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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WWF Royal Rumble ’92

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In anticipation of the next watch-along episode of the 2MB Wrestling Podcast, I thought it might be fun to give them a plug and look back at my Royal Rumble ’92 review! Clearly, this will always be remembered for Ric Flair’s historic WWF Championship win, but how did the rest of the card stack up? Let’s get to the action!

Match #1: The Orient Express (Kato & Tanaka) w/Mr. Fuji vs. The New Foundation (Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart & ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart)
Owen & Kato will kick things off, The Rocket with a wristlock out of the lock-up, Kato counters to one of his own and Owen flips out to recapture the hold. Kato switches to a hammerlock, Owen flips himself up and over, pushes into the ropes for a roll-up, Kato hangs on and The Rocket rolls through. Kato charges and Owen leapfrogs over, scores with an armdrag and begins to work over the limb with an armbar. He switches back to a wristlock, they lock knuckles and Kato takes The Rocket down to the canvas for 2 counts, Owen bridges to his feet, springs off the ropes and hits another arm drag.

The Rocket with a hurricanrana for a count of 2, catches Kato in an another armdrag and tags out, The Anvil maintaining control with an armbar of his own. Kato tries to punch his way out of it, gets backed into the corner and then tossed across the ring, Neidhart shooting him across for a hiptoss off the rebound, Kato blocks and attempts his own, but gets shoved to the mat. Tanaka tags in and tries to slam The Anvil, can’t get him up and gets shoved away, Tanaka to the ropes for a shoulder block, but doesn’t budge Neidhart and he hits the mat.

Tanaka goes back to the well again and it still isn’t working, The Rocket re-enters and drops a 2nd rope elbow following a Neidhart spinebuster for a 2 count. Owen gets another 2 off a backbreaker, Tanaka goes to the eyes to get an opening, whips The Rocket to the corner and charges in, Owen hopping up and flipping over to avoid it and elevates Tanaka with a back body drop. He looks to follow with a boot, Tanaka catches the foot and The Rocket brings the other around with an enzuigiri before bringing Neidhart back in. Owen sends Tanaka to the corner, whips The Anvil at him with a spear, Kato hits the ring and The Orient Express look to double team sending Neidhart to the corner, but getting leveled by a double clothesline.

Owen gets a tag and climbs up top, The Anvil with a double noggin knocker and The Rocket follows with a double crossbody for a near fall. Kato stays in and gets sent to the ropes for a spinning heel kick that gets 2, Owen follows with a snap suplex for another near fall, then tries to unmask his opponent. Kato rolls to the outside to escape, slides back in and they tie-up, The Rocket with a side headlock, gets pushed off into the ropes and Tanaka delivers a cheap shot. Kato baits Neidhart into the ring to distract the official, Tanaka drapes Owen over the 2nd rope and Fuji delivers a cane shot to the throat.

Tanaka keeps the ring and grabs a rear chinlock, delivers open-hand shots to the neck, Kato with a superkick off the tag and he gains a count of 2. He shoots The Rocket in for a back elbow for another 2, Fuji getting the ref’s attention which allows his guys to double team in the corner, Tanaka stepping back in and whipping Owen sternum-first into the turnbuckles for a near fall. He looks to send him back across, The Rocket reverses, rushes in and meets a superkick that gets a 2 count, Kato tagging in and grounding the high flyer with a rear chinlock. Owen battles to his feet to break the hold, hits the ropes and ducks a couple of shots, scores with a crucifix and nearly gets a pinfall, Kato stopping the momentum quickly and bringing Tanaka in.

He drops a headbutt to the lower abdomen and slaps on a rear chinlock, The Rocket fights his way up again, hits the ropes and scores with a shoulder knockdown, goes back to the ropes and Tanaka levels him with a flying forearm that gets 2. He sends Owen into the corner and charges in, The Rocket gets a boot up, crawls to make a tag, but Kato comes in and holds the referee as it happens. Neidhart isn’t allowed in, Fuji stands his cane up in the corner, The Orient Express shoot The Rocket into it behind the official’s back and Kato covers, but still can’t finish him off.

Kato starts to work over the arm, plants Owen with a hammerlock slam, tag to Tanaka and he drops a headbutt to the shoulder before grabbing a hammerlock. Owen gains his footing and pushes Tanaka off to the ropes, Tanaka with a shoulder knockdown, back to the ropes and The Rocket catches him with an overhead belly to belly suplex, Kato breaking up the count at 2. Tanaka tags out, Kato draws The Anvil in to hold the referee, Tanaka steps in and The Orient Express send Owen to the ropes for a double clothesline.

Kato covers and only gets 1 by the time the ref gets there, grabs an armbar and makes a tag, Tanaka with a superkick and he baits Neidhart back in. The Orient Express with an elevated seated senton for a near fall, Kato tags back in and they shoot The Rocket to the ropes, he ducks a double clothesline and takes them both out with a dropkick. The Anvil finally gets a tag, Owen slingshots him into the ring with a double shoulder tackle, Neidhart slamming Tanaka & Kato, then elevating Tanaka with a back body drop.

The Rocket comes in and whips Neidhart into Kato with a shoulder, Kato spills to the outside, The Anvil returns the favor and shoots Owen into a suicide dive on Kato. Neidhart slams Tanaka back in the ring, Owen scales the turnbuckle and The New Foundation hits the Rocket Launcher for the victory.
Winners: The New Foundation (Owen/Rocket Launcher)

  • EA’s Take: An exciting opening contest between four veterans that really showcased the strong points of both teams. After The Anvil had fallen victim to Ric Flair’s Figure Four during a match 2 months prior, he exited as The Beverly Brothers made their way to the ring. The Beverlys would take advantage of a weakened Neidhart and ambush him, causing him to miss a month with ‘injury’. Upon his return, he sought revenge on The Beverlys, returning with backup in the form of the returning Owen Hart. The Rocket previously worked as The Blue Blazer under a mask, briefly working for WCW before coming back to the WWF as himself. The youngest Hart brother shows in this match that he’s every bit as talented as Bret in the ring, arguably more talented with his high flying offense to go with the technical wrestling. The New Foundation showed a little promise, but are mostly remembered for their horrible bright ‘Hammer pants’ ring gear, breaking up just a few weeks later when The Anvil would be fired for unprofessional conduct.

Backstage: Lord Alfred Hayes shows us video, explaining what happened two days ago at an event in Springfield, Massachusetts. Bret Hart would defend his IC Title against doctors orders, losing the championship to The Mountie. The new champion would attack The Hitman following the win, drawing out Roddy Piper to make the save. The Mountie would appear to leave, but as Piper checked on Bret he would get clobbered with the title, setting up our title match tonight. Sean Mooney is in the locker room with The Mountie & Jimmy Hart, The Mouth Of The South claiming Bret Hart isn’t actually sick from the flu, but from losing his title. The Mountie isn’t happy to be defending his title on two days notice, but he’s a man and will proudly defeat Roddy Piper. “Because The Mountie always gets his man.” ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is with the challenger ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper in the interview area. Hot Rod talks about the champion wanting to take his integrity, but unfortunately he doesn’t have any. He’s come here to win two titles tonight and he can’t do that until he wins the first one.

Match #2 for the WWF Intercontinental Championship: WWF Intercontinental Champion The Mountie w/’Mouth Of The South’ Jimmy Hart vs. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper
Hot Rod throws his kilt over the champion’s eyes and goes on the attack, the bell rings and we’re underway with Piper unloading on Mountie with rights and lefts. The Mountie gets sent into the ropes, he hangs on and slides out under the bottom rope, Roddy heads out on the other side and blindsides the champion on the floor, then stalks him around ringside. Mountie puts Jimmy in front of him, uses the distraction to score with right hands, rolls Piper back in and chokes him against the ropes. He whips the challenger to the ropes, leapfrogs over him and looks for a monkey toss, Hot Rod has it scouted and stomps him between the eyes.

He drives The Mountie head-first into the top turnbuckle, plants him with a running bulldog, the champion getting his foot on the ropes at a count of 2. Hot Rod pulls Mountie to his feet and pokes him in the eye, grabs a side headlock, the champion pushes him to the ropes and Jimmy Hart grabs Piper’s leg. The distraction doesn’t help and the two guys exchange right hands, Roddy sending Mountie to the ropes for a dropkick, but the champion avoids it and hooks the leg for a 2 count. The Mountie rams Piper head-first into the turnbuckle multiple times, bites him on the forehead and whips him to the ropes for a jumping back elbow, gaining another count of 2.

He dumps the challenger on the outside, Piper pulls himself to the apron, buries a shoulder to the midsection and sunset flips in for a near fall, then unleashes a flurry of fists on the champion. Mountie attempts to pull Hot Rod outside by the tights, Roddy hangs onto the apron and keeps the pressure on with more right hands, then sends The Mountie to the ropes for a back body drop. He whips the champion in again and buries a punch to the midsection, Mountie swings wildly with a right hand, Hot Rod ducks it and splits him with an atomic drop, then tosses The Mountie over the top.

The champion hangs onto the ropes and pulls himself back in as Jimmy gets to the apron to distract the challenger, Mountie looks to ambush Roddy from behind, but Hot Rod side-steps it. Jimmy Hart gets drilled and drops to the floor, Piper slaps the Sleeper Hold on The Mountie, the official checks the arm and we have a new champion.
Winner and NEW WWF Intercontinental Champion: ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper (Sleeper Hold)

  • After The Bell: The Mouth Of The South has the Shock Stick and looks to attack Piper from behind, Hot Rod avoids it and grabs the prod, Jimmy squirming away and leaving Mountie in the ring. Roddy gives the now-former champion a taste of his own medicine and zaps The Mountie.
  • EA’s Take: Piper’s matches are always just…semi-controlled chaos would be the best way to describe it. A really quick set-up to this contest as Bret dropped the title due to being in contract negotiations with the company. The Mountie would receive a rematch on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event, but was unsuccessful leading to a big WrestleMania match for the championship between Bret & Piper. This would serve as Roddy’s only title win of his illustrious career in the WWF for many years, as he was one of the very few guys that didn’t need a championship. Being Roddy Piper was kind of it’s own title.

Backstage: Lord Alfred Hayes enters into Hulk Hogan’s locker room for a quick word, The Immortal One speaking about how he will have no friends in tonight’s Royal Rumble to get the WWF title back around his waist. ‘Mean’ Gene is in the interview area standing by with The Bushwhackers & Jamison. Luke says this is the final plane for ‘The Beverly Sisters’ and they have a surprise for The Genius. Butch says when they’re finished with all 3 of them they will feed the rest to Jamison.

Match #3: The Beverly Brothers (Beau & Blake) w/The Genius vs. The Bushwhackers (Luke & Butch) w/Jamison
The Bushwhackers do a lot of posturing to the crowd before chasing The Beverlys out of the ring and starting a “Sissy” chant for The Genius. Beau and Luke finally get things started, Beau with a stiff right that draws Butch in, The Beverlys immediately taking advantage with a double team. Beau hammers Luke across the middle rope, Blake chokes him behind the ref’s back and Beau shoots Luke to the ropes. He misses a right hand, Luke with a kick to the midsection and he bites Beau on the backside. Blake steps in to stop it and is met by Butch, The Bushwhackers clear the ring with double forearms and march around the delight of the fans.

The Beverlys regroup, Butch takes the ring and Beau slides in to tag out. Blake offers a handshake and Butch looks to the crowd to make a decision, allowing Blake the opportunity to attack him from behind. Blake stomps away, Butch pulls himself to his feet, reverses an irish whip to the ropes and buries a knee to the breadbasket. He plants Blake with a bulldog, all 4 guys are in now and The Bushwhackers shoot The Beverlys into one another from opposite corners, then score with double clotheslines to clean out the ring again. Blake Beverly ducks underneath the ring, Beau to the apron on the other side to provide a distraction, Blake slides in from behind and gets caught.

Beau tries the same thing to no avail, Luke catches Blake and sinks his teeth into hey keyster, reverses a whip to the ropes and Beau unsuccessfully attempts a cheap shot. Blake gets caught coming from behind with a shot to the ribs, gets sent to the ropes, hangs on and ducks to the outside. Butch drops off the apron and pokes him in the eyes, it draws the official’s attention and Beau clocks Luke from behind in the ring. Blake slides in and hangs Luke across the top rope, Beau delivers a double axe to the lower back and stays in, dropping an elbow for a 1 count. Blake re-enters and The Beverlys drive Luke spine-first into the turnbuckles, Blake cracking him with a backbreaker and dropping a headbutt to the spine for a count of 2.

He baits Butch into the ring, makes a tag and hangs Luke across the top again, Beau landing on the lower back with a seated senton. Beau sends Luke in for a back body drop and gets caught with a kick, hooks Luke’s leg and drags him to his corner to make a tag, Blake coming in and hanging Luke with a hotshot. Blake hits the ropes and scores with a clothesline, Beau tags in and makes a nonchalant cover for 2, Luke countering with a schoolboy and he almost steals a victory, but gets tossed outside for his troubles. The Genius comes around ringside and slaps Jamison across the face, Beau shooting Luke hard into the turnbuckles back inside.

He heads to the 2nd rope and connects with a double axe handle, Butch saves the match, The Beverlys switch without a tag and Blake hits Luke with a neckbreaker, following up with a leg drop. He tags out and Beau shoots Luke into the corner, charges in, but Luke rebounds out with a clothesline, crawling to his corner to make a tag as Blake comes in. Butch with a flurry of shots, turns Blake inside out with a clothesline, Beau steps in and gets dropped. He hooks Blake in a side headlock and rams him into his partner, sending Beau to the outside.

Butch hits the ropes for a flying forearm on Blake, covers and Beau slides in to stop the count at 2, but gets dumped back out for his troubles. Luke attempts to get involved and is stopped by the referee, Butch with an irish whip, Blake reverses and Beau trips Butch from the outside. Blake covers for 2 with Luke making the save, the official works him back to his corner allowing The Beverlys to double team, Blake holding Butch as Beau comes off the top with a double axe, Blake with the cover for the 3 count.
Winners: The Beverly Brothers (Blake/Interference)

  • After The Bell: The Bushwhackers aren’t finished and they send The Beverlys to the ropes for double back elbows, then hit them each with the Battering Ram to clear the ring. The Genius yells at them from the apron, gets dragged into the ring and Luke holds The Genius for Jamison to deliver shot, but he merely kicks him in the shin and then the backside.
  • EA’s Take: A lot of pre-match antics got this one started slowly, eventually boiling down to what I recall almost every Bushwhackers match being. The Beverly Brothers are higher on the pecking order and continue to ascend so they get the duke here, but Jamison gets the last laugh in the end. I don’t know a whole lot about Jamison, I remember him as a character from The Bobby Heenan Show. He was a total buffoon and fit right in with The Bushwhackers, but is really a forgettable personality that never really amounted to anything. These two teams would continue to collide until the Summer, when The Beverlys would set target tag team gold.

Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by WWF Tag Team Champions The Legion Of Doom in the interview area. Animal spouts off about how they will face all challengers and that includes The Natural Disasters tonight. Hawk asks if Gene knows what makes them sick, answering that Earthquake & Typhoon throwing their weight around disgusts him.

Match #4 for the WWF Tag Team Championships: The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon) w/’Mouth Of The South’ Jimmy Hart vs. WWF Tag Team Champions The Legion Of Doom (Hawk & Animal)
Hawk & Typhoon lock-up and we’re underway, each guy holds their own, they tie-up again and there’s no advantage. Hawk grabs a side headlock, gets pushed off to the ropes, tries a shoulder block and Typhoon doesn’t budge. Hawk goes back to the well getting the same result, hits the ropes again and staggers him with a forearm. He goes upstairs and finally takes the big man off his feet with another forearm shot, covers and Earthquake breaks the count at 2. Quake tags in and goes nose to nose with Hawk, Hawk with a standing dropkick and it barely budges Earthquake.

The big guy looks to comeback with his own dropkick, Hawk side-steps it and follows with a fist drop before tagging out. Animal gets in Quake’s face now, they exchange shots with neither getting the advantage, Earthquake using a kick to the ribs to get the edge. He shoots Animal to the ropes, Animal ducks a couple shots, both guys thinking clothesline and connect, doubling down. Animal up first, lifts Quake for a slam, but can’t hold the weight and Earthquake falls on top for a near fall.

Typhoon tags in, The Natural Disasters send Animal to the corner, Quake whipping Typhoon in for a splash. He calls for another, this time Animal sticks his boot up, then explodes out of the corner with a clothesline. He tags out, Hawk in from the top with a shot to the shoulder, pummels Typhoon with right hands, the big man turns the tide and sends him to the ropes, both attempting a clothesline and they both hold their ground. Hawk finds no success off a 2nd attempt and the third is no better, getting caught in the air and split with a backbreaker. Typhoon whips Hawk hard into the corner, Quake re-enters and drops a big elbow to the lower back, gaining a 2 count.

Earthquake makes the tag, Typhoon using his body weight to punish the lower back, then grabs a bearhug, Hawk fights out and goes to the 2nd rope, but gets caught back in the hold. He tags out and Quake keeps on the spine area, then goes back to the bearhug and drives him spine-first into the turnbuckles. Earthquake shoots him across, rushes in for a splash, Hawk side-steps it, comes off the 2nd rope with an elbow and the big man topples over. Animal gets the hot tag, Earthquake reverses a whip to the ropes, misses a right hand and Animal scores with a shoulder tackle.

Typhoon steps in to stop the momentum, The Natural Disasters try a double back suplex, Animal flips out, lands on his feet and knocks them both to the outside with a double clothesline. The brawl is on with all 4 guys going at it on the outside, the referee counts, Typhoon sliding into the ring just before the 10 count.
Winners: The Natural Disasters (Count-Out)

  • After The Bell: The Natural Disasters grabs the titles and hold them up as if they’ve won them, Hawk grabs a chair on the outside and comes in from behind, clocking them in the back. Typhoon spills to the outside, Hawk tosses Animal the chair, whips Earthquake at him and Animal whacks him over the head to clear the ring.
  • EA’s Take: Another subpar tag team match here, after the showing we got from The New Foundation & Orient Express in the opener, it was going to be hard to top. It was definitely watchable, but these 4 don’t exactly fit the bill of what you’d call a “good worker”. The count-out victory seems a little unusual, but moving forward it would be the start of a change in the division. The LOD would lose the titles just a few short weeks later to Ted DiBiase & IRS, now known as Money Inc. Jimmy Hart had taken the team on and used The Natural Disasters’ rematch to get Money Inc. the title shot, angering The Disasters and leading to a face turn. The LOD would take a very brief hiatus from the company following the title loss, returning at WrestleMania with a face from their past by their side.

Backstage: In the locker room is Sean Mooney who welcomes in The Natural Disasters & Jimmy Hart. Jimmy claims that they should be the champions and he’s going to get his lawyer to deal with this. The Disasters are incensed that eventhough they won, they didn’t gain the titles and promise to next time the teams collide.

Backstage: Gene Okerlund is in the interview area with the new WWF Intercontinental Champion ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper. Hot Rod says only in America can a guy win the IC Title and still have a shot at the world title in the same night. He’s dedicating this one to Colt. We go back to Sean Mooney in the locker room and he speaks about the opportunity coming up in the Royal Rumble. He comes across Shawn Michaels and talks about the opportunity that was taken away from Marty Jannetty, directing us to the video of Shawn turning on Marty on Brutus Beefcake’s Barber Shop. Michaels says he doesn’t know what the big deal is, he saved him from getting 29 other beatings in the Rumble. It’s time that everyone finds out what he’s known all along and that’s that he is the hottest thing the WWF has ever had.

Backstage: Lord Alfred Hayes joins Ric Flair outside his dressing room, Flair telling us that he’s drawn #3 in the Rumble match. He knows it’s not a great number and he’ll have to last close to an hour to become WWF Champion, but that makes no difference to him. We go back to ‘Mean’ Gene who introduces us to pre-recorded comments from some of the participants in the Royal Rumble including ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, Sid Justice, The British Bulldog, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan and more.

Match #5 – Royal Rumble for the WWF Championship

  • Entry #1 is The British Bulldog. Entry #2 is ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase. The MDM slides right in and goes after Davey, Bulldog catches him with right hands, shoots him into the corner and charges in, running into a back elbow. DiBiase takes the opening and hammers The Bulldog, sends him to the ropes for a clothesline, then plants him with a vertical suplex. He follows it up with a gutbuster, another vertical suplex and tries to toss him over, Davey Boy hanging onto the apron, MDM doesn’t realize it, turns around and gets clotheslined over the top. ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase has been eliminated…
  • Entry #3 is Ric Flair. He steps in and lets out a “Woo!”, locks up with Bulldog and gets powered to the canvas. Flair looks to shoot Davey to the ropes, it’s reversed and Bulldog lifts Flair with a military press. Flair sneaks in a boot, sends Bulldog to the corner, Davey Boy rebounds out with a clothesline and flattens him. Ric goes to the eyes to create an opening, irish whip to the ropes and The Bulldog drops him with another clothesline as the clock counts down….
  • Entry #4 is Nasty Boy Jerry Sags. Sags comes in and gives Flair a hand with Bulldog. They send Davey Boy into the corner for a double clothesline, he explodes back out with one of his own, throws Sags over the top. Sags hangs onto the apron, turns to the crowd and has some words with the front row, The Bulldog dropkicks him from behind and he falls to the floor. Nasty Boy Jerry Sags has been eliminated….
  • Entry #5 is Haku. The British Bulldog has to deal with another 2 on 1 situation, Haku holding him up for Flair chops, but then Haku goes after Ric, chasing him out of the ring under the bottom rope. Haku turns his attention back to Davey Boy as Flair slides back in, Bulldog gets spiked with a piledriver, Flair going to Haku’s eyes right after and drops a knee. Haku turns the tables, works over Flair in the corner, goes back to The Bulldog and gets elevated to the outside as the clock ticks away. Haku has been eliminated.
  • Entry #6 is Shawn Michaels. Shawn slides in and Flair cuts him off at the pass, Michaels fires back, shoots him into the corner and flips him with a back body drop. He lays Flair out with a superkick, Davey Boy clobbers him, whips him to the ropes and slams him with a military press, then flattens Shawn with multiple clotheslines, nearly eliminating him. No allies here as everyone’s after everyone, 10…9…8…7….
  • Entry #7 is ‘El Matador’ Tito Santana. Bulldog finally has some sort of ally, Tito hitting the ring and delivering a series of rights and lefts to Flair. The 4 pair off, Flair planting El Matador with a back suplex, then drills The Bulldog with a low blow. He turns back to Tito, sends him to the ropes, Santana ducks a shot and connects with the Flying Forearm as the timer hits zero….
  • Entry #8 is The Barbarian. The heels have a 3-2 advantage now, Barbarian & Flair trying to dump Bulldog out, but he’s able to remain on the apron, clutching to the ropes for dear life….
  • Entry #9 is ‘The Texas Tornado’ Kerry Von Erich. Now the sides are even and Von Erich is right on Flair, dropping him with a Tornado Punch. Michaels gets clocked with one for his troubles, then gets catapulted into the top turnbuckle by Davey Boy. The faces and heels split-off into pairs as the next entrant makes his way out….
  • Entry #10 is Repo Man. Repo sneaks his way around ringside and picks his moment to slide into the squared circle, ambushing The Tornado from behind as Santana hits Barbarian with a crossbody. Punches and chops get thrown from every which direction as the 10 count ticks down….
  • Entry #11 is Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine. The Hammer goes right after the other master of the Figure Four, exchanging chops with Flair….
  • Entry #12 is Nikolai Volkoff. The ring’s really starting to full up now with 9 guys in the ring., Flair tries to drop a knee on Valentine, The Hammer blocks it and slaps on the Figure Four as Repo Man back body drops Nikolai over the top rope. Nikolai Volkoff has been eliminated….
  • Entry #13 is Big Boss Man. The Boss Man a house of fire with right hangs for everyone in the ring as Repo Man tosses out The Hammer. Greg ‘The Hammer Valentine has been eliminated. Boss Man nearly uppercuts Michaels over the top, Repo tries to attack from behind and Boss Man subsequently ends his evening. Repo Man has been eliminated. The Bulldog pummels Flair in the corner, Flair ducks a clothesline and elevates Davey Boy over the top. The British Bulldog has been eliminated. The Tornado goes immediately after Flair, tries a heavy right hand and suffers the same fate as Bulldog. ‘The Texas Tornado’ Kerry Von Erich has been eliminated. Michaels & El Matador duke it out on the other side as the timer starts, they jockey for position with neither getting the edge, forcing each other to fall out to the floor. Shawn Michaels & ‘El Matador’ Tito Santana have been eliminated….
  • Entry #14 is Hercules. The ring has quickly trimmed down from 9 to 4, Flair & Barbarian high-five, Flair turning on him with a chop that has little affect. Barbarian sends him to the ropes and plants him after a military press, looks to eliminate him, but Hercules comes up from behind and dumps him over, Flair hanging onto the ropes. The Barbarian has been eliminated. Boss Man clobbers Hercules from behind immediately, both guys spill over the top, Flair thinks he’s left alone, but Big Boss Man hangs on and slides in under the bottom rope. Hercules has been eliminated.Flair turns to see Boss Man, pokes him in the eye and sends him to the ropes, Boss Man ducking a clothesline and delivering one of his own. He scores with right hands, staggers Flair near the ropes, charges in for a splash and misses, spilling over the top to the apron, then down to the floor. Big Boss Man has been eliminated….
  • Entry #15 is WWF Intercontinental Champion ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper. Flair is not thrilled that Piper’s out, trying to beg off to no avail. Hot Rod unleashes a barrage of shots in the corner, whips him across and tosses him with a back body drop. He sends Flair out through the ropes following a dropkick, Piper is out after him, drives his head off the barricade and throws Flair back in the squared circle. Roddy’s onslaught continues with punches from the 2nd rope, Flair tries to power out with an inverted atomic drop, Piper blocks and levels him with a clothesline. He puts Flair in an airplane spin, slaps on the Sleeper Hold and Flair fades away as the next man hits the ring….
  • Entry #16 is Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. The Snake rolls in and sits in the corner, watches Hot Rod put Flair out and then attacks him from behind. Roberts puts a beating in Roddy in the corner, chokes him on the bottom rope and helps Flair up, only to deliver a short-arm clothesline. He calls for the DDT, Piper explodes out of the corner with a clothesline to prevent it, Flair locking Jake in the Figure Four. Hot Rod attacks them both and it costs him, The Snake and Flair now teaming up on him as #17 comes to the ring….
  • Entry #17 is ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan. Hacksaw evens the odds for Piper, decapitates Flair with a clothesline out of the corner, turns his attention to Jake and then brawls with Piper. Flair gets involved drawing Roddy’s attention, plants Piper with a back suplex as Roberts splits Duggan with an inverted atomic drop….
  • Entry #18 is Irwin R. Schyster. IRS takes his time getting to the squared circle, Hacksaw grabs his tie and hammers away with heavy rights, Schyster going to the eyes to stop the momentum….
  • Entry #19 is ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka. The Superfly steps in and cracks Flair with a headbutt, sends him to the ropes and fires away with knife-edge chop….
  • Entry #20 is The Undertaker. The Deadman creeps his way to the ring, slides in and tosses Snuka out with one big shot. ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka has been eliminated. Taker chokes Flair in the corner, Hacksaw tries to intervene and gets caught with a low blow….
  • Entry #21 is ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Macho sprints to the ring looking for Roberts, but The Snake escapes under the bottom rope, Undertaker grabbing Savage by the throat. The Snake attempts a short-arm clothesline to Macho, Savage avoids it and drives an elbow between the eyes, unleashing a flurry of stiff punches to the forehead. He climbs up top and drills Jake with a double axe handle, delivers a knee to the back that sends him flying to the outside, then hops over the top to the floor after him. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts has been eliminated. Savage chokes the life out of The Snake, Undertaker comes outside through the ropes, grabs Macho and throws him back inside, the officials allowing it as Savage wasn’t thrown over the top, but went out on his own accord….
  • Entry #22 is The Berzerker. Berzerker takes shots at everyone as he enters the ring, Hacksaw ducks one, splits him with an atomic drop and scores with a clothesline, Flair hooking Macho on the apron to suplex him out, Savage blocks and brings Flair in the hard way….
  • Entry #23 is Virgil. Virgil can’t wait to get his hands on IRS, walks right into a double team and gets caught by the throat by Undertaker. Flair gets involved and draws The Deadman’s attention, Berzerker shoots Virgil to the ropes and floors him with a big boot as the countdown begins….
  • Entry #24 is Colonel Mustafa. The Colonel enters and chokes Hot Rod on the top rope, Berzerker spikes Virgil on his head with a piledriver as the battle rages on….
  • Entry #25 is ‘The Model’ Rick Martel. The ring’s filling up again, Macho & Mustafa exchanging shots near the ropes, Savage ducks down and lifts him up and over. Colonel Mustafa has been eliminated….
  • Entry #26 is Hulk Hogan. The arena erupts as Hulkster enters the ring, cracks Taker & Berzkerer with a double noggin knocker, then another for Undertaker & IRS. All 3 team up and trap Hogan in the corner, Hulk fights his way out, clotheslines The Undertaker and he flips over the top, landing on his feet outside. The Undertaker has been eliminated. The Berzerker looks to ambush Hulk and pays for it, getting back body dropped and joining Undertaker on the floor. The Berzerker has been eliminated. Hogan shreds his shirt, wraps it around The Model’s neck and tosses him across the ring, Virgil scores with a crossbody on Duggan near the ropes and they both tumble over the top rope. Virgil & ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan have been eliminated….
  • Entry #27 is Skinner. The Alligator Man rips at Piper’s eyes on the way in as Hogan attempts to toss Flair, Schyster making the save. Hulk drops Flair & Skinner with clotheslines as the buzzer sounds….
  • Entry #28 is Sgt. Slaughter. Skinner has Hot Rod in trouble near the ropes as Slaughter walks to the ring, Martel picks him up from behind and sends Skinner packing. Skinner has been eliminated. Piper & Hogan duel reminding us of years past, The Model gets involved and suffers for it as the clock starts the countdown….
  • Entry #29 is Sid Justice. Sid comes in and hammers IRS with boots, The Hulkster stalks Flair and ends up caught in a double team, giving Flair the advantage….
  • Entry #30 is The Warlord. The final entry is in now, Flair ducks outside under the bottom rope, drags Hulk out with him and attempts a vertical suplex on the floor. Hogan blocks and delivers one of his own, back in the ring Sarge is hammering Sid in the corner, whips him across, Justice reverses and Slaughter’s momentum takes him up and over. Sgt. Slaughter has been eliminated. Hulk throws Flair back in, whips him to the ropes and plants the big boot to the chin, Schyster tosses Piper on the other side, Roddy hangs onto the apron, grabs IRS’ tie and pulls him over the top. Irwin R. Schyster has been eliminated. Hogan & Sid team up and dump The Warlord over. The Warlord has been eliminated. Piper & The Model jockey for position against the ropes, neither man can gain control, Justice comes from behind and shoves them both, sending them spilling to the outside. ‘The Model’ Rick Martel & ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper have been eliminated. We’re down to the final four, Hogan/Flair & Sid/Macho pairing off, Justice picks Savage up, Flair escapes Hulk by going to the eyes, drives a knee in Sid’s back and Macho falls out to the floor. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage has been eliminated. Justice & Hogan go 2 on 1 against Flair, sending him into the corner, Flair’s turned inside-out and nearly gets eliminated. The Hulkster tries to kick him off the apron, Sid grabs Hogan from behind and sends him to the outside. Hulk Hogan has been eliminated. Hogan can’t believe Justice turned on him, arguing with Sid from the floor. He grabs Justice by the wrist and pulls him towards the ropes, Flair comes to and flips Justice over to become the new champion.

Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Ric Flair

  • After The Bell: Hulk chases the new champion out of the ring as Heenan is going crazy on commentary and leaves to go celebrate, Sid is back in the ring behind Hogan and shoves him. The Hulkster pushes back and they go face to face, WWF referees and officials swarm the ring to step in between them and prevent them from going at it. We go the interview area with Gene Okerlund, WWF President Jack Tunney presenting Ric Flair the title with Mr. Perfect & Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan standing behind him. Flair speaks about this being the greatest moment of his career, stating that the WWF Title is the most prestigious in wrestling and holding it means you rule the world. People can talk about Hogan, Savage, Sid or anyone else, but now it’s Flair and we can all pay homage to the man. “Wooooo!”
  • EA’s Take: Now this is how the Royal Rumble should be booked every year, a great Rumble match that was entertaining from beginning to end. The title was on the line for the first time in history making the contest the more important and star-studded than it had ever been. This goes down as arguably one the best Rumble matches in history with the list of Hall Of Famers involved, the excellent booking and weaving of storylines. Ric Flair gains his first WWF Title and cuts one of the most memorable promos of his career and for once the last few guys standing in the match actually made sense with Savage, Hogan, Sid & Flair. This is also the first time I remember Hogan actually getting some boos, a good portion of the crowd was on Sid’s side in all the aftermath. You’d think that after all this time the WWF would go with Flair/Hogan heading to WrestleMania, it was the dream match years in the making and everyone wanted to see it, it only made sense. That wouldn’t be the case however as Sid would make a full-fledged heel turn and clash with Hogan, while Flair would prod Macho Man with accusations about Elizabeth. To this day no real reason has ever been given as to why Flair/Hogan never happened, looking back it was a big blunder for the company not to capitalize on the opportunity and the match would never take place in the WWF.

EA’s Finisher: This card goes down in history as one of the most remembered in WWF history, obviously all due to the Royal Rumble and Ric Flair’s 1st WWF Championship. The undercard did what it needed to do, but was loaded with tag matches. Our opener was excellent and featured a lot of innovation from Owen Hart, making it hard for the following tag contests to impress in the same way. Roddy Piper gains his first title in the WWF as well, just adding to the historical impact of the event. This would really become the benchmark for other Royal Rumble matches going forward and although the title wouldn’t be up for grabs in it for another 24 years, another stipulation would be added going forward, cementing the Rumble as must-see for all fans in the future.

Top Three To Watch
1 – Royal Rumble Match
2 – The New Foundation vs. The Orient Express
3 – The Mountie vs. Roddy Piper


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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!

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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

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

  • 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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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.

 

THE SIGNOFF

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.


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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!

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ALL IN

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

9/1/2018

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)

THE RESULTS

  • 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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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.

THE SIGNOFF

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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