Money in the Bank 2018 is a matter of weeks away, marking the 3rd major WWE show following Wrestlemania 34 and is a show that will set the tone for the company product as we head into the summer wrestling season. Unlike shows like the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam & Survivor Series, Money in the Bank doesn’t have the most expansive history and certainly hasn’t been as integral to the company’s success as the formerly mentioned shows.
However, the Money in the Bank concept is one of the most revolutionary in recent memory and has provided fans with countless chaotic & classic memories for us to cherish for years to come. In honour of this, it’s time we take a look back at when WWE decided to capitalize on the popularity of this concept and give the match its own show; on July 18th, 2010.
Match #1: SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match for a World Heavyweight Championship Opportunity – Kane vs Dolph Ziggler vs Drew McIntyre vs Big Show vs Kofi Kingston vs Matt Hardy vs Christian vs Cody Rhodes
I’ll stand by this for as long as I live, this is the most underrated Money in the Bank ladder match the WWE has ever put on, at least from my own perspective.
SmackDown had a fascinating product in 2010 which was the result of departures from the likes of Edge, John Morrison & Chris Jericho to the opposing RAW brand as well as a major shake-up the brand faced with the sudden removal of The Undertaker due to injuries caused a few weeks prior to this particular event. While these circumstances can be seen as a negative for sure, it did open the door for a plethora of new talent to take the reigns and earn an opportunity in matches such as this.
What made this Money in the Bank so special wasn’t just the action, which was insanity for the most part, but the clash of numerous personalities. From the 7-foot giant Big Show all the way to Cody Rhodes sporting his ‘Dashing’ gimmick, the match was filled with multiple personalities bouncing off each other’s strengths and more importantly completely hiding their weaknesses.
The matches highlights included Kofi Kingston driving Drew McIntyre through a table with a Boom-Drop, Big Show getting drowned in a sea of ladders by his fellow competitors and the innovative use of the gargantuan golden ladder that was specifically designed to hold the weight of the Big Show himself. On top of this the standout performances from ladder match veterans Christian & Matt Hardy added a great deal, not just further deepening the strategy behind the competitors but also providing the younger talents such as Cody Rhodes & Drew McIntyre bodies to throw around to assist in their excellent performances.
Having the matches winner be Kane was also a move that was completely out of left field. Most fans at the time, myself included, felt Drew McIntyre was a shoe-in to claim the briefcase and secure the purpose behind his gimmick of being Vince McMahons ‘Chosen One’, but this was shockingly swerved and instead used to give Kane his first moment in the limelight in what seemed like a decade.
As an opening contest, this did everything any fan would expect and opening match to do; present excitement for what the evening will have on offer, send bodies crashing onto or through countless ladders, showcase the younger talents while maintaining the credibility of the veterans and more importantly get the crowd going on the highest note possible.
Winner: Kane via Briefcase Retrieval at 26:17
Match #2: WWE Divas Championship Match – Alicia Fox (c) vs Eve Torres
Reviewing and critiquing women’s matches from this era of WWE television is a hard thing to do, primarily because what was on offer was for the most part fairly one dimensional and bland to the point that audiences struggled to care. That was the case with this match.
Granted, it seems like the WWE actually tried to give us a match worth remembering, at least glimpses of that effort were shown.
Alicia Fox is actually a criminally underrated women’s performer who today has fallen into the background with the ‘Women’s Revolution’ coming along so heavily with a number of newer female talents soaking up time on the weekly TV product. Fox demonstrated some genuine talent in this match, and the same can be said for Eve Torres who is equally talented as she is beautiful.
The two women played into a fairly standard match layout but thankfully sections of this felt solid, with some fine use of in-ring psychology and selling giving fans a little something to cling onto instead of treating this as a complete bathroom break. Torres also played her part well, as she always fit into the role of babyface just as well as she did the role of the cocky heel in her later days as Divas Champion.
Alicia Fox managed to eventually retain her Championship following a devastating Ax Kick after taking advantage of a slight moment of hesitation on the part of Eve Torres. I hope this recap doesn’t come across as lazy, because it certainly isn’t, there just isn’t much to note here.
Winner and STILL Champion: Alicia Fox via Ax Kick at 5:53
Match #3: WWE Unified Tag Team Championship Match – The Hart Dynasty(c) w/Natalya vs The Usos w/Tamina
I think we hammer down so frequently on the WWE’s treatment of women up until around the point in 2013 where audiences actually started taking them seriously, that we forget similar injustices were done to the Tag Team Division until 2012.
The Usos today are seen as one of the WWE’s best & brightest, putting on show-stealing performance after show-stealing performance and elevating every single opponent they are put up against. The Hart Dynasty is a duo I wish we had today, insanely talented with the bloodline to back it up but never properly utilised due to the company’s clear disinterest in tag team wrestling at the time.
It’s that particular lack of interest that makes this match quite depressing to watch, especially if you put it up against some of the tag team matches we’ve gotten in the last 18-24 months from the likes of The Usos, The Hardy Boys, The New Day, Cesaro & Sheamus, etc. The layout for this match, much like the previous Divas Championship encounter, is quite by-the-numbers which sometimes can work if a certain level of creativity is involved, which in this case we had very little of.
Noticeably, both teams worked hard to do the best with what they were handed at the time, which was an abysmal time limit which really never showcased what either team is capable of in any manner. The Hart Dynasty played the babyfaces here while The Usos resorted to their original heel shtick, and saying it was bland was an understatement when you see what they bring to the product under their ‘Day One-ish’ gimmick.
Natalya and Tamina also had some minimal involvement, due to their lack of presence in the women’s division at the time, and instead worked the outside interference portion of the match but none of this really caught on in the manner it could have. The crowd had one or two bursts of excitement for a few of the big spots, but sadly this came across as extremely forgettable to a crowd that clearly just wanted more ladders, of something of importance.
The Hart Dynasty managed to come out on top after using their teamwork to their advantage and isolated the Uso brothers and their sister, eventually resulting in one of the brothers (who I couldn’t name, apologies) tapping out in the centre of the ring to the Hart family’s signature Sharpshooter. Despite some solid call-backs to the days of the Hart Foundation in the 80’s to 90’s and a few moments of excitement, this was sadly extremely forgettable, which I hope I never have to admit for a match featuring the Usos.
Winners and STILL Champions: The Hart Dynasty at 5:58 via Sharpshooter
Match #4: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Rey Mysterio (c) vs Jack Swagger
This was the match that definitely woke the crowd back up and got them invested in the show again, after 2 matches that ultimately deflated the live crowd, then again following the opening contest is no easy task in itself. No wrestler on the planet thrives in big man matches like Rey Mysterio does, and considering his size you could consider almost any match he has with any opponent a ‘big man match’ as he’s rarely faced an opponent smaller than himself.
Jack Swagger, riding a wave of eventful circumstances in 2010, walked into Money in the Bank with what was ultimately Kurt Angle 2.0 as he utilised the Ankle Lock to dismantle and handicap countless opponents on SmackDown on the weeks leading up to this show. In the process Swagger managed to injure Mysterio himself, giving the challenger a distinct advantage heading into this match. Storytelling like this is simple, yet effective and this match used it to its advantage magnificently.
Continuously playing off Mysterio’s injured ankle and the pre-empting storyline, the champion & Swagger put on a clinic in storytelling which they combined with fantastic all around in-ring action. Swagger constantly grasped the upper hand here and not just because of the injury but also due to the clear size advantage he possessed over the ‘Master of the 619’. While the match itself certainly wasn’t the longest, it did everything it needed to and I would argue that this match would not have been of similar quality should it have received more time to develop, as the restrictions of a 10-minute span gave this match a ridiculous amount of energy that I adored.
Mysterio managed to battle his way through the pain and retain his World Heavyweight Championship using tactics from his best friend Eddie Guerrero at Wrestlemania XX, loosening the boots and rolling up a distorted Swagger to earn a great win, a clear call back to the superb Guerrero vs Angle match that evening. However, it didn’t stop there, after coming to his rescue when Swagger continued his assault on Mysterio following the match, Kane’s music hit to the shock and awe of every single person in attendance.
The Big Red Machine had chosen his moment and decided to cash in his newly won Money in the Bank Contract in exchange for Mysterio’s World Championship just over an hour after his victory, setting the record that is yet to be broken. In dominant fashion, Kane dismantled Mysterio in under a minute and delivered a Tombstone Piledriver to claim his first (and to this date, only) World Heavyweight Championship in a move that none of us saw coming.
Not only does this remain one of my favourite Money in the Bank cash-in’s but one of the best moments in the career of Kane. Beautiful booking from top to bottom and a reminder of just how good WWE can be at booking Kane when they put their minds to it.
Winner and NEW Champion: Kane at 12:07 (Total) via Tombstone Piledriver
Match #5: RAW Money in the Bank Ladder Match for a WWE Championship Opportunity – Randy Orton vs Edge vs The Miz vs Chris Jericho vs Evan Bourne vs Mark Henry vs Ted Dibiase w/Maryse vs John Morrison
Following the magnificent opening contest for any contest, as mentioned earlier, was no easy task. SmackDown had set the bar ludicrously high for any remaining competitors, with their chaotic and adrenaline fuelled match.
Was RAW able to create a match of similar, maybe even equal quality?
Without question, yes.
The RAW side of the Money in the Bank matches had a very different pace than what SmackDown had, sure it had the mixture of chaos in there but for the most part this match had a more methodical and calculated style to it for the most part and that’s what makes it so good. Much like the opener, you had a wide range of personalities in the ring who all worked magically together.
Highlight moments of the match include Mark Henry using his brute strength to knock over two ladders in unison, John Morrison using his parkour in ridiculous ways, Edge almost decapitating John Morrison, Maryse attempting to claim the Money in the Bank briefcase on Dibiase’s behalf and Evan Bourne eating an incredible landing from the ring to the floor.
Every participant had a pivotal spot here, whether it be high-flying, ground based or getting nearly murdered courtesy of a ladder, the one exception however is Randy Orton who seemed to have little involvement until the matches conclusion which I guess is the matches biggest negative. Orton came in during the closing moments and dished out a plethora of RKO’s and just as it seemed he had it won, the moment a star was born happened, as The Miz took out Orton and claimed the briefcase for himself. This moment wasn’t just wonderful but considering how vastly improved The Miz had become throughout 2010 it was more than well deserved.
I’m not entirely sure which match fans like more of these two, for myself personally I prefer the opener but it’s easy to see why people would gravitate more towards this one. If you’re ladder match style is more about the sheer chaos of everything, I see SmackDown being your choice but if you’re style is a more methodical and timed approach, this is the one for you.
Either way, this was another homerun of a ladder match and essential viewing for almost anyone.
Winner: The Miz at 20:27 via Briefcase Retrieval
Match #6: WWE Women’s Championship Match – Layla (c) w/Michelle McCool vs Kelly Kelly
I’m so sorry ladies, I don’t mean to be harsh. I really don’t.
The first women’s match of this particular show was largely forgettable, but I can admit to its positives, such as having an okay amount of time to encompass some in-ring action and solid overall psychology & storytelling. Almost none of that appears in whatever the WWE was trying to accomplish with this match.
The whole ‘LayCool’ gimmick never caught on with me when I was younger, and it still doesn’t to this day, their mannerisms while admittedly more than capable of garnering them heat, come across as far too over-the-top and completely distract from the match itself. Where this really hurts it, is the lack of time this match got, a whopping 3 minutes of in-ring action. Add to the fact that Kelly Kelly has never been the strongest in-ring performer the women’s division has had, and this ended up being what it was, a car crash.
Nothing in this match had anything worth gripping onto, almost every aspect felt rushed and unimportant and to add insult to injury, the crowd decided to cheer for the then fired Daniel Bryan over the Championship match in the ring at the time. For me, this was the earliest sign of the popularity the man had that transcended the WWE Universe and sadly it was far more interesting than anything Layla & Kelly Kelly managed to put on.
Layla ended up retaining her gold with a cheap roll-up, and this match left absolutely no impact on the audience or the rest of the card. Another look back and reflection of how happy we should be to have the women’s wrestling we have today.
Winner and STILL Champion: Layla at 3:56 via Roll-Up Cradle
Main Event: Steel Cage Match for the WWE Championship – Sheamus (c) vs John Cena
Sheamus & John Cena had quite the history leading up to this main event. In the months prior many fans were stunned at the sudden rise of Sheamus in the main event scene in WWE and despite losing out on walking into Wrestlemania XXVI as WWE Champion he managed to gain his gold back a few short months later.
The more intriguing factor in this match though, was the potential inclusion of Nexus, a new stable formed of NXT Season 1 talent who were out to make a name for themselves (in hindsight, this project failed on all levels). To make sure this didn’t happen, the two main event talents were locked inside a steel cage for good measure and the potential for a brutal exchange. With 2010 being the peak of WWE’s PG policies surrounding their programming it was difficult to imagine how far the brutality could reach considering the restrictions but there was some potential.
In a nutshell, the match itself was a fine main event to close a show. All the parts that had been put in motion weeks prior came into play, the cage itself was used as a weapon to inflict pain to both men and as anticipated, Nexus brought their chaos to the main event. The issue with this match was its pacing, which sadly was quite boring as both Cena & Sheamus built towards their big spots and signature moves, which ultimately made this match seem fairly one-dimensional and bland at countless points.
Whenever signature moves, or big spots occurred, the match became quite entertaining, but the sad reality was that the crowd knew what was coming and resulted in them deflating any tension, unpredictability or shock value from the contest. A steel cage should be a structure of brutality & unpredictability, not one where the main prize at stake ultimately falls into the back drop in favour of cheap outside interference.
Once Nexus did show up, the match seemingly had more levity and stakes to it, as WWE Universe members had been waiting to see Cena get his hands on the rebel group for the destruction they had caused in the weeks prior to this match. This slight distraction left a window open for Sheamus to escape the cage and retain his WWE Championship in the most simplistic ending imaginable and was only setup to tie-in to the post-match antics.
Following the match Cena finally got his hands on some of the Nexus members, ploughing them over with clotheslines and the use of steel steps in the hopes of rearranging their facial features. This was slightly satisfying but failed to reach the emotion we had anticipated initially and as a result closed the show off in fine yet unspectacular fashion.
Cena & Sheamus did their job here, it just seemed like the entire thing was a setup for a post-match beatdown and you never want to detract from the importance of your company’s biggest championship, ever.
Winner and STILL Champion: Sheamus at 23:02 via Cage Escape
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Chairshot Classics: WWE SummerSlam 2016
Kickoff Match #1: The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch), The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) & Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs. The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley), The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) & American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable)
Breeze & Gable to kickoff the action, collar & elbow tie-up to start out, Prince Pretty backs Gable towards his corner, Chad goes to a waistlock and takes him down to the canvas. Tyler with a back elbow to break the grip and gains a wristlock, Gable rolls through, scores with a forearm, brings him back down with a spinning drop toe hold and slaps on an armbad. Tag to Jey who regains the wristlock, Breeze with a handful of hair to work him to the corner, Aiden gets the tag, drives Jey face-first into the top turnbuckle, then connects with heavy right hands. He shoots Jey across, Jey slides to a stop, drills him with an uppercut, delivers a body slam and makes a tag to Mojo.
Rawley with big fists to the breadbasket, drives his shoulder into English’s and locks in an armwringer, Aiden breaks it with a right hand, but a whip to the ropes is reversed for a back body drop. Mojo tags out and Ryder comes off the 2nd rope for a combination suplex/dropkick. Long Island Iced Z unloads with forearms in the corner, sets for the Broski Boot, every hits the ring now and the melee is on with The Ascension left standing.
American Alpha ascends the same turnbuckle for in-sync top rope clotheslines and shoulder blocks, Breezango pulls them to the outside, Zack comes running in with a baseball slide to them both, gets dragged under the bottom rope and Aiden rams him into the ring post as we hit a break….We come back from commercial and Gotch covers Ryder for a count of 2 before utilizing a chinlock, switches to an armbar, Long Island Iced Z works to his feet, gets backed to the wrong corner and Viktor tags in to put the boots to him in the corner for a 1 count. He grounds Zack with a rear chinlock, Ryder finds his footing again, escapes after a jawbreaker, reaches for a tag, but gets driven back into the wrong corner again.
Konnor tags in and crushes Zack with a corner clothesline, sends him into a high knee from Viktor for a count of 2, Prince Pretty tags back in, snapmares Ryder over for an elbow drop and hooks the leg for another 2. He grinds Long Island Iced Z down with a rear chinlock, The Broski battles up, gets taken down into a single leg crab, Fandango gets the tag and comes in with a slingshot leg drop for a near fall. Viktor re-enters the match and puts the bad mouth on Ryder in the corner, Long Island Iced Z tries scurrying to his corner and gets caught in a front facelock, gets pushed back to the wrong corner, Konnor tags in and The Ascension knocks all of Ryder’s partners off the apron.
The Ascension looks for another double team, Zack thwarts it off, crawls to his corner as Jimmy climbs back to the apron, Konnor slides in to cut him off with a Canadian backbreaker, but Ryder slips out of it into a neckbreaker. Tags on both sides now, Jimmy delivers clotheslines to Tyler, keels him over with a kick, scores with an uppercut, shoots him to the ropes for a clothesline, Breeze ducks it, but gets planted by a Samoan Drop instead. He lines Prince Pretty up for the corner hip attack, Konnor rolls in and cuts him off, blocks a kick, swings the leg around and Jimmy decks him with an uppercut.
He goes to send Breeze to the ropes, irish whip is reversed, Jordan with a blind tag as Jimmy attempts a crossbody that misses the mark, Jordan tossing Tyler with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Fandango comes off the top rope to help his partner, gets caught by a belly-to-belly for his troubles, Gotch makes a tag, steps into the ring and gets thrown with a leg-trapped suplex, covers, but Aiden breaks it up at 2. Gable slides into the ring and goes for a kick to English, it’s countered and Gable gets planted by a sit-out powerbomb. Rawley hits the ring next with a discus punch to Aiden, turns around and Breeze lays him out with the Beauty Shot, Prince Pretty catches Zack coming in looking for the Rough Ryder, elevates him into the air and Viktor flattens him with a clothesline.
He props Ryder on the top turnbuckle, Breeze & Viktor climb up for a double superplex, Mojo rolls in and plants them both with a powerbomb, Long Island Iced Z following with the ElBro Drop off the top. Fandango climbs the opposite corner and connects with the Last Dance to Ryder, Jimmy rolls in and disposes of Fandango with a superkick, turns around and Konnor’s there to elevate him up, Viktor coming off the 2nd rope with a knee to the jaw.
Gable comes in and low-bridges Konnor over the top, elevates Viktor to the apron, Viktor hangs on, The Ascension set him up for a double suplex, but The Usos slide in to prevent it with in-sync superkicks. Jimmy & Jey take flight to the outside with crossbody planchas, Simon rolls into the ring and peppers Gable with a stiff forearm, turns around and Jordan is there to spear him in the corner. Gable tags in, American Alpha hits Grand Amplitude, Jey with a blind tag and he comes off the top with the Uso Splash to Simon for the win.
Winners: The Hype Bros, The Usos & American Alpha (Jey/Uso Splash)
- EA’s Take: Solid contest that was eerily similar to the one we saw on SmackDown. Only difference here is the heels got in some more offense and Jey tagged himself in to “steal” the pinfall. I don’t mind it, but there was nothing spectacular really. We get some teased tension between Alpha and The Usos at the end, I don’t see The Usos turning heel, but more building up the competition with these teams vying for the top spot.
Kickoff Match #2: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) vs. Neville & Sami Zayn
Neville & D-Von to start out, D-Von goes to a wristlock off the tie-up, The Man That Gravity Forgot uses the ropes to flip over and counter to one of his own, then tags out. Sami maintains the hold and delivers shots to the shoulder, quick tags between Neville & Zayn now, trading off blows to the left arm. The Underdog from the Underground plants D-Von with a body slam, gets on all fours, Neville jumps off his back into a standing corkscrew moonsault, then they dump Bubba over the top and look for synchronized outside dives.
Bubba trips Neville up from the floor, D-Von takes the opening, puts The Man That Gravity Forgot in the corner and puts the boots to him, shoots him to the ropes for a spinning back elbow, covers for a 1 count and we go to a commercial….We come back and Bubba props Neville on the top turnbuckle, plants him into the canvas with an elevated neckbreaker, D-Von re-enters the match and covers for a count of 2. He locks on a nerve hold to the trap muscle, The Man That Gravity Forgot fights to his feet, gets clocked by a right hand, D-Von snapmares him over and drops a leg for another 2 count.
He puts Neville into the corner and unleashes a flurry of fists, Bubba tags back in and buries a punch into the ribs, rams The Man That Gravity Forgot into the top turnbuckle and talks trash as he pummels him with more right hands. Neville starts to fire up and gets clocked by a back elbow, Bubba goes to the 2nd rope for a senton, Neville avoids it, crawls toward his corner and we get tags on both sides.
The Underdog from the Underground with clotheslines for D-Von, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, D-Von tosses Sami into the air for a flapjack, Zayn clobbers him with a dropkick, ducks a clothesline and scores with the Blue Thunder Bomb, Bubba breaking the count up at 2. D-Von tags out, Sami battles off both Dudleys initially, he misses a wild right hand, The Dudleys plant him with 3D II, Bubba hooks the leg and now Neville saves the match at a 2 count.
The half-brothers take the 2-on-1 advantage and set Neville up for 3D, The Man That Gravity Forgot slips out of it, ducks a clothesline, Bubba levels D-Von instead, turns around and gets decked by the Helluva Kick. Neville tags in, connects with the Red Arrow and that’s all she wrote.
Winners: Neville & Sami Zayn (Neville/Red Arrow)
- EA’s Take: More pretty standard stuff here, Neville’s corkscrew moonsault off of Sami’s back was impressive, but I’ve seen it before. Not that it makes it any less exciting. The Dudleys continue to have communication problems and although I don’t agree with it if that’s what’s going to happen, it looks as if a split is inevitable.
Kickoff Match #3 – Best Of 7 Series Match #1: Sheamus vs. Cesaro
Both guys a little tentative to begin, they lock-up and jostle for position in the corner, the official steps in to force a break, Sheamus tries an early Brogue Kick and misses, Cesaro following him into the opposite corner with a running uppercut. He pulls The Celtic Warrior out, Sheamus missing a wild right hand, The Swiss Superman springs off the 2nd rope for another uppercut, gets caught in the air, battles out of it and uses a double leg takedown to set for the Swing.
The Great White kicks his way free, Cesaro comes back with a double stomp to the chest, clotheslines Sheamus over the top to the floor, hits the ropes for an outside dive, but The Celtic Warrior surprises him with a right hand from the floor. He rolls into the ring and gets caught by a dropkick for a count of 2, The Great White staggers to the corner, uses the tights to pull Cesaro face-first into the turnbuckles, unleashes a flurry of uppercuts, irish whip across is reversed, The Swiss Superman follows in and gets elevated to the apron, landing on his feet.
Sheamus scores with a forearm shot and ties him in the ropes for the Beats Of The Bodhren, The King Of Swing blocks it, delivers uppercuts to the shoulder, Sheamus rips at the left arm in the ropes, drives him into the top turnbuckle and drops Cesaro with a clothesline. He drags Cesaro back into the ring and hits a vertical suplex for a count of 2, starts targeting the left arm with a top wristlock, The Swiss Superman finds his way to a standing position, powers Sheamus up into an alpamare waterslide, scores with a snap suplex and floats into a cover for 1.
The Celtic Warrior surprises him with a mule kick to the midsection, punts Cesaro in the face, shoots him to the corner and buries a shoulder into the ribs, then hits the ropes. Cesaro explodes out with an uppercut, The Great White fires back with a back elbow, sends him to the ropes for a tilt-a-whirl powerslam, hooks the leg and gains a count of 2 as we go to break….Sheamus has Cesaro grounded with a rear chinlock when we get back, The King Of Swing finds his footing, gets pushed to the ropes for a back body drop, prevents it with an uppercut, hits the ropes and gets cracked by an Irish Curse for a near fall.
The Great White lifts Cesaro up and they exchange shots, Sheamus gets the better of it, picks The Swiss Superman up for a rolling fireman’s carry, hooks him for a suplex, The King Of Swing blocking it and they both drop over the top to the floor. Both guys stagger to their feet and roll into the squared circle to just beat the count, The Celtic Warrior clobbers Cesaro with uppercuts and puts the bad-mouth on him, The Swiss Superman fires up with a barrage of uppercuts to back him to the corner, goes into the Uppercut Train, Sheamus reverses, gets propped on the top turnbuckle and then dropkicked to the apron.
The King Of Swing climbs to the 2nd rope and pulls Sheamus up for a suplex back into the ring, lateral press for a count of 2. Cesaro grabs the legs for the Swing, Sheamus kicks him away, rolls him up for a near fall, The King Of Swing charges in, nearly gets caught in another Irish Curse, flips through it for the Neutralizer, but it’s countered into White Noise for another near fall. Cesaro rolls to the apron and Sheamus clubs him across the chest, climbs to the 2nd rope, deadlifts The Swiss Superman up and plants him with a 2nd rope rolling fireman’s carry, but still can’t finish it. The Great White calls for the Brogue Kick to end it, runs into a big boot, gets flattened by a clothesline, Cesaro into the cover, but still only gets a 2 count.
He rolls to the apron and ascends to the top turnbuckle, stands on the ring post, springs off the top rope for a crossbody, hooks the leg and can still only gain a near fall. He looks to the crowd and puts Sheamus in the Swing, steps into the Sharpshooter, The Great White quickly grabs the bottom rope to force a break, the official steps in to create separation, Sheamus taking the opening to sneak in a back elbow. The Swiss Superman picks the legs and tries for another Sharpshooter, The Celtic Warrior with a thumb to the eye, rams him shoulder-first into the ring post, follows with a Brogue Kick and finishes it.
Winner: Sheamus (Brogue Kick)
- EA’s Take: No surprise here to me with Sheamus winning, it never really made sense to me for them to have a Best Of 7 when Cesaro has gotten the better of him 3 weeks in a row, so he needed it tonight. I don’t think there’s ever been a Best Of 7 Series in wrestling history that didn’t go the distance, so The Celtic Warrior had to pick up a win at some point. Not as good of a showing as their first match on RAW 3 weeks ago either, in my opinion.
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Chairshot Classics: WCW Starrcade ’91 – BattleBowl & The Lethal Lottery
Open: The names of 40 top WCW Superstars were entered into a “Lethal Lottery” to randomly generate 20 tag teams. This created 10 tag team matches with the winners of each being entered into the main event: a 20 man battle royal to determine the sole winner of Battlebowl.
In The Arena: Eric Bischoff, Missy Hyatt and Magnum T.A. are standing by with all 40 participants are standing on the entrance stage. Hyatt and T.A. start to draw names, and Bischoff announces the first participants. We have our first surprise as The Fabulous Freebirds are on opposing teams.
Match #1: Michael ‘P.S.’ Hayes & Tracy Smothers vs. Jimmy ‘Jam’ Garvin & Marcus Bagwell
Bagwell and Smothers start us out. Both Freebirds get the crowd clapping from the apron. There is a staredown and they exchange shoves. They hit the ropes and Bagwell takes Smothers down with a shoulder block. Smothers reevaluates his situation. The crowd chants for the DDT. Collar and elbow tie up and a deep arm drag by Bagwell. Another tie up, chain wrestling into a hammerlock by Smothers, reversed with a takedown by Bagwell. Smothers lectures a stalling Smothers. Collar and elbow, Smothers escapes a reverse waistlock with an elbow to the jaw and follows it with a shoulder block.
They run the ropes, Bagwell leapfrogs Smothers and delivers a hip toss. He follows with a drop kick and an arm drag, Smothers gets up and misses a drop kick before retreating. Smothers gets up and insists one or both Freebirds enter the match. Garvin is tagged in, Smothers taunts him, Garvin struts around and he is ambushed from behind. Smothers is shot into the ropes, they exchange leapfrogs before Garvin hits a hip toss and a drop kick. Smothers rolls to the apron, and he’s kicked in the face and out to the floor. Hayes checks in with his partner as the crowd cheers for the DDT. Smothers regroups in the ring, he offers a handshake but kicks Garvin in the gut.
Jimmy Jam lifts his cheap shotting opponent up for an atomic drop and he tumbles outside again. Back to the ring, Garvin grabs a wrist lock and tags in Bagwell. Bagwell enters with a double ax handle to the shoulder and locks in a wrist lock of his own. Smothers reverses with a knee to the gut and some clubbing fists. Hayes is finally tagged in, chop followed by an elbow off the ropes. Arm bar by Hayes is reversed with a take down by Bagwell. They jockey for position and Hayes uses a drop toe hold. He controls Bagwell with the arm bar and clubs Bagwell’s shoulder. Smothers is tagged back in and stays on the arm. Bagwell reverses, grabbing the other wrist, throwing Smothers over and landing a standing leg drop. Back to their feet and Bagwell stays on the shoulder. Smothers gets positioning in the corner, the referee calls for a break in the hold and The Young Pistol cheap shots Bagwell in the mid section.
The rookie escapes from the corner but Smothers is hot on his trail. Bagwell reverses a whip to the ropes and takes his opponent down with an arm drag. The fans get on the case of Smothers with some jeers. A knee to the gut off the tie up by Smothers, he lifts Bagwell but Marcus escapes and delivers a scoop slam. Garvin is tagged back in, and Smothers dives to his corner and forces a tag on Hayes. The partners smile as the crowd reacts. They shake hands and tie up. No one gets an advantage and it’s broken. Another collar and elbow and Hayes gets position on the ropes, the referee breaks them up. A fourth tie up and Hayes throws Garvin with the arm drag. Michael Struts. Garvin hits an arm drag of his own.
They tie up and Hayes goes for a quick schoolboy and a two count. Side headlock takedown by Garvin, countered with a leg scissor, broken quickly and they’re back to their feet. They each strut to their corners and tag in their respective partners as the fans cheer. Quick strikes and a superkick by Smothers. Bagwell is lifted for a scoop slam but he dodges the elbow. Garvin is tagged back in and hits Smothers with a back body drop. Garvin confuses his dazed opponent with some fast running across the ring and a running forearm. He tags in Bagwell who heads for the top rope, Garvin holds Smothers in place with a wrist lock and Bagwell gets two on a flying cross body.
Marcus gives Hayes a shot on the apron before turning to Smothers. Hayes takes offense and enters the ring to knock him with a right. Garvin turns Hayes around and Michael unknowingly clocks him with a big left. Scoop slam by Smothers in the middle of the ring as the Freebirds argue. Smothers goes for a high risk move but Bagwell gets the knees up. Bagwell hits a Fisherman’s Suplex and picks up the win. The Freebirds make up and shake hands.
Winners: Jimmy ‘Jam’ Garvin & Marcus Bagwell (Bagwell/Fisherman’s Suplex)
- EA’s Take: I don’t think I’ve seen more than two consecutive PPVs where the Freebirds remain either heels or faces. They’re sort of the ‘Ric Flair’ of tag teams – you either love them or love to hate them. This was obviously a curious match of “will they/won’t they” in terms of fighting one another. Two times I thought they were going in a particular direction, but both times it turned out to be nothing. When the Birds were in the ring, I started laughing each time they locked up and broke it off on the ropes. I would have stuck with that, exaggerating the excursion from each tie-up and adding some more comedy before making the tags back after no moves were thrown. They ended up hitting one another with some arm drags, so the whole, “sure, we’ll fight each other… just kidding”, wasn’t as good as it could have been. When they got into it at the end, you thought maybe it was friction within the team, but instead they immediately made up. Oh well, decent match. The Birds know how to entertain.
Match #2: WCW Television Champion ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin & WCW United States Champion ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude w/Paul E. Dangerously vs. Van Hammer & Big Josh
Hammer and Austin start with a tie up and quick break. Another tie up, Austin takes position and it’s broken in the corner. Hammer lifts Austin for a scoop slam and Austin looks “Stunned”. Kick to the gut and rights by Austin. Hammer reverses a back body drop with a kick to the face, but Austin is right back up with a kick and an attempted vertical suplex. The big Hammer blocks and lifts the TV champ for one instead. Austin kicks out at two and jumps back up with a drop toe hold and a reverse chin lock on the mat.
Hammer reverses into a hammerlock on the mat and follows it with knees to the ribs. They work back to their feet and Austin takes him down with a series of snapmare takedowns. Hammer reverses the Irish whip, Austin moves and Hammer collides with the turn buckle. Strikes and another snapmare by Austin who tags in Rude to a sea of boos. Rude sends him for the ride and a clothesline before taunting the crowd. Knee to the mid section and clubbing forearms by the US Champ. Hammer tries to fight back with rights, but Rude rakes his eyes. Hammer is sent to the ropes and is flipped over by a knee to the gut. Rude holds him in place with his boot as he tags in Austin.
Clothesline by Austin followed by a side salto suplex. Rude gets the quick tag, and he clubs the back of Hammer’s neck. Reverse side head lock by Rude as Hammer tries to strength his way over to Big Josh. He’s able to make it, and Josh is fired up, giving a few strikes and sending Rude for a power slam. He stands on Rude for a log roll, but the US champ points out his abs are invincible to that move. Josh unsuccessfully tries striking his mid section, but he’s had enough and just clotheslines him. A quick kick out by Rude, but he goes down just as fast with a shoulder block. Rude kicks out of another lateral press, Austin rushes the ring but Josh takes him out. The Dangerous Alliance reels on the outside after having their heads knocked together.
Rude is back in, and Dangerously screams on his phone. Josh reverses a hammerlock with an elbow to the jaw, arm drag take down, Rude desperately reaches for a tag. He gets it, and Austin meets a similar fate. Austin works back to his feet, he breaks the hold with some rights. Josh reverses the Irish whip to the ropes, Austin takes him down with a shoulder tackle, but the second time Big Josh catches him and slingshots him across the top rope. A clothesline and a lateral press gets two and Van Hammer is tagged back in. Austin is worked down with the hammerlock. He adjusts to a wrist lock and makes the quick tag to Josh who hangs onto it. Austin breaks it with rights and breaks up Josh’s attempt at a back body drop.
Reverse waist lock by Josh, Austin ducks and runs toward the ropes and Rude clocks the outdoorsman. Legal tag is made to Rude and he goes for the top rope. Double ax handle knocks Josh to the mat, but there’s a kick out at two. Strikes from Rude and another tag to Austin. Boots in the corner by Austin and he holds his opponent on the middle rope. The ref pulls him away, Rude jumps down to the floor to keep him in place and Austin comes back with a leaping bronco buster. Austin gets two and a half on Josh. Front face lock and a tag back to Rude. Clubbing forearms and a snap mare. Rude holds on with a modified reverse chin lock, Josh manages to get back to his feet and Paul E. immediately gets on the apron.
Josh fights out of the hold but he’s blind sided by Austin’s boot. Dangerously is lectured down to the floor, and the referee questions is a tag was made to Austin while he wasn’t looking. Big Josh is dumped to the floor for abuse by Rude while Austin ties up the ref. Snapmare and a reverse chinlock by Austin. Josh is slow to get back to his feet as Hammer leads the cheering. The hold is broken with elbows to the gut, and he catches a leaping Austin with a power slam. Josh goes for the elbow but Austin moves. Josh is once again draped on the middle rope, Dangerously holds him in place while Rude provides the distraction.
Austin goes for another bronco buster, but Josh moves and pulls his manager in the way. Josh crawls across the ring to make the hot tag who goes right after Austin. Power slam by Hammer followed by a belly to back suplex. Austin is sent for the ride and eats a diving shoulder block. Rude makes the save and Josh takes offense. Back to the apron, Rude makes a blind tag as Austin hits the ropes. Hammer lifts the TV champ for the back body drop but doesn’t realize the US champ in the legal man. Rude spins Hammer around and hits the Rude Awakening for the win.
Winners: ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin & ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude (Rude/Rude Awakening)
- EA’s Take: In two matches, they’ve already achieved my expectation to have some partners on opposite corners and others conveniently together with Austin and Rude. The Ravishing One’s debut at Halloween Havoc not only brought him into WCW, but opened the door for him to become leader of The Dangerous Alliance, one of the better factions that is often forgotten in time. With Rude and Paul E as the figureheads, being flanked by Arn Anderson, Larry Zbysko, Bobby Eaton, a young Steve Austin and Madusa was a pretty formidable. On top of that, Austin would quickly become Television Champion, Rude would pull off a tremendous ruse to get the US Title off of Sting and they had all the momentum in the world. Obvious winners just by reading the card.
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Chairshot Classics: WCW Monday Nitro Episode 12 – Sting vs. Hogan
Here is the go-home Nitro for World War 3!
WCW Nitro: Episode 12
November 20, 1995
Macon Coliseum, Macon, GA
Bischoff, Heenan and McMichael are on commentary as usual getting us hyped for Hulk Hogan vs Sting in the main event. Bischoff is calling it the Super Bowl of professional wrestling, interesting they gave it away on free television.
Scott “Flash” Norton vs The Shark
The Shark attacks Norton on the entrance ramp and they brawl outside the ring. Bobby Heenan says that Shark is well over 500 pounds, who believes that??? The Shark gets control with a belly to belly suplex, but Norton starts no selling his strikes. Norton hits a scoop powerslam and gets the victory. This was a very lackluster match and seemed to be filler for a few minutes. John Tenta was so talented, it’s sad that he never caught on like he really could have.
Winner: Scott Norton via pinfall
Mean Gene interviews Taskmaster and Jimmy Hart at the entrance ramp. Hart is trying to rally Sting for his match against Hogan later, focusing on Hogan not being behind Sting as a talent. Taskmaster hypes up World War 3 and how the Dungeon of Doom has strength in numbers.
Disco Inferno is out to dance until Eddie Guerrero’s music hits and he runs off.
Eddie Guerrero vs Brian Pillman
This was supposed to be Ric Flair but he came out in street clothes with Brian Pillman in his ring gear. Flair cuts a promo about being so focused on Sting, that he’s having Pillman take his place. Replace one amazing competitor with another, I’m not mad. Guerrero in control early with a neck tie head scissors, big dropkick and belly to back suplex. He goes off the top rope but Pillman catches him with a dropkick to halt the momentum. Pillman hits his own belly to back suplex for a near fall. The two trade chops before Brian sticks a finger in Eddie’s eye and hits a snap powerslam for another near fall. Pillman suplexes Eddie out of the ring and misses a cross body on the railing. Eddie counters with his own MASSIVE cross body and brings Brian back in the ring. Eddie hits the brainbuster and goes to the top rope but Pillman crotches him up there. Eddie pushes Brian off the top rope and hits the frog splash to get the victory. A very fun match, I’m sure these two could seriously tear the roof off the place.
Winner: Eddie Guerrero via pinfall
We take a look back at Nitro from the previous week where the Dungeon of Doom and Lex Luger attacked Randy Savage and worked over his arm. Commentary is saying it is a serious arm injury that will need surgery. Eric Bischoff wonders if Macho Man is faking the injury to plot against Hulk Hogan.
Big Bubba vs Road Warrior Hawk
A rare singles match for Hawk and a younger Ray Traylor, I’m good with this. Hawk attacks Bubba to start and is in control after a back body drop. Hawk hits a scoop slam but misses a splash off the top rope. Bubba is in control now with strikes and a clothesline. Hawk makes a comeback but Bubba cuts him off with a big spinebuster before eating a right fist outside the ring. The men knock heads and Hawk goes to the top rope but Bubba counters it into a facebuster. Bubba pulls something from his pocket(maybe a roll of quarters?) and tapes up his hand. He goes to come off the ropes but Jim Duggan comes out of nowhere to trip Bubba who falls face first on the foreign object. Hawk makes the cover for the victory. Big hoss match, fun stuff.
Winner: Hawk via pinfall
Sting vs Hulk Hogan
This match has been hyped up all show as the be all and end all of professional wrestling. Sting comes out in red and yellow, fitting considering Hogan’s recent move to the “dark side.” We went to commercial before Sting’s entrance and apparently right after. Interesting television choices there.
Hogan’s music hit and there’s some boos in the crowd. Macho Man Randy Savage comes out and is motioning to the entrance for Hogan to come out for an uncomfortably long time. Hogan comes in through the crowd and postures to the crowd to mostly boos. Hogan is still clean shaven and dressed in black.
After the bell, Sting is on the offensive early with lots of strikes. Hulk takes control with strikes of his own and is getting a good amount of boos. Hulk misses a clothesline and tumbles over the top rope after 2 dropkicks. Hulk pulls Stinger out of the ring, puts his head into the guardrail and suplexes him at ringside.
Sting comes back in the ring with a running cross body and we are back on even ground. Hulk goes for a spinning toe drop and it looks awful and slow, same with his attempt at an armbar takedown. It’s obvious that he is wrestling out of his comfort zone. Sting takes control with crisp looking holds and transitions. Hulk rides a side headlock for a lengthy time before inexplicably just letting Sting go. Sting goes for a Stinger Splash and Hogan counters it into a bearhug for a few seconds before again letting him go.
Belly to back suplex garners a near fall for Hulkster and he hits a suplex for another near fall. Sting comes back and starts working over the leg before locking on the Scorpion Death Lock-that is good storytelling and psychology. Hogan powers out of it and starts his traditional hulk up comeback. Three punches, big boot to Sting’s face, but Sting avoids the leg drop. Hogan’s leg is hurting, Sting locks on the Scorpion Death Lock again.
The Dungeon of Doom comes down and attacks everyone but Sting and Hogan seem to overcome the 6 on 2 odds. The Giant comes down and goes to chokeslam Hogan and Sting. Macho Man hits Giant with a chair but eats a chokelsam for his effort. Hogan and Sting use a chair to clothesline The Giant over the top rope as we go to break.
Winner: No Contest via interference on both men
After the break, Taskmaster and Jimmy Hart are at the commentary table and are sent away by Bischoff. This is being billed as an appetizer to World War 3. Bischoff pushes the narrative that WCW is unpredictable and anyone could walk out of World War 3 as WCW Heavyweight Champion as Nitro goes off the air.
The build to World War 3 has been fun, it’ll be interesting to see how it progresses and changes the show going forward!