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 Take: Fairly 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 Take: Absolute, 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 Take: Aside 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.
Attitude Of Aggression #275- The Big Four Project Chapter 3: Royal Rumble ’88 & WrestleMania IV
The Attitude Of Aggression returns for Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project, a chronological analysis, review, and discussion about WWE’s Big Four PPVs/ Premium Live Events. On this Episode, Dave welcomes back the one and only PC Tunney to discuss two more immensely important events in pro wrestling history, the inaugural Royal Rumble and WrestleMania IV. The 1988 Royal Rumble was different than any other Rumble in history and not just because it was the first. Dave and Tunney break down the fascinating history of the first installment of an event that would evolve into an annual favorite for many in the WWE Universe. From there, the guys recap the surreal events that led to the end of Hulk Hogan’s 4-year reign as WWF Champion and set the stage for, arguably, the most important tournament in WWE History at WrestleMania IV. Macho Madness reached new heights that night. But was Savage the first choice of Vince McMahon to emerge from Atlantic City with the gold that night? We have the whole story for you here on Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project!
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Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #15 – AAW Defining Moment 2018
Harry covers a show that helped to continue Sami Callihan’s 2018 infamy. AAW Defining Moment should be a fun trip down memory lane!
Apologies for the slight delay getting to this but it’s Harry here once again. And for as verbose as I can be at times, I don’t feel the need to waste any time getting to this one. This is the second part of the double shot for AAW on ‘All In’ weekend in Chicago.
The WayBack Machine takes us to August 31st, 2018 as we once again arrive at the Logan Square Auditorium (and oh boy does that become important later) for AAW’s Defining Moment 2018.
What I Watched #15
AAW Defining Moment 2018
Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, IL
Runtime: 3:18:22 (HighSpotsWrestlingNetwork)
Commentary By: Tyler Volz (PBP) and Marty DeRosa (Color)
- Match 1: Curt Stallion/Jake Something def. Ace Romero/Colt Cabana, Something pins Cabana @ 8:41
- Match 2: Shane Strickland pins Darby Allin, top-rope Swerve Stomp @ 13:30
- Match 3: Jessicka Havoc def. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders, pinning Cruise with a Chokeslam @ 2:52
- Match 4: OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist) def. Ace Austin/Brian Cage, Dave pins Austin @ 5:55
- Match 5: AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © pins DJ Z (Shiima Xion), roll-through on CBB with tights @ 13:30
- Match 6: AR Fox/Myron Reed def. Bandido/Flamita, double cover @ 15:42
- Match 7: Maxwell Jacob Friedman taps Marko Stunt, Salt of the Earth @ 10:41
- Match 8: Sami Callihan pins Jimmy Jacobs, Cactus Driver on a bridged guardrail @ 17:52
- Match 9: AAW Tag Titles- Eddie Kingston/Jeff Cobb © def. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett, Cobb pins Fitchett @ 14:19
- Match 10: AAW Heavyweight Title- Brody King pins ACH ©, All Seeing Eye (Whiplash) @ 22:46
Curt Stallion/Jake Something vs. Ace Romero/Colt Cabana
*The match was decent but nothing special. A pretty big win for Something at the end with the three count over Cabana, who has a storied past in Chicago and was one of the biggest names in independent wrestling. That said, I personally don’t love the flukish nature that Something pins Cabana, as I think Something could have used a defining pinfall to really give him a rub going forward.
Cabana usually makes for a fun watch and I’ve grown to enjoy Ace Romero the more I see him (he especially stands out for Limitless, which I hope to get to one day soon). Jake Something is a huge star in the making and you can see it even early in the run of AAW that he has. Stallion is what Stallion is. Solid opener, but nothing you’ll remember post show. (**½)
Darby Allin vs. Shane Strickland
*Showstealer, plain and simple. Strickland had been with AAW for a while but to the best of my memory, it was more often in a tag team with Keith Lee (funny how that works out with 2022 eyes on it, as Swerve and Keith are the current AEW tag champions at the time of writing). I do believe this is only Darby’s second match in AAW (the prior being a five-ish minute loss to Brody King). Both guys are huge names now and with efforts like this, it’s easy to see how. Darby tries to keep pace with Swerve and is able to do so for a good portion of the contest until Swerve finds that next gear down the stretch and puts Allin down with the Swerve Stomp to a massive (deserved) ovation from the crowd. (****)
Jessicka Havok vs. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders
*I dislike handicap matches in general. However, unlike certain other writers for this site, I don’t mind intergender wrestling. But the suspension of disbelief gets lost here when you have two dudes the size of Cruise and Manders struggling with Jessicka Havok, who should realistically not being coming in at 100% after taking the Ganso Bomb from Brody King through the chairs the night before. I won’t rate the match due to the Larry Csonka (RIP) Rule of not rating anything shorter than three minutes, but I’m calling this a miss regardless. (X)
OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist) vs. Ace Austin/Brian Cage
*The Brothers Crist come out to ringside to stand next to Havok after said match and call out Brody King and Jimmy Jacobs. They get one of those two men as Jacobs makes his way out, but informs Dave and Jake that neither he nor Brody will be facing them due to having prior obligations, but he did find the perfect opponents for OI4K. As for the opponent, Cage does make for a good size fill-in for Brody King. Ace Austin is a OI4K trainee that hadn’t quite made a name for himself at the time but has since turned into a pretty good wrestler, having just competed for NJPW in Best of the Super Jr’s as well as being Impact Wrestling’s X Division champion for a while.
The match itself was not memorable at all. I will admit to typing this review on a bit of a delay and other than the finish (a Tiger Driver ‘98 by Dave to Austin), I don’t remember anything that happened during the course of the contest. Not the best impression for these four men to leave. (**)
AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © vs. DJ Z
*I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I like DJ Z. I liked him more under his previous identity, but this was him using the Impact Wrestling name for more notoriety with the casual fan. That being said, despite DJZ winning a three way relatively quickly the night before while Trevor was in a war with Ace Romero, I never felt the title was in jeopardy here. For as much as I like DJZ’s run with AAW, this misfortune of his injury just so happened to coincide with Trevor Lee becoming one of the hottest acts on the undercard and there wasn’t anything in the build up to the rematch (despite some good promo work from Z) that made me think that the strap was switching here.
As for the match itself, they have really good chemistry together and that isn’t a surprise given how many of the same promotions they were working for at the time as well as their history in AAW up to this point. I do think this match does a nice job of setting the stage for a return match as it is DJZ’s offensive attack at the end of the contest that gets reversed into the cradle (with a handful of tights) for the finish. The nature of the victory leads me to believe that the story with these two isn’t over quite yet. (***½)
AR Fox/Myron Reed vs. Bandido/Flamita
*This was similar to the main event the night before, but didn’t have the same crowd investment that match did. Bandido and Flamita once again shine here and it is easy to see why they become semi-regulars in AAW after this weekend. AR Fox and Myron Reed (Team Firefox, as they were referred to by Sarah Shockey) get a massive victory with a double pinfall following stereo 450 splashes. This sets up Fox and Reed for a title match against the winners of WRSTLING vs. Besties later in the night, but honestly, I think that Bandido/Flamita was the better pairing to have go forward to a title shot. Firefox had previously unsuccessfully challenged for the tag belts and if I’m being fully honest, I prefer AR Fox as a singles wrestler over being in a tag team. Good match, but I think the wrong team wins. (***½)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Marko Stunt
*Marko had just made a name for himself at GCW’s Lost in New York (a show I have watched) and this was a way for him to break out back in his Midwest home. MJF has been on a hot streak point up to this point (believe he is the current CZW Heavyweight champion, though I don’t think he ever actually defends that title) and MJF would make himself a known commodity the next night opening the ‘All In’ PPV against Matt Cross (in a losing effort)
Easy story to tell with MJF taking the much smaller Stunt lightly and Marko making him pay for it. It is unfortunate that more people didn’t get to see what Stunt is capable of, because his run in the indie scene before he went to AEW was quite special to watch due to his ability to connect with a crowd (no different here). The finish sees MJF take advantage of the arm work that he did early in match and after Marko escapes a fujiwara armbar, MJF is able to catch Marko in ‘Salt of the Earth’, a wakigatame (Marko on stomach as MJF applies a cross-armbreaker) for the the tapout. Very good work and Marko does really well for himself in his debut with another high end US Independent. (***)
Jimmy Jacobs vs. Sami Callihan
*Ooooh, boy. A lot to unwrap with this one. Let’s get the match first, because the drama that it creates leads to the fallout that has to be discussed. It is honestly a pretty standard Sami brawl for the time frame. PWG used to have what was known as the “Sami Sprint”…by which it would be Callihan vs. Opponent and the match would run anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes of hard hitting back and forth action with little in terms of a cohesive story or selling. Pretty much a ‘can you top this?’ kind of situation. This feels like that in a sense because the match features both Sami and Jimmy going into their well of tricks (the crowd brawling, the spike, the guardrail that gets used in the finish) while maintaining the crowd reaction from the prior night’s tag match. Fittingly, the finish is visually impressive as Callihan hits the ‘Cactus Driver’ (pulling piledriver) on a guardrail bridged across two metal folding chairs to secure the three count. (***½)
The bigger story coming out of this is that this match almost costs AAW the Logan Square Auditorium and almost ends even more disastrously personally for Callihan. At one point, Callihan and Jacobs are brawling over by the stage in the venue (traditionally used for concerts) where Callihan buries Jacobs under a portion of the stage. Callihan then starts winging metal sitting chairs (not the standard folding ones you see in most companies because the four legged dinner table type chairs) at Jacobs. A voice comes over the house mic telling Callihan to stop, causing a loud visceral boo from the crowd. Callihan more or less tells said voice to “fuck himself” and hurls more chairs at Jacobs.
At first, I thought it was Danny Daniels telling Callihan to stop, but it turns out it was actually building management. This becomes important when after the three count goes down, building security surrounds the ring to escort Callihan out of the building as they were pissed at Sami for throwing chairs that the venue used for other events. As I’ve heard the story, Callihan thinks this is part of a storyline and begins to push the security guys until one of them shows Callihan that he is carrying a real pistol and will use it if necessary. Things break down from there with the rest of OI4K getting involved and eventually Sami is escorted to the back (and presumably out of the building).
How much of this is real? How much of this is scripted? How much of this was sensationalized for additional attention? I don’t have the answers for those questions. I do know that cooler heads would prevail and AAW was able to continue running at LSA, however I feel the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It may have been a planned altercation to play off the recklessness of Callihan. It may have been a real reaction from the building to what they perceived as damage to personal property. The old axiom in wrestling is “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see”. Overall, it makes for a great story with a relatively happy ending all considered. But man does it take the wind of the crowd for quite a while. And I will have to check out the follow up AAW shows to see what the fallout truly is.
AAW Tag Titles- Eddie Kingston/Jeff Cobb © vs. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett
*Trevor Lee’s promo before the match is not one I can do justice. I recommend the show in general, but Trevor’s asshole smarmy heel persona in AAW (Impact Superstar Trevor Lee) is one of the best things going in the company.
Match is good but you’d have to expect that from the four men involved. Kingston and Cobb work surprisingly well as a team and despite being on separate pages for most of the bout, Vega and Fitchett do link up for a few double teams (corner enzuigiri/Kippou kick combo being standout among them) to continue to prove why they are one of the best tag teams in pro wrestling (still are to this day, though not known as the Besties in the World anymore). The finish sees the final stab from Vega to Fitchett as Vega chooses to take Scarlett to the back after she gets knocked off the apron, leaving Fitchett alone to take a one-two combo of the Backfist to the Future from Kingston that staggers him into a Tour of the Islands from Cobb to finish the contest. The ring work is on point, the story is very well told and you can hear the disappointment from the crowd when Vega chooses the hussy over his long-time tag partner. (****)
AAW Heavyweight Title- ACH © vs. Brody King
*Unfortunately, something gets lost during the course of this contest through no direct fault of the participants. As I understand it, Brody King got concussed relatively early in the bout. Credit to ACH for keeping things together as well as he did, but I would be curious to see what they are capable of with both competitors at 100% capacity for the full duration of the match.
As for the match, it does tell a pretty good story. ACH comes in still pretty beat up from the match with Jeff Cobb the night before. However, ACH lets his pride (or perhaps his ego) get the better of him as he once again tries to hang step for step, strike for strike and move for move with a man much bigger than he is. It ends up coming back to bite him at the end as a distraction from Jimmy Jacobs allows Brody King to take a distracted ACH up into the All Seeing Eye (fireman’s carry into a Michinoku Driver) for the three count to crown a new champion. Slightly cheap on the distraction ending but does help get Jimmy some of the heat he lost earlier in the evening back after dropping the contest to Callihan. (***½)
THE FINAL REACTION
Overall, a better show then the day before but not without a couple flaws. Obviously, the big story to come out of this show would be the fact that AAW almost lost Logan Square Auditorium due to the issues in the Callihan-Jacobs match. Thankfully, those would be resolved and to my knowledge, AAW is still running there. But it gets awfully hairy there for a few.
The highs: two four star matches on this show and they come in completely different type contests. Eddie Kingston continues his march of dominance in AAW and cuts one hell of a promo at the end of the show to run down how ACH let him down by losing the title. Marko Stunt has a fun debut and quickly gets the crowd behind him. The lows: that handicap match helped no one and the tag match that followed wasn’t much better. The main event isn’t what it could have been either, but that’s a case of shit happens with the early concussion to King. I will also say that I thought Sarah Shockey did a better job on color commentary yesterday then Marty DeRosa does here.
We’ll call it an 8 overall. As I said, it is a better top to bottom show then Destination Chicago is. And while high on the guest stars (for obvious reasons), you also get a really good look at what the overall AAW roster is all about too. I look forward to coming back to AAW down the road (ironically, upcoming shows are a double shot as well for the ‘Jim Lynam Memorial’ tournament), but I do want to mix in some other odds and ends before I do so.
Best Match/Moment: Shane Strickland vs. Darby Allin
Worst Match/Moment: The Havok handicap. Especially when you consider what Steve Manders would come to mean for AAW, it’s a really inauspicious debut.
Overall Show Score: 8/10
MVP: Eddie Kingston. The key part of a match that tied for best match of the night honors and absolutely shows why he is viewed the way he is when it comes to talking with an amazing promo to close out the show.
So, where does ‘What I Watched’ go from here? I go on vacation in about a week’s time and will be gone for most of August. I spoke to Andrew and what I hope to do is reformat the ‘All In’ report that I did to the new style so you guys have something to tide you over. As for where I go when I get back from vacation…well, the Peacock WWE Network watch-through that I am working on has reached a show that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen (and if I have, it has been quite a while). Therefore, ‘What I Watched’ #16 will be ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999 to set the tone for a year where all hell breaks loose in two of the three major promotions. Hopefully, you guys enjoy the ‘All In’ redo to hold you over and I’ll be back later in August with Guilty as Charged. I appreciate everyone who has been checking these out and if you’ve missed any, feel free to click on my name at the top of the article to check out my archive. Thanks for reading.
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