Hell In A Cell 2018 is just over a week away now, next Sunday from the AT&T Center in San Antonio and with Roman Reigns set to defend his Universal Title against Braun Strowman, today we’re looking back at the last time ‘The Big Dog’ stepped into the demonic structure. In 2016, Roman was the new United States Champion, but his feud with Rusev was far from over. The two would clash for the title inside Hell In A Cell for this RAW-exclusive pay-per-view!
Kickoff Match: Sin Cara, Lince Dorado & Cedric Alexander vs. Tony Nese, Drew Gulak & Ariya Daivari
Sin Cara & Nese to start things off, Tony goes to a side headlock off the opening lock-up, gets pushed off to the ropes and scores with a shoulder knockdown. The Premier Athlete goes back to the ropes, Sin Cara leapfrogs over, ducks a clothesline and springs off the 2nd rope with an arm drag. Nese rolls to the corner, Sin Cara charges in and meets a boot to the jaw, The Premier Athlete rushes out, counters a monkey flip by landing on his feet, springs off the 2nd rope for a crossbody, but gets caught in the air and cracked by a backbreaker. Gulak steps in and runs into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for his troubles, Daivari comes in off the tag and meets the same fate, reverses a whip to the ropes, plants him with a neckbreaker and gets a count of 2.
He grounds Sin Cara with a rear chinlock, the masked man works to a standing position, Ariya with a knee to the midsection, shoots him to the ropes and Sin Cara springs off the 2nd rope with a moonsault. Tags on both sides now, Lince comes off the top with a crossbody to Nese, hits the ropes for a running hurricanrana, measures Tony in the corner for a handspring back elbow, then hits the ropes for a spinning heel kick. He heads upstairs and scores with the Shooting Star Press, hooks the leg, Daivari & Gulak hit the ring to break it up at 2. Cedric steps in to even the odds, whips them to the ropes in-sync with Sin Cara, Gulak & Daivari hang on, but get clotheslined over the top to the floor, everybody spilling to the outside.
The Golden Lynx goes back up top, jumps over Nese, charges in for a tilt-a-whirl DDT, The Premier Athlete blocks it with brute strength, then dumps him over the top onto everybody on the way to a break….Back from commercial and Daivari gets a count of 2 on Lince, The Golden Lynx fights to his feet, irish whip to the ropes is reversed and Ariya clobbers him with a high knee for another 2. He brings Gulak in, Drew slaps on a reverse sharpshooter, switches to a modified indian deathlock, drags him to his corner and Nese tags in. The Premier Athlete whips Dorado to the ropes, slides outside with a leg trip, springs in from the apron to the 2nd rope for a moonsault and gains a near fall.
Gulak re-enters the match, The Golden Lynx battles back, sneaks in a jawbreaker, scores with a hurricanrana for 2, then tags out off the kick-out. Cedric hits the ring with clotheslines for Drew, blocks a kick for a spinning back elbow, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, but Alexander connects with a back handspring enzuigiri. Gulak rolls to the outside, Nese & Daivari meet him for a conference, Lince & Sin Cara step in and all three fly to the outside with somersault planchas and suicide dives. Cedric throws Gulak back in, looks to spring in from the apron, Drew ducks under it, slaps on the Gu-Lock, but Dorado springs in with a leg drop to break it up.
Daivari comes in and clocks Lince with a rolling elbow, follows up with a superkick, Sin Cara grabs him from behind and plants him with a schoolboy powerbomb. The Premier Athlete spins Sin Cara around, delivers a sit-out pumphandle facebuster, turns around and Alexander springboards in from the apron with a clothesline. He turns his attention to Gulak for the Lumbar Check, Drew flips out of it, counters a leapfrog with a roll-up for a near fall, charges back in and Cedric hits the Lumbar Check for the win.
Winners: Sin Cara, Lince Dorado & Cedric Alexander (Cedric/Lumbar Check)
- EA’s Take: I love seeing that there’s sometimes multiple Cruiserweight matches weekly on RAW and the division as a whole has been utilized very well. This one is a rematch from last week’s Superstars and had some similarities, but the guys overall did pretty good at changing up the booking of the match. Good way to get the crowd going as well with the high-flying action of the Cruiserweights.
Open: “Evil has awoken. There is no help in Hell. Hell is not below, Hell is above.” Tonight, it’s a Triple Main Event as RAW’s top three titles are defended inside the most demonic structure in WWE history. This is Hell In A Cell.
Match #1 – Hell In A Cell for the WWE United States Championship: Rusev w/Lana vs. WWE United States Champion Roman Reigns
Rusev looks to strike first and it’s blocked, the champion fires back with shots of his own, tries to ram the challenger head-first into the top turnbuckle, but The Bulgarian Brute turns the tables. He buries shoulders to the midsection in the corner, Roman fights his way out, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Rusev scores with a high back elbow, covers and gets 2. He dumps The Big Dog outside, attempts to ram him into the cell, Reigns puts on the brakes, tries to send the challenger into the steel, but takes a shot to the ribs. The Bulgarian Brute tosses him back inside and puts the boots to the champion, whips him to the ropes, Roman levels him with multiple clotheslines, irish whip back in is reversed, Reigns looks for a jumping clothesline, but takes a kick to the breadbasket.
Rusev wants to send The Big Dog back outside, Roman switches the momentum and dumps the challenger out instead, The Bulgarian Brute climbs back up to the apron, but the champion charges in and sends him into the steel. Reigns steps outside and deposits the challenger into the cell multiple times, clocks him with a big boot, goes to pick him back up and Rusev rakes the eyes. He sets to shoot Roman into the steel steps, The Big Dog reverses and introduces the challenger to the steel, goes under the ring and reaches for a table. The Bulgarian Brute grabs him from behind and drives him into the cell, squashes him against the cage with a splash, then bounces him off the ring post. He grinds the champion’s face into the cell, drills him with a kick to the back of the head, rams Roman into the post again and sends him into the ring for a count of 2.
The Bulgarian Brute stomps away at The Big Dog, Reigns starts to battle back, irish whip to the corner is reversed, the champion hits the turnbuckle shoulder-first and Rusev covers for 1. The challenger sends him from corner-to-corner and delivers multiple splashes, Roman finally side-steps one, Rusev takes him down with a hip toss, hits the ropes for a diving headbutt, but nobody’s home. The Big Dog hammers the challenger with a barrage of clotheslines in the corner, hits the ropes for a big boot, then measures for a Superman Punch. Rusev sees it coming and rolls to the outside, Reigns rolls out the other side, builds a head of steam for the Drive-By, but gets flattened by a clothesline. The Bulgarian Brute sends the champion into the steps, drives him into the cell, picks up the top half of the stairs and clobbers Roman with it.
He smashes Reigns with another stair shot before tossing them in the ring, rolls The Big Dog inside and positions the steps on the top turnbuckle. He looks to ram Reigns head-first into it, the champion blocks and hits big right hands, clotheslines the challenger over the top to the floor, then sends him into the cage with a dropkick through the ropes. Roman rolls out, Rusev surprises him with a kick to the abdomen, picks him up onto his shoulder and launches the champion into the cell. He goes under the ring and pulls out a kendo stick, turns around and gets caught by the Drive-By, Reigns takes ahold of the cane and swings away at the back of the challenger with numerous shots. He drags Rusev into the squared circle and steps in, The Bulgarian Brute kicks the ropes for a low blow, ties Roman up in the ropes and unleashes a flurry of kendo stick shots to the ribs, then snaps it over his knee.
He hits the ropes, The Big Dog explodes free with a clothesline for a near fall, both guys struggling to their feet and trading punches. Rusev pummels the champion down to the canvas and hits the ropes, Roman catches him for a Samoan Drop, the challenger slips out of it and goes for a kick that misses, The Big Dog trying to take advantage with a Superman Punch. The Bulgarian Brute ducks it and drives him shoulder-first into the turnbuckle, hits the ropes again, the champion pops right back with a Superman Punch that connects, nearly putting it away. Roman pulls himself to his feet and readies for a Spear, Rusev cuts him off with a superkick, sends him head-first into the steps in the corner, quickly covers, but still can’t finish it. The Bulgarian Brute can’t believe it, turns the champion over and locks on The Accolade, Reigns starts crawling towards the ropes, Rusev pulls him back to the middle to reapply the hold. The Big Dog slips away and hits the ropes, runs into a roundhouse kick that sends him to the outside, The Bulgarian Brute climbs out, reaches under the ring for a length of chain, then measures the champion.
Reigns meets him with a fist to avoid it, unloads with right hands and tosses the challenger inside, slides in and gets caught with the chain to the midsection, then multiple shots across the back. The Bulgarian Brute rolls outside and sends the bottom half of the steel steps into the ring, picks The Big Dog up and gets cracked by a big right. Rusev bounces him off the stairs, drives him shoulder-first into the steel, drops him with a superkick and covers, but Reigns still kicks out at 2. The challenger drags Roman onto the stairs and picks up the chain, slaps on The Accolade with the chain across the champion’s face, The Big Dog slipping free and plants him with a Samoan Drop on the steps. The challenger finds his footing on top of the steps, Reigns delivers a Spear down to the mat, hooks the leg and retains.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Roman Reigns (Spear)
- EA’s Take: Logical way to open the show tonight, showcasing the least important (for lack of a better term) of your three Cell matches tonight. This one started off a little “ho-hum” and made me find it a little boring, but the violence picked up in what I knew would be a bruising match. No shocker to me that Roman retains, I could see him hanging onto that US strap for quite some time and possibly into WrestleMania. I’m hoping that when Rusev is finally moved away from Roman he can maintain his heat, The Bulgarian Brute has all the potential in the world as long as he’s booked better than when he lost the US Title to John Cena.
Backstage: Tom Phillips is standing by with WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens, The Prize Fighter speaks about Seth Rollins defeating himself and Chris Jericho last week on RAW, but he wouldn’t call him a winner. Perhaps broken is better after he powerbombed Rollins on the apron, KO claiming the last time he did that was to John Cena, who it took weeks to come back. Owens thinks Seth is trying to play the hero tonight against doctor’s advice, but The Architect regaining the championship is just not going to happen. The champion vows to make the Roman Reigns vs. Rusev match look like a cake-walk when he’s finished with Seth, stating he will still be the WWE Universal Champion.
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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