Episode Two of NWA-TNA hopes to build on the foundation they laid in episode one, and after last week, hopefully have less talking. So, let’s see how well they do!
We start with a recap of last week’s action, because, what else are they going to show?
Tenay and company welcome us to the show and give us a rundown of the card: Round Robin match for the X-Division title. The Miss TNA match, that Don West is entirely too excited about. Brian Christopher with Sterling Marlin and Hervey Sadler in his corner against K-Krush, and Jarrett going up against Scott Hall, which is going to be the main event.
Jarrett’s music hits and we find out that Jarrett vs Hall is apparently happening now.
Jeff Jarrett vs Scott Hall (with Jackie Fargo and Toby Keith)
Jarrett comes out to a round of boos and calls out Scott Hall and company to do the match now. Hall, Fargo, and Keith come out to the ring to a pretty good pop. After a little bit of showboating by Hall, we’re off.
Much to my surprise, this was a really good match. Given Hall’s antics in and out of the ring, it’s easy to forget that he’s actually a very good wrestler.
We get a run in by K-Krush, for some reason, and he’s chased out by Brian Christopher, but he did help Jarrett get out of the Razor’s Edge. Unfortunately, someone didn’t tell Toby Keith that Hall’s supposed to be a babyface, because he gets into the ring and low blows Jarrett, when it looked like Jarrett was getting the upperhand and for some reason, Hall is not disqualified.
Results: Scott Hall by pinfall, despite blatant help from Toby Keith.
Thoughts: Good match ruined by a stupid finish.
We get a recap of the reveal of the ladies for the Miss TNA match.
We get what was supposed to be the actual opener: Cheex, a VERY big African-American man vs Frank Parker.
Cheex (with Brown-Eyed Girl) vs Frank Parker
Frank Parker looks like Vin Diesel and Cheex looks winded just standing in the ring.
During the match, we’re told that next week, we’re getting a special tag match: Brian Christopher and Scott Hall vs K-Krush and Jeff Jarrett. That’s certainly more interesting than the current match, which consists of Frank Parker trying to knock Cheex down, while Cheex stands there and gets sweatier and sweatier.
Finally, Cheex mounts some offense, but Parker isn’t going away. Cheex hits Parker with some hip bumps into the corner.
For someone reason, Alicia is talking to Jeremy Borash.
Back in the ring Frank Parker is trying to turn the tables on Cheex. But Cheeks squashes him, literally, and that mess is over.
Winner: Cheex by pinfall
Comments: Thank god, that’s over.
At ringside, Borash seems annoyed with Alicia and finally gives her some money. Now, some research has told me where this storyline was supposed to be going, but I can see why it ended up being scrapped. It also shows how little respect for women in sports Vince Russo has.
Next week, we’re going to have a tag team tournament for the NWA-TNA tag titles.
We get a recap of the Brian Christopher/K-Krush mess.
K-Krush vs Brian Christopher (with Sterling Marlin and Hervey Sadler)
Despite the fact that this was supposed to be the co-main event, K-Krush is out here to a mixed reaction.
Christopher and company are out to a more positive reaction. After a little too much showboating by Christopher, Krush gets the jump on him and we’re off.
Despite his antics, Christopher is a very good wrestler, I wish he’d get a different gimmick because it’s overshadowing his talent, which can also be said for K-Krush.
That said, this wasn’t a great match. Both guys are talented, but there was just something lacking. Somehow, Scott Armstrong can’t see Marlin and Sadler getting involved, which allows Christopher to get the pin.
Winner: Brian Christopher by pinfall
Afterwards, the NASCAR guys talk some smack to Krush.
Comment: Seriously, who is the babyface supposed to be here? This is the second match where the ‘babyface’ broke the rules and had outside help.
While waiting for the next match or segment to start, we’re told that The Rainbow Express, whoever that is, is going to be in tag team action, we’ll hear from Ken Shamrock, and crown the first X-Division Champion.
Up next is the Lingerie Battle Royal for the Miss TNA contract.
Miss TNA Lingerie Battle Royal
Okay, there seems to be a mix up between Borash’s notes on the entrances but they’re playing it off as Borash is distracted (and perhaps playing Pocket Pool) over the lovely ladies.
Speaking of the ladies, all them come out clad in dowdy pajamas. Mickie’s entrance shows some of her usual energy, but it’s not quite there yet.
Since this is a battle royal, I won’t try to keep up, but I don’t think anyone, including me, is expecting Charlotte vs Sasha here.
Francine becomes a target due to her comments last week and it takes several women to strip her down, much to her chagrin. She’s so distraught that Ferrara comes over to calm her down, but things rapidly get creepy with Ferrara seeming to expect some…favors from Francine and Francine lays him out.
Results: Taylor Vaughn, but Francine is still mad, pulls on a PJ top and attacks Taylor from behind and strips her before beating her with a belt.
Comment: Uh…yeah, that happened.
Backstage, we find Goldilocks talking to Apollo, who is a big star in Puerto Rico. Apollo says that even though his entire career has been in Puerto Rico, he’s ready for tonight. Before we can find out what he’s ready for, we’re interrupted by a lady, referred to as Bobcat, who seems to think Goldilocks has a problem with her. The source of Bobcat’s discontent is that she thinks Goldilocks should be interviewing Bobcat’s, unnamed, client.
Taken aback, Goldilocks agrees to interview the guy, but Bobcat won’t shut up, implying that Goldilocks is jealous of her and that she (Bobcat) deserves some respect.
Goldilocks has had enough of this BS and tells Bobcat to take her problems to management instead of bugging her. Bobcat refuses since she claims her problem is with Goldilocks. At this point, Goldilocks ends the interview segment.
Apollo vs David Young (with Bobcat)
So, Bobcat’s client is ID’d as David Young. Neither guy gets a big pop.
Apollo is a brick house, but a reasonably agile one. Meanwhile, Bobcat’s flirting with every male in sight, instead of paying attention to her client.
Bobcat has set her sights on Borash, who is not comfortable with this, not that Bobcat seems to care. David Young, however, does care, and isn’t happy with Bobcat’s antics, which nearly costs him the match.
This match is boring, but the real show seems to be Bobcat vs Borash’s dignity at ringside, and Bobcat seems to be winning that one.
Unfortunately, Young gets so distracted by Bobcat and Borash, that he takes too long setting up his moonsault, giving Apollo time to get out of the way and the tide has turned.
Winner: Apollo by pinfall after a TKO.
Comment: Match was BORING, but I don’t think Apollo and Young were the real focus of this segment.
Bobcat gets in the ring and acts like nothing happened, but Young isn’t happy.
We go to commercial (why is there a commercial break on a PPV?) and when we come back, Joel Gertner, of ECW fame is in the ring, and he’s just as sleazy and obnoxious as he ever was. He also seems to think that he’s some kind of stud that the ladies can’t resist.
(Maybe the ones with no standards or self-respect.)
Back to business, Gertner points out that the Rainbow Express is gay (yes, he actually said it) and plays on the crowd’s homophobia. I’m not sure if he’s trying to get Rainbow Express over or their opponents, but the crowd is BOOING the Rainbow Express.
Oh, these guys again. Apparently, one of the guys is subbing for one of the guys from last week, who is out with a neck injury, but I’m not sure who is who in this, other than Gertner.
Rainbow Express vs The Dupps (With Fluff Dupp)
The Dupes are backstage, telling Goldilocks that they don’t want to wrestle the Rainbow Express because of their ‘alternative lifestyle’.
(Dude, one of you is sleeping with your cousin, I wouldn’t point fingers.)
Goldilocks turns around and finds NWA Vice-President Bill Behrens talking to James Storm and Chris Harris that just walked in and asking them if they would be willing to work with the Rainbow Express. The other team says sure and are sent to the ring as is.
(Okay, TNA, NOW you have my attention.)
Rainbow Express vs James Storm and Chris Harris
The future America’s Most Wanted race to the ring, still in their blue jeans and are jumped by the Rainbow Express, but Storm and Harris quickly get the upper hand.
The Express, however, aren’t going to lay down, and seemed to have fun riling up the crowd with their…unique tag in (a kiss on the hand).
Harris decides to give the Express a taste of their own medicine and fakes one of the Express members out to distract Armstrong and does a nasty looking sling blade to the other Express member.
Storm’s a little loopy and tries to tag in the other Express member before making it to his own corner and tagging in Harris.
We now have a free-for-all going, the legal Express member going for a powerslam, but Harris rolls through it for a two count.
Things get chaotic pretty quickly, but Harris gets the pin and the future tag team legends clear out.
Winner: Harris and Storm by pinfall. Storm and Harris can’t believe it and there is much celebration.
Comment: To be honest, as liberal and open-minded as I like to think I am, I can see why LGBT groups condemned the Rainbow Express. These guys were talented, but the gimmick was really awful. Though I give them props for being brave enough to do it.
Back from break, Ricky Steamboat’s back and wearing a ref’s shirt, for some reason. He asks the crowd if they’re having fun and if they show’s been great, to which the crowd gives its approval. Steamboat introduces Ken Shamrock, who gets an amazing pop.
Steamboat cites the history of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and Shamrock’s place in it.
Shamrock takes the mic and vows to defend the belt with honor and pride.
(Okay, I forgot how boring Shamrock was on the mic.)
Back to business, Shamrock says that he appreciates all the support from his fans, and the people who don’t can kiss his ass.
We’re then interrupted by James Mitchell, who insults the crowd, and announces that he’s on a mission from God, which doesn’t go over well with the crowd, oddly enough.
He says that his agents, minions will make sure that his organization will control the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and says that since Shamrock claims to be the World’s Most Dangerous Man, he challenges Shamrock to face one of the disciples of the New Church with the belt on the line. Shamrock accepts and his opponent is revealed as Slash.
(When does the rest of Guns-n-Roses show up?)
Shamrock seems to view Slash as a joke and offers, instead, to lay the and see if ‘the freak’ can take it from him. While Shamrock is distracted by Mitchell and Slash, Axel…Oops, Malice sneaks in from behind and chokeslams Shamrock.
Steamboat tries to break it up, but he’s pretty useless and it takes all the skinny security guys TNA has to get them apart and Malice leaves.
Now it’s time for the X-Division Match. We get a recap of the X-Division match from last week. Tenay insists that the X-Division is about extreme, no limits, wrestling, not weight classes, but that falls flat when you see that all the competitors are cruiserweights.
There seems to be some confusion with the announcers about why Styles, Low Ki, Lynn, and Psychosis are in the match, and not the Flying Elvises, who were victorious over Styles, Low Ki, and Psychosis and that the Flying Elvises are mad that they aren’t included. It’s pointed out that the brackets were already filled, but they’re trying to argue that the brackets could’ve been altered.
Round Robin Match For the X-Division Title: AJ Styles vs Low Ki vs Jerry Lynn vs Psychosis
Styles gets a nice pop. It’s odd to see him with short hair. Psychosis gets a minimal pop. Low Ki (who gives me the creeps, a little) also gets a small pop. Jerry Lynn gets a nice pop.
The rules for this match are a little tough to follow and make this more complicated than it needs to be. Apparently, everyone’s going to face each other at least twice and whoever gets the most eliminations wins…or something like that.
1st Round: Styles gets a quick victory over Psychosis and Low Ki, who seriously freaks me out and is very sloppy, before quickly being taken out by Jerry Lynn.
2nd Round: Psychosis gets the jump on Lynn, but Lynn quickly turns it around and eventually gets the pin. Low Ki tries to pick the bones but Lynn refuses to stay down and eventually gets the pin. Now it’s time for Styles vs Lynn Part 2 and Styles wants to get this done early.
Both guys are exhausted, so the moves aren’t as clean as they could be, but they are tearing the house down.
Styles nails Lynn with a Styles Clash and now we’re in sudden death because Styles and Lynn are tied at 3-1, so the match is continuing, but Ricky Steamboat is the special guest ref.
Sudden Death Match For the NWA-TNA X Division Championship: AJ Styles vs Jerry Lynn
Special Guest Referee: Ricky Steamboat
Lynn and Styles are exchanging some haymaker and are both trying to go for a quick pin to finally end this farce. Things go outside and quickly gets ugly, though Lynn seems determined to win it in the ring rather than take a countout victory.
This match was so good, I stopped taking notes, but Styles eventually gets the pinfall after a corkscrew senton, becoming the first X-Division Champion.
Result: AJ Styles by pinfall.
The pyro and confetti is going, but Steamboat is the only one still standing. Tenay says that we need to remember the name ‘AJ Styles’. Don’t worry, Professor, every wrestling fan in the world is going to know his name.
Comment: Why did they even mess with the Round Robin/Double Elimination? This should’ve been the match all along.
So, how was Episode #2 of NWA-TNA? It was actually pretty good, there were more matches and fewer backstage/in ring promo segments, which was nice.
The issue with babyfaces and heels is bothering me quite a bit. Jarrett and K-Krush were the heels, according to crowd reaction, but the babyfaces were the ones who needed outside help to win, which is not how the babyface/heel thing is supposed to work.
I still don’t like the commentary team, they need someone who can actually tell a story to head this thing and get rid of Ferrara.
Stinkers: Cheex vs Frank Parker. That was just awful.
Snoozers: Apollo vs David Young. The real match was Bobcat vs Borash outside the ring.
Match of the Night: Styles vs Lynn. That should’ve been the match for the X Division Title all along. No offense to Psychosis or Low Ki, but they weren’t needed for this match.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I liked this show, the focus on the matches instead of talking was nice. It’s still a little rough around the edges, but it was a good show overall.
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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