Harry brings us another throwback episode of Progress! His play by play style will paint a picture so clear Bob Ross wouldn’t even need to add trees!
Two of these reviews down. Let’s go ahead and make it a trifecta. Hopefully, you are enjoying the series as ‘What I Watched’ returns under the Chairshot Classics banner for PROGRESS (as well as Impact Wrestling. Hopefully, we can eventually cover some other promotions as well). I’ll be taking note of all the comments left on these reviews and addressing them as new ones get typed out. In the interest of a somewhat regular schedule of these posting, the first couple PROGRESS reviews are being typed out in advance of their release on the website.
So, to the reason of today’s gathering. PROGRESS has had two good (but not necessarily great) shows so far. Instead of going to a more regular occurrence, they stuck with the three months between shows model. Chapter 2 had us in June, whereas this show doesn’t take place until September. The bigger story to me though is that the main event is not what I though it would be at the end of Chapter 2. Instead of getting Nathan Cruz vs. El Ligero for the PROGRESS Championship Staff, we are instead getting a tag match with Cruz and Ligero as partners. With that, we once again step into the way back machine and head to September 30th, 2012 as “What I Watched” presents ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’ or PROGRESS Chapter 3.
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 3 – ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: September 30th, 2012
Run Time: 2:08:49 (Demand PROGRESS)
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)
*Our opening video focuses on a tag match between the London Riots (James Davis and Rob Lynch) facing Danny Garnell and Darrell Allen. In addition, we see that Marty Scurll will be the special guest referee for our main event. Which apparently will not be the previously thought Cruz vs. Ligero for the PROGRESS Championship Staff, but a tag match instead with Cruz and Ligero as partners…
*There is no Smallman opening promo, as I believe it was it edited into the opening video with Scurll being added to the main event as the referee. Disappointing start, as I find Smallman’s opening welcome to be a nice light hearted way to get these shows started.
*Match #1: Noam Dar (1-1) vs. Paul Robinson
The Who: Noam Dar is coming off a victory over Darrell Allen via ‘Champagne Super KneeBar’ at the last show to even his record up. Paul Robinson is making his in-ring debut for the company and he is replacing MK McKinnan, who was the originally announced opponent for Dar in this contest.
The Why: My guess would be to get Dar more momentum going forward. I don’t imagine that Robinson is going to be added last minute and beat Dar, but stranger things have happened.
The Match: They still have the records on the name bar’s for the intros. I know that’s not something they do any more, but I’m curious how long it sticks around for…both guys get inset promos. Dar’s is by far the better, as he informs us that he’s going to keep winning so he can get the ‘big stick’ by which he means the PROGRESS Championship Staff, despite the crowd’s borderline racist chants towards him…opening bell rings and we’re underway…Robinson shows off the Chris Hero shoulder kips into the forward roll. Pretty sure that dates back to England before Hero, but Hero is where I personally remember first seeing it…commentary starts a little late, but there’s Jimmy Barnett, who claims he’s not affiliated with Jim Smallman despite sounding a lot like him. That cat is now long since out of the bag…backslide for two and then a super spinning backslide for another two. Seemed a little unnecessary but the fans enjoyed it. Know your audience, I guess…Paul Robinson is a very small guy. Believed the announced weight was just over one hundred forty. For a visual representation, think Spike Dudley…certainly a unique twist on the Garvin Stomp…Dar focusing on Robinson’s knee pays off the fans who have watched the previous shows and the ‘Champagne Super KneeBar’…Dar repeats the gum spot from Chapter 2. Gross. And the fans appropriately respond with a ‘you sick fuck’ chant. Not the most hygienic man in wrestling, is he?…lighting for this show is quite a bit better then it has been for previous shows…Robinson with a suicide dive, which could have been a disaster. There is almost no room between the ring and the front row of fans…said it before, say it again: the superkick and the enzugiri are the most overused moves in wrestling…airplane spin however, we could use more of…Robinson tries to drop the Guillotine Legdrop, but Dar moves and Robinson lands hard…pair of fisherman’s (both suplex and buster) lead to a grounded kneebar. Not quite the ‘Super Kneebar’, but it’s enough for the tap at 11:41…pretty basic match to kick off the show. The crowd was into it, which is good. But as a fan who watches a lot of wrestling, it never seemed to get out of the first gear and move into being more then just there. Dar’s personality make his matches an easy enough watch, but at same point, the in ring product has to be risen up to mean anything. (AVERAGE)
*Match #2: BWC Starlo Scholarship Title: Mark Andrews © (1-0) vs. Xander Cooper (1-0)
The Who: Mark Andrews is a pretty well known name here in the States now. He’s coming off a successful title defense against Mike Hitchman at Chapter 2. Xander Cooper wasn’t in a match on Chapter 2, but did win a three way match at Chapter 1 with this title on the line,
The Why: Between Chapters 1 and 2, Andrews beat Cooper for the title. Andrews had his previously mentioned defense at Chapter 2 and after that match, Cooper came in through the crowd and attacked him. That led to PROGRESS management scheduling this rematch between the two for the title.
The Match: I believe only the second match in PROGRESS history to have been set up on the show before. The only match on Chapter 2 that was set up at Chapter 1 was the main event, if memory serves…‘Man for All Seasons’ is such a proper asshole nickname. I dig it…Cooper impressed me at the first show. Andrews and Hitchman had a banger at the second. My expectations are pretty high for this one…both get inset promos. Andrews has the best line: “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and you’re just a dick”…bell goes and we’re underway…the fans insinuate that Cooper has herpes. Somewhere, Rhett Titus is pissed his chant got taken…pace finally starts to pick up around three minutes in…Cooper busts out Miz’s old Reality Check combo. Personality wise, he kind of reminds me of Miz as well…Andrews with a Bubba Bomb. Not something you usually see a guy his size use…standing moonsault senton gets two and looks really cool in the process. Andrews was a lot like Ricochet and PAC early in his career. Not everything made sense, but most of it looked cool…stranglehold Golden Rule by Cooper. That’s a first for me…rope assisted enzugiri kick knocks Cooper back into the center of the ring. Andrews comes flying in with a Shooting Star Press (over-shooting just a bit, actually) and that’s the closing bell at 8:52…better then the opener, but a step down from what both of them did before. Took a bit of time to get out of the starting block, but once it did, it picked up quite nicely. I would recommend the three way for Cooper and the Hitchman match for Andrews more personally though. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Match #3: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) (1-0) vs. The Bastard Squad- Darrell Allen and Danny Garnell (debut as a team. Allen is 0-1-1 as a single. Garnell is 1-0 as a single)
The Who: London Riots were successful in their debut at Chapter 2 against Will Ospreay and Alex Esmail in what was shaping up to be a good match until Esmail got hurt (broken leg). Allen got a no decision at Chapter 1 in the three way for the Starlo Scholarship and was tapped by Noam Dar at Chapter 2. Danny Garnell won his debut match, pinning Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 2.
The Why: Damn good question and one I don’t presently have an answer for. I checked the history of PROGRESS that is maintained at Voices of Wrestling by Rob Reid and found nothing to give any reasons as to why this is happening. Maybe Jimmy Barnett will shine some light on the reason during the match itself.
The Match: Lynch has what I thought was a paddle but was corrected by Barnett is a cricket bat in his hand. Is cricket big in England? Thought that was more of an Australian thing…Barnett informs us that a poll on the PROGRESS website has dubbed Garnell and Allen as ‘The Bastard Squad’, so my why maybe just as a way to try to build up a tag division…as per the warning I issued during Chapter 2, it is entirely possible that I will screw up Lynch and Davis. If I do so, I apologize…then again, they appear to have keep the one in singlet, one in trunks look. I should be okay…and we’re off as a brawl breaks out…man, that one roaming cam is making me sea sick. Super wobbly…Lynch drops Garnell on the floor with a Michinoku Driver…and the official PROGRESS Chapter 3 chair of that fan has been broken…Lynch and Garnell just trading bombs in the center of the ring…high angle release German by Garnell. Lynch lands almost square on the back of his damn head…Allen and Garnell do have quite the big guy/little guy dynamic going for them…first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…Allen has Davis caught in a Octopus but Davis turns it into a wheelbarrow facebuster. Again, another first…Riots grind down the pace of the match on Allen, but it makes sense for them to do so. They have a significant size edge over Allen, why not use it?…one of these shows, I’m going to keep a running enzugiri count. If we don’t hit double digits, I’d be stunned…Barnett advocates the old Gorilla Monsoon stance of multiple referees for tag matches…Lynch with an overhead superplex on Allen and Allen lands square on his tailbone. I’m guessing that probably sucked…both men on the ropes and Allen with another enzugiri to knock Lynch to mid-ring. The same thing Andrews did to Cooper in the previous match…Allen tries to come in with a cross-body off the top but gets caught by both members of the Riot Squad. Lynch helps Davis pop Allen up and into a sit out powerbomb which gets the three count at 12:25…a few good moments here and there but not enough to make it anything really worth remembering. It followed the old school tag wrestling formula to a tee. The thing about formulas is that they become formulas because they work. It does here and while it’s not going to light the world on fire or anything, it produced an above average tag match that sees the Riot Squad continue their winning ways. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Post match: The Riots lay in a beat down to Garnell, as one of the chairs from ringside is used multiple times against the knee of Garnell, before they use the cricket bat into the chair to ‘Pillmanize’ the ankle of Garnell. Microphone time for Lynch afterwards and declares war not just on the tag teams in the UK but on PROGRESS as well, laying down an open challenge for any place, any where, any time. Guess this story will develop more going forward then…
*Match #4: Jon Ryan (0-0) vs. Jimmy Havoc (0-1)
The Who: Jon Ryan makes his PROGRESS debut here, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before working for wXw out of Germany. Jimmy Havoc is back after a losing effort to Danny Garnell on Chapter 2 as a favor from his friend, Jim Smallman.
The Why: ‘Strictly No Blood, No Hardcore’ is the tag line for the match. Let’s just say that somehow I doubt this…
The Match: Ryan does get booed on his intro and the fans love Havoc, chanting ‘Jimmy’s Gonna Spoon You’, a call back to the great spooning debacle of Chapter 2…apparently Ryan was Havoc’s original trainer whereas Garnell was the one who trained him in the ways of technical wrestling…an attempted handshake by Havoc is met by a bitch slap from Ryan. That’ll end poorly for him, I feel…Havoc works in a spoon while on the mat to continue that bit…knowing Havoc’s reputation, it’s weird seeing him in normal matches…and as I type that, Havoc goes for dive and misses but lands on his feet. He turns towards Ryan, who thwacks him with a frying pan for the DQ at 3:36…normally, three minutes is about the mark where I would try to give a match a rating. I don’t feel like I can’t rate this here given what happens next, therefore I’m not going to…(N/A (ANGLE ADVANCEMENT))
*Post match- Havoc is understandably less then pleased about Ryan going upside his dome with a frying pan, which opened up Havoc’s forehead. He demands that Smallman restart the match under ‘Hardcore’ rules. Smallman warns people that don’t like this style of match to move away from the ring but as far as he is concerned: “fucking kill him, I don’t care.”
*Match #4b: Hardcore Rules: Jon Ryan (0-1) vs. Jimmy Havoc (1-1)
The Match: And thus the lack of rating for the previous match…opening bell once again here…and the first official weapon is a kendo stick. Which Ryan just beats the hell out of Havoc with. I think the kendo stick is one of those overrated weapons. Not enough reaction to justify how much those things actually hurt…cheese grater. It’s like every ECW brawl from 1998 on featuring New Jack…there’s not really a lot to discuss in a match like this. It’s basically just them hitting each other with a bunch of various shit…feel like throwing a bloody person into a group of people’s chairs is a bad idea…powerbomb through an ironing board. Not what those are intended for, but it looked cool enough…never cared for staple guns, myself. Similar to the kendo stick, but I guess a little easier to gimmick…staple to the dingus. Because of course he does…I’m guessing this is the match that leads into intermission so they have time to clean up the ring after it. It’s a combination of the old WWF hardcore brawls and the ultra-violent style matches you’d see from a CZW or a Big Japan…and now the thumbtacks make an appearance…DVD into the tacks. And the referee wusses out by grabbing a cookie sheet to count on. It was a smart move on his part, but not the most masculine….the problem with matches like this is it takes a while to set up the next spot. Spot, set-up, spot, set-up. Rinse and repeat as necessary…a ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant breaks out, followed immediately by a ‘No, it’s not’. That could make for an interesting way to go down the line with it. And a definite divide in the fan base for someone like Havoc…okay, that finish worked. They had set the BW board across two chairs. Havoc tries for a spinning head scissors and gets caught and dropped clean on his head with a package Tombstone (think Tombstone set-up and then Ryan cradled both legs under his own arms). Rather then go for the pin there though, Ryan adjusts his grip around Havoc’s waist and launches him through the BW board with a release wheelbarrow suplex. It was all over but the counting and the counting hits three at 14:36…this kind of match is going to be very divisive. There are fans of this genre and there are those who feel like it’s a black eye on the sport. I personally enjoy death match wrestling as long as we don’t go too over the top with it (needles, fire, stuff that can really hurt someone). I thought this was a pretty good match for the genre while not going too far in order to affect the crowd that may not be as interested in this style. We’ll go ‘above average’ for the rating, but your mileage will vary. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Post match- both guys get a nice ovation from the crowd and a ‘That was awesome’ chant. Let’s not go around tossing that out so freely. A sign of respect as a hug and handshake from teacher and student occurs and Havoc pops on the microphone once again to put over the crowd and Jon Ryan as well. He also asks the fans to buy him and Ryan beer and have a chat. Always working, that Havoc…
*Match #5: RJ Singh (0-0-1) vs. Rob Cage (debut)
The Who: RJ Singh returns after getting a no decision in the number one contender’s three way at Chapter 2. He still has his entourage with him as well. Rob Cage is a man that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of before so we’ll see what he can do in this match.
The Why: Can’t say I really have an answer for this. My guess would be to help flush out the roster with more people.
The Match: Can’t say my expectations are really high here, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised before. Mike Hitchman at Chapter 2 comes to mind there…the match graphic has Singh listed as 0-1. However, since he didn’t get pinned in the three way, I gave him a draw/no decision instead…inset promo for RJ Singh and the ‘Singh is King’ catchphrase remains in tact. It works for him. Promo wasn’t anything special however…opening bell goes as Singh’s accomplices make friends at ringside…apparently Rob Cage went the Jimmy Havoc route of campaigning on Twitter in order to get a spot on this show…I do still enjoy the fact that RJ calls his Camel Clutch the ‘Ethnic Submission’. It’s wrong on several levels, but still funny…Cage gets caught up with Singh’s crew and Singh gets a nice looking leaping neckbreaker, done Zig Zag style. That was smooth…running knee strike looks less smooth…Cage goes to the top and the ‘Director’ pushes him off while the referee was working on getting the other member of the Bollywood Empire out of the ring. That said, it happened so close to the referee that he had to have seen it. Really poor ring positioning…that leads to RJ Singh applying the ‘Ethnic Submission’ and it leads to a tap out from Rob Cage at 7:27…well, they reached my expectations with this. Worst match on the show thus far. I found RJ to be very entertaining for the role he had in the three way, so this was a major step down for him. As far as Rob Cage, not the best first impression made. For the first time on the show, I go with a ‘below average’ rating. It’s not awful, but if you are in a rush while watching this show, it’s seven minutes you can easily skip and not miss anything. (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Post match: it appears that all is okay as Singh offers his hand and Cage accepts it. Until RJ kicks Rob in the junk and puts him back in the Camel Clutch while his cohorts talk trash right in his face. The hold gets broken by the referee and Singh poses on the turnbuckle to celebrate his victory.
*Match #6: Stixx (0-1) vs. Lion Kid (1-0)
The Who: Stixx and Lion Kid both make their return after opening up Chapter 2 with a singles match. As previously mentioned there, I’ve heard that Lion Kid was the former Wade Fitzgerald, but have never seen any confirmation of this.
The Why: This one is easy. As mentioned, they had a match at Chapter 2. Lion Kid won. Stixx wants revenge. Pretty simple, really.
The Match: The who and the why was pretty easy to get through. I fear the match may not be. These two didn’t exactly set the world on fire at Chapter 2. Hopefully, it was just nerves and we get a better performance here…we start hot as Stixx knocks Lion off the apron and proceeds to beat him around ringside before the opening bell…Stixx rolls back in and demands a count-out, despite the fact we’ve not had an opening bell (at least, not one I’ve heard)…appears Lion Kid caught a knee injury in the floor brawl, but we’re a go now with an opening bell and everything…huge Black Hole Slam forty seconds in and I thought that was three. It wasn’t, but it wouldn’t have surprised me. Looked really good…huge Flair shin breaker by Stixx. He’s definitely looked better tonight then last outing…Lion Kid looked for a reverse rana but Stixx powered him back up. Kid transitions right into a victory roll, which I believe is how he won at Chapter 2. It only gets two this time…Stixx with a nice looking variation of the half calf, but Kid does eventually get to the ropes…series of chops sees Lion Kid ‘roar up’, but a shot to the knee keeps Stixx in charge…half crab giant swing. That’s just a dick move…Lion Kid goes for a springboard and falls. Crowd chants ‘you fucked up’, but I don’t think he did. I think it was on purpose to sell the knee and if it was, bravo…the crowd continues the ‘roar’ chant to rally Lion Kid. As Jim Smallman said in the favorite chants video he did, it’s just fun to say ‘roar’…avalanche tabletop (fall away slam to vertical) suplex. Don’t believe I’ve ever seen that done from the buckles before…Stixx is being almost Anderson like in his focus on the leg here. These guys are putting on quite the show here…very cool turnbuckle sequence leads to the big guy coming in with a frog splash on the knee…Lion Kid with a series of roll-ups to put over how desperate he is. Psychology, psychology, psychology…Stixx tries the Black Hole again but Lion Kid counters into a tornado DDT. Lion Kid goes for a 450, but Stixx rolls in. Lion Kid lands on his feet. Normally, that’s a good thing. With a bad knee, not so much. Stixx hauls Lion Kid up and drives him into the mat with Splash Mountain (Crucifix PB set-up but into a standard PB finish. I dub it the River Stixx). After a quick debate of a submission attempt, it’s a three count instead at 12:21…well done, gentlemen. Way to make me eat my words. After being significantly less then impressed with their match at Chapter 2, they turned things around and put on in my opinion the best match of Chapter 3 thus far. A big credit for this goes to big man, Stixx. He put on a technical clinic in this match, which you wouldn’t expect from a guy his size. Lion Kid more then held up his end of the bargain as well. You mix psychology with solid in ring work and no noticeable blown spots, it makes for a happy reviewer. I would rate this match as ‘very good’. (VERY GOOD)
*Match #7: Nathan Cruz (3-0, PROGRESS Championship Staff Holder) and El Ligero (2-1, #1 Contender to Nathan Cruz) (debut as a team) vs. Dave Mastiff (debut) and Greg Burridge (0-1) (debut as a team)
The Who: Cruz and Ligero are the champion and challenger elect for the next time the PROGRESS Staff is on the line. Cruz won the four way on the first show for the Staff. Ligero won a three way on the second show for the number one contendership. Dave Mastiff is making his PROGRESS debut here. From what little of him I’ve seen on NXT UK, he’s impressed me. Greg Burridge took the loss in the three way at the last show. Marty Scurll is the referee and he’s probably not going to be an unbiased one as he has issues with both Cruz and Ligero.
The Why: If I’m being entirely honest, I don’t have a damn clue for this one. I expected we’d get Cruz vs. Ligero here, but instead it’s this tag match. Burridge wanting revenge on Ligero makes sense. Burridge wanting a crack at Cruz makes sense. Where Dave Mastiff fits into this is anyone’s guess. As for Scurll, that’s easy. He was cheated out of the title by Cruz at the first show. He had Cruz beat at the second show while the referee was down. Ligero attempted to interfere and superkick Cruz, but Cruz ducked and Ligero wiped out Scurll. Despite not hitting his intended target, Ligero didn’t seem especially upset about it. Cruz got the victory and Scurll got screwed once again. How does this all tie together? Hell if I know. Let’s find out…
The Match: Man, this is a clusterfuck and a half just based on the description I had to type…once again, Cruz is greeted with the ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chants. Probably still my favorite one thus far in PROGRESS…Scurll gestures that he’ll call it down the middle during intros. I doubt that…Ligero and Mastiff are both in NXT UK. I think Burridge is now retired. I think Cruz just came back to wrestling, but I’m not sure…Mastiff’s beard is not nearly as impressive as it is these days…inset promos for only Cruz and Mastiff. Nathan Cruz is laying on the Shawn Michaels impression a bit thick. He is not only the ‘Show-Stealer’, he’s also the ‘Leader of the New Generation’. Bloody hell, mate…opening bell and we’re underway…Burridge and Ligero to start, until Ligero tags out to Cruz…I can’t entirely tell with the accent, but I believe that Burridge is calling Cruz a ‘slag’…I believe Cruz and Burridge are the two biggest guys height wise in PROGRESS (maybe outside of Stixx to this point). I’m almost certain that Mastiff is the heaviest…tags made on both side and we go to Ligero and Mastiff…do believe that Mastiff just called Ligero a cat. Or something similar. It was of the feline variety…Mastiff with a massive delayed vertical…and Burridge comes in to beat the hell out of Ligero…Ligero turns the table by going to the knee of Burridge and takes control…and that explains why Scurll wasn’t allowed to wrestle on this show. It was around the time of his ‘British Boot Camp’ run with TNA. And TNA were being dicks about their people working elsewhere due to not wanting injuries…last few minutes of this match has been all Ligero and Cruz working over Burridge’s knee. Smart wrestling, but not always the most entertaining…the f bombs are flying in this one. Viewer discretion is advised…little bit of in-fighting between Cruz and Ligero leads to Burridge making the tag to Mastiff…even back here some six years ago, Mastiff moves very well for a guy his size…Cruz and Ligero try to work together to suplex Mastiff. It doesn’t go well. Mastiff takes them both over with a double vertical…Ligero clearly gets caught calling a spot. I usually try to get the guys the benefit of the doubt, but that was blatant…Ligero trying to trade shots with Burridge. Why would he want to do that?…breaks down to Ligero and Mastiff in the ring. Top rope cross body attempt by Ligero just bounces off Mastiff. Mastiff tries to climb, but Ligero dropkicks the legs and then hits the Del Rio corner double stomp. Scurll refuses to count for Ligero and shit cans him to the floor…Cruz gets caught in a submission but manages to escape and hit his version of the Whiplash. Again, Scurll refuses to count though…Ligero goes for his tornado DDT, but Cruz tags himself in and sets up for his superkick. He goes for it on Mastiff but Ligero superkicks him mid-move. Ligero again shrugs his shoulders and rolls out of the ring as Mastiff lands on Cruz with a huge cannonball senton in the corner. He pulls Cruz to center ring and a follow-up cover gets the three count for the ‘Bastard’ Dave Mastiff at 18:10…took a bit to get going, but once it did, it was pretty entertaining. I’d say basically the first ten minutes of this match are a wash though, as it’s mostly mat wrestling and then leg work on Burridge that gets completely forgotten about in the closing stretch. I understand the idea of having Ligero and Cruz lose here. I even get the idea of Cruz taking the pinfall. To me, it would have made more sense for Burridge to get the pin since it would validate his point from the last show. Then again, we’d never see Greg Burridge in PROGRESS (to this day, I believe), so in hindsight, Mastiff was the right choice. The first half of the match was average, the closing sequence was pretty good. So we’ll settle in the middle and give this a good rating overall but easily the lowest quality of the three main events to this point. (GOOD)
*Post match: Mastiff gets mic time, saying that he did what he said he was going to do, which was something Scurll couldn’t do. He says that Cruz may be the man around here, but he’ll never be a ‘Bastard’. Mastiff and Burridge exit, with Scurll following shortly behind…Cruz gets the microphone as he’s recovering and points out that he’s still the champ and that picking up a win on the scraps of Ligero means nothing…eventually, it leads to Ligero making his way back out and security having to separate Cruz and Ligero. Smallman yells at them for screwing around at this end of his show and makes the title match official for Chapter 4. Smallman then cuts a quick version of his usual opening promo and we’re officially out for Chapter 3.
Match #1: Noam Dar taps Paul Robinson with a grapevined kneebar @ 11:41 (AVERAGE)
Match #2: BWC Starlo Scholarship Title: Mark Andrews © pins Xander Cooper with a Shooting Star Press @ 8:52 to retain (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #3: Riot Squad (J. Davis/R. Lynch) defeat Darrell Allen and Danny Garnell when Davis pins Allen after a sit out powerbomb @ 12:25 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #4: Jimmy Havoc defeats Jon Ryan by DQ @ 3:36 (N/A (ANGLE ADVANCEMENT))
Match #4b: Hardcore Rules: Jon Ryan pins Jimmy Havoc with a release wheelbarrow suplex through a barbed wire board @ 14:36 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #5: RJ Singh taps Rob Cage with the ‘Ethnic Submission’ (Camel Clutch) @ 7:27 (BELOW AVERAGE)
Match #6: Stixx pins Lion Kid after a Splash Mountain Bomb @ 12:27 (VERY GOOD)
Match #7: Dave Mastiff and Greg Burridge defeat El Ligero and Nathan Cruz when Mastiff pins Cruz following a corner cannonball senton @ 18:10 (GOOD)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
Rather then do positives and negatives here, I feel it’s easier to save those for the Final Reaction going forward. Two reasons for that…one, the Final Reaction gets a bit redundant if I’m typing the same thing there that I am here. Two and just as importantly is it’ll help decrease the length of these reviews a bit.
As far as ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’ goes overall, I’d say it’s the weakest of the three shows thus far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad show. Once again, we top out with a ‘very good’ match on the scale. This time though, we do see the ‘below average’ make a return to the scale as well. Consistency is key and while top to bottom, the shows are watchable, there is nothing really blow away that the company would eventually be known for having show in and show out down the road. We see more stuff coming together for the future of the company and the cream is starting to rise to the top in guys like Scurll, Andrews, Ligero, Cruz and the London Riots.
So, where does this leave us all? Well, it’ll leave me coming back to watch ‘The Ballad of El Ligero’ or PROGRESS Chapter 4. It’ll leave you all hopefully wanting to come back and read when I do so. I’m once again off to find food. Honey Buns sound really good right about now.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Has to be the surprise contest of the evening to me. The super redeeming effort that we got from Lion Kid and Stixx earns them best match.
Worst match/moment: That RJ Singh and Rob Cage match was rough. From both an in ring content and from a ‘suspension of disbelief’ perspective. I’ve seen better from RJ but Cage was a definite disappointment in his first outing here.
MVP: This one is going to go to Dave Mastiff, who debuted in the main event of the show for the company and didn’t even look the slightest bit out of place doing so. Not only did he get to showcase his impressive arsenal, he even got to pin the champion in the center of the ring, even if it was under somewhat dubious methods.
FINAL SCORE: 5.5/10
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter 4: “The Ballad of El Ligero”.
Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!
Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?
ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!
What I Watched #16
ECW Guilty as Charged 1999
Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL
Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)
Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)
- Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
- Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
- Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
- Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
- Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
- Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
- Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15
Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)
Super Crazy vs. Tajiri
Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)
John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent
So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)
Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley
Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…
The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)
TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm
Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.
The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)
Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer
The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of.
As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)
Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz
So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent.
The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)
THE FINAL REACTION
- Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
- Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
- Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
- MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.
It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.
So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.
What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018
Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!
Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.
I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.
What I Watched #10-B
ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018
Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL
Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)
Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)
- Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
- Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
- Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
- Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
- Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
- Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
- Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
- Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
- Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
- Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
- Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44
Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)
*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)
Over the Budget Battle Royal
*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross
*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)
Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)
*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)
Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)
NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)
*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)
‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela
*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)
ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon
*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)
Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)
Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio
*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)
THE FINAL REACTION
There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.
Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.
Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.
Overall Show Score: 8.5/10
MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.
And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.
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