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NWA-TNA Episode 7: Reset? What Reset?

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This week, TNA will deal with the fallout of the trainwreck NWA Title match between Shamrock and Sabu that ended with Malice taking off with the NWA title. Jeff Jarrett’s ongoing war against the NWA continues. AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn continue to try and co-exist despite their dueling egos. So, let’s see what’s going on now!

Opening

Okay, old opening montage is back, but we’re still in the Asylum, it looks like and we go right into our first match.

X-Division Championship Match: AJ Styles (with Jerry Lynn) vs Elix Skipper

Elix Skipper doesn’t get much of a reaction and given what happened between him, Monty Brown, and Truth last week, that’s a surprise. Styles comes out with Jerry Lynn and he looks winded and sweaty for some reason, maybe the A/C isn’t working tonight.

Skipper gets the jump on Styles and we’re off!

Lynn joins Tenay and company on commentary and is playing cheerleader to Styles, which seems a little odd given that they’ve been beating each other up for the last few weeks.

This was a really good match. It got a little rough in places, but both guys did a really good job. Skipper positioned himself as a possible heel for a division that really needed one.

However, Styles is a pretty resilient champion and withstood everything Skipper threw at him. Ultimately, though, Styles pulled it out with a Spiral Tap. Jerry Lynn gets on the apron to congratulate his partner and all seems right with the Tag Team Champs.

Winner: AJ Styles by pinfall.

Comment: This was a good opening match. There were a lot of rough spots, but nothing too ‘WTF’. Also, Jerry Lynn’s cheerleading got a little hard to swallow.

After all the crazy shenanigans of the last few weeks, the NWA has decided that they need someone to lay down the law, so they sent Ricky Steamboat. We’re told that the day after last week’s taping, Steamboat started calling in the worst miscreants in TNA to his office and read them the riot act and these are his rulings:

  1. Malice has returned the NWA Championship to Ken Shamrock.
  2. Jarrett’s 60 day suspension has been lifted, by request of Scott Hall
  3. Jarrett and Hall will have a match tonight.

Ferrara implies that Jarrett refused to come to the NWA office for his talk with Steamboat.

Meanwhile, Elix Skipper is trying to make his way to the back, when Monty Brown comes out to confront the man who left him to the mercy of Truth. West applauds the butt kicking Skipper is getting, though Ferrara points out that Brown waited until Skipper had already had a match before showing his face, implying that the Alpha Male is an opportunistic coward. Either way, Skipper gets his clock cleaned for about a minute by Brown before they fight in the ring.

Jarrett comes out, carrying someone in a burlap bag, for some reason. Jarrett seems to be feeling generous tonight. He says that since Shamrock isn’t performing tonight, and Steamboat hasn’t gotten there yet, he’s going to take an opportunity to entertain all the fans.

(Why do I have a sense of dread in my stomach?)

Jarrett comments on his 60-day suspension, noting that he’s taking it very seriously, as indicated by the squirming person in the burlap sack. He comments that Bill Behrens not only denied him his title shot, but that he was going to have to start at the very bottom.

He admits that he didn’t go to the NWA meeting and decided to abide by their ridiculous rules work his way up from the bottom.

(Oh, that feeling is getting worse).

So, who’s in the bag? A little person, and it looks like one of the people Puppet beat up during the first few episodes of the show. And if looks could kill, Jarrett would be a pile of dust on the floor, judging by his ‘opponent’s’ expression. Jarrett beats his opponent up and then offers to have a match with old ladies and/or farm animals, while the hapless Elix Skipper is pulling one of the worst jobs of acting hurt I’ve ever seen.

Puppet comes out and he doesn’t find this funny either. Jarrett mocks Puppet and calls himself the ‘Dwarf Destroyer’. Puppet’s reaction is to pull a (clearly fake) gun, because that’s the solution to every problem these days. Jarrett decides that the smartest thing for him to do is clear out while security tries to calm Puppet down while not tripping over Skipper who is STILL in the ring. Jarrett takes advantage of the distraction of the security guards to lay Puppet out with a very gentle chairshot to the head (seriously, he barely touched him). Jarrett then wears the chair out on Puppet and Skipper.

Thankfully, this segment (and my sanity) are saved by Ricky Steamboat, who comes out to stop this dumpster fire and has one of the Harris brothers and Brad Armstrong as backup. Ricky Steamboat says that Jarrett’s not going to pull the same crap with him that he’s pulled on Jim Miller or Bill Behrens. Despite Tenay and company saying at the top of the show what Steamboat had decided, no one told Steamboat what he’d decided because he acted like Jarrett’s suspension was still in force.

(Good grief, guys, you can do better than this)

Jarrett asks how they’re going to do it, asking if Steamboat, Armstrong, and Don Harris are going to attack him three on one. He suggests that he and Steamboat settle this one on one instead with some stipulations: If Jarrett wins, he gets the title shot he believes he’s owed. If Steamboat wins, Jarrett will take his suspension.

Steamboat appears to think it over and asks the fans what they want. After a little more thought, Steamboat takes the challenge. Jarrett wasn’t prepared to have his bluff called, especially since Steamboat hasn’t wrestled in at least seven years.

Turns out, this is a ruse, Scott Hall comes in and lays into Jarrett. Hall pulls a stretcher out from under the ring, because that’s a logical place to store one, and cuts a promo on Jarrett.

Okay, apparently, Steamboat wasn’t behind Hall’s run in because Hall tells him to step aside because this situation doesn’t involve him or the fans, it’s between Hall and Jarrett. Hall vowed to send Jarrett out on a stretcher after their match.

(When Scott Hall is the only one who remembers that most of what was just discussed was already decided in kayfabe, there’s a problem)

Comment: What was the point of all that? That was awful, even for Vince Russo.

Goldilocks is trying to do with an interview with Siaki who has a match against Slash for some reason. She asks where the rest of Flying Elvises are. Siaki accuses her of checking out his ass and tells her to never check out his ass without permission again. He then tells her to never touch him again or think dirty thoughts of him again. He then says he doesn’t need back up from the Flying Elvises.

Slash (with James Mitchell) vs Sonny Siaki

Slash, now sporting an eyepatch and still without the rest of Guns -n- Roses, comes out to a minimal pop, as does Siaki.

Even though I really don’t care about either of these guys, this was a good match. Slash has a lot of potential, he just needs a lot of polishing. Siaki really showed himself to have real star potential, even if his fairly blatant ripping off of the Rock’s promo style doesn’t work as well for him as it did for Dwayne Johnson.

That said, this match had some rough spots, including a mutual crotching on the top rope and turnbuckle.

Slash gets the pin by putting a black hood over Siaki’s head and hitting a neckbreaker. Not sure why, but that’s how the match ended. Afterwards, the real ‘fun’ started. Siaki not only had to endure the indignity of taking a pin via neckbreaker, he got washed in the blood of…something, probably dark cornsyrup with some red food coloring added in.

Don Harris, who is every bit the asskicker he was back in WWE, runs in and saves Siaki, powerbombing Slash. Malice runs in and the two have a face off.

Winner: Slash by pinfall.

Comment: Uh…yeah, that ending happened.

Goldilocks is doing an interview with Ricky Steamboat, who seems to be the only male in the building who knows how to talk to a woman without being a sexist pig. She asks him what he’s going to do about the chaos that TNA’s been in since the start and what Steamboat’s going to do about it.

Steamboat admits that he’s had his fair share of headaches while working for the NWA, but the rules haven’t changed that much and that he was asked to lay down the law to all these wrestlers and if they don’t like it, tough.

Goldilocks asks why Steamboat thinks he’ll be more successful than Behrens, which irritates Steamboat for some reason and he tells her not to compare him to Bill Behrens and walks off.

Comment: Okay, I want to give Steamboat the benefit of a doubt that that last comment was maybe meant to indicate that Steamboat is having his own issues with NWA higher ups or that he doesn’t like Behrens and/or his handling of this whole situation, and not him deliberately being a jerk to Goldilocks, but the way he delivered it was very rude and unnecessary, especially to a really simple question. It doesn’t reflect well on Steamboat’s ‘good guy’ persona to have him act that way.

Truth is back out and he’s got some more stuff to tell us about ‘Them’. He calls out the dancer, who is just trying to earn a living, and assumes that she’s being made to dance in the cage instead of being there of her own free will and getting paid for it. The dancer isn’t having it and seems confused, then bored, and then pissed by Truth’s yammering. Finally, the dancer’s had enough of this and slaps Truth. Truth moved as if to punish her for not buying his BS when he was jumped from behind by Monty Brown in retaliation for last week.

The two fight through the crowd until Truth knocks Brown over the head with a 2×4 and goes to the back.

Steamboat comes out and addresses Truth by name and says that he’s gotten his (Steamboat) attention. He addresses Truth’s beef with ‘Them’ and tells Truth to at least have the balls to address him face to face.

Truth comes out but refuses to let Steamboat talk and spouts the same stuff he’s been spouting for two weeks about how ‘They’ have kept him down.

Steamboat’s not putting up with this and tells Truth that if he wants respect, he’s going to have to earn Steamboat’s respect and that he has no idea what Truth is talking about (Join the club, dude). He says that if the ‘Them’ Truth keeps blaming for his lack of success is an authoritative figure, then Truth is talking about Steamboat, but if the ‘Them’ is skin color, that’s another story, and it’s the first time that it’s been acknowledged that this storyline has been about race and opportunities. Either way, Steamboat is here to listen to what Truth has to say.

Truth doesn’t seem to realize that Steamboat is trying to help him out, and keeps lashing out, saying that Steamboat is just like ‘Them’, but then again, he’s not.

(Okay, maybe this is going to get better)

Truth says that Steamboat means as much to ‘Them’ as Truth does. As proof, Truth uses Steamboat’s own career as his proof and insults his Intercontinental Championship run, saying that the Intercontinental Title was for ‘second-class citizens’.

(Oh boy)

To Steamboat’s immense credit, he doesn’t lay Truth out with a solid punch to the face, and lets Truth vent, even when Truth insults everything Steamboat worked so hard to accomplish.

When Steamboat is finally given the mic back, he tells Truth that he gets where Truth is coming from, especially when it comes to ‘Them’, so he’s going to give Truth the opportunity of a lifetime: An NWA World Heavyweight Championship match against Ken Shamrock next week! I’m not sure who is more stunned, Truth, the audience, or the commentators. Truth accepts and celebrates by rapping to the audience after Steamboat leaves.

Malice (with James Mitchell) vs Apolo

Malice and Mitchell come out to no reaction and Mitchell has his box of anointing corn syrup with him. Apolo doesn’t get a better reaction, I think the overlong promos killed this audience.

Tenay and company point out that Apolo and Malice were both in line for title shots, but just got leapfrogged by Truth, which probably doesn’t make either of them very happy.

Why Steamboat might have decided to skip over Malice and Apolo is put on display because this match wasn’t very good. Apolo tries to hit a hurricanrana and it botches, thankfully no one’s neck was in danger. Malice shows a lot of potential as a dominate heel, but, like Slash, he needs a lot of work.

To everyone’s surprise, including mine, Apolo manages to get a pin on Malice after Malice dominated most of the match. Though, to protect Malice, it looks like he got his shoulder up a split second too late. Malice still isn’t happy about losing and attacks the ref and Apolo, which brings out Don Harris. Unfortunately for Harris, he gets overwhelmed by the numbers game of the New Church and gets his own ‘baptism’ of corn syrup.

Winner: Apolo by pinfall.

Comment: That was okay, it wasn’t a great match by either man, but Malice was protected as a toppish heel.

Don West decides to cleanse everyone’s palate (and wake the audience up) by bringing out Miss TNA, Taylor Vaughn. Vaughn gets a nice pop and comes out dressed like a beauty queen. The interview barely gets started when Bruce of the Rainbow Express comes out. Apparently, Bruce feels that the Miss TNA Lingerie match wasn’t inclusive enough and that watching Truth spout on about ‘Them’ has inspired him to go for what he wants: The Miss TNA Crown and that Taylor should give him a shot at winning the crown if she doesn’t want to be a bitch like ‘Them’. Taylor takes exception to being called a bitch and accepts with a low blow.

 Taylor Vaughn vs Bruce For the Miss TNA Crown

I’m not going to dignify this trainwreck with a full account. It was a woman in a dress going up against a trained male wrestler over a fake crown. The best that can be said is that Taylor didn’t wrestle in heels, though she managed to get in a few basic moves.

 Winner: Bruce by pinfall.

Comment: WTAF?!

Goldilocks tries to get an interview with Lo Ki, who is prepping for his match with Jerry Lynn, but Lo Ki again states that he does his talking in the ring.

Lo Ki vs Jerry Lynn (with AJ Styles)

Lo Ki gets a good reaction, as does Jerry Lynn. AJ is on commentary and is continuing the painfully false-sounding cheerleading of Jerry Lynn.

This was a really good match. Both guys looked like a million bucks and it was a bright spot of this show. Everyone in the X Division works really well together, my only gripe is that there’s often too many high spots and not enough wrestling, and that there are no real faces and heels.

AJ seemingly tries to help Lynn sneak out a victory, but Lo Ki saw it coming and whipped Lynn to Styles’ sneak attack, which caused Scott Armstrong to throw the match out. Styles talks trash to the prone Lynn, leading us to believe that the ‘botched’ sneak attack wasn’t so botched after all. Even Lo Ki is confused and attacks Styles for costing him the match.

Winner: No Contest due to Styles’ interference

Comment: That was a bad way to end a good match.

Backstage, Goldilocks tries to get an interview with Don Harris about what happened with Malice. Harris acts like a bit of a jerk to Goldi but says while it’s cool that Malice got the jump on him this week, if it’s blood Malice wants, it’s blood he’ll get. We’ll be getting a First Blood Match next week.

The first episode of Jive Talkin’ premiered this week, but the whole thing was so insulting to me as a woman and a lifelong wrestling fan that I couldn’t bring myself to cover it like I normally would. Basically, Disco Inferno’s guest was the long-suffering Goldilocks and basically said that her real talent required kneepads (yes, SERIOUSLY). He then took off his pants and revealed his privates and basically thought Goldi should blow him on PPV. Not surprisingly, Goldi was NOT down, and kicked him in the balls. To make this garbage worse, she was attacked by a muscular blonde who puts her in a sleeper hold before rushing to Disco’s aid. Security goes to Goldi’s aide, but she has had just about enough of everything and shoves them away.

Don West, in an effort save TNA’s viewership, does the most over the top hyping of next week’s show ever.

Scott Hall vs Jeff Jarrett

Hall is out to a good pop and he’s brought his stretcher with him. Jarrett doesn’t have time to get much of a pop because Hall runs up the ramp to greet him and the fight’s on. They fought all over ringside and into the backstage area before finally making it back to the ring.

Once it actually got started, this was a really good match. When Hall has it turned on, he’s one of the best wrestlers in the business, Jarrett is always good. The problem is that the people in charge made this match such a mess. We had a run in by Truth, for some reason, Monty Brown ran in to neutralize Truth, Jerry Lynn attacked Jarrett for no apparent reason that I can think of, which brought Styles out to attack Lynn. I’m not sure who Styles was going to attack in the ring, probably Hall, but he was stopped by Don Harris. Harris’ intervention brought out the New Church, but while Armstrong stopped the Lynn/Lo Ki match for one incident by Styles, this match kept going, despite everyone and their fifth cousin taking shots at either Jarrett or Hall.

Hall’s fixation with taking Jarrett out on a stretcher backfires when he takes out the ref, which gives Jarrett the opening he needs to turn the tables and get his own equalizer: a steel chair. Steamboat runs out to stop this mess and nearly takes a shot to the head, but jumps out of the way, which makes the chair rebound on Jarrett.

Steamboat’s admirable attempt to keep this thing street legal is all for naught when his attempt to stop Hall from using the chair on Jarrett resulted in Jarrett hitting the Stroke on Hall on the chair.

Winner: Jeff Jarrett by pinfall.

Comment: That could’ve been a great match, instead it was a mess.

Overall Comments

What the heck did I just watch? Apparently, all the stuff I enjoyed last week seemed to be because someone other than Vince Russo was doing the writing and this week was Vince getting the pen back and taking things back to how they were in Episode 5 while not totally doing away with what happened in Episode 6.

The issue of how women are being treated? That is back in full force and it was even worse than Episode 5. The treatment of Goldilocks and Taylor Vaughn was disgusting and insulting to female wrestling fans.

Another big issue was the sheer amount of in-ring promo segments. They spent most of this episode talking and the matches were a distant second. The first segment took a good 10-15 minutes of nonsense just to set up Scott Hall’s run in and explain to the live audience what Tenay and company had already told the PPV audience at the top of the show, which made everyone look stupid. The Truth/Steamboat segment was better and at least set things up for next week, but the segment still went long.

Stinkers: Just about every match stunk, but pride of place goes to Malice/Apolo.

Snoozers: Jarrett/Hall simply because what could’ve been a great match was ruined by stupidity.

Match of the Night: Styles/Skipper, just because it was the only match not have a wonky finish.

Final Thoughts: I have been watching wrestling since I was at least six, this was the worst episode I’ve ever seen, and I lived through the Attitude Era. I hope next week is better than what I just watched.


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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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