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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WCW Bash At The Beach 1994 – Hulk’s WCW Debut!

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Bash At The Beach 1994
Our weekly Chairshot Classics WCW PPV series continues with Bash At The Beach ’94!

Open: World’s collide as an unimaginable match will take place between Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan!





Match #1 for the WCW World Television Championship: Johnny B. Badd vs. WCW World Television Champion Lord Steven Regal w/Sir William
The crowd is on Regal immediately. Badd reaches in and Regal backs off. Collar and elbow, Badd with position in the corner and he’s backed off by the referee. Another tie up, Regal grabs the wrist, Badd rolls out and counters with a wristlock of his own. Regal rolls and monkeyflips the challenger. Side headlock by Regal, position in the corner and it’s broken up. Badd takes control as USA chants ring from the crowd. Regal counters with a single leg trip and grabs some time in the corner.

A determined Badd grabs a side headlock, but it’s quickly countered with a single leg by Regal. He tries to hold the Badd man on the mat, but Johnny won’t give. Regal with a monkey flip into a pin, but Badd uses the momentum to roll him up instead, the champ kicking at 2. Collar and elbow tie up, side headlock by Regal, they hit the ropes, Badd leap frogs and hits a Mexican arm drag takeover. Regal with a single leg pick up but Badd flips him across the ring. Collar and elbow, they jockey and Regal hangs on to a side headlock. To the ropes they go, shoulder block by Regal. On the comeback, Badd hits an armdrag. He grabs the wrist but Regal scores some forearms.

Badd hits the ropes, Regal grabs his boot but Badd hammerlocks him down to the mat. The champ rolls to the floor and the fans hate it. He feigns to the back, prompting more booing. Back in the ring, Regal takes control with European uppercuts and a snapmare takedown. Badd counters into a hammerlock, but Regal is able to break it in the corner. They tease position, and it’s Regal with more uppercuts. Badd blocks a vertical suplex into a wristlock but he’s rocked with forearms and a headbutt. Knees to face from Regal followed by a dropkick. Badd fights back with a fireman’s carry takeover and grabs the arm on the mat.

Regal gets to his feet, but Badd cranks the wrist hard. Regal fights away with forearms but he won’t give up the wrist. He lifts Regal for leverage, but Lord Steven is able to score a big right kick. Irish whip, Regal stops short of the turnbuckle but Badd is on target with a dropkick. Into the ropes and it’s a flying head scissor by Badd, following with a huge hip toss. He sends Regal for a high elevation back drop. Badd calls for the Kiss That Don’t Miss and he clocks Regal with it, the champ smartly rolls out, Badd isn’t letting up and comes over the top rope with a crossbody. He rolls Regal back in and focuses on Sir William.

He is back to the apron, flies in with a sunset flip, William offers Regal his cane to hang on to, Nick Patrick notices it and kicks it away, Regal tumbles over but kicks out at 2. Regal somersaults out of the position and rolls Badd up with plenty of leverage, he gets 3 and retains the title.
Winner and STILL WCW World Television Champion: Lord Steven Regal (Roll-Up)

  • After The Bell: Badd is frustrated, he flings Sir William into the ring and offers him a back body drop.
  • EA’s TakeI’m not crazy about the finish, seeing as Badd was in control at the time. I can’t imagine how annoying it is to wrestle amid all of the glitter from Johnny’s pop guns, but there’s no denying the man is really hitting his strides in terms of character and in the ring, although the in-ring part you’d never know it by this match since he was across the squared circle from one of the best to ever do it.

In The Ring: ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund introduces Japan’s premiere superstar, Antonio Inoki. On behalf of WCW, for his contributions to professional wrestling, Inoki is presented with a plaque of recognition. Lord Steven Regal returns to the ring, offended that this man from overseas receives respect, but he doesn’t get any. Inoki is lucky he’s retired or he’d have to teach him a lesson. Antonio takes his jacket off and Regal and Sir William retreat.

Match #2: Vader w/Harley Race vs. The Guardian Angel
Jesse Ventura has joined commentary in place of Bobby Heenan for this bout. Angel throws Race out of the ring and Vader blindsides him. He throws Angel to the ropes and hits a spin kick. He approaches with a clothesline, Angel counters into a belly to back suplex. He throws some rights and removes Vader’s head gear. Powerful body slam by Angel. He rushes the former World Champion with a clothesline and Vader rolls to the floor. Angel gives chase and throws some forearms. Race gets involved and he’s clocked, but it gives Vader an opportunity to make a comeback. Angel is prone on the outside, Race teases a boot to the head but the ref catches him.

He crawls back in and is immediately assaulted in the corner. Angel fights back toe to tie and finally gets the upperhand. Vader reverses an Irish whip and knocks him down with a body shot. Vader from the second rope, he tries a sunset flip but Angel sits down on his chest. Standing clothesline rocks Angel, Vader from behind locks in a calf crusher submission. He maneuvers into a crossface submission, he rolls Angel over and only gets two. Angel fights back from his knees but Vader returns the favor of the bodyslam. From the 2nd rope he scores with a Vader Bomb. Race asks for one more, this time he goes all the way up top for a moonsault, but he hurts himself on the landing. Both men are down, Race climbs up to the top rope but Angel presses him down.

He clotheslines Vader over the top rope and dumps Race out through the middle. He slides to the floor and tags both men. Vader climbs to the apron and Angel hits a vertical suplex. To the ropes, Angel hits a shoulder block that backs Vader into the referee, knocking him out for a short time. Race hands Vader Angel’s old nightstick, but The Guardian pounds him down with right forearms. He grabs the nightstick away just in time for the referee to see it. The official assumes Angel used the foreign object and calls for the bell.
Winner: Vader (Disqualification)

  • EA’s TakeThe Boss is no more. As you remember, at Spring Stampede, he was stripped of his Boss gimmick (due to a lawsuit by the WWF because of it’s striking similarities to his Big Boss Man gimmick), hence the finish with the nightstick. Harley Race’s partnership with Vader is among my favorite manager/wrestler combinations. I often wonder had Harley not taken a fall in the coming year and been at his side when he made the jump to the WWF, maybe things could have gone differently there. Probably not, but maybe.

Match #3: ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes & ‘The Enforcer’ Arn Anderson vs. Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck w/Col. Robert Parker & Meng
Buck will start things out with Anderson. They lock up and quickly release, Funk taunts Double A from the corner. Buck wants a piece of Rhodes, he gets his wish and The Natural pummels him. Rhodes wastes no time to knock an interfering Funk to the floor. He nails him with rights on the apron and Funk falls to the floor. In the ring, Funk and Rhodes tie up, Funk takes control with some chops and a forearm. Scoop slam from Funk, to the ropes and Funk hits a shoulder block. On the comeback, it’s Rhodes with a scoop slam.

Buck rushes in and he gets the same treatment. Without the referee’s attention, Dustin tosses both men over the top rope and Parker is incensed. Funk is slow to return, they tie up, Funk with a waistlock and Rhodes reverses into an atomic drop. He gives one to Buck while he’s at it. Funk takes some rights in the corner, a snapmare and a big elbow. Funk catches him with a belly to back suplex but can’t find his partner. He manages to tag in Buck who puts the boot to Rhodes’ head. They hit the ropes and Rhodes misses a crossbody, rolls out of the ring and takes a nasty spill on the steps. Funk gives him some abuse on the outside and The Enforcer checks in.

The ref’s attention is tied and Funk does some more dirty work before rolling him in to Buck. Knees to the small of the back by Bunkhouse Buck and he sits down with a front facelock. Terry Funk grabs a chair and sits it at ringside. Buck plants Rhodes with a scoop slam, puts the boot to his head and locks in an abdominal stretch. Funk is tagged in and he sits down with a reverse neck breaker. Terry lifts Rhodes and sits down with a piledriver, Anderson makes the save. Dustin goes down with a shoulder block, Funk staggers to his corner to make the tag. Big boot to the jaw by Buck and he sends Rhodes into the buckle. He applies a front facelock and holds him on the mat.

Anderson asks for some crowd help as a tag is made to Funk. They double team Rhodes with forearms, Rhodes fights his way out of the corner hitting a few bionic elbows. He whips Buck into Funk and elevates Funk for a back body drop. He gives another one to Buck and bashes both men’s heads together. Buck is clotheslined over the top rope, he sends Funk for a big clothesline. He attempts a pin but Buck has climbed to the top rope, Rhodes sits him down for a low blow.  Rhodes throws Buck on top of Funk and then gives a distracting Parker a big right. A tag is finally made to Anderson, he’s fired up but immediately turns to plant Rhodes with a DDT. The ref was distracted by Meng on the apron, but turns to see Funk covering Rhodes after Anderson pulled him on top.
Winners: Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck (Anderson DDT)

  • After The Bell: All 3 men assault The Natural, Anderson putting the knee to Rhodes’ forearm. Security finally breaks it up. ‘Mean’ Gene tries to get a word with Arn Anderson to figure out what just happened, but The Enforcer says they’re going to party. Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan grab a quick word with Hank Aaron. They ask ‘The Home Run King’ for his thoughts about the main event, he’s unsure who will win but he’s rooting for both Flair and Hogan.
  • EA’s TakeWe’ve got a heel heavy show so far in terms of winners. Kind of funny that the most bad ass guy out there was ringside instead of competing, but hello Meng! Very interesting turn of events here. I was thinking to myself: “Why hasn’t Anderson been tagged in at all? Rhodes has worked the entire match”. Oh, THAT’S why!

Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair & Sensuous Sherri. The champ laughs about what just happened to Dustin Rhodes. What’s he gonna do when Double A runs wild on him? Gene discusses the biggest match of his life tonight, Flair knows that it’s standing room only with a lot of big shots, and that’s just the way they like it. Sherri reminds Hogan that he’s the challenger with a failing career, Flair has nothing to prove. To be the man, you have to beat the man.

Match #4 for the WCW United States Championship: Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat vs. WCW United States Champion ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin
Austin blindsides Steamboat with forearms and some knee to knee contact. The Dragon fights back with some chops. They exchange strikes but Austin really works on the knee, he tries a submission but Steamboat kicks him into the ring post. From the top rope, Steamboat walks across and chops the arm. Hammerlock scoop slam by Steamboat. Austin takes position in the corner, Steamboat with some chops but Austin gets the big boot up. He heads for the top but Steamboat dropkicks him, tying him up on the top rope.

Steamboat heads to the floor to pound on the vulnerable Austin. Stunning Steve bounces back into the ring, Steamboat scores with a spin kick and an arm drag. Steamboat with an armbar, they spin for position and Steamboat chops him down. He hangs onto the wrist and puts his knee to Austin’s ribs. They run the ropes, Austin leapfrogs twice but tries baiting Steamboat by saying his knee gave out. The Dragon isn’t buying it and mauls him with kicks. Austin is drop kicked out of the ring, still playing possum about his knee as he calls timeout. He pulls Steamboat out to the floor and delivers chops and rights. Steamboat fights back and chases him all the way around the ring. They roll in and hit the ropes hard, Steamboat leaps on Austin’s back for a sleeper.

He pushes Austin into the turnbuckle and can’t pin him with a schoolboy. Steamboat moves into an armbar and cranks away at it. Austin kicks back with a low blow to break it up. Stunning Steve with a standing clothesline but is still reeling about his arm. Belly to back suplex by Austin, he sends Steamboat with a back elbow but The Dragon won’t stay down. It takes two more shots before Steamboat stumbles out of the ring. From the apron, the champ lifts Steamboat for a vertical suplex but he’s slow to cover. Steve hooks him, Steamboat backflips out of a suplex, grabs hold of Austin’s neck and throws him down for a 2 count. Austin is sent for the ride and receives an armdrag, hanging on with an armbar.

Steamboat drives his knee into Austin’s shoulder. To the ropes, Austin is caught out of the air from an attempted Thesz Press and Steamboat bridges for another 2 count. Scoop slam by Steamboat and he still can’t get him. From the ropes, Austin picks Steamboat up for a big slam and both men are slow to get up. Austin rubs Steamboat’s face into the mat and heads to the middle turnbuckle. A big knee rocks the back of Steamboat’s head. He measures Steamboat for a big elbow and lays in some shots in the corner. Steamboat pushes him away and dares him to do it again. Austin wears down the dazed challenger, Steamboat finally able to land a shot back. He takes Austin down with a double leg pick up and catapults him into the turnbuckle.

Austin staggers back and Steamboat flips him over for a pin, the champ able to just kick out. Austin is up quick and takes Steamboat down with a clothesline. They stagger to their feet and Austin buries a shoulder into Steamboat’s midsection. To the ropes, Austin lifts him for a back drop and follows it with a swinging neck breaker. He’s slow to cover and Steamboat kicks out. Reverse chin lock from a standing position by Austin, Steamboat doesn’t have enough to make it to his feet and Austin drives him head first into the mat. He tries multiple pins but Steamboat keeps getting his shoulder up. The Dragon bridges, Austin tries driving him down but Steamboat gets his knees up. He pursues Austin but is kicked away.

Stunning Steve chokes him on the middle rope and hits a bronco buster. He taunts the lifeless Steamboat to the camera. Austin charges him, but the tables are turned when Steamboat hits the Stun Gun. They roll to the apron and exchange fire until Steamboat is tossed into the railing. Ricky strikes back by throwing Austin into the railing, the champ rolls into the ring and Steamboat lands a chop from the top rope. He lays in 10 rights as the fans count. Austin is sent for a back body drop, Steamboat follows it with a clothesline and a chop, Austin kicks out at two. Stunning Steve changes momentum by going to the eyes, he tries to dump Steamboat over the top rope but The Dragon hangs on.

He flips back in, Austin charges with a clothesline, Steamboat ducks and fights back with chops. Austin tries a desperation back drop but Steamboat hangs on again. Steamboat tries a variety of pinning combination but Austin stays alive. Multiple reversals for a piledriver, Steamboat wins the battle. Steamboat heads for the top rope, Austin attempts to throw the referee in front of him. Steamboat begs Randy Anderson not to call for a disqualification and he tackles Austin to the mat. To the ropes, Steamboat ducks clotheslines and lands a crossbody. Stunning Steve uses the momentum to roll all the way over. Steamboat kicks out at two, so Austin puts his legs on the ropes for leverage and scores the cheap win on the second attempt.
Winner and STILL WCW United States Champion: ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin (Crossbody Reversal)

  • EA’s TakeJust a solid, back-and-forth match between two guys who know what they’re doing here. The theme of the heels winning continues. Also, that Thesz Press reversal did not look comfortable in the least.


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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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Chairshot Classics

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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