Open: “There is a place unlike any other. A place where one great opportunity has created countless legends. A place we all remember. Year after year, moment after moment, memory after memory, we will always remember. Tonight, live from San Antonio’s Alamodome, we’ll remember the definitive battle. We’ll remember the dominance. We’ll remember the line in the sand. Above all else, remember the Rumble. Tonight, it’s friend vs. friend, foe vs. foe, every man for himself. Tonight, an event 30 years in the making, forever and always we will remember this Royal Rumble.”
Match #1 for the RAW Women’s Championship: Bayley vs. RAW Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair
Collar & elbow tie-up to start out, the champion takes Bayley down with a waistlock, switches to a front facelock, The Huggable One works back to her feet, but gets dropped by a shoulder block. Charlotte tosses the challenger outside and plays to the crowd, Bayley steps back in, a shoving match ensues and the champion gets tossed outside. The Queen quickly jumps back on the apron and Bayley catches her with a shoulder to the abdomen, knocks her back to the floor with a dropkick, builds a head of steam and flies through the ropes with a hurricanrana.
She steps out to the apron, goes to the 2nd rope and scores with a crossbody on the floor, throws Charlotte back in the ring and covers for 2, The Queen then rolls out the other side to catch a breather. The Huggable One goes out in pursuit, tries to pick the champion up, Charlotte grabs her by the head and drives her face-first into the apron, kicks her into the steel steps, then sends Bayley back in the ring and gets a count of 2. The champion in control now, rams the challenger face-first off the mat multiple times, tosses her with a t-bone suplex for another 2 count, then shoots her into the corner for trademark Flair chops.
She snapmares Bayley out for a rear chinlock, decides to go for a cover and gets a 1 count, then chokes The Huggable One on the 2nd rope. Charlotte springs off the 2nd rope with a knee drop for a count of 2, puts her in the corner for more chops, tries another t-bone suplex, The Huggable One blocks it and grabs a roll-up for a 1 count. Both ladies back up quick, Bayley counters a clothesline and looks for a backslide, The Queen blocks it, delivers a modified neckbreaker, then floors the challenger with a big boot, nearly putting it away. The champion hooks on a figure four headlock, smashes The Huggable One face-first off the mat numerous times, rolls through for multiple slams, then kips up to her feet.
The champion starts toying with the challenger and covers for a count of 1, challenges Bayley to get up and fight, The Huggable One starts to get angered and slaps her across the face. Charlotte attempts another modified neckbreaker, Bayley slips out of it, they both go for a clothesline and double down. They stagger back to their feet and exchange stinging chops, Charlotte backs Bayley to the corner, whips her across and follows in, The Huggable One leaps to the 2nd rope and springs off with an arm drag. She charges The Queen and takes her down for a series of right hands, picks her up with a side headlock, Charlotte pushes her away into the corner, but Bayley hits a double springboard into a crossbody.
The challenger starts to build momentum with multiple double sledges, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Charlotte ducks down for a back body drop, but gets caught with a kick instead. She plants The Queen with a modified facebuster, heads upstairs, sees the champion moving around, drops back down and puts the boots to her. The Huggable One goes back to the top rope and connects with an elbow drop for a near fall, calls for the Bayley-To-Belly, Charlotte hangs onto the ropes to avoid it, goes to the knee with a kick, then slaps on a Figure Four. Bayley rolls onto her stomach to reverse the pressure, the champion reverses back into the Figure Eight, grabs the ropes for extra leverage, the official sees it and forces the break.
The Queen kicks the challenger to keep her down, ascends the corner for a top rope moonsault, Bayley gets the knees up, hooks the leg and almost steals it. The Huggable One fires away with heavy right hands in the corner, props the champion on the top turnbuckle, Charlotte slaps her away, Bayley climbs back up, but gets dumped over the top to the floor. The champion steps out to the apron, delivers Natural Selection, rolls the challenger back inside and retains.
Winner and STILL RAW Women’s Champion: Charlotte Flair (Natural Selection)
- EA’s Take: This one started pretty slow for me and to be honest, I thought we may be headed towards a quick ending. Both of these women were able to bring everything back around and get the crowd invested, including myself, however I never expected Bayley to walk away with the title. To me, it just seems like she’s been missing something since arriving on the main roster so the time is not right. Not yet at least. I fully expect Charlotte to go into WrestleMania as the champion before finally getting her PPV winning streak snapped. By who you may ask? That’s the real question.
Match #2 is No Disqualification for the WWE Universal Championship – WWE United States Champion Chris Jericho Suspended Above The Ring In A Shark Cage: WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns
Jericho & Owens ambush Roman before the start of the match, The Big Dog fights them both off, drives Y2J into the side of the cage, then drops him face-first off the top of it. He drags Jericho into the cage and the referee locks it shut, the bell rings and Owens assaults Reigns from behind. He unloads with heavy right hands, buries fists into the midsection in the corner, looks up to Y2J and the challenger fires back with punches of his own. KO rolls to the outside, The Big Dog goes out in pursuit, tosses him over the barricade and they battle their way into the crowd.
The Prize Fighter drives a barrier into Roman’s ribs, tries to catch his breath, Reigns returns the favor and they head back towards ringside. The champion grabs a piece of the German announce table and tries to toss it in Roman’s face, the challenger blocks it, turns the tables on Owens, then rams him head-first off the announce table. The Big Dog looks to shoot KO into the steel steps, The Prize Fighter reverses and sends Roman in instead, batters him with a piece of the Spanish announce table, then reaches under the ring and pulls out a gaggle of chairs. He picks one up and rams in into Reigns’ breadbasket, sets up 4 of them side-by-side and facing each other, The Big Dog finally regroups and clocks him with an uppercut.
Owens cuts him off with right hands on his own, bashes the challenger with one of the monitors from the announce table, deposits him into the barricade and then charges in with a Cannonball. He stacks more chairs on top of the others, delivers a couple more chair shots to the ribs of Roman, climbs to the apron, drags him up and sets for a powerbomb through the chair stack. Reigns blocks it and sends him back inside with a big right hand, the challenger hooks KO for a suplex from the ring through the chairs, The Prize Fighter avoids it and hits Roman with a hot shot. He unleashes a series of right hands to get the challenger teetering, hits the ropes for a head of steam, The Big Dog steps in and cuts him off with a clothesline, scores with another, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, but Reigns leaps and connects on another clothesline.
The challenger rams Owens shoulder-first into the ring post, heads to the floor and pulls out a table from under the ring, slides it into the squared circle and starts to set it up. KO pops up with a backstabber for a count of 2, tosses the table out of the ring, measures Roman in the corner for a Cannonball, but Reigns cuts him off with a big boot. KO tries to come right back with a superkick, The Big Dog blocks it, powers him up for a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall, then gets set for a Superman Punch. The Prize Fighter realizes it and rolls outside, the challenger slides out, clocks him with a Drive-By, then sets the table up on the floor.
The champion surprises him with multiple superkicks, lays Roman across the table, climbs to the top rope and crashes down with a Bullfrog Splash, then drags Reigns back into the ring for a near fall. KO makes his way back outside and puts a couple of chairs in the ring, cracks the challenger in the head with it, smashes it across his back and covers for another 2 count. The Prize Fighter squeezes one of the chairs between the ropes in the corner, looks to send the challenger into it, The Big Dog puts on the brakes, sends him into the opposite corner and unloads with a flurry of clotheslines. He hits the ropes and runs into a big forearm shot, Owens hits the ropes now and gets cut off by an uppercut.
The Big Dog goes back into the ropes, KO meets him with a kick, hits the ropes again, Reigns follows him in for a misdirection, charges into a superkick, then gets driven head-first into the chair in the corner. The Prize Fighter hooks the leg and still can’t put it away, Y2J drops a pair of brass knuckles down to Owens, the champion putting them on and then gets ready for his own Superman Punch. The challenger blocks it, tries to rip the knucks away, the champion pushes him off, scores with a Superman Punch, lateral press and Reigns kicks out at 2. Owens can’t believe it, sets up a chair and hooks Roman for a powerbomb, The Big Dog avoids it, lifts him up for a Samoan Drop and drives KO through the chair for a count of 2.
Reigns staggers to his feet and heads outside, reaches under the squared circle for another table, slides it in the ring and props it up in the corner. Owens surprises him from behind with a schoolboy for a count of 2, both guys are up quick, the champion swings wildly with a right hand that’s off-target, Reigns bounces off the ropes with a Superman Punch, hooks the leg, but can’t put it away yet. The Prize Fighter uses the table to get back to a standing position, The Big Dog measures for a Spear, Owens catches him with a kick, delivers a stunner, but Roman continues to kick-out at 2. KO pulls himself up using the ropes, puts the boots to the challenger in the corner, connects with a Cannonball and Reigns rolls out to the apron.
The Prize Fighter steps out the other side, climbs to the 2nd rope and drags Roman up for a superplex through the stack of chairs on the floor, Reigns blocks it, hits a Superman Punch and the champion crashes through the stack. Reigns drops down to the floor and eyes the announce table, clears it off and dead-lifts Owens up, then plants him through it with a powerbomb. The Big Dog tosses The Prize Fighter into the ring, gets ready for a Spear, Braun Strowman appears at ringside, pulls Roman outside and then plants him on the German announce table with a chokeslam. He sends Reigns back into the squared circle, drives him through the propped up table with a Running Powerslam, KO drapes the arm over and steals the victory.
Winner and STILL WWE Universal Champion: Kevin Owens (Outside Interference)
- EA’s Take: I wouldn’t call myself a “Roman hater”, but thank you Braun Strowman! Tremendous match that was everything it needed to be with lots of violence, brutal high-spots and even with Owens retaining due to interference, there were moments in this match that made him look stronger than he has his entire title reign. I’ve longed for both Owens and Styles to hang onto their titles heading into WrestleMania, I just don’t feel it’s right to have either of them drop it after all this time just because Mania is around the corner. Does this mean Braun will face Roman at WrestleMania? I’m not so sure about that, I feel like it will happen at FastLane in March. Additionally, I think this opens up the very real possibility of Jericho winning the Rumble.
Video: We take a look at 30 facts about the Royal Rumble match beginning with 30-15 including Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart being the first man to ever enter a Rumble match, Edge returning in 2010 to win and Rey Mysterio holding the record for the longest time spent.
Backstage: RAW Commissioner Stephanie McMahon & RAW General Manager Mick Foley are with the tumbler for Superstars to choose their numbers in tonight’s Royal Rumble. SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon & SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan walk in, Shane gives it a spin and Sami Zayn enters to select his number. WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose comes in looking for a churro, decides he may as well select his number, but doesn’t open it and tells Bryan to wake him up when his music hits. He offers to open Sami’s number for him and it’s #8, Zayn offers to open Dean’s, but he thinks it will ruin the surprise.
Match #3 for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann
Austin Aries has joined commentary for this match. They lock-up to start out and Swann backs Neville to the corner, clean break, another collar & elbow and now the challenger backs the champion into the corner. The King of the Cruiserweights tries to sneak in a right hand, Rich ducks under it, gets caught in a side headlock, Neville pushes him off to the ropes, drops down for a monkey flip, the champion front-flips over it, tries a dropkick, but gets swiped away. The Outlandish One comes right back with an enzuigiri and Neville rolls outside, Swann flies over the top with a slingshot crossbody, rams the challenger head-first into the apron numerous times, then tosses him back in the ring.
The King of the Cruiserweights catches him coming and backs him to the corner, puts the boots to the champion, executes a body slam and then ascends the corner to the top. The Man That Gravity Forgot comes off the top with a dropkick for a count of 2, blatantly chokes The Outlandish One, Rich tries to battle back, but gets caught by a knee to the abdomen. He picks Rich up and gets surprised by a crucifix for a 2 count, Neville hangs onto the arm and looks for the scissored armbar, the champion squirms to the bottom rope to avoid it, but the challenger stomps away some more. He hits a snap suplex, crushes Swann in the corner with a forearm for another count of 2, drives down elbows to the top of the head, then slaps on a rear chinlock.
The Outlandish One tries to gain his footing, Neville releases the hold for a knee drop and a 2 count, hooks on another chinlock, the champion fights his way to his feet, pushes the challenger to the ropes, Neville hangs on and ducks outside. Rich goes out after him, The King of the Cruiserweights makes him pay by driving him into the barricade multiple times, rolls him back into the squared circle and goes to the high-rent district. Swann catches Neville coming off the top with a superkick, both guys stagger back up, The King of the Cruiserweights charges Rich in the corner, gets propped on the top turnbuckle and clocked by an enzuigiri.
The champion explodes up with a hurricanrana, The Man That Gravity Forgot rolls under the bottom rope to the floor to regroup, The Outlandish One hops to the apron, then springs off the 2nd rope with the Tumbleweed. He slides the challenger into the ring, takes him down with a double leg and unloads with fists, clobbers Neville with a roundhouse kick, hooks the leg and gains a near fall. The King of the Cruiserweights uses the ropes to pull himself to his feet, Swann runs into a back elbow, Neville shoots him to the ropes, the champion coming right back with a clothesline. He steps over Neville and hits the ropes for a kick, goes back to the ropes for a splash that almost puts it away, Rich goes to the top turnbuckle, but the challenger sweeps the legs and crotches him.
The Man That Gravity Forgot climbs up for a superplex, the champion fights it off and pushes him back down, Neville backflips to his feet, Rich jumps over the top of him and connects with a spinning back kick to the breadbasket. The Outlandish One hits the ropes and runs into a superkick, Neville dead-lifts him off the mat for a german suplex, Swann counters with a victory roll and nearly finishes it. Both guys back up quick, the champion clocks Neville with the Spinning Back Kick, Rich makes the cover, but the challenger gets a foot on the ropes at 2. Swann positions The King of the Cruiserweights and ascends the corner to the top, Neville quickly scales the ropes to meet him for a superplex, hooks the leg, but still can’t finish it. He hooks on the scissored armbar off the kick-out, The Outlandish One taps and Neville takes it.
Winner and NEW WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Neville (Scissored Armbar)
- EA’s Take: It’s unfortunate that the WWE keeps using the Cruiserweight Division as a way to try and bring the crowd back down in-between the “big” matches, but it didn’t really work in this case as the crowd has been pretty hot all night for everything. Much like the Sasha/Nia match on the Kickoff, this one went just as I thought it would, it just makes too much sense right now for Neville to be the champion. There’s a lot of quality babyfaces in the Cruiserweight Division and Neville is the perfect guy for them to be chasing.
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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