Our weekly Chairshot Classics WCW PPV series continues with Halloween Havoc ’94!
Open: Tonight is the night, Hulk Hogan is putting his career on the line in his title defense against Ric Flair. There’s a lot of history in Detroit, and this will add another chapter. Sting is not on the Halloween Havoc card, but he is the first guest on WCW Hotline if you want to find out why. T. Graham Brown performs the National Anthem, and we’re underway.
Match #1 for the WCW World Television Championship: The Honky Tonk Man vs. WCW World Television Champion Johnny B. Badd
Badd immediately backs HTM into the corner swinging with lefts and rights. Collar and elbow, HTM grabs the wrist lock and pounds on the tricep. Badd counters and pulls him all the way down to the mat. HTM cowers to the ropes and buys some time. Collar and elbow, side headlock and a closed fist punch by HTM. Badd ducks a straight right and receives an atomic drop. Badd messes up HTM’s hair, blocks a right and throws one of his own. HTM bails out to the floor and slows it down. They lock up, HTM with a knee to the gut and he throws Badd into the turnbuckle. Snapmare by HTM and Nick Patrick warns him about closed fists.
Knees to the chest by HTM, Badd fights back with uppercuts. HTM lures him into the corners and throws a knee. He sends Badd for a back elbow and taunts for the crowd. Double ax handle to the gut and a reverse chin lock by HTM. Badd works up to his feet, breaks the hold, hits a shoulder block but runs into a big knee on the 2nd effort. HTM chokes Johnny on the bottom rope and the ref breaks it up. To the ropes, HTM tries a back body drop, Badd reverses into a sunset flip for two. Badd with some body shots, but HTM slows it with a knee. Snapmare and back to the reverse chin lock as we hit the half way point in the 10 minute time limit. Badd hulks up, throws some elbows and lifts him for a couple scoop slams, but HTM moves away from an elbow.
He tries a cover and the champ kicks out. Back to the chin lock for Honky Tonk Man. He tells the fans to shut up as they get behind Johnny. Badd throws elbows, but HTM sets up for the Shake Rattle & Roll. He wastes too much time and Badd back drops him. HTM is up first but Johnny fights from his knees, clubs him in the corner and sends him for an Irish whip. He charges but HTM moves and Badd tumbles to the mat. He tries a cover but Nick Patrick catches him using the ropes for leverage. Badd is dumped to the floor and he gives chase. From the apron, a double ax handle across the back. Badd is rolled back in, snapmare and a reverse chin lock by HTM.
Badd gets psyched and gets his feet but gets a knee across the kidneys. HTM moves in, but Badd is ready for him. He throws HTM’s head into the turnbuckle and climbs to the 2nd rope for a series of rights as there is only 1 minute left. Badd with a combo and a knee lift. To the ropes and Badd hits the big elbow. HTM ducks the Kiss That Don’t Miss and reverses with a belly to back suplex. Both men are slow to move, HTM finally chokes him. Tempers flare and they pummel one another as the ring announcer counts down the final seconds. We have a draw.
Winner: Time Limit Draw
- After The Bell: Badd poses with his belt in the corner, HTM tries lifting him for an atomic drop but it does no damage. The TV champ pummels Honky Tonk Man some more until he bails out to the floor.
- EA’s Take: This one makes me chuckle a little only because it’s well documented that Honky Tonk Man had an infamously bad time getting along with Eric Bischoff. So if you don’t want to miss HTM in WCW, don’t blink. Pretty standard stuff until the aggression at the end. I could see a rematch, but I’m pretty sure the man most known for his long Intercontinental Title reign doesn’t make it to Starrcade. Bischoff has even called Honky his favorite firing during his time running WCW, to which Honky takes as an honor today.
Video: We relive the events at Clash of Champions when Hogan was attacked by a masked man, but still faced Ric Flair. The masked man returned during the main event, he and The Nature Boy took plenty of liberties with the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. On October 9th, we found out there was more than one masked man as Hogan tried to fend them all off. Flair took advantage and did more damage to the knee. Later in the month, Ric Flair was seen in Chicago with Mr. T, the man who will be the special guest referee tonight.
Match #2 for the WCW World Tag Team Championships: Pretty Wonderful (‘Pretty’ Paul Roma & ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff) vs. WCW World Tag Team Champions Stars & Stripes (The Patriot & Marcus Alexander Bagwell)
Patriot and Orndorff at the start, they lock up and jockey around the ring for position before a rough break up. Another lock up, double leg pick up by Orndorff, they roll around the mat and trade rights. Roma charges in and Bagwell responds, a bad-blood melee as all four men brawl. Orndorff and Patriot take it to the floor and Bagwell clotheslines Roma out to the other side. Patriot rolls Orndorff back in the ring, climbs to the top and comes off with a chop. Orndorff is dropped by a left but he hastily crawls over to tag in Roma.
He and Patriot lock it up, Patriot twists the wrist and tags in Bagwell. Marcus with a chop from the turn buckle and he stays on the wrist. He cranks away, Roma responds with a forearm and a scoop slam. Pretty Paul races to the top turnbuckle and dives with a closed fist. To the ropes, Bagwell ducks clotheslines and hits a crossbody for two. Arm drag and holding with an armbar is Bagwell. He makes the tag to Patriot and they score a double hip toss. Patriot cranks the arm as Roma reaches for his partner but he can’t get there. Quick tag to Bagwell who comes off the top rope with a sunset flip, Paul kicks him in the face. Roma takes control with knee to the gut and tags in Mr. Wonderful. Bagwell greets him with a drop toe hold and a wrist lock.
Orndorff drops to his knees. They hit the ropes, Orndorff leap frogs but runs into a scoop slam. He is quick up, but he gets another. Running clothesline by Bagwell and Wonderful rolls out to the floor. He slows it down and rolls back in. Side headlock takedown by Orndorff and he tags in Roma who drops some elbows. Roma sends Bagwell for the ride and catches him in the gut. He drives the knee into the chest of Bagwell and tries to bait Patriot. Pretty Wonderful take advantage with a double team, and Roma taunts Patriot. This gives Bagwell a chance to come back with some forearms and he tags Patriot. He clubs away and throws Roma into the turnbuckle. An Irish whip and a running charge, Patriot makes the cover and Roma kicks out.
Back to the wrist for Patriot and he works it into a hammerlock. He works him down to the mat and drives his knee into the arm. Tag is made to Bagwell and he continues abusing the arm. Roma grabs the trunks and drags him into the turnbuckle. He makes a tag to Orndorff as Pretty Wonderful shows good teamwork. Wonderful stomps the body and sends Bagwell to the ropes for another big kick to the gut. An elbow with theatrics by Orndorff and the crowd gets a small pop. Bagwell tries fighting from his knee, but Orndorff stays in control. Another tag Roma, Orndorff holds Bagwell in place so Pretty Paul can land a top rope chop. Roma cuts off the ring and clubs Bagwell’s neck. Kicks in the corner, Bagwell fights with forearms.
Into the ropes, Roma stops short and punts Bagwell in the face. High elevation elbow drop by Pretty Paul, Bagwell kicks out at two. Roma lifts Bagwell for a back breaker and poses. He’s slow to cover and Bagwell kicks out. To the ropes again and Roma leaps for a drop kick. Irish whip, Bagwell climbs to the 2nd turnbuckle and surprises Roma with a crossbody and a two count. He’s low on energy as he reaches for Patriot, Roma bearhugs him on their knees. Bagwell works to his feet but Roma brings him to Wonderful’s corner and makes the tag. Orndorff sends him for the ride and copies Roma’s drop kick. An elbow to the gut and he grabs a front facelock. Bagwell fades but the crowd gets behind him. He lifts Orndorff but can’t get anything out of it, knee lift by Wonderful.
To the ropes, Roma takes a cheap shot to the kidneys and Orndorff follows with a clothesline. Orndorff stomps away and drives Bagwell head first into the mat. Orndorff sets up, but Bagwell blocks the vertical suplex and counters. He tries a cover but Orndorff kicks out. Knee lifts by Orndorff, Bagwell counters a snapmare into a backslide and Roma makes the save. Irish whip by Orndorff and he runs into a boot, Bagwell leaps on his back with a sleeper hold. Roma runs in to make the save again, Patriot takes care of him. All four men brawl, Bagwell and Orndorff are legal. Scoop slam by Patriot on Roma and a knee lift on Orndorff from Bagwell. Stars and Stripes runs both men down with clotheslines.
The ref is concerned with Patriot and Roma on the apron as Bagwell hits a fisherman’s suplex in the middle of the ring. He corals Patriot as Roma heads to the top rope. He hit Bagwell with a top rope elbow and Orndorff turns the pin. The ref turns around and makes the count, Pretty Wonderful win back the belts.
Winners and NEW WCW World Tag Team Champions: Pretty Wonderful (Orndorff/Top Rope Elbow)
- EA’s Take: This is the 2nd time Bagwell has been in an up-and-coming tag team, losing back-to-back title matches on PPV, but actually entering this match as champion. I feel like the same thing happened to the American Males as well. You have to wonder what gives? He was over with the fans and plenty athletic during these years. Did they cap his ceiling too low for too long? Textbook tag team wrestling in this one, great pace, and although the babyfaces got screwed, Pretty Wonderful still looked plenty strong through much of the match.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is joined by ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair & Sensuous Sherri. Sherri looks excited, Flair is already planning the greatest celebration in wrestling history for when he puts away the so-called #1 wrestler of all time. He tells Hogan that it all comes to an end tonight, courtesy of him. Don’t look at old videos or anything other than what happens tonight. Sherri says the price is right, they have a gameplan and they’re ready to go.
Video: Dissent between brothers Kevin Sullivan & Dave Sullivan occurred over Dave’s buy-in of Hulkamania.
Match #3: Kevin Sullivan vs. Dave Sullivan
They waste no time, a back elbow knocks Kevin out of the ring. Dave gives chase but Kevin baits him. Chops in the corner by Kevin followed by a standing clothesline. Dropkick by Kevin, but Dave blocks the turnbuckle shot. Kevin eats the corner 10x. Running clothesline by Dave, he sends Kevin for a back body drop. He pursues and Kevin dumps him to the floor through the middle ropes. Kevin sends Dave into the ring post and returns to the ring. He crawls to the apron and Kevin gives him a hard time getting back into the ring. Dave fights from his knees, Irish whip but Dave runs into a boot. Bronco buster on the ropes by Kevin.
Snapmare by Kevin and a stomp across the head. Kevin bails out and grabs a Hogan bandana, he chokes his brother with it and gives a gut stomp. Another double stomp, he calls for the crowd and heads for the top. Dave catches him with a gorilla press and turns the tide, choking Kevin with the bandana. He whips Kevin for a lariat. He whips him again and hits a big boot. Kevin takes the bandana and kneels in the corner showing that he could put it on and make up, Dave doesn’t know whether to buy it and Kevin cheap shots him. Out to the floor, the brothers exchange shots. Dave hits the ring post and rolls back in the ring. Kevin doesn’t beat the ref’s count back into the ring, and we have a count out.
Winner: Dave Sullivan (Count-Out)
- EA’s Take: I guess this is an early seed of what ultimately becomes The Dungeon of Doom and Sullivan’s ploy to end Hulkamania. For a five minute match between a 45-year old Kevin Sullivan and his 37-year old, kayfabe brother who honestly wasn’t much of a worker (he was also ‘The Equalizer’), it obviously didn’t steal the show, but it wasn’t a bad little storyline match.
Video: We revisit Arn Anderson’s turn on Dustin Rhodes in his match against Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck at Bash at the Beach.
Match #4: ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes vs. ‘The Enforcer’ Arn Anderson w/Col. Robert Parker & Meng
They measure and lock up, Rhodes with position in the corner and we have a clean break. Collar and elbow, Double A with a side headlock, they hit the ropes, Anderson reverses a hip toss, Rhodes immediately scissors his head on the mat and they break it off for a restart. Anderson claims Rhodes pulled his hair. Collar and elbow, Anderson chains into a hammerlock, reversed by Rhodes with a snapmare. Anderson complains to the ref again. Collar and elbow, Rhodes with position on the ropes and Anderson cheapshots on the break. Rhodes responds with a right that knocks Double A to the mat.
Rhodes with an Irish whip, he catches Anderson’s boot, hits an atomic drop and a lariat from the back. The Natural heads for the top, Anderson trips him up and sets up for a superplex. Rhodes blocks with a headbutt and hits a top rope clothesline, Anderson kicks out. Irish whip from Rhodes, he measures but Anderson catches him with an elbow first. Anderson to the 2nd rope, Rhodes puts the boot up but Anderson stops short and drops an elbow. The Enforcer kicks away at the hamstring, looks for a figure four but Rhodes kicks him through the middle rope out to the floor. The Natural gives chase and rakes his back, Anderson tries turning the table but ends up punching the ring post.
Back to the ring, Rhodes drives him into the turnbuckle and gets two on a schoolboy. Rhodes on the attack with a modified wristlock, using his knee for extra leverage. Anderson tries using the hair but Rhodes hangs on, he drops Arn to the mat and drops a leg across the bicep. Rhodes moves into an arm breaker submission, using his boot on Anderson’s neck. He drives the knee into the elbow and sends Arn for an inverted atomic drop. He goes for a big lariat, but Anderson uses his momentum to send him over the top rope and to the floor. Back to the apron, Anderson drops a forearm across the check and puts a boot to him.
To the ropes, Anderson measures a gut shot and tries a couple covers, The Natural kicks out. Anderson tries dropping the knees, Rhodes body scissors him but Anderson walks him to the bottom rope and catapults Dustin. They exchange shots and Dustin rakes Anderson’s eyes across the top rope. They continue to go toe to toe, to the ropes they each hit a clothesline and both men are slow to get up. Back to their feet, both wobbly men exchange fire. To the ropes Dustin puts a boot to the gut and comes off the ropes with a big boot. He sends Anderson for a big lariat but Arn kicks out. He sends Anderson again, sets up for a back body drop, Anderson tries to counter with a DDT but Rhodes holds the top rope.
Dustin drops a quick elbow and Anderson kicks out at two. Rhodes hits a hot shot across the top rope, he drops his knee pad as he goes for a knee drop across the arm. Arn moves and Dustin is hurt. Arn tries a piledriver, Rhodes blocks, he reverses with a backbody drop but Anderson holds on for a sunset flip. He may have had three but the ref catches Anderson holding the ropes for leverage. The Enforcer argues and Dustin catches him in a roll up.
Winner: ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes (Roll-Up)
- After The Bell: Anderson is enraged and ambushes Rhodes, including a DDT.
- EA’s Take: “This is wrestling *clap clap, clap-clap-clap*”. I knew we’d get a smart match between these two. Seriously though, if you want an example of how to put on a great 10-minute, one-on-one wrestling match despite it not being glittered with a belt on the line, a special gimmick or stipulation, high spots, hardcore shots, outside interference or over the top pomp and circumstance, this match should go on your ‘recommended’ list. Obviously all of that other stuff belongs on the card, I’m just saying it’s truly an art to put on such an engaging, straight-forward match without any added razzle-dazzle. Two absolute pros.
Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!
Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?
ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!
What I Watched #16
ECW Guilty as Charged 1999
Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL
Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)
Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)
- Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
- Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
- Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
- Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
- Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
- Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
- Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15
Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)
Super Crazy vs. Tajiri
Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)
John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent
So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)
Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley
Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…
The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)
TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm
Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.
The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)
Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer
The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of.
As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)
Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz
So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent.
The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)
THE FINAL REACTION
- Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
- Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
- Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
- MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.
It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.
So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.
What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018
Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!
Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.
I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.
What I Watched #10-B
ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018
Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL
Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)
Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)
- Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
- Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
- Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
- Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
- Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
- Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
- Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
- Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
- Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
- Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
- Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44
Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)
*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)
Over the Budget Battle Royal
*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross
*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)
Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)
*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)
Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)
NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)
*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)
‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela
*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)
ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon
*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)
Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)
Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio
*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)
THE FINAL REACTION
There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.
Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.
Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.
Overall Show Score: 8.5/10
MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.
And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.
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