It’s the year of the Alliance as Booker T squares off against The Rock for the WCW Gold and Stone Cold takes on Kurt Angle for the WWF Strap. All this and more in this edition of The Chairshot Classic.
The date is August 19, 2001 and we are fresh off the heals of Vince McMahon’s acquisition of WCW (March 23, 2001) and ECW filing for bankruptcy (April 1, 2001). These event lead to the Invasion angle that was a big part of this SummerSlam. (You can find more on the InVasion PPV here.) The arena that will be our host for the evening in the Compaq Center in San Jose, California and we are joined by 15,293 eager fans. There is another 565,000 tuning in at home on PPV. This was almost a less significant number due to an ongoing feud with DirecTV at the time over revenue splits. The RAW Neilsen ratings for the month of August were excellent and are as follows: Aug.6-5.4, Aug.13-5.2, Aug.20-5.2, Aug.27-4.8. As always these were gathered from www.2xzone.com
The show opens with the music video for the theme song, “Bodies” by Drowning Pool, cut with clips of the current WWF roster. This was pretty well put together but as I’ve been re-watching a lot of these lately this one isn’t as good as some of the others. Then again, I’m sure the fifteen year old me enjoyed it.
The purple and green stage pyro is blasting off as we enter the Compaq Center. The fans are on their feet and have the usual sea of signs. Jim Ross tells us, “The battle for sports supremacy continues and rages on here tonight”. He continues to tell us the show is sold-out before he introduces us to his colleague for this evening, Paul Heyman. They waste no time introducing the first match and the IC Title bout is set to begin.
The Intercontinental Champion, Lance Storm enters first and he is defending the Alliance. Lance takes to the mic when he hit the ring and the fans give him some “BOOS” for this. He starts to speak about how he doesn’t want any shenanigans tonight but he is cut off by Edge’s theme music. When the fans hear this they come to life with excitement. Both these men spent some time training with the Hart Family, Edge with Bret and Lance more with Stu in The Dungeon. We star with the usual collar and elbow lock that slowly transitions into them exchanging some hammer locks. Storm takes a huge flapjack drop, that he no-sells. But when he bounces back to his feet, Edge is there in waiting to clothesline him from the ring. This receives a nice pop. After Edge returns him to the ring and continues to have the momentum. He gets airborne for a huge crossbody that leads to the first false finish, a two count. Storm finally goes on the offensive when he drops Edge on his midsection, over the top rope. Storm sends him off the apron next and into the security wall. He returns Edge to the ring and slaps him a few times while talking trash. He hits a lifting knee and tries to cover but Edge is quick to kick out at the count of one.
The pair exchange some punches but Lance is soon trying to cover again, this time after a face-first suplex. But again only a two. The crowd starts to rally for Edge as Storm delivers some kicks to the head. The rally begins with some punches to Storm’s midsection that allow Edge regain his footing. After an Irish whip Edge attempts a dropkick but Storm grabs the ropes and this leaves Edge landing flat on his back. Edge is quick with an inside cradle, but again only a two. The camera cuts to the back where members of “Team WWF” are cheering on Edge. Back in the ring Storm maintains momentum with some really boring offense. Edge attempts to counter into a tornado DDT but Storm catches him and hits a Somoa drop. Edge, again, manages to get the shoulder up. Storm goes to leap off the top rope and Edge uses Storm’s own momentum to flow into a scoopslam. This leaves both men laying on the mat as the ref begins his count. They return to their feet at the count of eight and Edge is now on the attack. After some right hands, he levels Storm with a pair of clotheslines. After an enziguri that draws a big pop, Edge goes for a cover but again only a two. Edge reverses an attempted hurricanrana next into a sit-down powerbomb and this draws an even bigger pop from the crowd. When Edge come off the rope Storm hits the drop-toe hold and transitions it into his finisher, the single-leg Boston crab. The crowd is on their feet as Edge struggles to find the ropes. He eventually makes it to them and this leads to Edge applying a single-leg crab of his own. Storms pulls the official into Edge to break the hold and incapacitate the official. This is when we see Edge’s kayfabe brother, Christian, make a run-in. Edge has said in his book that he went over the booker’s head to Vince to have the Run-in put in the match. He attempts to spear Lance Storm but he avoids the maneuver and instead Edge gets it. Storm then lays Christian out with a nice superkick and the crowd is unsure what they just witnessed. Storm goes for the pin but Edge is still kicking out. Storm goes to superkick Edge next but he catches storms foot and hits a lifting DDT. Edge follows it with a cover and this time it works. Edge get the three count and is the new Intercontinental Champion. This gives the WWF the first win of the night. Christian joins him in the ring after to give him the title and to help celebrate. Edge is hesitant at first but he soon joins in. The match overall didn’t pace well and I thought the only highlight came from Edge. This match has the potential to be skipped over. Match Time: 11:16
Three of the competitors for the six man tag match are walking through the back when they are stopped by Michael Cole. He asks Test and The Dudley Boyz “why have you turned your backs on the WWF?” Test tells Cole that it was the WWF that turned its back on them. Test then compliments his boss, Shane ‘O’ Mac, and says “He knows who the cream of the crop really is”. This is a nice homage to The Macho Man here, I’d like to think.
Chris Jericho is in the back next and he is being questioned about his feud with Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley and his upcoming match with Rhyno. Someone that, Lillian Garcia says, Jericho has never beat. He says “There is a first time for everything and everyone remembers their first time.” He uses this as an opportunity to mention Stephanie’s “first time” with “The football captain, the swim captain, the captain of the basketball team and even Olaf, the foreign exchange student.” He then mentions how she has the home field advantage here because “We are in Silicon Valley.” This is just classic Jericho here and we can see why he is still a master of the profession all these years later.
Spike Dudley is entering when we are back in the arena and he is joined by Molly Holly. The crowd is on their feet when Faarooq and Bradshaw, or The APA, enter next and they are Spike’s partners for this six-man tag. These three will be fighting under the WWF moniker. The first member of team Alliance, Test, enters next and he receives zero reception from the crowd. Test stops and waits for his partners, D-Von and Bubba Ray Dudley, before he heads to the ring. Once the bell sounds we get Faarooq and Bubba in the ring first. Bubba unloads some punches and he is quick to tag D-Von in who continues the beating of Faarooq. Faarooq bounces back up from a pair of clotheslines but a spinning back elbow keeps him down for a moment. Test comes in next and delivers some right hands until Faarooq lands an elbow that allows him to tag Bradshaw. They hit Test with a double shoulder block before Faarooq exits the ring. Test takes a beating until he is able to counter into a back drop that enables him to put Bradshaw in the corner and make a tag. D-Von comes in and the boys hold Bradshaw so he can unload some punches. When D-Von tries to back drop Bradshaw next he gets a clubbing chop to the back instead. Next Bradshaw drives his head to the mat with a DDT that he follows with a cover. But D-Von manages to kick-out.
Spike gets to make his appearance next and is quick to try a pair of inside cradles that D-Von is just as quick to kick out of. Bubba takes it upon himself to slow Spike’s momentum and flapjack him onto the top rope. Bubba stays in the ring, even though no tag was made, and atomic drops Spike onto the top turnbuckle. He then yanks him to the mat by his hair so fast its hard to fathom how he didn’t get whiplash. Bubba then tags Test in who tries to drop an elbow that Spike avoids. This allows the little guy to start unloading some punches and re-enter the fight. Spike then tries to hit a tornado DDT but Test goes nowhere and slams him right to the mat. The crowd explodes before we get the shot of The Dudleyz setting some tables up outside the ring. JR says “This isn’t a tables match” to which Heyman replies “It doesn’t need to be, its a Dudley match”. Test attempts to press slam Spike out of the ring next but a well timed eye-rake saves him the painful ring exit. Both Dudleyz come in now and send Spike sky-high with a pancake drop. Bubba goes for the cover but Spike is still kicking out. D-Von tags in next and tries to come off the second rope onto Spike. He manages to move and the crowd is popping for the hot tag as they chant “APA”. Bradshaw and Test both come in off tags and Bradshaw sends him “post-to-post”, meeting him with clotheslines both times. D-Von comes in but Bradshaw lays him out with a big boot. Bubba is in next, but so is Faarooq, and The APA deliver a double spinebuster on Bubba that looks just brutal. Bradshaw delivers a huge powerbomb onto D-Von next but the cover is broken up when Bubba pulls Bradshaw from the ring by his foot. Spike comes running in to attempt his finisher, The Acid Drop, on Test but he just catches Spike and tosses him over the top rope. Of course he flies through the table on the outside, that The Dudleyz had set up earlier. Bradshaw lays Test out with a Clothesline From Hell but there is no ref to count the cover. As the ref is on the outside attending to Spike. Shane ‘O’ Mac comes from left field here to lay Bradshaw out with a chairshot and the crowd is going bonkers. Test rolls over to make the cover and the ref counts the three. The match as a whole wasn’t bad and was better than the first one on the card. My main takeaway here is how much punishment little Spike Dudley can and would take. If time is a factor though, don’t be afraid to fast-forward this match. Match Time:7:19
There is a quick clip of Edge being celebrated by Team WWF when Christian‘s phone rings and it is their grandmother. She quickly ask Christian to speak with Edge so she can congratulate him on his win. When Edge hands the phone back so Christian can talk to her but the line is dead. Another quick clip follows this one before we return to action. It’s Debra and she is joined by Meat, who is trying to learn how to win Steve Austin’s favor. Meat was named for the bulge we see in his pants and was used to show that the WWF isn’t afraid to objectify men either. He was used by the ladies in the locker room, hence making him a piece of Meat. She tells him to leave and that Steve Austin to busy preparing to defend The Alliance is his match versus Kurt Angle. Meat A.K.A. Shawn Stasiak is the son of former WWWF Champion Stan Stasiak. He has since retired from wrestling and is now employed as a chiropractor.
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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