We see a package next that shows Triple H running through the SmackDown roster during his WWE Championship reign. This video builds to his feud with the Punjabi Nightmare, The Great Kahli and his mouthpiece Ranjin Singh. The package shows Khali running through the roster in a similar way and builds to an arm wresting contest between the two. Just when it looks as Triple H has him beat, Khali cheats and hits Hunter with a headbutt. One of the big questions in the video is whether or not Triple H will be able to give the big man a Pedigree. Lets head to the arena and find out.
The number one contender, The Great Kahli, and his mouth piece enter first and The Punjabi Nightmare of course gets some good heat from the crowd. The heat is quickly turned to admiration when the WWE Champion enters the arena. Triple H spits the water and I can’t help but notice that he has switched back to “The Game” theme song. It may not be “King of Kings” but its is still Motorhead and is still a top twenty theme song. The two men stand toe-to-toe and The 7’4″ Khali just towers over Triple H. Khali starts the match with a shove and Triple H responds by sticking and moving around him. Triple H lands a series of rights and every time Khali tries to strike, Triple H ducks it, continuing the barrage of punches. Triple H tries for an early Pedigree but Khali is able to shove him into the ropes to escape. The two collide in the middle of the ring and this doesn’t phase Khali at all. Triple H hits the ropes and tries to move Khali with a shoulder block, but again this does nothing to him. Khali then grabs Triple H by the throat and gives him a two handed chokeslam. When The Great Kahli raises both hands in celebration the crowd really turns up the heat. Khali challenges Triple H to rise to his feet and when he does so, Khali puts him in the Khali Vice Grip. The escape is made when Triple H kicks the front of Khali’s knee, forcing him to release. Once free Triple H brings the big man to the mat by chopping out his knee.
Both men are dazed on the mat and Khali rolls from the ring when he finally stands. I’m curious if this is done because it was easier for him to stand back up that way. Triple H soon joins him on the outside but Khali strikes first, hitting Hunter atop the head with a clubbing chop. Khali then whips Triple H into the security wall before returning him to the ring. A mudhole is stomped into Triple H when they are back in the ring, and Khali maintains the advantage. After a clothesline he tries to pin Triple H by standing on his chest. Triple H gets the shoulder up at two so Khali applies a shoulder vice. When it looks like Triple H may rally free from the vice Khali sends him back to the mat with a club to the back. A scoopslam follows, and after Khali drops a leg he tries for a pin. Triple H is still able to get the shoulder up so Khali goes back to The Claw, or shoulder vice. Triple H slowly rises to his feet and escapes the hold behind some elbows to the midsection. He follows these up with some forearms to Khali’s head and it looks as though Triple H maybe regaining momentum. Khali shoves Triple H into the ropes and Triple H fires back with the kneebuster. This sends the crowd into a frenzy as Khali falls back against the ropes and gets his arms twisted up in the top two. Triple H charges him and this backfires when The Great Khali is able to get his size 18 boot up. It connects with the face of Triple H and the ref helps Khali to get free. Triple H still lands the first strike, a boot to the midsection, and tries for another Pedigree. This doesn’t work and Khali backdrops Hunter from the ring. A tough looking bump for sure. When Triple H is back on his feet instead of returning to the ring he pulls Khali’s feet out from under him. Triple H then wraps the big man’s knee around the ring post. Khali then rolls from the ring and Triple H climbs onto the apron. Before he can jump off onto Khali though he is struck with a big chop from Kahli that takes him off his feet. Khali struggles to return to the ring and when he is finally in it he applies The Khali Vice onto the head of Triple H. He tries to escape using some body shots, but The Great Khali doesn’t waiver and keeps the lock firmly applied. When it is looking like Hunter may escape Kahli tosses him into the corner. Khali tries to charge with a clothesline but Triple H ducks it and lands a kick to the midsection. When Triple H hooks in the Pedigree the crowd explodes. He drive Khali to the mat and the crowd grows even louder as he makes the cover. The ref counts the three and Triple H retains the WWE Championship. Whenever I see The Great Khali on the card I’m not expecting much of a match bell-to-bell. I guess this one was OK but I still wasn’t a fan of this. Match Time-9:14
Up next is a package for the feud between Batista and John Cena. The entirety of this angle is centered around the fact that these two have never faced off in a one-on-one match. So for “The first time ever” we get to see this. These two came up together in OVW, Ohio Valley Wresting, and I have a hard time believing The Leviathan and The Prototype didn’t face-off there. The video is well put together like most of them on this SummerSlam are. It uses a bitter John Cena to tell a story of all his Title wins being overshadowed by The Animal that is Batista. John would finally get his chance at Batista when they are both drafted to RAW during a Superstar Shake-up. This is a match that is six years in the making so lets head back to the arena and see if the match lives up to the hype.
The Place is electric when John Cena enters the arena and hits the ring. This dude is so over and it isn’t a surprise that Cena won the text message vote asking “Who is the more popular Superstar: John Cena or Batista?” Cena won this with a resounding 73 percent. The Animal that is Batista receives a decent pop when he enters, but it isn’t quite as loud as the one Cena received. The collar and elbow starts and Batista comes out ahead with a side headlock. Cena shoves off the ropes to free the lock, but Batista hits him with a shoulder block. Both men hit the ropes again, and after a leap frog from John, Batista is taken to the canvas with a hip toss. A scoopslam follows, and after this Cena waits for Batista to regain his footing. At this point the crowd is going nuts. After a side headlock from Cena the two hit the ropes again and after a shoulder block, Batista goes for an early Batista Bomb. Cena escapes this but is flattened by a brutal clothesline from Batista. A powerplex is next and Batista tries for the first cover after driving Cena to the mat. Cena is able to get the shoulder up and the match continues.
An Irish whip to the turnbuckle is reversed by Cena and when Batista bounces out of the corner he is nailed with a fisherman’s suplex. Cena hooks the leg and tries for a cover, but Batista easily kicks it out. It is Batista’s turn to reverse an Irish whip, and when he does so, he catches Cena with a sidewalk slam. Batista tries for another cover but again Cena gets a shoulder up. When they return to their feet Cena tries for a FU out of nowhere, but Batista escapes with a back slide. He then chops the knee of Cena out and takes a moment to recover. Batista atomic drops the knee of Cena and then takes a move from the playbook of Ric Flair, applying the Figure-Four. It takes a moment, but Cena eventually finds the ropes. Cena again goes for a quick FU when they return to their feet but Batista grabs the top rope. So instead of the FU, Cena just dumps Batista over the top rope. Batista crashes hard to the outside but Cena also hits the mat, holding his knee. Batista returns to the ring and tries for a clothesline but it is avoided by Cena. Cena then hits a pair of his signature flying shoulder blocks. These are followed up by an atomic drop slam, but Cena is clenching his knee afterwards. Cena limps over to the downed body of The Animal and the crowd explodes when he does the “You Can’t See Me” hand motion. We all know that the Five Knuckle Shuffle follows this and Cena lands the dropped fist successfully. Cena goes for the FU again but Batista manages to escape with another backslide. This allows Batista to take John off his feet with a big boot. This takes Batista off his feet as well and the ref starts the count.
Both men return to their feet at the seven count, and Batista drives Cena into the corner with a shoulder. He continues to drive the shoulder into Cena before whipping him into the other corner. Batista meets him there with a clothesline that lifts Cena off his feet. Batista then whips him to the other corner. This time when Batista tries to meet him there, Cena strikes first with the back elbow. Cena then charges the dazed Animal, but is met with a brutal spinebuster. Batista gets the crowd pumped up and then does his “Thumbs Down” taunt. Batista goes for his signature bomb but Cena is able to pull both legs out from under The Animal. Cena then uses a move I’ve always liked and is under utilized, the leg DDT. The crowd is sent back into frenzy mode when Cena locks in his signature submission maneuver, The STFU. It takes some time but Batista slowly muscles his way to the ropes. Just when it looks like he may get the rope break, Cena releases the hold and drags Batista back to the center of the ring. Only to reapply the STFU. Batista again muscles his way towards the rope and this time he is able to get there. When the ref breaks the hold the crowd is once again going bonkers.
Cena stalks Batista like The Animal that he is and strikes with another FU attempt. Batista again escapes with a backslide and this time he transitions it into a rear naked choke that takes Cena to the mat. Just when it looks as Cena is starting to fade he elbows away at the midsection of Batista to escape. Both men are slow to return to their feet, but Batista lands the first blow. It happens to be a vicious one, the spear. Batista hooks the leg but Cena is able to narrowly escape by getting the shoulder up. Batista put Cena onto his shoulder but it is Cena who now uses the backslide and escapes. Cena picks Batista up and this time when he attempts the FU it is a success. This takes all he has and the place is shaking as Cena slowly crawls over to make a cover. The leg is hooked, but Batista is still able to kick-out. Cena finds his way to the top turnbuckle, but Batista meets him there and the two are soon trading punches on the second turnbuckle. Cena eventually knocks Batista to the mat and comes off the top rope to try for a seated leg drop. This doesn’t work and Batista catches him in perfect Batista Bomb form. He drives Cena to the mat and makes the cover. The fans count along with the ref but they are in disbelief when Cena still gets a shoulder up. Batista looses his cool and delivers another brutal Batista Bomb. This time when he makes the cover he is awarded the three count. Up to this point in 2008 Cena has put a lot of guys over and the trend didn’t stop here. This was a great match with great pacing and back and forth. The ending probably even surprised a lot of fans because of the popularity of John Cena at this time. Cena would take a break on August 26 of the year to have neck surgery on a bone that was making contact with a nerve. This would be nothing serious and it wouldn’t take long for him to return. Like I said a great match and worth the watch. Match Time-13:44
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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