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Chairshot Classics: NWA-TNA Episode 25 (12/11/2002)

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On episode 25 of NWA-TNA, Vince Russo’s reign continues. The New Church faces the Harris Brothers. BG James is confronted over his defection. Ron Killings looks for revenge, and the questions about Jarrett’s loyalties persist.

Recap of last week with the highlights of Piper and Russo’s promos that won’t set you teeth on edge.

Jason Cross vs Tony Mamaluke: Jason Cross looks like Styles’ younger brother. Neither Mamaluke or Cross get much of a pop. Apparently, Cross has a really cool finisher: A Shooting Star Leg drop that I actually want to see. Despite what happened last week, Athena still has a lot of fans in the crowd.

This is a pretty average match. Cross is definitely a high-flyer and, unlike a lot of the X-Division, he’s not making a lot of botches, at least not yet.

Cross and Styles could be a tag team, they have very similar styles. Cross’s finisher is VERY impressive, but for reasons that escape me, Mamaluke gets the submission win after everyone has been talking about Cross’ finisher.

After that, BG James shows up with the Harris Twins. James has Jarrett’s guitar, which he warns Tenay and West to guard with their lives. I wonder if James remembers that this is Nashville, there’s a guitar store on every street, practically. Anyway, the twins beat up poor Mamaluke and Cross, while James rants on the mic. Russo isn’t here tonight because he’s scouting for more members to join SEX, which about what you’d expect for a faction run by Russo to be called. James gives Russo credit for coming up with DX and swears that this is good for business.

Bob Armstrong comes out and lets his wayward son have it for joining Russo and spitting over family tradition. Added to this drama is Ron Killings, who comes out with a chain draped around him like a boa constrictor. Apparently, Killings and BG have a match involving a chain and a chair tonight.

However, Bob isn’t done. Showing no fear, he tells the Harrises that he’d love to beat the hell out of them, but they’ve got a match against the New Church and they’ll be fired if they try to get out of it. Ron Harris replies that he doesn’t really care, but the titles need to be on the line, which Armstrong agrees to. At that, the New Church comes out and starts cleaning out. Security and the locker room break it up, or tries to, but NWO this ain’t.

Jarrett’s been a busy bee, according Tenay, who gushes over how Jarrett’s been defending the NWA title in the indys against guys like Sting, which sounds really cool.

Backstage, we find the intrepid Goldylocks with Jorge Estrada, who isn’t in a good mood. The Flying Elvises are not only no longer a team, but it seems like Estrada’ been abandoned by everyone. Siaki turned on them, Yang’s in Japan most of the time, and isn’t returning his calls, and then, his precious Priscilla left with Brian Lawler a few weeks ago.

Goldy asks if the Flying Elvises are dead, but Estrada seems genuinely upset by the defection of his friends and girlfriend and doesn’t answer.

Jorge Estrada vs Kid Kash: Well, Estrada is still a true believer in the Elvises, or they haven’t come up with his new gimmick yet, he’s still wearing the jumpsuit.

This was pretty average for Estrada, which isn’t good. He noticeably whiffed a kick to Kash’s face. Kash doesn’t seem to be in a good mood, which doesn’t improve with Estrada botching a rope-assisted moonsault that nearly knocked him out and may have hurt Kash’s ankle. It’s telling that, despite Estrada being the nominal babyface, Kash was getting a better reaction from the crowd.

Kash gets the win with a brainbuster, but he seems genuinely pissed off, and I don’t really blame him.

Backstage, Goldy’s with Bob and Scott Armstrong, but neither man wants to talk. Bob’s on the phone, but walks away when Goldy tries to ask a question.

America’s Most Wanted vs Divine Storm (with Trinity): AMW get a great pop. Divine Strom gets an okay pop, but AMW are the clear favorites.

This match was interesting. Usually AMW play the endangered babyfaces, no matter how big their opponents are, but that didn’t happen in this match. AMW may be faces, but they played up their size and strength advantage over Divine Storm, who looked very small next to AMW. One big highlight was James Storm hitting a hurricanrana on one member of Divine Storm. Another was the AMW version of Poetry in Motion…over the top rope, and, of course, Trinity got involved with her moonsault.

Divine Storm would pick up the surprising win after Trinity hit a low blow on Storm that ref somehow didn’t spot. AMW are furious, but the cheap win builds Divine Storm while not hurting AMW.

Backstage, Scott Armstrong is confronting BG, who is smoking, to give an idea of how long ago this was. Scott’s playing the concerned brother, trying to remind BG that they’re family and the Armstrongs, not Russo, have helped BG every step of the way. BG counters by saying that he’s made his own way in the wrestling business, not because he had help from anyone. This is basically a mash up of various old WWE storylines from the Attitude Era and these guys aren’t the ones to make it work.

We get a recap of Styles attacking Amazing Red last week before the big X-Division Double Elimination match.

AJ Styles (with Mortimer Plumtree) vs Amazing Red: Red gets the jump on Styles but it legit looks like a little kid trying to beat up his big brother. The crowd seems to be behind Red and he takes it to Styles, much to Styles’ shock. Styles manages to get the upper hand, but it’s clear Red’s assault took him out of his game a little.

This match was really good. Not quite as good as their X-Division Championship match, but still good nonetheless. Red’s really developing as a performer, and working with guys like Styles, Kash, and Lynn seems to be helping him out a lot.

Plumtree, of course, did his best to help Styles win, but Red would pull out the win with a superhurricanrana and the good sense to go for a quick pin.

NWA-TNA Tag Team Championship: New Church (with James Mitchell and Bella Donna) vs Harris Brothers: Champs come out first, which is odd. Harris Brothers come through the crowd like the Hall/Nash wannabes they are.

I wish I could say that this match was better in viewing than it was on paper, but that would be a lie. At BEST, this was a lukewarm ‘Okay’ match. At worst, it was just a mess. The Harris Brothers were never great technical wrestlers, but age and maybe some bad decisions have decreased their skills. New Church are okay, but their styles are too similar to the Harrises to really work.

The Harris Brothers actually won the match after BG James took out Slash with a chair. But then, Percy Pringle, aka Paul Bearer, who is supposed to be aligned with the Harris brothers and SEX, tells the ref what happened and gets the decision overturned.

Not surprisingly, the Harris Brothers are angry, and everyone else is confused. Mitchell tries to calm the waters by suggesting that the Harrises go after Pringle for messing with the match, even though Mitchell’s team benefitted from Pringle’s interference. Talk about ungrateful.

Thankfully, Pringle is saved by AMW who come in with chairs aswingin’ and convince the heels to go to the back.

There’s a recap of the Siaki/Lynn feud and a pre-taped interview with Tenay and Siaki. Siaki doesn’t care about Lynn’s complaints about the lack of respect. As far as Sonny Siaki is concerned, Jerry Lynn is old news and Sonny Siaki is the future. Unfortunately, Siaki is still too much of a Rock ripoff.

X-Division Championship Match: Jerry Lynn vs Sonny Siaki: This is supposed to be seen as a big fight, but it’s been so long since these two have actively feuded that it feels flat to me.

This was an okay match, but it definitely didn’t feel like a big fight. Siaki has no real personality or charisma and the match just feels like they’re going through the motions.

To everyone’s shock, Sonny Siaki would pull out the victory and become the NEW X-Division Championship after an assist from a mystery woman who pulled Lynn’s leg off the top turnbuckle. Siaki celebrates, but if this was supposed to be his ascension, it didn’t work.

Chairs and Chains Match – Ron Killings vs BG James: Well, it’s time for the weekly trainwreck match. That sounds harsh but TNA usually has at least one match that is a total mess and my money is on it being this one.

The logistics of this match are simple: Both men are chain together and there is a steel chair attached to the chain, so either man can use it on the other.

The match lost its purpose when the chain came off of Killings’ wrist. Also, this match was not nearly as good as it seemed on paper.

Afterwards, Killings wanted to get some more revenge on James, but Bob Armstrong, still a devoted father, DOVE into the ring and tried to stop his son’s trip to the woodshed. Truth actually was about to respect the old gentleman’s wishes when James tried to hit him with a chair. Killings moved and James tapped his father with the chair, though Armstrong sold it like James had absolutely knocked him out. In shock, James hit Killings anyway and then stood over his fallen dad like he couldn’t believe what had just happened, though he made no effort to check on his dad.

Before the big title match, we see a pre-taped interview with Jeff Jarrett and Mike Tenay. Jarrett’s happy to talk about what the NWA Championship means to him and how he’s always dreamed of being NWA Champion. Tenay brings up Sean Waltman’s refusal to work due to the employment of Vince Russo. Jarrett’s opinion is that since Russo doesn’t sign the checks, Waltman has no reason to not show up. Jarrett says that it’s cowardly and that it proves Waltman’s heart isn’t in it if he’s refusing to come in.

As for the comments about Owen Hart’s tragic death, Jarrett refuses to talk about it on a wrestling program, but says it was no one’s fault, including Vince Russo’s. Jarrett’s not happy about Piper’s comments, but no one knew Piper was coming and you get what you get. Finally, Tenay asks the $64k question: What is Jeff Jarrett’s answer to Vince Russo? Jarrett still refuses to answer, other than saying he’ll give his answer to Russo’s face in due time.

NWA Championship Match – Jeff Jarrett vs Curt Hennig: Here we go again. Another effort by Jeff Jarrett to help Curt Hennig recapture his Mr. Perfect magic.

Like previous attempts to recapture the Perfect magic, this match was hampered by the fact that Curt Hennig was two years, several injuries, and a lot of personal problems removed from Mr. Perfect and could not go the way he used to, not that he and Jarrett didn’t try.

It looked like Hennig might pull this out after Scott Armstrong was knocked out and Hennig countered the Stroke with a low blow, but Russo ran in and TRIED to break Jarrett’s guitar on Hennig’s back but either the guitar was tougher than believed or Russo didn’t hit hard enough, but the guitar didn’t break. Jarrett retained and still has a slightly dented guitar to play a song on.

Russo hands the title to Jarrett and the questions still hang in the air. Russo and Jarrett get into it but then AJ Styles jumps Jarrett. I’m guessing that Russo got tired of waiting for an answer and that’s where the show ended.

Overall Comments: So, how was episode 25? Not bad. This was actually a decent show. The lack of Russo and the fact that it seems like Jerry Jarrett was doing the writing, really improved the show.

The whole S.E.X thing is just bad. It’s basically a mashup of a lot of Attitude Era stories from WWF and WCW and put on guys that aren’t really talented enough to carry them.

I’m not sold on Siaki being champion, I think it’s more of Lynn having injury problems because Siaki is just boring.

The Jason Cross thing was annoying. What take the trouble to hype the guy and his super cool finisher and then have him lose in his debut match to Tony Mamluke?

Overall, this was a good show. Hopefully, Jerry Jarrett will keep control of the writing and Russo will stay an on-screen figure only.


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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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