor is just awesome…and they are then booted by Punishment Martinez, who is now in NXT…and Cage has had enough of Romero’s shit, pitching him from the ring during the forever clotheslines…Cheeseburger is picking a fight with Brian Cage and then ends poorly for him…step-up frankensteiner by Cage. Tilt-a-whirl head scissors by Martinez. It’s BIG BOY LUCHA~!…Hurri-Chokeslam, bitch!…Ethan Page puts an end to that fun…and Colt Cabana puts an end to Ethan Page’s night with a flying asshole. Wait, it’s basic cable. Flying apple…Dreamer turning the clock back and then Bubba pitches him…Jimmy Jacobs ring gear is unique…think we are down to ten? Maybe? I’ve lost count…Martinez is a big dude…Jesus, Austin Gunn. The apron is your friend, man…get some, Marko…not from Bully, Marko…Brian Cage does not give a…and this is where Jordynne makes her name, eliminating Brian Cage…once again, Bully is there to ruin the fun…okay, that was fun from Jordynne and Colt…but now it’s down to Bully and Colt as Bully chucks Jordynne…Bully never hits that senton…and Bully pitches him…wait, Chico isn’t dead, thwacking Bully with a superkick. Chico unmasks as Flip Gordon, who had been begging for a spot on the show on Being the Elite all the way to All In and then throws out Bully for the win at 17:11…it was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have gotten to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling and Jordynne Grace 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. (N/R)
*Ian shills the ways to watch the PPV and runs down the card one more time. It is quite the fun looking card. That’ll do it for the pre-show. Let’s move to the main card…
ROH/NJPW/Friends: ‘All In’ (3:57:57)
*Justin Roberts is the first face we see and he introduces the Shalandra Royal, who does the national anthem. She does a fine job with it, but I don’t see the need for this here. USA is great and all, but it’s a multinational show card, guys…the pyro during the anthem was a nice touch though. Over the budget indeed…over to the announce table, where it’s still the same announcers, who again plug the main matches on the card. Let’s do this, shall we?
*Match #3: Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross
The Who: Maxwell Jacob Friedman is one of the hottest acts on the indies. While he’s not great in the ring, he plays smug douche about as well as humanly possible. Matt Cross may indeed be the best kept secret in pro wrestling. He only briefly had national exposure during his run on WWE Tough Enough (technically, he was on Lucha Underground but under a mask as Son of Havoc) but he’s been doing this almost twenty years and has developed into one of the most consistent performers anywhere.
The Why: Can’t say I have an answer for this, but the match should be good.
The Match: Going to completely disagree with my Chairshot colleague Andrew Balaz here. I actually really like what MJF has done for himself. He is not ‘Dollar Store EC3’…that is a really long ramp by any standard, let alone indie standards…referee is Todd Sinclair and the opening bell is here at…Ian taking a page from the WWE school of announcers by talking about Twitter trends…Cross hits the Ricochet pose on a backflip counter…and MJF is a jerk. Shocker…apparently MJF working the sheets by not flipping to get over. Cross does flip to get over as Riccaboni and Excalibur call the Sasuke Special in stereo. Try saying that five times fast…the thing with MJF is he doesn’t do anything flashy. He’s more of a throwback to the old school heel type. Something that you don’t get a lot today in modern wrestling…I can see why the Bucks and Cody wanted MJF. He’s the opposite of everything the Bucks are known for. For a wrestling promotion, diversity is key. The old cliché is that pro wrestling is like the circus. Some come for the lions; some come for the elephants; some for the clowns. In wrestling, you have those who watch for high flyers; those who watch for the catch as catch can and there are those who watch just to see a dislikeable person get punched in the face…gutwrench powerbomb with an arm trap. I can’t say I’ve ever seen that…I believe that Cross has been wrestling almost as long as MJF has been alive…top-rope frankensteiner by Cross. Nice…I do appreciate that Cross is still selling the arm when he’s on offense here. It’s the little things that a veteran like that does that makes a match mean more…package piledriver position into a shoulder breaker by MJF. A modern twist on an old school move…and MJF does flip. But follows it with an eye poke…Stomp 182 by Cross leaves both men down, however…slow cover by Cross gets two but MJF turns the kickout into a upside down version of the cross-arm-breaker…rope hang piledriver only gets two. I hate that. Especially in an opening match…Don Callis is sounding more and more like Scott Hudson…rope catch cutter by Cross sets up the Shooting Star Press. Outside of Paul London’s, Cross may have the best one in wrestling. That’s a three count at 10:07…GOOD little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside, they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I hope Cross gets a chance with AEW and we know MJF will be so looking forward to them running this back at some point down the road. Strong start to the show.
*Backstage to an interview with Nick Aldis, hosted by Sean Mooney. Sean Mooney in 2018. Good for him, man…Ian Riccaboni screwed up here as he said Mooney was with Christopher Daniels. First technical gaff of the show, but I’ll put that down to a learning mistake…Aldis does look like a proper champion, I’ll give him that. Plus, he gets to go home to Mickie James. Clearly, when it comes to life, Nick Aldis is winning…Riccaboni tries to cover as we come back to the announcers. The match now up is Daniels and Amell, so wires got crossed somewhere…
*Match #4: Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: The ‘New Reffin Show’ Jerry Lynn)
The Who: Christopher Daniels and I will be incredibly biased saying this, is one of my favorite wrestlers ever. He’s done everything except have a marquee run with the WWF (and he was a tag team champion there. Kinda. It’s a long story). Stephen Amell is Arrow on the TV show on The CW. You’ll probably know him from his run towards SummerSlam against Cody a couple years back. Jerry Lynn is a former ECW Heavyweight champion, multiple time TNA X Division champion and another one of those perpetually under-rated guys who will hopefully get some more screen time with AEW, even if it’s in a non wrestling capacity (such as referee here)
The Why: I really wish I’d been able to follow the Being the Elite episodes going into this show, but sadly time got away from me working on the Impact reviews. The story as to why is contained in there though should you all be so inclined.
The Match: This is where video packages like the one for Aldis-Cody would have served this show well. I know they interacted on Being the Elite but I haven’t seen the episode since it first aired and didn’t have time to go back and re-watch it. An informed crowd is a more invested crowd after all…Amell is accompanied to the ring by Josh Segarra, one of his co-stars on Arrow…Excalibur lays it out that while Amell is undefeated so far in wrestling, he’s only had tag matches. Never a singles match…Scorpio and Kazarian accompany Daniels to the ring as Ian Riccaboni points out that Daniels is in his twenty fifth year as a professional wrestler. That’s just insane to me. I was eight when he started…opening bell goes here…give Amell this much, he physically matches up well with Daniels. Slightly taller and probably around the same build and weight. Experience is clearly with the ‘Fallen Angel’ here though…bodily fluids should not be weapons…and Daniels does the Curry Man dance…Amell returns the takedown and bows. Daniels proceeds to beat his ass in the corner…that dropkick was Erik Watts level, Stephen. Not a compliment…Amell grabs a table, because apparently toys for everybody today…back suplex with a release throws Amell for a flip. Apparently, Amell is the heel here because the fans are definitely pro Daniels. Color me surprised…vertical suplex lift into a gut buster by Daniels. Been a while since I’ve seen that one…not a lot of fire on those back elbows there by Amell…Arabian Press by Daniels but no cover follows. Feel like Daniels is out to prove a point to Amell…Amell goes for Cross Rhodes but Daniels has it scouted having wrestled Cody for the ROH title. A basement superkick by Amell sets up a (admittedly rough looking) Falcon Arrow for two. A for moveset, C- for effort…Excalibur pops me by saying that he didn’t quite ‘do the deal’ since he didn’t get all of the Falcon. Well said, Excalibur…Amell looks terribly gassed…alright, that was impressive. Props were it due, Stephen. Daniels leans in like a professional to make sure it landed…Daniels isn’t immune to the sloppiness of this match as the B.M.E. doesn’t land fully clean and thus gets two…not sure why I just thought of this but another reason Daniels had the counter for Cross Rhodes is because he uses the move himself. He just calls it ‘Last Rites’…Daniels looks for a superplex to the floor through the table. That’s clearly not happening though…Amell knocks Daniels down to the apron and he rolls over to be on the table. Convenient placing…Amell goes for the flying elbow drop, but Daniels moves and Amell eats table…double count by the New Reffin Show as the fans chant ‘Broken Arrow’…Lynn puts both men back in the ring and Daniels does not appreciate being man handled by the zebra…a tiff breaks out resulting in a roll-up by Amell but Daniels kicks out, thankfully. That would have pissed me off to no end if it was the finish…Lynn keeps pulling Daniels back until Amell gives Daniels the double national bird. Excalibur again pops me on commentary: ‘Stephen Amell is an adult. He can make his own bad decisions’…gut shot by Daniels sets up Angel’s Wings which Amell counters nicely with a northern lights for two. Reminded me of LowKi at Lockdown in 2005 (I think?). Daniels up first though and a uranage backbreaker of sorts puts Amell down where this time, a proper Best Moonsault Ever gets the three count at 11:45…when this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on it. 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 solid 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.
*Post-match: Amell and Daniels make good by shaking hands. Indie respect for everyone. Isn’t it wonderful…over to commentary as Don Callis bails to go talk to Kenny Omega. In his place sits Tenille Dashwood (the former Emma of WWE) and Mandy Leon (who I just typed Rose for out of habit). Both ladies are there representing the Women of Honor for ROH. Tenille has since left ROH and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her land in AEW. Mandy is still dating Delirious and therefore still with ROH (it ain’t for her wrestling ability). It looks like the women’s four way is next.
*Match #5: Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
The Who: Britt Baker is now officially signed to AEW. In addition to being a pro wrestler, she also may have the distinction of world’s hottest dentist as she has an actual Doctorate in Dental Studies. Britt also comes out to Adam Cole’s old ROH theme song. I’m sure you can guess why that is. Madison Rayne we’ve covered many times before in ‘What I Watched’. She’s now back with Impact, so clearly she won’t be in AEW going forward. Chelsea Green is the former Laurel Von Ness from Impact. She just recently made her NXT debut but unfortunately broke her hand in that match. Tessa Blanchard, I mean, do I really have to? In the ten of these I’ve done, this is her fifth appearance. You know who she is by now. For those who don’t, Tessa may be the best woman’s wrestler in the world right now.
The Why: A way to get a woman’s match on the show. No real implications outside of that as far as I’m aware of.
The Match: At the time, this may have been three of the most well known female talents on the Indies in there with Britt. Now, all four of them have full time contracts. Not really a surprise given the talent level and let’s be honest, the visual appeal of all four ladies…Tessa comes into this match as the Knockouts champion. She would lose that title on the last show we covered here, Homecoming 2019. It’s in my archives…Tully showed up for Tessa at Rebellion 2019 as well, which Andrew has covered here on Chairshot. I will get to that show closer to Slammiversary…opening bell…Madison shakes hands with Britt and Chelsea. She tries to shake hands with Tessa and Tessa belts her with forearm. Good. Get that respect stuff out of here…so, I’m curious as to tornado rules or actual tag format. You never know with these Four Way Survivals…Chelsea seems to like herself. The fans seem to like her too…save you want a revolution, well, you know…Tessa cuts Chelsea off with a spear, so tornado rules it would seem…that was not the Magnum. The Magnum is the top rope one. That was just a corner chestblower…Ian plugs ROH Death Before Dishonor. Don’t think there will be a ROH plug anymore on AEW TV…Tessa shows off the strength, but Britt and Chelsea turn the tables. I will give Riccaboni credit here. He does bring up that Chelsea and Britt have teamed together before. ‘Fire and Nice’ if memory serves for the team name…again, Tessa knocks someone stiff with a forearm. Chelsea this time…that dive looked rough, Tessa. I think she clipped the rope…Madison up to the top and a cross body to the floor. Looked good too. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Rayne. She’s competent but nothing special, in my opinion…you get a Slingblade. You get a Slingblade. It’s Oprah Rules here at All In…I think Tessa may be the strongest of the four here. It’s probably close though…Chelsea with a Broski Boot to Tessa, complete with Woo Woo Woo’s. I think at one point all four of these ladies were either married to or dating wrestlers. It’s really not a surprise. Wrestling is one of those business where you get close to people because you spend so much time traveling with them. Especially if you are working for the same company or taking similar dates at various indies…Excalibur with a nice cover for it, calling it a Shinjiro Ohtani style face wash…Chelsea just smokes Tessa with a missile dropkick…Madison looking for something off the ropes with Baker, but it gets badly blown…Baker with a superkick to Chelsea. Tessa hits Magnum (the top-rope one) on Chelsea. Britt superkicks Tessa. A cover on Chelsea only gets two though. I bit there. Nice near fall…its kind of falling apart towards the end here. Up to this point, everything had flowed quite nicely, but you can tell these four are gassed at this point…alright, that crucifix bomb looked really good. Props to Madison and Tessa for that…fisherwoman’s neckbreaker. Ian again goes the Twitter route. He’s like baby Michael Cole…breaks down to Chelsea and Tessa, where a Canadian Destroyer by the ‘Hot Mess Express’ only gets two…both ladies back up and Chelsea looks to capitalize but Tessa is out and counters Chelsea into the Buzzsaw DDT. The cover afterwards gets the three count just before Britt Baker can make the save at 12:43…I don’t know if that pin was supposed to be broken up, but given where everyone was in their respective companies, Tessa getting the win here makes sense. As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost it’s way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say an ABOVE AVERAGE effort from the ladies and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed.
*Post-match: They don’t show the finish on the replay, but all the ladies hug it out as the fans approve. They served themselves well….back over to commentary we go. Either Mandy’s microphone didn’t work very well or she didn’t say a whole lot during that previous match. I definitely heard Tenille and that Australian accent of hers. Either way, the ladies excuse themselves and Brent Tarring joins us. Had to look him up because I had no clue who he was. Apparently, he was Timmy Baltimore when he worked for OVW as an interviewer and commentator. Found an article with his full story online. Tragic, but inspiring.
*Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)
The Who: Nick Aldis is the former Magnus in TNA, where he was a former Heavyweight champion there. If I am not mistaken, Aldis beat Colt Cabana for the NWA title. I’ll have to look that up to be sure, though. Cody Rhodes doesn’t really need an introduction but for those who don’t know, he’s one of the driving forces behind this show along with the Young Bucks. He’s also the son of Dusty Rhodes and the half (I think) brother of Goldust, who Cody will face at Double or Nothing.
The Why: Cody wants to follow in his father’s footsteps with the infamous ‘ten pounds of gold’. What better place to do so then in an NWA stronghold city like Chicago on a show that Cody is promoting?
The Match: Before the match, we replay the video package that aired during the ‘Zero Hour’ pre-show. Still say they should have done more of these videos…sweet jesus, what is Brandi wearing? Or more specifically, not wearing. Good lord…it’s an MMA entrance for Cody. DDP, Glacier and Tommy Dreamer in his camp. There’s a dog in Cody’s entrance as well. Ian calls him Pharaoh. I’ll assume he’s on Being the Elite or Brandi’s video blog…very loud ‘Cody’ chant. Obviously he’s the face here. But I do like that the champ enters second…I can’t imagine what it going through Cody’s mind. All the time and energy spent getting to tonight and for it to finally become a reality. Will that pressure affect his performance or will he raise to the moment? I’ve never been the biggest fan of Cody as a singles wrestler. Let’s see if he can buck that trend…Aldis has Shawn Daivari, Tim Storm and Jeff Jarrett with him. I sense clusterfuck afoot…I do miss the days of actual theme music, as I mentioned earlier. The instrumental Aldis comes out to is cool, but it doesn’t feel championship like…little surprised Bobby Cruise has the ring introductions instead of Justin Roberts…ring intros do make this match feel like a big deal…Earl Hebner is apparently a robot. He’s not aged in two decades…opening bell here…fans are definitely into this one. Loud ovation right after the opening bell…Cody with a cartwheel. Aldis with the Shawn Michaels ‘laying across the buckles’ in response…pretty basic start to the match about three minutes in. Taking their time to build to something, which I like…Cody with a suicide dive. Not something we usually see from him. He hit it flush too…focus goes to the back of Cody after Aldis sends him into the ring post…we’re working a very methodical pace here. As I said, the fans are into it which helps…that superkick missed by a good foot. Nice attempt to sell it by Aldis, but no…thus far, I do like that they have each other well scouted. It plays into the importance of the contest for both…double springboard dive to the floor and Cody caught that elbow flush. Would not be surprised if he comes up bleeding…Hebner throws up the X which may be legit or may be Cody and friends working the fans. We all know how Being the Elite leans ‘smark’ heavy…DDP comes out to catch on Cody as we’ve grinded to a halt…Cody is NOT busted open and Daivari comes down to shove DDP aside, calling for the towel to be thrown in…BANG~!!…not bad for a sixty year old. Hell, Page may even be seventy at this point…I think Hebner just ejected Page…and now Cody is bleeding. Alright, I’m calling shenanigans on this one. I get the story they want to tell with it, but that was blatant. The old wrestling adage is that ‘red equals green’. I need to be able to suspend my disbelief for that to equate and it doesn’t here…powerslam almost drops Aldis on his head…Cody is getting what I’ve come to know as ‘Corino Hair’…moonsault press was nice but no water in the pool…second rope fall away slam. Everything Aldis has done in this match has been on point…little quick for Cody to get back on the attack, but it’s a historically significant move. Both his father and his father’s greatest rivals used it…Aldis gets swept on the apron at the attempt on the PK, but catches Cody in a running PS on the floor…Cody’s back gives out on an Alabama Slam attempt. He gets it at the second time with an adrenaline burst. I actually do like that. Sell what’s happened, give the fans a chance to rally you, pay it off…Cody goes for the Disaster Kick (I think he calls it the Beautiful Disaster now), but Aldis ducks. A quick powerbomb gets two for Nick and Aldis puts on the Kingsland Cloverleaf…Ian raises a good point here. Very loose grip by Aldis. Sells the fatigue of the match thus far as we come up on seventeen minutes in…Cody keeping a bridge to ease the pressure but the back gives out once. It gives out a second time as Brandi encourages Cody. Third time, Cody gets to the ropes…Jesus, that looked rough. High angle piledriver…Aldis going up and looking for the flying elbow drop. Brandi tries to talk Aldis out of it, but Nick to the top and he drops the elbow on Brandi as she covers Cody! That’s a hell of a bump for someone who is a part time wrestler at best…Aldis does a hell of a job selling that he was aiming for Cody and that Brandi got in the way…paint brush slap by Aldis but Cody circles him at the ropes and hits the Beautiful Disaster. Cross Rhodes only gets two though…trading shots in the center for the Yay-Boo chant. Cody gets the edge and goes for the Vertebreaker, but Aldis escapes. Aldis goes for the Cross Rhodes and Cody snapmares his way out. Cody does duck his head too soon and Aldis goes up and over on a sunset flip, but Cody sits down on it, hooks the legs and that’s a three count at 22:03…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.
*Post-match: Crowd erupts as Cody is given the ‘ten pounds of gold’. Aldis would go onto regain it at the NWA’s 70th Anniversary Show, which is another show I’ve considered covering. It’s a good moment though…side note, I need to give Cody’s song a full listen. Sounds like something I’d rock on my Winamp…this post-match is taking a very long time. Knowing what we know about how the main event goes, this may have had something to do with it…Brent Tarring leaves the commentary booth and Don Callis takes back over as the color commentator.
*Match #7: ‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela
The Who: Adam Page aka ‘Hangman’ is going to be one of the primary players in AEW going forward. He’s someone who has grown significantly on me from the first time I saw him as I was not impressed but now, I’ve comes to respect his abilities. Joey Janela is another one of those guys who can lay the claim to being one of the hottest acts on the Indies. His ‘Spring Break’ shows with GCW have been some of the craziest we’ve seen in recent years in addition to being some of the best. While he’s nothing great in the ring, he carries himself like a star and for a company such as this, that’s super important.
The Why: We actually get a video for this one too! See, this is what I asked for…Adam Page destroyed Joey Ryan because he was jealous of the rest of the Elite being hung up on Ryan’s gimmick. Wait, that came out wrong. Anyway, Joey Janela stands up for Joey Ryan here since Joey is unable to rise for himself.
The Match: Janela doesn’t get as strong of a reaction as I suspected he would. He didn’t have a ton of exposure on BtE going into All In, so I’m not surprised. I do think he’ll be a good addition for AEW though. Plus, Penelope Ford is gorgeous. This will be nothing but help raise her stock as well…Britt, Penelope and Brandi. The era of the diva is once again upon us in AEW. That’s not to say they can’t wrestle, because I can’t make that judgment. I’ve not seen enough of any of them. I meant diva more so in the way they carry themselves…Ian and Callis mention here what I did about Janela. The fact that he’s built his brand as well as he has speaks without any major access to do speaks to the gritty entrepreneurial attitude that Janela possesses…Page definitely looks his gimmick…Ian points out that Adam has a thing against Joey’s. Excalibur then adds “if I was the inventor of the tree of whoa, Joey Lawrence, I’d be worried”. Pretty sure he stole that joke from Dave Prazak. It popped me anyway…apparently, murder is legal in AEW. As long as it was justified…opening bell here…Janela loses the head band early and Page catches Janela with a suicide dive. Janela fires back with a (cleaner) one of his own…don’t expect a whole lot of actual grounded wrestling moves here. That sequence was inside the first minute…Page redeems the suicide dive with a beautiful moonsault to the floor…pumphandle throw into an open chair by Page. That looked cool…it’s a cracker barrel. Of course, it is…I mean a Cracker Barrel barrel…alright, the tope con hilo off the barrel was pretty cool. Chair to step up and then flips off the barrel…Page just Super Mario’s over the barrel and then EZ Money’d over the barricade into a huge lariat…Page grabs a table as Don busts Ian’s balls for putting over he and Excalibur’s careers as wrestlers…Page looking for a superplex to the floor but Janela has none of it, pulling out Page with a Blu-Ray (DVD into the buckles)…ladder next and bridged from the ring on the barrel…burning hammer on the ladder. That just seems excessive, man…Ian: ‘Don’t give him any ideas, Don’. Don: ‘It’s a Chicago Street Fight. He (Page) can murder whoever he wants’…Penelope into the ring to help Janela, slapping Adam in the face. Penelope backflips out of a couple clothesline attempts and a stunner sends Page to the floor. Penelope beats him around ringside over towards the table where a Janela flying elbow of the buckle above puts Page through it…this is one of those spot, rest, spot, rest kinda brawls that I don’t care for. I get the reasoning why. They pop the live crowd. But to a fan such as I watching at home, it’s not nearly as captivating…towards the entrance ramp and stage they go…long way to go just for a lariat there…table number two and three out and set in the entrance way…okay, that was brutal. And I don’t Page got all of it, because Janela only made it to one of the tables. Ouch…Page brings Janela back to the ring. Another EZ Money flipping lariat (Page calls it the Buckshot) sets up the Rite of Passage (Beach Break or down the back Tombstone) for two when Penelope makes the save…and the bag Penelope made the save with have the boots that have been talking to Page. Penelope goes to grab a boot and Page superkicks her. Janela superkicks Page but only gets two…Janela out to the floor to get a ladder and a table. Setup in the ring and Page set up on the table. Janela climbs the ladder before Page greets him. Page pulls the phone that he murdered Joey with out of the other bag and clocks Janela in the head with it, stopping him on the top of the ladder. Page then hooks Janela for and delivers Rite of Passage off the ladder through the table. The three count is academic there at 20:09…it 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 of a downtime in this one. Honestly, to me anyway, Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say ABOVE AVERAGE but nothing I’d probably go back and re-watch. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it.
*Post-match: I’m sure if you are reading this, you’ve probably seen the show or have at least heard what happens here. I won’t go into too many details here because I don’t want to give it away if you don’t know what to expect. There’s some serious ‘sports entertainment’ going on here though, just as a heads up. My thoughts on it all: indifference to be frank. It’s part of Joey’s shtick, which we discussed on the United We Stand review. I don’t love it myself but here, it’s a satisfying payoff to the story they told on the way to ‘All In’.
*Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon
The Who: Jay Lethal is the (at this point now) former ROH champion, but was the champion here, obviously. Most people will know him from his run as ‘Black Machismo’ in TNA/Impact, but he’s a very reliable hand. Flip Gordon won the ‘Over the Budget’ battle royal to get to this spot. He had been petitioning for a spot on ‘All In’ to Cody and the Bucks for weeks to no avail on Being the Elite.
The Why: As mentioned, Flip Gordon won the battle royal on the pre-show to get this opportunity here on the main card. Pretty self-explanatory.
The Match: Crowd is definitely behind Gordon. They gave him a loud reaction for his win in the ‘Over the Budget’ and they are chanting his name to his music here as well…Brandi accompanies Flip to the ring as Don rants about Flip trying to scoop Brandi. I feel like that plays out in AEW down the road, unless Flip signed with ROH…and speaking of ‘Black Machismo’…not only is Lethal coming out as ‘Black Machismo’, he’s got Lanny Poffo (brother of Randy Savage) accompanying him. That’s a pretty cool moment for Lethal. I’m fairly certain Savage before he passed said that he approved of Lethal’s impression as well. This is yet another seal of approval to that. I don’t think ‘Machismo’ is something that would work on a full time basis anymore, but as a one off, it’s very cool none the less…to my knowledge, it has been quite a while since he’s pulled out ‘Black Machismo’…it does make sense that Bobby Cruise has this match…crowd reactions seem to be pretty split here…cool to see Cary Silkin get a moment. Guy doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves for what ROH was at it’s peak…Lethal’s mannerisms are so spot on with it…dig it, opening bell here, uh huh…alright, the bit where Lethal confuses Brandi for Liz makes me chuckle, probably more then it should given what we know now…lots of arm drags. It’s like Savage vs. Steamboat for the next generation…Lethal gives chase to Brandi. Brandi informs him that she is not Liz, Lethal lifts her up on the shoulders in the Liz pose anyway…I don’t like all the insider terms just getting tossed around on commentary. Reminds me way too much of WCW circa 2000. Nobody wants that back in their lives…Gordon chains moves together really well. The soccer kick into the standing moonsault, for example…is it possible that Flip Gordon was Alex Koslov in a previous life? I’ve seen those kip ups before…trio of dives by Gordon have him in firm control of the match…corkscrew frog splash. That was new…there’s a lot happening. Too much to call. But the fans are more into the antics here then any kind of back and forth wrestling…having this match follow a brawl in Page and Janela may not have done these guys any favors…Gordon with an impressive springboard kick and goes for the 450, landing on his feet when Lethal rolls in. Lethal then gets the Lethal Combination (backbreaker into Flatliner) for two…Lethal calls for the Lethal Injection but Flip with an O’Connor Roll, followed by a Falcon Arrow, prompting the trademark call from Excalibur. Unlike Excalibur’s claim, Lethal does kick out…both men back up and Gordon goes for the springboard but gets caught in a torture rack. Lethal then gets a inverted Finlay roll and looks for the Lethal Injection, but Poffo up on the apron to thwack Jay in the shoulder, triggering Machismo once again…center ring slam and Lethal goes up for ‘Hail to the King’. A second and third follow, but Gordon is out at two. Strongly disagree with that…oh lord, he’s turning into Flip Hogan…this is absolutely absurd…okay, that Pele brings us back. Thank god…man, he really is a Flip, isn’t he? Two back to back moves I’ve never seen before to set up the Cancun Tornado, which was perfectly executed…Flip goes for a top-rope frankensteiner, but Lethal stops it. Gordon kicks out of a super bomb attempt and goes for Kinder, but Lethal stops it an avalanche ace crusher. The Lethal Injection follows and that’s a three count at 14:25…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 nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out ‘Black Machismo’ again.
*Post-match: Lethal and Gordon shake hands after the match before Bully Ray comes down to attack both of them. Bully using a chain to take out Flip Gordon to continue their beef from Ring of Honor…Lanny Poffo attempts to make the save, Bully Ray kicks him in the balls. Because I’m a terrible person, I laugh…how do you not know what Bully is looking for, announcers?…and Cabana makes the save to a loud home Chicago reaction…and the trio of Colt, Flip and Jay put Bully through his own table with a triple powerbomb…back over to the announcers, where they get us ready for Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
*Match #9: Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
The Who: Kenny Omega is the 2019 ‘PWI 500’ number one. He has had critically acclaimed matches throughout Japan and is very well known by most independent wrestling fans despite not having a major stay in the US. Pentagon Jr., this is like the sixth time I’ve covered him and with good reason. Everyone on the US Indies wants a piece of both Pentagon and his brother Fenix. They tore the house down with LAX at Homecoming and Pentagon Jr. has the best match in the return of ‘What I Watched’ with the war with Sami Callihan at Slammiversary.
The Why: Two of the best wrestlers in the world squaring off. Sometimes, you don’t need any more of a story then that.
The Match: I don’t feel the need to add much here. This should be fantastic…reaction for Pentagon was loud but I think Kenny’s was louder…Kenny gets pyro too. That makes sense though. He’s Elite. He’s He’s Elite…Kenny had just won the IWGP Heavyweight title at Dominion two months prior. Obviously non-title here, but it’s a matter of pride…opening bell goes here as Excalibur mentions that Pentagon Jr. is coming off the main event of Triple Mania for AAA just a week prior. These might be the two biggest names not associated with the WWE in wrestling. If not the two biggest, certainly two of the top five…and Omega with a pie face…Omega tries to back roll and Penta kicks him square in the stomach…this is going to be one of those matches where I don’t say much because I’ll be caught up in the match itself…Kenny sets up for the Terminator dive, but Penta cuts him off with Slingblade. Omega out the floor and Penta soars with a no hands tope con hilo. Super smooth all of it…95 kilos looks to be what? About 240 lbs? To Google, where I find out that it’s only 209. He looks bigger then 209 pounds…the mats on the floor help a little but that powerslam probably sucked for Omega…Paul Turner never counted anyone. In fairness, I wouldn’t want a riot on my hands either…this match has leaned significantly more towards Pentagon then I thought it would be…Kenny doesn’t even have to call for the dive, as the Terminator clap starts. Instead, it’s a springboard frog splash to a standing Pentagon. That looked really cool despite almost losing his footing…everything Omega does is precise. Pinpoint precision on the missile dropkick…superkick counter to the V Trigger sets up a counter sequence. Kenny gets the better and gets the snap dragon. One Winged Angel attempt is countered into a lungblower for two, though…Pentagon to the top floor and a double stomp meets canvas as Omega rolls in. Another counter exchange leads to a DVD from Kenny. I don’t think these two have had a singles before but they are flowing really well…Omega looks for the avalanche brainbuster but Pentagon out into a tree of whoa double stomp. I still hate that move, but at least the setup here didn’t look nearly as contrived as it usually does…the announcers keep talking about Pentagon’s weight advantage on Kenny. Kenny actually outweighs Pentagon by twelve pounds…Pentagon gets caught in a series of V Triggers after a series of Cero Miedo’s…another try at the OWA is countered into another try at the Package PD. When that is escaped, Pentagon converts to the Pentagon Driver which gets a really close two count. Totally would have bought that as the finish…out to the apron they go and Pentagon gets the Package PD onto the apron!!! Fuck that noise!…Penta up top where the double stomp lands but a lax cover only finds two…Kenny just sticks Pentagon with a tornado package piledriver for two. I’ve said my piece on that move being kicked out of before. I won’t do it again…another try at OWA, but Pentagon traps the arm and hits the snapback arm-breaker. Fear Factor follows but again it’s only two. Well, that’s that finish dead in this match…audience is absolutely losing their minds here. I dig the ambiance, even if how we got there irks me a bit…now we’re just trading big moves. Eventually, a fifth V Trigger sets up a fourth attempt at the One Winged Angel. This attempt lands and that’s a three count at 17:48…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 excellent for me. The ridiculously spotting 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 then I thought they might. But there was no where 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.
*Post-match: this is going to be another one of those if you don’t know, watch for yourself moments as I don’t want to give away the big surprise. If you are watching Double or Nothing soon after this review gets posted, you know what happens. But if you don’t, know that they pulled off one of the bigger coo’s in modern wrestling to make happen what they did here.
*Match #10: Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
The Who: Kazuchika Okada is the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight champion of all time. He is also as of this writing once again the champion, having beaten Jay White for the belt. If I recall, he also had a brief run with Impact here in the US where he was kidnapped by Samoa Joe. I might be wrong on that. Marty Scurll is the Villain from the Bullet Club/Elite and while we’ve covered Marty before here on ‘What I Watched’, we’ve never covered him in the Villain persona. Scurll has really stepped into his own with this gimmick and would probably be up there for the list of most sought after wrestlers in the world, regardless of which company they call home (ROH and NJPW for Scurll at press time).
The Why: While the obvious answer is the man with the umbrella vs. the Rainmaker, there is a deeper meaning here. Marty doesn’t appreciate being pigeon holed as Jr. Heavyweight in New Japan. What better way to prove he can hang at the Heavyweight level then to take down the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight champion of all time?
The Match: Tiger Hittori is your referee for this contest. Rare to see him here in the US, so it’s a nice moment for Tiger. Fans give him a pretty good reaction…I don’t get the skit with Scurll before the match, but his entrance is a sight and sound to behold. I’m a little sad Marty decided to stay with ROH because he could have done big things with AEW…unlike most Indie fans, I’m not a huge Okada guy. In fairness, I’m not much of a NJPW guy in general…entrance for Okada is impressive as well, but I do think Scurll’s was better…Okada causes a ‘205’ chant to start towards Marty. Okay, that shit is funny. It’s a fun little inside joke that hurts no-one and rallies your fans together…opening bell here…seven hundred and twenty seven days. Almost two full calendar years. It’s hard to argue his drawing power over in Japan…the height difference is quite noticeable…Scurll causes Okada to flinch as well…again, the announcers go super insider with the references. I guess some watching will appreciate that. But focus on the match, not each other…there’s a bit of smugness to the way Okada is handling himself. I don’t mind it because it gives us a story…Scurll gets a run of offense leading to an Austin Aries styles tope through the bottom and second rope…another brawl around ringside…makes sense for Marty to keep Okada grounded. We’re all the same size on the canvas…Okada quickly turns the tide however and gets back in control. We once again go the floor. It’s a recurring theme tonight…DDT on the floor as Ian shouts out Jake Roberts. I miss the days of the DDT as a finish. Especially when properly done…Okada pulls a page from the Eddie Guerrero playbook with the rolling hilo outside in, before taunting Scurll…Scurll with an overhead chop and Okada puts him on his wallet with a forearm…Japanese Stranglehold. Apt move for him to use…Scurll up and counters out into a cross-arm lungblower…Okada boots Scurll in the face but Scurll responds with the ‘Just Kidding’ superkick at the knees…Callis rips Hittori for being a slow counter. Ian calls out Hebner for being a fast counter. He also likes to call for bells too…makes me sad that the DDT is just a transition or a near fall move anymore…these two are definitely laying it in. You can hear the strikes land. Marty catches a brainbuster which leaves both men down…Marty is taking too long though and Okada blocks causing Marty to hurt his back. Kryptonite Krunch over the knee for Okada gets two. Ian calls it an Air Raid Crash. Either move name is effect. I’m just a Nova mark…I don’t feel like a superplex is in your best interest, Marty…then again…fish out of water or ‘let’s blow up the referee’…Scurll with a powerbomb. Jr. Heavyweight this, sucka!…I appreciate that Excalibur calls it John Woo…high and tight Japanese style missile dropkick by Okada. It looks so much more effective then its American counterpart…Tombstone is countered once with a DDT by Scurll. Scurll tries for one of his own and Okada turns that into a proper Okada Tombstone before calling for the Rainmaker (with camera zoom out)…apparently when you take time to taunt with ‘205’ before the Rainmaker, you get your fingers broken. Now we know…I wonder who did the finger break spot first. Scurll or Dunne?…okay, that was a really cool counter out of the Rainmaker into the Crossface Chicken Wing…Scurll doesn’t quite have the grip and Okada is able to rise up…the grip gets broken by Okada but Marty puts it back in before Okada counters into a cradle for two…Hittori gets drilled, which I think may be our first referee bump of the night. And we had a match with Earl Hebner as the zebra…Marty grabs his umbrella. Okada goes for the Rainmaker which Marty ducks and open the umbrella to distract Okada before thwacking him upside the facial region with it. Scurll then hits the Rainmaker and that gets two! I bit there…this time, the CFCW is countered into the Rainmaker. Fans are going crazy for both as Hittori counts both down…Okada drags Scurll back up and Scurll begs for Okada to keep bringing the fight, as each forearm puts Marty back on his ass…Scurll spits at Okada and slap him in the face. Okada retorts with a discus Rainmaker before the standard version puts Scurll down for three at 26:06…probably a little long. But they told a VERY GOOD story throughout. I have made it no secret in the past that I am 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.
*Match #11: Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio
The Who: Young Bucks are to some the best tag team in wrestling. Personally, I’d put them third behind the Revival and LAX. Kota Ibushi made his name here in the States participating in the Cruiserweight Classic. Despite the WWE wanting to sign Ibushi, he went back to his native Japan where he’s doing quite well for himself as the IWGP Intercontinental champion. Bandido is now exclusively to ROH but he’s another one of the recent group of luchadores to come to the US from Mexico and achieve some commercial success. Fenix as we discussed earlier is the brother of Pentagon Jr. Together, they are the Lucha Brothers and both are two of the most sought after acts on the US Indies. Rey Mysterio Jr., are you kidding me? You think I need to describe who Rey Jr. is? What I will say if that I appreciate Mysterio Jr. keeping this booking despite having returned to the WWE by this point.
The Why: Six high flyers out to have a balls to the wall spotfest to wrap up the show.
The Match: We’re going to rush the scene here since we’re down to around sixteen minutes of PPV time left. They knew going into this match that they were running short. Such is the peril of planning your own show for the first time. It shouldn’t have happened but what’s done is done…Rey took his sweet time for the entrance, but the Wolverine gear is pretty cool…Golden Elite do all come out together, which makes sense on both a time and a actually formed trio level…referee is Rick Knox, which is really nice for him…unfortunately, he’s out to a firing squad here. Just let them do their thing, Rick…opening bell at 3:45:30…tornillo cross body by Bandido. Nice…they’ve been doing this almost fifteen years and the Bucks are still smooth as silk as a team. It’s quite impressive the staying power they’ve had. And the ability they’ve had to avoid any kind of major injuries…that was like a quadruple springboard arm drag…fans go ape shit at the thought of Ibushi vs. Mysterio Jr.…Mysterio moving like a much younger man here…and he gets kicked in the face…it has to be cool for guys like Matt and Nick to be in the ring with Rey. I’m sure Rey is a guy who strongly influenced their style…feel like both Ibushi and Bandido could lay claim to fastest wrestler in the world. Bandido is someone I’ve not seen a lot of though…Bucks are definitely getting their shit in here…and Kota gets the Golden Triangle moonsault…Rey turns the clock back to the mid 90s with a huge quebrada…the dives come in bunches and there is no easy way to describe them…tope con hilo off the ramp. Well, if their were ropes, it would have been a tope con hilo. I guess technically it was a cannonball dive…I’m surprised there are still tags in this match…Bandido takes down all three Golden Elite’s with a head scissors…I’m sorry guys, I just can’t keep up with everything here…that series of moves that culminated in the frog splash by Rey very easily could have been the finish. I know why it wasn’t, but it could have been…Fenix and Rey look to double team Matt. Matt gets outs but Bandido looks to take advantage, doing so with the moonsault fall away slam for two. Nick in to break, but the Bucks take control with a superkick party…More Bang for Your Buck with added Kota moonsault may have been the finish, but Fenix makes the save. Seconds later, Bandido gets caught in the Meltzer Driver and that is a three count at 11:44…clearly much shorter then it was probably going to be, they packed a ton in these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone, 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 it isn’t anything that’ll be looked back upon fondly down the road.
*Post-match, there’s not much to discuss as we very quickly head off the air. Ian Riccaboni doesn’t even get through his sign off before the sound drops and the production screen rolls. That brings us to an end for All In.
Match #1: Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35 (VERY GOOD) (Pre-show)
Match #2: Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray (N/R) (Pre-show)
Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07 (GOOD)
Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
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 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03 (VERY GOOD)
Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25 (GOOD)
Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48 (VERY GOOD)
Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06 (VERY GOOD)
Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44 (GOOD)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
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 luchadore/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis and Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting. 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.
THE FINAL REACTION
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: Has to be the production, does it not? Hard to fault them for it as they are inexperienced show runners but when your main event gets less time then every single other match on your show save one, it’s not a good sign. Especially when said main event has three of the biggest names in the promotion of the show.
MVP: I’ll go with Cody here as well. It was a good night for young Mr. Runnels.
FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10
My next review that comes to you guys will be PROGRESS Chapter 5, “For Those About to Fight”. Hopefully, I’ll get some more shows into the archive for you guys as well. I would also hope that you guys will check out the Raw Reaction every Monday night at 11:30 PM (EST) to hear Tony Acero, Andrew Balaz and myself break down the important news and cover Monday Night Raw over on the Chairshot Radio Network.