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Leaping Through The Network: WWE ECW #163 [July 21 2009]

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Welcome one and all to the place where we put the ‘Flashback Friday‘ into Flashback Friday as we leap through the WWE Network in a seemingly random order covering show by show and pay per view by pay per view.

Last week we went Extreme when we covered an ECW pay per view. Ths week the voting public, 36% of it anyway, has sent me back to the land of Extreme.

Sort of.

In 2001, the version of ECW that we covered went bankrupt. Through various business buzzwords WWE purchased the assets of ECW in 2003. In 2006 WWE launched their version of ECW. The gritty graphics of the old ECW was replaced by WWE’s shiny HD. The bad language and the blood soaked violence was gone too.

What remained was an early version of what NXT is today. The roster was a mix of low ranked established WWE roster members and upcoming graduates of the developmental system.

But was it any good?

To find out we have to watch and review it. Which leads us to……

WWECW #163
July 21, 2009

Following the opening titles, we start with a match.

William Regal vs Yoshi Tatsu

Regal has a mike. Regal tells Yoshi that he despises all foreigners. (Yes a guy from the UK said that to a guy from Japan in the US in 2009) Tatsu fires a Roundhouse Kick at Regal but he narrowly avoids it. Regal turns a Collar and Elbow Tie-up into an Arm Wringer but Tatsu backflips his way into reversing it into one of his own. Regal forward rolls a reversal as does Tatsu. Regal turns another Collar And Elbow into a knee to the gut and an Uppercut. Tatsu fires back with a Chop and a Headlock that Regal sends off the ropes. Both men Shoulder Block each other but nobody moves. A Second Shoulder Bock attempt by Tatsu ends in a Left Hand from Regal. Regal continues with knees to the chest sending Tatsu to the corner where Tatsu tries to fight his way out but a Series of Forearms keeps Tatsu in the corner before a Kick and an Uppercut knock Tatsu down. Regal applies a Full Nelson but Tatsu quickly breaks out of it and hits Regal with a Knee but Regal catches Tatsu with a huge Exploder Suplex that gets a Two. Regal applies and wrenches on a Catch Hold. Tatsu eventually powers his way out of it but is caught by a Butterfly Suplex for a two. Regal wears down Tatsu with a Chinlock/Tazmission hybrid while we watch a replay of the Butterfly Suplex. Tatsu fights out with elbows and a jumping Roundhouse Kick to the temple. They have an Uppercutt vs Chop fight and Chop/Tatsu wins before a series of Roundhouse Kicks and a sort of Forward Roll into a Kick to the shoulders kind of move that I should know the name of. Tatsu climbs to the top turnbuckle but a nudge by Regal knocks Tatsu down to the canvas. Regal pulls down his knee pad and goes for the Knee Trembler (running exposed knee to the skull) Tatsu avoids it and hits a Roundhouse Kick to Regal’s head for the three count.

Winner: Yoshi Tatsu

Commentary tell us that opponents at this Sunday’s Night Of Champions, Tommy Dreamer and Christian, will be on the Abraham Washington Show later.

Ezekiel Jackson vs Mike Williams

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I talking about enhancement talent? It’s infrequent but it still happens. Here’s one now with Mike Williams. Guess who wins?

Zeke starts with a Big Boot that nearly wipes out Williams and follows that with a Clothesline that does the same. A standing Rock Bottom and we’re done. Well, Williams is. Post match, Vladimir Kozlov walks to the ring, stares at Zeke hits a Spinebuster to poor Williams and leaves.

Winner: Ezekiel Jackson

In a segment called ‘Ask The Divas‘ Eve Torres tells us that she works with muscular men every day so she looks for a man who is more normal looking, but he needs to be athletic. Maria says it’s not about looks but how a man treats her.

Shelton Benjamin vs Goldust

Shelton knees his way out of a Collar And Elbow and slams a forearm into the back of Goldust and jabs a Forearm in his face. Shelton shoots Goldust off the ropes but he Goldust reverses it. Goldust ducks for a Back Drop but Shelton leaps over him and pushes Goldust off the ropes only to be Clotheslined by the rebounding Goldust. After a couple of jabs, Goldust sends Shelton off the ropes and catches him with a Rear View. Goldust then Irish Whips Shelton into the corner and catches him with a running shoulder to the gut and a series of rights. Shelton catches a charging Goldust with a Snake Eyes and a Neckbreaker for a two count before unloading with punches and knees. A short arm Clothesline gets a two count for Shelton before he applies a Neck Crank in an attempt to wear down Goldust. Goldust fights out of it with punches and an Irish Whip but again a charging Goldust is thwarted this time with an Elbow. Shelton charges at a groggy Goldust but is caught with a snap Powerslam. Shelton reverses an Irish Whip off the ropes but bends too far and is kicked in the face by Goldust who follows up this assault with an Inverted Atomic Drop and a Bulldog that gets him a two. Goldust gets the same result from a Legdrop. Shelton then eats some punches from Goldust before catching Goldust with a modified Neckbreaker for a two. Goldust catches a flying Shelton with an Uppercutt for another two count. Shelton catches Goldust and leaps over the top rope dropping Goldust throat first on the rope before sliding back into the ring and catching a dazed Goldust with the match winning Paydirt.

Winner: Shelton Benjamin

We see Sheamus. He says that ECW maybe used to an Irishman (Finlay) running around with a Leprechaun (Hornswoggle) but those days are gone. He tells us the children he sees dancing in the crowd will see their heroes fall to The Celtic Warrior

We get a plug for Night Of Champions which is happening this weekend. It features Randy Orton vs Triple H vs John Cena in a Triple Threat Match, CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy and Ted Dibiase Jnr & Cody Rhodes vs Chris Jericho & A Mystery Partner. Should be good.

Gregory Helms is backstage with Paul Burchill and his sister Katie. Paul says that his opponent tonight doesn’t concern him. He gets distracted by then noise of a passing Goldust’s tourettes. He tells Goldust he’s sick of people like Goldust coming to ECW and thinking they can do what they want. Goldust has a twitch that ends in Goldust accidentally slapping Paul in the face. Paul goes after him but Katie stops him and tells him to focus on his match. Paul heads to the ring, Katie watches him go.

Tyler Reks vs Paul Burchill

This is Tyler’s ECW debut apparently. Burchill turns a Collar and Elbow Tie-up into a Chinlock briefly before Clotheslining Tyler in the face. Burchill catches Tyler’s foot to block a kick to the face but Tyler ducks a Clothesline and hits Burchill with a Flying Clothesline before ramming Burchill’s face into the turbuckle. Burchill catches a charging Tyler with a Back Elbow but Tyler catches him with a Back Drop. Katie distracts Tyler by pulling on his ankle allowing Burchill to knee him in the back sending him into the corner before hitting a Short Arm Clothesline. Burchill slows things down with a Chinlock. Tyler fights out of it but gets Irish Whipped into the corner but he catches a charging Burchill with a Back Elbow of his own.

A second rope Cross Body gets Tyler a two but Burchill catches him with a Samoan Drop that gets him a two of his own. Burchill hits some Crossface Clotheslines before going back to the Chinlock. Tyler tries fighting out of it but Burchill slams him to the mat and catches him with a Kick to the chest, a Snapmare and a Knee Drop which gets a two. Back to the Chinlock. Tyler powers his way out of it and he and Burchill exchange punches. Tyler wins that and Irish Whips Burchill off the ropes, Burchill reverses it but the rebounding Tyler strikes with a Right Hand to the gut and hits Burchill with a Flapjack and a Springboard Dropkick that gets him a two. As both men get to their feet, Burchill heaves Tyler up and over with a huge Side Suplex which gets a two count. Burchill then charges at Tyler with a sort of Shoulder Block/Spear but Tyler rolls him up with a School Boy and gets the three.

Winner: Tyler Reks

Abraham Washington is out to host The Abraham Washington Show. This is a sort of spoof/Rip off from all the Late Shows on TV with Jay Leno, Conan O’Brian, David Letterman and a ton of others. WCW tried this years ago too with Eric Bischoff as host.

He says that he was not on last week’s show and got emails. So tonight he’s back with a bigger and better show with not one but TWO main event level superstars on the show. First he brings out ‘My Dawg‘ Christian. Following Christian is a man that has been on before but Abraham suspects keeps coming back for the buffet in the green room. Abraham says he may not be back on the show as Abraham can’t afford the man’s eating habits: The ECW Champion, Tommy Dreamer.

Abraham calls Dreamer fat and tells Christian he has a face for radio so Christian tells him that his jokes haven’t been original since 1991. Christian says he and Dreamer are friends and sometimes tag team partners. He says that when he first came to ECW he wanted to win the ECW Title and he did just that, this Sunday he’ll win it again.

Dreamer reminds Christian that the reason he’s a former ECW Champion is because Dreamer beat him. Abraham suggests to Dreamer that the reason Dreamer is looking forward to going to Philadelphia not because of his ECW roots but because he wants to stuff his big fat face with cheese steaks.

Dreamer says he’s had enough of Abraham’s jokes. He has great pride about returning to Philadelphia as ECW Champion. Christian tells Dreamer that if Dreamer wins, don’t cry. Dreamer tells Christian that to joke like that to him is a slap in the face, which is what Christian then does. Dreamer then slaps Christian in the face. Abraham tells them to save it for Sunday while Dreamer and Christian exchange words off mike as we fade out.

Post Show: This was an odd show. There was nothing that was ‘go out of your way to see it’ good or ‘avoid like plague’ bad. It was a show that reminds you that when someone like WWE is putting out 52 episodes of Raw, 52 of Smackdown and 52 of ECW, not every show is a classic. This was a very meh show.

Match Of The Night: Shelton Benjamin vs Goldust. Like the show there was nothing that stood out on this show as being amazing. I’ve picked the Goldust one but it could have been Regal’s match or Paul Burchill’s. None stood out.

MVP: Abraham Washington. He’s like Byron Saxon filled with charisma. OK so his material was mainly fat jokes but the charisma was off the charts.

Rating: 5/10 Middle.

With that, I’m done. I’m off now to have some minor surgery done so I won’t be here next week but I shall return the following week. In the meantime I can be found on Twitter @Callaweasy2220 where I live tweet Raw, Smackdown, NXT and, when applicable, PPV and post random screenshotted pictures of whatever show I’m reviewing.

As always there is a vote going for upcoming episodes over @theCHAIRSHOTcom so go there and vote.. A recent one was so close that next time around YOU could be the deciding vote.

A blue hue is surrounding me which usually means my next leap is imminent so all that’s left is to say #UseYourHead and ALWAYS have an Angle!

“Pick A Winner, I’ll buy you dinner’.

Oh Boy.


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Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999

Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!

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Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?

ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!

What I Watched #16

ECW Guilty as Charged 1999

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

  • Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
  • Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
  • Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
  • Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
  • Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
  • Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
  • Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think  that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)

Super Crazy vs. Tajiri

Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)

John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent

So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)

Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley

Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…

The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)

TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm

Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.

The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)

Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of. 

As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)

Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz

So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent. 

The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)

 

THE FINAL REACTION

  • Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
  • Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
  • Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
  • MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.

 

THE SIGNOFF

It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.

So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.


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What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018

Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!

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ALL IN

Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.

I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.

What I Watched #10-B

ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018

9/1/2018

Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL

Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)

Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)

THE RESULTS

  • Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
  • Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
  • Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
  • Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
  • Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
  • Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
  • Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
  • Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
  • Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
  • Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
  • Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)

*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)

Over the Budget Battle Royal

*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)

Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross

*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)

Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)

*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)

Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard

*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)

NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)

*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)

‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela

*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)

ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon

*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)

Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)

Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)

Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio

*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)

THE FINAL REACTION

There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.

Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.

Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.

Overall Show Score: 8.5/10

MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.

THE SIGNOFF

And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.


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