NWA-TNA comes to us this week, still dealing with the continual problems with Jeff Jarrett and his quest to become NWA Champion, the on-going issues with AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn. To throw a further ball into this juggling act, the NWA Tag Championships have been held up due dueling ref counts last week, which has just furthered Jarrett’s list of grievances against the NWA. So, let’s find out what’s going on!
Opening: We start with our usual opening. The crowd seems pumped and ready to go.
Falls Count Anywhere Match: AJ Styles vs Jerry Lynn
Styles is out first and he’s wearing a headband, for some reason, maybe to look tough. Jerry Lynn is out next, to an okay pop. Let’s start this showdown. Maybe it’s because I’ve done some research and know something about what was going on behind the scenes, but this definitely feels like a blowoff match, but in the same breath, this feud has been brewing for two and a half months and it was needing to happen. Styles seems to be a little winded, but he’s hanging with Lynn, who definitely has an experience advantage not only due to his more years in the business, but also his time in ECW, where these kinds of matches were normal.
This was an amazing match, unsurprisingly, what was at stake, the #1 Contendership for the X Division Title seems unimportant compared to seeing these two go at it one on one. There was an ugly hurricanrana by Styles on Lynn, but neither man seemed all that hurt. Lynn finally puts Styles away with his patented piledriver on the stage.
Winner: Jerry Lynn by pinfall. Falls at 1-0 Lynn.
Comment: That was really good. It felt like a main event match and the absence of Ed Ferrara made the commentary tolerable.
Backstage, we find the long-suffering Goldilocks backstage with Storm and Harris. Harris is smoking for some reason, probably another attempt to be edgy. Storm is still doing his goofy cowboy gimmick, which is really annoying. The only person that really seems to be in a good mood, is Goldi, probably because the Dupps aren’t around.
Goldi isn’t a fan of Harris smoking, but she doesn’t complain. Harris is as annoyed with Storm’s behavior as I am. He wants Storm to give up the cowboy gimmick, which he blames for them not being on TV for weeks. (Trust me, dude, you DIDN’T want to be on this show) It’s interesting that TNA shows that tag teams don’t always get along, which is certainly more realistic, without having it lead up to a turn angle.
During this interview, they have a run in with Ron Harris, identical twin of Don Harris, and ‘Primetime’ Brian Lee, an ECW alum. They mock Storm and Harris. The confrontation ends with a challenge of a match, which Storm and Harris accept.
Ron Harris and Brian Lee vs James Storm and Chris Harris
Lee and Harris get a minimal pop. Harris and Storm get a nice pop (Wow, no wonder Lee was the fake Undertaker). This was an okay match compared to the opener. If you’re wanting technical beauty or scientific prowess, you better skip this one. However, both teams worked together very well, with a few awkward spots. Lee almost got a pinfall off a tombstone, but Storm broke it up. A fan, that I hope is a plant, gets a little too handsy with Lee and pays for it with a beatdown. The distraction gives Harris and Storm the opening they need to pin Ron Harris with a roll up.
Winner: James Storm and Chris Harris by pinfall. Afterwards, Lee and Harris argue about Lee beating up the fan, and then attack Harris and Storm from behind to avenge their loss.
Comment: That was a lot better than I thought it would be.
2 Out of 3 Falls: Sonny Siaki vs Jimmy Yang
Siaki is out first, still in his Elvis gear, he’s very popular with the ladies. Yang gets a nice pop, but has to duck because Siaki tries to get a cheap shot in. This is another match that feels like a blow off, though why they didn’t do a two on one handicap match is a little beyond me. That said, this was a really good match that let Yang and Siaki show off their skills.
First Fall: Yang gets the first fall after a Phoenix Splash.
Second Fall: Siaki gets the second fall after a rolling neckbreaker, even though it looks like Yang got his shoulder up.
Rubber Fall: Siaki gets the final fall by using the ropes for leverage.
Winner: Siaki by by pinfall.
Comment: I honestly wish they’d give Siaki a different gimmick. He’s basically the Rock from 1998, if the Rock had no sense of humor, in an Elvis jumpsuit.
Jeff Jarrett comes out, calling out Bob Armstrong, citing his many grievances against the NWA. Before he can go on, Brian Lawler attacks Jarrett. Security tries to separate them, but these two are trying very hard to hit each other. Jarrett seems as perplexed by Lawler’s conduct as everyone else is.
Lawler is in the ring and Goldilocks is given the job of trying to get an interview with Lawler to solve this mystery. Lawler seems willing to answer, but not with Goldilocks there and tells her to leave, because not acting like a jerk is too much to ask. Unfortunately, just as he’s about to reveal his issue with Jarrett, Slash from the New Church appears and attacks Lawler from behind. Apparently, they’re supposed to have a match and it’s starting.
Brian Lawler vs Slash
This was a reasonably okay match. Neither guy is the best wrestler in the world, and Lawler picks a fight with a member of the audience, for some reason, but this match wasn’t awful, however, this just felt like filler and was pretty rough in places, especially on Slash’s end. The psychology is weird. Lawler kept most of his angry, crazy schtick, but he insisted on doing his dance moves and gets the pin off the Hip Hop Drop.
Winner: Brian Lawler by pinfall.
Comment: That happened. I’m not sure why, but it did.
Backstage, Jarrett and Bob Armstrong are arguing about Jarrett’s surprise opponent. It’s kind of hard to understand what’s being said, but Jarrett threatened to take down everyone.
X Division Championship Match: Lo Ki vs Joel Maximo vs Jose Maximo vs Amazing Red
Amazing Red and the Maximos gets a minimal pop, as does Lo Ki. There was certainly no teamwork between Amazing Red and the Maximos. This seems to be a Four Corners Elimination match. Compared to the matches that Styles had as X Division Champion, this was just not a great match. Red and the Maximos seem to be more spot artists than wrestlers and some spots looked like mistakes from a circus act. Lo Ki seems to have forgotten that this is an elimination match and that his best bet is to let the Maximos and Red eliminate each other, because he actually breaks up a pin attempt by one of the Maximos on Amazing Red.
Winner: Lo Ki by pinfall.
Comment: I hope they do something else with this division, because the current field, without Styles, Lynn, Skipper, or the Elvises, is boring. It’s all high spots and almost no wrestling. I don’t mind high spots, but this is wrestling, not a circus act
Backstage, Goldilocks is interviewing Truth and asks him about his match with Monty Brown. Truth’s first response is to call Goldilocks a ‘little hussy’, because that’s the mature and professional way for a grown man to answer a simple question asked by a woman doing her job. He then says that Brown should be kissing his black ass, (his words, not mine). Truth then compares his NWA Title win to Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves.
Truth then says that Brown should be thanking him, but if he wants to take the title, Truth says come and get it because he doesn’t care if you’re black, white, brown, polk-dot (I’m not kidding), you’ll have to kill him to take it.
Before the next match gets started, we get a look at April Hunter, a noted fitness model, who has apparently accepted Bruce’s open challenge and that will happen next week.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Ron ‘Truth’ Killings vs Monty Brown
Brown gets a good pop, as does Truth. This is a pretty historic moment for the NWA. Unfortunately, that’s about the best that can be said for this match. Brown has a lot of power, but not a ton of skill and his selling stinks. The match wasn’t awful, but Brown’s lack of experience is really showing, he’s not ready to be in this big of a match just yet, which makes it seem like this match was done to perhaps wrap up the storyline. Truth finally gets the pinfall after a botched Victory Roll and a roll up
Winner: Ron Killings by pinfall.
Comment: That was a mess. Brown needs a lot more polishing up before being put back in a NWA Title match.
Jarrett runs in and attacks Scott Armstrong, Bob Armstrong’s son, with a steel chair before laying out Brown. Jarrett goes to attack Truth, but Truth attacks first and the two start fighting. The presence of Jarrett brings out Lawler, who promptly joins in the ruckus. Jarrett is surrounded by three men he as either attacked, insulted, or both. Lawler goes to hit Jarrett with the chair, hits Truth instead. Jarrett bails out, leaving Monte Brown in the ring with Truth and Armstrong. This would be a perfect way to get a pin attempt, except that the match is over.
Backstage, Goldi is interviewing Jerry Lynn about his upcoming match with Styles. Lynn says that the two month issue with Styles is going to end tonight. We get a little more insight into the issues between them. Apparently, Styles has been playing head games and pulling ribs on Lynn, which may explain why Lynn has been talking about respect. Lynn admits that Styles has taken everything he’s dished out so far, but the best part about being a veteran is the knowledge you have, and that Styles will respect him. Before the interview can officially end, Styles jumps Lynn from behind.
No Disqualification Match: AJ Styles vs Jerry Lynn
Well, so much for coming to the ring, they’re starting this now. This is really a continuation of the Falls Count Anywhere match from earlier. If I have a gripe about this, it’s that they’re doing all these matches in one night. Ideally, this should be happening over a few weeks or just do the matches back to back instead of splitting them up. There is a botched hurricanrana spot from Lynn to Styles through a table and it’s lucky Styles wasn’t badly hurt because it looked awful.
Winner: Styles by pinfall after a Styles Clash on a steel chair.
Comment: We’re in sudden death.
10 Minute Iron Man Match: AJ Styles vs Jerry Lynn
It’s an Iron Man Match, most decisions after ten minutes wins this thing.
Falls One and Two: AJ Styles by pinfall due to Lynn still being dazed from the No DQ match. 2-0, Styles
Fall Three: Jerry Lynn by pinfall. 2-1, Styles
Fall Four: AJ Styles by pinfall even though Lynn got his shoulder up. 3-1, Styles
Fall Five: Jerry Lynn by pinfall 3-2, Styles
For some reason, Lo Ki comes out, with a ladder, apparently, that’s going to be the match he’ll have with whomever survives this.
Fall Six: Jerry Lynn by pinfall after using the Styles Clash on Styles. We are tied 3-3.
We are under a minute and desperation is sinking in. Both men NEED to break the tie and it shows. Unfortunately, neither man is able to get the final decision. Lo Ki raises both men’s hands, indicating that he’s willing to face both men after the performance they put on, before laying both men out with kicks to the head. Lo Ki then says that if they want a title shot, they’ll receive one, even though that had already been decided, and that the X Division isn’t about AJ Styles or Jerry Lynn, even though they’re the stars of the division, the X Division is about the man who holds the X-Division title, which is Lo Ki. Next week, the title will be decided in a Triple Ladder match, though I THINK he meant Triple Threat Ladder Match. Lo Ki keeps talking and I wish he’d stop because the point’s been made.
Comment: That was a really good match, I just wish it hadn’t felt so rushed and they’d had more time.
Backstage, Scott Armstrong is talking to his father, Bob Armstrong, and Scott is warning his dad about Jarrett and that going up against Jarrett is a bad idea. Goldilocks is trying to keep her mic up so they can catch the conversation, but Scott just keeps getting annoyed with her and tells her to leave because this is family business, despite Bob seemingly having decided to fight Jarrett himself and that this happening in a semi-public area. Finally Goldilocks leaves, but apparently, Jarrett’s new opponent is going to be a sixty year old man.
Jarrett seems to find this very funny and wants Armstrong to reveal the surprise. Well, the opponent is a surprise. It’s a guy, who is clearly NOT Bob Armstrong, but wearing what looks like Armstrong’s old wrestling gear and a really lame mask. Jarrett seems to believe that this is Bob Armstrong and proceeds to beat him up anyway. Jarrett goes to give The Blank the Stroke, but the Blank counters. It finally occurs to Jarrett that this isn’t Bob Armstrong, about the time the real one comes out of the back, wielding a chair…and that’s where the show ends.
Overall Comments: So how was Episode 10 of NWA-TNA? Compared to the last few weeks, this was a really good show. No Dupps, no Jive Talkin’, no Miss TNA challenge, very few interviews, the focus was on the wrestling. It’s unfortunate that Health South had already withdrawn their backing, because this show really showcased the wrestling that the NWA has always prided itself on.
You may have noticed that I referred to a couple of the matches as blowoffs, and that was because this and episode 11 were the last shows TNA would tape before the Health South money ran out, so the shows were taped in one day. That meant that if they didn’t find a new backer, Episodes 10 and 11 would’ve been the last shows of NWA-TNA ever made. Obviously, they found a new backer, but at the time of the taping, they didn’t have one and seemed to be wrapping up the big storylines, just in case the company folded.
My issue with how women, Goldilocks especially (mainly because she’s the only woman on every week), are treated on this show is still there. I’m not sure why the writer(s) seem to find it so difficult to have men answer simple questions asked by a woman who is doing her job, without being jerks. I’m not sure if it’s toxic masculinity, or what, but it’s very irritating to see grown men name-calling a woman for doing her job.
The issue with Jarrett’s storyline wasn’t as prominent this week, but it was still there. The story with Lawler is just odd and seems like a clumsy attempt to remake an old WWE storyline.
We finally got some insight into the Lynn/Styles issues, but it just seems like a too late attempt to make Lynn sympathetic. It would’ve been nice to hear or see the reasons for Lynn’s sudden turn before now rather than having Lynn just randomly turn on his partner and acting like a bitter, jealous, has-been who doesn’t like how the younger guys seem to be leaving him in the dust.
Overall, this was a good show and did a good job of starting to wrap things up if worse came to worse.
Stinkers: Lo Ki vs Amazing Red vs Joel Maximo vs Jose Maximo. It was boring and a circus act more than a wrestling match.
Snoozers: Sonny Siaki vs Jimmy Yang. It was forgettable overall.
Match of the Night: AJ Styles vs Jerry Lynn, all three matches.
Final Thoughts: I enjoyed this show and wish that it hadn’t taken three weeks of awful shows and withdrawal of financial backing to get here.
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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