Our weekly Chairshot Classics WCW PPV series continues with Halloween Havoc ’95!
Open: “Motown’s gone mad, Halloween Havoc is here. Two demons have emerged, The Giant who has a jones for destruction. WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan has crossed over to the dark side to take on eerie powers in their world. Shutter to think two monster trucks will collide and if survival is possible, they’ll square-off eye-to-eye in the fortress known as the ring. It will happen before your very eyes here at Halloween Havoc.”
Kobo Hall: On the roof, WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan & The Giant both get a feel for their monster trucks before tonight’s battle.
Video: At Fall Brawl, Johnny B. Badd won the right to face Sting for the WCW United States Championship, but when the moment arrived, Johnny was nowhere to be found. ‘Flyin’ Brian would get the opportunity instead, but at the end of the night Badd finally showed up, explaining he had a flat tire on the biggest day of his career. WCW World Television Champion Diamond Dallas Page would feel the need to rub it in Johnny’s face claiming he should have had the US Title shot, Max Muscle unknowingly admitting that they had something to do with Badd’s car problems.
Match #1 for the WCW World Television Championship: WCW World Television Champion Diamond Dallas Page w/The Diamond Doll & Max Muscle vs. Johnny B. Badd
Badd slides into the ring behind the champion while a stand-in walks down the ramp, Page is distracted and the challenger unloads with big right hands as the bell sounds. Johnny shoots DDP to the ropes for a kick to the midsection, follows up with a knee lift, whips the champion to the corner and Page spills over the top to the floor. Badd goes out in pursuit, thwarts off Max Muscle trying to get involved, drives him into the champion with a noggin knocker, then sends Page into the crowd with a big right.
Johnny steps over the barricade after him, deposits DDP into the steel barrier, clotheslines him back to ringside, gets his hands on a bucket and puts it over the champion’s head, then smacking it with an ear clap. He rolls Page into the ring, DDP catches him sliding in with clubbing blows, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, the challenger scores with a hip toss, follows with a drop toe hold and hooks in an armbar. The champion finds his footing, Badd switches to a wristlock, continues wrenching away at the left arm, but can’t break free. Dallas grabs a handful of hair and slams Johnny to the mat, the challenger kicks back up, returns the favor, then goes right back to the armbar.
DDP backs the challenger to the ropes, doesn’t break clean and buries a knee to the abdomen, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Johnny ducks down for a back body drop, the champion leapfrogs over it, gets surprised by another hip toss and Badd covers for a count of 2. He quickly connects with a dropkick and corners Dallas, climbs to the 2nd rope to rain down fists, DDP powers him out, drops the challenger face-first on the top turnbuckle and takes control, taunting Johnny while delivering kicks to the breadbasket. He shoves the challenger to the corner and drives shoulders to the ribs, stomps on Badd’s fingers, scores with a knee drop for a 2 count, then shoots him sternum-first into the turnbuckles. Page plants Johnny with a back suplex, spikes him with the Diamond Clash, goes into a lateral press and again finds a count of 2.
The champion looks to grind Badd down now with a rear chinlock, the challenger makes it to a standing position, DDP rips him back down by the hair, covers for 2, then argues with the official about the count. He quickly slaps the rear chinlock back on, gets frustrated after getting another 2 count, sends Johnny to the ropes for a hip toss, the challenger blocks it for a backslide and gains a near fall. Both guys back up quick, Dallas levels Badd with a clothesline for 2, shoots him to the ropes for a back body drop, Johnny counters with a sunset flip, can’t bring the champion over and gets nailed by a right hand. DDP drops down on top to cover, Badd kicks out at 2, rolls Page up for a 2 count of his own, can’t capitalize and gets dropped by a big boot.
Page muscles him up for a powerslam and still can’t put it away, wants to wear him down some more with a rear chinlock, Johnny battles back to his feet, counters to a top wristlock, but Max reaches in to lend a hand, the champion driving Badd back down to the mat for a near fall. DDP instructs Max to climb onto the apron, the referee is distracted, the champion unravels his wrist tape, then proceeds to choke the life out of the challenger. The official turns back to the action and Page switches to the rear chinlock, the ref checks Badd’s arm, Johnny holds it up on the third attempt and fights to a vertical base, countering out with a top wristlock. Page calls for Max’s help again, can’t reach him and gets planted by a back suplex, DDP stumbles back to his feet, gets caught by a right hand, tripped up by a leg sweep, but quickly rocks Badd with a punch of his own.
He drags Johnny up for another that’s off-target, the challenger splits him with an inverted atomic drop, follows with an atomic drop and then unleashes a flurry of fists. He looks to send the champion to the ropes and Dallas reverses, Johnny surprises him with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors, ascends the corner to the top turnbuckle, connects with a double axe handle and almost finishes it off. He hooks DDP for a sit-out powerbomb and gets a near fall, shoots Page to the ropes, the champion spikes him with the Diamond Dream and both guys are down now. Dallas crawls into a lateral press for a count of 2, sets for the Diamond Cutter, Badd hangs onto the ropes to block it, tries a cover of his own, but still only finds a 2 count.
He tosses the champion into the corner, goes to the 2nd rope to fire away with punches, DDP tries to power him out, gets flipped over the top to the floor by a hurricanrana, Max coming around ringside to help him up. Johnny charges in and feigns an outside dive, instead flies over the top with the Badd Day, rolls Dallas back inside and heads to the apron, then slingshots in with a splash and nearly polishes Page off. Badd calls for the Tutti Frutti, Max climbs to the apron and hooks him by the arms, DDP looks to clock him with a fist, the challenger side-steps out of harm’s way, Page nearly hits Max, but instead holds up. Johnny with a dropkick from behind, Dallas gets knocked into Max to drop him to the floor, Badd with a schoolboy from behind and almost steals it.
DDP quickly grabs him by the trunks to dump him outside, Max looks to ram him into the ring post, Johnny pushes him off, climbs back inside and Max steps up after him. The champion grabs Badd from behind and holds him for Max, Page gets flattened by a clothesline as Johnny ducks, the challenger clocks Max with Tutti Frutti, makes a cover and we have a new champion.
Winner and NEW WCW World Television Champion: Johnny B. Badd (Outside Interference)
- EA’s Take: Solid opener tonight, Page really slowing down the action while Johnny picked up the pace when he was in control. A little silly that a clothesline from Max Muscle is what put Page away, but this is honestly about as good of in-ring work as we’ll get tonight. DDP was really starting to come into his own as a character and it was nearing the time for him to start losing the entourage, so the seeds had been planted already for dissension between The Diamond Doll (Kimberly) and Dallas, which will continue in the coming weeks.
Match #2: The Zodiac vs. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
The Zodiac stands on the 2nd rope facing the crowd as Savage enters the ring, Macho Man rips him down, the bell rings and Zodiac gets sent head-first into the top turnbuckle. Macho unloads with punches, rakes Zodiac’s face across the top rope, a fan jumps into the ring and the referee tackles him, the action spilling to the outside. Savage sends Zodiac head-first into the ring post and barricade multiple times, The Zodiac surprises him with an eye rake, then sends Macho Man shoulder-first into the steel post. He tosses Savage back into the squared circle, scoops him up for a body slam, The Zodiac climbs to the 2nd rope, comes off for a splash, but nobody’s home. Macho Man quickly heads upstairs, connects with the Flying Elbow Drop and that’s all she wrote.
Winner: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage (Flying Elbow Drop)
- EA’s Take: Yikes, pretty quick one here that was only made even worse by that fan hopping the barricade. The most interesting part of this match was that Zodiac came out to the music that would later be used for Rey Mysterio. Hell, he got a bigger pop from the crowd than even Savage did during his entrance as he fought off security. This is your basic squash match as Macho Man lays waste to the cartoonish Zodiac in under two minutes and rightfully so. Initially, Savage’s opponent was supposed to be Kamala, but The Ugandan Giant had left the company after only getting a pay-per-appearance deal and never a full-time contract. Also, the stipulation here is that if Savage wins and Luger wins his match later, they’ll meet one-on-one tonight. I wonder what will happen?
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is in the locker room, plugs the WCW Hotline and teases Jimmy Hart recently speaking to a man he used to work with. Okerlund welcomes in WCW World Television Champion Johnny B. Badd, the new champion proclaiming there will be a celebration in the Motor City tonight. He speaks about how dreams can come true if you work hard, states he never gave up despite Diamond Dallas Page from Max Muscle and he plans on keeping the title for a long time.
Video: Back at Clash Of The Champions over the summer, Kurasawa viciously attacked Road Warrior Hawk’s arm, locking on the Kurasawa Crush and breaking it in the process.
Match #3: Kurasawa w/Col. Robert Parker vs. Road Warrior Hawk
The bell rings and Hawk immediately goes on the attack, clobbers Kurasawa with clubbing blows and chops, shoots him to the ropes and connects with a shoulder tackle. He cracks Kurasawa with a neckbreaker, follows with a fist drop for a count of 2, fires away with more stiff shots, then puts the boots to him. Hawk shoots him to the corner and charges in, Kurasawa side-steps out of harm’s way, Hawk goes shoulder-first into the ring post, absorbs it and peppers Kurasawa with big right hands. He muscles him up for a gutwrench suplex, plants him with a powerbomb, Parker distracts Hawk from the outside, Kurasawa rises back to his feet and ambushes him from behind.
He scoops Hawk up for a body slam and goes to the top rope for an elbow drop, Hawks avoids it, clotheslines Kurasawa to the outside, then steps out to the apron. He flies off with a clothesline to Parker, Kurasawa sends Hawk head-first into the ring post, rolls him into the squared circle, launches him with a back body drop, then hits a samoan drop. He goes into a cover and puts his feet on the ropes for leverage, Parker holds Kurasawa’s feet in place, the official doesn’t see it and makes the 3 count.
Winner: Kurasawa (Samoan Drop)
- EA’s Take: Alrighty then, I definitely did not see that coming. Hawk has been on his own for a bit now as Animal continues to rest up a back injury, so it seems like Hawk has just been floating around with not much to do. There was supposed to be a good feud here, but Hawk had been legitimately injured, leading to the angle where Kurasawa “broke his arm”. To sum it up, boring match, boring storyline.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is back in the locker room with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, Macho saying there’s one down and one to go, reminding us he beat The Zodiac with no problem. Savage states he heard what Hulk Hogan recently said about him, says that he and Hogan are friends until the meet in the ring, claiming he can beat Hulk anytime. He talks about his curiosity to see what will happen tonight in the Monster Truck battle, warning he will be watching very closely.
Match #4: Mr. J.L. vs. Sabu w/The Sheik
Sabu slides right in and ambushes JL, blocks a kick, JL comes back with an enzuigiri and Sabu spills outside as the bell rings. JL slides to the outside in what looks to be a botched spot, Sabu drives him into the barricade, climbs to the apron, springs off the 2nd rope with a moonsault, taking out JL and The Sheik. Sabu lines JL up, leaps off the stairs for a crossbody, JL avoids it, climbs to the top turnbuckle and flies to the floor with a crossbody of his own. He sends Sabu back inside, Sabu surprises him with a kick to the abdomen, whips him to the corner, charges in and JL elevates him up. Sabu lands on his feet on the top rope, comes off with a moonsault that misses, JL heads upstairs for one of his own and gains a count of 2.
He delivers a sit-out powerbomb for another 2 count, sends him to the corner and rushes in with a dropkick, Sabu side-steps it, steps out to the apron and slingshots in with a somersault leg drop for a near fall. He ascends the corner back up top, JL clubs him across the back, pulls him down for a bridging german suplex, but Sabu kicks out at 2. JL looks to the high-rent district now, Sabu clocks him with an uppercut, climbs up for a super victory roll, hooks both legs, but still can’t put it away. Sabu scales the corner again, JL springs off the 2nd rope with a dropkick, sends Sabu spilling to the floor, but can’t capitalize. Sabu climbs to the apron and buries a shoulder to the breadbasket, drops JL throat-first across the top rope, steps inside, hits the Arabian Press and gets the win.
Winner: Sabu (Arabian Press)
- After The Bell: The Sheik lights is trademark fireball and throws it in JL’s face for good measure.
- EA’s Take: No selling, no pacing, no storyline…brutal. If you unmasked JL and gave these guys ten more minutes, you may have had something, but obviously this wasn’t the case. After being fired from ECW, Sabu arrived in WCW just over a month prior, however it was very short-lived and this would be his only PPV appearance before heading back to ECW just a couple of weeks later. JL is also a newcomer to WCW, who would be better known as Jerry Lynn in the future, but for the time being he would work under a mask as one of the lower-tier Cruiserweight competitiors until 1997.
In The Arena: The Master & The Taskmaster are on the stage for The Master’s Lair, The Master speaks about the moon falling over Detroit, claims the stars are lined up and the Milky Way is ready for The Taskmaster. He speaks about it being the start of a new day from China to the USA, believes there will be an eclipse of the sun and The Taskmaster will walk upon the galaxy as The Giant destroys Hulkamania with The Yeti as their back-up plan. The Taskmaster says that a giant will lead them into the next century, claims that when Hulk Hogan dawned black attire it pulled the evil out of him, warning that Hogan doesn’t have anyone to watch his back tonight.
Backstage: Gene Okerlund is standing by in the locker room with WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan & Jimmy Hart, the Hulkster joined by the winners of WCW’s Harley Davidson Sweepstakes. Hogan says it was important for him to be on a roll going into tonight, thinks giving this Harley away will give him the extra edge he needs, then offers up some extra custom work. The winners are presented with some t-shirts, Hulk speaks about The Giant running over his Harley recently and looks to return the favor.
Match #5: Meng w/The Taskmaster vs. Lex Luger
Luger wastes no time and fires away with fists at the bell, rams Meng head-first into the top turnbuckle numerous times, then grabs a side headlock. Meng pushes Lex off to the ropes, drops down, Luger grabs him by the legs, buries a stomp to the abdomen, then catapults him face-first into the top turnbuckle. He rakes Meng’s eyes across the top rope, Meng begins to battle back with kicks and chops, drives The Total Package face-first off the top turnbuckle, then looks to send him to the ropes. Luger reverses for a back body drop, Meng catches him with a kick, utilizes a small package for a quick 2 count, then unloads with shots across the back.
He tries to send Lex face-first back into the top turnbuckle, The Total Package blocks it, returns the favor, irish whip to the opposite corner is reversed, Meng charges in and meets a boot to the chin. Luger clotheslines him over the top to the floor, The Taskmaster helps Meng to his feet, Lex comes outside from behind, ramming Meng shoulder-first into the steel post. Lex rolls him back inside, climbs to the apron and drops the arm down across the top rope, climbs into the squared circle and Meng surprises him with shots to the ribs. Meng sinks his teeth into The Total Package’s nose, Luger starts fighting back with stiff right hands, shoots him to the corner and rushes in, but nobody’s home.
Meng measures for a clothesline that’s off-target, Lex powers him up for a back suplex, Meng switches his weight, falls on top and gets a count of 2. He puts the boots to The Total Package, scoops him up for a shoulder breaker, corners him and wrenches the right arm up in the ropes. He buries boots into the breadbasket, chokes Luger with his foot, spikes Lex with a piledriver and goes into a lateral press for a near fall. Meng quickly applies a choke, slaps on a rear chinlock to wear Luger down, The Total Package works his way back to his feet, hits the ropes for a clothesline, Meng ducks under it, both guys go for a crossbody and collide, Lex landing on top for a 2 count. Both guys back up quick and Meng goes to the ribs with a kick, plants Luger with a back suplex for a count of 2, deposits him out of the ring and The Taskmaster stands over Lex to have some words.
The Total Package tries to crawl back into the squared circle, Meng continually kicks him back down, Luger finally rolls back in and Meng keeps up the punishment with stomps. Lex catches Meng with shoulders to the abdomen and gets raked in the eyes, dishes out more shots across the back, sends The Total Package to the ropes for a dropkick, but Lex hangs onto the ropes to avoid it. Meng staggers to his feet and charges, Luger elevates him over the top, Meng hangs onto the apron, hooks The Total Package for a suplex to the floor, but Lex blocks and brings him in with a suplex of his own. He can’t capitalize and Meng shoots him to the ropes for a back body drop, Luger avoids it with a kick, tries taking him off his feet with multiple clotheslines, finally does it, then sends him to the ropes for a back body drop off of his own.
He measures Meng for more clotheslines, sends him to the ropes for a powerslam, calls for the Torture Rack, but Meng reaches into his boot for the gold spike. He surprises Lex with the gold spike to the throat, hooks the leg, The Taskmaster steps into the ring, kicks Luger and the referee calls for the bell.
Winner: Lex Luger (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: Meng gets angered and shoves The Taskmaster, Sullivan trying to explain that now Luger will have to face Macho Man.
- EA’s Take: Not a bad match, but again, nothing overly exciting or entertaining. Since returning to WCW just over a month prior, Luger has been in a tweener state and a teased member of The Dungeon Of Doom. Thus, further explaining The Taskmaster’s interference. This was a strange time for Lex, as the fans didn’t really want to boo him at the time, however WCW was trying to lay some ground work for a big match-up with Hulk Hogan that would never really come to pass. Despite the tension between Meng & Sullivan, nothing would come of it and Meng would go on to become more of a tag team competitor alongside The Barbarian as The Faces Of Fear.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by The Giant in the locker room, The Giant saying that if Hulk Hogan has the courage to show up for their Monster Truck battle, the roof won’t be big enough for the both of them. He states he will push the Hulkster right off of the building, then plans on Chokeslamming him through the floor to become the WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
Match #6: The Four Horsemen (Arn Anderson & ‘Flyin’ Brian) vs. WCW United States Champion Sting & ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair
Sting comes out on his own after Flair was ambushed earlier in the night by an unknown assailant. Double-A will kick things off, has some words for the Stinger and they lock-up, Anderson working to a hammerlock. The champion counters to one of his own and Arn reaches for the ropes to get the break, the fans chant “We Want Flair” they go in for another collar & elbow and Anderson goes to the midsection with a knee. He slaps on a full nelson, Sting kicks Pillman off the apron and reverses to one of his own, Double-A tries to scale the ropes with his feet, but the champion releases him and he falls to the mat.
Anderson rolls to the floor to regroup, steps back into the squared circle and the “We Want Flair” chants break out again, he locks-up with Sting, then goes to a wristlock and rips him down by the hair. The Stinger kips right back up and shoots Arn off to the ropes, gets knocked down by a shoulder block, Double-A goes back into the ropes, the champion leapfrogs over, then goes to the breadbasket with a kick. He hits the ropes and plants him with a facebuster, Flyin’ Brian comes in to help out, Sting thwarts both of the Horsemen off and clears the ring, Anderson & Pillman having a conference on the outside. Double-A rolls in and tags out, Pillman into the collar & elbow tie-up, the Stinger backs him to the ropes, Flyin’ Brian slaps him across the face off the break, then ducks to the floor to retreat.
The champion heads out in pursuit, Arn lays in wait around ringside for a clothesline, Sting ducks it, levels him with a clothesline of his own, then flattens Pillman with another. Flyin’ Brian takes a walk before heading back inside, he offers Sting a handshake, the champion accepts it, goes to the ribs with a kick, then powers him up for a military press slam. Pillman crawls away and makes a tag, Double-A cautiously steps in, has some words for the Stinger and then convenes with Flyin’ Brian. He avoids a lock-up with a boot to the breadbasket, clobbers the champion to the mat with double axe handles, picks him up for a piledriver and Flyin’ Brian climbs to the top rope. Sting blocks it, takes Arn down with a double leg, catapults him into Pillman and Flyin’ Brian gets crotched on the top turnbuckle.
The champion drops Anderson with a back elbow, steps to the apron, launches Pillman off the top down into the guardrail, then turns back to Double-A and peppers him with right hands. Arn sneaks in a thumb to the eye to stop the onslaught, unknowingly drives Sting head-first off Pillman’s skull in the corner, whips the champion to the ropes and buries a fist into the abdomen. ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair finally sprints down to the ring in street clothes, nearly runs over the official trying to get a piece of Anderson, but the ref works him over to his corner. Double-A deposits the Stinger to the outside, Flyin’ Brian goes to work behind the referee’s back, the champion staggers back inside and Arn puts the boots to him, then chokes Sting with the bottom of his foot.
Tag to Flyin’ Brian, he fires away with stinging chops in the corner, the Stinger begins to battle back with shots of his own, Pillman catches him with a drop toe hold, then reaches for the tag. The Enforcer continues the punishment by choking with his knee, grounds Sting with a rear chinlock, Flair gets tired of waiting and comes in with one of his shoes in his hand, the official cuts him off and Arn scoops the Stinger up for a body slam. He makes a tag and Flyin’ Brian heads upstairs, Double-A launches him off the top for a splash, Sting gets the knees up to avoid it, but Pillman tags out before he can reach Flair. Anderson plants the champion with a back suplex for a count of 2, he locks knuckles with Sting to try and hold him down, tries dropping down onto the Stinger, but he gets the knees up again.
The champion reaches for his corner and The Enforcer grabs him by the foot, Pillman drops off the apron, goes around ringside and baits Flair off the apron, The Nature Boy chasing him around ringside before order is restored. Double-A hooks Sting in an abdominal stretch, uses Flyin’ Brian for extra leverage out of the official’s sight, tags out and Pillman grinds the champion face-first into the canvas. He mocks Flair and fires off a chop to the chest, bites the Stinger across the nose, bludgeons him with heavy right hands, then snapmares him over for a single-leg crab. He uses The Enforcer to apply more pressure, Flair comes in to distract the referee, Flyin’ Brian and Anderson swap out, Double-A locking on a modified camel clutch.
He releases it and buries a boot to the spine, brings Pillman back in, Flyin’ Brian delivers a kick to the ribs, covers and only gets a 2 count. Tag back to Anderson, Arn goes to the midsection with a barrage of punches, The Nature Boy jumps into the ring to stop a 2-on-1 assault, the Stinger begins battling back, irish whip to the ropes is reversed and Double-A delivers a spinebuster for a near fall. Pillman reaches for the tag, targets the left knee with an elbow drop, slaps on a heel hold, brings The Enforcer back in for a wishbone, then Anderson goes to a heel hold of his own. Sting digs deep and starts crawling towards his corner, Arn buries knees into the back to put a stop to it, locks on a bearhug to wear him down further and the official has to check the arm.
The champion keeps it up on the third attempt, breaks free after an ear clap, Arn hooks him by the legs, reaches for Pillman and Flyin’ Brian cuts the Stinger off with an elbow drop. He chokes the champion, drags him up in the corner for heavy chops, snapmares him over and goes to a seated abdominal stretch. Sting starts working to his feet and Flyin’ Brian drives him head-first off the top turnbuckle, The Horsemen go on the attack, the champion fights his way out of the wrong part of town, but Pillman goes to the eyes. He brings Sting back to the corner, the Stinger rams Flyin’ Brian head-first into Anderson, finally reaches his corner and makes a tag. The Nature Boy steps in, hits the ropes, blasts Sting with a big right hand, then puts the boots to him with The Horsemen and the ref calls for the bell.
Winners: Sting & ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: Flair, Anderson & Pillman work the champion over with an assault of punches and chops, put the boots to him and another official runs down to try and stop them unsuccessfully. ‘Mean’ Gene waits on the stage to speak with The Horsemen, plugs the WCW Hotline to kill time first, Flair takes the mic and proclaims that it’s now time to go to school. The Nature Boy says the first thing you’ll learn is not to jump on Double-A and secondly, you don’t play around with Flyin’ Brian. Flair states that thirdly you don’t mess with him and fourth you don’t breathe unless The Horsemen allow you to, Anderson saying everyone who asked for it now has it and needs to deal with. The Nature Boy exclaims they are reunited and it feels so good.
- EA’s Take: Beautifully put together swerve here after Flair and Anderson had been separated for a number of weeks now. Pillman was also just getting into his ‘Loose Cannon’ persona at this time too, which was very groundbreaking and left viewers, as well as the boys in the back wondering if he had legitimately lost his mind. Classic tactics during the match from two excellent tag team performers as well prior to Flair’s big turn, then of course you have Sting pulling off his babyface role perfectly. Overall a lot to like about this one.
Backstage: Mike Tenay is standing by with Lex Luger, The Total Package thinks there are forces at work here in WCW besides Sting who want him to face ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Luger says he can’t figure out why just yet, but when he hears the bell ring it’s time for the big boys to play and he will be victorious. Lex claims he knows Savage is in cahoots with Hulk Hogan, but it doesn’t matter because he will be the greatest wrestler WCW has ever seen, making an example of Macho Man.
Video: WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan knows the wrath of The Giant all too well by now, as we take a look at their history beginning with The Giant throwing a t-shirt of his father, Andre The Giant, into the champion’s face. He would continue to target the Hulkster, even nearly running him over with a monster truck, but destroying Hogan’s Harley Davidson in the process. The champion would announce his intentions to have his own monster truck built, however The Giant would continue to dominate him with help from The Taskmaster and the Dungeon Of Doom, even laying him out to shave Hulk’s mustache. This would lead Hogan to turn to a darker side of himself, showing he be as dastardly as anyone in the Dungeon Of Doom. The Master would notice this change in the champion, revealing he has an insurance policy of his own in The Yeti.
Match #7 is a Monster Truck Match: The Giant vs. WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan
Eric Bischoff & Bob Chandler join Heenan for commentary, as we go to the rooftop of Kobo Hall. Hogan and Giant are face-to-face as the rules are explained, as you must get all four of your opponents tires outside of the circle to win, but there are also two explosives charges randomly placed within it. They weld the front bumpers together, the engines fire up and we’re ready to go, Hogan and The Giant forcing each other back-and-forth around the circle. The Hulkster gets pushed through the circle, but only two wheels break the line and they continue jockeying back-and-forth. Hogan gets pushed back through the circle again, one of the charges explodes, the champion forces his way back into the circle and avoids getting knocked out. He battles back, forces The Giant backwards all the way through the circle and gets the victory.
Winner: Hulk Hogan
- After The Bell: The Giant steps out fuming and stalks the Hulkster near the edge of the roof, misses a double axe handle, but grabs Hogan by the throat and powers him into the air. They steps up to the ledge, the champion breaks free, Giant loses his balance and falls backwards off the roof.
- EA’s Take: So…they killed a guy? It was very strange covering a Monster Truck Match for one and while I give bonus points for trying to be creative, this was as unexciting as it reads. Then to finish it off, The Giant falls off the roof of an arena? Honestly, who thought this was a good idea?
Match #8: Lex Luger vs. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
The bell rings and the two men exchange some words, Luger offers a handshake, but Savage suckers him with a fist. He rams Lex head-first into the top turnbuckle and whips him to the corner, The Total Package rebounds out with a clothesline, then rams Macho Man face-first into the turnbuckle. Jimmy Hart makes his way down to ringside, Luger puts the boots to Savage in the corner, chokes him with his foot and the official forces a break. Lex batters Macho Man with punches, clubs him with a double axe handle, buries a kick to the chest and then chokes him over the top rope. He taunts Savage to get back up, Macho Man starts fighting back, The Total Package rocks him with a forearm, deposits him to the outside, Savage tries to crawl back up to the apron and Lex kicks him to the floor.
He steps out to the apron and comes off with a double axe handle, looks to send him head-first into the barricade, Macho Man blocks it, returns the face, then rams Luger face-first off the steps. He sends The Total Package back into the guardrail multiple times, throws him back inside, steps in and clocks Lex from behind with a clothesline. Savage ascends the corner and flies off with a double axe handle, Luger catches him in the abdomen with a right hand, Jimmy Hart climbs on the apron and distract the official, Lex tries to whip Macho Man into the corner, but it’s reversed. Savage rushes in and eats a knee to the jaw, The Total Package makes a cover, the ref is still dealing with Jimmy, he hauls Macho Man up to shoot him to the ropes, Savage reverses and Lex collides with Hart to send him to the floor. Savage quickly climbs to the top rope, connects with the Flying Elbow Drop and gets the 1-2-3.
Winner: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage (Top Rope Elbow Drop)
- EA’s Take: Another quick one with very unusual circumstances if you weren’t keeping up on Monday Nitro. They were really beginning to pit Luger and Sting to a certain extent up against Hogan & Savage, a bit of reality meets fiction played out on television. We will see more of Lex tonight though to further explain the situation.
Match #9 for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship: WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan w/Jimmy Hart vs. The Giant w/The Taskmaster
Hogan takes a microphone and explains that what happened earlier tonight wasn’t supposed to be, apologizes and says there was a terrible accident. Music hits and The Giant & The Taskmaster march to the squared circle. Giant chases Hulk out of the ring, the champion steps in, shreds his shirt and we’re underway. The champion peels off his bandana and reveals paint like The Taskmaster, The Giant charges in, Hogan side-steps him and unloads with big punches. The challenger absorbs them, the Hulkster hits the ropes for more fists, staggers the big man, then attempts a body slam. The Giant blocks it and clobbers him across the back, whips Hogan into the corner, then scores with a boot off the rebound.
He continues hammering the champion with shots to the spine, delivers big chops in the corner, chokes the Hulkster, then whips him to the opposite corner. Giant buries a boot to the breadbasket off the rebound, locks knuckles with the champion and powers him down to his knees, Hulk muscles his way to his feet, but the challenger goes back to the midsection with a kick. He whips Hogan to the ropes for a back elbow, scoops him up for a body slam, The Giant hits the ropes for a leg drop, but it’s off-target. The Hulkster gets a rush of adrenaline and fires away with fists, drives the challenger head-first into the top turnbuckle multiple times, corners him, then climbs to the 2nd rope to rain down rights. He rakes Giant across the back, sends him to the corner and follows in with a clothesline, shoots him to the ropes for a clothesline and the big man only staggers.
Hogan makes him stumble with a second clothesline, dumps him over the top with a third, The Taskmaster helps The Giant to his feet and they start to walk off to the back. The champion climbs outside and chases them down, delivers a double noggin knocker, sends The Giant into the squared circle, roll in and pokes him in the eyes multiple times. The Hulkster batters him with punches, hits the ropes for a shoulder block, still can’t bring the challenger down with another, goes back to the well again and Giant grabs him for a Chokeslam. Hogan rakes the eyes to escape it, chokes him against the ropes, The Giant goes to the eyes to stop the onslaught, whips him to the ropes and cracks the champion with a backbreaker.
The challenger goes into a lateral press for a count of 2, pummels Hulk across the back, sends him to the ropes and locks on a bearhug to wear him down. The Hulkster fights his way free, can’t capitalize and gets clubbed across the spine, The Giant delivers another body slam, then goes right back to the bearhug. Hulk begins to fade away and the ref checks the arm, the champion keeps it up on the third attempt, breaks the grip with heavy right hands, hits the ropes and gets planted by a Chokeslam. The Giant makes the cover, Hogan powers out of it, begins Hulking up and absorbs a number of shots. He blocks one, delivers a series of punches, whips The Giant to the ropes for a big boot, but the big man stays on his feet. The Hulkster calls for a body slam, rakes the eyes and scoops Giant up for the slam, hits the ropes to deliver the Leg Drop and covers, but Jimmy Hart nails the official to stop the count.
Hogan doesn’t know what happened, Jimmy steps inside and helps him pick the referee up, Hulk turns back to the challenger and Jimmy shoves the official to the mat. He picks up the WCW Title, clocks the champion from behind, the Hulkster absorbs it, gets his hands on Jimmy, but The Giant grabs him in a bearhug. The Taskmaster steps in and fires away at the champion’s back, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage & Lex Luger run down to the ring to make the save, but Luger turns on Savage and puts the boots to him. The Yeti marches down to the squared circle, wraps his arm around both Giant & Hogan, squeezing the champion in between the two big men. They put the Hulkster out, The Total Package powers him up in the Torture Rack, Yeti & Giant put Macho Man in their double bearhug, Luger following with another Torture Rack.
Winner: The Giant (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: The Giant grabs the World Title, raises it in the air and leaves with it.
- EA’s Take: So much bad to talk about here. The match was at least watchable thanks to Hogan, as this was The Giant’s first match, so he’s obviously greener than Kermit The Frog. A couple of spots it was very clear that he was ducking in to get the call from Hulk, but you could definitely see the potential there with him. I always found it absurd they claimed he was the son of Andre The Giant, but with everything else going on in the Dungeon Of Doom it wasn’t bad by comparison, specifically like The Yeti. This gimmick was so bad that it wasn’t even good enough for the Dungeon Of Doom, as he would only make three appearances before being repackaged later on (We will see him again, just not wrapped in toilet paper). Luger finally turns on Hulk and officially joins the Dungeon, plus Jimmy Hart swerves Hogan with it being revealed the next night on Nitro he had a clause in the contract stating the title would change hands by DQ. Therefore, The Giant wins the World Title in his very first match against the all-black Hogan, giving us a preview of things to come.
EA’s Finisher: No matter how you slice it, this event will always infamously be known for the Monster Truck Match, The Giant falling off of a rooftop and the debut of The Yeti…and not for good reasons. If you can look past those mishaps, the rest of the card wasn’t as bad as it seems aside from a couple. I thought the turn of Ric Flair on Sting was magnificently executed, Diamond Dallas Page and Johnny B. Badd showed what WCW’s up-and-coming stars can do, plus it is still the debut of a future Hall Of Famer in The Giant, even if it was rough. So whether you watch this for its comically epic failures, you can still find a couple of hidden gems in here. Basically, what I’m saying is if I didn’t have to pick three for the ‘3 On Top’, then I’d only choose two this time around.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Diamond Dallas Page vs. Johnny B. Badd
2 – Sting & Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson & Flyin’ Brian
3 – Lex Luger vs. Meng
Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Chapter 5 – ‘For Those About to Fight’
Chapter 5 of the Progress time machine checks in! Harry breaks down the action, the stories and much more!
Chapter 5 of the Progress time machine checks in! Harry breaks down the action, the stories and much more!
Greetings and salutations, everyone. Welcome back to the return of ’What I Watched’ now under the Chairshot Classics banner. The first four chapters of PROGRESS as well as Slammiversary and Bound for Glory 2018 from Impact Wrestling are available in my archive, which you can reach by clicking my name at the top of this article. To update everyone on future plans for What I Watched, obviously we’ll be continuing to cover PROGRESS. Eventually, I’ll get to a somewhat modern show. For other companies, once I hit 2005 on my watching of CHIKARA, I hope to start cover those here as well (the pre 2005 shows don’t have commentary and are (for me anyway) much harder to get through).
That brings us to why we’re here today. PROGRESS has just crowned a new champion at Chapter 4 in El Ligero, who tapped Nathan Cruz in the main event. Rather then do the immediate rematch, PROGRESS’ brass decided that instead they would do a bit of a ‘pick your poison’ situation as Ligero picks Cruz’s opponent and Cruz picks Ligero’s. There was another match revealed before the show as well, but I’ll save the mention of that for a bit later. In addition, the ‘Natural PROGRESS’ tournament continues, but we don’t know the participants for this Chapter. Beyond that, I don’t have a clue what to expect for this show, so it’s looks like we’ll find out together. With that said, it’s into the way back machine once again, as we head to January 27th, 2013 as “What I Watched” presents ‘For Those About to Fight’ or PROGRESS Chapter 5.
WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.
WRITER’S NOTE #2: As much as I’d like to let everyone make their own decisions on the matches, giving away match results in the review will be a necessary evil. The reason being is that I will discuss what I think everything means going forward and maybe even doing a little fantasy booking of where I would go from where they presently are. I will still post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contests. The final show review will be after that as well as the ‘Final Reaction’ for the show. Going forward, I’ll have an archive to all of my previous reviews here on the Chairshot if you click on my user name.
MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating.
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 5
‘For Those About to Fight…We Salute You’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: January 27th, 2013
Run Time: 1:55:53 (Demand PROGRESS)
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)
*OPENING VIDEO: The first match that the opening video reveals is the London Riots (James Davis and Rob Lynch) taking on the Leaders of the New School (Zach Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurll). That should be a lot of fun…RJ Singh has an open challenge as well…finally, we get highlights of the title match from Chapter 4 to show how El Ligero won the title and then it’s revealed that Nathan Cruz has picked Dave Mastiff to face El Ligero, while El Ligero has selected the debuting Rampage Brown as the opponent for Nathan Cruz.
*GENERAL NOTES: We return to the scene of the first three shows but with what appears to be a different setup. You can’t see any monitors in the frame, but the lighting is absolutely awful. Will not make a fun review if I can’t see stuff that happens…EDIT AT MATCH 3: the lighting gets a bit better as the show goes on, but still not what I’d call great.
*Once again, either Smallman doesn’t have an opening welcome promo or we skip it on the show. Shame, really. As I said time and time again, I really enjoy those in the future Chapters.
*Match #1: Stixx (1-2 as a singles competitor) vs. Danny Garnell (1-0 as a singles competitor)
The Who: Stixx is coming off a loss in the triple threat at Chapter 4, where he was pinned by Dave Mastiff. He had split a pair of matches against Lion Kid before that. Danny Garnell was not at Chapter 4. His most recent match was a loss in a tag match at Chapter 3 where he and Darrell Allen were defeated by the London Riots. In his only previous singles match, Garnell defeated Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 2.
The Why: I haven’t a damn clue here. Makes zero sense to me. If Jimmy *cough cough* Barnett mentions something on commentary, I’ll be sure to pass it along.
The Match: Before the match gets underway, Stixx lets everyone know that he, like Garnell, is originally from London but he moved away because London ‘is full of a bunch of pillocks’. Somewhere, William Regal smiles…opening bell goes here and gets a rousing ovation…Stixx impressed me in his last match against Lion Kid, but the first one was less then appealing. Garnell had a surprisingly good match with Havoc at Chapter 2…first topical reference from 2013 gets explained by Barnett and given the PROGRESS fan base, it’s no surprise that it makes light of a death. Highs and lows of these crowds…the ‘crowd counts the next number’ has run it’s course now but was still pretty fresh when this show happened…not the opening match you’d come to expect but technically proficient thus far…heavier shots finally start getting fired around the five minute mark. This is more what you’d expect from these two…first crowd expletive based chant at six and half minutes into match one. I would have had the under there…cravat with knee strikes and that’s more what I expect from this match then the opening five minutes where they basically stayed on the mat. Not saying they can’t do it, but not what you expect or want to see with two guys this size. You expect more ‘Hoss Fight’ here…Garnell busts out a nice looking Northern Lights for two…slingshot neck snap by Stixx. That was new and very nice looking. Also not what you’d expected from a guy who’s probably closer to two fifty then two hundred…I’ve never seen a crowd response so favorably towards exploder suplexes. It doesn’t happen but the crowd was ready to, pardon the pun, explode for it…Stixx gets two with a Black Hole Slam. Which I think was the move that did pin Lion Kid at Chapter 3…I don’t mean this is a terribly negative way, but this match has been pretty long for an opener…Garnell goes for a tornado DDT off the second buckle, but Stixx is able to counter. A series of reversals leads to Garnell attempting that same tornado DDT a second time and this time hitting it, which gives him the pinfall at 14:52…technically proficient, sure. But not especially enthralling. The match had it’s moments where I went ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’, but to me, it seems like it may have been a mistake having these two go this long in the opener. Closer to the first Lion Kid match then the second for Stixx and Garnell looks like just another guy here. Call it AVERAGE and mildly disappointing at that. (AVERAGE)
*Match #2: ‘Natural Progression’ Quarterfinal: Lord Jonathan Windsor (debut) vs. ‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman (0-1 as a singles)
The Who: Lord Jonathan Windsor debuts here, looking like a very British Chuck Taylor. Not sure if that’s a compliment or not. Anyway, he appears to have a Blue Bloods gimmick a la 1995 WCW Bobby Eaton or William Regal. Mike Hitchman we saw before when he challenged Mark Andrews for the BWC Starlo Scholarship. He was unsuccessful in that match but he and Andrews had a barnburner. Happy to see Hitchman back for another opportunity.
The Why: Speaking of Mark Andrews, he advanced to the semifinals at Chapter 4. This is the second of the four quarterfinal matches. The winner of which will join Andrews in the semifinals and maybe face him. No release on the brackets to my knowledge.
The Match: Hitchman is now on WWE TV as part of NXT UK, but if you didn’t know it was the same guy, you’d never be able to tell. He looks so different here…opening bell goes and Windsor takes time to fold his robe…Barnett points out there’s nothing wrong with a Blue Blood gimmick as in twenty years time, you could be married to Jim Smallman’s daughter and own part of PROGRESS. Okay, that drew a legit chuckle from me…not sure if Windsor is big or Hitchman is just really small even by Indy standards…Hitchman gets tired of Windsor’s stalling and it leads to a DDT on the apron. Not sure that’s a spot I’d use in match two, but okay then…we go to the crowd brawling in the second match as well. It’s like an ECW show broke out…Windsor seems more concerned about posing then wrestling. I get that you are new, but this is a company that prides itself on ring work…fans seems to remember the Package Piledriver that Hitchman used against Andrews because they respond every time he goes for. So far, Windsor has had the counter, but one feels that won’t be the case forever…Hitchman once again goes the for the Package PD, but Windsor counters with a backdrop over. Hitchman hooks the legs on the landing and goes for the sunset flip, but Windsor sits out with a deep cradle and that’ll be a three count at 11:24…can definitely say I don’t agree with the who won here. Hitchman had a cracker against Andrews in his first appearance and if the winner of this match was to get Andrews in the semis, I’ve had loved to see them run it back. Windsor did absolutely nothing for me as the gimmick is just basically cheap heat and there’s not a lot of steak to go with the sizzle. Call this BELOW AVERAGE and it’s two matches, two misses thus far for PROGRESS Chapter 5. (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Match #3: Nathan Cruz (3-1 as a singles) vs. Rampage Brown (debut)
The Who: Nathan Cruz is the former champion, looking for a bit of redemption against the handpicked opponent of the new champion. One could argue that Cruz has been the guy who has meant the most to the company thus far, so seeing him in match three on the night is kind of odd. Rampage Brown makes his debut here. I don’t know much about him other then he had a brief run with NXT in the US before going back over to the UK and a run with WCPW in the UK as well.
The Why: Discussed it earlier but to reiterate, it’s part of the ‘pick your poison’ series with Cruz and Ligero picking each other’s opponents for the evening.
The Match: Before the match, Cruz announces that he has hired a bodyguard to deal with his Marty Scurll problem named Fug. We don’t see him yet, but Cruz claims he’s seven feet tall and two hundred and eighty pounds. That would be a very skinny bodyguard…the chyron for Cruz has him listed at 3-2. I’m guessing there are including the tag loss from Chapter 3, which I do not in singles competition. If you guys would like, I can keep a running archive of records at the bottom of the reviews going forward. Let me know what you think and I’ll add it in the future if so requested…second expletive based chant of the night encourages Rampage to ‘fuck him up’…opening bell goes here…Rampage is well put together. It’s easy to see why he got a developmental deal with the WWE…for a bigger guy, Rampage is pretty adept on the mat. Cruz tries a sunset flip off the second turnbuckle, but Rampage is able to roll through and escape into a Crossface. Thankfully, no Chris Benoit chants follow this time…think the sound may be a little off on this Chapter from a technical aspect. Spinal Tap kick sound happens shortly after the kick occurs…Rampage dumps Cruz to the floor with a back suplex and the around ringside brawling commences where Cruz surprisingly gets the advantage…for as much crap as the PROGRESS fans give him, Cruz is one of the smoother guys on the roster. He wrestles like a wrestler, not just a guy trying to string things together in the attempt to tell a story…Cruz has gotten a good portion of this match. A bit of a surprise given that it is Rampage’s debut but with Cruz being the former champion, it’s also understandable…sliding dropkick gets a series of two counts. Standard basement dropkick, not the sliding kick he pinned both Ligero and Colossus Kennedy with back at Chapter 1…ugh, headbutts. So not a fan of those…huge back body drop by Rampage. Looked really good despite the slight delay going to it…Rampage looked for a powerbomb but Cruz got out into a chestblower. Cruz looks to follow up and gets countered into a good looking series of powerbombs, first standard and then sit out for a very close two…Cruz hits Show-Stolen and much like Ligero did at Chapter 4, Rampage kicks out. It also gives our first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant of the night…Rampage catches a Falcon Arrow and looks to have the cover but doesn’t want it. That drives me nuts! 2 Cold Scorpio used to do that shit all the time and it’s stupid to me. The point is to win the match…Rampage then catches the Crossface a third time but Cruz finds his way to the ropes and then to the apron. Rampage tries to suplex Cruz back in, but Cruz lands on his feet and a O’Connor Roll with a hook of both the ropes and the tights gives Cruz the win at 15:27…that was more like it, PROGRESS. Very well contested match from the standard bearer of the company and a new guy who got a definite opportunity to shine. Cruz may pick up the win here, but the way he picks up the win is the story as it keeps Rampage looking good going forward for when he comes back. Rampage definitely impressed in what was I believe my first time seeing him and I look forward to seeing more, assuming he can curb the 2 Cold Scorpio aspect of not wanting the pinfall. Cruz bounces back nicely from the Staff loss and one assumes sets himself back up into title contention. GOOD match between these two here and finally something worth the time on the show. (GOOD)
*Post-match: We see Fug help Cruz to the back. He’s not nearly what Cruz claimed him to be. 6’8-6’9 maybe. The two hundred eighty pounds may be accurate though.
*Match #4: ‘PROGRESS Championship Staff’ – El Ligero © (3-1 as a singles competitor) vs. Dave Mastiff (1-0 as a singles competitor)
The Who: El Ligero has just won the Staff at Chapter 4 as we established above. In doing so, he also got revenge on the only man to have pinned him thus far, as it was Cruz who eliminated Ligero from the four way at Chapter 1. Dave Mastiff has had two matches and two victories thus far in PROGRESS. A tag match at Chapter 3, where teaming with the now departed Greg Burridge, he pinned the then champion Nathan Cruz. Mastiff won a three way at Chapter 4, pinning Stixx after Cruz got involved in taking Marty Scurll out of the match
The Why: Two parts here. One, obviously, is that it’s for the PROGRESS Championship (Nazi) Staff. Second, it’s the second bout in the ‘pick your poison’ series for Cruz and Ligero, as Mastiff is Cruz’s handpicked challenge for the title.
The Match: It occurs to me that this is the fourth match and we’ve yet to see an inset promo on this show. They just vanished into a void of non-existence…hot start as once Ligero is introduced, he shotgun dropkicks Mastiff to the floor and follows out with a tope con hilo…Ligero goes for the guillotine early but Mastiff quickly escapes…once again, the PROGRESS fans encourage a good “Fing” up, this time in support of Mastiff…Mastiff counters a frankensteiner attempt into a powerbomb try but Ligero escapes into a second attempt at the guillotine. It’s about as successful as the first attempt…Barnett says that he described Ligero to an American friend as a mix of the ‘best of El Generico and the best of LowKi’. Not sure I agree that he’s at Generico’s level, but the point is understandable…wrecking ball dropkick by Ligero and he buries Mastiff under a pile a chairs, going for the count-out. Mastiff up at six and Ligero tries another dropkick, only to get flung wheelbarrow style into the ring post…stalling delayed vertical suplex by Mastiff goes for a full minute goes Mastiff brings down Ligero. Impressive in length but to be fair, El Ligero weighs like a third of what Mastiff does…Mastiff goes for a second but Ligero escapes into a rollup for two. Looked good…sound is definitely slightly off on this stream…sleeper (I think?) variation…out to the floor again, but only long enough for Mastiff to pitch Ligero back in. Smart. Can’t win the Staff by count-out. Wish more people would do that instead of letting opponents take the count…Mastiff goes for a Buckle Bomb but once again gets caught in the guillotine. Mastiff counters by putting Ligero on the top rope. The guillotine isn’t working, but bless his heart, he keeps trying…absolutely hate that corner hanging double stomp. Almost always looks so contrived no matter who is doing it…shotgun dropkick by Ligero is no sold and Mastiff hits one of his own, followed by a dead lift German to put Ligero on the floor again…Ligero finally gets the guillotine in with both guys on the floor and rolls back into the ring to try to take a count-out win. Mastiff breaks the count just before the ten…Ligero goes for the C4L but Mastiff stops him and gets a running Liger Bomb for a close two count and the second ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…Into The Void (corner cannonball) misses and Ligero goes up, leaping into a sixth attempt at the guillotine. This time, Mastiff flings Ligero overhead with a belly2belly variation. Mastiff tries to follow up with another Liger Bomb, but Ligero counters back into the guillotine. Mastiff tries to power out once but collapses and it’s a KO victory for the champion at 18:18…solid big match vs. little man contest but to be frank, nothing special here. A couple cool moves and a very impressive bit of dogged determination from El Ligero but if I’m being honest, I never bought that Mastiff was going to take the title from Ligero. Ligero’s deal with Cruz isn’t over and Mastiff hasn’t been around long enough to really establish much of a name for himself in PROGRESS. The fans kinda responded the same way I did as they got involved in the match here and there, but never for any significant portion of time. The match itself was GOOD due to the efforts of both men, but not must see by any stretch of the imagination. (GOOD)
*Match #5: RJ Singh (2-0-1) vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen (0-1-1)
The Who: RJ Singh comes in off consecutive victories, beating Paul Robinson and Rob Cage at Chapters 3 and 4, respectively. The draw is a no decision in a three way where El Ligero pinned Greg Burridge to become number one contender at Chapter 2. Darrell Allen is looking for his first victory here in PROGRESS as not only does he have the 0-1-1 singles record (tapped by Noam Dar (Chp2), no decision in three way where Xander Cooper pinned Zack Gibson (Chp1)), he was on the losing side of a tag match at Chapter 3 as well and completely left off Chapter 4.
The Why: This one I have an answer for as well. It is an RJ Singh ‘Bollywood’ Open Challenge here. Adding to the intrigue of this open challenge is info that Jim Smallman gives us before the match during introductions that these guys are usually a tag team known as the Bhangra Knights.
The Match: Pre-match, Singh reads Allen the riot act, stating that they promised to stay out of each other’s way in PROGRESS and that while Singh has thrived, Allen has been something of a loser. Allen says in his (Allen’s) hometown of London, why don’t we find out if Singh really is King (which has been RJ’s catchphrase during this PROGRESS run)…bell goes and we’re underway…Singh has the edge early but it is pretty evenly matched…this is going to come down to a classic story of aerial vs. technical. Allen is more of a flyer whereas RJ likes to stay on the match…Director and Boudica again get on the apron, but Singh tells them to get down once again. I thought that pairing dissolved at Chapter 4…Boudica and Director do find themselves ejected and in a moment that’ll make Vince smile, the ‘Na Na Hey Hey’ song accompanies them doing so…springboard kick to the midsection. Called an enzugiri. It wasn’t, but I don’t know what the technical name is…Singh catches Allen with a version of the Tyebreaker that gets two (fireman’s carry into spinning facebuster over the knee). It looked good…this may not be the most PC thing to say but every time Allen takes a big bump, it looks like he’s trying to fellate himself…crowd very wittily chants ‘This is Bhangra’ instead of ‘This is PROGRESS’. Dug that…Singh loads up for a superkick, preceding it with a ‘I’m sorry. I love you’. The crowd and Barnett pop. The move is countered but the thought that counts…Allen up top and distracted by Boudica and Director on stage. Singh pulls Allen up the top and hits Widow’s Peak. Singh looks to apply the ‘Ethnic Submission’ (Camel Clutch, obviously) but Allen is able to pull Singh forward and trap him in a cradle for the three count at 9:56…alright, so I had some doubts. Singh has been pretty basic up to this point. Allen had a good performance in the triple threat at Chapter 1 but both he and Garnell were kind of just there for the match with the London Riots. With all that being said, it actually turned into a pretty nice little match here. There was a good amount of action thrown in with the story that they told and most importantly to me, I like that the story actually played into the finish with Allen knowing the ‘Ethnic Submission’ and having a counter planned. Call this one a GOOD showing for both guys and the best match on the card thus far, in my opinion. (GOOD)
*Post-match: Singh offers the handshake and instead, he and Allen hug it out. Shah Boudica takes not kindly to this and attacks Allen from behind. Singh pulls Boudica off of Allen twice, before Boudica slaps Singh in the face. Allen then superkicks Boudica in the back of the head. Allen and Singh then team up as a Samoan Drop-Blockbuster combination (called the Bhangra Buster, but for point of reference look for Cryme Tyme’s G-9) and looks like the Bhangra Knights will be a thing going forward in the tag division….as the Bhangra Knights are making their way to the back, the London Riots make their entrance, so me thinks that may play a factor in a future Chapter.
*Match #6: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) (3-0 as a team) vs. Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll/Zach Sabre Jr.) (Debut as a team)
The Who: London Riots are clearly the class of the PROGRESS tag division thus far. Wins over the Bastard Squad (probably done now that Allen is back with Singh), the Hunter Brothers and the Velocity Vipers (shame about Esmail’s leg) have led them to here, a main event level match. Leaders of the New School make their debut as a team here for PROGRESS, but it will not be my first time seeing them as a team. I remember getting into the European wrestling scene by watching wXw out of Germany and Scurll and Sabre Jr. were the wXw Tag Team champions for a while there. Scurll has been one of the biggest stars of PROGRESS thus far and in my opinion, Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. from Chapter 1 remains the best match in PROGRESS history to this point.
The Why: London Riots wanted competition, Jim Smallman decided to give them competition in the form of what many at the time considered to be the best tag team in Europe. Pretty straight forward here.
The Match: As per the usual, if I screw up Davis and Lynch, I apologize. They have stuck with the singlet and bikers gear, so once again, I should be okay…aw, Chris Roberts just got his first kiss. It was from Marty Scurll, but it still counts!…Davis is the one in the singlet. Now I know. Thanks Smallman, er, Barnett…Barnett lets us know that the Chapter 1 match between the Leaders was voted best match in Britain in 2012. That’s fair…Scurll spits his gum at Lynch. Well, with no Noam Dar on this show, someone had to be unhygienic…has that sit out butt drop worked for another then Rikishi in the last decade?…a little Poetry in Motion by the Leaders and then Scurll uses Sabre Jr. as a weapon to take out both Riots…off to an insane pace. Shit ton of action and we’re not even four minutes in yet…Scurll with a running bitch slap to Davis. Davis responds with a STIFF running body block. Don’t think he appreciated the slap…everything Sabre Jr. does is so fluid. With as many huge Indy names that ended up in NXT, I am stunned that Zach never got a shot there. I know he had a set of Japanese commitments, between NOAH and NJPW, but what could have been…believe the word to describe Sabre would be lanky. But he makes the most of it…apparently, I owe Rob Lynch and James Davis an apology. My Chapter 3 review got posted as I’m typing this and I apparently called them the Riot Squad during the course of that. They were facing the Bastard Squad and I just joined the names for a common WWE name. My bad…Lynch just knocks Sabre weak kneed with a forearm. Good lord…we’ve settled into a bit of tag formula here but as I’ve said before, it’s a formula because it works. Riots are hated and Leaders are loved. What better way to do this then to keep a member of the Leaders isolated and get the crowd to rally behind him…despite a pretty good experience gap, Riots are looking good in this match. Part of it is a master class from Sabre and Scurll as babyfaces, but Riots are more then holding their weight…I really hope Sabre Jr. is around more in PROGRESS in 2013. That war he had with Scurll at Chapter 1 was his only match for 2012. It would definitely make these reviews more fun to get to see more of the wizardry that Sabre possesses…tag finally made and Scurll comes in a house of fire…Scurll gets the Cesaro apron superplex that gets broken up by a bloody nosed Rob Lynch. A kick from Sabre caught him flush before the hot tag…gamengiri by Sabre Jr. into a DVD by Scurll gets two with another save by Lynch. It looked good…pop-up spear by the Riots and it looked really good. Last second save by Scurll…Riots look for the ‘District Line’ powerbomb but Sabre is able to get out and he chuffing loves putting people in cross-armbreakers. It’s broken up by getting Scurll powerbomb’d onto him…everyone down after a series of strikes and the crowd hits our fourth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…saves are coming hot and heavy here. I like it to a point, but let’s not get to the line of overkill…Sabre nails Scurll with a kick by mistake and the Riots take advantage with a really good looking Doomsday Device which Sabre kicks out of at two. That would have made for a good finish…shortly thereafter, the ‘District Line’ powerbomb does land (looking a bit rough but the point was there) and James Davis pins Zach Sabre Jr. at 20:07…VERY GOOD but not to the level are the previous Scurll main event matches in PROGRESS. The biggest issue I have here in that while the Riots had a good heat segment on Sabre, it didn’t break down nearly as much as I expected it to in the finish. Speaking of the finish, it looked slightly blown as I think Lynch may have tried a neckbreaker for the ‘District Line’ or he just didn’t get far enough out of the way. The big thing here is that it definitely establishes the Riots as the team to beat in PROGRESS as they take down the Leaders relatively cleanly. (VERY GOOD)
Post-match: London Riots don’t attack after the match as has been their tradition, instead heading to the back. Probably to fix Rob Lynch’s nose. Jim Smallman gets on the mic and lets us know that the first match they’ll announce for Chapter 6 will be a rematch of Chapter 4 as the Riots will once again face the Hunter Brothers, this time in a weapons match. Seems like an odd time to announce this with Sabre Jr. still down in the ring, but the show must go on, I suppose. Scurll goes to get a bit of mic time as well, but the show fades before he speaks and that’s a wrap for Chapter 5.
Match #1: Danny Garnell pins Stixx, tornado DDT off second buckle @ 14:52 (AVERAGE)
Match #2: Lord Jonathan Windsor pins Mike Hitchman, sit-down on sunset flip @ 11:24 (BELOW AVERAGE)
Match #3: Nathan Cruz pins Rampage Brown, O’Connor Roll with hook of tights and ropes @ 15:27 (GOOD)
Match #4: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff- El Ligero © defeats Dave Mastiff by KO, guillotine choke @ 18:18 (GOOD)
Match #5: Darrell Allen pins RJ Singh, leverage pin out of ‘Ethnic Submission’ attempt @ 9:57 (GOOD)
Match #6: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) defeat Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll/Zach Sabre Jr.), Davis pins Sabre Jr. after the ‘District Line’ powerbomb @ 20:07 (VERY GOOD)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
It picks up quite a bit at the end, so I can’t call it the worst of the five shows thus far. That being said, it’s definitely not mandatory viewing either. The issue that I find myself with is that I know what PROGRESS is capable of as it goes forward. When you go back and watch these formative shows, you can see moments of potential. But that’s all they are usually at this time frame. Just moments. Top to bottom, none of these shows have delivered a knock out show. Try to find the semi main and main event if you have a chance, but the rest is watch at your convenience. Except for the Windsor and Hitchman match. Do yourself a favor and skip that.
Where does this leave us? It leaves me a little disappointed, but that’s what happens when expectations are set so high. It leaves you hopefully wanting to come back as we take the next step in this journey with Chapter 6. In addition, it leaves me still hungry. I wonder if I could work out a ‘burgers per review’ deal around here.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Despite the fact that I gave the main event a higher rating, I going to give this honor to the RJ Singh and Darrell Allen match. The match itself is a good mix of comedy and ring work. The post match is where the money is as the fans go crazy for the Bhangra Knights reunion.
Worst match/moment: Feels like I’m beating a dead horse, but Mike Hitchman and Lord Jonathan Windsor can be classified as nothing less then a disappointment. The blueblood gimmick has potential, but in a company like this, you need to be able to back it up in the ring. Windsor simply did not.
MVP: Going to give this as co-MVPs again and I’m going to give it to James Davis and Rob Lynch for a star making performance in the main event as the London Riots prove they are the class of the PROGRESS tag team division.
FINAL SCORE: 6.0/10.0
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Up next is Chapter 6: “We <3 Violence” And make sure you guys check out the Raw Reaction every Monday night at 11:30 PM (EST) to hear Tony Acero, Andrew Balaz and myself break down the important news and cover Monday Night Raw over on the Chairshot Radio Network.
Doctor’s Orders: Ranking The Greatest Matches and Rivalries in NXT Takeover History
Objectively subjectifying all-time greatness on NXT’s premiere stage, Takeover. See what matches are on the list!
The Doctor is in as Chad Matthews updates his list of greatest WWE NXT Takeover matches and rivalries with a look at two of the very best, from different NXT eras.
Attempting to contextualize greatness in pro wrestling is a fascinating exercise, a much more multi-faceted conversation than it is often given credit for. To some in the business, for instance, Rock vs. Cena is the greatest match of all-time because it set the pay-per-view buy mark, while others would say the greatest match is Austin vs. Bret because of the exemplary storytelling. Why should greatness be limited to a plethora “one or the other” positions (best vs. most popular or anything of the sort)? Such has been my stance during this entire decade (see The Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the WrestleMania Era), tackling the process of adding measures of objectivity to a topic deemed completely and utterly subjective and attempting to broaden the way that we have these discussions. I can also apply that to NXT.
Greatness has become regularly associated with NXT. I am personally enamored with what the yellow brand has accomplished over the past few years, with the Takeover franchise especially. The reputation that Takeover has built should astound any diehard WWE fan who, at times during the WrestleMania Era, may have felt like Vince and Co. unnecessarily (and oddly) put a critical ceiling on its in-ring product. Bold statement: Takeover has, based purely on what happens from bell-to-bell, produced nearly as many bonafide classic wrestling matches as WrestleMania in just five years of existence. Think about that for a moment, because it was with that idea in mind that I started asking, “What’s the greatest in NXT history?”
My second book (referenced above) was published last summer and in it I crafted a detailed formula to thoroughly assess the various aspects that shape how fans and pundits use the term “greatest.” Turning my attention to NXT, I took that formula and tweaked it to fit Takeover. On a 1-5 star scale, appropriately, I graded the best match in each of the top rivalries in NXT history, picked from a pool of consensus classics, on the psychology, storytelling, selling, execution, and climax of their in-ring performances, their historic ramifications on NXT lore, the setting (as defined by a pre-made scale for crowd size), the strength of their pre-match build-up, and the rating given by Dave Meltzer to account for popular opinion, as well as a few additional points (not on a scale of 1-5, mind you) for any intangible qualities (i.e. a special entrance, an innovative move or sequence never before seen, a rivalry-befitting gimmick, etc.). The sum total of the scoring yields the rivalry’s standing, which will be continuously updated as this long-term process advances.
Today’s entries grow the list from fourteen to sixteen matches, which have been selected at random throughout this project’s history dating back to last fall. Here are the rankings ahead of today’s additions (the links will take you to the objectively subjective breakdown of each match):
#1- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#2- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#3- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#4- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#5- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#6- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#7- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#8- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#9- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#10- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#11- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#12- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#13- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#14- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship at Takeover: Philadelphia
Psychology: 5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 5 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 5 / Popular Opinion: 5 / Build: 4.5 / Intangibles: +4
Total Score: 48.0
There have been very few matches in WWE history that have found me clapping while watching them in replay, and Cien vs. Johnny Wrestling from Philly is one of them. Hand to heart, I am unsure that there has ever been a better performance in WWE, which is partly what makes the added dynamic of including NXT lore when historically ranking matches throughout the WrestleMania Era so challenging and simultaneously so fascinating. The depth of storytelling and the instances when believably this match could have been over but somehow was not is virtually unmatched in mainstream North American wrestling over the past thirty plus years. Gargano and Almas judged everything picture-perfectly, selling their butts off, adding layers of psychology as they reached an utterly captivating climax, and drawing every ounce of intrigue out of the in-ring chemistry that they first prominently put on display against each other at Takever: Brooklyn III.
Gargano vs. Andrade is truly one of the greats as “epic” matches go, and the Philadelphia match certainly fits the profile of the genre (an “epic match”) that I have been quietly working on popularizing in the IWC, offered up to properly label a lengthy main-event style performance that builds to crescendo after crescendo and features finisher kick-outs as one of its primary hope spot wells to tap. I have been critical of the over-use of it, as many of its staples have trickled down to ten minute mid-card matches, and I do believe that epics, like Cena vs. Styles for example, are suffering from a distinct lack of rewatchability because of how ardently they cling to bout-ending signature offense, but Cien vs. Johnny is not to be lumped in with such over-done peers because it is smarter, more intricate, better executed, and expertly paced, its gaps in action replaced with the outstanding managerial act of Zelina Vega (and the eventual cameo by Candice Wrestling).
I believe it was a truly remarkable achievement. Maybe Banks vs. Bayley, Gargano vs. Ciampa, or Gargano vs. Adam Cole beats it in the scoring system, but even if one of them or another Takeover match in the pipeline down the road unseats it, I think it is going to be a long time before something removes it from the pedestal of what yours truly would call the finest match in Takeover history. Aesthetically, athletically, psychologically, I just struggle to see how anyone could really argue that another match was better. I was fortunate enough to see them wrestle one of their prequels in Brooklyn, and that was one of the four or five best mid-card type bouts in Takeover lore too, so when you combine that match with what happened in Philly – of the nine scoring categories here, their NXT Title match scored a 5 in seven of them – you have an all-time great.
You know, it is funny that Dave Meltzer awarded the Takeover: Philadelphia match the first “5-star” rating for a WWE match since Punk vs. Cena in Chicago, and if you watch any of New Japan Pro Wrestling and know of Meltzer’s fascination with it, you can appreciate why. Almas vs. Gargano was an NJPW match in an NXT ring with WWE production value. If in the coming years, a main-event of that style and caliber is featured on Summerslam or eventually works it way to the WrestleMania headlining position, I think we may have Gargano vs. Almas to thank for it.
Neville vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship at Takeover: R-Evolution
Psychology: 4.5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 3 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 4.5 / Popular Opinion: 4.75 / Build: 5 / Intangibles: +3
Total Score: 44.25
While in the beginning of this process, it seemed probable that Cien Almas vs. Johnny Wrestling had a shot at topping this match to advance ever closer to the #1 spot, what seemed assured from the out-set was that Zayn vs. Neville would rate among the premiere title matches in NXT lore because, in terms of storytelling, there may still have never been a championship bout that possesses the same sense of urgency or the same sense of occasion.
Here you had Neville, a bit shy of a year-long reigning as NXT Champion (who held the title during the promotion’s rise to WWE Network prominence) and possessing one of the most amazing offensive arsenals in pro wrestling’s entire history, coming up against Zayn, arguably the quintessential example of how legends are capable of being made in NXT. No matter what happens elsewhere within the Titan ranks, Zayn will be someone revered by any who watched what he did in NXT from 2014 to 2016.
One of the greatest things that NXT brings to the table is how wrestlers, as personalities, are characters first, their labels (or face-heel dichotomies) rather arbitrary by comparison. Neville strayed a bit more toward a black and white personic construct during the match, but he was clearly pushed toward the line that Zayn managed to straddle a bit better and showed glimpses of the viciousness and single-mindedness (toward winning) that made his run on 205 Live so engaging to purple brand followers in 2017; it was Zayn who was truly marvelous, though, displaying a depth of character so rarely seen from protagonists in WWE proper, and far more relatable for it, as evidenced by the incredibly raucous crowd support that he garnered in what was still ostensibly a babyface match. Zayn’s ability to connect on that deeper emotional level lifted this effort to pantheon status.
The end result – the total package from the storyline build-up to the hype video package to the atmosphere it generated to the bell-to-bell fight (and it felt like the fight that pro wrestling should be in the modern era main-event scene with the athletic potential of the combatants) – closed the first chapter in the history of NXT in the Network Era with a timeless classic destined for massive hindsight accolades in the near and distant future.
#1- Andrade vs. Gargano (48.0)
#2- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#3- Neville vs. Zayn (44.25)
#4- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#5- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#6- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#7- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#8- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#9- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#10- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#11- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#12- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#13- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#14- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#15- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#16- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)
If you want to discuss NXT or other wrestling matters with Doc, follow and tweet @TheDocLOP !
Check out the latest episode of The Doc Says podcast, featuring a review of NXT Takeover 25!
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