Join me as Triple H defends his WWE Universal Title in the second ever Elimination Chamber Match, that features some of the biggest names to ever strap on a pair of boots. Also we see Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar go toe to toe for the WWE Championship. All this and so much more in this edition of Chairshot Classics.
This PPV has a tough act to follow, because SummerSlam 2002 may have been the strongest card SummerSlam has put out. (More on SummerSlam 02 here) That doesn’t mean the 16,113 fans in attendance and the other 415K watching at home on PPV aren’t eager to see them top it. This may be the SummerSlam with the lowest buyrate, but they still killed it in ticket sales alone, making $715,000 at the gate. Stacker 2 sponsors this SummerSlam that is held at The American West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. I find it odd that a “dietary pill” is the sponsor for this event, as the target market for the WWE is mostly made up of younger males. I guess the hope is mom watching at home finds a need for this dietary speed. The Theme Song for the evening will be “Saint Anger” by Metallica. I always was a fan of the WWE’s use of popular Metal bands at this time because that was the music that a young wrestling fan was drawn to. The WWE is seeing a decline in revenue for the first time in a while so lets jump right into SummerSlam 2003 and see if the product is growing stale.
We enter right into the arena and Howard Finkle introduces us to the U.S. Marine color guard. He then introduces Lillian Garcia, who is going to sing the National Anthem. She receives some pop at the high spots of the song and overall didn’t do a bad job. This is a new addition to the opening of the show. I wonder if Vince makes sure the guys aren’t kneeling in the back…
We get a cool package next that shows highlights from the first Elimination Chamber, at Survivor Series 02, and some clips of the other rivalries on the card. The narrator tells us to “Bear witness and grieve the end of civility because tonight wars will be waged on the most brutal of battlegrounds.” He continues to hype the Chamber match as it cuts back and forth between the last Chamber match and a funeral scene. The video ends with a Ten Bell Salute as it shows the bloodied faces of various SuperStars. This is a great open and is about the only thing the last SummerSlam card was missing. Maybe it is a sign that a good PPV is upon us.
Jim Ross welcomes us to the sixteenth annual SummerSlam and is sure to tell us that the event is sold out. He introduces his partner for the evening, Jerry “The King” Lawler for this “Red Hot Event” and gives us a quick rundown on the Elimination Chamber Match. This is done early and often and must be it was because it was such a new gimmick the WWE thought they really needed to drive the point home. It’s not long after that JR introduces the SmackDown announce team, Michael Cole and Tazz. The pair speak of the excitement for their brands WWE Championship Match between Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle. Those two then introduce the Spanish announce team of Hugo Savinovich and Carlos Cabrera. It’s not long until we hear the bomb drop and The Dudley Boyz, D-Von and Bubba Ray, enter the arena. The Tag Team champions, La Resistance enter next and they are made up of Rene Dupree and Sylvan Grenier. When Dupree won the Tag gold he became the youngest ever to do so at 19 years old. This was, of course, beat by Nicholas (10 years old) when he would partner with Braun Stroman at WrestleMania 34 and become Tag Team Champ. The angry Frenchman gimmick was these two guys’ most famous moments.
The Dudleyz waste no time and are quick to attack the Frenchmen on the entrance ramp. The crowd chants “USA” as the Dudleyz guide them back to the ring. The bell sounds and D-Von and Dupree start the match. Not much worth talking about happens early on, as D-Von maintains the momentum. Grenier eventually tags in and D-Von continues to beat him with punches followed by a leg drop. He goes for the first cover, but Grenier is quick to kick out. Bubba tags in next and he continues to beat Grenier with a variety of slaps and punches. The crowd gives up the first pop of the night when Bubba puts Grenier in a tree-of-woe and stomps on his nuts. A back elbow is next and when Dupree comes in to help, Bubba is quick to whip them both into the same corner. Bubba of course splashes them both and the crowd is popping again. The Dudleyz clear the ring out and pump the crowd up. The fans reward their efforts with a “Get the Tables” chant. When Dupree returns to the ring he goes on the offensive after a cheap shot to the back of Bubba’s head, from Grenier who is on the apron. Grenier tags in not long after and La Resistance level Bubba with a double shoulder block. The “USA” chant come back but are again hushed by some more La Resistance double teaming. When Bubba is put into a waist lock is when he starts to rally for a hot tag. Bubba escapes the hold with some head-butts but is quickly sidewalk slammed by Grenier. He goes for the cover and It takes D-Von to stop it. Next Bubba reverses an Irish whip into his signature BubbaBomb. The crowd is electric as both men lay on the mat, because they know a hot tag is incoming. Both men tag out but D-Von comes in hot and tears La Resistance up. He hits clotheslines and some other cool moves on this tear, including a nice cutter. D-Von tosses Grenier from the ring before he scoop slams Dupree and tries to cover. But Dupree kicks out at two and the fight continues.
The next highlight comes when D-Von comes off the rope and catches some serious air to deliver a flying forearm. Grenier is now on the apron and holding D-Von’s arms. When Dupree attempts to clothesline, D-Von he ducks and Dupree sends his partner flying off the ring apron. D-Von goes for a quick school boy but Grenier is quick to return to the ring and break the cover up. The partners double chokeslam D-Von and go for the pin. They are astonished when he kicks out, and this is when Bubba returns to the ring and levels them with a double clothesline. Bubba hits one of them with his version of “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and the other member of La Resistance gets a “WUZ UP” from the Dudleyz. If you aren’t familiar with this move it is a diving head-butt from D-Von that lands in a low blow as Bubba holds the opponents legs up. A 3D follows but D-Von’s cover is broken up by Dupree when he pulls the ref from the ring. Bubba joins him on the outside to brawl and this is when we see a camera man enter the ring and lay D-Von out with his camera. The camera man puts Grenier on top of D-Von and the ref comes sliding in to make the three count. And La Resistance retains the Tag Team Titles. The camera man re-enters the ring and this time lays Bubba out with his camera. But as the three are stomping away at The Dudleyz , little Spike Dudley enters to try and help. But he, too, is quickly laid out with the camera. The Camera man removes his wig and it is the La Resistance henchman, Rob Conway. This was a decent match but I don’t think it did the opening card slot justice. This one could definitely be fast forwarded through. Match Time:7:49
Jonathon Coachman stops The Dudley Boyz on the ramp as they are exiting and begins to question them about their loss. Bubba rants on about how they will get the Titles from La Resistance and even calls Coach an “Un-American sympathizer”. D-Von says his usual “Testify” before the segment ends.
Next we see Eric Bischoff, in a black Gi, and he is shadow boxing in the back to prepare for his fight with Shane McMahon later in the evening. For those that aren’t aware, Bischoff has a legit black belt in Tae-kwon-do and used to compete on the amateur level when he was younger. The Intercontinental Champion, Christian, joins him and is pissed that he doesn’t have a match on the card. Bischoff is quick to pass the blame onto the acting commissioner, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Christian won the Title from Booker T at a house show in Des Moise, Iowa but that was originally scheduled to happen at SummerSlam. The plans were changed because Booker T was dealing with a nagging back injury and they took their opportunity then to have the Strap change hands. The segment ends with Christian offering assistance in Bischoff match tonight. To which Bischoff replies “I’ve already got a back-up plan in position.”
Team SmackDown, Michael Cole and Tazz, introduces us to our next match between The Undertaker and A-Train. A-Train is the former Prince Albert but his real name is Matt Bloom and is currently one of the heads of development at NXT. The American Bad Ass enters first and is on a yellow Harley. We don’t get the real theme song on the Network and it must be due to some kind of rights battle. I notice this often on the WWE Network and have really never looked into why. Big Evil circles the ring on the bike a few times before he parks it on the ramp. The A-Train enters next and is joined by the lovely Sable. Pairing A-Train with her must of been an attempt to help get A-Train over with the fans. The match starts with the collar and elbow and A-Train transitions it into a side headlock. He then whips Taker into the ropes and levels him with a shoulder block. They run through another sequence of the same moves and we are off to a pretty slow start. The first little pop comes when The Undertaker hits a Russian leg sweep and goes for the cover. A-Train kicks out, and the slow paced fight continues. They two go back and forth, and the next spot worth mentioning is a running DDT by The Undertaker.
They continue the back and forth until Taker comes off the ropes and goes sky-high to hit a flying lariat. Taker goes to the corner next, and hits his signature, Old School. Albert isn’t much fazed by this and soon catches The Undertaker with a big boot. Taker charges again but A-Train hits the deck and grabs the top rope. This in turn causes Big Evil to go over the rope and crash to the floor outside. Train is quick to join him out there and ram him into the ring post. He returns Taker to the ring and goes for a cover but The American Bad Ass kicks out. A-Train continues to use Undertaker’s ribs as his target and stomps away at them. A-Train hits a big vertical suplex next and again goes for a cover. But Taker is not done yet and is still kicking out. The Undertaker finally goes on the offensive after he lands some back elbow. This leads to some punches from Taker, and he soon has A-Train in a standing sleeper hold. The hold doesn’t last long, though, and The A-Train breaks free by landing a jawbreaker that leaves both men stunned for a moment. They both return to their feet but Big Evil keeps the edge with some big left hands. A-Train receives some snake-eyes next and the crowd is back into this match. Taker attempts the big boot, but A-Train ducks it and both men are back on the mat after a double clothesline. A-Train is first to his feet and Taker is soon kneeling and unloading punches to A-Train’s midsection. Taker is soon on his feet and the two men are going punch for punch. Taker nails the big boot and follows it with a leg drop. He goes for the cover but A-Train hasn’t left station yet and gets the shoulder up. Taker drops the leg again this time on the apron. Taker tries the Last Ride but A-Train shoves him into the ref to stop the finish. A-Train hits the two handed chokeslam, but the ref is still groggy and it takes a moment for him to start the count, which Taker kicks out of. The Undertaker is quick to his feet, but when Train ducks under a clothesline it hits the ref instead. A bicycle kick to Taker’s face is next from A-Train and with the ref down he leaves the ring to get a chair. But The Undertaker sends it back into his face with a big boot. He goes for another cover but the official is still dazed and A-Train kicks-out of the slow count. The Undertaker goes for the Tombstone but A-Train escapes with a backslide but he soon is chokeslamed. He makes the cover and this time he gets the three. After the match Taker is about to give Train the Last Ride but Sable comes in the ring to make the stop. Her seduction almost works, but Taker isn’t deceived and is soon about to chokeslam her. This is when Stephanie McMahon runs in and spears Sable. Steph is unloading some punches on Sable until A-Train grabs her foot and pulls her from the ring. The Crowd gives him some serious heat for this as he and Sable make their way to the back. The match ends with Stephanie applauding Big Evil for his work. For two large men, the match wasn’t bad, but I have definitely seen better work from the Deadman. This one is another you could skip over. Match Time:9:19
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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