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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WWF Survivor Series ’94 – It’s Time To Meet Your Maker…

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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! It had been a long time coming for The Undertaker to get his hands on Yokozuna after their WWF Title match at Royal Rumble in January put ‘The Deadman’ on the shelf. After returning at SummerSlam, it was another three long months before the WWF’s Grim Reaper came calling for Yokozuna! Will Undertaker finally get his vengeance?

Open: Earlier in the day, The Teamsters held a conference in the locker room, Shawn Michaels telling the group that if they follow his lead, they will have no problems with their opponents. The Bad Guys held a similar huddle, Razor Ramon pulling the troops together. Guts & Glory were led by a motivational speech from Lex Luger, meanwhile The Million Dollar Team vowed to show everyone where the true power lies, ‘Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase stating that is with the almighty dollar. Clowns R’ Us look to have some fun with Doink The Clown at the helm, Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler informing The Royal Family that tonight is to be taken seriously.

Match #1 – Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Teamsters (WWF Tag Team Champions Shawn Michaels & Diesel, ‘The King Of Harts’ Owen Hart, Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart & ‘Double J’ Jeff Jarrett) vs. The Bad Guys (WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon, The 1-2-3 Kid, The British Bulldog & The Headshrinkers (Fatu & Sione)) w/Afa
Tempers start heating up early after the bell and the official restores order, Owen & The Kid will kickoff the action, Kid looks for some quick kicks and The King of Harts avoids them, decides to tag out and in steps The Anvil. Collar & elbow tie-up sees Neidhart gain a side headlock, The Kid sends him off to the ropes, drops down, pops back up and gets plowed over by a shoulder block. The Anvil heads back to the ropes, Kid leapfrogs over, scores with a dropkick, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, The Kid ducks under a clothesline, but runs into another big shoulder knockdown.

Double J enters the match and drives Kid face-first into the top turnbuckle, irish whip to the corner is reversed, The Kid charges in, Jarrett hops up-and-over, scoring with a right hand and strutting. He turns around and Kid knocks him to the outside with a spinning heel kick, Jarrett quickly climbs back to the apron, buries a shoulder to the breadbasket and sunset flips back in, but nobody’s home. The Kid gains an early 2 count and tags out, Sione comes in and sends Double J to the ropes for a big boot, Jarrett dips under it, comes back through and gets tossed by a military press slam. Sione goes back after him and Double J rakes the eyes, goes to a side headlock, cuffs Sione with right hands, the big man blocking one and then turning the tables.

He hammers Jarrett in the corner and shoots him across, follows Double J in and meets double boots to the face, Jarrett then climbing up top for a clothesline that gets a count of 2. Jarrett picks Sione back up, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Double J hangs on and tags out, Owen stepping back in and asks for a piece of The Bulldog. Sione makes the tag and here comes Davey Boy, they tie-up and Bulldog grabs a wristlock, Hart counters to one of his own, Davey rolls through and regains the hold, arm whipping Owen to the canvas. He switches to a hammerlock, The King of Harts again flips through to a wristlock, The Bulldog sticks with the hold and Owen looks to snapmare him over.

Davey Boy blocks it and powers him up, Hart backflipping to his feet and hits the ropes for a dropkick, The Bulldog catches both legs and catapults him into the corner. The Bad Guys put a number on The King of Harts in the corner, Bulldog follows with a military press slam, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Owen ducks for a back body drop, but it’s reversed into a sunset flip for a near fall. Owen looks for a quick kick that’s blocked, he follows through with the other leg and connects with an enzuigiri, brings Neidhart back in and they sends him to the ropes for a double clothesline. The Anvil rips Bulldog up by the hair and slams him, The King of Harts steps back in to attempt another double clothesline, this time Davey ducks it and lays them both out with a double clothesline of his own.

Hart spills to the outside and Bulldog plants Neidhart with a delayed vertical suplex, Fatu tags and heads upstairs, delivers  diving headbutt, but doesn’t make a cover and instead starts messing with one of his boots. Jarrett gets a tag and pummels him with right hands, whip to the ropes is reversed, Fatu hits a powerslam and then brings in The Bad Guy. Double J high-tails it to his own corner and gets some words of wisdom, collar & elbow tie-up now and Jarrett scores with an arm drag, then struts. They lock-up again and Double J with a go-behind, standing switch from Razor, Jarrett counters back, sweeps the legs and then slaps Ramon around on the back of the head. Another tie-up and this time Jarrett goes to a side headlock, The Bad Guy pushes him off to the ropes, clocks him with a big right hand, then clotheslines him over the top rope and delivers a shot to Diesel.

Double J climbs back inside and gains the side headlock again, Ramon looks to counter out with a back suplex, Jarrett lands on his feet, delivers a fist and then taunts Razor. He hits the ropes quick and ducks under a clothesline, tries for a crossbody, The Bad Guy catches him and throws Jarrett with a fallaway slam before making a tag. Kid hits the ropes and Razor catches him in the air, tosses him into Double J with a fallaway slam, The Kid hooks the leg, but only gets 2. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Jarrett goes to the ribs with a kick, slaps on an abdominal stretch, then uses Shawn on the apron and the ropes for more leverage. The ref finally catches him and Kid reverses the hold, Double J powers him over the top to the floor with a hip toss, grabs him climbing back up and attempts a suplex in from the apron.

The Kid slips out behind, whips him to the ropes for a spinning heel kick, Double J catches the foot, but can’t avoid the other coming back around and gets decked. Fatu & The King of Harts re-enter the match, Owen sends him to the ropes and scores with a spinning heel kick for 2, rams Fatu head-first into the top turnbuckle, but it has no affect. Fatu fires back with right hands and headbutts, delivers a dropping headbutt to lower midsection, sends him to the ropes for a back body drop and Diesel makes a blind tag. Hart puts on the brakes and spikes Fatu with a DDT, Big Daddy Cool turns him inside-out with a clothesline, plants him with the Jackknife and gets the pinfall. Fatu has been eliminated.

The Kid hops right in and scores with kicks to the breadbasket, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Kid ducks under a clothesline, Diesel throws him into the air, but gets staggered by a dropkick. 1-2-3 Kid climbs the corner to the top, scores with a sunset flip, Diesel blocks it, picks him up by the throat and drops him, then delivers a Jackknife for the 3 count. The 1-2-3 Kid has been eliminated. Sione takes the ring and ambushes Big Daddy Cool from behind, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Diesel misses with a wild clothesline, Sione hits him with one of his own, but the big man doesn’t go down. More clotheslines from Sione only stagger Diesel, he sends him to the ropes for a back body drop, Big Daddy Cool steps on the brakes, counters with the Jackknife and finishes Sione’s night. Sione has been eliminated.

Bulldog wastes no time in coming in, hammers Diesel with right hands, buries shoulders into the abdomen in the corner, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Big Daddy Cool misses with a clothesline, but connects on a big boot. Davey Boy spills to the outside, Diesel reaches to tag Michaels, but Shawn tells him to keep going as Double J drops off the apron to attack The Bulldog. Owen joins in on the beat-down, the official’s count reaches 10 and Bulldog gets counted out. The British Bulldog has been eliminated. Razor’s the last man left for his team, quickly steps into the ring and uses a schoolboy for a quick 2 on Diesel, fires away with big punches, finally dropping him with a discus punch. Irish whip to the corner is reversed, Big Daddy Cool charges in, Ramon gets the boot up, climbs to the 2nd rope and comes off with a bulldog for a near fall.

The Bad Guy starts going to work on the shoulder, Diesel flattens him with a short-arm clothesline, then connects with haymakers and knees to the breadbasket. He picks Ramon up and drops him face-first on the top turnbuckle, he shoves him into the corner, Razor gets in a couple of shots to the guys on the apron, but it doesn’t last. Michaels keeps telling Diesel to go for the Jackknife, Big Daddy Cool picks The Bad Guy up onto his shoulder again, heads for the corner and Ramon slips out. He slams Diesel and calls for the Razor’s Edge, Big Daddy Cool counters with a back body drop, Shawn continues yelling at Diesel, but the big man sends Razor to the ropes and clobbers him with a big boot.

He lifts The Bad Guy up and plants him with a Jackknife, The Heartbreak Kid finally tags in, he tells Diesel to get back in the ring, Big Daddy Cool holds Ramon up, Michaels looks for Sweet Chin Music, but Razor avoids it. Diesel gets clocked instead and loses his cool at Shawn, their teammates come in to try and calm him down, but Big Daddy Cool tosses them away. Michaels starts backtracking towards the locker room with Diesel in hot pursuit, counting all of The Teamsters out.
Winner & Sole Survivor: Razor Ramon

  • After The Bell: Todd Pettengill tracks down Shawn Michaels who is heading out of the building with his bags, The Heartbreak Kid claiming that he’s tired of Diesel riding his coat-tails, getting into his car and speeding off.
  • EA’s TakeFairly entertaining opener for this time period, it dragged on a bit too long to start without any eliminations, but overall enjoyable. This one crossed many different rivalries in just one match, but obviously the biggest storyline here was Diesel’s face-turn after issues between himself and Shawn had slowly started coming up for weeks and weeks. The company was all-in on Big Daddy Cool at this point if you couldn’t tell by his dominance, but things would only get better for Diesel as he would win the WWF Championship just three short days later, completing his moon-rocket push. This would be one of the top feuds in the company heading into the early stages of 1995.

Match #2 – Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Royal Family (Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, Sleazy, Queasy & Cheesy) vs. Clowns R’ Us (Doink The Clown, Dink, Pink & Wink)
Lawler & Doink huddle up with their squads before starting us off, they lock-up and Doink backs The King to the ropes and breaks clean. Another tie-up, Doink shoots Lawler to the ropes for a boot, King catches the foot, The Clown brings his other leg around and cracks him with an enzuigiri. The King seeks reprieve and collects himself in the corner, another collar & elbow, Lawler sends The Clown to the ropes for a boot, Doink catches the foot, King attempts to score with an enzuigiri of his own, but it’s ducked.

He goes back to the corner to regroup, another tie-up and Doink gains a wristlock, snapmares Lawler over and wrenches at the shoulder, his teammates hit the ring and run over King to the other side to taunt their opponents. King’s teammates try to get revenge by doing the same thing, but they step on Lawler in the process, driving him furious. Collar & elbow tie-up and The King grabs a wristlock, takes Doink down and wrenches away at the arm, calls his partners in and now they run over Doink to taunt the other side. On the way back Doink trips one of them and they all fall in order, Lawler berates them for it, ties up with The Clown and gets planted by numerous body slams. Dink, Pink & Wink all come in to make covers, Doink counting to 2 and then catching them as King kicks out in succession, Pink runs over The King’s back and infuriates him further.

They lock-up again and now The King hits a body slam, calls in The Royal Family to make a cover and counts, Doink kicking them out, but one’s too heavy and Lawler tips over, Dink stepping in to make a count on The King. Lawler regroups again, Doink with an arm drag off the tie-up, slaps on an armbar, Dink comes into the ring and puts a Burger King crown on him, Lawler doesn’t realize its there, finally does and slams it on the mat with frustration. The King tries a different approach and wants a piece of Dink, Doink puts the little man on his shoulders, Sleazy steps into the ring and Lawler tries to get on his shoulders, but they topple over. Order is restored and King calls for a test of strength, Cheesy & Dink come into the ring between their legs, go into a criss-cross, Pink & Sleazy hit the ring to follow suit, Dink & Pink finally cutting them off with running dropkicks.

The referee works to get the Clowns out of the ring, Queasy hands a pair of knucks to King, he sneaks them over and clocks Doink, laying him out. Lawler finally takes control and drives Doink head-first into the top turnbuckle, chokes him on the 2nd rope, pulls the official away and The Royal Family continues it behind the ref’s back. King has them prop their boots up and looks to whip Doink into them, it’s reversed, Lawler runs into them and they all fall to the floor. Doink starts firing off with right hands and throws The King with a hip toss, The Clowns start chasing The Royal Family in a circle around the ring, corner them and the brawl is on. Lawler shoots Doink into the corner, The Clown hops to the 2nd rope, comes off with a crossbody, The King reverses the momentum, stacks him up with a handful of tights and gets the 3 count. Doink The Clown has been eliminated.

Queasy & Dink take the ring, Queasy quickly locks on an armbar and bites the knuckles behind the referees back, Dink returns the favor by biting him on the backside and gets the hold broken. Lawler steps into the ring to check on him, Dink rushes up and takes a bite of his rear end, scurries away and tags Wink. Cheesy tags in, they lock-up and Wink grabs him by the goattee, tag to Dink, he heads up top and comes down with a double axe to the shoulder. He whips Cheesy to the corner and charges in with a monkey flip, Wink tags back in, shoots him to the wrong corner, attempts a monkey flip of his own, but Lawler hangs onto Cheesy’s tights to block it, Cheesy stacks him up and King helps with extra leverage for the pinfall. Wink has been eliminated.

Pink steps in and does a front handspring telling the other side to bring it on, Sleazy comes in and sloppily tries to copy him, Lawler comes in to chastise him, brings him back to the apron and tells Queasy to take the ring. Queasy comes in and goes to the midsection with a kick, delivers a body slam, makes a tag to Cheesy, holds Pink on his head and spins him like a top. The official works to get Queasy back to the apron, The King comes in and slams Cheesy onto Pink with a splash, the referee turns around and counts the 1-2-3. Pink has been eliminated. Dink is the last man standing for his side now, Pink doesn’t leave ringside and hides under the ring, Sleazy meets Dink in the ring, but gets clocked by stinging chops.

Dink plants him with a body slam and drops an elbow, Queasy comes in to help out, runs into a back elbow, next comes Cheesy and he suffers the same fate. Dink smashes them together with a double noggin knocker, hits another body slam to Sleazy, climbs to the top rope for a crossbody, hooks the leg, but Lawler comes in to break the count and the referee cuts him off. Queasy runs in behind the official and puts Sleazy on top of Dink, the ref turns around and counts him down.
Winners: The Royal Family

  • After The Bell: Dink sneaks under the ring while The Royal Family celebrates, The Fink announces the winners, but Lawler doesn’t look satisfied with it and takes the mic. He tells his partners that they did nothing to win while he did all the work, orders them to go to the corner and calls for his music again. They do not obey and he orders them to leave the ring, asks for his music again, but they continue to celebrate on the floor. The King’s had enough and proceeds to chase them around ringside, they finally turn on him, The Clowns come out from under the ring behind him and he rolls into the ring to get away. They keep chasing him around ringside then towards the back, Doink comes back out with a pie and smashes Lawler in the face.
  • EA’s TakeAbsolute, utter absurdity. This match certainly served its purpose to be some comedic relief, but this was definitely more “entertainment” than “wrestling”. There wasn’t too much to this rivalry. Basically Doink had a little person so Lawler got one as well, then added to the mix for this elimination match. For the WWF at this stage, seeing matches like this again reminds me just how out of touch the wrestling business as a whole was at the time.

Backstage: Todd Pettengill talks about a new WWF Women’s Champion as Bull Nakano defeated Alundra Blayze last Sunday at the Egg Dome. WWF Women’s Champion Bull Nakano steps in and says something in Japanese, Todd tries asking his question again, but gets the same reply.

Match #3 – Throw In The Towel Submission Match for the WWF Championship: Bob Backlund w/’The King Of Harts’ Owen Hart vs. WWF Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart w/The British Bulldog
The bell rings and Backlund charges right in, gets caught by a body slam, The Hitman follows with multiple arm drags and the challenger spills to the outside. He rolls back inside and Bret knocks him back out with a headbutt, Bulldog throws him back inside and the champion plants him with another body slam, then delivers an elbow drop. Backlund rolls out to the apron, The Excellence of Execution drags him over the top into the ring with a side headlock, the challenger works to a standing position, hits a back suplex and breaks the hold.

Bret quickly drives elbows to the back of the head, clocks him with an uppercut, drops a leg and slaps on a rear chinlock. Backlund finds his footing and sends the champion to the ropes, Hitman scores with a shoulder block, side headlock takedown and he keeps the challenger grounded. Mr. Backlund gets to his feet, shoots Bret to the ropes, The Hitman with another shoulder block, goes back to the ropes and gets taken double by a drop toe hold. The challenger looks for the Crossface Chicken Wing early, The Excellence of Execution counters back to the side headlock, Backlund powers his way up, brings Bret to the mat with a single leg takedown, tries to grab a hold, but the champion reverses back to the side headlock. Backlund tries to counter to a top wristlock, switches to a hammerlock and tries the Crossface Chicken Wing again, The Hitman blocks it and hits a belly-to-belly suplex, then goes for the Sharpshooter.

The challenger kicks him away to block it, Bret jumps on him with a front facelock, Backlund shows his strength to find a vertical base, but gets caught in an abdominal stretch. Backlund powers out with a hip toss, picks the champion up for a body slam, Hitman falls on top, clocks him with a couple of shot and delivers a body slam of his own. To the 2nd rope goes the champion, comes off for an elbow drop that is off-target, Backlund capitalizes and starts work on the left arm, then sends him hard into the turnbuckles. The challenger goes to grab a hold and Bret gains the ropes, Backlund doesn’t break clean and punishes the left arm some more, then drives him down with a fujiwara armbar. The Hitman rolls out and kips up to his feet, Backlund clobbers him with a forearm shot, Bret spills to the outside and comes face-to-face with Owen.

The challenger rolls out behind Bret and tries to ambush him, The Excellence of Execution feels it coming and meets him with a right, throws him back into the squared circle, Backlund meets him with a headbutt and goes back to the arm with an armbar. The champion finds a standing position and goes for a body slam to escape it, Mr. Backlund hangs on and grounds him with a top wristlock, then switches back to the fujiwara armbar. The Excellence of Execution reverses to a front facelock, brings the challenger up for a swinging neckbreaker, Backlund still hangs onto the hold and Bret finally breaks it with a knee drop.

Backlund kicks his way up from the canvas and hooks the fujiwara armbar on again, The Hitman rolls through and gets to his feet, the challenger wrenches at the arm to momentarily stop him, but Bret splits him with an inverted atomic drop. The champion grabs the legs to set up the Sharpshooter, Mr. Backlund grabs the ropes to hold him off, The Excellence of Execution finally pulls him to the center, looks for a figure four instead, but gets kicked off. Hitman stays with it and locks it in on the second try, Owen refuses to throw the towel in, Backlund reverses the hold to switch the pressure, but the champion switches back and the challenger gains the bottom rope. The Excellence of Execution starts pummeling the right knee of the challenger, tries to apply the Sharpshooter, Backlund gets to the ropes again to avoid it, they trade-off shots and the challenger drives Bret face-first into the mat.

Mr. Backlund spikes the champion with a piledriver, he goes for the Crossface Chicken Wing, but The Hitman finds his way to the respite of the ropes. The challenger scores with a swinging neckbreaker, sets his sights on the left arm again, shoots Bret hard from one turnbuckle to the other, charges in and The Excellence of Execution side-steps out of the way. Backlund goes shoulder-first into the ring post, the champion can’t capitalize, the challenger sets for another piledriver, but Bret counters with a back body drop, He swings wildly with a right hand that misses, Backlund grabs a sleeper hold and brings him to the mat, the official checking the arm and The Hitman holds it up on the third attempt. He finds a vertical base and uses his momentum to send Backlund face-first into the top turnbuckle to escape, grabs a side headlock, the challenger pushes him to the ropes, drops down and they collide heads, both guys going down.

The champion’s up first and delivers a leg drop, plants the challenger with a piledriver, scores with a running bulldog and follows it up with a side russian leg sweep. The Excellence of Execution on a roll now, cracks Backlund with a backbreaker, comes off the 2nd rope with an elbow drop, grabs the legs for the Sharpshooter, the challenger reaches for the ropes, but gets slingshotted back to the middle. He finally gets the Sharpshooter on and Owen slides inside to intervene, The Bulldog is there to meet him, chases The King of Harts around ringside and back in, the referee stops Davey Boy, allowing Owen to hit his brother with a running bulldog to break the hold. Bulldog charges for The King of Harts around ringside, Owen ducks low and Davey Boy rams himself into the steps, seemingly getting knocked out.

Owen checks on him and Bret has some words for his brother, Backlund seizes the opportunity and grabs the Crossface Chicken Wing from behind, pulling Hitman down to the canvas. The King of Harts continues to check on The Bulldog, can’t revive him, the champion starts to find his way to his feet in the ring, but gets dragged back down, Stu & Helen Hart watch on from the front row, Owen is in tears and explains to his mother she has to stop Bret’s punishment, Helen goes to throw the towel in and Stu rips it out of her hands. The King of Harts pleads with them further, Helen finally swipes the towel from Stu and throws it into the ring.
Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Bob Backlund

  • EA’s TakeAside from some of the long rest holds and the painstakingly, overly drawn out ending, this was pretty entertaining. Backlund had turned heel on Bret back in late July and became entangled in the sibling rivalry between The Hitman and Owen. Some history made tonight with this title switch as well, as Mr. Backlund has the record for longest gap between WWF Championship reigns at nearly 11 years. Bret would take some time off following this loss before returning at the Royal Rumble to reignite his rivalry with Backlund. It wouldn’t be for the title though, as just three short days later, Diesel would win it in a record eight seconds at a Live Event in Madison Square Garden. Additionally, I still find it odd that the WWF Title continually isn’t the main event during what was the now-over second reign of The Hitman.


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Chairshot Classics

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!

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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

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

  • 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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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.

 

THE SIGNOFF

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.


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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!

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ALL IN

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

9/1/2018

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)

THE RESULTS

  • 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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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.

THE SIGNOFF

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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