We’re getting closer to WWE’s annual November tradition the Survivor Series, so today we’re taking a look back at another previous event! We have a new WWF Champion and on top of that, our marquee match has been altered due to The Ultimate Warrior’s release from the company. Changes galore at the top, but could the bottom of this edition of the Survivor Series save it or does the fresh feel negate everything?
Open: Vince McMahon & Bobby Heenan run down our card for the evening from the announce position. Tonight will be a night of firsts as Undertaker battles Kamala in a Coffin Match, while Big Boss Man tries for revenge on Nailz in a Nightstick On A Pole Match. The Brain remarks about Mr. Perfect joining Randy Savage tonight, vowing that Razor Ramon & Ric Flair will be the ones having a “perfect night”.
Match #1: The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu) w/Afa vs. High Energy (‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart & Koko B. Ware)
The Rocket & Samu to get things started, collar & elbow tie-up and Samu uses his power to shove Owen to the canvas. They lock-up and Samu again powers Hart down, a third lock-up and The Rocket gains a side headlock. He gets pushed off to the ropes, both guys collide, Owen recovers and goes back into the ropes, ducking numerous shots and scores with a crossbody for a quick 1 count. Both guys are back up fast, Hart with a dropkick, follows up with an arm drag, then delivers another dropkick and tags out. The Birdman goes to work on the left arm, Samu backs him into the wrong corner and makes a tag, looks to hit a headbutt, but Koko avoids it and Fatu’s drilled instead.
The Birdman with multiple dropkicks for Fatu now, goes to a side headlock, gets sent away to the ropes and counters a back body drop attempt by stomping on the exposed toes. Samu steps in to lend a hand, The Headshrinkers get caught in a double noggin knocker, but it has no affect whatsoever. Koko runs to the ropes and under a double clothesline, Owen tries to come in and distracts the referee, Afa hammering The Birdman in the back with a cane of some kind. The Headshrinkers put a beating on Koko before order’s restored, Fatu with a big slam, Samu with the tag and they connect with a double headbutt.
Samu walks over and baits Hart into the ring, the official working to get Owen back to the apron, The Headshrinkers with a double team beatdown of Koko in the corner. Fatu takes the ring back and rips at The Birdman’s eyes, irish whip to the ropes and he flattens him with a clothesline before tagging back out. Samu utilizes a nerve hold on the trap muscle, Koko with back elbows to get to his feet, gets pushed to the ropes for a back body drop, he hops over it, but turns around into another devastating clothesline. Samu makes a tag and Fatu enters with knees to the abdomen, shoots The Birdman in for a back body drop, Koko counters with a sunset flip and gets a count of 2, but again turns around only to get clocked, this time by a superkick.
Fatu proceeds to bite Koko, tag to Samu and they pummel The Birdman back to the mat, Samu dropping a headbutt for 2. He whips Koko to the corner and charges in for a splash, The Birdman side-steps it and crawls to his corner, getting the hot tag to Owen. The Rocket steps in and catches Samu with a dropkick, Fatu steps in only to get caught with one and Hart is on fire right now. He clears Fatu out of the ring, shoots Samu to the ropes and elevates him with a back body drop before going up top. The Rocket connects with a crossbody, Fatu is back to the break the count at 1, Owen sends him to the ropes and drops him with a spinning heel kick, then turns his attention back to Samu.
Irish whip to the ropes, Samu with the reversal, misses a big haymaker, but catches Hart in a powerslam coming back through. Fatu tags, climbs upstairs and connects with the Headshrinker Splash to put it away.
Winners: The Headshrinkers (Fatu/Headshrinker Splash)
- EA’s Take: A nicely paced opener to a card that will resemble a more traditional WWF PPV and move away from so many Survivor Series elimination matches, which is a plus if you ask me. Owen provides all the fast-paced action while The Headshrinkers assert their power and crazy Samoan style. After working for NWA/WCW, the former Samoan SWAT Team would enter the WWF in 1992, essentially keeping the same gimmick (a new version of The Wild Samoans) with a different name. These members of the famed Samoan Anoa’i family would make a pretty significant impact upon arrival, helping Money Inc. to win the WWF Tag Titles from The Natural Disasters. High Energy was a fun team to watch for their short run, this being their only PPV match as they’d quietly disband in early 1993, Owen embarking on a solo run.
Backstage: In the locker room is Sean Mooney, welcoming in his guest Nailz for comments on the Nightstick On A Pole Match. Nailz talks about waiting for this day for a long time, thinking about it for over 2,000 days in a cell. This time, Boss Man doesn’t have 6 other guards behind him and they know how good of a climber he is. He claims he was punished for crimes he didn’t commit, Big Boss Man will pay for it and learn what it’s like to serve hard time. Gene Okerlund is in the hallway with Big Boss Man, Boss Man talking about the crimes Nailz committed and how he should be serving a life sentence. He’s got a job to do and that’s to make sure trash like Nailz serve hard time. He notices Nailz is in the ring and rushes to the squared circle.
Match #2 – Nightstick On A Pole: Nailz vs. Big Boss Man
Nailz goes up for the nightstick as Boss Man sprints to the ring, the bell dings and we’re underway with Nailz being pulled down from the corner. He reverses an irish whip across, catches Big Boss Man by the throat off the rebound and chokes him on the mat before trying for the nightstick again. Boss Man’s there to prevent it, Nailz goes to the eyes, jabs away with lefts and rights in the corner, whips him across and charges in, meeting double boots to the face. The former corrections officer fires back with right hands, Nailz reversing another whip to the ropes for a big boot, Boss Man ducks under and connects with a haymaker that drops him to his knees.
He eyes the nightstick and makes it to the top rope, Nailz grabs him and slams Boss Man down to the canvas, then cracks him with a backbreaker and chokes him some more. He looks to wear Boss Man out with a chinlock, Big Boss Man finds a rush of adrenaline, fights to his feet, escapes the hold and hits the ropes for a shoulder knockdown. He goes back to the ropes, Nailz explodes up with a clothesline, pulls himself to his feet and climbs for the nightstick, Boss Man grabbing him by the foot and crotching him on the top rope. Big Boss Man to his feet first, grabs Nailz and takes a knee to the breadbasket, Nailz with an irish whip and both guys go down after executing clotheslines.
Boss Man makes his feet first again, climbs up and grabs the nightstick, hammering Nailz in the midsection. He looks to the crowd, Nailz takes the opening with a big right hand, takes the nightstick and turns the tables on Boss Man, pummeling to the mat. He goes for the knockout shot, Big Boss Man ducks it and scores with fists, sends Nailz to the ropes and plants him with a Boss Man Slam to get the 3 count.
Winner: Big Boss Man (Boss Man Slam)
- EA’s Take: This was cleaner than probably any match that ever involved Nailz, but was still a little bit sloppy. You could really tell it took a lot for Boss Man to make anything look decent with this guy, but it was a losing battle. Unfortunately for Boss Man, this was his final push in the WWF as he would mainly be used as an enhancement talent heading into 1993. For Nailz, this would serve as his final WWF PPV appearance after attacking Vince McMahon in his office a few weeks later. Reportedly Nailz was unhappy with his pay for SummerSlam and got violent with Vince, Bret Hart claiming he heard the entire commotion. A number of lawsuits between the parties would follow and Nailz (Kevin Wacholz) would ultimately testify against McMahon in his future steroid-related trial with the federal government, claiming he had been forced to take steroids.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is standing by with Razor Ramon & Ric Flair, showing us video of Randy Savage choosing his partner on Prime Time Wrestling just over a week earlier. The Nature Boy thinks he’s seen enough of that video, wondering what Mr. Perfect is thinking by walking away from the opportunity he had to be in the shadow of greatness. Now, Perfect made a career altering decision and he will answer to The Nature Boy & Razor Ramon. Razor claims two things will happen tonight, proving nobody’s perfect and that only one man in the WWF oozes machismo. If there’s anything left when Flair’s finished, he will carve them up.
Match #3: ‘The Model’ Rick Martel vs. Tatanka
Collar & elbow tie-up to begin, both guys jockeying for position, Martel backs Tatanka into the corner and unwisely slaps him. The Native American turns the tables and fires way with chops, shoots The Model across and elevates him with a back body drop off the rebound, clearing the ring with multiple dropkicks. Martel regroups on the outside, steps back in and gets in Tatanka’s face, poking him in the chest. They shove each other back and forth, The Model tries a kick, gets his foot caught and is split by an atomic drop before being clotheslined back over the top.
The Model takes his time coming back in, buries a knee to the abdomen off the tie-up, attempts to ram Tatanka’s head into the top turnbuckle, it’s blocked and Martel gets driven in. The Native American looks for a whip to the ropes, The Model reverses, drops Tatanka on the top rope with a hot shot, then chokes him with the bottom of his boot. Martel takes control with a front facelock, The Native American works to his feet, lifts The Model in the air and breaks free with a suplex, but is unable to capitalize.
Martel jumps back on the front facelock as Doink The Clown is in the aisle making balloon animals, back to the action and Tatanka gets to his feet again, powers The Model onto the apron. He blocks a right hand, scores with one of his own and flips Martel back inside, again he can’t capitalize and takes a shot to the throat, The Model following with a neckbreaker for a count of 2. He slaps the front facelock back on, Tatanka fades and the official checks the arm, The Native American coming to on the third attempt, powers up and flattens Martel with a clothesline. The Native American builds momentum with overhand chops, The Model reverses a whip to the corner, charges in, Tatanka side-steps and Martel drives his own shoulder into the ring post.
Tatanka now goes to work on the shoulder with a wristlock, The Model sends him away to the ropes, misses a big left hand and gets caught in a backslide for 2, then taken to the mat with an armdrag. The Native American utilizing an armbar, Martel works back up and sends him to the ropes again, uses Tatanka’s own momentum and tosses him over the top to the floor. The Model sneaks outside and drives The Native American’s lower back into the apron, pulls him back inside by the hair, then continues to punish the lower spine with knees.
Irish whip to the ropes, Martel goes to the ribs with a right hand, climbs to the 2nd rope for a double axe handle, Tatanka catches him with an abdomen shot in return. He gets the momentum rolling with knife-edge chops, does his war dance and slams The Model to the mat before going up top. He connects with an overhand chop, shoots Martel into the ropes and plants him with End Of The Trail to remain undefeated.
Winner: Tatanka (End Of The Trail)
- EA’s Take: Nothing too exciting, I’d only describe this match as solid. The storyline was not very interesting either, The Model had previously stolen Tatanka’s “sacred eagle feather” to add to his wardrobe as some kind of fashion statement. The Native American would reclaim the feather here and continue his on-television undefeated streak (he actually had lost to Martel back in June, but it was not televised or talked about), putting an end to his long feud with Martel. The Model would start to take on lower-card status for a few months, while Tatanka’s push and streak would continue into 1993, earning his first championship shot along the way.
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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