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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Chapter 2

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Chairshot Classics continues to it’s foray across the pond thanks to Harry’s dedication. Let’s see what Harry thought about Chapter 2!

PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 2
The March of PROGRESS’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: June 24th, 2012
Run Time: 2:16:19
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)

Well, would you look at that? They are actually letting me continue doing these. Chapter 1 was a fun way to get back into reviewing, but man, I realized real quick just how rusty I was. I used to do two or three full length reviews a week for ‘Smash’ and it took me dang near three weeks to get ‘In The Beginning’ finished. Hopefully, you all enjoyed it. But even if you think I suck, thanks for reading all the same.

That brings me to why I’m here today. PROGRESS itself is coming off a critically acclaimed debut. They then proceeded to take off three months as the March debut was not followed up on until this show, all the way in the month of June. But we do return to the scene of the first chapter. Once again, we go into the way back machine with our date set at June 24th, 2012 as “What I Watched” presents ‘The March of PROGRESS’ or PROGRESS Chapter 2

*General Notes: the setup looks a lot cleaner this time. The hard cam is still set up by the sound table, but there is only one computer monitor visible with it being used for music. The angle towards the ring is a lot cleaner. The lighting on the ring is a lot better as well…

*Immediately, you can see them moving forward with storylines as the hype video package to open the show is to build to the main event, as ‘Show-Stealer’ Nathan Cruz defends the title in two-out-of-three falls against ‘Party’ Marty Scurll with promos from both to set it up. Sort of assumed this is where they were going for the second chapter, but the two out of three falls was not something I saw coming.

*Smallman does do his opening promo here, so all feels right into the PROGRESS world…not only does Smallman do his full opening interaction, but they actually use it to bring in a new talent in Stixx (or so I find out by the splash graphic before the first match). Stixx quickly establishes himself as a heel by running down Smallman, the crowd at the ‘Garage’ and the city of London in general. I’ll also take this opportunity to point out that Stixx is what would have happened if the Pitbulls from ECW would have still been in wrestling in 2012. Gary Wolfe, Anthony Durante and Stixx apparently (let’s all do Jaime Noble and Kid Kash a favor and let the WWE Pitbulls thing go)…the segment with Smallman and Stixx doesn’t really go anywhere, but does take us to our opening contest.

*Match #1: Lion Kid vs. Stixx
The Who: Well, let’s see. Lion Kid is a guy in what looks like a Halloween costume. Stixx, as I mentioned earlier, is a guy who looks he’d fit in better with the Pitbulls then in the current British independent wrestling scene. Upon looking for information (again, highly recommend Ian Hamilton’s work at BackBodyDrop): Lion Kid is apparently Wade Fitzgerald, who I believe I have previously seen in wXw in a team with Marc Redman. Stixx, well, looks like he’s just going to continue his cosplay.
The Why: I can’t say I have a viable reason for this one. I guess I’ll go with Stixx being an ass hat to Smallman and Lion Kid is sticking up for him. Sounds as good as anything at this point.
The Match: There was an attempt at a ‘Let’s Go Simba’ chant at the start of the match. Not so great attempt at humor. Now I gave the fans grief during my review of Chapter 1, but if whomever quoted Pride Rock scene from ‘Lion King’ afterwards right after the intros is reading this: good on you, mate. That was wonderful…Lion Kid gets a inset interview, Stixx doesn’t. But he did get the opening interruption…it’s once again *cough cough* Jimmy Barnett *cough cough* on commentary and he sounds a lot clearer this time…they cut the entrances, but what are the odds that Lion Kid comes out to ‘Lion Sleeps Tonight’?…noticeable size disparity here which will probably tell the story of the match…impressive springboard hurricanrana by Lion Kid early…and our first participant out of the ring happens at 1:48 into the first match…powerbomb into a ring post on the floor. Seems a bit excessive for the opening match, no?…fans quickly on Stixx’s case…will say for two guys making their debuts here to me, they have very good chemistry. Lucha spots from the big guy as well…and now the ‘Let’s Go Simba’ chant catches on. Sigh…cross body in the corner by Stixx. That’s a big dude to be doing that move…unique take on a grounded chin lock by Stixx. Still ultimately a rest hold, but at least it looks better…‘you wrestle, we shout things’. And that’s the PROGRESS fans in a nutshell…corkscrew enzugiri and then they badly blow a catch spot on a plancha attempt. I’m not sure who I’d put that one on…Lion Kid does mess a double springboard attempt but gets it on the second attempt…huge Black Hole Slam by Stixx…little later, a Splash Mountain attempt by Stixx is countered into a top-rope head scissors. Lion Kid goes for the Lionsault-DDT that AJ Styles likes to use but gets countered. Lion Kid reverses out and into a rolling prawn hold and that’s a three count at 10:24…they had a few rough spots, but managed to recover nicely from them. I wouldn’t call this a blow away start to the show, but it’s worth the ten minute run time and the crowd was pretty much into it. That’s ultimately what matters for an opener. After all, as Jimmy Barnett said: “You don‘t have to be a kid to enjoy saying rawr”. (AVERAGE)

*Match #2: BWC Scarlo Scholarship Title- Mark Andrews © vs. ‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman
The Who: Mark Andrews is a pretty well known name, I feel. He’s not only had this run in PROGRESS, but he was in TNA as ‘Mandrews’ where I believe he won ‘British Boot Camp (have to look into that) and he now works for the WWE as part of their UK Division. Mike Hitchman is brand new to me and looks like Larry D from IWA-MS got shrunk in a dryer.
The Why: For the BWC Scarlo Scholarship. This same belt was defended on the first show back in February of 2012 and Barnett said the BWC belt would appear on all PROGRESS shows going forward. Two for two at this point. It was a triple threat on the first show that I thought was pretty good which involved then champion Xander Cooper, Zack Gibson and Darrell Allen.
The Match: I have always enjoyed what I’ve seen from Andrews, so my expectations of this are a little higher then they were of the triple threat from Chapter 1…both guys get inset promos. Neither one of them is anything to write home about, however…the snap amateur takedown by Hitchman early impressed me. That’s a move we see all the time in wrestling, but I’ve never seen someone do it as aggressively as Hitchman did. It made it look awesome, sound awesome and put over the aggression of Hitchman for his desire to win the title. Sometimes it’s the little stuff…nice bridge out of an attempted float over by Andrews. Like I said, it’s the little things…Barnett compares Hitchman to Tazz. ‘Not the fat annoying commentator in TNA either’. Big fish in a small pond still, Jim…don’t usually see a lot of mat wrestling on the Indies. It’s a nice change of pace from the opener which had the first dive attempt less then two minutes in…and the mat based crucifix gets two. Drago calls it ‘Tail of the Dragon’…and the first dive to the outside is a moonsault off the apron for the first ‘This Is PROGRESS’ chant…don’t know why everyone teases the German suplex off the apron. It’s not like any one every hits it…Hitchman with a DDT on the apron for the first fecal chant of the show…Hitchman is built like Bull Dempsey if that helps anyone…someone’s got a dirty face (TM Dave Prazak)…for the first time seeing him, Hitchman has impressed me. He’s very smooth in the ring and seems to have a good grasp of the what to do and when…counter sequence leads to a half nelson suplex and Andrews lands clean on his dome. Not wise, young Mark…you can’t powerbomb Andrews!!…standing sky twister gets two for Andrews. PAC (Neville) hits it cleaner, but still nice…Hitchman has Andrews in the tree of Joey Lawrence (WHOA) and hits a spear. I guess he kinda does look like a smaller Rhyno…back body drop into the turnbuckle by Andrews! Why? Like, why?…and Hitchman returns the favor with an exploder into the buckles…and now the fans are calling Hitchman Rhyno. So it wasn’t just me…and Mike Hitchman just Kevin Steen’d a bitch! Package Piledriver! And it only gets two! Strongly disagree with that…Hitchman looking for a top rope PPD. Andrews pushes him off and the Shooting Star misses!…another attempt at the Package PD is escaped by Andrews and into a small package for the three count at 14:05…and the BWC Scarlo lives up to expectations once again. Other then the Package Piledriver kick out (a move I strongly disagree with anyone kicking out of), these two put together a very good match that started heavily focused on the ground and then quickly picked up the pace at the mid point into a nice closing sequence. Andrews retains, but Hitchman definitely impresses and I’d like to see both of them back in PROGRESS sooner then later. (VERY GOOD)

*Post match, Mark Andrews is celebrating with the fans when a man in a suit and a t-shirt attacks him! That man is the former champion Xander Cooper. Well, that explains where he was and how Andrews got the belt. Cooper tries to belt shot Andrews, but Andrews ducks, gets in a dropkick to send Cooper to the floor and then chases him to the back.

*Match #3: Noam Dar (0-1) vs. Darrell Allen (0-0-1)
The Who: And for those wondering, this answers the question of the first guys to have matches on back to back PROGRESS chapters. Noam Dar was defeated by El Ligero in a PROGRESS Wrestling Staff’ qualifying match. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen was part of the BWC Scarlo three way, where he ended up with a no decision as champion Xander Cooper pinned Zack Gibson.
The Why: To build some momentum going forward for one of them would be my guess. Dar got a pretty strong heel reaction on the first show. Allen’s high flying antics made him a crowd favorite, so it seems like a viable contest to me.
The Match: Both men get inset promos. Noam Dar doesn’t have a lot to say in his. Darrell Allen finds his inner Booker T. Yes, that Booker T promo. The less said the better, so let’s move on…apparently Allen dislocated his shoulder in the triple threat at Chapter 1 and finished the match. Having dislocated a shoulder before, that’s pretty impressive…little bit of miscommunication between the two early, but nothing that will greatly hurt the match…Dar is apparently a student of the Tracy Smothers school of wrestling as he tries to call a timeout…Dar with a dropkick while Allen tries to climb the ropes, catching Allen right in the injured shoulder. Spot on precision…Dar threatens to throw his gum at a fan before chomping back down on it. Good. Bodily fluids should never be a way to get heat from the crowd…airplane spin into a NLS as Barnett laments the lack of airplane spins in wrestling. I can agree with that. Very underutilized move…and now Dar shares his gum with Allen before chowing down again. That’s freaking gross…strike exchange see Dar get the better, but a superkick by Allen turns the tide…and another corkscrew enzugiri causes the double down for an eventual two…for all the people who complain about the overuse of superkick’s, I’d argue the enzugiri is just as overused…northern superkick into a rolling prawn for two by Allen…leg capture head kick by Dar. That’s new…crucifix knee bar is applied. Allen tries to fight out, but Dar pushes him back to the mat and starts kicking him in the face with Dar’s free leg. That gets a tap out from Allen at 11:04…Good, but not great. Don’t think the crowd was as invested in this match as they were in the first two and it kinda hurt the competitors. I know Dar is capable of much more. Allen was honestly just another guy here. The story telling of Dar being a dirty little prick works, but Allen doesn’t have the kind of following needed to get the emotional investment that a story like that needs. (ABOVE AVERAGE)

*Match #4: Danny Garnell vs. Jimmy Havoc
The Who: Up until watching this show right now, I would not have been able to pick Danny Garnell out of a lineup. I know nothing about him. Jimmy Havoc however, I’m very well aware of. As a follower of death match wrestling, the name Jimmy Havoc carries a lot of weight these days. He’d eventually go on to be a marquee player for this very company as well. How does he get there? Let’s find out…
The Why: So, this is where Ian Hamilton of BackBodyDrop helped. PROGRESS apparently sent out a tweet to its fans, asking them who they would want to see. Jimmy Havoc’s name came up a ton, so he’s being given the shot here. Ian also points out that Danny Garnell is Jimmy Havoc’s original trainer as well.
The Match: Smallman telling Havoc to ‘fucking behave himself’ before the match is a nice touch and a bit of a nod and a wink as to how the behind the scenes workings are at PROGRESS as well…during pre-match inspections, the referee finds a spoon on Jimmy. At least it wasn’t a fork, Abdullah the Butcher style…the spoon then gets a series of crowd chants…Danny’s inset promo is where he admits he was Havoc’s trainer. Not sure if that’s something to be proud of or not…it’s the basic promo from Danny else wise. ‘I taught you all you know but not all I know’…Barnett is lamenting Havoc’s involvement in the show. Yeah, not suspicious at all…Havoc surprising people by holding his own on the mat. Similar to his American namesake, Danny…Havoc gets an inset promo as well. I’d like to see them do some post match interviews in the future…and a spoon happens. An actual spooning…fans chant for the ref to get some spooning too but he’s having none of it…dropkick takes Garnell to the floor and Havoc follows out with a plancha at about the four minute mark…and Garnell lariats the shit out of him as they come back into the ring. Jesus…body slam and a variation of the surfboard applied. Five minutes in and they go a rest hold. But Havoc able to surprise people with a spinning head scissors to escape…Garnell goes for another clothesline but Havoc is able to duck and take Garnell down into a Crossface. Garnell gets to the ropes as a ‘We Miss Benoit’ chant starts. Remember what I said about PROGRESS fans going too far sometimes? Yeah, this is one of those…Havoc with a running step up knee in the corner. He goes for a second but Garnell ducks and Havoc goes out to the floor. Garnell pulls him back in with a hanging DDT for two…half-nelson suplex and a snapmare driver both drop Havoc on his head, but again only two…Garnell goes for the dirty face, but Havoc moves and catches Garnell with a chest blower for two…and back into the Crossface for another Benoit chant…Havoc gets frustrated and grabs a steel chair. Referee talks him out of using it, but Garnell gets a rollup for two…Havoc turns a tilt-a-whirl attempt into another Crossface (Jimmy Rave’s ‘From Dusk Til Dawn’) but Garnell is able to flip Havoc onto his shoulders and cradles the leg to get a three count for the win at about 10:36 (there were stopwatch issues)…for a guy who is supposed to just be a ‘death match’ or ‘garbage’ wrestler, Havoc more then held his own here. I think Jimmy is a part of that hybrid group of death match guys that can work pretty much any style. Danny Havoc, Drake Younger, JC Bailey (RIP), Nate Webb and Rickey Shane Paige are among the names that spring to mind here. The story of Havoc fighting himself to stay within the rules of PROGRESS was well done too and I do like that it didn’t directly lead to the finish. Instead of Havoc’s temper getting the better of him, his trainer just managed to get one up instead. Good stuff here. (GOOD)

*Post match, Smallman gives Havoc his spoon back (that was nice of him) and compliments Jimmy on his performance, saying that he’ll give Jimmy another chance on Chapter 3. I feel like that may come back to bite him…and the segment ends with a Havoc/Garnell/Smallman triple spoon. ‘This is PROGRESS’ indeed.

*Match #5: Velocity Vipers vs. London Riots
The Who: The London Riots consist of James Davis and Rob Lynch. I’ve seen them once before on the review that Patrick and I did for Chapter 36 for Wrestling Unwrapped, but I’m still going to have a hell of a time telling them apart. The Velocity Vipers are Will Ospreay (yes, he of New Japan and PWG fame) and Alex Esmail. The comparison that I saw made for them was the team of Brian Kendrick and Paul London, and physically, that certainly pans out. In the ring, we shall see…
The Why: Well, this is the first tag match in the history of PROGRESS, occurring in match number twelve. My guess is this is the beginning of establishing something of a tag team division, but I could be wrong.
The Match: Vipers make their entrance and immediately get nailed from behind by Lynch and Davis…the pre-match attack continues on the floor as the Riots are just beating the hell out of both Vipers…Vipers turn the tables and get both Riots out of the ring. Esmail catches Davis (I think) with a somersault plancha. Ospreay tries to dive out of the ring, but gets the ever loving bejesus forearmed out of him by Lynch (I think)…and Barnett confirms that it was Lynch that caught Ospreay with the European uppercut, so that confirms that I did tell them apart correctly, even if I got the move he stopped Ospreay with wrong…Lynch is in bikers, while Davis has the singlet for those following along at home…and we finally get an opening bell with Lynch beating the tar out of Ospreay…it’s kinda cool to think where they’d end up seeing that Andrews, Havoc and Ospreay all debuted for PROGRESS with only a Noam Dar match in between…Fit Finlay roll by Davis. One of my favorite moves…followed by a partner capture piggyback senton. Impressive display…he’s gotten significantly more technically fluent, but man, early Ospreay was a sight to see with all the flying around the ring he did…that’s fucking disgusting. Davis spits on Ospreay’s mouth guard and puts it back in Ospreay’s mouth…and Davis just kicked the absolute crap out of Ospreay. This match is feeling like legalized assault…Esmail is trying to reach out to Ospreay for the tag. I’m sitting here thinking “why would he want any part of this?”…and that was a super flippy-doo. Corkscrew head scissors takedown…crowd chanting for Esmail by chanting ‘Bieber’. They aren’t wrong…and Lynch welcomes Esmail to the violence party with a brutal spear to a chant of ‘you killed Bieber’, as Barnett laments the lack of Justin’s demise…Esmail tries to chop Lynch. It ends poorly for him…release German by Lynch and looked like Esmail landed on his shoulder…at what point does referee stoppage due to empathy become an option?…Davis with a huge exploder for two, allegedly. It does not look like Esmail kicked out, but grabs the knee right afterward, so I’m guessing that’s not good…and the match basically stops until Esmail can tag Ospreay…handspring Pele kick. That’s a new one…and Lynch gets caught with Code Red for two…C4 style snapmare by Ospreay…and Ospreay misses the double moonsault. Yes, you read that right. I said the words ‘double moonsault’…one Lariat by Lynch later and Davis covers for the three count at 10:19…from what actually happened before Esmail got hurt, it was actually a fun little battle of aerial vs. strong style. When Ospreay and Esmail could get into the air, they had a chance. On the ground, they were taking an absolute ass kicking. Unfortunately, Esmail’s injury robbed us of the sequence leading to the hot tag and thus took the fans out of the match. My guess is they went home early after the injury. Fun effort, with an unfortunate injury to Esmail. (ABOVE AVERAGE+, BUT WAS ON WAY TO BETTER)

*Upon checking Ian’s review of the show, it wasn’t the knee that Esmail was holding. It was his leg. He broke it on the landing of the exploder. As I said, unfortunate for him. I don’t know that he ever returned to PROGRESS. I’d say it worked out okay for Ospreay though.

*Post match promo from Rob Lynch where he basically says what he said in his inset promo. Kinda defeats the purpose of those, no?

*Match #6: #1 Contender’s Match- El Ligero (1-1) vs. Greg Burridge vs. RJ Singh
The Who: El Ligero was on the first show. He beat Noam Dar in the opener to advance to the four way, where he was the first person eliminated in the four way. Greg Burridge (which I originally read as Gurridge) is brand new to me. Have never seen or heard of him before. RJ Singh was supposed to be on the first show facing Colt Cabana in one of the qualifier’s, but didn’t make the show and was replaced with ‘Loco’ Mike Mason, who we don’t see on this second Chapter. Probably because he was basically less talented Davey Richards. And I’m not a huge Davey fan in the first place.
The Why: The graphic for the match said it’s for the number one contendership. What any of these guys have done to become number one contender is anyone’s guess. This could give an interesting sign of things to come in the main event though.
The Match: RJ Singh has a pair of managers. He didn’t have managers on the graphic. Hopefully Jim Smallman tells me who they is during the intros…I couldn’t make out what he said during introductions for them……I’ll keep looking and listening (there is a Jimmy Barnett still) and let you all know…Burridge gets the only promo and mentions what Smallman just mentioned that he’s the hometown boy. Ligero was also a crowd favorite on the first show, so it appears RJ Singh is the heel in this contest…nope, RJ Singh gets an inset promo too. It just happens a bit later. ‘This is PROGRESS and Singh is King’ is a strong line, give him that…Burridge and Ligero trade sissy kicks, until Burridge with a finger poke for a ‘holy shit’ chant…Singh comes back in and gets knocked right back on wallet…okay, I do like that they are mixing in spots with all three guys involved…and Burridge has fluffy dice hanging from his crotch. Because of course he does…Ligero’s reputation proceeds him, Singh is a nice little high flyer despite and Burridge is the charisma of this contest…Singh does like to focus on knee strikes…Barnett points out this is one fall to a finish, not elimination rules like the title match was…rolling hilo by Burridge. The Eddie Guerrero special from the big guy. If I had to give a build comparison for Burridge, I’d say Wade Barrett sounds about right…and the director for Singh gets an in ring face humping after attempted interference. No wonder these shows don’t allow kids…Ligero with a huge dive to take out Singh’s other second…Ligero with the Rings of Saturn that gets broken up with a back chop by Burridge. Back chops are for jerks!…RJ Singh applies a Camel Clutch, decreeing it’s name to the ‘Ethnic Submission’. That’s a whole lot of wrestling history wrapped up into two words right there…Ligero catches with the same DDT he beat Dar with, Burridge stops any attempt at a cover with a submission hold…they O’Connor Roll into the ropes, knocking Singh to the floor and Ligero ends up with the cover, grabbing the tights for the three count at 11:03 and the fans are pissed at Ligero for such dastardly tactics…match itself wasn’t bad, but nothing to write home about either. The finish is the big talking point as Ligero wasn’t seen as a guy who would have previously stooped to the level of using the tights in order to get a victory. I actually like him doing so here, because it keeps an air of mystery about the main event still. If Nathan Cruz wins, Ligero can go back to loveable baby face who did what was necessary to get the title shot. If Marty Scurll wins, Ligero can be the little bastard who will cheat against even his friends if it means being champion. Good story, average match. (AVERAGE)

*Post match, Burridge has a promo where he uses pretty much every curse word in the book and probably makes up a couple to describe the fact that Ligero cheated him out of the number one contendership. Definitely not a family show.

*Match #7: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff: ‘Showstealer’ Nathan Cruz © (2-0) vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll (1-0-1)
The Who: Nathan Cruz is the first PROGRESS champion, crowned at ’In The Beginning’ (available in my archive if you’ve not read). He won both a singles match over Colossus Kennedy and then the four way elimination main event. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll is the ‘Villain’ of modern day ROH and New Japan, but here he’s still more commonly known as one half of the ‘Leaders of the New School’. Scurll pinned Zach Sabre Jr at the first show in what I still feel is the best match in PROGRESS history to this point to advance to that four way.
The Why: The why here is simple and I touched on it earlier in the review. At ‘In The Beginning’, there was a previously mentioned four way. It came down to two people: Marty Scurll and Nathan Cruz. Scurll had a clear three count during the match, but the referee got knocked stupid. As Scurll was trying to resuscitate the referee, he was given a low blow by Cruz and then eventually Cruz’s sliding single foot dropkick spelled curtains for Scurll. On the PROGRESS YouTube channel (2012 and all, a company has to have a digital presence), Cruz challenged Scurll to the rematch, even letting Scurll pick the stipulation. Scurll choose ‘two out of three falls’ and here we are…
The Match: IT IS NOT A NAZI STAFF!!! Okay, maybe it is…interesting that the win-loss records on the chyron for Marty Scurll has him at 0 wins and 1 loss. Two things for that- first, they are completely ignoring him pinning Zach Sabre Jr. for that 0 wins total. Second, technically he didn’t lose the main event of Chapter 1. He just didn’t win. I personally consider that a draw, and therefore you see the 1-0-1 record that I have given to Scurll…Nathan Cruz’s chyron has him listed at 1-0, so I don’t know what the hell is going on…and the crowd once again gets on Cruz with a ‘shit Zack Ryder woo woo woo’ chant. Made me laugh the first time, makes me laugh the second…and Scurll spits his gum at Cruz. This has been a very unhygienic show…Barnett points out Scurll’s tan advantage. That checks…Scurll is quickly going after the arm and hand of Cruz. Makes sense to weaken a limb for what will probably be a long match…and Scurll busts out the Jim Briggs special. That move doesn’t get enough love…overhead chop from Scurll after a shushing. Wonder if he got that from Big Show or vice versa…Cruz fires back just as strongly with chops of his own…any chop you can throw, I can throw harder. I’ve never understood chops. Good for crowd reaction, but painful as all hell. In a business that supposed to look like it hurts without actually doing so…we once again go out to the floor for a brawl, because that’s exactly what this event needed. More crowd brawling like the main event of Chapter 1…slingshot back suplex by Cruz. Not sure if I’ve seen that one before…Cruz eats foot on a charge not once but twice, but a leaping knee strike gets two for Nathan…Barnett credits a delayed vertical as ‘shades of the late great Davey Boy Smith’…and it totals a fifty second delayed vertical, but I think it took as much out of him as it did Nathan…that suplex gets our second ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant of the match…Cruz went for the sliding kick again and nobody home. Eventually it leads to a tornado DDT for a close two count…looked like Scurll was going for a rack bomb there. Don’t think I’ve ever seen him use one of those…Scurll looks to be heading to the top fall here…Cruz catches him with an enzugiri while he’s on top. They battle up and Scurll manages to get a CIMA style Meteora with Cruz trapped on the buckles. Scurll lifts up Cruz into position for the Rack Bomb, but turns it into a double knee backcracker out of it. He calls it the ‘Hangover’ and that’s fall number one to ‘Party’ Marty @ 12:11
*Fall Two: For those wondering, I’m going to leave the clock running between falls, despite the both men on their feet rule…Cruz tries the Flair corner cradle right as the second fall starts but only gets two…it breaks into a slugfest before a Scurll cross body takes both to the floor…and Scurll uses beer as a weapon on the floor. I’m guessing that’s called the ‘Party Foul’…and a loud ‘we can’t see shit’ chant starts while they brawl on the floor. This is exactly why I advice against it. In larger crowds, it takes a portion of the crowd out of the match…Cruz traps Scurll somewhere and sprints back into the ring looking for a countout…but Scurll rolls back in at 8…and Scurll gets Irish (English?) whipped into a couple rows of chairs, where Cruz looks for the countout again…and the fans helped Scurll back into the ring at 8 again. I’m sensing a pattern here…once again out to the floor. This is getting repetitive, gentlemen…okay, that was almost worth it. Fireman’s carry slam on the sound desk by Cruz!…this time Scurll gets to the ring with a fan assist at the count of nine…Scurll eventually turns the table back in the ring with a series of windmill chops…Scurll busts out a move I’ve only see Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli) use. A suplex from the apron back into the ring…a series of attempts at the figure four by Scurll are countered. Both men back up. Scurll tries for a tilt-a-whirl head scissors, but gets caught and dropped square on his dome with a Tombstone! That’s the second fall (and it should be. Tombstone is another of those moves that should not be kicked out of) @ 22:00
*Fall Three: The both men on their feet rule here helps Scurll. He’s out of it after that Tombstone…Scurll collapses at the bell, but the cover only gets two. Almost two minutes passed, so I can let that one go…Cruz looks to be setting up the sliding kick, but Scurll pops up with a rolling elbow and Barnett shouts out Mitsuhara Misawa. I went Masato Tanaka myself, but I’m an ECW mark…both men back up and punch drunk. Twenty five minutes in, it makes sense…series of pin attempts by Scurll, which I like. Puts over his desperation for the title…Scurll tries to run Cruz into a buckle but it’s the buckle where the ref is. Scurll puts on the brakes and Cruz’s trick knee acts up. Man, we’re hitting all the classic heel cliches in this one; aren’t we?…Barnett runs over the card for Chapter Three and he says we’re getting Andrews vs. Cooper for the BWC Scarlo…after trying to fight it most of the night, Cruz finally gets caught in the figure four by Scurll…Cruz keeps trying to get to the ropes, but losing his shoulers in the process…finally, Cruz to the ropes. It would have been a viable finish. Let’s see how Cruz sells it the rest of the way though…and Cruz pulls Chris Roberts into the way of a Scurll leaping knee…Cruz out to the floor and grabbing a chair. This is why not using the chair early means more…El Ligero comes out and pulls the chair away from Cruz. Cruz spits at Ligero, so Ligero delivers a superkick…to Marty Scurll as Nathan Cruz ducks. Ligero shrugs his shoulders about the whole thing and exits, as Cruz makes the cover…referee Roberts comes too and that’s a third fall, giving Nathan Cruz a 2-1 win @ 30:31…so, I get the idea here. And it makes sense given that El Ligero was facing the winner of this match on Chapter 3 that he would be an interested party. What I don’t care for is the fact that he stopped Cruz from using the chair. What does Ligero care if Cruz would have split Scurll’s wig with the chair? Either way, he ends up facing Nathan Cruz at Chapter 3 for the title anyway…that said, the match was very good, but I can’t give it excellent. Nor can I put it at the level of the Scurll-Sabre Jr match due to the booking involved. Just because I kind of understand the booking, doesn’t mean I have to like it. (VERY GOOD)

*Post match: Cruz celebrates with the staff and then exits…Scurll gets the microphone from Smallman before he can wrap things up and Scurll proceeds to lament the fact that this is twice in the first two shows in PROGRESS that he’s been screwed out of the title. He then makes a point to say that it doesn’t matter who is champion, he will be the man to be the PROGRESS Heavyweight champion in the future. With that, Scurll exits and we fade with a splash screen telling me that Chapter 3 will be subtitled “Fifty Shades of Pain”. So many jokes, so little time…after that, the credits roll and the website advertisements pop up, bringing us to a conclusion for Chapter 2.

RESULTS
Match #1: Lion Kid pins Stixx with a rolling prawn hold @ 10:24 (AVERAGE)
Match #2: BWC Scarlo Scholarship Title: Mark Andrews © pins ‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman with a small package @ 14:05 (VERY GOOD)
Match #3: Noam Dar taps Darrell Allen via ‘Champagne Super-Knee-Bar’ with head kicks @ 11:04 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #4: Danny Garnell pins Jimmy Havoc with a roll-up out of the Crossface @ 10:36 (ish) (GOOD)
Match #5: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) def. Velocity Vipers (Alex Esmail/Will Ospreay) when Davis pins Ospreay after a Lynch Lariat @ 10:19 (ABOVE AVERAGE+, BUT WAS ON WAY TO BETTER)
Match #6: #1 Contender’s Three-Way: El Ligero pins Greg Burridge with a tights assisted O’Connor Roll @ 11:03 in a match that also involved RJ Singh (AVERAGE)
Match #7: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff: Nathan Cruz © defeats ‘Party’ Marty Scurll by a score of 2 falls to 1 @ 30:31 to retain (VERY GOOD)
-Scurll, pinfall, Hangover, 12:11
-Cruz, pinfall, Tombstone, 22:00
-Cruz, pinfall, superkick by El Ligero @ 30:31

FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
NEGATIVES
I’m going to try to keep these a bit shorter then they were for Chapter 1. Mostly because this is already rocking almost ten pages here and I don’t want to go much more. They improved
the lightning in the building on the hard cam, but the roaming cam lighting is still hit and miss. With the amount of crowd brawling that went on in the main event, that becomes a seriously noticeable flaw.

Second, the lack of decisive finishes kind of bothered me. I get that it’s early in the company’s run. But one of the trademarks (in my opinion) of ‘strong style wrestling’ are clean and decisive finishes. Off the seven matches on this show, two had dead in the center of the ring clean finishes that weren’t rollups. I don’t like that at all.

POSITIVES
There was no one on this show that felt like they didn’t belong to me. Despite me not knowing who Mike Hitchman was, he really impressed me in his match with Mark Andrews. Despite not knowing who Danny Garnell was, the story that he and Jimmy Havoc told more then justified his involvement. The opener was kinda lackluster overall, but it was good for the spot with the Lion Kid gimmick being something that’s easy for a crowd to get behind.

I gave them credit on the first show for crowning a champion. I’ll give them credit here for knowing that they needed to set things up for future shows to keep the hype train rolling. Yes, PROGRESS got off to a strong start, but the company didn’t yet have the name they do now where they could continue drawing huge cards solely on the PROGRESS name. In addition to being able to do several things for shows down the road, they immediately set up at least two matches for the next show. Nathan Cruz vs. El Ligero for the PROGRESS Championship Staff and Mark Andrews vs. Xander Cooper for the BWC Scarlo Scholarship title. Good forward thinking.

OVERALL
A better show then Chapter 1, but not the blow away show that we would eventually come to expect. We top out at ‘very good’ on the scale and a good portion of that is because of the booking. We’ll chalk this up to the learning curve though. So where does this leave us? Well, it leaves me about to come back to check out “Fifty Shades of Pain”. It leaves you guys hopefully wanting to see me do so. And I’m still hungry. I clearly need to eat more…

THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: I’m going with the BWC Scarlo match between Mark Andrews and Mike Hitchman here. Despite the main event earning the same rating, I was more pleasantly surprised by this one then I was by the main event.
Worst match/moment: Lion Kid and Stixx as far as in ring content went. I get that it was there to get the crowd hyped and I appreciate that but it was still really sloppy, mostly on Lion Kid’s part.
MVP: I’m going to issue co-MVPs here to Mark Andrews and Jimmy Havoc. Andrews for delivering the in-ring performance that he did and Havoc for telling the story that he did during his match. Credit to both Hitchman and Garnell, but clearly Andrews and Havoc were the stars of those respective matches.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10

Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter 3: “Fifty Shades of Pain”.


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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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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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