Match #4 for the WWE Championship: WWE Champion AJ Styles vs. John Cena
The crowd is on fire for this one, some posturing to start from both guys, AJ scores with a leg kick, but Cena comes back with a clubbing shot to the head and Styles rolls out to the apron. The challenger drags him back into the ring and sends him hard into the turnbuckles, connects with heavy right hands in the corner, shoots the champion back across and follows in, but meets a back elbow to the jaw. The Phenomenal One delivers a big forearm shot, hits the ropes for a knee drop, buries a kick to the spine, then delivers another knee drop and plays to the people.
AJ drops The Leader of the Cenation with another forearm, goes back to the well for another knee drop, the challenger rolls out of harm’s way, pops up and elevates the champion with a high back body drop. He quickly looks for an Attitude Adjustment, Styles flips to his feet to counter it, goes back to the leg with a kick, then connects with an enzuigiri. The Phenomenal One plasters Cena with right hands, sends him to the ropes, the challenger scores with multiple shoulder tackles, attempts the spin-out back suplex, Styles reverses with a hurricanrana, then bludgeons him with a clothesline in the corner.
AJ hits a basement forearm for a count of 2, hooks Cena for a Styles Clash, The Leader of the Cenation powers out and tosses the champion into a flapjack, plants him with a spin-out back suplex, then sets for a 5 Knuckle Shuffle. Styles rolls away, blocks a clothesline with his boot, delivers a german suplex, hangs on for a wheelbarrow facebuster and hooks the leg for a 2 count. He calls for Cena to rise up and clocks him with a series of strikes, The Leader of the Cenation staggers back, turns the champion inside-out with a clothesline, then drops the 5 Knuckle Shuffle. He goes for the AA and Styles escapes onto the 2nd rope, the challenger decks him with heavy punches, climbs up for a superplex, The Phenomenal One slips out, lifts Cena into a spin-out torture rack, stacks him up and gains a near fall.
AJ steps out to the apron and readies for a Phenomenal Forearm, Cena ducks it, Styles rolls through, gets caught in the Attitude Adjustment, but kicks out at 2. The Leader of the Cenation gets angered, measures The Phenomenal One for a massive clothesline, covers, but still can’t put it away. The challenger lines up for another big clothesline, the champion pulls himself up using the ropes, avoids it this time and connects with a Pele Kick. Cena stumbles to the corner, Styles rushes in and gets elevated over the top, lands on his feet, rattles the challenger with a forearm, springboards in with the Phenomenal Forearm and nearly finishes it.
Styles with stiff kicks to the chest, tries another, the challenger avoids it, powers him up for an electric chair drop, both guys now struggling to their feet. They exchange right hands, AJ goes back to the leg with a kick, attempts a Styles Clash, Cena counters for another Attitude Adjustment, but the champion reversed into the Calf Crusher. The challenger slips out and hooks on the STF, The Phenomenal One tries to crawl to the ropes, Cena drags him back to the center of the ring, AJ counters into a pinning predicament for 2, then hooks on an STF of his own. The Leader of the Cenation uses brute strength to power up for the AA, the champion avoids it, looks for the Calf Crusher again, Cena holds it off and slaps on a figure four.
The Phenomenal One breaks free and locks in a cross armbreaker, the challenger muscles up, plants Styles with a powerbomb, then staggers to a standing position. He steps out to the apron and climbs the corner to the top, comes off for a leg drop, the champion counters with a powerbomb of his own, hits the Styles Clash, Cena just kicking out before the 3 count. AJ can’t believe it, steps out to the apron for a springboard 450 splash, The Leader of the Cenation gets the knees up, connects with a sunset flip bomb, The Phenomenal One barely getting the shoulder up at a count of 2. The challenger charges AJ, gets surprised by the Ushigaroshi for a near fall, sets for another Styles clash, Cena counters with a double leg takedown, then catapults him face-first into the turnbuckles.
The Leader of the Cenation, picks AJ up, plants him with a modified cutter for a 2 count, props The Phenomenal One on the top turnbuckle and climbs up for a Super Attitude Adjustment, but still can’t put it away. The Leader of the Cenation lifts AJ for another AA, The Phenomenal One slides out of it, scores with another Styles Clash, slides out to the apron for a Phenomenal Forearm, but gets caught in another Attitude Adjustment. Cena hangs on, rolls through for another AA and we have a new champion.
Winner and NEW WWE Champion: John Cena (Attitude Adjustment)
- EA’s Take: First off, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but Cena’s 16 title reigns are NOT the same as Ric Flair. Why? Because Cena did it within one company that had two World Titles for a number of years. As for the match, I mean what can you really say after that? These two absolutely killed it once again to nobody’s surprise and quite honestly, I think there may be an argument for this to have actually closed the show. Of course we are all anticipating the Rumble match so that’s just fine to close things out obviously. At this point, I don’t have a damn clue where we’re going for WrestleMania and I think it’s entirely possible that Cena loses the title at Elimination Chamber in a couple of weeks. AJ is of course due a rematch, but does he only get it inside the Chamber?
Video: We look at the remaining 15 facts about the Royal Rumble match including Kane’s record for most Rumble appearances and eliminations, Roman Reigns’ record for most eliminations in one match and the WWE Title being on the line twice.
Match #5 is the Royal Rumble – Winner Gets A Title Shot At WrestleMania
Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler joins commentary for this match.
- Entry #1 is Big Cass. Entry #2 is WWE United States Champion Chris Jericho. Jericho slaps Cass after the bell, the seven-footer makes him pay with heavy right hands, shoots Y2J into the corner and charges in with a splash. He tosses Jericho with a fallaway slam, scores with another splash in the corner, delivers a body slam and hits the ropes for the Empire Elbow. The Ayatollah of Rock & Rollah avoids it, gains a double leg takedown for the Walls Of Jericho, but Cass fights it off and tries to toss him over the top. Y2J hangs onto the apron and goes up top, gets clocked by a right hand coming down and the clock counts down.
- Entry #3 is Kalisto. The King of Flight springboards in with a dropkick to Cass, drills Jericho with a back handspring kick, the seven-footer grabs him from behind, looks to dump him outside, but Kalisto flips to the apron. He comes back in and goes to the legs with kicks, hits the ropes and runs into a big boot, Y2J gets back in the mix and the countdown begins….
- Entry #4 is Mojo Rawley. Mojo slides into the ring, levels Kalisto with a tackle, throws Jericho into the corner and clocks him with a running haymaker. Rawley & Cass start to trade-off right hands, Big Cass tries to toss him over, Jericho attacks the seven-footer from behind, then works with Mojo to try and eliminate him as the timer runs out….
- Entry #5 is Gentleman Jack Gallagher. The Extraordinary Gentleman slides in with his umbrella and unloads on everyone, Y2J clobbers him from behind, delivers a body slam and poses for the people. Gallagher uses the umbrella for a low blow, connects with a dropkick, then finally tosses the umbrella out of the ring. 10…9…8….
- Entry #6 is Mark Henry. The World’s Strongest Man steps into the squared circle and squashes Cass in the corner with a splash, Gallagher tries to hit him with a headbutt to the chest, it has no affect and Henry tosses him to the floor, but through the ropes. He drops Jericho with a headbutt, throws up the Texas longhorn sign, Gallagher climbs to the top with the umbrella, The WSM catches him in the air and tosses him over the top. Gentleman Jack Gallagher has been eliminated….
- Entry #7 is Braun Strowman. Braun hits the ring and runs over Kalisto, Mojo unloads with rights, delivers a splash in the corner, hits the ropes and gets planted by a spinebuster before Strowman sends him on his way. Mojo Rawley has been eliminated. Cass hits The Monster Among Men with a big boot, hits the ropes for another, Braun side-steps it and knocks him over the top. Big Cass has been eliminated. Kalisto tries to attack Strowman from behind, The Monster Among Men gets his hands on him, powers him to the outside and The King of Flight takes out Cass & Mojo. Kalisto has been eliminated. Braun turns around and comes face-to-face with The World’s Strongest Man, they trade-off right hands, Henry swings with a clothesline and misses, Strowman pushes him out to the apron, Henry tries to hang on, but gets kicked to the floor. Mark Henry has been eliminated….
- Entry #8 is Sami Zayn. The Underdog from the Underground sprints to the ring and hammers Braun with lefts and rights, The Monster Among Men drops him with one big fist, clubs him down to the canvas, then charges Sami in the corner. Zayn gets the boot up, sets for a suplex, Strowman blocks, powers him onto his shoulder, The Underdog from the Underground slips out, then staggers Braun near the ropes. He looks to pick The Monster Among Men up and can’t lift the weight, Strowman squashes him with a splash in the corner and here comes our next entry….
- Entry #9 is Big Show. The two big men go toe-to-toe, Big Show with heavy rights to the abdomen, shoots him to the ropes, Braun comes right back with a clothesline and flattens him. He looks to eliminate The Giant with a clothesline near the ropes, Show catches him by the neck, then plants him with a Chokeslam. Jericho looks for a Codebreaker to the big man and it’s blocked, Big Show clocks him with the WMD, then powers Braun up to dump him over. The Monster Among Men slips out, lifts The Giant over his shoulder, Show slides away, but gets pushed over the top from behind. Big Show has been eliminated….
- Entry #10 is ‘The Perfect 10’ Tye Dillinger. Tye runs to the squared circle, ducks a clothesline and clobbers Braun with flying forearms, puts him in the corner, climbs to the 2nd rope and unloads with left hands. Strowman powers his way out, Sami gets involved and they trade-off delivering big forearm shots. They set for a double suplex, The Monster Among Men blocks it, plants them both with a double suplex of his own and here comes the next man out….
- Entry #11 is James Ellsworth. Carmella tries to coax Ellsworth to get in the ring, he wants no part of Braun, Sami & Dillinger dump Strowman over the top, but the big man is able to hang onto the apron and fight them both off. The Monster Among Men squashes them both with splashes in the corner and the buzzer sounds….
- Entry #12 is WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose. The Lunatic Fringe acts as if he’s forming an alliance with Ellsworth, doesn’t hit the ring with him and Braun levels James with a clothesline, then tosses him out to the floor. James Ellsworth has been eliminated. Ambrose finally looks to go inside and heads to the top rope, delivers a back elbow to Braun, hits the ropes for running forearms, goes to the well one time too many and gets clubbed back to the mat. The Perfect 10 hits Braun with a dropkick, teams up with Sami & Dean, but Strowman fights them off as the countdown ticks away….
- Entry #13 is Baron Corbin. The Lone Wolf hits the ring and goes after Strowman with everyone else, The Monster Among Men fends everybody off, tosses The Perfect 10 over, then looks to go after Sami. ‘The Perfect 10’ Tye Dillinger has been eliminated. Zayn hooks Strowman by the beard, Corbin & The Lunatic Fringe join in on the battle, they stagger Braun near the ropes and The Lone Wolf clotheslines him over the top to end his evening. Braun Strowman has been eliminated. Ambrose quickly spikes Baron with Dirty Deeds and the battle continues on as the timer ends….
- Entry #14 is Kofi Kingston….
- Entry #15 is The Miz. The A-Lister comes in and plants Sami with a Skull Crushing Finale, Dean spins him around for Dirty Deeds, gets kicked away, Miz looks for a Skull Crushing Finale on Kingston, Kofi escapes and The Miz gets floored by Ambrose’s Lunatic Lariat. The Lone Wolf delivers Deep Six to Miz, Kingston jumps on his back, gets propped on the top turnbuckle, stands on top of the ring post, avoids a leg sweep from Corbin and hangs himself off the floor using the top of the post. He rolls back inside, clocks Baron with Trouble In Paradise and here comes our next entrant….
- Entry #16 is Sheamus. The Great White pummels everybody with double sledges, plants Kofi with a back suplex, delivers an Irish Curse to Miz, then a tilt-a-whirl powerslam for Sami. He hooks The Miz up for the Beats of the Bodhren, Zayn & Ambrose team-up on The Celtic Warrior and the countdown ticks away….
- Entry #17 is Big E. E slides into the ring and immediately hooks an abdominal stretch on The A-Lister, pushes him into ther corner, charges in with a spear and then teams up with Kingston….
- Entry #18 is Rusev. The Bulgarian Brute comes in and hits Miz, Ambrose & Sami with corner splashes, drops Sheamus with a spinning heel kick, then tries to toss them all out to no avail….
- Entry #19 is Cesaro. The King of Swing catches Miz with a double leg and puts him in the Swing, does the same to The Underdog from the Underground, The Lunati Fringe suffers the same fate, then again to Kofi, Big E and Corbin. He catches Sheamus with a double leg for the Swing, The Great White pleads his case not to do it, Rusev surprises The Swiss Superman with a superkick and the clock hits zero….
- Entry #20 is Xavier Woods. Xavier & Kofi team up on Sheamus, E joins them and hits the ropes for a splash, other participants finally realizing they need to divide New Day up when the buzzer sounds….
- Entry #21 is Bray Wyatt. The Eater of Worlds comes in and plants Miz with a uranage, flattens Ambrose with a crossbody and drops everybody in his path. He comes face-to-face with Woods, looks for Sister Abigail, Xavier slips out of it, hits the ropes and gets floored by a clothesline. Cesaro & Sheamus toss Kingston & Xavier over the top, Big E makes the save as the next guy hits the ring….
- Entry #22 is Apollo Crews. Kingston & Xavier are still in danger on the apron, Big E hangs onto them and drags them back inside, Cesaro & Sheamus come charging in, then clothesline all three of them to the outside. Big E has been eliminated. Kofi Kingston has been eliminated. Xavier Woods has been eliminated. Sheamus quickly turns on Cesaro and tries to toss him over, Jericho grabs him from behind, topples them both over the top rope and they fall to the floor. Sheamus has been eliminated. Cesaro has been eliminated….
- Entry #23 is Randy Orton. The Apex Predator slides in and flattens everyone with clothesline, plants Miz with a powerslam, connects with an RKO to Corbin, then another to Rusev. Sami sneaks in a back elbow and goes to the 2nd rope, springs to the top for a crossbody, Orton catching him in mid-air with another RKO….
- Entry #24 is Dolph Ziggler. The Show Off clocks Orton & Wyatt with superkicks, hits another on Rusev, then spikes Crews & Miz with a double DDT. He hits them both with superkicks, tries to toss them out with no success and the clock strikes zero….
- Entry #25 is Luke Harper. Harper slides in and goes right to work on Apollo, charges him in the corner with a running forearm, looks to shoot him back into the turnbuckles, Crews reversed, rushes in and gets elevated over the top to finish his night. Apollo Crews has been eliminated. Harper & Orton lock eyes, Wyatt steps in between them, Harper flattens Bray with a Discus Clothesline, then drops Randy with a big boot. He pulls The New Face of Fear up, sets for his own Sister Abigail, The Apex Predator surprises him with an RKO and the timer ticks away….
- Entry #26 is Brock Lesnar. The Conqueror comes in and immediately tosses out Ambrose and then Ziggler. Dean Ambrose has been eliminated. Dolph Ziggler has been eliminated. He tosses Rusev with a german suplex, Corbin suffers the same fate, delivers an F5 to The Miz, then one for Orton and stands tall over a sea of bodies….
- Entry #27 is Enzo Amore. Enzo sprints to the ring, has some words for The Beast Incarnate, rushes in and gets turned inside-out with a clothesline, then instantly tossed right back outside. Enzo Amore has been eliminated….
- Entry #28 is Goldberg. Brock waits on Goldberg and they go face-to-face, Lesnar looks for a clothesline, Goldberg ducks it, hits the ropes and splits him with a Spear, then clotheslines him over the top to eliminate him. Brock Lesnar has been eliminated. Goldberg flattens everyone else with clotheslines, plants Sami with a Jackhammer, Wyatt & Orton finally ambush him from behind to stop the momentum. They send him to the ropes, Goldberg delivers a double Spear and our next entry makes his way to the ring….
- Entry #29 is The Undertaker. The Deadman appears in the ring and goes eye-to-eye with Goldberg, grabs him for a Chokeslam, Corbin & Rusev get involved and attack them both, but get tossed to the outside. Rusev has been eliminated. Baron Corbin has been eliminated. Goldberg splits Undertaker with a Spear, Harper grabs him from behind to send him out, Goldberg turns the tables and Harper is gone. Luke Harper has been eliminated. The Phenom catches Goldberg admiring his handy work, gets a hold of him from behind and subsequently pushes him over the top. Goldberg has been eliminated….
Entry #30 is Roman Reigns. The Deadman stares down The Big Dog, they exchange fists, Undertaker finally leveling him with a clothesline. The Phenom sets for a Chokeslam, Reigns slips out, connects with a Superman Punch, tries another, but this time gets caught in the Chokeslam. Orton attempts an RKO on Taker to no avail, clotheslines Miz over the top, does the same to Zayn, then looks to toss Roman over. The Miz has been eliminated. Sami Zayn has been eliminated.
Y2J tries to come off the top, gets caught in a Chokeslam, Taker calls for a Tombstone, but Reigns grabs him from behind and tosses him to the floor. The Undertaker has been eliminated. We’re down to four now, The Big Dog drags Jericho up and tries to eliminate him, Y2J hangs onto the apron, sneaks in a right hand and goes to the top rope. Roman explodes up with a Superman Punch, Jericho spills to the outside and hits the floor. Chris Jericho has been eliminated. Wyatt & Orton look to gang up on Roman now, they kick him to the apron through the ropes, Bray gives the instructions and The Viper spikes Reigns with a rope-assisted DDT.
The New Face of Fear sends him to Randy for an RKO, The Big Dog powers out of it, clocks them both with Superman Punches, then throws Wyatt to the floor. Bray Wyatt has been eliminated. Only two left now, Roman sets for a Spear to The Viper, runs into an RKO, The Apex Predator clotheslines him outside and wins it.
Winner: Randy Orton
- EA’s Take: I may or may not get killed for this, but I think this Rumble didn’t live up to my expectations for all the hype surrounding it. Yes, it was cool to see some of the clashes that we’ve never seen like Roman/Undertaker, Goldberg/Undertaker or even Big Show/Strowman, but there were a lot of spots that got sloppy. I can actually say I’m not surprised by the winner because I have audio proof that I predicted Orton would win it on this weekend’s Top Of The Morning Podcast. To me, this pretty much cements in my mind that Cena is losing the title at Elimination Chamber and I think the logical thing is for Bray to be the man to take it. I still would much rather preferred AJ hang onto the WWE Championship, to be honest. Also, why was there not a single surprise entrant? That’s arguably one of the most fun parts of the Rumble match.
EA’s Finisher: My feelings about the Rumble match aside, from top to bottom this was just a premier card. The crowd was red hot all night which only makes for a better viewing experience, but damn near every single match killed it, excluding the Kickoff ones which I’d only call solid outside of Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Gallows & Anderson. The biggest surprise to me was Owens retaining his championship, but there’s still a long way to go until WrestleMania, so I’m not holding my breath just yet. Lastly, seeing how WrestleMania will start to take shape is also a major plus as it looks like you can probably lock-in Roman vs. Undertaker as well.
Top Three To Watch
1 – AJ Styles vs. John Cena
2 – Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns
3 – Neville vs. Rich Swann
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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