Open: Much like the past two Starrcade PPVs, a “Lethal Lottery” will randomly pair competitors together for preliminary tag team matches. The two winners from each match will be placed in the main event Battle Royal, with the last man standing being crowned the winner of BattleBowl. ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund & FiFi will be drawing the names tonight.
Match #1: WCW World Heavyweight Champion Big Van Vader & Cactus Jack w/Harley Race vs. Charlie Norris & Kane
Vader and Jack are not interested in getting along and they brawl on the entrance ramp before their opponents can even get to the ring. Race tries to get things under control. Kane comes in from behind and helps out Vader. Norris rushes down and he’s greeted with headbutts from the champ. Norris is tossed off the ramp while Kane and Jack duke it out between the ropes. Jack throws him into the turnbuckle. Outside, Race reminds Vader that he can’t go to BattleBowl if he doesn’t work together. Kane is dumped to the floor and Vader hits him with rights. Jack cuts Vader off from behind as this is his man.
He dumps Kane inside and Race is caught in between the foes who are forced to partner. Inside, a scoop slam by Kane on Jack and a tag is made to Norris. Big forearm and a whip to the ropes, Norris kicking Jack in the face. Jack comes back with headbutts, Vader reaches for a tag and Jack reluctantly obliges. Standing clothesline by the champ followed by a scoop slam. Vader to the 2nd rope and he hits a big splash. Norris is dumped to the floor and Vader follows. He holds Norris in place and lets Jack somersault to the floor. Back in the ring, Vader sends Norris down with all his weight. Tag is made to Jack who hits a leg drop.
He hooks the leg and Norris kicks out. He tries again, another kick out. Belly to back suplex by Jack and Kane forces the break. Norris is up first and he makes the tag. Kane clubs Jack over the back of the head, sends him to the ropes and hits a clothesline. Vader tries to sneak in, and he exchanges blows with Kane. Jack sends him for a back drop but it’s reversed with a boot. Tag is made to Norris who hits a vertical suplex on Jack. Norris hits a big boot and Jack tumbles to the floor. Kane attacks him on the outside, introducing Jack to the railing. Cactus rolls back in and eats some karate chops and a snap mare into a reverse chin lock from Norris.
Vader comes in to break the hold. A tag is made to Kane, Jack ducks an elbow an plants him with a double arm DDT. Both are slow to get up and tags are made. Norris with a chop from the top rope. He rushes the champ, but he’s too big and strong. Vader with a running splash and he calls for the power bomb. He lands it, Jack prevents Kane from interfering and the enemies move on together, staring each other down as their arms are raised.
Winners: Big Van Vader & Cactus Jack (Vader/Powerbomb)
- EA’s Take: If you were going to put foes together as a team, this was a good choice to kick the show off. Norris was sloppy, sloppy, sloppy on multiple spots in this one, just one of a few good indications why he never got off the ground. Pretty unusual that Vader is opening your show here, but anything’s possible with BatleBowl, right? At least that’s the premise.
Match #2: WCW World Tag Team Champion Brian Knobs & Johnny B. Badd w/Missy Hyatt vs. Paul Roma & Erik Watts
Knobs and Hyatt lecture Badd, they want to see what he has so he’ll start against Roma. Collar and elbow, they circle and it’s broken on the ropes. Knobs is still on Badd’s case. Collar and elbow, side headlock by Badd, to the ropes, and neither can land a hip toss as they dance around with reversals. Collar and elbow, headlock by Badd, to the ropes, shoulder block by Badd. Roma leapfrogs, but down he goes with an arm drag. Badd cranks the wrist, Roma with a knee to the midsection.
Rights from the Horseman and to the ropes they go. Leap frog and a duck down before another arm drag by Badd. Knobs won’t get out of his ear and he’s tagged in. He ambushes Roma and throws him into the turnbuckle. To the ropes for a big clothesline, and he tells Badd that’s how you get aggressive. Forearm shots by the Nasty Boy. Roma ducks an elbow and gets Knobs with a back drop and a scoop slam. Standing drop kick and a tag is made to Watts who delivers a big knee and drop kicks him to the floor. Knobs rolls in and tags Badd. They shake hands and lock up, hammerlock by Badd quickly reversed but Badd scores with a hip toss. Double leg into a bridge by Badd and Watts kicks out at two.
Watts is up quickly and he grabs an arm bar before tagging Roma who comes off the top with an ax. Roma with a hammerlock/scoop slam combo and another quick tag is made. Double ax handle by Watts who stays on the wrist. An Irish whip but Badd moves out of the way. Carry over by Badd and a tag is made to Knobs. Watts is sent to the corner, an Irish whip with a follow up clothesline by Knobs who then drops an elbow. Forearm shots by Knobs. They hit the ropes and Watts avoids the clotheslines with two arm drags. Knobs goes to the eyes and tags in Badd. Collar and elbow, side headlock to the ropes. Badd avoids contact and hits a drop toe hold. Watts reverses the hammerlock on the mat.
Tag is made to Roma and they send Badd for a double elbow. Lateral press and Badd kicks out. To the ropes again and it’s Roma with a scoop slam. Missy Hyatt runs a distraction on the apron to avoid a pin being made. Side headlock takedown by Badd and he hangs onto it. Roma breaks it with elbows to the back of the head. To the ropes and Knobs trips Roma from the floor. Badd is hesitant to take advantage of it. Badd tags in Knobs who has no problem stomping away. He rolls him to the floor and the ref backs Watts back to his corner when he checks on his partner. Hyatt instructs Badd to cheapshot Roma but he doesn’t do it. Roma rolls back in and Knobs hits a vertical suplex. Roma kicks out at two.
Knobs locks in an abdominal stretch and tags in Badd. Johnny with a side head lock, he sends Roma for the ride and they collide with shoulder blocks. Badd is up first and he tags in Knobs. Scoop slam to Roma and he says this match is finished. To the 2nd rope, he tries a splash and Roma gets the boot up. Roma is blocked from making the tag and he hits an enzigure. He’s able to tag Watts who sends Knobs for an elbow, a clothesline and a scoop slam. Watts with a big elbow drop and he throws Knobs into the turnbuckle before laying in a big right. Knobs reverses the Irish whip, Watts comes back with a crossbody, Knobs uses the momentum to roll all the way over. He grabs a handful of tights and the team of Knobs and Badd advance.
Winners: Brian Knobs & Johnny B. Badd (Knobs/Roll-Up)
- EA’s Take: Nothing overly exciting here, Badd is playing the role of the consummate babyface, absolutely refusing to take advantage of any foul play. You have to imagine that most of your belt holders will advance, so here comes Nasty Boy #1.
Match #3: WCW World Television Champion Lord Steven Regal & Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat w/Sir William vs. The Shockmaster & ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff
Regal and Steamboat are not impressed with being partners while Orndorff deals with the “Paula” chants. The Dragon and Mr. Wonderful kick things off. Collar and elbow, side headlock take down by Steamboat. He holds it on the mat, Orndorff back to his feet. They hit the ropes and it’s a shoulder block by Steamboat. Orndorff almost DQs himself early by throwing Steamboat over the top rope. Dragon hangs onto the rope, lifts himself up and pulls Wonderful over the top with a head scissor. Vicious brawl ensues on the floor, they move it back to the ring, Orndorff heads for the top rope but Steamboat cuts him off with a shot to the midsection.
A knee to the skull and Steamboat covers for two. He moves into a reverse chin lock. Up to their feet and to the ropes. Orndorff tries a monkey flip but Steamboat stops short. Side headlock by Steamboat and they jockey for pinning position. Up to vertical, Orndorff with body shots and elbows to the head. Steamboat tries a chop but it’s Wonderful with the Irish whip. Steamboat leapfrogs and hits an atomic drop. Orndorff bounces off the corner with a back elbow and they both collapse. Regal finally gets his tag, but on the other side it’s Shockmaster. Collar and elbow and Shockmaster tosses Regal aside. Lord Steven ducks and works into a side headlock. Shockmaster picks him up and sets him on the top rope, petting him on the head.
Regal is furious. Shockmaster with a wristlock, broken by a knee and a European uppercut but that simply wakes Shockmaster up. Shockmaster reverses the whip, Regal tries a flying body press but he’s caught and slammed out of the air. A tag is made to Wonderful who isn’t happy about coming in. Shockmaster leads the Paula chants. Regal offers a handshake, Steamboat is ticked and telling Regal to just wrestle. Collar and elbow, Regal with the side head lock and works Orndorff down to his knees. Shoulder block by Regal, side headlock takedown by the champ and he holds him on the mat. To the ropes again, Orndorff with a leapfrog, Regal counters the hip toss. Orndorff tries a backslide and Regal kicks out. Regal slows things down again and offers another hand which angers The Dragon. Collar and elbow, Regal with a full nelson.
Orndorff reverses into one of his own. Regal grabs the ankle to escape and cartwheels across the ring. The partners continue to argue and Steamboat insists that it’s his turn. To the ropes, Steamboat tries a leapfrog, Orndorff catches him and hangs him across the top rope. Wonderful drives the knees into Steamboat’s kidneys, William insisting Ricky tag Regal back in. Side slam by Orndorff who follows with a scoop slam. He makes a reluctant tag to Shockmaster. He tries an elbow and Steamboat moves. Regal reaches for a tag but pulls back when Dragon tries to make it. Shockmaster puts their hands together and throws Regal over the top rope and in. Regal is driven into the corner. He tries an Irish whip but Regal makes him miss.
Wonderful tries to break up the pin, Regal moves and Orndorff elbows his own partner. Shockmaster is up, taking exception to this, but on the other end Regal and Steamboat have come to blows. Steamboat hits Regal in the head with Sir William’s umbrella. William yells at him and The Dragon chases him off. Shockmaster sees the supine Regal in the center of the ring so he drops a big splash and he and Orndorff advance.
Winners: The Shockmaster & ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff (Shockmaster/Splash)
- EA’s Take: Surprising not to see Regal and/or Steamboat advance, but the end of the match ultimately sets up a challenge by Steamboat for the TV Title. Definitely the best match so far in terms of both work and story. Also of note, until covering the start of Regal’s WCW run earlier in this same year, I never realized Sir William was Bill Dundee. Still really odd to think about.
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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