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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: NWA-TNA Episode 27 – January 8, 2003

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Tiffany MC’s weekly TNA IMPACT Chairshot Classics series continues!

It’s the first TNA of 2003 and we’re picking up right where we left off in 2002! Russo’s SEX faction continues to wreak havoc. Jeff Jarrett gives three members of SEX an opportunity. Bob Armstrong calls in the big guns to combat SEX’s threat, and America’s Most Wanted gets one more shot at the New Church. How’d they do? Let’s find out!

We start with a recap of Russo’s debut on TNA and his and S.E.X’s efforts to take over with ‘Sports Entertainment’ and his battle with Jeff Jarrett. TNA also has a new logo.

We open with Tena and several wrestlers in the ring, Jerry Lynn and Ron Killings among them. There are also a lot of NWA legends in the ringside area. Tenay says he’s going to introduce us to our ‘future’, which turns out to be two of the security guys. He also sings the praises of the four current starts in the ring, referring to Lynn and AMW as MVPs.

The point of this segment becomes obvious when Tenay starts talking about WCW and listening to Russo say he could make anyone a wrestler, using Judy Bagwell and David Arquette as example.

For those who don’t know about this, Judy Bagwell was the mother of Buff Bagwell and was heavily featured in some storylines towards the end of WCW’s run. David Arquette is an actor who won the World Heavyweight championship, despite not being a trained wrestler and having more respect for the title than Russo did. Arquette’s winning of the title was widely criticized at the time and cited as one of the many reasons WCW ultimately went under, though at that the point that the moment happened, the WCW ship was already taking on water.

ANYWAY

Tenay begs the fans to go to TNA’s website and voice their support for ‘true wrestling’ rather than Russo’s ‘Sports Entertainment’. The fans seem to be behind this move, but Russo and his crew come out of the crowd.

Russo is not in a good mood and threatens to beat up Tenay, claiming he’s there to save the business. Tenay wasn’t impressed, or intimidated, pointing out that business is DOWN, Russo claims that it’s because of people like Tenay running their mouths. He then reminds us that WCW’s ratings were huge with him in charge and that, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, no one was coming to TNA shows before he showed up. He then insults the Traditional Wrestling stalwarts. Sara Lee, one of the NWA legends, and the only one with any guts, slaps Russo and the fight’s on! S.E.X gets the upper hand until the Road Warriors and Jarrett come barreling out of the back and S.E.X wisely beat a retreat.

Backstage, Desire throws out two of TNA’s dancers so S.E.X can have their locker room.

Back at ringside, the evicted dancers are being taken to a different locker room and it’s time for our first match.

EZ Money and Kid Kash vs Tony Mamaluke and David Young: Kash is easily the most over of the four guys in the ring. As usual, with the X-Division outside of a few people, this match was a mess, lots of high spots, not a lot of wrestling and there were a lot of botches. Kid Kash did his best to save it, but it was a futile effort.

Young and Mamaluke would get the win, but only after Young botched a spot with EZ Money and then had to pick up the pieces. Not a great opener and the fans were booing pretty loudly by the end of it.

After the match, the X-Division members of S.E.X come out and beat the holy hell out of everyone in the ring. We also see the formation of what would be a legendary tag team. Skipper gets on the mic and says the best part of S.E.X is the XXX. That’s right, the legendary team of XXX, which would have a fabulous feud with America’s Most Wanted, was part of this pathetic NWO/DX ripoff. Skipper then claims that, despite the X-Division functioning reasonably well without them, there is no X-Division without himself, Lo-Ki, and Skipper and that the X-Division is either with them, or against them.

At this point, Jarrett plays security guard and storms the ring. Jarrett claims it’s his and the NWA’s house. Jarrett gives XXX an opportunity, he’ll take each of them on in separate singles matches TONIGHT. XXX can’t believe their ears and accept easily. Jarrett ups the ante by saying that when he’s done with them, he’s going to put Russo through a table.

Backstage, Goldylocks is with Team NWA where Armstrong and company are holding a meeting. Goldy wants to know what the plan is since Russo is back. Armstrong asks AMW to get ‘him’ on the phone. Turning back to Goldy, Armstrong says he’s not dumb enough to think he can win this war on his own, it’s going to take everything and everyone he can muster and he needs a Grand Slam, as in baseball, not wrestling. Lynn and Killings step up and promise to strike back for the NWA.

AMW are back with the phone and Armstrong tells whoever is on the other end that he needs him now. Not sure who it’s going to be, but the conversation seemed positive.

X-Division Championship Match: Jason Cross vs Sonny Siaki: Desire is billed as Miss SEX, which is okay, I guess. For some reason, there’s a big pole in one turnbuckle, no idea what that’s about.

This match is a typical Siaki affair, lots of great moves, no chemistry and the audience doesn’t care. Fortunately for Siaki, Desire/Miss SEX was there to keep things interesting. This isn’t a good match for Jason Cross because he looked hopelessly outmatched by Siaki and didn’t get to break out a lot of his big moves. In the end, Miss SEX would be the deciding factor in the match, taking advantage of a downed ref to crotch Cross, giving Siaki time to get the pinfall.

However, Bob Armstrong isn’t going to stand for this and comes out, telling Miss SEX to get her ass into the back and trying to restart the match. Russo comes out and refuses to let the match be restarted, calling Cross a punk who was in no shape to wrestle anyway. After more increasingly nasty arguing, Russo says James will do a match instead and Lynn and Killings run out to answer.

BG James and Don Harris vs Jerry Lynn and Ron Killings: This match started with a fight. Harris and James were really outmatched in terms of skill by Lynna and Killings.

This match was just a mess. I’m not sure there’s anything redeeming that can be said about it. Killings botched a 450 and overshot the landing, but James gets a few points for selling it anyway. Killings and Lynn get a DQ win when a man, ID’d as Mike Sanders, whoever that is. We’re shown a pre-show interview with Percy Pringle, who is NOT in good shape. Pringle had last been seen on WWF TV in the late 90s before Undertaker had to take time off for an injury.

The interview was not much if you wanted to know his motives for being in TNA. Pringle had no opinions and no ideas about much of anything, but says his time in WCCW and WWE was good. Basically, he’s there but no one knows what to do with him. He did talk about the old NWA, but nothing ground-breaking

NWA Tag Team Championship Match – New Church (with James Mitchell and Bella Donna) vs America’s Most Wanted: Before the match gets underway, it’s announced that there will be no rematch, whatever the outcome. If New Church loses, they won’t have a chance to regain the titles, if AMW loses, no matter what, they’re SOL. The match started with a fight, as is usual between these teams and stuff is flying!

Things went about how they usually did for these teams, but the stipulation that this was last call for their feud seemed to have lit a real fire. It looked like AMW would get the win after a miscue lead to Slash throwing powder in Lee’s eyes while Belladonna had the ref distracted.

The end came after AMW hit the Death Sentence on Slash onto a chair. NEW Tag Team champions. Everyone goes nuts and while Belladonna rolls Slash and Lee out of the ring, AMW and the fans celebrate.

Backstage, Goldylocks is trying to do her job and talk to Bob Armstrong about what’s been going on, but Bob doesn’t have time for her right now, much to her irritation, though Armstrong was polite about blowing her off.

Axe-Handle on a Pole Match – Curt Hennig vs David Flair: Hennig comes out in street gear. This match explains the huge pole that’s been stuck to the ring all night. Hennig gets on the mic and cuts a really bitter and pathetic promo in the style of the ‘Priceless’ commercials by MasterCard which were all the rage back then. He talks about how much money to pay his dues and becoming the greatest wrestler, and take down Brock Lesnar. Hennig reminds us that he ran Ric Flair out of the WWF.

David Flair tried to get the jump on Hennig, but Hennig saw it coming. This was an AWFUL match. David Flair was a terrible wrestler and Hennig, without Jarrett to cover for him, looked terrible. Hennig would win this one, but everyone lost.

After the match, Goldylocks is waiting to talk to Flair, but gets blown off…again. Goldylocks is pissed and frustrated, and you can hardly blame her. Miss SEX, or whatever her name is, confronts Goldy for coming around ‘her boys’ and warns her to back off. Goldy stands up for herself and gets attacked. To make this more…odd, Athena comes to Goldy’s rescue and attacks Miss SEX before Siaki gets them apart.

Don West is trying to do his usual promo when Sanders from earlier comes out and berates Tenay, but says Tenay will have an opportunity to interview Russo next week (Oh goody). Tenay, clearly angry, agrees and we’re all left to wonder if we’ll see a fight between Tenay and Russo. My money is on Tenay in a fair fight. Don West can’t believe his eyes or his ears and it’s time for the main events.

Christopher Daniels vs Jeff Jarrett: Daniels comes out of the crowd to little reaction. Jarrett gets a good reaction and we’re off!

The match was short, but incredibly good, which is a plus given how the rest of the night has gone. Jarrett does a good job of making Daniels seem like a worthy competitor but, for once, he’s not having to damn near kill himself to do it. Jarrett won this with a Stroke after hitting a knee on Daniels.

Elix Skipper vs Jeff Jarrett: Skipper wastes no time jumping into the ring and dominating the first part of the match.

This match wasn’t quite as good as Daniels/Jarrett, but it wasn’t awful. Skipper’s put on a few pounds of muscle and looks like a viable threat. His moves are a little out of control, but it doesn’t hurt to watch him wrestle. It looked like Jarrett was going to be beaten when Christopher Daniel tried to help Skipper, but Jarrett ducked and got the pinfall.

Lo-Ki vs Jeff Jarrett: Now no one is holding back and it takes two refs to restore order with Scott Armstrong forcing Skipper and Daniels back.

Lo-Ki dominated much of this match and was as brutal to watch as ever. Jarrett made him look great and didn’t need to nearly kill himself to do it. Jarrett had the match won, but Daniels and Skipper interfered and the match was thrown out. XXX started attacking Jarrett.

EVENTUALLY, the Road Warriors come out and attack XXX, but AJ Styles runs in and attacks the Road Warriors. Then the rest of SEX comes out and the fight’s on. Russo’s like a kid at Christmas at the thought of having AJ Styles in SEX but Styles blows him off, the only side he’s on is his own.

SEX is about to put Jarrett through a table when Dusty Rhodes comes out and it Bionic Elbow City for everyone and that’s where the show ends.

Overall Comments: So how was TNA this week? It was ‘eh’ at best. They furthered the ‘Sports Entertainment vs Traditional Wrestling’ storyline, but that was it. Only a couple of the matches were any good and there was more time spent on promos than anything else.

The SEX storyline continues to be a mashup of the NWO and DX but there aren’t any big stars to lead it. Everyone it is either a has-been, a never-was, or a young guy just starting out. There isn’t a Hogan, or Nash, or Rock to be the focus of the group.

Russo continues to be trash and watching Sara Lee slap him was refreshing. I’m not sure what the inclusion of Dusty Rhodes is supposed to do, but he was still SO over with the crowd that it doesn’t really matter right now.

One sad note is Curt Hennig. This would be his final appearance on TV. He would pass away in February of 2003. RIP Mr. Perfect.

This week was a lukewarm okay show. I’m hoping next week will be better.


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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999

Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!

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Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?

ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!

What I Watched #16

ECW Guilty as Charged 1999

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

  • Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
  • Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
  • Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
  • Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
  • Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
  • Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
  • Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think  that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)

Super Crazy vs. Tajiri

Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)

John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent

So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)

Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley

Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…

The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)

TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm

Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.

The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)

Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of. 

As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)

Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz

So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent. 

The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)

 

THE FINAL REACTION

  • Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
  • Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
  • Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
  • MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.

 

THE SIGNOFF

It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.

So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.


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Chairshot Classics

What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018

Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!

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ALL IN

Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.

I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.

What I Watched #10-B

ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018

9/1/2018

Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL

Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)

Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)

THE RESULTS

  • Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
  • Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
  • Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
  • Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
  • Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
  • Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
  • Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
  • Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
  • Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
  • Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
  • Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)

*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)

Over the Budget Battle Royal

*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)

Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross

*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)

Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)

*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)

Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard

*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)

NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)

*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)

‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela

*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)

ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon

*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)

Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)

Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)

Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio

*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)

THE FINAL REACTION

There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.

Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.

Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.

Overall Show Score: 8.5/10

MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.

THE SIGNOFF

And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.


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