Our road to the 2019 Royal Rumble continues with a look back at one from the past!
For only the second time in WWE history, the WWE Championship is on the line in the Royal Rumble Match!
Kickoff Show Match – Fatal 4 Way Royal Rumble Qualifying Match: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) vs. Mark Henry & Jack Swagger vs. Damien Sandow & Darren Young vs. The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
Swagger & Young to kick the action off, The Real American with a side headlock, Darren pushes him off into the ropes and is knocked down by a shoulder for a quick 1. Swagger to a wristlock, Henry tags in and flattens Darren after a whip by The Real American. The WSM chokes Young in the corner, tag back to Swagger, Darren reverses a whip to the ropes, ducks a right hand and drills The Real American with a discus forearm. Sandow gets a tag to a nice ovation, plant Swagger with a russian leg sweep and connects with the Cubito Aequet.
Darren back in, lands a corner clothesline to The Real American, hits a bridging northern lights suplex and only gets a 1 count. Young to a rear chinlock, Swagger rolls him out of it and Konnor tags himself into the match, forcing Darren out of the ring. He delivers a haymaker to The Real American, shoves Mark Henry on the apron and all 8 guys step into the ring for a shoving match as we go to a break….Swagger has Konnor grounded with a rear chinlock when we come back, Konnor gains his footing, gets pushed into the ropes and The Real American with a greco-roman slam.
D-Von reaches over and tags Swagger out, hits the ropes and knocks Konnor down with a shoulder block, then a clothesline, looking for a neckbreaker and he gets pushed into the corner, dropping Viktor off the apron in the process. Konnor rushes into the corner, D-Von sticks the boot up into the chin, Viktor with a leg trip from the outside as Konnor keeps the referee’s attention. Viktor enters the match, The Ascension stomp away at D-Von in the corner, Viktor with heavy shots, brings Konnor back in and whips him into a corner clothesline, scores with a high knee and Konnor gets a count of 2. He looks to grind D-Von down with a rear chinlock, D-Von battles to his feet, hits the ropes and runs into a back elbow for another 2 count, Konnor going back to the rear chinlock.
D-Von fights up again, Konnor sends him into the corner, charges in and misses, going shoulder-first into the ring post and allowing Bubba to get a tag. Viktor tags in and runs into multiple clotheslines, Bubba squashes him in the corner, drops Konnor off the apron and plants Viktor with a uranage, getting 2 before Swagger is in to break it up. Sandow clears Swagger out, Henry lays out Sandow & Darren, then turns into a big boot from Bubba. He slams Young, D-Von heads up top and connects with the Wazzup Headbutt. The Dudleys call for tables, Viktor slides in and misses a clothesline, rebounding off the ropes into a 3D.
Bubba covers and Swagger again makes a save, dragging Bubba out and grabbing the Patriot Lock from the floor. The WSM takes advantage and hits a big splash to Bubba’s back, turns over, covers Viktor and advances to the Royal Rumble Match.
Winners: Mark Henry & Jack Swagger (Henry/Splash)
- EA’s Take: Fair Kickoff match this evening with the sentimental favorite picking up the victory. When this match was announced, I figured either The Dudleys or Swagger/Henry would get the win. Sandow/Young is just a thrown-together pairing (which reminds me, what the hell happened to the Primetime Players?) and The Ascension are the jobbers of the tag team division. If it weren’t for Mark Henry’s interview speaking about how this could be his last Royal Rumble Match earlier in the week, I probably would have never anticipated Swagger/Henry having a shot. The Dudleys were a favorite merely for the name value, while it’s obvious that none these guys will have much, if any kind of impact in the Rumble itself.
Open: A limousine pulls up in the back and out steps Vince & Stephanie McMahon. Jojo walks up asking Mr. McMahon about Roman Reigns tonight, Vince speaks about giving the champion the opportunity to make history tonight and successfully defend his title in the Royal Rumble. Steph agrees and says not only would he make history, but he’d go onto WrestleMania as champion. Vince is loving tonight, almost as much as he loves himself.
Video: “Here stands a time-tested arena where warriors have solved what countless others cannot. Now, one’s immortality awaits ahead as 30 will battle to etch their place in history. But, fate twists it’s cruel head. An unprecedented event occurs.” For the first time in history it’s One Vs. All, as Roman Reigns defends the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against 29 challengers in the Royal Rumble Match.
Match #1 – Last Man Standing for the WWE Intercontinental Championship: WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens
The bell rings and the brawl begins with both guys throwing bombs, The Lunatic Fringe getting the quick advantage and working over the champion in the corner. Owens fires back with rights and chops, Ambrose calls for more, turns the tables and serves some chops of his own. He whips the champion to the opposite corner, charges in with a running forearm and follows it with a bulldog The Prize Fighter rolling to the outside. The Lunatic Fringe flies through the middle rope with a suicide dive, the champion is sent across the announce table and lands on Michael Cole. Dean tosses Owens back across, jumps off the table and meets a right hand to the ribs.
The champion attempts to drive Ambrose into the steps, Dean reverses and Owens meets the steel, getting up at a count of 4. The champion reaches under the ring and pulls out a kendo stick, teeing off on Owens back in and then out of the ring.. The Lunatic Fringe with a big swing and a miss, hitting the ring post instead and the challenger counters with a superkick. Ambrose is propped up against the barricade, The Prize Fighter charges and connects with the Cannonball, exploding into the timekeeper’s area with Dean. The champion makes it up at 8, Owens returning the kendo stick shots, splits it in half and spears it into Ambrose’s midsection.
Owens levels The Lunatic Fringe with a short-arm clothesline, hits the ropes for a running senton, then tosses the champion to the outside, driving him into the ringside barricade once more. The challenger now looks under the ring for some toys, putting a pile of chairs in the ring. He rolls outside and hammers Dean in the back with one, rolls back inside and grabs a seat as Ambrose gets up at 5. Back in the ring, The Lunatic Fringe eats a big right hand, Owens sets two chairs up and builds a bridge, elevating the champion on his shoulders. Dean battles out of it, takes a forearm shot, bounces into the ropes and scores with a Lunatic Lariat.
Both men reach their feet at 6, the challenger utilizing the chair again to Ambrose’s ribs and pounding the back. Dean’s up at 6, The Prize Fighter looks to slam him on the chairs, Ambrose blocks it, bounces off the ropes again and meets a boot to the midsection. Owens tries a powerbomb on the chairs, The Lunatic Fringe counters with a back body drop and sends the challenger through them instead. Both combatants are up at 7, Owens rolls to the floor, the champion attempts another suicide dive and gets caught, then driven spine-first into the ring apron. The Prize Fighter gets real aggressive, driving Ambrose into the ring steps numerous time, Dean struggling to his feet at 8.
Owens drags a table out and sets it up at ringside, then gets another and stacks them as Dean pulls himself back into the ring. The challenger climbs to the apron, then pulls Ambrose up to the top turnbuckle to superplex him through the tables. The Lunatic Fringe fights it off, grabs a chair and tosses it into Owens’ face, the chair hanging off his head. The champion with a series of rights and chops, hits the ropes and runs into a superkick, The Prize Fighter looking for the Pop-Up Powerbomb and Dean counters into a hurricanrana. The champion ducks a clothesline, spikes Owens with Dirty Deeds and the challenger uses the ropes to get up at 8.
Ambrose spikes Owens with Dirty Deeds again, this time on a chair, but The Prize Fighter rolls out of the ring to get to his feet at 9. The Lunatic Fringe rolls outside, finds himself a table and sets it in front of the announce table. He drives Owens off the announce table, places him on the table, climbs to the top rope and comes off with an elbow drop through the table. The referee counts as both men are down, using the apron to pull up and back into the ring at an 8 count. The champion rolls out and slides another table into the ring, smacks Owens with a chair, sets up the table and props the challenger on the top turnbuckle.
Dean climbs up for a superplex, The Prize Fighter blocks and smashes Ambrose through the table with a 2nd rope fisherman’s buster. Owens to his feet at 6, Ambrose stumbling up at 9 with help from the table wreckage. The Prize Fighter scores with a Pop-Up Powerbomb, the champion barely up at 9, Owens delivering a vicious chair shot then building another chair bridge. He lays the champion on the chairs, climbs up top for a moonsault, Ambrose gets to his feet and pushes Owens forward, The Prize Fighter falling through the two stacked tables and he can’t make the count.
Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: Dean Ambrose
- EA’s Take: Great opening contest that really got the crowd going to begin the night. A brutal brawl is what this should have been to be the blow-off to this rivalry as has been reported. I’d really like to see Owens stay in something relevant heading into WrestleMania, the guy is the best heel in the company right now. Ambrose could be involved in the main event heading to WrestleMania, but I suspect some kind of multi-man match for his IC Title could take place again. It would be a great way to showcase guys with so much up in the air right now due to injuries.
Match #2 for the WWE Tag Team Championships: WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) w/Xavier Woods vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey)
Prior to the match, Big E talks about The New Day being in mourning since Chris Jericho broke Francesca the trombone. Kofi calls for a moment of silence, but we hear a trombone in the background and out comes Woods. They welcome the newest member of New Day, Francesca 2. Jimmy & Kofi will begin, Jimmy with a waistlock, Kingston switches out, they trade side headlocks, Jimmy getting pushed off into the ropes. Kofi with leapfrogs, Jimmy stops short of one for a back suplex, Kingston lands on his feet and runs into a stiff right hand. Jey gets the tag, The Usos with a combination backbreaker/top rope foream and Jey tosses Kofi to the outside.
Jimmy levels Kingston with a clothesline on the floor as Jey distracts the official, rolls Kofi inside and covers for a count of 2. Kingston sneaks in a jawbreaker, makes a tag to Big E who charges into a right hand. Jey backs him to the corner, Big E reverses a whip across, Jey attempts to hop up and over, but E has it scouted and drives him shoulder-first into the ring post, falling to the outside. Big E follows him out, lifts Jey on his shoulder and charges toward the barricade, Jey slipping out and connecting with a dropkick to turn the tables. Woods gets involved behind the ref’s back, using the barricade to spring into a tornado DDT.
Kingston tags, drops to the floor and rolls Jey in to deliver some punishment in the corner, gaining a 2 count. He grounds Jey with a chinlock, Jey to a vertical base, gets backed into the wrong corner, Big E tagging as Jey battles out. Kofi & Jey both look for superkicks, Kingston hooking the leg and holding Jey down for a Big E splash for a count of 2. Big E pounds away at Jey’s chest, flattens him with a back elbow and covers, but is too close to the ropes. Kofi slingshots in with a stomp off the tag, hammers Jey in the corner, charges in and gets elevated to the apron, landing on his feet. Kingston gets a handful of Jey’s hair and pays for it, getting dropped to the floor by an enzuigiri.
Big E & Xavier assist him back into the ring, Big E makes the tag just as Jimmy hits the ring with a right hand, then knocks Kofi off the apron. Big E reverses a whip into the ropes, Jimmy ducks a right and delivers a kick to the midsection, drops Kingston off the apron again, ducks a Big E clothesline and scores with a samoan drop. Kofi springboards into the ring and gets caught in a samoan drop, Jimmy rushing him in the corner with the hip attack. He ducks another shot from Big E, scales to the top and hits a corkscrew senton for a near fall, then heads back upstairs. Kofi hits the apron, Jey pulls him to the floor, looking to toss Kingston into the barricade, but it’s reversed and Jey is sent into the crowd.
Back in the ring Big E crotches Jimmy on the top turnbuckle, plants him with a belly to belly suplex and covers for a 2 count. Jimmy rolls to the apron, Big E looks for a spear and meets a knee for his troubles, Kofi grabs the leg and gets kicked away, then taken out by Jey who dives in off the barricade. Jimmy is distracted and Big E spears him off the apron to the floor, all 4 men down outside, struggling to their feet. E rolls Jimmy inside and covers for 2, tag to Kofi for the combo Big Ending/top rope DDT, Jimmy slips out and shoves Big E into the corner, knocking Kingston to the canvas. Kofi looks to sneak in Trouble In Paradise, Jimmy ducks and hits a superkick, tag to Jey and he connects with an Uso Splash, Kingston getting a foot under the rope at a count of 2.
Woods has words with Jey from the floor, Jimmy takes him out with a suicide dive, but Big E is there to drive him spine-first into the barricade. Kofi looks to take advantage with a roll-up on Jey for 2, Jey rolls through and gets 2 of his own. Kofi hops to Jey’s shoulders in the corner, E making a blind tag, Jey drops Kingston down and connects with another superkick before scaling to the top rope. He comes off for another Uso Splash, Big E slides in and catches him in the air into the Big Ending to retain.
Winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day (Big E/Big Ending)
- EA’s Take: Part of me thought this could be the night that The New Day drops the titles given the way The Usos have been getting over on them of late. The problem is that New Day is just so entertaining that they are getting cheers, or as evidenced tonight, their opponents are getting booed. And that’s not a knock on The Usos because they’re a great team, that’s just how over New Day is. The match itself to me was a little ho-hum, I did enjoy the finish however.
Video: Last Monday on Raw, Brock Lesnar sent a message to the participants in the Royal Rumble Match before falling to a Spear from Roman Reigns. Then, The Wyatt Family showed up and took them all out.
Backstage: In a dark room is The Wyatt Family, Bray speaking about slaughtering everyone in his path. After tonight, he will truly have the whole world in his hands. “The apocalypse is here…run.”
Match #3 for the WWE United States Championship: WWE United States Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto
Collar & elbow to start, Del Rio backs Kalisto into the corner, the challenger switches out and delivers right hands, Alberto doing the same. He snapmares Kalisto over for a kick to the head and a count of 1, then shoots the challenger sternum-first into the turnbuckles. The champion to the 2nd rope, reigns down right hands, Kalisto with a kick to the back that sends Del Rio outside, then hits the ropes for a suicide dive. He drives Alberto into the barricade, tosses him in the ring and climbs to the top, Del Rio sees it and drops him with an enzuigiri for a count of 2.
El Patron with a snap suplex for another 2, then looks to ground the high flyer with a rear chinlock. Kalisto fights to his feet, hits the ropes for a kick, back to the ropes and the champion splits him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Del Rio heads up top now for a double axe and a near fall, slides the challenger to the outside, dropping him face-first to the floor. Alberto outside after him, Kalisto with a hurricanrana out of nowhere, rolls the champion in the ring, attempts a headscissors takedown, Del Rio countering into a gutbuster that only gets 1. El Patron takes the fight outside, tosses Kalisto into the barricade, back into the ring and he props him on the top turnbuckle, trying to remove his mask.
The challenger fights Alberto off, comes off the top with a seated senton, into the ropes he goes, missing a 2nd rope springboard corkscrew headbutt, the champion following with a superkick and he nearly gets a 3 count. Alberto looks to finish with the Cross Armbreaker, Kalisto slips out of it, goes to the 2nd rope and spikes Del Rio with a tornado DDT for a count of 2. Kalisto this time scores with the corkscrew headbutt, hits the ropes and plants Alberto with a spikerana, covers and again only gets 2. He scales the top rope, El Patron crotches the challenger on the top turnbuckle, climbs up and brings him down the hard way with a top rope reverse suplex.
The champion toying with Kalisto and slapping him in the face, Kalisto fires back with a kick, follows with a roll-up and gets another near fall. He charges Alberto in the corner and meets boots the to face, Del Rio to the top, know he gets crotched on the turnbuckle. Kalisto climbs up to meet him, the champion with right hands, dropping the challenger and he’s caught in the tree of woe. Del Rio looks for the double stomp and misses, Kalisto goes into Salida Del Sol, covers and Alberto grabs the bottom rope at 2.
El Patron dumps the challenger outside to buy some time, Kalisto to the apron, springboards in and Del Rio turns it into a codebreaker, still unable to get a pinfall. He exposes the top turnbuckle, looks to drive Kalisto into it, the challenger blocks and connects with an enzuigiri. He charges Del Rio in the corner, Alberto elevates him towards the exposed turnbuckle, Kalisto landing on the 2nd rope. He comes off the with a hurricanrana that sends the champion into the turnbuckle, follows with a 2nd Salida Del Sol and regains the championship.
Winner and NEW WWE United States Champion: Kalisto (Salida Del Sol)
- EA’s Take: I have to admit that I’m a little surprised to see Kalisto regain the title. I keep thinking that Sin Cara will be back here fairly soon, but with the amount of momentum Kalisto has it could be best to keep him on his own. Although I don’t see him having the career longevity due to his age, you can’t help but see a lot of Rey Mysterio in him and the company certainly recognizes it. I think Kalisto should get a decent title run this time around, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this feud stretched out further, possibly into Fastlane.
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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