This week, TNA deals with the controversial finish of the X-Division Championship. Jorge Estrada looks to get some revenge on Sonny Siaki. AJ Styles looks to reclaim his X-Division Championship from Syxx-Pac, and Ron Killings has a date with ‘perfection’. How do they do? Let’s find out!
We start out with Tenay and West hyping up the show and giving us a rundown of tonight’s card, which isn’t sounding promising, but we’re getting an actual video package, so TNA is stepping up a little.
After that, we head to the back where Goldylocks is talking to Jorge Estrada, though what they’re saying is a bit of a mystery since the audio isn’t working. When the sound comes back, Goldy is asking Estrada about how he’s going to deal with former frenemie, and partner, Sonny Siaki. Estrada admits that the Elvises have had their issues, but they’re still going strong, they’re even getting a valet and her name is…Priscilla!
Priscilla looks like one of Godfather’s ladies from WWE. Estrada then announces that he’s holding auditions for a new member for the Flying Elvises.
While this is going on, the door behind Goldylocks and Estrada opens and Syxx-Pac comes out. Then Goldy is accosted by Brian Lawler. Apparently, Lawler has misplaced his girlfriend again and vows to hold Goldylocks responsible if something happens to her, though why it’s Goldy’s problem is anyone’s guess other than the fact that she’s the only other woman on TNA.
Anyway, as Estrada tries to finish up his promo, the door behind them opens again and April comes out. Hmm.
David Young vs Brian Lawler: Young barely gets a reaction, or maybe his entrance music is too loud. Lawler comes out alone and pissed, guess April was in no hurry to go out to the ring with him. Or maybe not, April runs out and tries to explain where she’s been while Lawler yells at her. She even has her purse with her. Lawler grabs her and yells at her before making her sit at ringside. The crowd is not liking this, which makes for a dangerous situation.
When the match finally got underway, it was okay, though there were some ‘WTF’ spots, such as Lawler being dumped out of the ring and landing face first in April’s lap, which she was NOT happy about.
That one eyebrow raising moment aside, this match wasn’t much to write home about. Lawler kept getting distracted by the crowd and April, who looked more and more disgusted as things went out. Sadly, Young, who seems to be a legit talent is basically served up for scraps to Lawler.
Lawler would pull this match out after a timely distraction from April that keeps Young from hitting whatever top rope move he had planned, allowing Lawler to hit a Scorpion Death Drop off the ropes. Oddly, even though she helped her guy win, April doesn’t seem very happy.
Winner: Brian Lawler by pinfall.
We get a recap of Lynn/Siaki issue. Jerry Lynn comes to the ring and cuts a promo on Siaki. While Lynn doesn’t blame Siaki for his (Lynn’s) knee getting reinjured last week, he promises that Siaki will suffer a lot worse during their match next week. He says that Siaki is exactly what’s wrong with the business: He wants everything but doesn’t want to earn it. Lynn promises to be a nasty reality check on what it takes to make it in the wrestling business.
Siaki comes out, and says that, unlike Lynn, he’s going to be a big star in the business and won’t be a mid-carder for almost two decades. Sonny Siaki is life. Lynn is decidedly NOT impressed and points out that after life is death. Well, that started it. A brawl breaks out with Siaki targeting Lynn’s bad knee. It takes the whole X-Division to pull Siaki off him. Lynn isn’t deterred and attacks Siaki and the X-Division, bad knee and all. Security comes out and does a half-assed job of keeping them apart.
Finally, Bob Armstrong, the most out of touch man in wrestling, comes out to bring order to this mess. Finally, Don Harris comes in and physically throws Siaki out of the ring.
We go to an pre-recorded interview that Tenay did with Syxx-Pac. Tenay discusses Pac’s career and points out that Pac was X-Division before the term existed.
That’s because they were called ‘Cruiserweights’, Mike. Those have been around for a long time.
Pac, for his part, sings the praises of the X-Division, calling them the best in the world of wrestling. He also claims that he’s not there to recreate the NWO or DX, he’s there to perform and wrestle. Tenay praises Pac’s maturity in the way he’s behaving and Waltman says that he’s willing to own up when he does something wrong. He also vows to walk out as X-Division Champion.
All joking aside, Waltman comes across as very intelligent and articulate in this interview. If you just know Waltman from his DX or NWO days, or his substance issues, this interview is a real eye-opener.
Back in the ring, order has been restored and it’s time for our next match.
Sonny Siaki vs Jorge Estrada: Siaki comes out to a mediocre reaction. The fans don’t even want to boo him very loudly. Estrada and Priscilla come out next to even less reaction.
The match was okay, but the crowd didn’t seem hugely invested, probably because TNA had let the breakup of the Elvises die down in favor of the Siaki/Lynn feud. Siaki would get the win with his Money Clip after Estrada missed a double axe handle off the top turnbuckle.
Winner: Sonny Siaki by pinfall.
After the match, Siaki is leaving when he’s attacked by Jerry Lynn. Security and X-Division comes out to break it up, but they might as well just let them fight.
Derek Wyld vs Ace Steel (with Mortimer Plumtree): Wyld gets a good pop, as does Ace Steel. Plumtree sticks out like a sore, uber nerdy, very creepy, thumb.
This match was pretty good. Wyld was definitely the star, but there were botches for everyone. I’m guessing that someone figured that putting Plumtree with Steel would make Steel a bigger deal…except that Steel isn’t that good and Wyld nearly broke his back trying to carry him.
Steel picks up the win with a Widow’s peak and gets a hug from Plumtree.
Winner: Ace Steel by pinfall.
Back to the ring, it’s time for our next match.
Bruce and Jeff Jarrett vs BG James and Hermie Sadler: Bruce comes out first in his lovely dress. He actually seems to have fans that are either trolling, or like the dress. Jarrett gets a pretty good pop. James and Sadler come out and try to out redneck and cringe each other with this promo that includes Sadler vowing to run Bruce over and use of the word ‘homo’. Jarrett gets on the mic and tells Sadler that his next career will be in movies, starring in ‘The Last and the Furious’
Wow. What a show of wit. *slow clap*
With those pleasantries out of the way, this match gets going.
It’s not often that I feel sorry for a heel, but poor Jeff Jarrett for having to carry this nonsense. Bruce is a pretty okay wrestler, but his gimmick overshadows his talent, James is past his prime and not a great wrestler to start with, and Sadler is a NASCAR driver they keep bringing in.
One funny highlight is James debating on whether to do his borderline low blow on Bruce and thinking better of it. Other than that, this match was just blah. Jarrett was getting cheered by people in the crowd when he hit a move.
Eventually, it comes down to Sadler and Bruce and Sadler shows that he’s at least gotten some training to wrestle. James and Jarrett are brawling on the ramp when Lawler comes out and ‘nails’ James with a trashcan. Security comes in to break things up.
Sadler’s inexperience in the ring shows in the finish. He was supposed to roll up Bruce for the pin, but forgot to grab Bruce’s legs, so Bruce had to basically dry hump Sadler to get him to do the move right.
Winner: BG James and Hermie Sadler.
Comment: Holy. Shit. I hope Jarrett and Bruce got a bonus for doing that match.
Jarrett is livid over the loss and he and Bruce argue with the ref while Sadler and Security help James out. Jarrett gets into it with Bruce, who makes the ref put his tiara on him and asks for Jarrett’s opinion and a hug. Jarrett hits Bruce with a low blow and the Stroke to the joy of the crowd.
Norman Smiley vs Ron Harris: Norman Smiley, last seen getting beat up by Ron Killings is out next. Harris barely gets a reaction. He seems to have given up on finding a suitable tag team partner.
This match wasn’t much to write home about. It was very slow and awkward on both sides. Harris did finally manage to hit that big boot and not have it look stupid as hell.
Harris finally ends this by hitting a sidewalk slam for the pinfall.
Winner: Ron Harris by pinfall.
Afterwards, Harris beats up on Smiley some more, but something in Smiley snaps and he goes berserk. Ron has to be saved by security and brother Don, which doesn’t make either man very happy.
NWA Tag Team Championship Match: Chris Harris and James Storm vs Rick and Chris Michaels: The Michaels come out to little pop. Harris and Storm get a great pop.
This match was pretty standard for Storm and Harris at this point: Storm starts, gets the heat on him, Harris makes the save. Pretty standard babyface stuff, except that that formula doesn’t compute when Storm and Harris are bigger than their opponents.
To their credit, Storm and Harris break out some planchas and dives to keep up, but it’s hard to buy the Michaels as threats or Storm and Harris as babyface underdogs. This match should be a squash, but it’s not and that’s frustrating.
Harris hits his Catatonic finisher and this one is finally over.
Winner: Storm and Harris by pinfall.
Comment: This match wasn’t great, but it’s the best one they’ve had so far tonight.
After the match, the Hot Shots run in and attack Storm and Harris, and the incensed Michaels join in. Out come Security to break up another fight. At least someone’s earning their check tonight.
X-Division Championship: Syxx-Pac vs AJ Styles: Plumtree comes out and it turns out that Styles is his other new client. Personally, I thought Styles had better sense. ANYWAY, despite the promise, or threat, of yet ANOTHER NWA ladder match, this is actually going to be a straight fall match, thank God.
Syxx gets a great reaction and looks focused.
This match was really good, not that I had the bar set very high, Pac had definitely slowed down since his Lightning Kid days, but he was still able to keep up with Styles and put on a good match.
Plumtree kept interfering, trying to be a nerdy Heenan, but not nearly as funny or charming. Pac was starting to get winded and shoved the referee when the ref tried to get him and Styles out of the corner, causing a DQ.
Winner: AJ Styles by DQ.
Comment: That end was awkward, but it’s clear that Pac was sucking air like there was no tomorrow. Overall, it was a great match.
Don West does his ‘PLEASE! Tune in next week so I can keep buying these ugly silk shirts!’ promos.
Tenay was a busy man before the show, he had a sit-down with Curt Hennig. Hennig talks about his days in the AWA, which had been defunct for over a decade by that point, and says that’s where he first became a heavyweight champion, though I believe that’s also the only major territory where he was a heavyweight champion. Anyway, Hennig says that he learned about wrestling in the AWA, but he’s hasn’t seen a lot of wrestling anymore, except in TNA and vows to be come NWA Champion.
Way to burn that bridge, Curt.
Killings comes out before the match and he’s angry at the TNA board. He claims that they promised him that he could give title shots to minority wrestlers and that promise hasn’t lasted, though Killings doesn’t seem to realize that there aren’t that many minorities in TNA, and most of them are in the X-Division that he doesn’t like, so he probably wouldn’t get them shots anyway. ANYHOW, after more complaining about the ‘punk ass cowards’ that run TNA, Killings vows to show Hennig that he’s the ‘Suntan Superman’.
Hennig comes out and gives Killings some ‘advice’: Respect is a word he needs to learn.
NWA Heavyweight Championship: Ron Killings vs Curt Hennig: This match was boring right from the start. Hennig’s age and the fact that his peak years were a decade in the past were really on display here. That was really sad because there was a group of guys, who probably grew up watching Hennig, on the ramp watching the match.
The match went from boring to run in city when the hooded guy, now going by Mr. Wrestling III runs in and attacks Killings. Hennig tries to get him out of the ring and is attack, then half the locker runs out and either attacks Hennig or Killings or attacks the guys attacking Killings or Hennig.
Bob Armstrong comes in to restore order and restart the match. Killings isn’t happy about that and throws Scott Armstrong around, and hits Borash and Bob Armstrong. Unfazed, Bob Armstrong gives Killings a choice: Either restart the match and win or lose it or get counted out and be stripped of the title. Killings agrees but Jarrett sneaks in and hits a low-blow on Hennig, which lets Killings get the pinfall.
Winner: Ron Killings by pinfall.
Comment: That was painful to watch.
Overall Comments: This show STUNK! There’s no beating around the bush about it. I usually try to find something nice to say about every show, but the complete mediocrity of the matches and the storytelling made that impossible.
Due to almost every match being mediocre and/or having botches, I can’t choose which one stunk the most. Estrada vs Siaki gets an honorable mention for trying to restart an abandoned storyline, but the match fell flat.
The Lawler/April storyline is one I’m increasingly uncomfortable with. It would be one thing if they had stuck with the original storyline with her manipulating him, but it’s clear that she, at least in kayfabe, doesn’t like him, which raises uncomfortable questions as to why she’s there.
What is going on with Jeff Jarrett? He’s still in the World Championship storyline but has not been in a World Title match. Instead, he’s stuck trying to carry everyone else. Someone needs to figure out something for Jarrett to do because it’s hurting him to be the most talented guy on the roster and not be in any title conversation. Put him in the X-Division or something.
Match of the Night: AJ Styles vs Syxx Pac.
Final Thoughts: I’ve watched ahead a couple of years, I know this gets better, I just wish they’d hurry it up.
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.
Attitude Of Aggression #275- The Big Four Project Chapter 3: Royal Rumble ’88 & WrestleMania IV
The Attitude Of Aggression returns for Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project, a chronological analysis, review, and discussion about WWE’s Big Four PPVs/ Premium Live Events. On this Episode, Dave welcomes back the one and only PC Tunney to discuss two more immensely important events in pro wrestling history, the inaugural Royal Rumble and WrestleMania IV. The 1988 Royal Rumble was different than any other Rumble in history and not just because it was the first. Dave and Tunney break down the fascinating history of the first installment of an event that would evolve into an annual favorite for many in the WWE Universe. From there, the guys recap the surreal events that led to the end of Hulk Hogan’s 4-year reign as WWF Champion and set the stage for, arguably, the most important tournament in WWE History at WrestleMania IV. Macho Madness reached new heights that night. But was Savage the first choice of Vince McMahon to emerge from Atlantic City with the gold that night? We have the whole story for you here on Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project!
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