Our weekly Chairshot Classics WCW PPV series continues with the 1995 Great American Bash!
Match #1: ‘Das Wunderkind’ Alex Wright vs. ‘Flyin’ Brian Pillman
The two shake hands and lock up, Wright grabs the wristlock and Pillman reverses it with a monkey flip. Flyin Brian cranks on the wright, Wright drops the shoulders and scores a fireman’s takeover. Das Wunderkind holds on with the arm bar, Pillman works to his feet. Wright flips around for an armdrag, but Pillman quickly comes back with a head scissor takeover. They shake hands in appreciation of the sequence. Collar and elbow, Pillman with the wrist and he pulls down on the shoulder.
Wright reverses an Irish whip but Pillman uses the turnbuckle for another head scissor takeover. He follows with a drop kick and a snapmare, working right back into the arm on the mat. He maneuvers into a hammerlock, Wright jumps to his feet, Irish whip, Wright back flips over Pillman, sneaks under his legs and scores with a drop kick. Wright leaps up on Pillman’s shoulders and takes him over with a head scissor and he hangs on down on the mat. Pillman breaks the hold and goes into a side headlock, Wright tries rolling him over but only gets two. Back to a vertical base, they hit the ropes and Wright drives his shoulder into the mid section. He takes Pillman over with a ‘rana. Pillman catches his boot and Wright misses with the enziguri.
Pillman grapevines the legs and puts Wright in the crossbow. he has to be careful about his shoulders being on the mat. Side headlock takeover by Pillman and he holds on with the headlock. To the ropes, a pick up and Pillman drops Wright on his head. Das Wunderkind swats away a drop kick and quickly moves into a Boston crab. Wright tries a surfboard, but he doesn’t have him hooked well enough. Sunset flip for two by Wright, another series of pinning attempts but Pillman bursts up with a chop. Hammerlock reversal is countered with a back elbow by Pillman. Wright is taken to the mat with a hammerlock and Pillman drives his knee into the back. Wright works to his feet, he runs in a circle, drops to the mat and dumps Pillman out to the floor who has to regroup.
Wright holds the rope in a show of sportsmanship, but Pillman’s temper flies. He pulls Wright to the floor and hits some back hand chops. Wright is rolled back in the ring, they exchange chops and Euro uppercuts. Whip to the ropes, Wright stops short for a face buster. He goes for a big splash, but Pillman gets his knees up. Kick to the ribs by Brian and he sets Wright up for shoulders to the midsection in the corner. Snapmare takeover and a body scissor with a chin lock is applied by Pillman. Gut buster by Pillman and he makes a cover, Wright kicks out at two. Front face lock and Pillman drapes Wright over the top rope, he tumbles to the apron. Wright blocks a vertical suplex and he snaps Pillman out to the floor, it looks like he could have hit the apron on the way down.
Baseball slide by Wright and Pillman hits the steel. Flying plancha by Wright out to the floor. An uppercut by Wright and he rolls Pillman in. Missile drop kick by Wright and Pillman kicks out at two. Wright pursues Pillman, but he’s dumped through the middle rope. Suicide dive by Flyin Brian and his hometown Ohio crowd loves it. Pillman gets up to the 2nd turnbuckle and leaps, Wright moves and Brian hits the railing. Pillman is rolled back in, he goes back upstairs but misses with the flying splash. They’re both slow to get up and they try simultaneous dropkicks, dropping both back to the mat. Pillman sits Wright on the top turnbuckle, looking for a superplex. Wright blocks it and drops Pillman on his face, Wright leaps with a top rope crossbody and Pillman somehow kicks out.
Wright tries whipping Pillman to the ropes, but his leg keeps giving out. This baits Wright to come off the 2nd turnbuckle and Pillman hits him in the face with a dropkick. Pillman hooks the leg and Wright kicks out. Pillman climbs to the top, Wright is up before anything can happen and Wright tosses him groin first across the top rope. Standing switch by Wright, he hits the German suplex but only gets two. They hit the ropes again, Pillman looks for a crucifix, maneuvers into a sunset flip position, Wright sits down and hooks the legs and we have a winner.
Winner: ‘Das Wunderkind’ Alex Wright (Sunset Flip Counter)
- EA’s Take: Welcome back for a short stay, Flyin Brian. 95% of this match was absolutely excellent, but there were definitely a few spots that seemed like miscues that caused Pillman to get roughed up…and he was getting a little frustrated. It was a match between two supposed babyfaces at this point, but Pillman definitely pulled out a few heel moments and Wright took in some boos for Brian’s home-state crowd.
Video: We take a look at all the opponents Diamond Dallas Page has taken out in arm wrestling contests thus far. Anyone who beats DDP wins a date with The Diamond Doll. He’s had some wins with the help of Max Muscle.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is joined by Dave Sullivan. The date with The Diamond Doll stipulation stands, but if DDP wins, he wins Sullivan’s rabbit, Ralph. Dave had a long talk with Ralph, and he said it was OK to put him on the line.
Match #2 – Arm Wrestling Match: Dave Sullivan w/Ralph The Rabbit vs. Diamond Dallas Page w/The Diamond Doll & Max Muscle
DDP tells Sullivan to save himself the embarrassment and leave the building right now. Sullivan still wants in and he’s ready. DDP pulls away from tying up and he taunts Sullivan. They’re almost ready a 2nd time, but DDP wants to do this thing on his own terms. Sullivan throws a tantrum and gets the crowd cheering. Finally we’re under way. They struggle back and forth. Muscle tries to give DDP extra leverage but he’s caught by the referee. Without Muscle’s help, Dave Sullivan pins DDP’s hand to the mat.
Winner: Dave Sullivan
- After The Bell: DDP and Max Muscle get in each other’s face and shove back and forth. Page determines it wasn’t his fault and instead berates The Diamond Doll. ‘Mean’ Gene gets a word with the losing team. DDP wants a do-over, this is a travesty of justice. Muscle knows what really happened, DDP didn’t lose this match. DDP is a 10+, Sullivan is a 0.
- EA’s Take: This borderline mental patient gimmick for Sullivan is fairly entertaining. What more can be said about an arm wrestling contest other than the dissension between DDP and The Diamond Doll.
Match #3: ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan vs. ‘The Pitbull’ Sgt. Craig Pittman
Duggan is substituting in this match for the injured Marcus Alexander Bagwell. A shoving match ensues and Nick Patrick tries to gain control. Hacksaw gets the crowd clapping and cheering. They lock up and have a strong break from the neutral position. Collar and elbow, waistlock by Pittman, Hacksaw looks for a way out, pulls the leg and breaks the hold. Pittman does some pushups and Duggan stops short of a punt. Another tie up and Duggan hits a hip toss. The USA chants go, they lock up, full arm drag and twist by Pittman, Duggan counters but he eats a forearm by The Pitbull.
Pittman chokes him on the middle rope until the ref breaks it. Pittman charges for a clothesline, Duggan ducks and Sarge goes flying out to the floor. From the apron, Pittman catches Duggan with an uppercut. He drags Hacksaw to the ring post, rips his knee pad off and wraps the leg around, multiple times. Looking crazed, Nick Patrick lets him know he’s got a 10 count going. Both men roll around on the mat for position, Pittman takes control with the leg and cranks on the hamstring. Short rights by Pitbull, Duggan leaps to his feet for a desperation right of his own. Duggan is tackled back down to the mat for more work on the leg. The USA chants wake Hacksaw up, he rakes the eyes to break the hold.
He tries to send Pittman, but Craig takes him down with a single leg. He tries grapevining the legs, but Hacksaw tosses him through the middle rope to the floor. Hacksaw catches Pittman with rights, he sends him for a power slam, but he knee is bad. He pulls out a clothesline and he gets in the three point stance. He hits his patented running shoulder tackle, Pittman absorbs it, takes Duggan down again and he goes for an arm bar. He locks in Code Red but Duggan’s in the ropes. The ref counts to four but Pittman won’t let go and the ref calls for a disqualification.
Winner: ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan (Disqualification)
- EA’s Take: This one was a little rough and sloppy. Pittman is definitely green and Hacksaw is not the guy to carry a technically sound match. Was Sarge supposed to completely no-sell Duggan’s finish? It probably would have been a different story if Bagwell could have gone.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by The Blue Bloods who will be challenging for the Tag Team Championship tonight. Regal compares the state of The Nasty Boys to the last days of Hitler and Goebbels in 1945. Gene questions whether things will go exactly as they have planned. Regal says no one is more qualified to challenge for the gold, and it’s pathetic that they’re the only ones who can beat the champs.
Match #4: Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) w/Sister Sherri vs. Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck w/Col. Robert Parker & Meng
No time is wasted before a total brawl erupts. Buck is dumped to the floor while Stevie cleans out Slater. Parker reassures his boys on the outside. The teams regroup and Stevie and Slate kick off the official action. Collar and elbow, Stevie with position and he knees the gut and throws rights. Big pick up to Slater, Buck rushes in and he is slammed to the mat as well. Booker checks in and we have a standoff. Collar and elbow and a quick tag is made to Booker.
Overhand forearms by Booker, Buck gouges the eyes and sends Booker for the ride. Booker stops short, punts Buck and gives him a spin kick. Knee to the sternum and a big boot by Booker before tagging his brother back in. Double team action by Harlem Heat and Stevie hits a throat thrust. Front facelock by the older brother, and he backs up for a tag. Buck is sent to the ropes and Booker hits a drop kick. Slater’s turn and he drops Booker from the neutral position with a drop toe hold. Booker wrestles for position and grabs an arm bar. Another quick tag by the brothers. Stevie and Slater exchange fire, Stevie winning the battle.
Snapmare takeover into a front facelock. Another quick tag is made, Slater goes to the eyes and tags in Bunkhouse Buck. Big knee to Booker, full arm drag and twist but Booker reverses it. He scoop slams Buck but misses with an elbow. He’s up quickly with a spin-a-roonie and he hits Buck with a crossbody shot. Buck retreats to his corner and tags in Slater. Collar and elbow, Booker runs him to his corner and makes a tag. To the ropes they go, Slater stops short with a kick and an elbow to the top of the head. Slater makes a tag to Buck, Stevie goes to the eyes. They hit the ropes, Ray is distracted by a kick to the back by Slater and Buck takes advantage with a boot from behind.
Buck dumps him to the floor where Slater runs him into the ring post. Dirty Dick stomps away and rolls him back into the ring. Whip to the ropes and Buck hits the cowboy boot to the side of the head and Stevie barely kicks out. Tag is made, Slater and Buck with a double whip to the ropes. Stevie ducks a double clothesline and comes back with a leaping clothesline of his own, cleaning out both opponents. Booker is tagged in and he takes on both men. He sends Slater for a drop kick and Buck for a crossbody shot.
Slater makes the save and Stevie rejoins the action to ambush him. Booker catches Buck with a small package, Col. Parker slides in to roll it in his client’s favor. Booker calls for Sherri’s help, and she turns the tide back and we have a winner.
Winners: Harlem Heat (Booker T/Small Package)
- EA’s Take: Not a lot of offensive diversity in this match. The finish felt really long and awkward, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone trapped in a small package position for that long! Not too much more to say, I guess they were just giving Harlem Heat something to do that wasn’t another go with The Nasty Boys. WCW’s tag team division gets deeper in the years to come with the return of The Steiner Brothers, the addition of teams like Public Enemy, the creation of The American Males, the team-up of Sting and Lex Luger, and of course, the arrival of The Outsiders.
Video: On WCW Main Event, Nick Bockwinkel was violently interrupted by Vader in the middle of an announcement. Hulk Hogan came to his aid, and the dressing room cleared out to break up the fight.
In The Arena: WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel has joined the announce team to complete his announcement from earlier. Vader doesn’t prove how tough he is by beating up people like him, he has to prove it in the ring, and he’ll have to do it against WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach inside a steel cage.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene gets a word with Ric Flair. Hogan is in trouble at Bash at the Beach, the cage means no Renegade, no Savage, and if Macho Man has the intestinal fortitude, he’ll have to walk the aisle and step in the ring with The Nature Boy. He took his wife in 1992, he took his father at Slamboree, and tonight, he’ll be taking him out.. dig it! WOOOO!
Match #5 for the WCW World Television Championship: The Renegade w/Jimmy Hart vs. WCW World Television Champion ‘The Enforcer’ Arn Anderson
They jaw in each other’s face. Renegade backs off and the champ blindsides him. He tries an Irish whip, Renegade blocks it and drives Anderson into the turnbuckle. Arn is sent across and Renegade hits him with a body shot. Anderson gets a boot to the gut and whips Renegade across the corner, following with clothesline. Renegade no sells it, decks The Enforcer and clotheslines him over the top and out to the floor. Renegade leaps out to the floor to join him, and the TV Champ gets back in the ring.
Collar and elbow, side headlock by Renegade, Anderson pushes toward the ropes but cannot escape. They hit the ropes, Renegade blocks a hip toss and shoves Anderson to the mat. Collar and elbow, and back to the side headlock for Renegade. To the ropes and Anderson catches him with an abdominal stretch. Renegade reverses it. Anderson breaks it with a toss. Renegade catches Anderson’s boot, The Enforcer hits an enzigure and poses but Renegade is unaffected. Anderson rolls out to regroup. Collar and elbow, Anderson takes position in the corner and drives his shoulder into the mid section. Renegade reverses the Irish whip but he runs into a back elbow.
They hit the ropes and Anderson is able to grab a sleeper. Renegade pulls out of it, sends Anderson to the ropes and gets a sleeper of his own. Anderson reverses with a belly to back suplex and he drapes the challenger over the middle and top rope as Jimmy Hart protests. Anderson drags his eyes over the ropes and hits a snapmare into a reverse chin lock. Renegade tries to rally the crowd. He works up to his feet, they hit the ropes and Anderson punts him. Renegade is woken up by it, they hit the ropes again and this time Anderson hits a patented spinebuster.
He makes a cover and Renegade kicks out multiple times. Anderson tries holding his hands to the mat but can’t keep him down. Irish whip, Renegade ducks a clotheslines, hits an atomic drop before an awkward collision. Anderson is up first, he heads for the top but Renegade trips him. A fireman’s carry drop by Renegade, he heads for the top, lands a splash and we have a new champion.
Winner and NEW WCW World Television Champion: The Renegade (Top Rope Splash)
- After The Bell: A very imposing man looks on from the front row. He almost takes a right hand to Jimmy Hart as he walks by. (It’s The Giant/Big Show)
- EA’s Take: Poor Double-A having to put this guy over! If ANYONE wants to chant “You Can’t Wrestle” to a pushed guy like Roman Reigns, watch this match and reconsider your standards. When Schiavone said: “Anderson slowing the pace down” when he went to the floor, I said out loud: “What pace?”. The crowd was visibly bored. Hats off to Anderson for trying to make something out of it, there were spots like the sleeper hold where it looked like he was just improvising on the fly due to Renegade botching or simply lacking the skill set to look good.
Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!
Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?
ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!
What I Watched #16
ECW Guilty as Charged 1999
Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL
Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)
Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)
- Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
- Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
- Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
- Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
- Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
- Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
- Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15
Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)
Super Crazy vs. Tajiri
Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)
John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent
So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)
Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley
Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…
The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)
TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm
Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.
The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)
Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer
The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of.
As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)
Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz
So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent.
The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)
THE FINAL REACTION
- Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
- Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
- Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
- MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.
It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.
So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.
What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018
Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!
Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.
I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.
What I Watched #10-B
ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018
Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL
Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)
Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)
- Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
- Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
- Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
- Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
- Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
- Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
- Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
- Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
- Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
- Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
- Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44
Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)
*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)
Over the Budget Battle Royal
*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross
*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)
Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)
*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)
Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)
NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)
*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)
‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela
*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)
ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon
*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)
Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)
Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio
*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)
THE FINAL REACTION
There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.
Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.
Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.
Overall Show Score: 8.5/10
MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.
And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.
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