Open: Tony Schiavone & Eric Bischoff are in the arena laying out the goal of Sting’s Squadron and that is destroying The Dangerous Alliance. Sting has a rib injury so he may be a marked man tonight in War Games.
Match #1 for the WCW United States Tag Team Championships: WCW United States Tag Team Champions ‘The Taylor Made Man’ Terrance Taylor & Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael ‘P.S.’ Hayes & Jimmy ‘Jam’ Garvin) w/Precious
The fans are behind The Freebirds with their voices and clapping. Hayes and Taylor at the start. The crowd hates Taylor’s strutting but loves Hayes’. The two lock up, side headlock by Hayes and a shoulder tackle. Taylor backs into his corner and slows it down. Collar and elbow but Taylor can’t catch Hayes in the headlock. Another tie up, this time Taylor makes the tag to Valentine, Hayes avoids contact and the champs accidentally collide, a schoolboy by Hayes earns him a two count. Collar and elbow tie up, Hayes counters a hip block with one of his own.
Side headlock by Hayes, they hit the ropes and Valentine pounds Hayes to mat. Elbow to the skull and a few big chops land on Hayes. He’s sent for the ride, Hayes blocks the kick and lifts his opponent for an atomic drop, following it with some clotheslines. Lateral press for two. Hayes is fired up, but Valentine gets the first shot. Hayes fires back with chops and tags in Garvin. Irish whip by Valentine but he meets the ring post. Garvin goes to the wristlock, they run, Garvin can’t bring him over with a victory roll. Valentine misses an elbow drop and it’s back to work on his arm. Garvin draws Taylor into the ring so the Birds can pull off the double team.
Hayes is back in the ring and he hangs onto that arm. The crowd chants DDT, but Valentine breaks the hold with a shot to the midsection. Snapmare and Taylor is tagged in. He misses the elbow drop and the Birds go crazy with quick tags, abusing Taylor’s arm. Garvin finally stays in the ring for more than a few seconds, they run the ropes and a cross body gets two. Tag is made to Hayes, Taylor tries breaking the arm bar with head butts but they are unsuccessful. Hayes drags him down to the mat using a handful of hair. Taylor is reeling on the mat, he’s slow to a vertical base with his arm held. A shot to the midsection breaks the hold and Hayes is dumped to the ramp. Big right hand from the Taylor Made Man, but he’s dumped in the ring with a back body drop on the next attempt.
Big elbows from Hayes, and he gets a two count. Tag is made to Garvin and the fans still want the DDT. Taylor escapes the submission by dumping Garvin through the middle rope and onto the floor. Valentine takes advantage with some cheap shots. Garvin is pulled back in and receives a chin buster, tag is made to Valentine. Big chops from Valentine, Irish whip but Garvin catches him with the big boot. He pulls himself toward Hayes but Valentine prevents the tag. Valentine sets up a suplex – it’s countered by Garvin. Valentine is up first, but Garvin gets his knees up on the splash. Jimmy Jam can’t make his tag first and here comes Taylor with a high impact clothesline in the corner.
The Taylor Made Man latches on a reverse chin lock, Garvin is up to his feet, he breaks the hold, hits the ropes and they both go down after a clothesline from the Freebird. Taylor makes his tag first, but Garvin gets there just in the knick of time. Valentine is not interested in Michael Hayes who goes to work on both his opponents. The champs’ heads are knocked together, Hayes sets up the DDT on Valentine but he’s blindsided by Taylor’s five-arm. Valentine covers him and Hayes gets the shoulder up. Scoop slam by Valentine followed by the back breaker. Hayes kicks out of the lateral press as the fans chant for the Birds. Valentine goes downstairs on Hayes but it’s not enough for a successful cover.
Hayes’ arms are held to the mat, Valentine goes for a leaping knee but he meets Michael’s. Taylor is tagged in, Hayes tries to fight from his knees and Taylor rakes the eyes. Gut wrench powerbomb by Taylor and another kick out by Hayes. Valentine receives the tag, and he goes for the figure four. He locks it in, and Jimmy Jam makes the save. The Hammer locks in the arm bar with Hayes supine on the mat. Up to a vertical base, Valentine lays in some chops and forearms. Irish whip and Hayes just flops down to the mat off the turnbuckle. Tag is made to Taylor, he tries to send Hayes into the turnbuckle but it’s blocked and his head meets it instead. This happens in the other corner twice and Hayes lands a huge left. Tag is made to Garvin and he’s on fire.
Taylor is elevated for the back body drop, Valentine rushes in and he’s hit with a clothesline. Taylor is hit with an atomic drop and a victory roll. Taylor pushes out of it at two which shoves Garvin into Valentine for another lariat. The champs try a double teamed clothesline off the ropes, Garvin ducks and delivers his own to both of them. Valentine rolls out of the ring, Taylor and Garvin hit the ropes and Jimmy Jam is blindsided from the outside. Taylor lands a knee drop on the back of Garvins head and Hayes makes the save. Garvin sets up the DDT, Valentine rushes in for the save and he’s dropped on his back. Jimmy Jam hits the signature move and we have new champions!
Winners & NEW WCW US Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Freebirds (Garvin/DDT)
- EA’s Take: Once again, The Freebirds are used as tone setters for the crowd and they accomplished what they were sent out to do. I’m not a big fan of having multiple tag team title belts anyway, so I could do without these ones, as I’ve stated before. During this time, the tag division was fairly thin, especially evidenced by the fact that they and The Steiners are the only two pure tag teams who work for WCW full-time used on this card, as opposed to all the recent random-pairing tag teams in previous PPVs. If you tune into the early days of WCW Saturday Night, Taylor and Valentine were frequently featured.
Match #2: Johnny B. Badd vs. ‘Young Pistol’ Tracy Smothers
Collar and elbow tie up, some chain wrestling and Badd goes for a quick schoolboy pin. Smothers complains that he pulled the trunks. Reversal on the waistlock and they hit the ropes, big hip toss and a deep arm drag by the flamboyant one. Collar and elbow, Smothers grabs a side headlock, Badd gets an arm drag and flies onto Smothers with the cross body and a two count. A dropkick and another quick arm drag by Badd and he hangs onto the armbar on the mat. Smothers gets position in the corner and he buries the shoulder into the midsection. Badd turns it around and delivers shots to the torso, Irish whip but he meets Smothers’ boot. Big kick to the face from the Young Pistol but he can’t even get a two count.
Smothers with a back rake and he drags his face on the top rope. Smothers to the top rope and he catches him with a flying back elbow, he hooks the legs but cannot get three. He goes back to the top, he lands a flying cross body but the momentum pulls Badd on top of him and the match almost ends like that. Double axe handle by Smothers followed by a karate kick to the back of Badd’s head, but Johnny won’t accept a pin. Tracy locks in a reverse chin lock, Badd gets vertical and breaks the hold, they hit the ropes and Johnny leaps over Smothers for a sunset flip but he can’t get it over. Smothers sits on his chest and gets a two count, Badd rolls him over and earns the same.
Badd surprises him with an inside cradle and it’s a close one. Smothers jumps back into the chin lock, Badd uses the crowd’s energy to get up. The hold is broken, they hit the ropes and Badd lands a high knee. Badd ducks a few strikes and hits some body shots. Irish whip to the ropes and Badd lands a powerslam. He signals to the crowd and climbs to the top turnbuckle, he lands a leaping sunset flip for two and a half. Smothers sends him for the ride, Badd ducks a clothesline and lands the big left hook for the win.
Winner: Johnny B. Badd (Left Hook)
- EA’s Take: Not a whole lot to see here, the crowd is digging Johnny B. Badd right now and it’s an opportunity to put him over. That was my only takeaway. The Young Pistols were no more by this time, as Steve Armstrong would head to the WWF for a brief stint as Lance Cassidy, putting Smothers in the undercard. They’d reunite later in Smoky Mountain, however.
Backstage: Missy Hyatt is standing by with The Fabulous Freebirds & Precious. They did what they said they were going to do, despite having their work cut out for them. Michael Hayes dedicated the match to Ronnie Van Zandt and this is only the first step. They intend to win the upcoming tournament for the WCW World Tag Team Championships.
Match #3: Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. Scotty Flamingo
Collar and elbow tie up, and a tough break. Another high energy tie up and they fight for positioning before another break. A third tie up, Bagwell gets positioning but they break it off and exchange slaps to the face. Scotty tackles him to the mat and dumps Bagwell to the floor. Bagwell is quick to his feet and nails him from behind. They exchange more slaps before hitting the ropes, a huge right sends Flamingo reeling. Two Irish whips are followed by a belly to back suplex from Bagwell. A lateral press gets a two count, Flamingo with a front face lock, Bagwell counters with a vertical suplex and he gets another two count.
Scotty is able to toss Bagwell through the middle rope to the floor, Flamingo rolls him back in. Scotty goes for a knee to the gut but it’s countered into a roll up. Flamingo ducks a clothesline and he drops Bagwell with a suplex. Snapmare take down by Scotty, he drops a fist from the second rope and gets a two count. Bagwell is caught in a reverse chin lock, he works to his feet but Flamingo uses the hair to pull him right down to the mat. Scotty blatantly chokes Bagwell on the mat, he hooks the leg but can’t hold him down for the win. Flamingo goes back to the reverse chin lock as Bagwell hulks up. The hold is broken with some elbows, they hit the ropes and exchange shoulder blocks. Flamingo dives for a cross body and both men go over the top rope and down to the floor.
Referee Randy Anderson goes for the count, but Bagwell is rolled back in. Marcus blocks the face buster on the mat and hits Scotty with the same move. Flamingo blocks a right and fires one of his own. Bagwell blocks the hip toss and throws his opponent with force. High impact clothesline by Bagwell followed by straight rights. Flamingo reverses the Irish whip but eats Bagwells elbow, Marcus climbs to the second turnbuckle and comes down with the double axe handle. He lands the fisherman’s suplex but Flamingo gets his leg on the ropes. Irish whip to the ropes, Bagwell goes for the victory roll. Flamingo pushes out at two and rolls Bagwell over the same way with a handful of trunks to sneak out the win.
Winner: Scotty Flamingo (Victory Roll)
- EA’s Take: In a few years, Flamingo would become one of my all-time favorite ring and promo psychologists, Raven. That was always such a complex and grungy character, it was funny seeing him so clean cut here. Bagwell seemed to be getting such a young, up-and-comer push that I’m surprised he takes the loss here, but the illegal holding of the trunks tells the “good guy got cheated” story. Plus, we know he’s going to go back into tags.
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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