Our road to the 2019 Royal Rumble continues with a look back at one from the past!
For the 2017 Royal Rumble at the Alamodome, the WWE pulled out all the stops with arguably its most star-studded Rumble Match in history!
Kickoff Match #1: Naomi, Nikki Bella & Becky Lynch vs. SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, Mickie James & Natalya
Nikki & Natalya will kickoff the action, they have some words for each other, Nattie mocks John Cena and Nikki slaps her across the face. The Queen of Harts quickly ducks into the ropes and tags out, the champion steps inside, goes for a lock-up, but Nikki grabs a waistlock. Standing switch from Alexa, Nikki switches back, gets clocked by a back elbow and then sent to the ropes for a back body drop. Nikki counters it with a kick, slams her down by the hair for a 2 count, brings in Naomi, sends Bliss to the ropes and she runs into a double dropkick.
The champion quickly brings Nattie in the ring, The Queen of Harts sets for a suplex, Alexa comes in to help out, everyone else steps inside and Nikki, Becky & Naomi delivers a triple suplex to send their opponents outside. The Lass Kicker & Nikki take them down with a baseball slide, The Glow Queen slingshots over the top with a crossbody and we head to commercial….We return and Natalya slaps Becky across the face, misses with a clothesline, Lynch scores with multiple clotheslines, then drops her with a leg lariat.
Nattie pulls herself up in the corner, The Lass Kicker charges in with the Flying Firearm, scores with a springboard sidekick and The Queen of Harts rolls out of the ring to regroup. Becky steps out to the apron and comes off with a clothesline, Mickie drops off the apron, deposits Lynch into the barricade, Natalya follows with a snap suplex on the floor, then tosses her into the squared circle. She climbs back inside and hooks on a rear chinlock, Becky works to her feet and escapes with an arm drag, tries to leap towards her corner, but The Queen of Harts drives her backwards into the corner.
Mickie tags in and puts the boots to Lynch, chokes her with the bottom of her foot, tags out and Alexa does some more of the same, then chokes The Lass Kicker on the 2nd rope. The referee backs her away and Mickie delivers a cheap shot behind the official’s back, Bliss covers for a count of 2, tags in Natalya and they both rip Lynch down to the canvas by the hair. The Queen of Harts continues to mock John Cena, gets surprised by a schoolboy for a quick 2 count, both ladies are up quick and Becky gets flattened by a clothesline. Nattie looks to wear her down some more with a rear chinlock, Lynch finds a vertical base, Natalya goes to the abdomen with a kick, then plants her with a Michinoku driver.
She knocks Naomi off the apron, turns back to Becky for a german suplex, The Lass Kicker with a standing switch, pushes Nattie to the ropes for a roll-up, but Alexa makes a blind tag. The champion looks to ambush Lynch and runs into a stiff forearm, The Queen of Harts grabs Becky for a body slam, Lynch slips out of it and dumps her to the outside. She leaps to make a tag, Nattie rips Nikki off the apron to prevent it, Bliss attacks The Lass Kicker from behind, then sets for a suplex. Lynch blocks it and counters with a small package for a count of 2, both women up quick, Becky attempts a kick that’s blocked, but brings the other foot around and scores with an enzuigiri.
Naomi gets the tag and springboards in with a crossbody to the champion, drops Mickie & Nattie to the floor with a double dropkick, Bliss rushes her in the corner, blocks a boot and swings the legs around, but The Glow Queen holds it off and connects with a roundhouse to the head. She hits the ropes and levels Bliss with a flipping clothesline, cracks her with a modified jawbreaker, unloads with a flurry of kicks and then drops Alexa with an enzuigiri to make the cover. Mickie hits the ring to break the count at 2, Becky steps inside, tosses her with a Bexploder, Nattie comes in from behind and drives her shoulder-first into the ring post.
Nikki slides into the ring and splits Natalya with a spear, they battle to the floor, Naomi charges Alexa back in the ring in the corner, gets elevated over-the-top and lands on her feet on the apron. The champion clocks her with a forearm shot, Naomi comes right back with an enzuigiri, steps in and delivers a split-legged moonsault for the win.
Winners: Naomi, Nikki Bella & Becky Lynch (Naomi/Split-Legged Moonsault)
- EA’s Take: Solid opener, nothing super exciting. I’m kind of surprised this was moved to the Kickoff show, I don’t really understand that move and think it would have been good on the main card to give a bit of a “break” if you will in between the big matches. Now the Cruiserweight Title match or RAW Women’s Title match will get one of those spots, which makes them seem a little less important. Not to mention the main card is 4 hours and only 5 matches. I thought the heels may go over here, but I’m not shocked that it didn’t happen and Naomi got the pinfall. I figure she will be a transitional challenger for Alexa since Elimination Chamber is in two weeks.
Kickoff Match #2 for the RAW Tag Team Championships – Two Referees Assigned: RAW Tag Team Champions Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Cesaro & Anderson will begin, The Swiss Superman scores with a dropkick right at the bell for 2, dead-lifts him up for a gutwrench suplex and gains another count of 2. Anderson sneaks in a shot to the eyes, chokes The King of Swing on the 2nd rope, the ref in the ring backs him away, Gallows looks for a cheap shot, but gets caught by the 2nd referee. Anderson pulls Cesaro up and gets surprised by an uppercut, The Swiss Superman makes a tag, sends him to the ropes, Sheamus slingshots in with the Battering Ram and gets a 2 count.
Tag back to Cesaro, The Great White plants Anderson with a rolling fireman’s carry, The King of Swing follows with a double stomp, hooks the leg, but Anderson kicks out at 2. Cesaro whips him into the corner and follows in for an uppercut, Anderson side-steps out of harm’s way, clocks him with a bicycle kick, brings in Gallows and Luke hammers The Swiss Superman with the heavy artillery. He shoots Cesaro the ropes for a clothesline, The King of Swing ducks it, springs off the 2nd rope with a corkscrew uppercut, lateral press and a count of 2. The Celtic Warrior tags in and the champions hit a double suplex, Sheamus builds a head of steam for a knee drop, makes the cover, but still can’t put it away.
The King of Swing re-enters the match, Sheamus drills Gallows in the corner with an uppercut, Cesaro runs in with one of his own, the champions with frequent tags now to trade-off more uppercuts. The Swiss Superman looks to send Gallows to the ropes, Luke reverses, elevates him with a back body drop, backs Cesaro into his corner, but The King of Swing fights his way out of it. He shoots Gallows into an opposite corner and rushes in with an uppercut, Anderson with a distraction from the apron, Gallows drops Cesaro with a roundhouse kick, then knocks Sheamus off the apron with a big boot as we head to break….
Back from commercial and Cesaro fights up from a rear chinlock, Gallows delivers a headbutt to impede his progress, tries to level Sheamus on the apron and misses, turns back to The Swiss Superman for a suplex, but Cesaro blocks it and hits one of his own. The King of Swing starts to crawl towards his corner, Gallows grabs him by the foot to stop it, Cesaro rolls free, The Celtic Warrior gets the tag and flattens Gallows with a double sledge. He knocks Anderson off the apron with a double sledge, scores with another to Gallows, sends him into the corner and buries a shoulder to the breadbasket, whips him across and Sheamus charges in with a spinning heel kick, flipping to the apron in the process.
The Great White hooks Gallows for the Beats of the Bodhren, heads up top for a flying clothesline, hooks the leg and almost finishes it. He powers Gallows onto his shoulders, Luke battles out of it, gets cracked by an uppercut, Sheamus lifts him up again for White Noise, Cesaro gets the tag and comes off the 2nd rope, the champions with an assisted White Noise, but only get a count of 2. The Swiss Superman calls for the Swing, Gallows kicks him away and tags out, Anderson rushes in for a dropkick, Cesaro swipes him away and Sheamus gets hit instead, falling to the floor. Cesaro charges Anderson in the corner with an uppercut, sends him across for another and runs into a boot, Anderson stacks him up, puts his feet on the ropes, the 2nd referee slides into the ring and informs the other to stop the count at 2.
Anderson has some words for the official on the outside, turns around and gets clobbered by a Very European Uppercut, Cesaro makes the cover and Anderson just kicks out before the 3 count. He hooks him for the Neutralizer, Anderson counters with a back body drop, Cesaro lands on his feet, drops him throat-first on the 2nd rope and scores with the Swiss-1-9. The King of Swing ascends the corner now, delivers a crossbody for a near fall, looks for the Swing again, Anderson counters with a backslide and almost puts it away. Both guys are back up quick, Cesaro with a big uppercut, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, The Swiss Superman hits Gallows on the outside with a running boot, turns around and Anderson plants him with a spinebuster, but still can’t finish it.
He calls Gallows into the ring and the challengers set for the Magic Killer, The Great White rolls into the squared circle to prevent it, Cesaro spikes Gallows with a DDT, Sheamus lines up Anderson for a Brogue Kick, but misses and hits the referee instead. Anderson dumps The Celtic Warrior to the outside, the 2nd official checks on the one outside, Anderson turns around and Cesaro gets him in the Swing, then slaps on the Sharpshooter. Gallows steps inside and breaks it up with a superkick, Anderson covers, Sheamus breaks it up at 2, tackles Gallows and unloads with a barrage of right hands.
He does the same to Anderson, almost inadvertently hits the official, Luke seizes the opening and drills him with a superkick, then the challengers follow with the Magic Killer. Cesaro rises to his feet and dumps Gallows outside, Anderson grabs him from behind with a schoolboy, gets a handful of tights and we have new champions.
Winners and NEW RAW Tag Team Champions: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (Anderson/Schoolboy)
- EA’s Take: Damn man, it’s about freakin’ time! Personally, I think WWE dropped the ball by not having Gallows & Anderson win the titles last year in their feud with The New Day and if they had lost here, then what would be the point of even having them? I truly hope that this title change will give them a breath of new life because they’re incredibly talented, but some of their stuff has been hit-or-miss. Completely not their fault, by the way. Sheamus & Cesaro, while entertaining, I just never bought them as a team because they’re two singles competitors that were put together out of necessity. I think RAW’s mid-card or main event picture could use some fresh blood like Cesaro, even Sheamus going back into the top picture would feel fresh after being dominated by Rollins, Reigns, Jericho and Owens for months on-end.
Kickoff Match #3: Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
Sasha rushes in at the bell, Nia catches her, backs her to the ropes and the ref separates them. Nia with some words for The Boss, Banks grabs her for a side headlock, Jax powers Sasha away to the corner, runs in, but The Boss side-steps out of harm’s way. She charges in with double knees, goes back to the well, Nia blocks it, explodes out for a clothesline, Banks ducks under and fires away with a series of chops. Sasha locks knuckles with Nia and looks to climb up top, Jax pulls her down, squashes her in the corner, then flattens Banks with a clothesline on the way to break….
We come back and Nia is in total control, Sasha tries to fight back, gets dropped by a headbutt, then sent to the ropes. The Boss tilt-a-whirls into a Bank Statement attempt, Jax breaks the grip, shoves her into the corner, runs in and Banks gets the boot up. Nia blocks the kick, leg-whips her bad knee into the canvas, then lifts Sasha up for a standing stretch muffler. Banks reaches out for the ropes, Jax doesn’t want to break, The Boss slips out for a sunset flip, can’t bring Nia over and gets tossed into the turnbuckles.
Jax tries to pull her back out by the legs, Banks lands on her feet, surprises her with a kick, slips out to the apron to avoid Nia charging in and she hits the ring post shoulder-first. Sasha unloads with a barrage of kicks from the apron, heads to the top rope and scores with double knees, hurts herself in the process, finally makes a cover, but only gets 2. The Boss continues to wail away on Jax with forearms, hits the ropes, Nia surprises her with a Pop-Up Samoan Drop and that’s all she wrote.
Winner: Nia Jax (Pop-Up Samoan Drop)
- EA’s Take: Pretty standard stuff here, this one going precisely as I had imagined it would. Nia really needed this win much more than Sasha did, especially if WrestleMania is going to feature a Fatal 4-Way between Sasha, Nia, Bayley and Charlotte for the RAW Women’s Title. Without a win, how on Earth could Nia have laid claim to a shot at the championship? It just makes sense.
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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