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NWA-TNA Episode 4: Moving Forward

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In this episode, TNA is looking to pick up the pieces after last week’s chaos. We’ll see what fallout there will be for Jeff Jarrett after his actions in last week’s tag match. The new NWA Tag Champions will face their first challengers in the Disciples of the New Church, Ken Shamrock will defend his NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Omori, K-Krush will face Hervey Sadler, and much more. So, let’s see how they’re doing!

Opening:

The pyro was delayed a bit, but we get it. Mike Tenay welcomes us to the show and gives us a quick rundown of the evening’s proceedings: Two World Title Matches (Heavyweight and Tag, I’m assuming) and six of the top cruiserweights will fight to be the #1 Contender to face AJ Styles for the X Division Championship.

Not wasting any time, our first match is starting up.

NWA Tag Team Championship Match: AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn vs Disciples of the New Church (with James Mitchell.

Disciples of the New Church, Slash and Tempest are out first to little reaction.

We get a recap of the Tag Team Tournament, including the beatdown of Storm and Harris, who are probably selling their injuries, because they have a good case for being #1 Contenders to the Tag Titles, given what happened last week. Lynn and Styles get a great pop and there still seems to be a little…dissention in the ranks. Styles seems a lot more excited than Lynn, but that might just be Lynn’s personality. I believe I said last week that Malice wasn’t ready for primetime, well neither are the other members of the New Church. Slash and Tempest have great looks for their gimmicks, both have great moves, but Lynn and Styles are totally outclassing them.

One thing the Disciples are doing right here is keeping their moveset simple, though Tempest just hit a plancha back into the ring and onto Styles that was pretty impressive. This match is pretty back and forth, Tempest hit a rather rough looking hurricanrana on Styles that I wouldn’t suggest he ever do again. Styles hits a springboard dropkick that bring Slash and Lynn in and we have chaos. Lynn and Styles are a great team. Lynn is doing a great job of keeping things going. We get things under control and we’re back to Styles and Tempest. New Church seems to have decided that they’re tired of playing nice, but their cheap shot attempt doesn’t work. Tempest hits an impressive Death Valley Driver that Styles kicks out of.

Okay, Slash and Tempest are impressing me here. Lynn tries to help Styles, but somehow the ref ignores the blatant double team to yell at Lynn. (It’s a good thing I know this is a work because all these refs would be fired for incompetence. It seems that Styles is taking all the punishment to make up for not doing a lot last week in the tag match. He sends Malice head first into Tempest and tags in Lynn, who just starts tearing up the place. Malice does the most leisurely run-in I’ve ever seen and gives Tempest the opening for a low blow. Tempest goes for his sloppy hurricanrana from the top turnbuckle again, but Lynn catches him and shoves him to the floor.

Tempest goes for the Death Valley Driver again, but Lynn executes a rough looking counter and hits the piledriver, but Malice does a better run in before he can go for the pin. Styles tags himself in right before Malice pulls Lynn outside. Styles hits the Corkscrew Senton and gets the pin. Oddly, Lynn isn’t happy about this or he’s not happy about how Styles did things. Lynn won’t get in the ring to celebrate with Styles and stalks off. We’ve got the seeds of a feud starting.

Result: Styles and Lynn win by pinfall.

Comment: That was a good match. I have to slightly modify my comment about The Disciples not being ready for primetime, they both have the makings of top heels, but they still need some work. The planting of the seeds for Styles vs Lynn is interesting. While I appreciate TNA promoting other NWA territories, I don’t think doing that while showing the TNA girls dancing is such a great idea.

Tenay and company are giving us a recap of Jeff Jarrett’s antics last week, but I can’t take my eyes off the godawful purple-with-black pinstripes suit jacket Don West is wearing. Tenay says that they’re going to try and get Scott Hall on the phone. We get Hall on the phone but he’s a little hard to understand, but he promises vengeance on Brian Christopher, K-Krush, and Jarrett.

After that, we’re on to our next match.

Brian Christopher vs Norman Smiley

Christopher is out to a loud round of boos. The commentators seem to realize that Hall made a huge mistake in having Christopher as a tag partner because Christopher and Jarrett grew up together in the business and we get the first mention of Christopher being Jerry Lawler’s son, which was never acknowledged by WWE until the Cole/Lawler feud. Christopher gets the mic but the crowd is making too much racket to hear him very well.  He says that there comes time in everyone’s life when they make the transition from a child to an adult, a child to a man and that he’s been labeled a child. More than that, he’s been labeled ‘Jerry Lawler’s son’

  • Girls make that child to adult transition too and 2. You are Jerry Lawler’s son, like it or not.)

He then says he’s lived his whole life in his dad’s shadow and that he always hears that the only reason that Brian Christopher is in the wrestling business is because he’s Jerry Lawler’s son. He says that he calls bulls**t. He says that after being in the business for fourteen years, he can finally say ‘Screw Jerry Lawler’. That does NOT go over well with the crowd. Christopher says that the crowd has never been in his shoes. He then bashes his father and says that Lawler was never a father at all. He wanted someone to look up to but his dad was never there. (Brian, he was trying to make a living).

Christopher says that all that changed last week at the expense of ‘Hey, yo’ because last week he kicked some ass and rode off into the sunset and that he feels good and can tell his dad to go to hell. (I hope he told his dad about this promo before doing it) This promo is quickly turning whiny because Christopher complains that his dad was never around when he needed him because he was too busy giving his attention to the wrestling business and Vince McMahon. This makes no sense to me because if Christopher’s been in the business for fourteen years, he would’ve debuted in 1988, before Lawler went to WWE in 1992. (Okay, someone come shut him up) Christopher says that from now on it’s going to be all about him and that he’s going to make himself famous and that it’s going to be all about Brian Lawler. (Huh, he tells his dad to f**k off, but decides to use the Lawler name) Well after all that, Brian’s opponent finally comes out and it’s Norman Smiley, who gets a much nicer welcome from the crowd.

Lawler gets the jump on Smiley and stomps the hell out of him. Lawler seems to be relishing his heel role, but he’s still playing to the crowd too much. Smiley gets his bearings and takes it to Lawler, but his moves are a little slow. Okay, I have no idea what is going on, but the crowd does. Lawler hits a NASTY DDT and gets control of the match back. This match isn’t great. I’m not familiar with Norman Smiley and this match is not leaving a good impression. Lawler played the crowd for a good minute before heading for the corner and Smiley didn’t move. Christopher hits the Hip Hop Drop, and gets the three count, even after playing to the crowd again. Afterwards, Lawler gets the mic and tells Scott Hall that he hopes he was watching the match because he’s next on Brian Lawler’s list.

Winner: Brian Lawler by pinfall.

Comment: The promo by Lawler was about the only good thing about this match and I have my issues with that.

We go to the back where Goldilocks is trying to catch up with Jarrett and the NWA VP Behrens. Jarrett thinks he’s got a title match against Shamrock tonight and the hapless Behrens is trying to explain that not only does Jarrett NOT have a title match tonight, he doesn’t have a match at all. Jarrett says that he’s the #1 Contender, which is news to everyone. Behrens tells him that he doesn’t have a match. Jarrett is livid and grabs Behrens and demands the match that only he thinks he has. Behrens also implies that Jarrett was behind what happened to Jim Miller (the NWA President whose name no one could remember last week) and if he (Behrens) can prove it, Jarrett will be suspended. Jarrett basically tells Behrens to suck his d**k and storms off.

While all that was going on, we kept hearing another argument going on off camera. From the upshot, it sounds like someone has an issue with Jerry Lynn.  We go black before Goldilocks can see what’s going on, and when we come back, we’re back at ringside for the next match. Up next is K-Krush vs Hervey Sadler, which already sounds like a trainwreck.

K-Krush vs Hervey Sadler

K-Krush is out to a loud round of boos and he doesn’t like it. He says that this is the last time he’s coming to ‘Trashville’ (Nashville) because the fans are a**holes. He insults the crowd some more but I’m not totally sure what he’s saying. He threatens and insults anyone waving a NASCAR sign and generally gets the crowd good and pissed off. Sadler comes out with his pit crew and a checkered flag because…I honestly don’t know. Even the commentators think Sadler’s an idiot for agreeing to this match, but they admire his guts. We start with trash talk and shoving. Apparently, someone has been giving Sadler some training because he shows some moves, but Krush ain’t having it.

This match is okay, Krush really plays up the arrogant heel with Sadler, who is basically a ragdoll that kicks out. Finally, Krush gets tired of this and locks Sadler in the Figure Four and after several minutes, Sadler turns it over, but Krush gets to the ropes. Krush goes for a Frankensteiner, but Sadler counters with a sit out powerbomb. Finally after a near fall and a failed dropkick, Krush uses a double leg takedown and feet on the ropes to pin Sadler for the win. Afterwards, Krush cheap shots Sadler for the hell of it.

Result: K-Krush by pinfall, with an assist from the ropes, but because of the cheap shot, the ref reverses the decision and gives the win to Sadler, because cheap shots after a match NEVER happen in wrestling.  :eyeroll:

Comment: I hate it when celebrities or non-wrestling athletes wrestle and Sadler did a good job, but Krush needed to win this one to maintain the respect of wrestling, the reversal was a stupid move that really did nothing but keep Sadler from looking stupid, which should not have been a problem since he had no business being in a wrestling ring.

Moving on, we get our first look at Omori, who is warming up for his big match. Alicia comes up and gestures to him and Omori pulls a handful of bills out of his bag. West and Tenay demand an answer from Ferrara, who tries to demure, but Ferrara will only say that he’ll tell them later.

Coming back from commercial, it’s time for our next match.

Hot Shots vs The Briscoe Brothers

 The Hot Shots, a generic looking pair of blond guys are out first and their opponents, another pair of generic looking guys, only these two are bald, are already in the ring and promptly bail out. According to the commentators, the generic bald guys are the Briscoe Brothers, and I only heard one of the names, but it sounds like it’s the same Briscoe Brothers that have become legends in the indys. This match is surprisingly good, this may be a tryout match for both teams and they’re making the most of it. It’s a little hard to keep up with the action and type, but it is fast and furious, and very fun to watch. For some reason, Slash storms the ring and take out all four competitors before throwing them all out of the ring.

Result: No Contest due to Malice’s interference.

Comment: While I get the reason why they had Malice do the run-in, it ruined the makings of a great match.

James Mitchell comes in and says that they aren’t leaving until the blood of Ken Shamrock is on the hands of Malice, because, apparently, they didn’t get the memo that Shamrock won fair and square last week and says that Malice will hurt everyone in the arena unless Shamrock comes out. To prove their point, they grab some random TNA tech person, but before the beating gets anywhere, Shamrock comes out and is in big trouble, but Omori, who doesn’t want to lose out on the title shot he flew in from Japan for, comes to Shamrock’s aid and the send the Disciples of the New Church running for the hills. Shamrock and Omori face off and it almost looks like it’ll come to blows, but we are sent backstage to the forever put upon Goldilocks.

One of the Dupps is kissing Fluff Dupp, who is still his cousin, in case you were wondering. Goldilocks is wearing a cowboy hat for some reason and is looking very disgusted by the whole situation. She asks the Dupp NOT trying to have sex with his cousin about their match with the Flying Elvises and asks how they plan on dealing with that, but the other Dupp is more interested in picking his nose. Other Dupp scoffs at the idea of ‘strategy’ and then uses horny coon dogs as a metaphor for what they plan to do with the Flying Elvises, which I hope doesn’t involve humping their legs.

Goldilocks is disgusted and still has to deal with the Dupp who had been making out with Fluff earlier, while the other Dupp cops a feel on Fluff in the background. (I couldn’t make this up if I tried!) Hat Dupp’s promo makes even less sense than the horny coon dog promo did and Goldilocks is about over all of this.

Back to the ring, we’re onto our next match and there’s a problem with the music. For some reason, a woman is coming out to the ring. She’s identified as Jasmine St. Clair of ECW. Ferrara and West say she’s a ‘movie’ star, but I don’t think porn really counts in this situation. Why she’s here is a mystery to everyone, including Borash.

Jasmine grabs the mic and shoves Borash away. Jasmine says she’s been watching TNA for three weeks and for three weeks she’s been waiting to see some ass, since everyone knows what the letters T ‘n A stand for. Everyone, including Borash and the commentators are excited for this. She tries to demure since she interrupted the tag team match, but no one really cares. The ref scheduled for the Dupp match shoves a chair into the ring. Apparently, Ms. St. Claire doesn’t like to dance without a partner and hauls Borash into the chair and gives him a lapdance, making him the most envied man in the building.

Before this gets too far, NWA VP Behrens tries to stop it and gets speared by Ferrara, while Jasmine keeps dancing. Behrens isn’t giving up and covers Jasmine up and makes her leave, despite the efforts of Ferrara and Borash, who now has to get both his brains back on business. Tenay asks Ferrara about the spear and Ferrara claims he thought it was a fan. They are in the Bible Belt, so a fan being offended by a striptease isn’t the stupidest thing ever heard of.

Dupps (with Fluff Dupp) vs Flying Elvises (Jorge Estrada and Sonny Siaki)

The Dupps finally come out and no one’s happy to see them, or they aren’t happy to see the guys, Fluff is very over. The Flying Elvises are out next, and they’re a little more over with this crowd. Apparently, no one told the Elivises how the real Elvis actually moved or Estrada’s just a really bad dancer because his Elvis moves are the pits. Elivises get the jump on the kissing cousins and we’re off. For some reason, Mortimer Plumtree comes out, with either a paddle or a tennis racket, and seems to be assessing the situation before joining the commentators.

I’m not sure what to call this match. Interesting is putting it nicely, a collision is a little more accurate. There is a real style contrast and it’s not meshing very well. It looked like Blond Dupp had the thing won until the ref realized that the Elvis in question had his feet on the ropes. There’s some shenanigans with the Elvises and and Hat Dupp that nearly gets the Elvises a win. Never mind being nice, this match is a mess. Siaki badly botched a moonsault that looked like he really hurt himself. Somehow, Siaki and Estrade pull off a switcheroo and get the pinfall on Blond Dupp.

Result: Flying Elvises by pinfall.

Comment: How sad is it that the attempted striptease was a better segment than this match?

We go backstage and Lynn and Styles are having a fistfight, why is anyone’s guess. Lynn drops one of the belts on Styles and calls him a ‘glory hound’ before storming off. Guess we’re short a Tag Team Champion.

Now it’s time for the NWA Heavyweight Championship match.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match: Ken Shamrock vs Omori

Harley Race is coming to the ring to represent the NWA, for some reason. Omori is out first to a minimal pop. Shamrock gets a great pop. This match starts out better for Shamrock than last week against Malice, Shamrock’s actually getting in some moves, but Omori isn’t doing well. Omori finally gets some offense in, thank heavens. This match is a lot more interesting than the title match from last week, but the contrast in styles of Shamrock and Omori is a little hit or miss. That said, Omori is a very good wrestler and is holding his own.

Just when it looks like Shamrock might get Omori to tap to the ankle lock, Jarrett runs in with a chair and lays out Shamrock and Omori. Harley Race tries to intervene and gets whacked with the chair for his troubles. Security comes out but after a couple of their guys get KO’d, the rest stay out of the ring. Bob Armstrong, who just watched his son Scott, who was the referee, get leveled by Jarrett is LIVID and I think he just told Jarrett that he’s being suspended. Jarrett is demanding the title shot that he thinks he was promised. Harley Race is back on his feet before Shamrock or Omori. Everyone’s more worried about Harley Race than the two wrestlers that took several chairshots.

Result: No Contest due to Jarrett’s interference.

Comment: The match was okay, but it definitely felt like they were just waiting for Jarrett or the Disciples of the New Church to come out.

Backstage, Goldilocks is trying to talk to Jerry Lynn, who is rocking back and forth while crouched against a wall. Goldilocks tries to get an explanation from Lynn about what happened, but Lynn tells her to suck his d**k and leaves. As Goldilocks gets up to leave, she bumps into James Mitchell, who promptly calls her the Whore of Babylon. Goldilocks is NOT happy about this and Mitchell changes tactics, asking her, in a very condescending way, to tell Jeff Jarrett, if she sees him, that he (Mitchell) really wants to talk to him. He tries to couch it in the supposition that Jarrett is about to commit a sin and he can’t allow that and compares himself to God, which Goldilocks doesn’t appreciate. Mitchell says that if Jarrett won’t come speak to him, he can be the bearer of light or the bringer of great darkness. He then threatens Goldilocks by saying she can either lose the smirk or have it cut off. As Goldilocks is dealing with that, she, and we, hear some muffled yelling. Going to investigate, we find Bill Behrens, NWA Vice President, tied up and marked like Jim Miller was last week.

Six Man Match To Determine Ranking for the X Division Title Contenders: Low K vs Elix Skipper vs Kid Romeo vs Tony Mamaluke vs Christopher Daniels vs Jerry Lynn

We get the rules for this: Your ranking depends on when or if you are eliminated. First man to be pinned or submit becomes the #6 Contender for the X Division Title, second man is #5 and so on. Last man standing is the #1 Contender, though no mention is made of what happens to the rankings if the #1 Contender beats Styles. The commentators point out that if Jerry Lynn wins the match, he becomes the #1 Contender against his own tag team partner, who he just beat up backstage. Another wrinkle: You have to stay on the apron and tags can’t be refused.

Not surprisingly, this match is fast and furious, so it’s a little tough to follow, plus, I’m not familiar with most of the competitors, so I’m having trouble telling who’s who. Jerry Lynn seems to be the target of the other competitors, either due to his skill, having wrestled earlier, or what happened to Styles. Elix Skipper just had a botch. It looks like he was supposed to wrap his arms around the ropes to counter a move by Low Ki, but he missed and fell out of the ring.

Elimination #1: Jerry Lynn by ten count because Lynn didn’t stay on the apron, so he’s at the back of the line for a X Division title shot.

Elimination #2: Tony Mamaluke by pinfall by Elix Skipper

Elimination #3: Elix Skipper by pinfall by Christopher Daniels.

Elimination #4: Kid Romeo by submission to Low Ki.

Elimination #5: Christopher Daniels by pinfall to Low Ki.

Winner: Low Ki by pinfall after a Fisherman Buster…I think that’s what they called it. While Low Ki and the fans are celebrating, the Flying Elvises, who were not invited to be part of this match or the X Division Championship Round Robin, storm the ring and beat everyone up. Afterwards, Sonny Siaki grabs the mic and tells Tenay that they weren’t invited to the match and that they ARE the X Division and if the NWA doesn’t want them involved, screw them.

Back in the ring, Elix Skipper has come back and is fighting Jorge Estrada, but Sonny Siaki saves his partner. Tony Mamaluke and Kid Romeo storm in and the Elivises clear out.

 Comment: This match was amazing! All six guys did a great job and the six man did feel like they were just putting guys in to make the match longer, every guy looked like they could’ve won the match. The elimination of Jerry Lynn was odd, it was probably to protect Lynn from taking a pinfall, but a count out elimination was strange because NO ONE else was counted out.

Next week: AJ Styles will have an X Division Championship Match against Low Ki, Scott Hall will face Brian Lawler, Puppet will be back and facing the World’s Largest Midget, Meatball.

While all this is going on, Jeff Jarrett comes out again, chair in hand, still looking for the title shot he thinks he’s owed. He yells at Tenay and vows that he WILL get his title shot next week. He insults the Tennessee Titans and gets into what I hope is a worked altercation with some members of the aforementioned team. This must be a work because one member of the team has the worst looking punches I’ve ever seen. James Mitchell and his crew come running to the rescue, but Jarrett’s had enough of this nonsense and is swinging his chair at anything moving, including the Disciples. Slash attacks Jarrett and it is complete and utter chaos. The show ends with Slash and Jarrett fighting among the fans.

Overall Comments

So, how was TNA now that we’re past the first few introductory episodes? This was a really good show overall. They’re ironing out the awkward spots and things seem to be running much more smoothly. One major issue I’m still having with TNA is the treatment of women. It’s easy to write off the treatment of Goldilocks as just how things were in 2002, or that it was TNA being ‘edgy’, but it’s more than that. Whoever was writing for TNA at this time had serious issues with women and what I watched wasn’t ‘edgy’, it was misogynistic and sickening.

The other issue I had was the Sadler/K-Krush match. As someone who doesn’t like celebrities and non-wrestling athletes getting in the ring and wrestling, I found the match very hard to sit through. Sadler had obviously taken the time and made the effort to train so he could do the moves and he did a good job, but for him to get a victory over K-Krush was a stupid move that does more for Sadler than K-Krush.

An interesting angle that’s developing is the status of Jeff Jarrett, especially after tonight’s episode. Is he the top heel or is he a really unlikeable babyface? When the show started, I would’ve say he’s the top heel and I think that’s where he’s going to stay for awhile, but the issue with James Mitchell and his Disciples of the New Church and the events at the end of the show makes Jarrett look like an extremely unlikeable face.  It’ll be interesting to see how TNA builds on this next week.

Another interesting angle is the attacks on NWA higher ups that has been going on the last couple of weeks. The obvious choice would be Jeff Jarrett since he’s having so many issues with the NWA. After this week’s episode, though, I’m beginning to rule him out as a suspect. It’s too obvious and given the comments and actions of James Mitchell and his congregation, I’m willing to be that they’re doing it either to set Jarrett up or to get into his good graces, or both.

Stinker: K-Krush vs Sadler. Both guys did a good job but I hated the whole storyline and the finish. In terms of match quality: Elvises vs Dupps or Brian Lawler vs Norman Smiley.

Snoozers: Shamrock vs Omori. It felt like they were just waiting for Jarrett to come out.

Match of the Night: X Division match. That was an amazing match and every guy looked good.

Final Thoughts: I’m really starting to get into TNA and I can’t wait for the next episode.


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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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