Another week of classic NWA TNA featuring Jeff Jarrett, R-Truth, James Storm, and Jerry Lynn versus AJ Styles!
This week, the tournament to determine a new #1 Contender for the NWA Championship continues. Ron Killings makes a surprising offer to Mr. Wrestling III. Jeff Jarrett’s response to the Mr. Wrestling rumors surprises everyone. The saga of Sean Waltman/Brian Lawler/April continues. America’s Most Wanted take on the New Church, and Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles clash again over the X-Division title.
How did they do? Let’s find out!
We start out with a recap of the NWA’s anniversary show, which actually looked like a lot of fun. Jorge Estrada won the North American Championship on that show.
Back in the Asylum, the long-suffering Goldylocks has the job of interviewing the newly reunited Rainbow Express. Lenny’s back and sucking on a Dum-Dum sucker like he has nothing better to do. Goldy wants to talk about the issue with Estrada and Priscilla, but Bruce wants the cameraman to look at his lovely iridescent boots.
Goldy jokingly asks if she can borrow them sometime, but Bruce, cattily, says no. Goldy replies that the backstage comments about Bruce being a bitch are true, to Bruce and Lenny’s shock.
Goldy asks about the Rainbow Express being back together, slightly mocking their issues. Bruce admitted that he and Lenny had fought but have made up. Furthermore, he decrees that Lenny is the Miss TNA Runner-Up, and so will get the Miss TNA tiara and sash if Bruce can’t continue.
Jorge Estrada (with Priscilla) vs Bruce (with Lenny)
Estrada and Priscilla come out, but they don’t have a lot of chemistry. However, Estrada is gentleman enough to open the ropes for her. Bruce and Lenny come out with Lenny basically fellating a banana.
This was an okay match. The biggest problem is that, without Siaki and Yang to cover for him, Estrada was exposed as not being a good wrestler. Bruce is a good wrestler, but his gimmick really obscures this.
That said, there were a lot of highlights, including Estrada suplexing Lenny and Bruce and the same time and nearly getting a pinfall. However, he BADLY botched a hurricanrana on Bruce onto the floor and nearly knocked himself out. Another…highlight was Estrada hitting a back suplex on Bruce, but his hand lands on Bruce’s crotch in the pinfall, and Estrada QUICKLY moved it away.
This is one of those feuds where it’s not clear what they’re fighting about or what the plan for this is and that was clear with the ending: Lenny chases Priscilla because Priscilla had gotten in the ring. Estrada takes both members of Rainbow Express out. Bruce gets mad at Lenny, who was doing his job and starts chasing and threatening Priscilla. As he chasing her, he slips on the peel of the banana Lenny had been fellating and knocked himself out (yes, I’m serious) leading to a countout win for Estrada.
Winner: Jorge Estrada by countout.
Now here is where things get odd. Under the new rules the NWA laid down last week, because Bruce got counted out, by right, his Miss TNA regalia should go to Estrada. Estrada give the stuff to Priscilla, but Lenny takes them back and we’re told that because Bruce didn’t DELIBERATELY get himself counted out, he’s still Miss TNA. Which is a nice caveat.
Comment: Bleh match, stupid finish.
Backstage, the woes of Goldylocks continue, as she’s stuck interviewing Sonny Siaki, who is right up in her space. Goldy’s not happy about this but tries to be professional and asks about the tournament. Sonny Siaki, still with the Rock ripoff gimmick, claims to be the past, present, and future of TNA and that he’s the start. Turning his attention to BG James, he calls him ‘Goofy’ and vows to be the victor. Turning his attention to Goldy, he claims that he knows that she bid on him in a silent auction to raise money for the D.C. Sniper Fund. Goldy looks repulsed by the idea, and her repulsion seems to grow when Siaki promises to show her some love after he beats BG James.
#1 Contender’s Tournament Round 2
Sonny Siaki vs BG James
Siaki comes out to very little reaction. James comes out to a better reaction and does his usual schtick, but Siaki gets the jump on James in the ring and it’s on!
Siaki is really coming into his own as a competitor, but it’s clear that James is past his prime. Siaki targets James’ knee, using kicks and a stretch muffler to try and get the victory. It actually looked like Siaki was going to advance, until Jerry Lynn showed up and distracted him. Siaki seemed to work through it until he went for his Money Clip. James countered it into a pumphandle slam for the win.
Winner: BG James by pinfall.
Comment: Eh this match was ‘eh’. Siaki really should have advanced, but it looks like they’re going with the Lynn/Siaki feud for now.
Backstage, Goldylocks is with Storm and Harris, who are in VERY bad moods. Goldy, trying to maintain some peace, seems to want to bring in James Mitchell there for a face to face segment, but Harris yells at her that if she wants Mitchell, she can go find him, but if she wants to deal with America’s Most Wanted, she going to deal with them.
Harris goes on to say that America’s Most Wanted are done dealing with this shit and will do what they want, when they want. He comments about how the New Church claims to be evil, but Harris says there’s evil in all of them and vows to go crazy on the New Church.
Storm has dropped the goofy cowboy gimmick and vows that they will destroy the New Church. He starts to us the cowboy whoop, but drops it for ‘Sorry about your damn luck!’.
Now THIS AMW I can get behind.
NWA Tag Team Championship Match
America’s Most Wanted vs New Church (with James Mitchell)
New Church comes out first. Mitchell gets on the mic and warns AMW that blood will flow because AMW didn’t learn their lesson from last week.
AMW wasn’t in the mood to play and the match started out on the floor. AMW dominate the brawl and when the match finally gets to the ring, Slash is bleeding BADLY. I’m guessing he over did the blading.
There’s a lot of back and forth in this match, but I can’t say that Slash and Lee are much better than Slash and Malice or Slash and Cobain were.
AMW would pull out the win by DQ after Lee was caught using a spike on Storm, but not until after Slash and Harris were both bleeding badly. A furious Mitchell ordered Slash and Malice to attack Harris and Storm. It took a whole lot of very brave security guards and Bob Armstrong to get things calmed down.
Winner: America’s Most Wanted by DQ.
Comment: Okay match, I’m glad Harris and Storm are getting into the AMW characters.
#1 Contender’s Tournament
Brian Lawler (with April) vs Syxx-Pac
Lawler and April came out first looking very smitten and happy. The fans were having it and insulted April, to Lawler’s dismay. Lawler pulled out a chair for April and put down his jacket so she wouldn’t get dirt on her lovely outfit. Waltman came out next and Lawler got the jump on him.
This was a really good match, even though Lawler was still distracted by April. April, for her part, seemed to either be playing mind games with Lawler and Waltman, seeming to try to get Lawler to not hurt him, which didn’t really help. Waltman turns the tide by dodging a Hip Hop Drop. Waltman’s hip was still bothering him, so he did a…modified Bronco Buster.
To further add fuel to the fire, Waltman went out and kissed April, which pissed Lawler off. Lawler attacked Waltman and then called April over, where he pulled her up on the apron by the hair and called her an extremely vulgar name.
Ew, are we really back to this?
Lawler’s distraction proved to be what Waltman needed. He got a low-blow in and the pin off a powerbomb. Having won the match and advanced in the tournament, Waltman takes off, with April in tow, and she wasn’t resisting.
Winner: Sean Waltman by pinfall.
Lawler was absolutely beside himself at losing his girlfriend again, and resorts to sleaze to win her back. He faked a heart attack in the ring so badly, Fred Sanford would’ve called it fake. Fortunately, for him, April fell for it and ran back to check on him.
Comment: This was actually a really good match for both guys, but the April thing is back to being cringey.
As the refs ‘check’ on Lawler, Tenay and West show us a pre-taped interview with Ron Killings. Killings and Tenay are talking and Killings, who was not ranting and raving about conspiracy theories, told Tenay that Tenay was the only person in TNA that he trusted. With that in mind, he addressed the Mr. Wrestling III situation and said that Mr. Wrestling had gotten him, so he offered Mr. Wrestling a contract for a title match with Killings. All Mr. Wrestling had to do was contact Tenay and sign the contract.
Killings also said that he found it odd that Bob Armstong signed off on the contract almost immediately, when it usually took a fight to get him and the NWA to agree to anything. However, he repeated that he had signed the contract and if Mr. Wrestling contacted Tenay and signed the contract, he would get the match.
Back in the Asylum, a visibly pissed Jeff Jarrett. As Jarrett paced the ring, Tenay and West repeat the rumors that Jeff Jarrett was Mr. Wrestling III, despite the fact that Jarrett and Mr. Wrestling III had been in the ring together.
Jarrett, politely, asked Tenay to come into the ring. While he waited, Jarrett called Killings an idiot for offering Mr. Wrestling a title shot. After Tenay got into the ring, with the contract, Jarrett addressed the rumors of him being Mr. Wrestling III.
Tenay, sensing a confession, confirmed that those rumors were going around and offered the contract and the offer Killings made.
Jarrett read over the contract and repeated the terms of the contract. Just when it seemed that the mystery was going to be solve, Jarrett tore up the contract in disgust.
I’m not going to lie, I cheered, and so did the rest of the crowd.
Jarrett repeated that he’d been waiting 20 weeks, five months, to get the title shot he deserved. He then said that he’d be damned if someone else was going to take the backdoor way. He then vowed that in two weeks, he was going to walk out of the tournament as NWA champion before storming out.
Tenay came back to the announce table and assured everyone that he had another copy of the contract and that the offer to Mr. Wrestling was still good.
Elimination Table #1 Contender’s Match for the X-Division Championship
Kid Kash vs Tony Mamaluke vs Joel Maximo vs Jose Maximo vs Ace Steel (with Mortimer Plumtree)
Another week, another #1 Contender’s Match and the usual suspects, minus Amazing Red, are all assembled. Rules are simple, and for once, TNA didn’t try to over complicate the rules.
One odd moment was that the match actually started before Ace Steel and Mortimer Plumtree were announced, which left the funny visual of Jeremy Borash announcing Steel while the other four competitors fought around him, and then bailing out.
The match started out in the usual way for this bunch, lots of high spots and flips, not a lot of actual wrestling. Kash was still the highlight of the match. Mamaluke tried to show off his wrestling skills, but a Table Match wasn’t a great place to show off a submission hold. Steel’s alliance with Plumtree, and Plumtree’s constant interference made an alliance between the other four competitors almost inevitable.
Mamaluke wasn’t a standout in the match, but he got the credit for eliminating Ace Steel by suplexing him through a table in the corner. Steel’s head was the on thing that ACTUALLY went through the table, but, much like Big Show’s foot years later, what counted was that some part of Steel’s body had been put through a table.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the hated Steel and meddling Plumtree didn’t buy Mamaluke much time. Kash and the Maximos teamed up to take out Mamaluke and he was moonsaulted through a table by Joel Maximo.
Once it came down to the final three, there was no honor among thieves. Kash and the Maximos duked it out. Kash would get the victory by hitting a hurricanrana on Joel Maximo through Jose Maximo through a table.
Winner: Kid Kash by eliminating the Maximos.
Comment: Really good match. Glad to see Kash finally get a push.
Jeff Jarrett vs Curt Hennig
Jarret came back out and announced that no one had seen Hennig all day. Jarrett clappedback at Hennig’s jibes about his and Jarrett’s history. That first match that they had in the Asylum when Jarrett was a rookie? What Hennig didn’t mention is that Jarrett nearly beat Hennig for the AWA Title when he was on 19.
As for the cracks about Double J and the Chosen one, Jarrett reminded ‘Mr. Perfect’ of a few little details: He was a 7x WWF Intercontinental Champion as Double J. The ‘Chosen One’ was a 4x WCW World Heavyweight Champion, something Hennig never became. Jarrett claimed that after the embarrassing defeat last week. He then demanded that the ref ring the bell to give him the match since Hennig wasn’t there.
Hennig did show up, through the crowd and not dressed to wrestle. The ‘match’ was really a lame-ish brawl that featured Jarrett selling his butt off to Hennig’s visibly weak punching. When Scott Armstrong tried to convince Hennig to get into the ring, Hennig shoved him to the floor. Jarrett fought back but spent most of the brawl as a punching bag. A second ref sent to take control of the situation was laid out with a chairshot to the head. After Hennig hit three Perfect-plexes in a row, a third ref came out and called for the bell. Hennig was disqualified due to laying his hands on two refs. Bob Armstrong comes out to check on his son, but the drama is over for now.
Winner: Jeff Jarrett by disqualification
Comment: Honestly, they need to get rid of Hennig. It’s sad to see him such a mess and it gets worse every week. The best that can be said for this week’s performance is that he looked sober.
Don West gave us his weekly ‘Please tune in so we stay employed’ sell and it’s time for the main event.
X-Division Championship Match
AJ Styles (with Mortimer Plumtree) vs Jerry Lynn
I should note that I’m not really sure why Lynn got this match since Kid Kash was the number one contender.
Both men got really great pops, in Styles’ case, it was despite Plumtree.
The match got off to a slow start with some basic wrestling moves and the usual jockeying, which was stymied by the fact that Styles and Lynn had been tag team partners and rivals for nearly five months and knew each other’s moves very well.
Plumtree was starting to show his usefulness as a manager, doing all the heel manager things: distracting the ref, attacking the babyface, etc. If Styles wasn’t so over due to his amazing talent, this would’ve been a better fit.
It looked like karma was going to bite Lynn in the ass. Sonny Siaki came out and distracted Lynn before being sent to the back. Unfortunately for Styles, the distraction didn’t work as Lynn kicked out of the Styles Clash. It would take a tombstone piledrive, but we had a NEW X-Division Champion! The show closes with Lynn celebrating.
Winner: Jerry Lynn by pinfall.
Comment: That was a really good match, but it sucks that Styles’ second title reign only lasted a few weeks.
Overall Comment: So how was Week 20 of TNA? Actually, this was a really good show. There were some blah matches and moments, but it was an overall good show. Most of the matches had a purpose and the storylines got moved forward.
It seems that TNA has decided what to do with Jarrett. He went from being the top heel to being super over due to the fact that he’s incredibly talented. It doesn’t mean he’s likeable, but the fans have finally rallied around him. For all his complaining and sneakiness, Jarrett showed an honorable streak that a lot fans respected. He refused to take the easy way out and claim to be Mr. Wrestling III, even though it would’ve given him a guaranteed shot at Killings, rather than going through the tournament.
I’ve been despairing over the Hennig/Jarrett feud, mostly because Hennig’s visible decline, but this week’s promo was really great. Hennig had been mocking Jarrett’s previous gimmicks, making him seem like a nobody, so to hear Jarrett clap back and remind Hennig of his own silly gimmick and what Jarrett’s gimmicks had actually been reasonably successful.
The women issue is still ongoing and still frustrating. The Sonny Siaki/Goldylocks thing seems to be an attempt at copying the Rock/Lilian Garcia interactions in WWE, but Sonny Siaki has none of Rock’s charm and humor, which makes the segments with Goldylocks very creepy. Add in the fact that Goldylocks is less willing to put up with his antics than Garcia was with Rock, and the segments become incredibly uncomfortable to watch.
The storyline with April seems to have gotten a little lost. Who is she siding with? Lawler or Waltman? TNA can’t seem to decide if she’s the instigator of this whole thing or if she’s a victim. Lawler’s terrible acting didn’t help the situation and the faked heart attack was just…no.
I’m getting a little bored with a new #1 Contender match every week for the X-Division that basically features the same people over and over. I realize that the division is small, but it’s getting boring and there haven’t been any real breakout stars other than Lynn and Styles.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this show and hope the trend continues.
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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