The Undertaker comes out first for the next match and is on his Harley. I honestly never really cared for this version of Taker, but maybe it is because I grew up on the Deadman version so I have a skewed outlook on The American Bad Ass version. There wasn’t a lot of build-up to this match as Big Show was supposed to fight Taker here, but he was sent down to Ohio Valley Wrestling to work on his weight and attitude instead. The Big Red Machine enters next, with his normal fire pyro, but he doesn’t make it to the ring and Taker attacks him off the ramp. They exchange punches on their way back to the ring and Take whips Kane shoulder first into the ring post. Undertaker tries to unmask Kane when they return to the ring but this enrages him and leads to him gaining momentum with punches, mostly uppercuts. When he finally downs Taker, Kane leaves the ring to grab a chair and JR mentions that the bell hasn’t even sounded yet. Undertaker stops him from using it with some punches to the midsection and Taker gets to use the chair first. He delivers some chairshots to the back of Kane before he again tries to remove Kane’s mask. Taker rips a piece of it off before Kane rolls to the outside to stop him. Kane gains the advantage once Taker joins him on the outside by beating him off the security rails. Kane goes to hit Undertaker with the ring steps next but he manages to duck and this causes the steps to bounce off the ring post and back into the face of Kane. Undertaker then picks the steps up and throws them into the face of Kane. Undertaker then looks at the crowd and tells them “I’m going to pull his fucking mask off” and they respond with a roar. When they return to the ring Kane saves himself with a low blow that bring Taker to the mat. When Kane stands up first you can see the blood flowing from his partially exposed face. This makes for a really cool effect. Kane delivers brutal right hands one after another that don’t look friendly. I don’t know if it is just the leather glove but it sound like they are landing solid. Taker eventually hits a spear out of nowhere and this slows Kane down. After some right hands of his own Undertaker is grabbed by the throat by Kane and a low blow kick barely save him. Undertaker finally removes the mask and this leads to Kane leaving the arena with his hair over his face. Undertaker’s theme plays as he celebrates in the ring with the mask. Overall that match was pretty good and the mask angle kept the in-ring story interesting. Worth a watch for sure. Match Time: 6:25
Before the Main Event is set to start we see Angle in the back and he is making a phone call, after he debates it for a second. The clip cuts to Stephanie and Triple H’s room and the phone is ringing. She picks it up and replies with “Hi Mom” and after she tells the person on the other line she is here with Hunter as he gets ready for his match, Hunter asks to speak to her. When he gets the phone the line is dead, to which he replies “weird, she must of hung up on me”. A video follows next that show how the match was formed. Kurt and Triple H both pinned Chris Jericho at the same time in a number one contender match.
Kurt Angle enters the arena first and it is weird to hear his music back then without the “You Suck” chants. Kurt takes to the mic when he enters the ring and say he knows that the crowd is expecting an apology but he says the only thing he is sorry for is not doing it sooner. This really turns the heat up with the crowd. Triple H comes out next and he doesn’t even spit any water out on his way to the ring this time. He is in a hurry to get the fight started with Kurt. Triple H beats on Kurt with a flurry of punches and kicks before he levels him with a clothesline. He whips Angle to the corner next and the ref tries to stop him, as the match is yet to begin. This leads to Triple H shoving the ref to the mat, which opens an opportunity for Angle to strike with a clothesline of his own. it’s strange that The Rock has yet to make his way down. Angle hits a clothesline next that sends them both over the top rope and to the floor. And the “Rocky” chants are in full force as the crowd anticipates The WWF Champion’s entrance. Kurt returns Triple H to the ring, but Triple H throws Kurt from the ring as he dodges Kurt coming off the ropes and throws him over the top. Triple H bounces Kurt off the ring steps before he takes him to the Spanish announce table. Hunter disassemble the table before he puts Kurt on it and joins him to set up a Pedigree. If you pay attention you can see the table collapse and this leads to Kurt not being able to take the bump proper. Kurt Angle suffered a severe concussion here and has said that he doesn’t remember the match from this point forward. Kurt is obviously dazed here and you can tell Hunter realizes he isn’t quite right. Triple H goes under the ring after to grab his sledgehammer but this is when we hear “If ya smellllll what the The Rock is cookin'” and The WWF Heavyweight Champion, The Rock starts to make his entrance and the no DQ, Championship Triple Threat match can officially begin.
The crowd is nuts as The Rock makes his way down the aisle but Triple H is in the ring with the sledgehammer waiting for him. The Rock wastes no time entering the ring and ducks under Triple H’s sledge attack. The Rock delivers a quick secession of lefts and Hunter drops the hammer. The rock lays Triple H flat with a running forearm that sends the crowd into a frenzy. The Rock is on fire as Triple H rolls from the ring and the crowd is chanting “Rocky”. Rock bangs Triple H off the ring stairs before he takes to trying to dismantle the main announce table. At this time you can see Kurt being worked on by medical staff, on the Spanish announce table rubble. Poor Spanish guys cant make it through a SummerSlam with their table intact. Since The Rock is distracted by the table, Triple H is able to sneak attack him and drop him face first onto the announce table. They make their way back into the ring and Hunter resumes the beating of The Rock, most notably with a mudhole stomp in the corner. After Rock gets Irish whipped and hit with a back elbow, the “Rocky” chants begin again. Triple H pauses The Rock’s beating to talk shit to Kurt Angle as he is being stretchered out. The Rock tries to use this to his advantage, but after a few punches Triple H throws him from the ring. Triple H uses this time to run back up the ramp and grab the stretcher with Angle on it, and start to wheel it back to the ring. He gets it about halfway back when he stops to punch the concussed Angle in the head. The Rock uses Triple H’s personal vendetta for Angle against him and clotheslines him in the back.
The Rock Irish whips Triple H into the steel supports on the entrance ramp and follows it up with a catapult into the same spot. The Rock leads him back to the ring but Triple H whips him into the apron. The Rock no-sells it and comes back off it with a brutal clothesline. He then delivers a low blow to Triple H that the crowd pops for. At this time we see Stephanie enter and she is checking on Kurt Angle. And the crowd starts with the “Slut” chants. Man, Stephanie could, and still can, create some serious heat with the fans. Triple H re-enters the fight when he puts his foot up to stop The Rock from bouncing his head of the ring pole. Instead Rocky gets his head bounced off it. Stephanie comes back to ringside here and when Hunter notice her he asks “What are you doing? You’re not supposed to be out here” as she looks on in disbelief. This opens a window for The Rock to attack but it closes just as quickly when Triple H hits him with a lifting knee. This leads to a two count for him, and after The Rock kicks out, H tells Stephanie to get the belt, which she does by slapping the time keeper and taking it. She joins Hunter in the ring and he is holding The Rock for her, so she can hit The Rock with the belt. The Rock avoids the contact and the Strap is planted on the face of Triple H instead. This leads to a near fall for The Rock and the crowd is pumped. The Rock gives Stephanie his signature look next and then begins to lift her into the ring by her hair. That assault number four on a woman. Triple H uses this to his advantage and hits Rocky with the low blow. Triple H then tells Stephanie to “just go”, as Sergeant Slaughter leads her to the back. After Hunter hits Rock with a reverse neckbreaker he leaves the ring to grab his sledgehammer. He tries to avoid the hammer but Hunter manages to connect it to the midsection of The Rock. The ref, Earl Hebner takes the hammer from him after this and throws it from the ring. Triple H continues to work the midsection with some slow kicks and shoulder blocks in the corner. Triple H would go for the cover after a facebuster, but still only gets the two count. The Rock takes a serious bump next when Hunter rams him into the ring post, back first. He returns Rocky to the ring and for the first time in a while Rock starts to land some punches. They are short lived, though, because when Rocky comes off the ropes Triple H hits him with a knee to the midsection that flips The Rock over. Triple H begins to climb to the top rope but The Rock meets him there and brings him back in the ring with a superplex off the top rope. And both men lay on the mat as the official begins his count.
We see Stephanie in the back and she is begging Kurt, who is still strapped to the stretcher, to go out and help Hunter. She says “Will you do it for me?” over and over until Kurt says “Sure, anything for you Steph.” This is crazy that he goes back out here, and Kurt Angle has said that Stephanie had to call the spots out to him because he wasn’t aware what was going on. The fact that they thought concussions were harmless back then is crazy to think about.
When we return to the ring the ref has stopped counting for some reason and The Rock begins to slow crawl toward Triple H. He makes the cover but Triple H kicks out. Rock hits a belly-to-belly suplex and goes for another pin, but again Hunter kicks out. The boos come from the crowd when we see Stephanie start to lead the dazed Angle back to the ring by his hand. Kurt pulls the foot of The Rock and this allows Triple H to hit him with the Pedigree. But when Hunter goes for the cover Angle pulls him from the ring by his foot and throw him into the ring stairs. Kurt Angle then enters the ring to make the cover but The Rock makes the kick-out. Angle eventually hits a belly-to-belly throw on The Rock but once again he manages to kick out. The Rock would hit a belly-to-belly of his own next and follow it up with a DDT. It’s crazy to watch this knowing Angle has such a severe concussion. This leads to a Rock Bottom but Hunter pulls Rock from the ring and breaks the count. Triple H returns The Rock to the ring and tells Stephanie to “get his hammer”. She ends up in the ring and when Kurt gets the hammer first, Triple H must clothesline him to stop the attack. Angle ducks under it and Stephanie receives the clothesline from Triple H. This is assault number five on a woman if your counting at home. Angle lays Triple H out with the hammer and this leads to Rocky throwing Angle from the ring. Rock hits the People’s Elbow and the crowd is electric as the ref counts the three. This match was great and the Angle-Hunter-Stephanie triangle kept it interesting. I would recommend watching this match. Match Time:17:53
Well that does it for this edition of Chairshot Classic and overall the good of this PPV out weighs the bad. If you don’t have the time for the full card, though, there is definitely some spots that could be avoided. The TLC match stole the show and is a must see event for any wresting fan. As I always do at the end I like to see what Dave Meltzer thought of the show. I gather these ratings from www.profightdb.com. Meltzer thought highly of the TLC match and it received 4.5 stars. Two other matches on the card broke three stars, The Main Event Triple Threat received a 3.75 and Jericho/Benoit received 3.25 stars. The rest of the card didn’t rate well and I have to agree with Dave on his assessment here.
Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!
Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?
ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!
What I Watched #16
ECW Guilty as Charged 1999
Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL
Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)
Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)
- Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
- Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
- Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
- Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
- Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
- Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
- Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15
Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)
Super Crazy vs. Tajiri
Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)
John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent
So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)
Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley
Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…
The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)
TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm
Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.
The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)
Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer
The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of.
As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)
Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz
So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent.
The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)
THE FINAL REACTION
- Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
- Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
- Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
- MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.
It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.
So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.
What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018
Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!
Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.
I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.
What I Watched #10-B
ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018
Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL
Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)
Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)
- Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
- Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
- Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
- Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
- Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
- Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
- Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
- Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
- Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
- Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
- Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44
Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)
*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)
Over the Budget Battle Royal
*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross
*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)
Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)
*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)
Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)
NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)
*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)
‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela
*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)
ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon
*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)
Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)
Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio
*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)
THE FINAL REACTION
There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.
Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.
Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.
Overall Show Score: 8.5/10
MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.
And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.
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