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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WWF SummerSlam 1998

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Stone Cold versus The Undertaker, The Rock and Triple H in a ladder match for the IC Title and a total of four championship matches in this Chairshot Classic.

For this edition of Chairshot Classics we keep the ball rolling with SummerSlam 98. The WWE Time Machine takes us into Madison Square Garden and the day is August 30. The WWF is finally ahead in the Monday Night Wars, out-performing Nitro on a weekly basis. The ratings for the previous month are as follows: 6/8 Monday Night Raw-4.3, Nitro-4, 6/15 RAW-4.3, Nitro-4, 6/22 RAW-4.3, Nitro-4.1, 6/29 RAW-5.4, Nitro-4.1. The Garden was jammed packed with 21,588 fans and another 700,000 watching on PPV. The 700K tuned in at home, who pay 30 bucks each, is a record that is still 2nd all time today and the most for a SummerSlam.

The opening vignette comes on the screen and shows the build up to The Undertaker/Austin feud, that also includes Kane. The video shows Austin being tormented by The Brothers of Darkness and his to Kane in a first blood match at the previous PPV, King of the Ring. Stone Cold would win the title back though on the following nights RAW. The opening ends with Vince McMahon saying “With Kane at your side, you will be the WWF Champion once again.” This wasn’t the best opener I’ve seen, but it did the job I guess. The camera enters the sold-out arena as Jim Ross welcomes us to the tenth annual SummerSlam and introduces his partner for the night, Jerry “The King” Lawler. JR tells us that four Titles will be defended tonight starting with the first match.

The challenger, Val Venis enters the arena first and is wearing his signature towel. He gets on the mic and greets the crowd with his “Hello Ladies” and proceeds to talk about the women of NYC, and getting some positive reactions. For those that don’t know Venis was a porn star themed gimmick that was pretty well received. This was definitely a Vince Russo idea. The Big Valbowski finishes with “I came, I saw and I came again.” Kicking the show off in proper Attitude Era fashion with some semen jokes, nice. The European Champion and Nation of Domination member, D-Lo Brown enters next with his neck on a swivel and talkin’ smack the whole time. I always was a fan of D-Lo and think he will be entering the Hall of Fame in the coming years. JR mentions the chest protector that D-Lo is wearing to protect an injured Pectoral Muscle. This would be the theme of the match. After some collar and elbow locks, that seem to go on forever, Brown gains the advantage when Val attempts to chop the chest of D-Lo, but encounters the chest protector. This hurts the wrist of Venis and allows Brown the edge. He works Val with various splashes protecting the chest. Venis avoids a splash in the corner and regains some steam with a Russian leg sweep. D-Lo soon leaves the ring to stop the gaining momentum of Venis.

When Brown re-enters the pair go back and fourth, mostly trading Irish whips. Val receives the first big pop when, off the ropes, he lifts D-Lo for a nice spinebuster slam. This leads to the first near fall, a two count. At this point we are shown a member of The Brood, Edge, in the crowd. They continue to trade momentum and D-Lo gets his first nice pop after an elbow drop from the second rope. This leads to another two count. The crowd really pops when Brown puts Venis in a Texas cloverleaf. It seemed to me that the hold wasn’t applied quite right and it led to it being released soon after it was locked on. Brown Val avoids a senton from the second rope. This would allow the crowd to start to rally behind Venis for a comeback and he does. Val is set to deliver the Money Shot on D-Lo, sounds bad I know, but Brown catches Venis mid-air and lands the powerbomb. This was nicely executed and the crowd popped as well. But this, too, would only garner a two count from the ref. A driving DDT follows but again only the near fall. Brown goes to the top rope but Val catches him this time and drives him to the mat with a powerslam. But yet again, another false finish that leaves the crowd bummed. Val continues to mount the offensive and after a few suplexs, D-Lo is in the middle of the ring and Venis is climbing the ropes. Val Venis attempts the Money Shot, a hybrid frogsplash, but Brown manages to raise the knees and the crowd is in disbelief. D-Lo attempts to powerbomb Val but the spot is blown and he drops Venis sloppily to the mat. He attempts it again and is successful this time with a sitting powerbomb variant. This sets up for one of my favorite versions of the frogsplash, The Lo-Down. D-Lo leaps from the top and pumps for the splash but Venis manages to roll out of harms way. This allows for Val to regain the edge and remove the chest protector from D-Lo, which he then puts on himself. The ref tries to stop him from climbing the turnbuckles and in doing so causes Val to fall on the “Big Valbowski” and this turns the heat up with the crowd. This leads to Val shoving the ref and Brown regaining the momentum and his chest protector. Before the match can continue the bell rings and Val Venis is DQed for shoving the official. D-Lo retains and Val Venis goes on to Money Shot the referee.

I don’t know if it’s because I always liked D-Lo Brown, but I really enjoyed this match and think it was a strong opening to the show. There was a good story, with the chest protector, and it even had a good finish.. The chemistry was decent and this match is definitely worth taking a look at. My only gripe would be not seeing D-Lo’s frogsplash and having to type “Money Shot.”  Match Time: 15:31

A quick clip of Michael Cole in the back is up next. He is joined by the disgruntled Mankind and talking about the hearse that was destroyed by Stone Cold on Sunday Night Heat. Mankind, sledgehammer in hand, is upset because he says he planned to put Kane in that hearse tonight, but is optimistic that he can still find some use for the sledgehammer.

 

We return to the arena and we see Kai-En-Tai enter. They are made up of Dick Togo, Mens Teioh, Sho Funaki, Taka Michinuko and their manager Yamaguchi-San. We see their opponents in the ring already and its because the WWE Network has edited out their entrance, as it was performed by the Insane Clown Posse. I don’t know what the reasoning is but it can’t be seen on the Network. Kai-En-Tai’s opponents are The Oddities and are made up of Giant Silva, Golga and Kurrgan. They are joined at ringside by Luna Vachon and the Insane Clown Posse or Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J. This is real life. I would usually take the time to break down some career highlights of some of these lesser known talents but this is so bad I’m not going to waste the time on such a pile of garbage.

 

The match is a gimmick, if you cant tell, and is not really worth the server space it will take up. Still, I will give the highlights. Kai-En-Tai all deliver frogsplashes to the downed Golga but this wouldn’t do much as he hits them all with a quadruple clothesline. The crowd eagerly awaits the hot tag that leads to everyone being in the ring. The biggest pop comes when Luna stops Yamaguchi-San from interfering by delivering a scoopslam. This finish would come after a quad-chokeslam leads to Golga covering all the members of Kai-En-Tai. This was indeed trash and the highlight would have been the ICP entrance theme but we don’t even get that pleasure on the Network. The only reason I could find for this is that the Insane Clown Posse left on bad terms after the WWE didn’t fulfill their end of the bargain due to failing to show commercials for a new ICP album during RAW. Move past this as quickly as possible. Match Time: 10:08

Jeff Jarrett would enter next and is joined by Southern Justice. Southern Justice is the re-packaged pig farming brothers, The Godwinns. You can read more on the Godwinns in my other Chairshot Classics found here. There is a special stipulation to this match, JR tells us, as it is a Hair versus Hair match. Double J is carrying his “Don’t Piss Me Off” guitar to ringside. The crowd is giving him some low heat as we see a clip, again from Heat, of Southern Justice and Jarrett shaving the head of Finkel. Jarrett advises the crowd to “Don’t Piss Him Off” and we see Sergeant Slaughter, the acting commissioner, tell Southern Justice to vacate ringside. We hear the X-Pac version of the D-X music come on and the crowd is popping as he enters with Howard Finkel at his side. The Fink is wearing a Degeneration-X shirt and a freshly shaved head. We even get some tandem “crotch chops” from the pair as pyro goes off in the ring behind them. X-Pac takes to the mic before the match calling Jeff a “Biotch” before Finkel tells him to “Suck it”. Great stuff here.

Jeff Jarrett would try to land a sneak attack but this would lead to some quick paced back and fourth. Pac would come out ahead after a spinning heal kick followed by a clothesline that sends Double J to the outside. And the crowd is popping for the highly energized X-Pac. They really start to pop after Pac jumps to the outside with a crossbody block from the second turnbuckle. Jarrett would finally mount an offensive with a pair of missle dropkicks. The second of which sends Pac over the top rope and to the outside. The fight continues to the outside and Jarrett atomic drops X-Pac into the ring post. Jarrett maintains with some whiplashing Irish whips to the turnbuckles. Pac finally slows the mounting attack with a tornado DDT of the second buckle. The “Let’s Go X-Pac” chants begin as both men are prone on the mat. The pair slow down and trade some rest-hold sleepers on each other. Jeff comes out on top by reversing the sleeper with an atomic drop onto the top rope. Pac tries to slow Jarrett with a spinning heel kick but he ducks under it and this allows him to try and apply the figure four. Pac is trying to escape but Jeff manages a few near falls in the process. He eventually gets the ropes forcing Jarrett to release the hold. He does so but is quickly pulling Pac to the middle to try and re-apply it. X-Pac manages to escape by kicking the ass of Jarrett and sending him tackling the ring post. He follows up with a back body drop that leaves both men on the mat. Pac counters a few punches that set up a Bronco Buster. He follows it up with an Irish whip to the corner but Jeff meets him there with an elbow. Jarrett attempts a crossbody from the top but Pac rolls through and gets the two count. Jarrett is on the receiving end of a sitdown powerbomb, after his hurricanrana is countered, when we hear the crowd pop again but this only manages another two count for X-Pac. Finkel is soon on the apron arguing with the ref after Jarrett countered the Bronco Buster with a low blow. This leads to a him being laid out by Jarrett and this turns the heat back on with the crowd.

Finkel’s distraction allows for X-Pac to sneak in a X-Factor but somehow Jarrett still manages to kick out. Southern Justice would re-enter ringside next and Mark Canterbury, formerly Henry Godwinn, tries to pull Double J from the ring. This distracts the ref and allows Dennis Knight, AKA Phineas, to try and land the guitar shot on X-Pac. Pac manages to duck under the shot and stunner Knight off the apron. He takes the guitar and explodes it over the head of Jarrett. He throws the remaining fragments from the ring and goes for the cover. The crowd counts along as the ref pounds the mat for a three count, and Double J is set to lose those luscious locks. Southern Justice tries to save Jarrett but The New Age Outlaws are soon out at ringside and stopping them with chairs. They would guard the ring as Droz, who lost his hair at the hands of Jarrett, and The Headbangerz enter to hold Jeff. Pac would start with some clippers but would have to resort to scissors because the clippers quit working. This was a decent match and the in-ring work of X-Pac is phenomenal. Some of the spots in this match reminded me of the style of NJPW today. I would recommend watching this one and if for no other reason than to watch J-E-double F J-A-double R-E-double-T get those blonde locks chopped. After the match we see Method Man, as JR say of the Wu-Tang Clan, in the audience. Match Time 11:10


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Chairshot Classics

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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Chairshot Classics

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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