Our weekly Chairshot Classics WCW PPV series continues with World War 3 ’95!
Open: “WCW declares war with the biggest battle royal in wrestling history. World Championship Wrestling wages World War 3. Sixty international superstars from around the globe prepare for combat as never seen before. It’s all out war with three rings, three giants and one battle royal. It’s WCW’s World War 3.”
In The Arena: ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is standing by with Hulk Hogan, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage & Sting, The Hulkster saying something bad always comes from something good. He talks about the Hulkamaniacs sticking by him as he walked through the darkside, explains he now knows who his friends are and tonight the darkside of himself will be no more. He tears off his black shirt and reveals the red and yellow once again, it burns in a garbage can and Hogan claims he will never again question Sting or Savage. The Stinger proclaims the black is gone for good, Macho Man says that when you’re wrong, you’re wrong and apologizes to Hulk. The Hulkster thinks it’s funny people have claimed Savage is legitimately injured, claims it was just a plan and says that between the three of them, the WCW World Heavyweight Title will wind up with the Hulkamaniacs.
Video: We take a look at the history between Diamond Dallas Page and Johnny B. Badd, which led to The Diamond Doll putting herself up as a prize in tonight’s match, making it clear that she was sick of the mistreatment from DDP.
Match #1 is for the WCW World Television Championship & The Diamond Doll’s Services: Diamond Dallas Page w/The Diamond Doll vs. WCW World Television Champion Johnny B. Badd
Page has some words for the champion while poking him in the chest, Badd swats his hand away, they lock-up and Page backs Johnny to the corner as the bell rings to make it official. The referee calls for a break, DDP smacks the champion on the chest and taunts him, they tie-up again and end up on the outside, Johnny connects with a right, but Page goes to the eyes to take control. He looks to drive Badd head-first into the ring post, the champion slips free and shoves DDP into it instead, chases him back into the ring, but gets caught coming in.
The challenger sends him to the ropes for a clothesline, Johnny scores with a crossbody, Dallas switches the momentum and gets a count of 2, then quickly delivers a shoulder block. He hits the ropes and the champion leapfrogs over, powers him up for a samoan drop that gets 2, then brings Page to the canvas with a side headlock. DDP works to a standing position, counters to a top wristlock, Badd begins to overpower him, but Page grabs a handful of hair to rip him down. Johnny reverses his way out to a wristlock, Dallas again uses the hair to pull the champion to the mat, locks in an armbar, then switches back to a wristlock. Johnny rolls through and the challenger again grabs the hair, Badd kips up to his feet, returns the favor and gets scolded by the referee.
DDP tries to ambush him from behind, the champion sees it coming, low-bridges the top rope to send him to the floor, lines up for an outside dive, but puts on the brakes, then slingshots over the top with a crossbody. He calls for the Tutti Frutti, Dallas pulls The Doll in front of him to avoid it, pushes her into the champion, catches him with a sucker punch, then shoots him into the barricade. He deposits Johnny back inside and whips him sternum-first into the turnbuckles, plants him with a back suplex, puts the boots to Badd, then shoots him to the ropes for A Trip To The Diamond Mine. Page calls for a “10” from The Doll and she refuses, he turns back to the champion, peppers him with forearm shots, sends him to the ropes for a kick to the abdomen, but it’s blocked.
Badd spins him around, gets leveled by a clothesline, Dallas with a lateral press for 2, corners Johnny and whips him across. He charges in with a shoulder to the ribs, calls for a “10” and again The Diamond Doll won’t do it, DDP shoots Badd back across, rushes in for another shoulder, but this time nobody’s home and he hits the ring post. He regroups and looks for a kick that misses the mark, scores with a punch, hauls Johnny up and sends him to the ropes for a back body drop, but Badd prevents it with a kick. The champion pulls himself to his feet in the corner, catches Dallas walking in with a kick, splits him with an inverted atomic drop, fires away with lefts hands, then hits the ropes for a big right. He looks to shoot the challenger to the ropes, DDP reverses it for a kick, Johnny blocks it, spins him around, ducks a clothesline and delivers one of his own, then calls for a “10”.
The Diamond Doll holds up the “10+” sign, Johnny plants Page with a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall, sends him to the corner and follows in, but eats a back elbow. DDP stacks him up, puts his feet on the ropes and still can’t finish it, whips him to the ropes for a tilt-a-whirl side slam, crawls into a cover for 2, gets surprised by a roll-up off the kick-out and Johnny nearly steals it. DDP quickly goes to the breadbasket with kicks, whips him to the ropes and gets caught by a tilt-a-whirl headscissors, Badd steps out to the apron, slingshots in with a splash, but Dallas gets the knees up. The challenger gives himself a “10”, cracks the champion with a gutwrench gutbuster for a near fall, hooks Badd for another, Johnny slips out for a german suplex, but gets rocked by a back elbow.
Page lifts him up for A Trip To The Diamond Mine, the champion counters out, spikes him with a tombstone piledriver, but Dallas just barely kicks out at 2. The champion lines him up, connects with Tutti Frutti, DDP spills to the outside, Johnny flies over the top with the Badd Mood, rolls him back into the ring, then slingshots in from the apron with a leg drop to retain.
Winner and STILL WCW World Television Champion: Johnny B. Badd (Slingshot Leg Drop)
- After The Bell: The Diamond Doll looks stunned and makes her way into the squared circle, giving Johnny a big hug. ‘Mean’ Gene plugs the hotline with details on the WWF steroid scandal as he awaits Johnny & The Doll, the champion says Dallas has no idea how to treat a lady and he plans on showing him how it’s done, telling her that she will have the chance to be his manager or do what’s in her own heart. The Diamond Doll tells him she will think about it, but for now she’s just happy that the better man won.
- EA’s Take: So for the second pay-per-view in a row now, these two have opened the show with a pretty good effort and left it all out in the ring. DDP is really on the cusp of becoming a top star while Johnny continues to be among the best the WCW mid-card has to offer. There’s still a lot more to come between these two over the coming months as DDP was not satisfied with this loss and moreover, the loss of The Diamond Doll. Johnny would grant The Doll her freedom and we would finally get to call her by her real name, Kimberly, by the time they’d meet again on PPV at SuperBrawl in February.
Match #2 is a Taped Fist Challenge: Big Bubba Rogers vs. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan
Duggan sprints down the aisle and ambushes Bubba as he makes his entrance, clobbers him with right hands, rolls Rogers into the ring, then calls for a 2×4 shot. Big Bubba tries to beg him off, the official tries to stop it and succeeds, Rogers surprises Hacksaw with a shot to the breadbasket, sends him to the ropes for a clothesline, but Duggan ducks it and delivers one of his own. Bubba is reeling, Hacksaw connects with another clothesline, still can’t get him off his feet, goes to the ropes for one more and Rogers is sent over the top to the floor. Duggan goes out in pursuit, unloads with more fists, sends him inside another ring, hammers him with more punches on the apron, then sandwiches his head in-between the two ring posts.
Rogers falls to the floor, Hacksaw steps out to the apron, looks to come off with an elbow, Bubba avoids it, Duggan driving himself into the barricade. Big Bubba heads back into the center ring, hits the ropes and slides outside to deliver an uppercut, throws Hacksaw back in and pelts him with a barrage of heavy fists. He chokes Duggan with the bottom of his boot, Hacksaw spills to the floor, looks to escape to another ring, Bubba gives chase and they begin to exchange punches. Rogers looks to come back with a kick that’s blocked, brings the other foot around for an enzuigiri, hits the ropes for a big uppercut, pulls out some more tape to re-wrap his hand, then unloads with blows to the ribs. Hacksaw starts to battle back with lefts-and-rights, shoots him to the ropes for a shoulder block, they collide and Big Bubba falls to the outside.
Duggan steps out after him, walks into a right to the abdomen, they make their way back to the center ring, Rogers pulls the tape back out and wraps Hacksaw’s arm to the top rope. He unloads with heavy shots, Hacksaw drags himself back to his feet, Bubba hits the ropes and rushes in, Duggan sticks his fist out and Rogers runs right into it. The official tries to untie Duggan and can’t free him, Big Bubba staggers back to his feet, charges in again, this time getting elevated over the top to the floor. Hacksaw finally gets loose and goes out in pursuit, decks Rogers with a couple of right hands, deposits him into the squared circle, shoots him to the ropes and delivers a body slam.
He calls for the Three Point Stance, levels Bubba with the clothesline and we see V.K. Wallstreet sneaking his way down to ringside with a chain around his fist. He climbs up to the apron, Duggan goes for the 2×4, buries it into Wallstreet’s midsection, but the chain falls to the mat. Bubba picks it up, wraps it around his fist, surprises Duggan with an uppercut, stuffs the chain down his pants and makes it to his feet to beat the count.
Winner: Big Bubba Rogers (Foreign Object)
- EA’s Take: In case you hadn’t figured it out because you skipped over reading the play-by-play, this one was an ugly brawl. I never got the concept behind the Taped Fist Challenge. I understand that loading your fist up with tape would make for a more devastating punch, but it just didn’t get over with me and never really seemed to with the rest of the wrestling world either. Also, Schiavone said that “this one has been building for a while”, but I don’t recall it ever being a part of at least the last four episodes of Nitro leading into this feud-ending bout.
In The Arena: Gene Okerlund is joined by ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair, The Nature Boy claims the whole wrestling world knows he will style and profile over Sting, stating that whether you like it or not, it just happens to be the best thing going today. Flair says his master plan has come together with all his enemies in the building at the same time, proclaiming that after World War 3 he will rule WCW again.
Match #3: Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki vs. Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto w/Sonny Onoo
Mike Tenay has joined commentary for this contest. Akira & Bull go on the attack at the bell, they shoot Ozaki to the ropes for a double clothesline, clobber her with a double big boot and Nakano stays in the ring. She launches Mayumi across the ring by the hair multiple times, makes a tag and Hokuto comes off the top with an elbow to the back. She taunts Suzuki on the apron while holding Ozaki in a side headlock, switches to a wristlock, Bull grabs the other arm and they proceed to sink their teeth into Mayumi’s wrists.
Nakano tags in and continues biting the arm, snapmares her to the mat by the hair, Akira comes inside and baits in Suzuki, the ref having to work Cutie back to the apron as Bull rips Mayumi back down by the hair. She lifts Ozaki up by the throat, Hokuto comes off the top to drive Mayumi down to the canvas, Bull goes into a cover for 2, Suzuki coming in late to try and break it up. Nakano hauls Ozaki back up and Mayumi tries to fight back, Bull absorbs the shots, flattens her with a clothesline, ties her up in the ropes and and tags out. Hokuto steps in and shoots her to the ropes, Mayumi springs off the 2nd rope with a forearm, hits the ropes and spikes her with a DDT, then finally reaches a tag.
Cutie hits the ring and shoots Akira to the ropes for a dropkick, covers for a count of 2, quickly hooks on a single-leg crab, Bull steps in to try and break it up, Ozaki cuts her off with a double leg takedown, then slaps on a single-leg crab of her own. Thye both release the hold and order is restored, Suzuki puts the boots to Akira, drives all of her weight down on the right leg, then goes back to the single-leg crab. Nakano sneaks in and rips her off by the hair, Akira quickly rolls to her corner to make the tag, Bull sends Cutie to the ropes, Suzuki ducks under a clothesline and Ozaki grabs Nakano by the arms to hold her. Cutie rushes in for a dropkick, Bull side-steps it and Mayumi gets hit instead, Nakano plants Suzuki with a powerbomb, heads upstairs for a moonsault, but nobody’s home.
Ozaki pulls herself to the top turnbuckle, comes off with a double stomp, Cutie hgoes up for one of her own, then they both go back up to do it again for a near fall. They set Bull for a double suplex, Nakano blocks it and hits one of her own, Akira gets the tag, comes in from the top with a crossbody that’s off the mark, Suzuki & Ozaki kick Nakano to the floor, then prop Hokuto on the top turnbuckle for a double superplex. Bull rolls back in, rips them both down to the canvas, holds them for Akira who scores with a crossbody. They pick Suzuki & Ozaki back up, send them to the ropes simultaneously, get surprised by in-sync hurricanranas for a double cover, but they only get 2.
They ascend up opposite corners, connect with crossbodys in succession, Suzuki with a lateral press of Akira for 2, then tags out. Ozaki re-enters the match, plants Hokuto with the Tequila Sunrise and still can’t put it away, shoots her to the ropes for a clothesline, Akira ducks under it, drives Mayumi down on the back of her head with a german suplex and makes a tag. Nakano comes in and sends her to the ropes for a clothesline, Cutie comes in to break up the cover at 2, gets clocked by a big right hand for her troubles, Bull drags them both up, then sends them to the ropes for a double clothesline.
Suzuki & Ozaki duck under it, here comes Akira off the top with a double missile dropkick, Suzuki & Ozaki spill to the outside, Hokuto goes back up top and flies off with a somersault senton. She tosses Mayumi back into the squared circle, Nakano picks her up onto her shoulders, Hokuto goes to the top rope and they hit a doomsday device, Bull makes the cover, but Cutie just barely saves the match. Akira kicks her back down to the floor, scoops Mayumi up for a body slam, Nakano comes off the top with a Diving Guillotine Leg Drop and that’s all she wrote.
Winners: Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto (Nakano/Diving Guillotine Leg Drop)
- EA’s Take: Akira Hokuto & Bull Nakano are legends of Japanese wrestling and women’s wrestling to a certain extent, but this was just absolutely dreadful, moves for the sake of moves. This is the kind of wrestling that drives me up a wall today with hardly any selling and just a complete cluster of confusion. WCW was continuing to make business dealings with the promotions in Japan, which we will see hit its peak the following month, but women’s wrestling still had basically zero interest here in America. Some fans may have been familiar with Bull Nakano, but in America for this time period women’s wrestling still didn’t stand a chance with a mainstream audience.
In The Arena: ‘Mean’ Gene plugs the hotline again, which of course he can’t talk about on the air, therefore you have to give them a call. He welcomes in Lex Luger & Jimmy Hart, Jimmy mocks ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, informing him that he might be looking at the next World Champion. He claims Luger has it all including himself by his side, Lex stating that he is the flagship of WCW. He warns Savage that he will break him into a hundred pieces, will leave him unable to compete in World War 3 and he will become the new champion.
Match #4 is for the WCW United States Championship: ‘Crippler’ Chris Benoit vs. WCW United States Champion Kensuke Sasaki w/Sonny Onoo
Collar & elbow tie-up to start off, they jockey for position and Benoit backs the champion to the corner, doesn’t break clean and unloads with chops and kicks. He snapmares Sasaki over for a shot to the head, Kensuke regroups, they lock-up again, this time the champion backing The Crippler to the corner. He fires away with chops of his own, snapmares him over for a kick to the spine, Benoit now taking a breather. Another tie-up and the challenger goes to a waistlock, Sasaki tries to counter out, gets taken down by a drop toe hold and The Crippler grounds him with a hammerlock. He switches to a front facelock, Kensuke works to his feet, tosses Benoit away with a back body drop, they regather again and now go into a test-of-strength.
The champion gets the better of it and The Crippler bridges back to a vertical base, brings Sasaki down with a top wristlock, then tries to force his shoulders to the mat. Kensuke finds his footing and they back into the test-of-strength, Benoit works into a straight-jacket hold, the champion battles his way out of it, scoops the challenger up for multiple body slams and covers for a 1 count. He slaps on a rear chinlock to wear Benoit down, The Crippler makes it back to a standing position, pushes him off to the ropes and gets knocked down by a shoulder block. The champion goes back to the ropes, Benoit leapfrogs over, slides underneath, gets caught by a boot to the midsection, Sasaki then powering him up for a military press slam.
He hooks The Crippler for a double leg takedown, the challenger uses his leg strength to roll him away, Kensuke rolls to the outside, Benoit builds a head of steam and flies through the ropes with a suicide dive. He drives the champion spine-first into the ring apron, deposits him back inside, steps in for a snap suplex that only gets 1, then grinds Sasaki down with a headscissors. Kensuke fight his way out of it, shoots the challenger to the ropes for a powerslam, gains a count of 2, lifts him for a vertical suplex, The Crippler slides out of it, plants him with a german suplex, maintains his grip for another, goes for a third, but gets rocked by a back elbow. Sasaki hits the ropes and flattens Benoit with a clothesline, thinks it’s over and sets for a tombstone piledriver, the challenger counters out and spikes him with one of his own.
He ascends the corner to the top, connects with the Diving Headbutt, still can’t put it away, peppers the champion with chops, then props him on the top turnbuckle for a super hurricanrana. Kensuke barely kicks out at 2, The Crippler puts the boots to him, Sasaki blocks one, drives him into the canvas with a one-arm powerbomb, then slaps on the Strangle Hold. The challenger quickly reaches the ropes with his foot to force the break, reverses an irish whip to the ropes, scores with a clothesline, Sasaki absorbs it, delivers a clothesline of his own, scoops Benoit up for the Northern Lights Bomb and picks up the win.
Winner and STILL WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: Kensuke Sasaki (Northern Lights Bomb)
- EA’s Take: This one started out a little too slow for my liking, but certainly picked up steam the further it went along. You can see the potential in Benoit and WCW recognized it by putting him in The Four Horsemen not long before this, but early on like this match, he would seem more like a distant member and wasn’t around the other three much. Sasaki, who had defeated Sting in Japan for the title just 10 days prior, really becomes the “top guy” for the incoming wave on New Japan Pro Wrestling stars leading into Starrcade.
In The Arena: Gene Okerlund is alongside The Taskmaster, The Giant & Jimmy Hart. The Taskmaster says The Dungeon Of Doom isn’t just a part of tonight’s Battle Royal, but they will take no prisoners, warning Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage & Sting that they’ve got friends as well. He claims The Giant is without a doubt the next World Champion, Jimmy stating that they aren’t going to run and hide because Hogan is wearing red and yellow again. Gene questions if the rest of The Dungeon won’t be out to get the title for themselves, Sullivan retorting that it doesn’t matter who it is because The Dungeon will prevail. The Giant says he knows it will be himself and Hogan in the end, which means he will launch The Hulkster over the top to reclaim the title.
Video: “From the beginning, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage never trusted Lex Luger. He accused Lex of a personal agenda and even a cheap shot at War Games. A few face-to-face meetings during Nitro prompted the two to a showdown in the ring. Luger won that match with unexpected help from The Giant. Was Luger a secret member of The Dungeon Of Doom? Did he have a secret agenda as Savage had claimed? It all came to light at Halloween Havoc. Savage showed he was a true friend to Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger showed he was something else. Then two weeks ago on Nitro, Luger & The Dungeon Of Doom attacked.”
In The Arena: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, Macho thinks it is what it is and in just a few seconds, Lex Luger will find out just who ‘The Total Package’ is. Savage believes he’s at a million percent physically despite his arm, says he likes to stay positive, then heads to the ring.
Match #5: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage vs. ‘The Total Package’ Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart
Savage attacks Luger as he enters the ring and we’re underway, shoots him to the corner, Lex rebounds out and gets dropped by a back elbow. Macho chokes him over the top rope, wraps his hands around Luger’s throat, uses his boot to do some more choking, then drives him head-first into the top turnbuckle. He whips Lex back into the corner, unloads with heavy right hands, grinds the bottom of his boot in Luger’s face, then shoots him across to the opposite corner. Savage rushes in and eats a boot to the chin, The Total Package charges out with a clothesline, Macho ducks under it, delivers one of his own, then slaps on a Boston crab.
Luger’s too close the ropes and gains the break, rolls out to the apron, Savage steps out in pursuit, drops him to the floor with a right hand, then rams him head-first off the barricade. He rolls Lex back inside, slides in and scoops him up for a body slam, climbs up to the top rope for the Diving Elbow Drop, Jimmy Hart hops on the apron to distract the referee and Macho connects, then makes a cover. He realizes the official is occupied, hauls Luger up, looks to toss him into The Mouth of the South, but Jimmy avoids it and Lex spills to the floor. Savage goes out after him, drives him head-first off the barricade again, looks to whip him into the ring apron, The Total Package reverses it, sending Macho into it instead.
He rolls in-and-out of the ring to break the count, powers Savage up into the Torture Rack on the floor, finally releases it to break the ref’s count again, then deposits Macho Man inside. Luger slides in, drags Savage to the middle of the ring, hooks an armbar on the bad limb, the ref checks with Macho and there’s no response.
Winner: ‘The Total Package’ Lex Luger (Armbar)
- After The Bell: Lex refuses to release the hold after the bell, Sting comes running down to the ring, has a couple of words for Luger and The Total Package finally lets go.
- EA’s Take: Well, that was certainly an abrupt and unexpected ending. For as much of a feud as there’s been between these guys, kind of an uneventful way for this one to go. There’s still a lot of run left in the feud between Hogan, Savage and The Dungeon Of Doom however, whether we like it or not. This is also now the second PPV in a row where they squared off and it lasted less than 5:30.
Video: “Of the many matches between Ric Flair and Sting, the upcoming bout will be the most intense. It began when Flair lost to Arn Anderson at Fall Brawl. After the match, Flair looked to Sting for help, but The Stinger would decline multiple times before finally accepting, along with a stern warning. One week before Halloween Havoc, they were scheduled to team up, but Sting got cold feet. Flair would prove himself and later Sting would stand alongside The Nature Boy. Then came Halloween Havoc with Sting going to the ring alone as Flair received medical attention. The Nature Boy would finally arrive, showing his true colors once he was tagged into the match and revealing the charade.”
Match #6: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair vs. Sting
They go nose-to-nose and they exchange words, The Nature Boy sticks his finger in Sting’s face, The Stinger nearly bites it, Flair tries to score with the first shot, but gets knocked down with a right. He rolls to the outside and slides into the adjacent ring, challenges Sting to bring it on, The Stinger obliges, drops Flair with another right hand, then shoots him to the ropes for a military press slam. The Nature Boy tries to beg him off, surprises Sting with a thumb to the eye, pelts him with fists and chops in the corner, taunts the crowd and whips him across. The Stinger rebounds off the turnbuckles with a clothesline, corners The Nature Boy and climbs to the 2nd rope to rain down punches, launches him across the ring with a hip toss, then connects with a dropkick.
Flair rolls to the floor, heads into the ring closest to the aisle, we see Col. Robert Parker & Sister Sherri on the stage and they make their way to the interview area to watch. Sting follows Flair into the ring, they tie-up and The Nature Boy backs him to the corner for chops, The Stinger absorbs them, unleashes a barrage of punches and lays him out. He clotheslines Flair over the top to the floor, The Nature Boy feigns walking off to the back, heads into the squared circle, they lock knuckles and Flair goes to a wristlock. He rips Sting down to the mat by the hair, The Stinger kips right back up, absorbs more chops, The Nature Boy hits the ropes and gets elevated again by a military press slam. He rolls to the outside and goes back towards the center ring, catches Sting coming in with a kick to the ribs, looks to shoot him into the barricade, but The Stinger puts the brakes on.
He turns back and charges Flair for a Stinger Splash, The Nature Boy side-steps it, Sting lands in the guardrail, Flair looks to go for a chair now, but the official takes it away from him. The Nature Boy drives Sting head-first into the barricade, rips at his eyes, steps back inside the center ring and The Stinger pulls himself in from the apron. Flair drags him up for a stinging chop, it seemingly wakes The Stinger up, he grabs The Nature Boy by the throat, Flair grabs the referee and delivers a low blow out of the official’s view. He buries kicks into Sting’s ribs, shoots him hard into the turnbuckles, scores with a knee drop, struts for the crowd and then starts to target the left knee with kicks.
The Nature Boy struts again and is in full control, deposits Sting over the top to the floor, steps out after him, continues going after the leg, connects with a chop and rakes the eyes before heading into the ring. He drags The Stinger in from the apron, cuts him down with a chop block, rips at his face, plants Sting with a back suplex, then locks on the Figure Four. Flair slaps him with the hold on and The Stinger gets fired up, rolls over to his stomach to reverse the pressure, The Nature Boy releases it, sends him to the ropes for a hip toss, but it’s countered to a backslide for a near fall. The Nature Boy takes out his frustration on the referee, Nick Patrick shoves him to his backside, Flair goes back after Sting, sends him to the ropes for a big chop, but it has no affect.
Flair rolls out and heads into a different ring, The Stinger stays in pursuit, whips him to the ropes for a military press slam, follows with multiple clotheslines, but gets caught by another thumb to the eye. The Nature Boy goes to the high-rent district, Sting surprises him with an uppercut, launches him off the top with a military press slam, sends him to the corner, Flair flips out to the apron, lands on his feet, but gets leveled by a clothesline. The Stinger pulls him back in, corners Flair and goes to the 2nd rope for a series of fists, The Nature Boy powers him out for an inverted atomic drop that misses the mark and gets rocked by a right hand. Sting props him on the top turnbuckle, brings him down the hard way with a superplex, hooks on the Scorpion Deathlock and Flair submits.
Winner: Sting (Scorpion Deathlock)
- EA’s Take: Personally, I always find Sting vs. Flair entertaining no matter how many times I’ve seen it because of the magnitude of their characters. The in-ring work is always solid, but by now if you’ve seen them face-off once, you’ve basically seen all the rest because they kept the same formula though the years. They would always cross paths every so often, meeting one more time at Starrcade before going their separate ways again.
Video: “Three rings, sixty men. The World War 3 Battle Royal is the most unique match in WCW history. When Hulk Hogan agreed to face The Giant at Halloween Havoc in two matches, little did he know that his longtime friend, Jimmy Hart, was plotting against him. Jimmy Hart would get Hogan disqualified, leading to a brutal attack and The Giant left with the belt. Jimmy would reveal that he negotiated that Hulk could lose the WCW World Title by disqualification. WCW officials stepped in and the rest is wrestling history. Now, three rings with the most prestigious title in wrestling history on the line.”
In The Arena: ‘Mean’ Gene welcomes in Hulk Hogan, The Hulkster says he’s focused on The Giant tonight, but the main thing is to take the WCW Heavyweight Title, which never should have been taken from him in the first place. He speaks about talking to Sting & ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, states that they are friends, but if it comes down to the three of them, he will rip and tear his way to the title. Hogan talks about it being every man for himself, believes it is the most dangerous match in pro wrestling, but in one swoop he has the chance to prove Hulkamania is the greatest power in the universe.
Match #7 is World War 3 for the Vacant WCW World Heavyweight Championship – The Participants Are:
- Arn Anderson
- Alex Wright
- Brian Knobs
- Barrio Brother Ricky
- Squire David Taylor
- Scott Armstrong
- ‘Jumpin’ Joey Maggs
- ‘Pistol’ Pez Whatley
- Disco Inferno
- Stevie Ray
- Mark Starr
- Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker
- Lt. James Earl
- Lex Luger
- Eddie Guerrero
- The Giant
- ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff
- Chris Kanyon
- Bobby Walker
- Earl Robert Eaton
- Chris Benoit
- ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
- Marcus Bagwell
- The Yeti
- Hugh Morrus
- The Zodiac
- V.K. Wallstreet
- Diamond Dallas Page
- Scott ‘Flash’ Norton
- Brian Pillman
- Sgt. Craig Pittman
- One Man Gang
- Super Assassin #2
- Bunkhouse Buck
- Kensuke Sasaki
- Mike Winner
- The Shark
- Steve Armstrong
- Road Warrior Hawk
- Dave Sullivan
- Scotty Riggs
- Johnny B. Badd
- Big Train Bart
- Lord Steven Regal
- ‘Dirty’ Dick Slater
- Max Muscle
- Super Assassin #1
- Barrio Brother Fidel
- The Taskmaster
- Jerry Sags
- ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan
- Booker T
- Big Bubba Rogers
- Ric Flair
- Hulk Hogan
We have one announce team per ring with Eric Bischoff & Dusty Rhodes, as well as Chris Cruise & Larry Zbysko joining for commentary. The bell rings and all Hell breaks loose in all three rings, the screen splitting three ways to show everything taking place, The Yeti gets eliminated very quickly and The Horsemen drags Sting outside through the ropes to do a number on him. Participants slowly start to get eliminated and the melee continues on, The Giant dominates everyone in ring two, The Hulkster staving off a group of stars looking to gang up on him. So far only The Yeti & Mike Winner have been sent packing, Sting saves Luger from elimination, Knobs sends Mark Starr to the floor, Cobra, Buddy Lee Parker & Lt. James Earl all spill to the outside at the same time.
The massive brawl wages on, Sting teams up with Knobs to send Disco on a trip to Pity City, Kanyon & Bagwell get tossed, Bart takes a nasty spill to the floor, Luger & Double-A battling on the floor, but are not eliminated. The Giant clears out a handful of guys in one swoop, ring two is down to 10 guys and merges into ring one, Wallstreet & Norton get sent on their way, all three rings combine and we’re now under thirty participants left. Joey Maggs hits the floor, Duggan gets Bubba rocked on the apron, pulls out the tape, wraps his fists and knocks him down. Bubba climbs back on the apron, drags Hacksaw over the top, one of the Armstrongs gets wheeled away on a stretcher, Disco & Dave Taylor both get eliminated.
Hogan tosses Sags & Booker T to the outside, throws The Taskmaster over the top, Luger & Savage go to another ring to fight one-on-one, then out onto the floor. Regal gets knocked off the apron, Johnny B. Badd dumps DDP over, Page hangs on and brings Badd to the floor with him. Benoit & Kurasawa are eliminated next, Meng gets clotheslined over the top, Pillman shoots Zodiac to the ropes, Hugh Morrus elevating him to the outside with a back body drop, but gets quickly eliminated in-turn. Pillman gets tossed over the top, tries to drag Sasaki down to the floor from the apron, Hawk hangs on to help him out, but Hogan comes up from behind to send them both outside.
He powers Mr. Wonderful over the top rope, we’re down to our final nine, Guerrero connects with a top rope dropkick to Anderson, Flair quickly picks the leg, locks Eddie in the Figure Four, but Sting grabs Arn for the Scorpion Deathlock. The Giant body slams Savage, Double-A reverses a whip to the ropes from Guerrero, plants him with a spinebuster, Hogan & Sting go to work on Flair, Guerrero getting tossed out on the other side. Sting sends The Nature Boy to the corner for a Stinger Splash, The Giant steps in to help Flair, splits The Stinger with an tomic drop, then grabs Macho Man and plants him with a Chokeslam. Anderson & Flair, set for a spike piledriver on Sting, The Stinger sweeps Arn’s legs, catapults him into The Nature Boy on the top rope and Flair falls down to the floor.
The Hulkster clotheslines The Enforcer over the top, Hogan & Savage look to team up against One Man Gang, Luger & Sting doing the same to The Giant. They get the big man rocking with multiple double clotheslines, Giant teeters nears the ropes, Luger & Sting start to topple him over the top rope, Hogan comes up from behind and dumps them all to the ground. The Giant drags Hulk to the floor under the bottom rope, Savage eliminates One Man Gang and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
- After The Bell: Hogan can’t believe it and slides back in to argue with the official, explains he went outside under the bottom rope, Macho says he didn’t see it and The Hulkster plays to the fans to plead his case. Gene Okerlund steps in to confer with the referee, offers him his glasses, but he raises Savage’s hand. Hogan states that he never got thrown over the top, Macho Man tells Hulk that they are friends and he values his opinion, but didn’t see what happened. He talks about the motto “it is what it is” and wonders if The Hulkster can handle that, Hogan asks the people again to prove him right, Savage claims this was his dream since he came to WCW and it’s not cool if there’s a black cloud over that. Hulk says that there is because neither one of them went over the top, Savage wants to see the footage and Hogan tells him he can see it tomorrow night on Nitro.
- EA’s Take: This feels like a great idea on paper or just when you think about it, but the problem with World War 3 is there’s almost too much action for me. It’s so difficult to follow anything before it gets down to one ring, so it’s a bit of overkill. Especially considering that you know who the match is going to come down to in the end. Additionally, they couldn’t give Savage the clean win and had to make it controversial so that Hogan still could lay claim to the title, but wouldn’t regain it until late-summer of the following year and instead looked to clean up his issues with The Dungeon of Doom. Meanwhile, Savage’s first WCW Title run would lead him into a rivalry with a very familiar foe from his WWF days.
EA’s Finisher: While the concept of the World War 3 match feels like a good idea, overall it’s a little too much for my taste as the action can be hard to follow and the ring is so filled with bodies, whatever’s happening likely isn’t worth watching anyways. The undercard carries this show which is going to become a running theme for WCW heading into the future, as DDP and Johnny B. Badd have the best match on the card and one of the more entertaining bouts for two events in a row now. Benoit vs. Sasaki is not executed to perfection, but still showcases some great action from a future World Champion and one of the mainstays from New Japan, while Sting & Flair give another entertaining effort even if the manuscript was written long ago. At the same time, you still have the Taped Fist Challenge and the Women’s Tag to give you some of that “bad WCW” to go along with the good, so this is probably just under Halloween Havoc if I were ranking how enjoyable they were to watch.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Johnny B. Badd vs. Diamond Dallas Page
2 – Chris Benoit vs. Kensuke Sasaki
3 – Ric Flair vs. Sting
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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