JR is quick to introduce us to the next match between “The American Bad Ass”, The Undertaker and a member of The Un-Americans, Test. We see a package that shows us different symbols of American Patriotism before it is interrupted by The Un-Americans. They tell us that “The world hates America and we hate America”. Storm tells us that the upside down flag represents the upside down values and beliefs of American society. I don’t really recall this angle as a kid, but Storm’s mic work in this promo is great. Test enter the arena first and is waving the inverted American flag. And receiving some good heat for doing so. The crowd explodes as The American Bad Ass enters next and is on his Harley. Taker enters the ring and goes right for Test, who is quick to exit. Undertaker pumps the crowd up before Test rejoins him in the ring.
The bell sounds and Test comes out on top after the usual collar and elbow tie-up. He whips Taker into the ropes but the big man leapfrogs Test and takes him down with an arm drag. Test lands some knee strikes and sends Taker into the ropes again. This time The Undertaker goes sky-high to hit a diving lariat. The shoulder of Test gets worked some more before Taker leads him to the corner by the hand. The Undertaker begins to climb the rope to hit his signature, Old School. For those that don’t recognize the name, this is where The Undertaker tight ropes across the top rope to deliver a strike. Test stops this move by shoving the ref into the ropes and causing Taker to fall, spread eagle, onto the top rope. Test then knocks Taker off the apron and into the security wall. Test is quick to join him on the outside and this leads to Taker being whipped into the ring stairs. Test returns him to ring and unloads with a series of blows. The crowd “BOOS” Test as he continues to whoop Taker’s ass around the ring. An armbar is applied next and this is when we see Taker start to successfully rally. After he escapes the hold he delivers a side suplex to Test and the momentum is beginning to shift. Taker tries to drop an elbow but Test avoids it and is quick to return to his feet. Test whips Taker into the ropes but Taker comes back hit and hits the running DDT. He goes for the cover but only gets the two. This time when Taker leads Test to the corner for the Old School it is successful. A snake eyes in next from The Undertaker but when he goes for the big boot, Test ducks it and hits one of his own. Test goes for the pump handle slam but Taker escapes with a backslide. The Undertaker grabs Test by the throat to go for the chokeslam, but Test escapes with some elbow to the side of Taker’s head. He tries to hit Taker with a big boot of his own but it is ducked under. This time when The Undertaker grabs Test by his throat, the chokeslam is successful. Undertaker raises his hand next and is setting up The Last Ride when we see Lance Storm And Christian come sliding into the ring. Taker makes quick work of the Tag Champs by hitting them both with some shy-high chokeslams. They slide from the ring, but Test comes from nowhere to hit Taker with a brutal big boot. He goes for the cover and the top comes off the building when Undertaker kicks out. Test leaves the ring to grab a chair, but when he returns with it, Taker sends it right back into his face with a big boot. This sets up The Tombstone and the three count for The American Badass. The Undertaker leaves the ring after the match and gets an American Flag from a fan. He climbs the turnbuckles and raises Old Glory high above his head. The flag is returned to the fan and Taker rides his bike back up the ramp. As good as this match was, it just maybe the worst on the card. That isn’t meant to sound like at slight on the match, its just the fact that the card is so strong. I wouldn’t skip this one but if you had to choose the least appealing match on the card, this would be it. Match Time:8:18
Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler introduces us to the video package for the next match. It shows the build-up to the relationship of Shawn Michaels and Triple H. It starts in their Degeneration-X days and leads us into this event. The video shows some of the best of their D-X days, and is really well put together. It builds to one of the greatest betrayals of all-time, when Michaels finally returned to the WWE after four long years he would be greeted with a Pedigree from his former best friend. Kids of today have Seth Rollins ambushing his fellow Shield members but I will always think of this as my favorite betrayal. There is a cool line where Hunter says “I used Shawn Michaels to get to the top just like he used me to stay on the top”. This is the best put together package on the show and is must see stuff. It ends with Bischoff setting up the Unsanctioned Street Fight between the former friends.
The crowd is going nuts when The Heart Break Kid, Shawn Michaels enters for his first match in over four years. Shawn went on to start his own wrestling training center and promotion while he was away. Most people don’t know that he did have one match for his promotion, Texas Wrestling Alliance, in April of 2000. The most famous man to come from his school is probably Daniel Bryan. He enters with some glitter cannons exploding around him and this is pretty cool stuff here. JR mentions here that Shawn is the first ever Grand Slam Champion. When Triple H enters he is welcomed with a unified “BOO” from the fans. Shawn is laying across the ring ropes and giving H the “Come Hither” finger. When Triple H is in the ring Michaels is quick to attack him with right hands and soon after that the bells sounds. Michaels proves he still has some agility early when he leapfrogs Triple H and then send him through the ropes to the outside. Michaels is quick to join him on the outside with a crossbody plancha. After this Shawn is checking under the ring for some weaponry. He throws a trashcan into the ring but the delay allows Triple H to land a knee and re-enter the ring first. Shawn hits Triple H in the head with a trash can lid before he lifts himself over the top rope and flips into the ring. The Showstopper still has it. The trashcan is dented over Hunter’s head, and the crowd is pumped as Michaels is tunin’ up the band early. Triple H ducks under the superkick though and hits Michaels with a brutal backbreaker. This allows Triple H to go on the offensive and he does so by targeting the back of Shawn. If you don’t recall, the injured back is what caused Michaels to leave the WWE in the first place. An Irish whip to the turnbuckle brings Shawn to his knees and this is a perfect time for a “Crotch Chop” into his face. After some more blows to the back Hunter goes for the pin but Shawn is able to kick-out. This enrages Hunter, who leaves the ring to grab a chair. He returns with it and continues to work the back of HBK, this time with the chair. The crowd is absolutely quite as Triple H controls the fight.
Shawn finally slows him when he sneaks a roll-up pin in but the effort doesn’t last long and Triple H hits him with a facebuster. Triple H DDTs Shawn onto the chair before he makes a cover, but Shawn still kicks out. This is when we start to see some blood flow from the face of Shawn Michaels. Triple H takes Michaels own belt off of him and beats him with it. He then wraps it around his fist to enhance his punches. After some blows to the head, Triple H leaves the ring to look for some more weapons under the ring. When he finds his sledgehammer the crowd explodes. Shawn stops the attack with some punches and the official removes the hammer. The attack doesn’t last long though and Hunter is soon stretching the back of Shawn again. When Triple H uses the top rope for leverage it pisses the ref off, and he and Triple H exchange words. The distraction allows Shawn to get a few punches in but once again Hunter stops his attack. Triple H then puts Shawn of the top rope and is quick to join him. They trade some punches and the crowd is on their feet when Shawn knocks Triple H to the mat. It appears as we are going to see an elbow drop from Michaels, but Triple H kicks the official into the ropes. This, in turn, knocks Michaels from the top rope and leaves him in a tree-of-woe. Triple H is quick to get the chair and hit the lower back of HBK. Triple H sets the chair up and drops Shawn onto it and the backbreaker crushes the chair. Brutal stuff here. Triple H goes for the cover, but Shawn kicks out. He goes for the cover twice more but Shawn still kicks out. Triple H stomps the chair flat and proceeds to sidewalk slam Michaels onto the chair. Shawn manages to kick-out of three more cover attempts and the Coliseum is shaking with “HBK” chants. Triple H is visibly pissed now and he attempts to give Shawn a Pedigree onto the chair. Shawn hits a low blow though and is able to stop the finisher. Both men take a moment to return to their feet but Triple H has the chair. Shawn hits the Sweet Chin Music and this sends the chair into the face of Triple H. And the crowd is going bonkers. This seems to have taking all Shawn’s energy and both men lay prone on the mat for a moment. When Triple H rolls over we can see some serious color on his face, as the blood is just a leaking. The both make it to their feet and Shawn unloads some left hands. A flying forearm is next, and when Shawn Michaels nips up the place explodes. He sends Triple H sky-high with a back body drop and when he hit Hunter with a chairshot, the fans come unglued. Shawn sends Triple H toppling over the top rope and when he hits the floor he catches his head on the security wall.
Shawn joins him on the outside, and after a few shots to the head with the trashcan lid, he beats Hunter with the leather belt. At this point you can see a large pool of blood were Hunter is laying and this dude is leaking some serious blood here. The fans unleash some “we want tables” chants here but aren’t rewarded. Instead, Shawn takes The King’s shoe and beats Hunter with it. To which King replies “a heel for a Heel”. I thought this was cool as this is more of a behind the scenes term and wasn’t really used on TV. Shawn runs all the way around the ring to deliver a bulldog onto the ring steps. Shawn goes under the ring and comes out with a ladder. At this point the “HBK” chants can be heard again. Michaels doesn’t climb the ladder, though, and instead rams it into the head and midsection of Triple H. The ladder is leaned against the ring ropes and Shawn then catapults Triple H into it. Shawn returns Triple H to the ring and attempts the cover. The crowd counts along but are forced to stop before three when Hunter kicks out. Shawn then leaves the ring to grab the ladder but Triple H baseball slides and sends it into the face of Michaels. Hunter returns Shawn to the ring but climbs to the top turnbuckle instead of resuming his attack. Shawn is quick to meet him up there and superplexs Triple H back into the ring. Shawn goes for the cover, but Triple H isn’t done yet. When they return to their feet Shawn comes off the rope, but Triple H is quick to meet him with another facebuster. Another cover attempt for Triple H and another kick out for Shawn Michaels. Triple H again leaves the ring and this time he comes back with the ring steps. But Shawn hits a drop toe hold and this bounces Hunter’s face off the steps. A clothesline over the top rope is next, and when Hunter goes over the top rope he lands right on the ladder. Ouch. Shawn now takes this moment to get a table from under the ring and the crowd is popping. He sets the table up as Triple H slowly walks toward him. After a fire extinguisher to Hunter’s face, he is lying on the table as Shawn enters the ring to climb to the top turnbuckle. Shawn comes flying off the top rope and they both crash through the table. The crowd rewards them with some “Holy Shit” chants for this. They return to the ring, but Shawn has the ladder. He quickly starts to climb it and comes of it to deliver an elbow “right to the heart of The Game.” The crowd is going nuts as Michaels is tuning up the band. But Triple H catches the foot and goes for the Pedigree. Shawn pulls Hunter’s legs out and rolls him up. The ref counts the three and so do the fans. Wow. What a finish. After the match Triple H attacks Shawn Michaels with the sledgehammer and he gets some serious heat for this from the fans. The doctors come out and Shawn Michaels is stretchered to the back. This may just be the greatest return match ever, in the history of Professional Wrestling. If you have the option, after you finish my article of course, go watch this match. For two guys just returning to the ring, one after four years away, this match is straight fire. Match Time:27:50
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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