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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WWE SummerSlam 2009

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We see Bobby Johnson in the back again and this time he is interviewing CM Punk about his TLC match with Jeff Hardy later in the night. Punk has a script for a screenplay entitled “Live For The Moment: The Jeff Hardy Story.” Punk then makes light of Jeff’s struggle with demons and plans to change the end of the story, in which Hardy wins the TLC match. Punk then goes onto insult the crowd and their false Hollywood idols. This is a great promo and builds some heat for the man challenging for the World Heavyweight Title.

When we make our way back into the arena, Kane’s theme is playing and he makes his way to the ring. We see a clip here where Kane goes after The Great Kahli but he manages to escape. Kane instead assaults Kahli’s brother and interpreter, Ranjin Singh. Kahli would then ambush on the following week’s SmackDown and that bring us to this point. Kahli and Singh enter now and Kahli has a visible limp as he makes his way into the ring. After the bell is rung, the two go back and forth trading a lot of punches. This goes on for some time until Kane is eventually thrown over the top rope by Kahli. Kane hotshots Kahli and returns to the ring only to get clotheslined. Kahli tries to drop a leg, but Kane is able to avoid this slow strike. This leaves Kahli seated and Kane brings him the rest of the way to the canvas with a dropkick. Kane drops a trio of elbows and then waits in anticipation of the chokeslam as Kahli struggles to get back to his feet. When he grabs the throat of Kahli, The Punjabi Nightmare returns the favor and wraps his hands around the throat of Kane. Kane escapes and hits the ropes, but Kahli brings him to the canvas with a clothesline. Kahli drops an elbow and tries for the cover but Kane is able to kick it out. They return to their feet and Kahli tosses Kane into the corner. A clothesline is next and mudhole stomping from Kahli leaves Kane seated in the corner. Kane eventually recovers with a big boot and takes to the top turnbuckle. He hits Khali with the diving lariat and tries for a cover. The ref stops the count at two, because apparently Khali kicked out. I beg to differ. Kane applies a seated reverse chinlock. This bring Khali to the mat and Kane transitions into a rear naked choke. Khali is eventually able to stand it up and take Kane off his feet with a back elbow and big boot. The Great Khali then waits in prey for Kane to rise. When he is on his feet, Khali hits the Great Chop and tries for a cover but Kane is able to kick-out. Kane escapes the vice of Khali and pulls Singh into the ring. Kane creates a distraction by shoving Singh and when Khali turns his head, Kane dropkicks the front of his leg out from under him. A running DDT follows and Kane really hooks the leg of Khali here. This works and The Big Red Machine is rewarded the three count. I hate to say this but I hate any match that has The Great Kahli in it. I understand the draw of the foreign Heel but at least get one that can perform in the ring. Hit the fast forward button as soon as the CM punk interview is over. Match Time-5:56

We see the Vince McMahon star on the Walk of Fame before re-entering the arena to see a video highlighting the return of DegenerationX. After Triple H is double teamed by The Legacy he says he can participate in “Gang Warfare” and makes a phone call. This leads to the return of Shawn Michaels and their shenanigans returning. Great package here as it does a great job setting the stage for this match/feud. When The D-X theme begins with the classic “Are You Ready?” the top comes off the building. Michaels and Triple H are escorted out by an Army troop fully clad with a jeep and machine guns. The crowd is going crazy as they enter to one of the greatest theme’s there is and are riding on a tank. They hit a “Suck It” on top of the tank with the cannon between their legs. The Army platoon “unload” their weapons into the sky, the pyro explodes and this is just a great entrance we are gifted with here. Once they hit the ring they do the triple “Suck It” as the pyro “X” explodes with each chop. The crowd is still in a frenzy as the two dance around the ring and Michaels hands a microphone over to Triple H. He then gets the crowd even more fired up by asking them “Are You Ready?” a few times before going into “For the thousand in attendance, for the millions watching around the world and for Cody and Ted.. Lllleettttss get ready to Suck It!” Michaels finish the rally cry with “If your not down with that we’ve got two words for ya..” and of course the crowd responds with a “Suck It”. I don’t know about this being PG but this is great stuff, nonetheless.

Finally, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, or The Legacy, enter and they get some pop but it pales in comparison to what D-X received. Triple H and DiBiase start with the collar and elbow and when they end up in the corner, the ref separates the two. They tie-up again and this time Triple H comes out ahead with a side headlock. They end up in the corner once again and this time they take turns putting each other in it, trading punches each time. DiBiase reveres an Irish whip to the corner, but Triple H bounces out to flatten Ted with a clothesline. After Triple H puts DiBiase on the mat with a suplex he drops his knee into his chest. Of course H hits a “Crotch Chop” before dropping the knee. After a cover is kicked out, DiBiase is able to reverse an Irish whip and make the tag. Rhodes comes in hot only to be taken out by a Triple H kneebuster. Triple H and Cody then enter into a stare-off and when Cody realizes he is positioned between HBK and Triple H, he slaps HBK in the face. Cody then demands that Triple H tag the Showstopper in. Triple H obliges him and makes the tag. Michaels enters for what is his first match since WrestleMania 25 against The Undertaker.

They enter into the collar and elbow and HBK comes out ahead with the side headlock. After Cody escapes by shoving Michaels into the rope, Cody attempts to leap frog Michaels but Michaels stops short. HBK then gives Cody an “I’m smarter than you” look and swings a right hand. Cody is able to duck this, though, and the crowd pops when Rhodes hit Michaels with a counter slap, instead of a punch. Michaels gives Cody a Lou Thesz Press, but he is able to roll Michaels over and hit some punches of their own. They return quickly to their feet and Cody is able to land a few more jabs. Michaels reverses the Irish whip and this time his Lou Thesz goes off uninterrupted. Michaels draws a nice pop when they return to their feet and he slaps Cody. He tries for the Sweet Chin Music but Rhodes is able to hit the canvas and roll from the ring. Triple H is right there to thwart this and returns Rhodes to the ring. Michaels again tries to “Tune-Up the Band” but Cody once more avoids it by rolling from the ring. The Legacy takes a moment to regroup outside the ring. When Rhodes sees an opening, he tries to ambush Shawn only to be met with a drop toe hold. Michaels goes to work with a side headlock but Cody escapes by delivering a back body drop. This opens a window for him to finally tag DiBiase in.

The son of The Million Dollar Man enters, but is quickly tossed to the corner. Michaels hits him with four chops before his whip to the corner is reversed by DiBiase. When Michaels hits the corner he flips out of it in his traditional fashion only to be clotheslined. After a few punches, DiBiase drags Michaels to the corner by his foot and tags Rhodes back in. Cody drops an elbow and tries for a pin. Michaels gets the shoulder up and Cody continues the stomping. He scoopslams Michaels and after he drops a knee this time, he tries for another pin. Michaels kicks out and Rhodes tags Ted back in. DiBiase now drops an elbow and tries for the cover. But once again, Michaels kicks out. DiBiase now applies a side headlock and HBK eventually escapes with some elbows to the midsection. Shawn then hits the ropes and catches DiBiase with a swinging neckbreaker that brings the crowd back to life. Michaels makes the tag and the fresh Triple H enters the match. He is quick to work Ted with a series of right hands. Ted is able to reverse an Irish whip and when Triple H hits the ropes, Rhodes kicks him in the back. This doesn’t do much but anger Triple H, and he tosses Cody into the ring. He then works Rhodes with punches but this allows DiBiase to get a cheap shot in. He pulls the legs out from under Hunter and catapults him into the top turnbuckle. Triple H no-sells it and flattens DiBiase with a clothesline. Rhodes re-enters the picture but is met with a spinebuster. Ted tries to strike, but he, too, is met with the spinebuster. Triple H then tries for The Pedigree, but Rhodes is able to hit him in the back, thus stopping the finish. Michaels enters and we have an all out brawl for a moment. Michaels then clotheslines Rhodes over the top rope. HBK hits the ropes himself so Triple H can toss him over the top rope and send him flipping onto Rhodes. This allows DiBiase to deliver a low blow kick to Triple H while the ref checks the two on the outside. DiBiase then lays on the mat so the ref has nothing to question. The ref makes it to a six count before he returns to his feet and drags Triple H into his corner. He tags Cody in and then holds Hunter so Cody can stomp him. Cody quickly tags Ted back in and repeats this process a few times until they receive a warning from the official.

DiBiase hooks the leg of Triple H but “The King of Kings” is able to kick-out. A side headlock is applied by Ted, and this is when Michaels starts the rally clap from the apron. The crowd soon joins in and just as Triple H gets fingertips away from the tag, he starts to fade. Triple H finds a way to stand it up and back drops DiBiase to break the hold. This leaves both men on the canvas and DiBiase is first to his feet to make the tag. Rhodes comes in hot and stops Triple H from being able to tag out. Cody hits a quick DDT and the crowd boos as he makes the cover. Triple H isn’t done yet and kicks out before the count of two. After another cover and kick-out, Cody puts Triple H into the front facelock. Michaels once again starts the rally claps and when the crowd is at full force, Triple H uses a suplex to escape the lock. This leaves both men prone on the canvas and Rhodes is able to make the tag first. DiBiase comes in quick and heads right for Michaels, knocking him off the apron with a forearm. Ted then pounds Triple H into the corner until the ref forces separation. This is when Triple H finally lands an offensive move, a kick to the midsection. After the two trade some punches Triple H whips DiBiase to the opposite corner. Triple H charges, but is met with a back elbow. When DiBiase charges Hunter, he is able to side step Ted and toss him over the top rope. Triple H starts to slow crawl towards Shawn and this is when Rhodes returns DiBiase to the ring. DiBiase makes the first tag and just when it looks like he may stop Triple H, the crowd explodes and the tag is made. Michaels hits Rhodes with a pair of inverted atomic drops that are followed up with chest chops. Michaels hits the ropes and catches Cody with the flying forearm. Michaels does the nip-up but this is when DiBiase enters and levels him with a clothesline to the back. Triple H then pulls DiBiase from the ring and works him on the outside, tossing him into the fans.

Back in the ring Cody is taking to the skies and is on the top turnbuckle. He then takes a move from the playbook of HBK and tries for the elbow drop. Michaels is able to move and Rhodes drives his elbow into the mat. Michaels now takes to the top turnbuckle but Cody charges him knocking him onto the top turnbuckle. Cody joins him up top to try a superplex. Michaels lands some punches, though, and knocks Cody to the mat. The crowd explodes when Michaels leaps to drop the elbow but Rhodes is able to get his knees up.  Cody covers, but Michaels kicks him out. Cody looks to make the tag but DiBiase is nowhere to be found. This is when Michaels uses the double leg takedown and puts Rhodes into the figure-four. DiBiase reappears and drops an elbow onto Michaels to free the lock. Triple H enters and tries to Pedigree Ted but Rhodes breaks it up with a club to Triple H’s back. Michaels tries for the Chin Music but Cody is able to grab the foot and give him Crossroads. Cody then covers and it takes a Triple H forearm to stop the count. Triple H then hits Cody with a Pedigree and DiBiase in turn hits Michaels with Dream Street. Triple H then throws DiBiase from the ring and then clotheslines him over the announce table, leaving them both in a pile on the other side. The ref starts the count as Michaels and Cody are laid out in the ring. He makes it to nine before they return to their feet dazed. Without even “Tuning up the Band” Michaels catches Rhodes with the Sweet Chin Music and makes the cover. The fans count along as the ref counts the three. Wow, what a great match. This battle of old vs. new is great and I highly recommend checking this one out. Match Time-20:02


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Chairshot Classics

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

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

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

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

What I Watched #16

ECW Guilty as Charged 1999

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

Super Crazy vs. Tajiri

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

John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent

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

Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley

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

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

TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm

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

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

Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

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

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

Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz

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

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

 

THE FINAL REACTION

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

 

THE SIGNOFF

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

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


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What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018

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

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ALL IN

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

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

What I Watched #10-B

ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018

9/1/2018

Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL

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

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

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

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

Over the Budget Battle Royal

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

Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon

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

Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

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

Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

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

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

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

THE FINAL REACTION

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

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

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

Overall Show Score: 8.5/10

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

THE SIGNOFF

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


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