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.
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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