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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WWF SummerSlam 2001

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The Rock is in the back again and this time a doctor is trying to check him out. The Rock doesn’t need a doc to check him out though and he side steps another attack attempt from Meat. He finishes by telling the doctor he is looking at the next WCW Champion. We see all member of Team WWF in one locker room,  the members of Team Alliance in another, and they all are gathered around TV screens as the first of the doubleheader Main Event is about to start!

 

We see a clip of what started it all and it began at the InVasion PPV. (Again, more on that here.)  Stone Cold Steve Austin betrayed the WWF at the PPV by breaking Kurt Angle’s ankle lock on Booker T nd then hitting him with a Stone Cold Stunner. This would cost Kurt the Title and Austin would join The Alliance. Austin would ally with Vince and become a whine-baby Heel, you know the type. Kurt Angle challenges Steve Austin to a rematch on RAW and Austin would except the challenge. Before we see the video end there is a bunch of clips of Austin hitting stunner’s and he promises that The Alliance will make Kurt bleed. This was well done video, I must say, and probably second best after the Jericho ones on this show.  And of course the “Bodies” are hitting the floor all throughout the build up and the song plays too.

 

The Challenger, Kurt Angle enter first and I said this last time, it’s weird to see him come out and not have his music accompanied by “You Suck” chants. Stone Cold Steve Austin enters after Kurt hits the ring and the reaction for the WWF Heavyweight Champion isn’t very positive. Austin stops atop the apron, so he and Angle can have a staredown. Austin breaks the eye contact first and they meet each other in the middle of the ramp. Austin throws the Strap before the two begin to throw hands. Stone Cold gets the edge and throws Angle into the security rail. After some big chops to the chest of Angle, Stone Cold delivers some more to his back as he goes to the ground. Steve returns Kurt to the ring and the bell finally sounds. Angle is hot and Lou Thesz press’ Steve and the crowd is electric. He puts Austin in the corner next and after a few punches Angle is stomping a mudhole in Austin. This is some good in ring psychology here to have Kurt Angle use some of Stone Cold’s own moves early on. Kurt attempts to whip Austin to the other turnbuckle but Austin reverses it. Kurt comes flying back out of the corner though and levels Steve. Austin reverses another Irish whip and this time it is into the ropes but Kurt hits the crossbody and he goes for the cover. Austin kicks out at two and once again reverses an Irish whip. This time it goes in Steve Austin’s favor when he lands an elbow to the back of Angle’s melon. Austin starts to work the knee of Kurt Angle next and does so with stomps, next he leverages it on the bottom rope and jumps onto it. Kurt finally regains the advantage after reversing Steve’s heal lock into his own patented submission hold, The Ankle Lock. Steve manages to get to the ropes but it takes the official to break the hold.

 

Steve Austin leaves the ring but Kurt Angle is quick on his tail. The limping Austin turns quickly and lays Angle out with a clothesline. They return to the ring to exchange some blows but Austin is quick to throw Angle from the ring with a back body drop. This is a solid bump for Kurt here. Steve leaves the ring to return Kurt to the ring but he take a moment to flip the fans of first. This is awesome Stone Cold Heal work here and the crowd is giving it right back to him. Austin now uses some suplexs that, even JR mentions, are very similar to ones executed by Kurt Angle, This is just something I am a big fan of and it makes it feel as if they actually scouted each others move repertoire. After Kurt Angle finally reverse a suplex he delivers a triple set of German suplexs. Kurt picks Austin up for a fourth but Steve manages to break free with some elbows. He tries to clothesline Kurt but Kurt ducks under it and Steve is again in the air for another German suplex. He isn’t satisfied with one though and delivers another before Stone Cold can wiggle free. That last one though had a brutal landing, as Steve Austin lands awkwardly on his neck. But this doesn’t stop Kurt Angle from dropping him on his head for two more. Kurt is on his feet and pumping the crowd up in anticipation of the Angle Slam. Austin wiggles free though and regains the advantage with an eye rake followed by a kick to the back of the knee. The slow the pace for a minute and just deliver some punches and this is warranted as they have been non-stop action since the moment they both entered the arena. The next highlight comes when Steve Austin place Kurt on the top turnbuckle and climbs up there too so he can suplex Angle off. When he does this the crowd has a great reaction. They both eventually come to their feet and Austin needs the ropes assistance to do so. Steve is quick to hit a kick to the midsection and sneak in the Stone Cold Stunner. The crowd counts along but are forced to stop at two. Steve blames the ref for a slow count but when Angle is on his feet Steve hits another Stone Cold Stunner. This time Kurt rolls from the ring to avoid getting pinned.

 

Austin takes the fight to the outside and is fast to bang Angle’s head off the ring post. He picks Angle up and does it again. This is when we see the blood start to flow from the forehead of Kurt Angle. Austin then tries to grab the Strap but the ref, Earl Hebner is quick to take it from him. This pisses Austin off and he gives him the bird. He picks Angle up and bounce him off the ring post one more time. At this point the blood is really starting to flow from the head of Kurt Angle. Steve finally returns Angle to the ring to make the cover. But he some how finds a way to kick-out and this pumps the crowd up. This must piss Steve of because he throw Angle from the ring again and bounces him off the ring post some more. Angle finally does something and reverses a drop with a backslide. This then leads into Kurt shoving Austin into the security wall, that he then flips over. Austin is first to his feet though and suplexs Angle over the wall and to the bare concrete. By the time Austin picks Angle back up a pretty big pool of blood had acquired where Angle lay.

 

When Austin puts one foot over the security wall Angle is quick to grab his foot and apply the ankle lock. This makes an awesome shot as Angle is screaming as the blood pours down his face. He then drags Austin up the ring stair and into the ring. Angle then is quick to apply the ankle lock again but Austin gets to the rope to break the hold. Stone cold rolls from the ring to rest but Angle is right there after him. The belly-to-belly suplex that Kurt delivers next is quite the bump. Whenever Kurt Angle rest for a second a puddle of blood soon accumulates. After they lay on the mat for a moment, Kurt bounces Steve’s head off the time keeper’s table before he returns him to the ring. Kurt goes straight to the top rope and the fans pop in surprise when Kurt hits the moonsault. But Austin manages to get one knee up and Kurt is slow to cover. The fans count along as the ref bangs the mat but, once again, are forced to stop at two. When they eventually regain their composure Austin gets the advantage and locks in the cobra clutch. A move that JR mentions is reminiscent of his Ringmaster days. After a moment Angle is weak and this move moves to the mat. The crowd start to clap and this helps Angle to “Hulk” up. He tries to breaks Austin’s clutch by kicking off the turnbuckle and landing on top of Austin. Stone Cold absorbs the fall though and is able to maintain the hold. The ref, after some time, raises the hand of Angle to check for consciousness. He gets to two and a half before Kurt starts to “Hulk” up again and this time he finds success by throwing Austin from the ring. Austin is quick to return to the ring and wait in anticipation to hit the Stone Cold Stunner. Which he soon does and the crowd is electric. They somehow manage to get louder though when Kurt kicks-out next. Kurt then uses the body of Austin like a ladder and uses it climb to his feet. Austin is quick to kick him in the midsection but this time Angle catches his foot. Kurt then smoothly transitions this into the Angle slam and the crowd is wild. Kurt eventually rolls over to make the cover but Austin kicks out. Kurt applies the ankle lock again but Austin is quick to the ropes to break the hold.

 

When Austin returns to his feet he chooses to strike the ref instead of Angle. This allows Angle to come from behind and hit Austin with a DDT, when he turns around. Kurt makes the cover and we see a ref come running from the back. But the delay allows Austin to kick out. Kurt tries to pick Austin up but Steve hits him with a low blow. The ref gives him a hard time for the so Steve hits him with a stunner. The crowd really turn the heat up following this ref bump. Austin leaves the ring and returns with the Title. He is about to plant it upside the head of Angle when another ref is there to stop him. For his good deed the ref is awarded a stunner. The distraction allows Angle to hit another Angle slam and attempt another cover. This time a WCW official, Nick Patrick comes running out but instead of making the count he rings the bell and Steve Austin looses by DQ. Austin is quick to leave with his title as Angle puts the ref in an ankle lock, as his music starts to play. This was one hell of a match and the in-ring product was just as good as the story they told. From the use of each others moves to the goofy finish, that I still enjoyed, it was a tremendous match from start to finish if you can’t tell by how much longer this match is. Austin has said on his podcast that this is one of his finest matches as a Heal and I would have to agree. Take the time from your day to watch this one again if you haven’t in a while. Match Time: 22:30

 

Finally The Rock has returned to PPV after taking a hiatus to make The Mummy returns. We see a quick video of The Rock’s return and the start of his feud with Booker T. It really wasn’t much more than Booker challenging Rock to a match at SummerSlam after he betrayed The Alliance. The clip is basically The Rock giving the Rock Bottom to the entire WWF roster except Booker T. Who we would see give The Rock the Rock Bottom through a table. Shane would come of the top rope to put him through another and that’s are build-up folks. Now lets get into the Main Event.

 

The WCW Heavyweight Champion, Booker T makes his way to the ring first and is joined by Shane McMahon. As he makes his way to the ring JR and Heyman argue as to who is the most electrifying man in sports entertainment. When Booker hits the ring post, and raises the Title, the crowd show him pretty good heat. Their emotions quickly turn around when they hear The Rock’s theme begin and the true “Most electrifying man in sports entertainment” makes his way to the ring. I have to be honest and think The Rock received the best entrance pop of the night here and rightfully so.

 

The Rock opens up with some of his quick right hands and knocks Booker T to the mat with a back elbow. Soon as this window opens he leaves the ring to chase Shane McMahon. Shane slides into the ring and The Rock is right there after him. Booker T is there too though and meets Rock with some kicks. Shane stays on the apron but The Rock counters an Irish whip and Booker knocks him off the apron. The Rock follows this up with a Somoan Drop and the crowd is going bonkers. Booker reverses an Irish whip of his own next and send The Rock flipping to the mat, with a knee to the midsection. They trade some punches in the corner before The Rock reverses another whip that he follows with a clothesline. Booker T hits a kick to the midsection, to slow The Rock down, and follows it with a nice ax kick to the chest of Rocky. He goes for the cover but is only rewarded a two. They trade some more punches before The Rock throws Booker from the ring by his hair. He then takes Booker to the announce table to bounce his head off from it. The Rock attempts to bounce Booker’s head off the stairs but he reverses it and it’s Rock’s head who meets them. Booker then atomic drops The Rock onto the security wall before he punches him off it and into the crowd. Booker then lays Rock out with a brutal clothesline onto the concrete. He face drops him onto another security wall and then proceeds to stomp The Rock before he returns him to ringside. The Rock tries to rally behind some punches but Booker is quick to whip him into the ring post. Booker then gets into with the ref and Shane uses this to his advantage to climb into the ring and expose a turnbuckle.

 

He finally returns The Rock to the ring and Rock is again trying to rally behind some right hands. They are short lived though as Booker T is quick to hit another ax kick. Booker goes for the cover but again, only a two. The Rock manages to duck under a clothesline next but when he comes back off the ropes Booker T hits him with a flying forearm. Another cover attempt and another two. Booker applies the rest hold sleeper next and is slowly wearing down The Rock. But just like last match The Rock stops the count at two and a half. He finally breaks the hold and after a double leg takedown, he is applying a sharpshooter. Shane is quick to get on the apron and draw the refs attention. This also draws The Rock’s eye and he heads for Shane and tosses him onto the ring. When he turns around though, Booker T plants a superkick onto his chin. Another cover and another two for Booker. The Rock ducks under a clothesline and takes Booker to the mat with a clothesline of his own. The Rock then catapults Booker into the exposed turnbuckle and follows it with a DDT. He goes for the cove but it is The Rock’s turn for a two count. We see Shane lay a chair in the corner of the ring and then run to the other side with the Title. Booker crawls for the chair but the ref is forced to stop it. This allows Shane to come into the ring and lay The Rock out with the Strap. The ref  throws the chair back outside the ring as both men lay prone on the mat. At this time we see the APA enter ringside and Faarooq starts to chase around the ring. When Bradshaw is there to meet him on the other side with a clothesline, that flips Shane completely over, the crowd explodes. The ref leaves the ring to check on Shane and send the APA into the back. At this time we see Booker T hit The Rock with a Rock Bottom. Booker makes the cover and the ref slides back into make the count. But once again its only a two for Booker. The Rock hits some right hands and his rally begins. He follows them up with a flying forearm and the crowd is once again buzzing. A belly-to-belly overhead throw is next and The Rock is going for the cover. But it’s his turn to only get a two count. A spinebuster is next and the people are on their feet as The Rock removes his elbow pad to drop The People’s Elbow. The Rock goes for the cover and it takes Shane pulling the ref out to stop it. The Rock goes outside the ring and the crowd is nuts when he delivers the Rock Bottom onto Shane. When The Rock returns to the ring, Booker T is in waiting and hits a spinebuster of his own.

 

Booker T hits the scissor kick next and is setting up for the spin-a-rooni. The Rock is there to greet him, when he finishes spinning, with The Rock Bottom and the fans finally get to finish their three count. And The Rock’s return to PPV is a success as he is the new WCW Heavyweight Champion. This was a great match but it had a tough spot to follow. These two individuals are legends of the wrestling business and it is easy to see why after a match like that. This is another one that is worth taking the time to watch. Match Time:15:19

 

I took over for the SummerSlam series starting in 1996 from Eric Ames and this is the best one so far. Unlike most of them up to this point the whole card was filled with above average matches. The InVasion angle would soon die out but this PPV is one that stands the test of time. The WWF came out on top with a 5-3 match victory and the two main Title. If you have ever read my Chairshot Classics before, you should know that I like to see what Dave Meltzer thought of the card. He isn’t for everyone but some people are into them so I like to provide some and he usually isn’t far off with his assessment of the matches. NJPW is excluded from that statement though. As I always do, I gather these ratings from www.profightdb.com . Dave thought really highly of the card if you consider his pre Kenny Omega standards. The only real bad review was the Tag Title match and that received one star. The Austin/Angle match was the highest rated, rightfully so, with 4.5 stars. Four other matches received between 3 and 3.75 stars and are as follows; Rock/Booker-3, X-Pac/Tajiri-3.25, Jericho/Rhyno-3.25 and RVD/Hardy-3.5. I must say for the most part I agree with Dave’s overall assessment here.

 

Well than concludes this edition of Chairshot Classics SummerSlam series. Join me next time as we head to SummerSlam 2002 for an 8 match card that has a Main Event featuring The Rock and Brock Lesnar for the Gold. Be sure to always #UseYourHead and give me(@james_callear) and The Chairshot a follow on Twitter. And don’t be afraid to tell me how you feel about SummerSlam 01 on the Twitter.


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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999

Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!

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Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?

ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!

What I Watched #16

ECW Guilty as Charged 1999

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

  • Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
  • Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
  • Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
  • Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
  • Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
  • Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
  • Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think  that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)

Super Crazy vs. Tajiri

Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)

John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent

So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)

Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley

Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…

The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)

TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm

Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.

The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)

Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of. 

As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)

Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz

So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent. 

The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)

 

THE FINAL REACTION

  • Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
  • Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
  • Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
  • MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.

 

THE SIGNOFF

It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.

So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.


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Chairshot Classics

What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018

Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!

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ALL IN

Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.

I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.

What I Watched #10-B

ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018

9/1/2018

Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL

Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)

Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)

THE RESULTS

  • Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
  • Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
  • Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
  • Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
  • Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
  • Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
  • Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
  • Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
  • Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
  • Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
  • Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)

*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)

Over the Budget Battle Royal

*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)

Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross

*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)

Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)

*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)

Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard

*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)

NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)

*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)

‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela

*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)

ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon

*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)

Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)

Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)

Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio

*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)

THE FINAL REACTION

There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.

Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.

Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.

Overall Show Score: 8.5/10

MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.

THE SIGNOFF

And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.


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