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Chairshot Classics: WWF SummerSlam 2000

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The current Hardcore Champion, Shane McMahon enters next and is running to the ring like he is being chased. There is a recap, per usual, of the events leading to this spot. Shane ambushed Steve Blackman during a match with a kendo stick and was able to secure a pin and the Hardcore Title. On a side note it is said that Shane delivered the famed “Spectacular, But safe” speech before the show that is usually done by Vince. Who better to deliver it than the Hardcore Champ. Steve Blackman is out next and is bringing a trash can and kendo stick with him. He enters the ring and Shane exits to the apron. Blackman then throws him the stick but Shane throws it right back. He eventually takes it when Blackman turns his back and tries to ambush him. This doesn’t work as Blackman is waiting and nails Shane with a punch that floors him. Shane quickly rolls from the ring, and the crowd is hot. Shane runs around the ring and through the fans as Blackman chases him. He catches him in the crowd and crushes the garbage can over Shane’s head. They continue to brawl through the fans as they make their way back to ringside. Blackman throws Shane back into the ring and joins him after he finds some lids for the garbage cans under the ring and throws them in also. He whips Shane off the ropes and takes his legs out with the lid. After he is finished with the lids, he leaves the ring to check under it for more weapons. He finds another can, Escrima Sticks and a leather strap, all of which he throws into the ring. He then places the trash can over the head of Shane and beats it with the sticks. He eventually takes Shane back to the ground with a superkick before yelling “we’re not done yet”.

Blackman removes the can and wraps the leather strap around the neck of McMahon. He then puts Shane on the top turnbuckle and yanks him back to the mat with the strap. Blackman then pulls on the strap to put Shane in a camel clutch type move using it. Prince Albert and Test run in at this point and break the hold. The pair stomp Blackman and then set a trash can up in the corner. They whip Blackman into is and Albert follows by slashing onto Blackman, who is on top of the trashcan. Next Albert lays a trashcan lid over the chest of Blackman and Test comes off the top rope with an elbow onto the lid. Blackman tries to break free as Test and Albert hold his arms so Shane can deliver his punch combo but this doesn’t work and Blackman is soon layed out with a diving street sign to the face. The trio then begin to lead Blackman down the entrance ramp and towards the exit. They attempt to push a huge speaker onto Blackman but he rolls from harms way. Blackman finally recovers after he ducks under a Kendo Stick shot from Test that connects with Albert instead. Blackman now has the stick and is beating the two with it. Shane runs away and starts to climb the scaffolding, but Blackman is right there behind him. Blackman catches up to him and starts to hit him with the Kendo Stick. This eventually leads to Shane falling from the scaffolding to the ground which was an estimated 50 feet. This was a well planned stunt that Shane had done on the day before to practice. Regardless, this is still a crazy spot and just shows that the McMahon’s really wouldn’t ask the talent to do anything they wouldn’t do. Blackman climbs about halfway back down before he leaps and drops an elbow onto Shane. This gets Blackman the three count and he is the new WWF Hardcore Champion. This match wasn’t bad but it wasn’t amazing either. The best spot is Shane’s big bump, which is must-see stuff. Match Time: 10:07

There is a quick clip of Shane being wheeled through the back on a stretcher before it cuts to Stephanie in her dressing room and she is worried about her brother. Its a this point Kurt Angle enters and offers her a hug to console her, which she accepts. Commissioner Foley walks in on them mid-embrace and tells her Shane is ok “but I think he landed on his kisser”. They leave the locker room and leave Kurt standing there looking lost.

 

JR introduces us to our next match between Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit and mentions he doesn’t think Shane will still be in the corner with Benoit, as was originally planned. This is a best 2/3 falls match and there is a normal video that shows the build up next. Not much happened in the story to get here other than them jumping each other and beating the hell out of each other in different places in the back. The best part of the build-up is Jericho insulting Benoit in a Dr. Seuss like fashion. This is great and you should check it out.

 

Y2J, Chris Jericho is out next and receives a standing ovation as he makes his way to the ring. After his celebration Chris Benoit comes down the aisle and when he hits the ring the two instantly come to blows before the bell sounds. They roll on the floor and exchange punches as the crowd chants “Y2J”. They eventually tumble over the top ropes and Benoit comes out on top after he pancakes Jericho into the ring post. Benoit returns Jericho to the ring and this leads to him attempting the Cross-Face but Jericho wiggles free. He attempts to put The Walls of Jericho on Benoit but when he cant turn him over he catapults him into the turnbuckle instead. He follows that with a German suplex but this only leads to a two count. Benoit reverses a piledriver into a shoulder breaker but his momentum is short lived as Jericho sneaks in a bulldog that allows him to go for the Lionsault. Benoit gets the knees up though and this sets up the Crippler Cross-Face. He locks it in and Jericho is soon tapping out and giving Benoit the first fall.

 

Benoit wastes no time re-applying the Cross-Face, and has it locked if for sometime, before Jericho gets to the ropes. Benoit continues to work the shoulder until Y2J comes off an Irish whip and lays Benoit flat with a forearm. Benoit doesn’t let the momentum last long and is soon attempting his triple German suplex. Jericho takes the first one but manages to reverse the second attempt into The Walls of Jericho. Benoit almost makes it to the ropes before Jericho drags him back to the center. And Benoit is soon tapping out as Jericho is rewarded the second fall.

 

We are tied at one fall a piece and Jericho instantly begins to attack the back of Benoit. A cool spot comes next when Jericho gets some great hang time when he hits a spinning back elbow off the top rope. Jericho covers after but only gets the two. He attempts to powerbomb Benoit but he reverses it into a back drop for a pin, but again only a two. He hits a full nelson suplex on Jericho next that gives him time to climb to the top rope. Jericho is quick to stun him and climb the ropes with him and deliver a top rope hurricanrana that leaves both men on the mat. Jericho eventually rolls over for the cover but yet again Benoit kicks out. Y2J takes him to the mat with a pair of clotheslines, but Benoit is right back up and it takes a spinning heel kick to keep him down. Jericho again tries to cover but Benoit manages to get his foot on the rope to stop the count. Jericho hits a lionsault,m but Benoit reverses the school boy pin into an inside cradle and steals the win and uses the rope for leverage to do so. This match has been the best one so far and is a must watch on this card. Take the time to enjoy these two technical wresting legends. Match Time: 13:20

 

We finally see The Game, Triple H, enter the arena before we cut to another clip of Kurt Angle kissing Stephanie. They are really trying to drive this point home and build to the Main Event. It is strange to me thought that this storyline doesn’t contain the main player in the match and the WWF Heavyweight Champion, The Rock.

 

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduce the next match, the first ever Tables, Ladders and Chairs match. The Tag Team Champions, Edge and Christian will defend their gold against The Hardyz and The Dudley Boyz. The premise is that Edge and Christian are fans of using chairs, The Hardyz ladders and The Dudleyz, obviously tables. This is one of my all-time favorite rivalries and this is the start of it really picking up. The Champs, Edge and Christian, enter first and don’t receive any reaction from the fans. The Dudleyz are next out and they receive a little pop at least. But when the hometown heroes, The Hardyz, enter, the place explodes. They waste no time and run to the ring to start the fight.

 

This is an absolutely chaotic match to cover as there is so much going on that you just cant cover every spot. My advice before I highlight this is just go watch it. It’s absolutely nuts and the risks these athlete take to entertain us is equally as crazy. Edge and Christian bring the chairs in the ring and the Hardyz eat them both. Edge brings a ladder in, but Bubba Ray makes him regret that decision and slams him into it as it lays against the ropes. Bubba sets the ladder up and begins to climb as the “we want tables” chants begin. The Hardyz are there to stop him and powerbomb him off the ladder. Bubba’s foot gets caught in it and this leads to the ladder falling on him. Dvon sets a ladder up next Jeff’s ladder and start to climb up next to him but Christian climbs up behind them and takes them off the ladder with a double Russian leg sweep. Christian starts to climb next but Bubba climb up with him and delivers a vicious Bubba-bomb off the top of the ladders. Edge throws Jeff off next and he lands on a pile of ladders. When he lands a ladder pops up and hits Matt it the head. This doesn’t appear to be a work either. Jeff ducks under Edge and Christian’s Con-Chair-To and they instead bang chairs together. This leads to Bubba clearing the ring with ladder clotheslines. The crowd is going crazy as the Dudleyz hit the “Wuz Up” with Dvon coming of the top of the ladder. We get a “Dvon, get the tables!” nevxt and the crowd is in a frenzy. They set one up and 3D Christian through a table. The Dudleyz then return to the outside to set up a 2×2 stack of tables outside the ring. Edge clears the ring with a chair before they can use the stack. Matt comes in and hits a Twist of Fate on Edge and then Matt and Jeff both perform leg drops off the ladder onto him. They sandwich Edge between a ladder and Matt throws Christian off the top rope onto the sandwiched Edge. These bumps are just plain crazy and I am loving every moment of it. Jeff sets Bubba on two tables outside the ring and climbs what must be a twenty five foot ladder and Swanton bombs off the top of it, but Bubba moves out of the way. This really is crazy.

Matt brings the tall ladder in the ring and he, Christian, Edge and Dvon start to ascend it. Matt comes off it by getting a reverse DDT from Christian and the other two throw each other off of it and onto the top rope. This leads to Bubba hurrying into the ring to begin climbing the ladder. Edge and Christian are quick to their feet and shove him off the top of the ladder and through the 2×2 stack of tables outside. This is just insane looking.

 

E and C begin to climb the ladder but this is were Lita makes her run-in and knocks the ladder over, causing the team to land on the top rope, spread eagle. And the “Tar-Heelians” are going wild as Matt Hardy start to climb the ladder. Dvon makes the save by dumping Matt off the ladder backwards and to the outside of the ring, again through two tables. Lita comes to check on him and this is when Edge spears her and she hits the back of her head on the corner of the ladder. If you’re still keeping track that’s the third time a dude assaulted a chick. Dvon and Jeff climb up next and grab the belts at the same time. Edge kicks the ladder out and this leaves both men suspended above the ring. Edge resets the ladder and after Jeff knocks Dvon down, Edge and Christian throw a ladder at him to knock him to the mat. This allows Edge and Christian to climb the ladder and retain their Tag Titles. This match is straight fire and I cant emphasize enough that you should watch it. Match Time: 14:51

 

There is a quick clip next with Stephanie and Triple H in the back and he is demanding an explanation for the kiss Kurt gave her. She says Kurt took advantage of her because she because she was disoriented from a head shot earlier in the night. Triple H finishes by telling her after tonight they wont have to worry about Kurt Angle anymore.

 

The Kat and Al Snow enter first for the first ever Stink Face match. This is real folks. The camera man does a good job capturing The Kat’s backside as she enters the ring. Her opponent Terri makes her way to the ring next, but not before stopping to strip off her dress and reveal her skimpy bathing suit. The European Champion, Perry Saturn runs out the wrap her in a towel which angers the fans. The match begins, and from a wresting standpoint its pure trash, but if you take the perspective that it is two 3/4 naked ladies rolling around the ring with each other, it is entertaining. The best part of it is the King and JR’s commentary. At one point Kat gives Terri a Bronco Buster and King responds with “I’ve been trying to get one of those for months”. The King was dating The Kat in real life at this time. The Kat eventually hits Terri with the Al Show Head and this leads to her getting the Stink Face. Match Time: 3:04


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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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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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