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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WCW Starrcade 1995 – USA’s Toughest Meet Japan’s Best

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Starrcade 1995
Our weekly Chairshot Classics WCW PPV series continues with Starrcade ’95!

Open: “As countries from across the globe compete for global dominance, World Championship Wrestling has accepted the challenge from New Japan Pro Wrestling in a best of seven battle for the World Cup of Wrestling. It’s Starrcade 1995.”

Match #1 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: ‘Crippler’ Chris Benoit vs. Jushin Thunder Liger w/Sonny Onoo
Collar & elbow tie-up to start us off, Benoit powers Liger to the canvas, they lock-up again with the same result, The Crippler avoiding a third lock-up with a kick to the midsection. He grabs a side headlock and Jushin sends him off to the ropes, gets run over by a shoulder block, Benoit goes back to the ropes, slides under Liger and surprises him with a double leg takedown. Jushin uses his legs to toss The Crippler away, scores with multiple arm drags, follows with a dropkick and Benoit rolls to the outside to regroup. Liger doesn’t give him a break and connects with a baseball slide, flies off the apron with a somersault senton, then allows the official to count.

The Crippler steps back inside and they go in for a test-of-strength, Benoit muscles Jushin to the mat, Liger bridges back up, but is forced down again. The Crippler hauls him to his feet, gets caught by a headscissors takedown, Jushin delivers the Abisegeri, then goes to shoot him to the ropes. Benoit reverses it, cracks him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a 2 count, sets for a powerbomb, but Liger counters into an arm drag. The Cripper pops right back up and charges, Jushin leapfrogs over him, hits an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, drills him with a dropkick and Benoit spills to the outside. Liger hits the ropes for a head of steam, feigns an outside dive, The Crippler takes a breather, comes back in and calls for another test-of-strength, but suckers Jushin into a kick to the ribs.

He slams him with a snap suplex, follows up with a back suplex, whips him to the ropes for a big clothesline and slaps on an elevated Boston crab. The Crippler releases the hold and covers for 1, fires off stinging chops, Liger comes back with a series of palm strikes, Benoit decks him with a right hand, plants him with a bridging german suplex and gains a near fall. He quickly tries another cover for 2, looks to drag Liger back up, Jushin surprises him with a double leg takedown, flips him over and locks him in a Romero special. He switches to a modified dragon sleeper, Benoit rips at the mask to break free, Jushin stays on him, grounding The Crippler with a camel clutch.

Benoit powers his way up with Liger on his shoulders, drives him down with an electric chair, hooks him for another back suplex, Jushin switches his weight and falls on top, but only gets a count of 2. The Crippler quickly lifts him for a tombstone piledriver, Liger reverses it, plants him with an inverted belly-to-belly slam, then heads to the high-rent district. Benoit drills him with a right hand, climbs up and hits a superplex, crawls into a lateral press, but still can’t put it away. He scoops Jushin up for a body slam, ascends the corner to the top turnbuckle, takes flight for a Diving Headbutt, but nobody’s home. Liger drags The Crippler to his feet, shoots him into the corner, charges in with another Abisegeri, then connects with a Liger Bomb that nearly finishes it.

He hauls Benoit up and spikes him with a Brainbuster, The Crippler barely gets the shoulder up at 2, Jushin argues with the official about the count, attempts to shoot Benoit to the ropes, but it’s reversed. Liger ducks under a back elbow, gets flattened by a clothesline, The Crippler hooks him for a pair of german suplexes, plants him with a powerbomb, then goes back upstairs and hits the Diving Headbutt. The Taskmaster & Jimmy Hart run down to ringside, Sullivan climbs onto the apron, distracts Benoit, The Crippler turns around, gets surprised by a hurricanrana and Jushin steals the victory.
Winner: Jushin Thunder Liger (Hurricanrana)

  • EA’s TakeSay what you will about some of the cheesy gimmicks and behind-the-times angles going on in WCW’s main event scene, but I’ll tell you, they sure figured it out with how to kickoff a pay-per-view using their undercard. It’s been multiple PPVs now that WCW has put on an excellent opener, really setting the tone with their younger, more athletic stars. The people are behind Benoit all the way here despite the fact The Horsemen are heels, backing WCW in this international clash courtesy of their working relationship with NJPW, so for the most part feuds are on hold, however The Taskmaster showing up will lead us to an excellent on-screen rivalry with Benoit that also led to scandalous behavior in real life. Also, isn’t a co-promotional PPV so strange to think about now, at least on this big of a scale? Could you ever imagine WWE doing something like this today with another company? Especially with New Japan being hot again like it was during 1995?

Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is joined in the locker room by Eddie Guerrero, Eddie says what just happened to Chris Benoit doesn’t sit well with him, claims The Taskmaster had no business out there and should have stayed away. Guerrero states it’s an honor to be here representing WCW in the World Cup of Wrestling, speaks about Shinjiro Otani being a tremendous athlete, so he had to put the hours in the gym to bring his best tonight. Eddie proclaims he will go out and give it his best like always and hope for a win.

Match #2 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Koji Kanemoto vs. ‘Das Wunderkind’ Alex Wright
They lock-up to a stalemate to start us off, go in for another collar & elbow with the same result, they tie-up once more and this time Wright hooks on a hammerlock. Koji reverses to one of his own and takes Das Wunderkind to the mat, Alex counters out with an arm drag, slaps on a wristlock and Kanemoto slips away after an arm drag of his own. Another lock-up now and the champion gains a side headlock, switches out to a drop toe hold, starts to work over the left knee, Wright finds his footing, then clocks him with an enzuigiri.

Das Wunderkind unloads with European uppercuts, goes back to a wristlock to punish the left arm, Koji reverses to one one of his own, Wright cartwheels through for a hip toss, then grounds him with an armbar. Kanemoto works to a vertical base and gets sent off to the ropes, Alex catches him with an arm drag follows with multiple headscissors takedowns, then scores with a dropkick. The champion staggers to the ropes, Das Wunderkind buries shoulders to the breadbasket, builds a head of steam for a crossbody and both guys spill over the top to the floor. Wright uncorks another uppercut and slides back inside, Koji tries to pull himself up to the apron, gets knocked back down with a baseball slide, Alex hits the ropes, then takes flight with a crossbody plancha.

Kanemoto loses his cool and yells at a fan in the front row, takes a minute to regroup before stepping into the squared circle, they tie-up and Wright snapmares him over for a rear chinlock. He releases the hold and delivers a dropkick to the spine, slaps the rear chinlock back on, the champion finds a standing position, backs him into the corner and scores with stinging chops. He snapmares Wright over and drives down an elbow to the top of the head, brings him up for a series of leg kicks, rocks Alex with a spinning wheel kick, then planks him across the top in the corner. Kanemoto hammers him with shots to the abdomen, drops him to the canvas with a dropkick, powers Das Wunderkind to the apron, wants to suplex him back inside, can’t pick him up and instead sends Alex to the floor with a dropkick.

Koji climbs up top for an outside dive, Wright sees it coming and quickly takes a walk, the champion stays in pursuit, slingshots over the top with a crossbody, then goes to whip him into the barricade. Das Wunderkind turns the tables and sends Kanemoto into the guardrail instead, heads back in and allows the champion to get a breather, Koji hops back to the apron, gets caught by a kick and Alex tries to suplex him back in. Kanemoto slides out of it, sets for a Bridging Tiger Suplex ant hits it, but Wright gets a foot on the ropes at 1. Koji scoops him up for a front slam, scales the corner for a moonsault, doesn’t go for the cover and puts the boots to Das Wunderkind.

He shoots Wright to the corner and follows him in, Alex hops up-and-over, plants him with the Bridging German Suplex, but still can’t find a 3 count. Wright drags him up, staggers him into the corner with a jumping heel kick, drives shoulders to the abdomen, sends him across and charges in with a back elbow. He drops Kanemoto with a front slam and steps out to the apron, slingshots in for a splash, utilizes a lateral press to cover, but the champion finds the ropes to stop the count at 2. Alex looks to upstairs for a missile dropkick, Koji tries to cut him off with a dropkick of his own, both guys are off-target, fall to the mat and double down.

They stumble back to their feet and Das Wunderkind looks to shoot the champion into the corner, Kanemoto reverses, Wright springs to the top rope for a crossbody, but still can’t put it away. He hooks Koji for another Bridging German Suplex, Kanemoto fights out with back elbow, decks Alex with a spinning back kick, delivers a body slam, then springs off the 2nd rope with a corkscrew senton. The champion with a lackadaisical cover that only gets 2, he climbs back to the high-rent district for a crossbody, Das Wunderkind meets him in mid-air with a dropkick, ascends the corner and connects with a missile dropkick, props him on the top turnbuckle.

He climbs up and hits a superplex for a near fall, wants to whip the champion to the corner, Kanemoto reverses it, catches Alex trying to hop up-and-over, then drops him face-first on the top turnbuckle. He sweeps the legs with a double leg takedown, jackknifes over into a cover and picks up the win.
Winner: Koji Kanemoto (Jackknife Cover)

  • EA’s TakeTwo more young talents here in a match that was a little bit similar to the first one, but not nearly as crisp. Kanemoto has a good amount of charisma for a Japanese star, something which was not the norm for this time, while Das Wunderkind is still a clean-cut babyface who was remarkably only 20-years old, but was already considered to be a veteran. He’s still pretty “white meat” as a character though and it appears WCW is using their younger stars to put New Japan over, likely allowing the bigger names to get them back into the series through the night.

Backstage: Gene Okerlund is in the locker room and plugs the WCW Hotline, welcomes in Sonny Onoo and Sonny claims the World Cup of Wrestling will soon be out of hand for WCW. Onoo says after New Japan’s victory he might try to purchase WCW, Okerlund tells him that’s assuming someone’s willing to sell it, but Sonny states that in America, everything is for sale.

Match #3 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: Masahiro Chono w/Sonny Onoo vs. ‘The Total Package’ Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart
Big pop for Luger as he enters the ring, the bell sounds and they exchange words, The Total Package fires first with right hands, then slaps on a side headlock. Chono pushes him off to the ropes and gets run over by a shoulder block, Lex muscles him up for a military press drop, buries kicks to the ribs, then shoots him to the ropes. Masahiro ducks under a clothesline, scores with multiple flying forearms, goes back to the ropes and connects with a Mafia Kick, sending Luger retreating to the outside. He gets some advice from Jimmy Hart, Chono steps out and stalks him around ringside, they meet back in the squared circle and Masahiro calls for a test-of-strength.

The Total Package baits him into a knee to the breadbasket, drives Chono coast-to-coast into the turnbuckles, puts the boots to him in the corner, then sets for a suplex. Masahiro blocks it and delivers a snap suplex, unloads with knees to Luger in the corner, chokes him, then snapmares Lex out and starts ripping at his face. The Total Package fires up with heavy forearms, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Chono catches him in a sleeper hold, plants Lex with a reverse DDT, then locks on the STF. Luger drags himself to the ropes to force a break, Masahiro argues with the official, batters The Total Package with right hands, Lex tries to battle back, hits the ropes and gets split by an inverted atomic drop.

Chono builds a head of steam and drills Luger with another Mafia Kick, climbs to the top turnbuckle and flies off, but gets surprised by a back elbow to the jaw. Lex finds his footing, powers him up into the Torture Rack and Chono submits.
Winner: ‘The Total Package’ Lex Luger (Torture Rack)

  • EA’s TakeIf you just jump into this match without knowing any of the angles going on in WCW at the time, you might think Luger is a babyface because he was very over with the crowd. Part of that is the fact that he’s the first “top star” they’ve seen in the ring so far, but another part is his association with Sting I think. He’s supposed to be a heel, but the people don’t seem to want to boo him. Like I had said about the last match, it looks like the younger stars will be doing the heavy lifting in the squared circle for the most part, this match being pretty short and to the point. Chono is a legend in Japan that we’ll certainly be seeing more of in the future, had the match-ups been different tonight then I’d argue he should have been one of the NJPW guys to get a win.

Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by Sting in the locker room, The Stinger says it’s now 2-1 in favor of New Japan, claims Johnny B. Badd is about to even the score and believes WCW is coming on strong. Okerlund reminds Sting that Kensuke Sasaki defeated him not long ago for the United States Title, The Stinger states that was a bad day and the championship isn’t up for grabs tonight, but pride certainly is. He speaks of Sonny Onoo wanting to buy WCW, says it will happen over his dead body, then talks about tonight’s Triangle Match. Sting says he is friends with Lex Luger, reminds us things got a little edgy with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage last week, but he patched that up. The Stinger states that he has to do what he has to do tonight and expects Luger to do the same thing.

Match #4 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: WCW World Television Champion Johnny B. Badd w/The Diamond Doll vs. Masa Saito w/Sonny Onoo
Sonny grabs a microphone and says he doesn’t think The Diamond Doll should be here, states she should be home cooking and doing dishes, thinking that’s what is wrong with America. The Doll swipes the mic away, informs him this isn’t a Japanese bathhouse and she’s not a geisha girl, then wonders if wrestling is for men, why is Sonny here. Everyone gets set now and we’re underway, they lock-up and Saito backs Badd to the ropes, breaks clean and takes a bow. The champion looks puzzled, ducks under a collar & elbow for a hammerlock, switches to a wristlock and Masa hurls him over with a hip toss.

He catches Johnny coming back in with a modified STO, grounds him with a seated cobra clutch, transitions to a rear chinlock, Badd finds his footing, but gets ripped down by the hair. The champion pops right back up, they go into another tie-up, Saito breaks free and scores with stinging chops, Johnny fires back with some of his own and they continue trading shots. Masa hooks in a side headlock to slow things down, delivers a chop to the throat, drives Badd head-first into the top turnbuckle, then chokes him over the bottom rope. The official finally backs him off, Sonny uses his flagstaff to get in some more choking, Masa follows with the Saito Suplex, goes for a cover and gets only 2.

He whips the champion to the ropes, levels him with a clothesline for another 2, grinds him down with more choking across the 2nd rope, then distracts the ref for Onoo to some more in. Saito hits a side russian leg sweep for a count of 2, hauls Johnny up, the champion starts to battle back, shoots him to the ropes for a kick to the abdomen, then drops him with a knee lift. Badd ascends the corner and comes off with a high double axe handle, climbs upstairs again and hits a sunset flip, but Masa just barely kicks out at 2. Johnny scores with a kick to the chest, ducks under a clothesline, unleashes a series of lefts-and-rights, then hooks Saito for a snap suplex. Masa kicks out fast at 1, Sonny hops to the apron to create a distraction, Badd grabs him by the jacket and Saito clobbers him from behind, dumps the champion over the top and that’s a disqualification.
Winner: Johnny B. Badd (Disqualification)

  • After The Bell: The Diamond Doll climbs into the ring and Saito stalks her, Johnny rolls in from behind, batters Masa with fists, then clears him outside with multiple dropkicks. He slingshots onto Saito with the Badd Mood, chases Sonny around ringside and then slides back in to celebrate with The Doll.
  • EA’s TakeI think I’d have to go with this one over Luger/Chono now for worst match so far. It looked like there were communication issues between Badd & Saito, so this felt really choppy at some points, had little build to anything and the finish was bad. I always thought the over the top DQ was the dumbest “rule” and if you’re going to book a DQ, had much less meaning than say, outside interference or use of a foreign object. However, for storyline purposes it does tie things up now 2-2. We’re getting seven matches in this World Cup Of Wrestling “no matter what”, so it’s not too hard to figure how this will go down.

Backstage: Gene Okerlund is in the locker room with Lex Luger & Jimmy Hart, The Mouth of the South talks about The Taskmaster having a short fuse and that’s why he got involved with Chris Benoit’s match earlier in the night, warning The Four Horsemen they are in a lot of trouble. The Total Package speaks of WCW being all about the big match, believes the moment has arrived and talks about facing Sting and Ric Flair tonight. He says it’s all for the top prize and that’s ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage’s WCW Title, states that Savage is pathetic as a champion and he’s coming right at him, reminding us that he’s had Macho in the Torture Rack many times. Lex tells Jimmy he needs to go out tonight by himself for just this one time, Hart says he’s here for a good time and not a long time, saying Luger just needs to bring the title home.

Match #5 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: Shinjiro Otani w/Sonny Onoo vs. Eddie Guerrero
The crowd gets into it with some “Eddie” chants as we start out, Otani looking very cautious, continuously backing to the corner as Guerrero approaches. They finally tie-up and Eddie grabs a side headlock, Shinjiro counters with an arm drag into an armbar, Eddie gets to a standing position, but gets pulled back down by the hair. He works back up and looks for an arm drag, Otani blocks it, rips away at Eddie’s face, Guerrero slipping free before regrouping. They tie-up again and Otani backs Eddie to the ropes, doesn’t break clean and grabs for his nose, Guerrero finds some space, Shinjiro picks the leg and gets rocked by an enzuigiri.

Otani takes a break in the corner, they go in for another lock-up, Eddie snapmares him over, grinds the bottom of his boot in Shinjiro’s face, looks to haul him up and gets surprised by a single-leg takedown. Otani locks on a heel hold, tries to transition to a front facelock, Guerrero counters to a rear chinlock and Shinjiro fights to his feet. He shoots Eddie to the ropes for a back body drop, Guerrero backflips over him, turns around and gets launched by a monkey flip. Both guys pop back up quick, Eddie avoids a clothesline, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Otani elevates him into the air, but gets caught by a headscissor takeover. Shinjiro rolls to the floor for some council from Sonny, heads back into the ring and they go in for a test-of-strength, but Eddie explodes into a dropkick.

He scoops Otani up for a body slam, steps to the apron, slingshots in with a somersault senton, then looks for the submission with a Boston crab, then switches to a single-leg crab. Shinjiro pulls himself to the bottom rope to force a break, Eddie hauls him up, plants him with a powerslam, stacks Otani and gains a near fall. He spikes Shinjiro with a brainbuster and tries another cover, Otani gets a foot on the ropes at 2, Eddie drags him back up, shoots him to the corner and follows in with a clothesline. He drives Shinjiro head-first into the top turnbuckle, sends him to the opposite corner, rushes in for a splash, Otani slips to the apron to avoid it, then springboards in with a missile dropkick.

Guerrero gets sent to the outside, Shinjiro springboards off the top with a crossbody, throws him into the squared circle, then steps in and sends him to the ropes for a dropkick. Otani chokes Eddie with the bottom of his boot, uses the bottom rope to get in some more, puts the boots to him and proceeds to tear at Guerrero’s face some more. He hooks in a rear chinlock, Eddie fights to a standing position, plants him with a Saito suplex, then rolls into a cover for 2. Guerrero sets him up for another brainbuster, Otani slides out it, hits a bridging german suplex for a count of 2, then quickly crawls to the apron. He springboards in with a spinning wheel kick, delivers a body slam, heads to the high-rent district, but Eddie’s there to meet him with right hands.

Guerrero climbs up for a super hurricanrana, still can’t finish it off, powers Shinjiro up for a sit-out crucifix powerbomb and again Otani kicks out at 2. Guerrero pulls him to his feet for a waistlock, they exchange standing switches, Shinjiro sweeps the legs, slaps on a modified ankle lock and Eddie reaches for the bottom rope. The official has to force Otani to break the hold, Guerrero pulls himself up using the ropes, Shinjiro rushes in, gets dumped to the floor and Eddie heads out in pursuit, driving him into the barricade. He drops Otani on the floor with a body slam, climbs up to the apron, springboards off the top with a crossbody, then deposits him back inside.

Eddie climbs back to the apron and looks to suplex him to the floor, Shinjiro blocks it, hits a suplex of his own to bring Guerrero into the squared circle, then rolls to the apron. He springboards in, connects with a missile dropkick to the back of the head, says that it’s finished and attempts his patented Bridging Dragon Suplex. Guerrero fights it off and hits the ropes for a hurricanrana, Otani rolls through for a cover, they trade-off pinning predicaments and Shinjiro finally holds him down for a 3 count.
Winner: Shinjiro Otani (Roll-Up Counter)

  • EA’s TakeI think I still would pick Liger/Benoit over this one, but man, that was a pretty good match. Lots of high-flying, which I didn’t really expect from Otani, plus some really high impact moves. Especially those powerbombs by Eddie, a move he really seemed to excel at which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen him perform. Unfortunately for Guerrero, Savage & Sting are still left to wrestle in this and if New Japan is going to pick up a win out of the three of them, Eddie is the odd man out. He’s still getting a solid push still in WCW and would continue to rise up the ranks over the coming year, gaining popularity despite being “cookie cutter” with no real on-screen persona.

Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is back in the locker room and welcomes in WCW World Heavyweight Champion ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, informing him that it’s all up to him now with New Japan up 3-2, then the Triangle Match. Savage tells him to forget about the Triangle Match, claiming the pressure is on him with WCW’s back against the wall. He speaks about thinking Sting is cool still, speaks of Luger’s win earlier in the night and says they are in a team situation until later. The champion states he’s wrapped up in the moment, plans on taking advantage of it and tells Tenzan he is coming to get him. Okerlund says he just got off the phone with Hulk Hogan who is suspended, tells Savage that Hulk wants to know what frame of mind he’s in, Macho stating that he’s in the zone and that’s what makes him different.

Match #6 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: Tenzan w/Sonny Onoo vs. WCW World Heavyweight Champion ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
The fans are getting behind Savage as the bell sounds, collar & elbow tie-up begins things, both guys jockey for position and the champion backs Tenzan to the corner before the official forces a clean break. They lock-up again with the same result, Tenzan catches Macho with strikes this time around out of the corner, batters him into the canvas, then rams him face-first off the top turnbuckle. He grinds the champion’s face into the turnbuckle padding, shoots him to the ropes for a clothesline, hooks the leg for a 2 count, then slaps on a front facelock.

Tenzan rakes Savage’s eyes, puts him in the corner and unleashes a barrage of chops and headbutts, chokes him with the bottom of his boot and then celebrates. Macho surprises him with a kick, drives him head-first off the top turnbuckle, uncorks a series of right hands, Tenzan absorbs it all and returns fire with a headbutt. He rakes the champion’s eyes and looks to wear him down with a nerve hold, clobbers him across the back, Savage rips at Tenzan’s nose to stop the onslaught, then whips him to the ropes. Tenzan reverses it, connects with a spinning wheel kick, puts the boots to him, then rocks him with more headbutts.

Macho rolls out to the floor and Tenzan comes outside in pursuit, rams him off the steel post, drives him into the barricade and deposits him back in the ring. Tenzan climbs inside, continues to batter Savage with kicks and headbutts, sends him to the ropes for a fireman’s carry slam and goes to the top rope. He scores with a Diving Headbutt and hooks the leg, the champion barely kicks out at 2, Tenzan picks him up for a body slam, climbs back up top for a moonsault, but nobody’s home. Macho sends him to the apron with a clothesline from behind, reaches over the ropes to suplex him back inside, drops him stomach-first on the top rope, then heads upstairs. He soars off the top with the Diving Elbow Drop and hits it, makes the cover and WCW ties it up.
Winner: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage (Diving Elbow Drop)

  • EA’s TakeIf you enjoy a lot of choking and throwing punches, this is definitely for you. This is nearly 1996 and the days of Savage/Steamboat performances from WrestleMania 3 from Macho have been over for a while. At the same time however, he’s still Randy Savage and ‘Over’ like he was a Drake single. I found it dry and boring, but that was all because of Tenzan as he controlled basically the entirety of the match. Plus, like I said after the last match, it was very predictable. All negatives in my book and besides, the more interesting parts of the night for Savage are yet to come.

Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is still in the locker room and talks about a meltdown taking place in the wrestling world, which you can hear about on the WCW Hotline. He reminds us of the score in the World Cup Of Wrestling, brings in Ric Flair and The Nature Boy speaks about WCW vs. New Japan, but it’s all about the WCW World Title. Flair claims he will style and profile, reminds Sting & Lex Luger they have to beat the man to be the man, stating they will both have wrestled already while he is fresh.

Match #7 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: WCW United States Champion Kensuke Sasaki w/Sonny Onoo vs. Sting
Sasaki goes on the attack as Sting finishes his entrance to the squared circle, the bell rings to make it official and he unloads with kicks to the midsection, then chokes him over the 2nd rope. Kensuke bludgeons The Stinger across the back, sends him head-first into the top turnbuckle, scoops him up for a body slam and make a lackadaisical cover for 1. He hooks in a rear chinlock, Sting battles his way back up, sends the champion to the corner for a Stinger Splash, then tries to shoot him across. Sasaki reverses, hits the ropes and plants The Stinger with a running bulldog, goes back to the ropes for multiple clotheslines, attempts another and it’s off-target.

Sting explodes up with a dropkick, clotheslines Kensuke over the top to the floor, the champion clears the cobwebs, steps back up to the apron and Sting sets to suplex him back in. Sasaki slides out into a waistlock, gets decked by a back elbow, The Stinger rushes in, gets planted by a powerslam and the champion says it’s over. He spikes Sting with the Northern Lights Bomb, doesn’t go for a cover and plays to the crowd, puts the boots to The Stinger, then slaps on an armbar. The arena fills with “USA” chants, the champion releases the hold and peppers Sting with more kicks, whips him to the ropes for an arm drag takeover, goes into a lateral press and finds a 2 count.

He hooks The Stinger by the legs and puts him in a Scorpion Deathlock, Sting powers out of it, goes for a kick, Kensuke blocks it and makes him pay with a dragon screw leg whip. He grabs the leg to go for another, The Stinger drills him with an enzuigiri, both guys stumble back to their feet, Sasaki props Sting on the top turnbuckle, then puts him over his shoulder. He charges across the ring to drive him into the turnbuckles, Sting slips out of it, pushes Kensuke into the corner, flattens him with a clothesline, goes downstairs with a kick and hits the ropes for a one-handed bulldog. He quickly goes for the legs, turns the champion over into the Scorpion Deathlock, Sasaki crawls to the ropes, but gets dragged back to the center of the ring and submits.
Winner: Sting (Scorpion Deathlock)

  • After The Bell: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, Eddie Guerrero, Alex Wright, Johnny B. Badd & Lex Luger make their way to the ring to congratulate The Stinger, Gene Okerlund steps into the squared circle, Chris Benoit has arrived and the trophy is in the ring. ‘Mean’ Gene calls for a round of applause for Team WCW as the winners of the World Cup Of Wrestling, gets a word from Sting, he says he’s still got more work to do tonight, but for now just wants to say “USA”.
  • EA’s TakeFor as quick of a match as this was, compared to the earlier contests from Luger & Savage, it was the more entertaining. The pacing was solid and didn’t get too slow, but again, it was very predictable. You’re basically killing two birds with one stone here as Sting gets a win back from Sasaki after losing the US Title to him, getting him away from contending for it and puts the finish on the World Cup Of Wrestling. So maybe it should be three birds with one stone. He’s of course still to come in the Triangle Match, while the champion would lose his title against One Man Gang in I suppose what would be the dark match main event. Why would you even have a dark main event at Starrcade, let alone that one you may ask? Because WCW is all I can tell you.

Video: “Three men, one title. Three of the top superstars in the history of WCW will vie for the chance to face WCW World Champion ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Macho won the title at World War 3 when he was in the last man in the ring…or was he? Regardless, Savage is the champion. The contenders? Lex Luger, who returned to WCW in September and made his intentions clear, claiming he is the uncrowned champion. The other, Sting, who has kept friendship with Luger intact even after Luger’s bizarre actions over the past few months in WCW. However, many have been wondering about Sting. As one of WCW’s most popular athletes, he has been involved in many bizarre incidents as well causing many, like Hulk Hogan to question his allegiance. Finally, there is ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair, a man with a definite advantage as Luger and Sting will wrestle earlier in the night. A coin toss will decide which two men will start the Triangle Match. A man can tag out at any time, however the man who scores the pinfall will go on to meet Savage.”

Match #8 is a WCW World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender’s Triangle Match: ‘The Total Package’ Lex Luger vs. ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair vs. Sting
Referee Nick Patrick does our coin toss and Luger is the odd man out, Flair drops to a knee and poses to taunt The Stinger, does a strut and belts out a “Woo!”. Sting gives us one of his own, they lock-up and The Stinger backs Flair to the corner, they break clean and Sting shouts out to the people again. The Nature Boy looks for a test-of-strength, suckers Sting in for a kick to the gut, looks to send him to the ropes, The Stinger reverses, delivers a military press slam, then flattens him with a clothesline for 2.

He quickly attempts the Scorpion Deathlock, The Nature Boy is too close to the ropes, slides outside for a breather, then comes in and they tie-up again. Flair hooks on a hammerlock, uses the ropes for extra leverage and gets caught, the official forces him to release it and The Nature Boy hits right hands and chops in the corner. He goes right back to the hammerlock to grind Sting down, brings him up to shoot him into the corner, connects with another big chop and does a strut, but it has no affect. He turns around and The Stinger does a strut of his own, launches him out of the corner, connects with a dropkick, then sends him to the ropes for another military press slam.

The Nature Boy tries to beg off in the corner, Sting climbs to the 2nd rope, rains down heavy hands, bites Flair on the forehead, then hits the ropes for a one-handed bulldog. Flair rolls back outside to seek refuge, catches The Stinger coming out with a boot to the breadbasket, whips him into the guardrail, but Sting rebounds back out with a clothesline. Flair tries to do it again and The Stinger absorbs it, chases The Nature Boy back into the squared circle, then tosses him out of the corner again. He looks to follow with a dropkick again and it’s off the mark, Flair taunts Luger, hits the ropes for a kick to the midsection, decks him with a stiff punch and goes back downstairs with more kicks.

He baits Lex into the ring, the ref is distracted and Flair tosses Sting over the top to the floor, steps out and scores with knife-edge chops against the barricade, then heads back inside. The Nature Boy drags Sting to the center, connects with a knee drop for multiple counts of 2, does another strut and buries kicks into the ribs, then hooks The Stinger for a delayed vertical suplex. He mocks The Total Package by flexing and Sting bounces right back up, unleashes a flurry of right hands, props Flair on the top turnbuckle, The Nature Boy rakes the eyes, shoots him to the ropes, but Sting reverses for a third military press slam.

He positions Flair back on the top turnbuckle, climbs up to deliver a superplex, crawls into a cover, Luger steps in to break it up, but Sting spots it and stops him in his tracks. They exchange words and Lex goes back to the apron, The Nature Boy ambushes Sting from behind, he falls into the corner and The Total Package tags himself in. Flair runs away to the outside and walks up the aisle, Lex gives chase, carries him back to the squared circle and The Nature Boy tries to beg him off. Luger uncorks with fists, Flair goes to the ribs with a kick, buries punches into the midsection and hits the ropes for a shoulder block.

He runs into a brick wall and falls to his backside, hits the ropes for another try and gets the same result, Luger shoots him back in and powers him up for his own military press slam. The Total Package corners Flair and goes to the 2nd rope for a barrage of punches, The Nature Boy collapses face-first to the mat, Lex delivers an elbow drop and gets a 2 count. Flair sticks a thumb to the eye to buy some time, cuts Luger down with a chop block, stomps away at the left leg, drapes his legs over the apron, Sting has words with the ref, The Nature Boy grabs a chair on the floor and cracks Lex across the knee. He steps back in and continues to work over the left knee, struts to taunt The Stinger and hold the official’s attention, The Nature Boy takes the opening for a low blow to Luger, then wraps him in the Figure Four.

Flair uses the ropes for more leverage out of the ref’s sight, The Total Package works over onto his stomach to reverse the pressure, The Nature Boy gains the ropes, crawl out to the apron and tries to set for a suplex to the floor. Lex blocks it, brings Flair inside with a suplex of his own, crawls into a lateral press for 2, The Nature Boy staggers back to his feet first, then makes his way up top. Luger tosses him to the canvas with a military press slam, Flair fires away with fists and chops that have no affect, hits the ropes for a shoulder block, but The Total Package doesn’t budge. The Nature Boy gets angered, challenges Sting & Lex to bring it on, tags himself out and now The Stinger must enter the match.

Sting & Luger exchange words, they shake hands which earns some boos, they tie-up and Lex backs The Stinger to the corner, but breaks clean. Another collar & elbow and this time Sting drives Luger to the corner before a clean break, they go for a test-of-strength, The Total Package instead delivers a kick to the abdomen, rams The Stinger head-first off the top turnbuckle and puts the boots to him in the corner. He drives Sting back off the top turnbuckle, tries again and it’s blocked, The Stinger returns the favor heads to the 2nd rope for a series of punches, Luger powers his way out for an inverted atomic drop, but it doesn’t connect and he gets laid out by a clothesline.

The Stinger follows with another and Lex calls for a timeout, regroups in the corner, they lock-up again and The Total Package clubs Sting to the mat. He drives him spine-first into the turnbuckles, buries shoulders to the breadbasket, whips Sting across and charges in, but eats a boot to the jaw. The Stinger rushes out with a high knee, shoots him to the corner, The Total Package explodes back out with a clothesline, drops him throat-first across the top rope, then stomps away and Sting rolls to the outside. Lex steps to the apron and flies off for a double axe handle, The Stinger buries a right hand into the midsection, deposits him back inside, ascends the corner to the top and connects with a crossbody for a near fall.

He scoops Luger up for a body slam, slingshots off the 2nd rope with a splash, The Total Package gets the knees up, drops multiple forearms and hooks the leg for another2 count. He delivers a series of elbow drops and goes for a cover, Sting’s too close to the ropes and there’s no count, Lex hauls Stinger up for kicks to the ribs, Sting blocks one and drills him with big rights. He grabs the legs for the Scorpion Deathlock, Lex hooks the ropes to avoid it, sneaks in a low blow, splits Sting with an inverted atomic drop, then picks him up for a body slam. The Stinger surprises him with a small package for a near fall, The Total Package quickly sends him to the ropes for a back body drop, Sting counters with a sunset flip and still can’t put it away.

He can’t capitalize and Luger looks for a suplex, The Stinger blocks it, hits a snap suplex, both guys struggle back to a vertical base and Lex sends him to the ropes to try again for the back body drop. Sting prevents it with a kick, plants him with a one-handed bulldog, whips him to the corner for a Stinger Splash, sets for another, but this time nobody’s home. The Total Package muscles him up for the Torture Rack, Sting’s leg takes out the official on the way up, Flair steps in from behind, takes Luger out at the knee, then dumps them both to the floor. The referee comes to, puts the count on them both and neither man can make it back inside, giving The Nature Boy the match.
Winner: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair (Count-Out)

  • After The Bell: Jimmy Hart comes to the ring and has a conversation with The Nature Boy,
  • EA’s TakeSo I definitely do not remember that count-out rule ever being talked about. You know why? That’s because it wasn’t and for a match that was the real selling point of Starrcade, a pretty lackluster way to finish it off. Of course I understand it’s a way to garner heat for Flair, but it seems more like it was done to protect Sting & Luger. This is a time when babyfaces very, VERY rarely lost clean in big matches, so doing anything otherwise would have really been an out of the box kind of thought, especially for WCW booking. This was certainly the most intriguing match in terms of storyline leading into the night, the focus primarily surrounding Sting & Luger to make Flair’s victory more of a surprise.

Match #9 for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair vs. WCW World Heavyweight Champion ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
Jimmy Hart
 is staying ringside for this one, Michael Buffer makes our introductions with both combatants already in the squared circle, the bell sounds and they go into a collar & elbow, the challenger quickly goes to the abdomen with a knee, then looks to shoot Savage to the ropes for a hip toss. The champion blocks it, counters to a backslide for an early 2 count, Flair retreats to the corner and Macho tears off his shirt, then throws it in the challenger’s face. They tie-up again and The Nature Boy backs Savage to the corner, scores with a big chop, the champion fights back with stiff rights and lefts, drops Flair with more heavy hands and ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff comes down to ringside in a neck brace for a closer look.

Savage tears at The Nature Boy’s nose in the corner, climbs to the 2nd rope to rain down with fists, the challenger brings him out for an inverted atomic drop, then tries for the Figure Four. Macho kicks him away and slaps on a front facelock, Flair backs him to the corner, doesn’t break clean, but Savage fires back with more punches. He drives the challenger face-first off the top turnbuckle and shoots him across, The Nature Boy gets turned inside-out, flips over the top and falls to the floor. The champion ascends to the top rope and takes flight with a double axe handle, Flair catches him mid-flight with a shot to the breadbasket and we see WCW’s Head Of Security Doug Dellinger escorting Orndorff to the back.

Back at ringside and The Nature Boy drives the champion off of the guardrail, sends Savage’s bad arm into the ring post, Flair peppers him with stinging chops, then heads back inside. He distracts the official and Jimmy gets in a cheap shot on the champion, Macho crawls back to the squared circle, the challenger drags him in from the apron, then grounds him with a hammerlock to the taped-up arm. The Nature Boy uses the ropes for extra leverage out of the official’s sight, stomps away at Macho’s elbow, then continues punishing the injured limb with a wristlock. He grinds the champion back to the mat, delivers a knee drop to the arm, Savage pulls himself up in the corner, Flair goes right back to a wristlock and Macho scores with right hands to break free.

He hits the ropes and runs the challenger over with a shoulder block, goes back in and The Nature Boy drops down, pops back up and grabs the champion in a sleeper hold. Macho looks to drag Flair throat-first into the top rope, the challenger has to release it to put on the brakes, drags Savage to his feet and hits the ropes for a right hand. The champion blocks it, delivers a stiff punch of his own, falls into a cover for multiple near falls, whips The Nature Boy into the turnbuckles and elevates him with a back body drop off the rebound. Savage starting to build momentum now, connects with multiple clotheslines, uses a lateral press for another 2 count, rocks Flair with more big fists and then heads up top for a double axe handle.

Jimmy Hart hops on the apron and gains the ref’s attention, Macho jumps off and again catches a shot to the midsection. The Mouth of the South tosses Flair his megaphone behind the referee’s back, the challenger tries to waffle Savage, it’s blocked and Macho drills the challenger instead. The Nature Boy has been busted open and the champion makes the cover, the official is still busy with Jimmy Hart, Savage decides to climbs upstairs and scores with the Diving Elbow Drop. He makes another lateral press, The Mouth of the South is still holding the official, Brian Pillman sprints down to the ring and heads to the top turnbuckle.

Macho sees it, launches him off the top as Chris Benoit hits the ring, they collide and the champion chokes Flyin’ Brian in the corner. The ref’s involved now, Arn Anderson slides into the ring, decks Savage with a loaded fist, puts The Nature Boy on top, the official finally turns back to the action and we have a new champion.
Winner and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair (Outside Interference)

  • EA’s TakeBig pop for the title change, The Horsemen are supposed to be heels, but they were finding loads of cheers by this time. We’ve seen these two square-off multiple times now in both WWF and WCW, so you almost have no choice expect to give it all kinds of bells and whistles like interference in order to make it different. Personally, Flair is the greatest ever, however he will be the first to tell you that his standing in history is not due to his offense. As I said earlier, Macho’s best days are also certainly behind him, so this was middle of the road for me. Ultimately, this title change wouldn’t mean a whole lot as Savage would win it back heading into SuperBrawl in February. Macho will be bringing back his old flame Miss Elizabeth in January however, basically giving us a rehash of the Flair/Savage feud from the WWF in 1992.

EA’s FinisherSo we get a new World Heavyweight Champion, all the top guys competed twice in the same night, but for what is supposed to be WCW’s equivalent to WrestleMania, you didn’t get a few of their “big boys” on the card. Of course, this is due to the format of the World Cup Of Wrestling (Hogan also likely didn’t want to work two days after Christmas either and was therefore suspended on television. Pure speculation on my part), which I felt was an interesting concept that was used in Japan previously. New Japan didn’t have the following in America then like it does today, but for those who were familiar with their stars, I’d imagine you would be pretty stoked of the concept. As we head into 1996, the tides of the Monday Night Wars will be taking a drastic turn, as will the wrestling business overall, however there’s still a few more months of what we’re getting now storyline-wise before that happens.

Top Three To Watch
1 – Chris Benoit vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
2 – Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Otani
3 – Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair vs. Sting


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

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

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

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

What I Watched #16

ECW Guilty as Charged 1999

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

Super Crazy vs. Tajiri

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

John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent

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

Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley

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

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

TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm

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

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

Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

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

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

Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz

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

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

 

THE FINAL REACTION

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

 

THE SIGNOFF

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

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


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What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018

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

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ALL IN

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

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

What I Watched #10-B

ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018

9/1/2018

Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL

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

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

THE RESULTS

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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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

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

Over the Budget Battle Royal

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

Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon

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

Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

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

Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

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

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

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

THE FINAL REACTION

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

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

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

Overall Show Score: 8.5/10

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

THE SIGNOFF

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


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