We just may have the best SummerSlam of all time on our hands here as The Rock squares off against the new hot, young commodity, Brock Lesnar. Shawn Michaels and his former friend, Triple H, have an Unsanctioned Street Fight. All this and so much more in this edition of The Chairshot Classic.
14,7997 people are in the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, in Uniondale, New York, as we travel back to August 25, 2002 for SummerSlam. There are another 540K tuned in on PPV at home. This is an amazing event we have here and some may argue “The Greatest SummerSlam of All-Time”. The card features 15 men who either held a World Title or would go on to do so. This is impressive as the card only featured 18 men, so 83% of this SummerSlam held a World Title at some point. 2002 is the year of the dual branded WWE (RAW/SmackDown) and competition is few and far between for them, outside of their own Brand War. They company became World Wrestling Entertainment in May of this year after they lost a court battle with The World Wildlife Foundation.
The show opens without the use of a cool video and this was a disappointment. I really enjoy these opens and it is a shame there isn’t one here. Michael Cole is welcoming us into the sold-out Coliseum for this event, which sold-out in 90 minutes, and its strange not to have Jim Ross on the intro. Jim Ross and his usual colleague, Jerry “The King” Lawler call the RAW portion of the show. This leaves Michael Cole and Tazz in control of the SmackDown Microphones. The RAW announce team calls their matches from the top of the ring ramp and I’m sure it pissed JR off not being close to the action to call his matches. That means Tazz and Cole get the privilege of being ringside. Both shows would have different men as Ring Announcers, Howard Finkle for the RAW Brand and Tony Chimel for SmackDown. Chimel earned the job by beating Finkle in a Tuxedo Match in 1999.Its not long into the open before we hear the first participant’s theme song begin.
Kurt Angle starts to make his way down the aisle and for the first time since starting this coverage of SummerSlam, we hear the “You Suck” chant accompany him. This I found satisfying. The theme of Rey Mysterio begins to play and this is his first PPV for the company. Mysterio didn’t come over in the InVasion angle (More on that here.), in the previous year, because he was making too much money from his leftover WCW contract. A lot of guys milked this till the end, and rightfully so. Time Warner had to pay the remainder of the contracts from when they acquired the brand, and some guys waited till this expired before joining the WWE because that would end the contract. I think it worked out better for some guys, like Rey, because they weren’t in the messy InVasion jumble. Mysterio doesn’t enter via the ramp, and appears on the apron behind Kurt Angle. Rey springboards off the top rope and hurricanranas Kurt Angle. Rey hits another one but eventually his moment is slowed when he attempts to German suplex Kurt. Angle hits some elbows and Mysterio soon finds himself in an early ankle lock. Mysterio eventually gets to the ropes but it takes a ref’s warning for Angle to break it. Mysterio lands a drop-toe hold that sets up a 619 attempt. Angle ducks under the finish though and leaves the ring. He is quick to pull Mysterio out to join him and the crowd has been electric this whole match. And frankly, so have the competitors.
It’s not long before Kurt returns Rey to the ring and stomps away on him. When Angle hits a suplex the crowd is really giving him some heat and he is giving it back. Kurt hits a German suplex next, after catching Mysterio, that looks seriously brutal. Angle keeps rolling and throws a few pin attempts in to no avail. The lower back now becomes Angle’s primary target and he continues to work it. When he stretches Rey with the ropes the crowd’s “Angle Sucks” chants are in full force. Kurt begins to torque the knee and lower back by putting Mysterio into a single leg crab. The crowd starts the clap rally and Mysterio escapes. He rolls Angle up for the pin but only gets a two. They both return to their feet but Rey is quickly laid back out with a clothesline. The tides start to shift after Mysterio hits a jawbreaker but they shift quickly back, after a belly-to-belly from Angle. Kurt pulls the straps of his singlet down and the crowd is popping. He attempts his finish, The Olympic Slam, but Mysterio rolls through it and takes him down with an arm drag. Kurt tries to charge but Rey ducks and sends Kurt over the top rope. Mysterio goes to dive from the ring but the official stops him. As the official is leaning through the ropes to check on Angle, Mysterio comes running and leaps the official. The crowd erupts as he hits Angle with a sunset flip. He returns Angle to the ring and springboards off the top rope for a leg drop. Rey goes for the cover but only gets a two. Mysterio hits the 619 and follows it with the West Cost Pop, a hurricanrana into the pin. The crowd is in a frenzy but Angle bring them back to earth by kicking out. Mysterio takes to the top turnbuckle but Angle is quick to his feet. Mysterio flips over him and lands on his feet. Angle then starts to climb the turnbuckle but Rey springboards off the ropes to dropkick him. Mysterio joins him up top but Kurt reverses the hurricanrana attempt and this sets up the ankle lock. Rey almost makes the ropes but Kurt drags him back to the center. This leads to Mysterio tapping out and Kurt Angle getting the submission. What a phenomenal match and these two individuals really set the bar high with this opener. It was impressive that Kurt adapted to Rey’s style here and allowed him to really shine. A must watch match and what a great first PPV appearance for Mysterio, even though he didn’t go over. Match Time: 9:20
We see the leader of SmackDown, Stephanie McMahon and she is telling a crew member to tell Eric Bischoff to top the last match. When he leaves and Stephanie enters her office, Bischoff is already in there. He tells her that they have to share the general manger’s office due to it being the only one. Bischoff joins Stephanie on a couch in front of a TV to watch the show. I get the idea of the brand warfare but this was lame.
We Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler and they are speaking of the rivalry of Stephanie and Bischoff. They then welcome us to the RAW portion of SummerSlam as Chris Jericho’s countdown begins on the TitanTron. There is a quick clip of what really turned the heat up on this feud. Ric Flair attacked Jericho with a garbage can, so Jericho returned the favor and ambushed him with one in the back. Flair got some color from this attack and he made sure to return the favor to Chris. He attacked Jericho as his band, Fozzy, was performing on the entrance ramp. Ric then proceeded to destroy the set and instruments of the band. All while sporting a crimson mask. This all took place on the go-home edition of Monday Night RAW. When the “WOOO” at the beginning of Flair’s theme comes on the place erupts. The former 16 time World Champion enters and the crowd shows their respect to the 52 year old legend. It’s amazing that Vince gave him another chance at this age, as he thought Ric looked to old in 1992 and wanted him to get a face lift then.
We get a few collars and elbows first and the crowd pops when Ric breaks one, slaps Jericho in the face and follows it up with a “WOOO”. Jericho leads the charge first and starts with some elbows in the corner. He sends Ric sky-high next for a back body drop that I couldn’t image taking at 32, let alone 52. Jericho attempts to drop an elbow but Flair moves and with every chop he delivers to the chest of Chris the crowd “WOOO”s. Ric tries to throw Jericho from the ring but he hold the top rope and flips back into the ring. But Flair is there to meet him with another chop and this time he “WOOO”s for the crowd. Jericho delivers some chops of his own next and the crowd even makes Ric’s signature sound for his chops. He sends Flair to the corner and Ric takes the bump in his normal fashion, the summersault that leaves him prone on the ropes. Jericho then sends him to the floor mats with a clothesline and the place is popping. Jericho joins him on the outside and exposes the top of the security rail. He bangs him off it then climbs to the top rope to really smash Ric’s face into the rail. This doesn’t really even connect but I guess it looked cool.
They return to the ring and the action picks up again when Jericho hits a missle dropkick from the second turnbuckle. Jericho goes for the cover but Ric kicks out. He tries again for another quick cover but another kick out. Chris attempts to remove a turnbuckle cove next but only makes it so far before the official stops him. The official has to make a repair to it, though, and this allows Jericho to choke Flair with his wrist tape. Jericho then lays Flair’s neck onto the ropes and jumps onto his back. Flair’s neck is the primary target of Jericho from this point forward. After a suplex, Jericho is quick to the top turnbuckle but Flair is right there to meet him and throw him to the mat. Chris tries a shoulder tackle next but he connects with the ring post instead of with Ric. Flair hit some more big chops and the crowd is still “WOOO”ing at every one. Ric lifts Chris for a back body drop next and the crowd is back on their feet at this point. Flair attempts a suplex that gets reversed and he soon finds himself in The Walls of Jericho. Before it is fully locked in, Flair manages to roll Jericho into an inside cradle for the pin attempt. He kicks out and both men are quick to their feet, but Ric is right on his back again after a clothesline. A running bulldog is next for Jericho that he follows with a Hogan-like “I can’t hear you”. He tries to Lionsault, but Flair rolls out of harms way. Flair tries to put The Walls of Jericho onto Chris but he reverses it. This leads to Jericho putting Flair’s own figure-four on him. After some build-up, Flair finally finds the rope and breaks the hold. He soon hits Jericho with a low blow and this allows Flair to put the figure-four onto Jericho. He soon taps out and another match is decided by submission. It is said that the original finish was Flair with an inside cradle but Jericho convinced McMahon and Flair that he should loose to the figure-four. Flair was said to be low on confidence at the time and didn’t think he was good enough to beat Jericho with his normal finish, as he wasn’t himself. This is were the famed “You’re Ric Freakin’ Flair” comes from, and as we saw, Jericho convinced them to change it. This was a great match and I have not one bad thing to say about it. Watch this one folks. This is shaping up to be an impressive card. With hindsight, just look at the four competitors that opened this show. All are legends and Hall of Fame worthy. Two are all ready in, Flair and Angle, and when Rey and Chris’s careers are over they will be too. Match Time:10:22
Paul Heyman is in the locker room and is joined by his client, Brock Lesnar. Even back then Paul backed the winning horse. He is getting Brock pumped up for his match with The Rock for The Universal Championship. Paul is telling him he needs to destroy him like Hulk Hogan because he is “The Next Big Thing”. Heyman was just as annoying back then as he is today.
Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!
Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?
ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!
What I Watched #16
ECW Guilty as Charged 1999
Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL
Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)
Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)
- Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
- Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
- Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
- Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
- Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
- Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
- Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15
Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)
Super Crazy vs. Tajiri
Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)
John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent
So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)
Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley
Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…
The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)
TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm
Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.
The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)
Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer
The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of.
As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)
Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz
So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent.
The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)
THE FINAL REACTION
- Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
- Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
- Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
- MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.
It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.
So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.
What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018
Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!
Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.
I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.
What I Watched #10-B
ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018
Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL
Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)
Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)
- Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
- Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
- Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
- Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
- Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
- Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
- Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
- Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
- Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
- Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
- Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44
Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)
*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)
Over the Budget Battle Royal
*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross
*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)
Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)
*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)
Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)
NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)
*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)
‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela
*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)
ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon
*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)
Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)
Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio
*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)
THE FINAL REACTION
There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.
Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.
Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.
Overall Show Score: 8.5/10
MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.
And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.
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