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Chairshot Classics: All In 2018

With Double of Nothing on the horizon, Harry decides to keep the fires stoked by revisiting All In! Relive the precursor to the AEW experience! 

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ALL IN

With Double of Nothing on the horizon, Harry decides to keep the fires stoked by revisiting All In! Relive the precursor to the AEW experience!

Hey everyone and welcome back to ‘What I Watched’. This will be I believe the tenth of these to make air on Chairshot, so little mini milestone there for me. For the links to all of my previous reviews, you can access my archive here on the site by clicking my name at the top of the article. As far as where ‘What I Watched’ goes from here…the obvious answer to that is back to PROGRESS, the reason I came to the Chairshot again in the first place. The first four Chapters are in the archives and the fifth one is in the queue. Work will start on the sixth Chapter shortly, called “We <3 Violence”. In addition, I creep closer and closer to CHIKARA 2005 which is where commentary begins for the company. As such, I’m thinking I may pick that up as a further expansion into the Indies.

Now to why we are here today: On May 25th, All Elite Wrestling officially launches with its first show called ‘Double or Nothing’. Technically though, this isn’t the first show put on by the group who are running things for ‘DoN’ though. Cody (can’t call him Rhodes legally), the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega tried their luck at the promoter thing before (yes, technically the Bucks did with PWG, but still) as they ran a joint show with Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling called ‘All In’. In order to get everyone ready for ‘Double or Nothing’, I decided to take a long back at where it all began. All this said, it’s into the way back machine as we head to the Sears Centre in suburban Chicago. We head to September 1st, 2018 as ‘What I Watched’ presents ‘All In’.

WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews are meant to be more of a stream of consciousness review. The idea being that while I will do some play by play when the time calls for it, I’ll also 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.

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.

WRITER’S DEDICATION: Though he has nothing specifically to do with this show, this review is dedicated to the memory of Silver King. As a teenager getting back into wrestling in the early 2000s, one of the first things I got was a copy of WCW Fall Brawl 1998 on VHS. The show by and large sucks, there’s no denying that. But one of the highlights for me was the Cruiserweight title match between Juventud Guerrera and Silver King. Vaya con Dios, amigo.

ROH/NJPW/Friends: ‘All In’
From: Sears Centre in Chicago, IL (technically Hoffman Estates, IL)
Date: September 1st, 2018
Total Run Time: 4:45:24
Announcers: Ian Riccaboni, Excalibur and Don Callis

*GENERAL NOTES: I must give credit where credit is due. It looks impressive. A lot of people were worried that the Bucks and Cody’s vision wouldn’t translate into an arena setting and it clearly does.

*I found the Zero Hour pre-show on YouTube, so much the same way as I did for the ‘United We Stand’ PPV; we cover the pre-show first.

ROH/NJPW/Friends: ‘Zero Hour’ (47:27)
*Young Bucks and Cody kick off the pre-show. Makes sense to get them out there early…it’s a pretty basic segment. Couple of inside jokes get tossed around, a light amount of pyro goes off and the Bucks introduce their wrestling legend of choice for this show: Road Warrior Animal in full get-up, who rides a motorcycle into the area. Being in Chicago, the use of the Road Warriors makes sense…The Bucks and Cody then shoot some t-shirts into the crowd with help from the Pro Wrestling Tee’s and Hot Topic representatives.

*Pro Wrestling Tee’s commercial. It’s so campy that it works. I’m not sponsored by them though, so no links from me…

*Match #1: Kazarian/Scorpio Sky (representing SCU (So Cal Uncensored) vs. Jay/Mark Briscoe
The Who: Frankie Kazarian is a former multiple time TNA/Impact X Division champion and actually briefly had a run with the WWE back in the early 2000s (2003, I think?) Scorpio Sky has appeared for TNA as well as Mason Andrews. He’s probably the least nationally exposed of the four men in this contest though. Jay and Mark Briscoe are long considered one of the best tag teams in independent wrestling. They were even briefly on the WWE’s radar before some comments from Jay’s past came out that caused interest to lean away. They are multiple time ROH tag team champions and I think have held the NJPW tag belts before as well (but I’m not sure on that)
The Why: Sadly, I am not fully caught up on Being the Elite to this point, so I don’t really have a proper answer for this.
The Match: It’s nice to see Justin Roberts again. Always thought he was really good at what he did…believe your referee is Paul Turner. This show is an Indies whose who, even down to the referees…quickie promo from SCU to do what SCU does…little surprised to see the Briscoes on the pre-show, but this would be a best foot forward situation. Throw out names people may have heard of and use them to attract potential viewers for the pending PPV. Let’s not forget that ‘Zero Hour’ aired live on WGN America right before the ‘All In’. It is, in essence, an episode of Sunday Night Heat before the PPV in WWF/E terms…I miss the days of the guys using music on the Indies. ‘Give Me Back My Bullets’ fit the Briscoes so well…opening bell here…the YouTube version of this does not have the amount of time of commercials listed, so the total time at the end of this match and the battle royal will be what aired…Kazarian and Jay start…one would have to think this would be the biggest crowd any of these four have performed in front of…okay, maybe Kazarian in his WWE run. Maybe…I feel that Riccaboni’s presence isn’t necessary here. It’s not that I don’t like him, but I feel like Excalibur doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves a PBP guy and Callis is more then capable of handling color…it was quite impressive that they got all these companies to work together. It didn’t last long, but fun while it lasted…they were trending worldwide. Because of course that’s a thing…Briscoe’s are so smooth in the ring. The characters are rough around the edges, but Dem Boyz can go…I dig Scorpio’s Rocky attire. Given that SCU have been established as the faces here, it works on multiple levels…hot tag!…two Briscoes for the price of one there. Nice combination offense by Kazarian…I’m trying not to do as much in the way of PBP during this show. It’s going to be ten matches, so that would be an incredibly long review…Scorpio with an overhead belly2belly to Mark, throwing him from the ring into an involuntary plancha on Jay. Well then…well played Kaz. Well played…Scorpio gets the tope con hilo and Excalibur calls the tope con hello. Again, why is Ian necessary?…we’ve officially lost all track of who is and isn’t legal…Jay is such a bastard…and now the Briscoes have singled out the neck of Kazarian…in previous reviews, I’ve talked about how much I like LAX’s double teams. The Briscoes have one of my favorites as well with ‘Redneck Boogie’ (powerbomb with a leaping neckbreaker assist)…take a Briscoe home night at ‘All In’…Scorpio’s agility is quite impressive…uranage lungblower combo. I’ve seen that before but can’t remember who. Feels like a PROGRESS thing…oh, I bit real hard on Froggy Bow as the finish there…Briscoe’s calling for the Doomsday. Mark leaps right into a powerslam from Kaz off Jay’s shoulders! Scorpio comes charging with a bicycle knee to Jay and it’s a three count for Kaz on Mark at 12:35…that was VERY GOOD. 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.

*Backstage interview with Kenny Omega and I think that’s Alicia Atout. I’m not sure though…they poke fun at the WWE interviewer stance and the tippy toes promos. Kenny then addresses the match with Pentagon Jr. later on in the show. Pretty basic Kenny interview other then the bit at the top.

*Hype video airs for Aldis vs. Cody using ‘All In’ by Downstrait (the band that does Miz’s theme). It’s really nicely done. Production is key for these kind of events and so far, they’ve been on point here.

*Match #2: Over the Budget Battle Royal
The Who: Yeah, not a chance you are getting an individual breakdown here. Sorry, not sorry.
The Why: Winner of this battle royal would go on to the main PPV itself to face Jay Lethal for the ROH World Heavyweight championship.
The Match: A lot of dudes (and Jordynne Grace) surrounding the ring before we get started and we go back over to commentary to see that Dalton Castle has decided to grace us…fans decide to serenade Bully with a ‘Bully’s an asshole’ chant…opening bell here…I hope you guys aren’t expecting a lot from me here. It’s a battle royal, which I don’t rate based on sheer principle…hey, Hurricane!…I think Chico is out as Bully powerbombs him through the timekeepers table…Ethan Page just kicked Jordynne square in the goddamn face! That was just wrong, man…maybe a battle royal but the dives are coming in bunches…Moose is over as a face here which is weird given that he’s such an asshat in Impact…and Marko Stunt may die…Ethan Page is such an asshole…Brian Cage just Cesaro superplexed Tommy Dreamer. I don’t have the words to describe how strong Brian Cage is…the problem I have with reviewing battle royals is there is a lot and nothing going on at the same time. There’s a lot of people in the match, but most of them are just collected by the ropes except for pockets of action here and there…Trent and Chuckie T work well together. I hope they get a good run in AEW proper. Trent’s one of those guys that every company could use, similar to a Curt Hawkins. He’s never going to be a high end star but he’s a dependable hand who does what’s asked of him with no questions asked. And Chuck Taylor is just awesome…and they are then booted by Punishment Martinez, who is now in NXT…and Cage has had enough of Romero’s shit, pitching him from the ring during the forever clotheslines…Cheeseburger is picking a fight with Brian Cage and then ends poorly for him…step-up frankensteiner by Cage. Tilt-a-whirl head scissors by Martinez. It’s BIG BOY LUCHA~!…Hurri-Chokeslam, bitch!…Ethan Page puts an end to that fun…and Colt Cabana puts an end to Ethan Page’s night with a flying asshole. Wait, it’s basic cable. Flying apple…Dreamer turning the clock back and then Bubba pitches him…Jimmy Jacobs ring gear is unique…think we are down to ten? Maybe? I’ve lost count…Martinez is a big dude…Jesus, Austin Gunn. The apron is your friend, man…get some, Marko…not from Bully, Marko…Brian Cage does not give a…and this is where Jordynne makes her name, eliminating Brian Cage…once again, Bully is there to ruin the fun…okay, that was fun from Jordynne and Colt…but now it’s down to Bully and Colt as Bully chucks Jordynne…Bully never hits that senton…and Bully pitches him…wait, Chico isn’t dead, thwacking Bully with a superkick. Chico unmasks as Flip Gordon, who had been begging for a spot on the show on Being the Elite all the way to All In and then throws out Bully for the win at 17:11…it was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have gotten to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling and Jordynne Grace 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. (N/R)

*Ian shills the ways to watch the PPV and runs down the card one more time. It is quite the fun looking card. That’ll do it for the pre-show. Let’s move to the main card…

ROH/NJPW/Friends: ‘All In’ (3:57:57)
*Justin Roberts is the first face we see and he introduces the Shalandra Royal, who does the national anthem. She does a fine job with it, but I don’t see the need for this here. USA is great and all, but it’s a multinational show card, guys…the pyro during the anthem was a nice touch though. Over the budget indeed…over to the announce table, where it’s still the same announcers, who again plug the main matches on the card. Let’s do this, shall we?

*Match #3: Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross
The Who: Maxwell Jacob Friedman is one of the hottest acts on the indies. While he’s not great in the ring, he plays smug douche about as well as humanly possible. Matt Cross may indeed be the best kept secret in pro wrestling. He only briefly had national exposure during his run on WWE Tough Enough (technically, he was on Lucha Underground but under a mask as Son of Havoc) but he’s been doing this almost twenty years and has developed into one of the most consistent performers anywhere.
The Why: Can’t say I have an answer for this, but the match should be good.
The Match: Going to completely disagree with my Chairshot colleague Andrew Balaz here. I actually really like what MJF has done for himself. He is not ‘Dollar Store EC3’…that is a really long ramp by any standard, let alone indie standards…referee is Todd Sinclair and the opening bell is here at…Ian taking a page from the WWE school of announcers by talking about Twitter trends…Cross hits the Ricochet pose on a backflip counter…and MJF is a jerk. Shocker…apparently MJF working the sheets by not flipping to get over. Cross does flip to get over as Riccaboni and Excalibur call the Sasuke Special in stereo. Try saying that five times fast…the thing with MJF is he doesn’t do anything flashy. He’s more of a throwback to the old school heel type. Something that you don’t get a lot today in modern wrestling…I can see why the Bucks and Cody wanted MJF. He’s the opposite of everything the Bucks are known for. For a wrestling promotion, diversity is key. The old cliché is that pro wrestling is like the circus. Some come for the lions; some come for the elephants; some for the clowns. In wrestling, you have those who watch for high flyers; those who watch for the catch as catch can and there are those who watch just to see a dislikeable person get punched in the face…gutwrench powerbomb with an arm trap. I can’t say I’ve ever seen that…I believe that Cross has been wrestling almost as long as MJF has been alive…top-rope frankensteiner by Cross. Nice…I do appreciate that Cross is still selling the arm when he’s on offense here. It’s the little things that a veteran like that does that makes a match mean more…package piledriver position into a shoulder breaker by MJF. A modern twist on an old school move…and MJF does flip. But follows it with an eye poke…Stomp 182 by Cross leaves both men down, however…slow cover by Cross gets two but MJF turns the kickout into a upside down version of the cross-arm-breaker…rope hang piledriver only gets two. I hate that. Especially in an opening match…Don Callis is sounding more and more like Scott Hudson…rope catch cutter by Cross sets up the Shooting Star Press. Outside of Paul London’s, Cross may have the best one in wrestling. That’s a three count at 10:07…GOOD little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside, they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I hope Cross gets a chance with AEW and we know MJF will be so looking forward to them running this back at some point down the road. Strong start to the show.

*Backstage to an interview with Nick Aldis, hosted by Sean Mooney. Sean Mooney in 2018. Good for him, man…Ian Riccaboni screwed up here as he said Mooney was with Christopher Daniels. First technical gaff of the show, but I’ll put that down to a learning mistake…Aldis does look like a proper champion, I’ll give him that. Plus, he gets to go home to Mickie James. Clearly, when it comes to life, Nick Aldis is winning…Riccaboni tries to cover as we come back to the announcers. The match now up is Daniels and Amell, so wires got crossed somewhere…

*Match #4: Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: The ‘New Reffin Show’ Jerry Lynn)
The Who: Christopher Daniels and I will be incredibly biased saying this, is one of my favorite wrestlers ever. He’s done everything except have a marquee run with the WWF (and he was a tag team champion there. Kinda. It’s a long story). Stephen Amell is Arrow on the TV show on The CW. You’ll probably know him from his run towards SummerSlam against Cody a couple years back. Jerry Lynn is a former ECW Heavyweight champion, multiple time TNA X Division champion and another one of those perpetually under-rated guys who will hopefully get some more screen time with AEW, even if it’s in a non wrestling capacity (such as referee here)
The Why: I really wish I’d been able to follow the Being the Elite episodes going into this show, but sadly time got away from me working on the Impact reviews. The story as to why is contained in there though should you all be so inclined.
The Match: This is where video packages like the one for Aldis-Cody would have served this show well. I know they interacted on Being the Elite but I haven’t seen the episode since it first aired and didn’t have time to go back and re-watch it. An informed crowd is a more invested crowd after all…Amell is accompanied to the ring by Josh Segarra, one of his co-stars on Arrow…Excalibur lays it out that while Amell is undefeated so far in wrestling, he’s only had tag matches. Never a singles match…Scorpio and Kazarian accompany Daniels to the ring as Ian Riccaboni points out that Daniels is in his twenty fifth year as a professional wrestler. That’s just insane to me. I was eight when he started…opening bell goes here…give Amell this much, he physically matches up well with Daniels. Slightly taller and probably around the same build and weight. Experience is clearly with the ‘Fallen Angel’ here though…bodily fluids should not be weapons…and Daniels does the Curry Man dance…Amell returns the takedown and bows. Daniels proceeds to beat his ass in the corner…that dropkick was Erik Watts level, Stephen. Not a compliment…Amell grabs a table, because apparently toys for everybody today…back suplex with a release throws Amell for a flip. Apparently, Amell is the heel here because the fans are definitely pro Daniels. Color me surprised…vertical suplex lift into a gut buster by Daniels. Been a while since I’ve seen that one…not a lot of fire on those back elbows there by Amell…Arabian Press by Daniels but no cover follows. Feel like Daniels is out to prove a point to Amell…Amell goes for Cross Rhodes but Daniels has it scouted having wrestled Cody for the ROH title. A basement superkick by Amell sets up a (admittedly rough looking) Falcon Arrow for two. A for moveset, C- for effort…Excalibur pops me by saying that he didn’t quite ‘do the deal’ since he didn’t get all of the Falcon. Well said, Excalibur…Amell looks terribly gassed…alright, that was impressive. Props were it due, Stephen. Daniels leans in like a professional to make sure it landed…Daniels isn’t immune to the sloppiness of this match as the B.M.E. doesn’t land fully clean and thus gets two…not sure why I just thought of this but another reason Daniels had the counter for Cross Rhodes is because he uses the move himself. He just calls it ‘Last Rites’…Daniels looks for a superplex to the floor through the table. That’s clearly not happening though…Amell knocks Daniels down to the apron and he rolls over to be on the table. Convenient placing…Amell goes for the flying elbow drop, but Daniels moves and Amell eats table…double count by the New Reffin Show as the fans chant ‘Broken Arrow’…Lynn puts both men back in the ring and Daniels does not appreciate being man handled by the zebra…a tiff breaks out resulting in a roll-up by Amell but Daniels kicks out, thankfully. That would have pissed me off to no end if it was the finish…Lynn keeps pulling Daniels back until Amell gives Daniels the double national bird. Excalibur again pops me on commentary: ‘Stephen Amell is an adult. He can make his own bad decisions’…gut shot by Daniels sets up Angel’s Wings which Amell counters nicely with a northern lights for two. Reminded me of LowKi at Lockdown in 2005 (I think?). Daniels up first though and a uranage backbreaker of sorts puts Amell down where this time, a proper Best Moonsault Ever gets the three count at 11:45…when this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on it. 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 solid 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.

*Post-match: Amell and Daniels make good by shaking hands. Indie respect for everyone. Isn’t it wonderful…over to commentary as Don Callis bails to go talk to Kenny Omega. In his place sits Tenille Dashwood (the former Emma of WWE) and Mandy Leon (who I just typed Rose for out of habit). Both ladies are there representing the Women of Honor for ROH. Tenille has since left ROH and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her land in AEW. Mandy is still dating Delirious and therefore still with ROH (it ain’t for her wrestling ability). It looks like the women’s four way is next.

*Match #5: Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
The Who: Britt Baker is now officially signed to AEW. In addition to being a pro wrestler, she also may have the distinction of world’s hottest dentist as she has an actual Doctorate in Dental Studies. Britt also comes out to Adam Cole’s old ROH theme song. I’m sure you can guess why that is. Madison Rayne we’ve covered many times before in ‘What I Watched’. She’s now back with Impact, so clearly she won’t be in AEW going forward. Chelsea Green is the former Laurel Von Ness from Impact. She just recently made her NXT debut but unfortunately broke her hand in that match. Tessa Blanchard, I mean, do I really have to? In the ten of these I’ve done, this is her fifth appearance. You know who she is by now. For those who don’t, Tessa may be the best woman’s wrestler in the world right now.
The Why: A way to get a woman’s match on the show. No real implications outside of that as far as I’m aware of.
The Match: At the time, this may have been three of the most well known female talents on the Indies in there with Britt. Now, all four of them have full time contracts. Not really a surprise given the talent level and let’s be honest, the visual appeal of all four ladies…Tessa comes into this match as the Knockouts champion. She would lose that title on the last show we covered here, Homecoming 2019. It’s in my archives…Tully showed up for Tessa at Rebellion 2019 as well, which Andrew has covered here on Chairshot. I will get to that show closer to Slammiversary…opening bell…Madison shakes hands with Britt and Chelsea. She tries to shake hands with Tessa and Tessa belts her with forearm. Good. Get that respect stuff out of here…so, I’m curious as to tornado rules or actual tag format. You never know with these Four Way Survivals…Chelsea seems to like herself. The fans seem to like her too…save you want a revolution, well, you know…Tessa cuts Chelsea off with a spear, so tornado rules it would seem…that was not the Magnum. The Magnum is the top rope one. That was just a corner chestblower…Ian plugs ROH Death Before Dishonor. Don’t think there will be a ROH plug anymore on AEW TV…Tessa shows off the strength, but Britt and Chelsea turn the tables. I will give Riccaboni credit here. He does bring up that Chelsea and Britt have teamed together before. ‘Fire and Nice’ if memory serves for the team name…again, Tessa knocks someone stiff with a forearm. Chelsea this time…that dive looked rough, Tessa. I think she clipped the rope…Madison up to the top and a cross body to the floor. Looked good too. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Rayne. She’s competent but nothing special, in my opinion…you get a Slingblade. You get a Slingblade. It’s Oprah Rules here at All In…I think Tessa may be the strongest of the four here. It’s probably close though…Chelsea with a Broski Boot to Tessa, complete with Woo Woo Woo’s. I think at one point all four of these ladies were either married to or dating wrestlers. It’s really not a surprise. Wrestling is one of those business where you get close to people because you spend so much time traveling with them. Especially if you are working for the same company or taking similar dates at various indies…Excalibur with a nice cover for it, calling it a Shinjiro Ohtani style face wash…Chelsea just smokes Tessa with a missile dropkick…Madison looking for something off the ropes with Baker, but it gets badly blown…Baker with a superkick to Chelsea. Tessa hits Magnum (the top-rope one) on Chelsea. Britt superkicks Tessa. A cover on Chelsea only gets two though. I bit there. Nice near fall…its kind of falling apart towards the end here. Up to this point, everything had flowed quite nicely, but you can tell these four are gassed at this point…alright, that crucifix bomb looked really good. Props to Madison and Tessa for that…fisherwoman’s neckbreaker. Ian again goes the Twitter route. He’s like baby Michael Cole…breaks down to Chelsea and Tessa, where a Canadian Destroyer by the ‘Hot Mess Express’ only gets two…both ladies back up and Chelsea looks to capitalize but Tessa is out and counters Chelsea into the Buzzsaw DDT. The cover afterwards gets the three count just before Britt Baker can make the save at 12:43…I don’t know if that pin was supposed to be broken up, but given where everyone was in their respective companies, Tessa getting the win here makes sense. As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost it’s way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say an ABOVE AVERAGE effort from the ladies and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed.

*Post-match: They don’t show the finish on the replay, but all the ladies hug it out as the fans approve. They served themselves well….back over to commentary we go. Either Mandy’s microphone didn’t work very well or she didn’t say a whole lot during that previous match. I definitely heard Tenille and that Australian accent of hers. Either way, the ladies excuse themselves and Brent Tarring joins us. Had to look him up because I had no clue who he was. Apparently, he was Timmy Baltimore when he worked for OVW as an interviewer and commentator. Found an article with his full story online. Tragic, but inspiring.

*Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)
The Who: Nick Aldis is the former Magnus in TNA, where he was a former Heavyweight champion there. If I am not mistaken, Aldis beat Colt Cabana for the NWA title. I’ll have to look that up to be sure, though. Cody Rhodes doesn’t really need an introduction but for those who don’t know, he’s one of the driving forces behind this show along with the Young Bucks. He’s also the son of Dusty Rhodes and the half (I think) brother of Goldust, who Cody will face at Double or Nothing.
The Why: Cody wants to follow in his father’s footsteps with the infamous ‘ten pounds of gold’. What better place to do so then in an NWA stronghold city like Chicago on a show that Cody is promoting?
The Match: Before the match, we replay the video package that aired during the ‘Zero Hour’ pre-show. Still say they should have done more of these videos…sweet jesus, what is Brandi wearing? Or more specifically, not wearing. Good lord…it’s an MMA entrance for Cody. DDP, Glacier and Tommy Dreamer in his camp. There’s a dog in Cody’s entrance as well. Ian calls him Pharaoh. I’ll assume he’s on Being the Elite or Brandi’s video blog…very loud ‘Cody’ chant. Obviously he’s the face here. But I do like that the champ enters second…I can’t imagine what it going through Cody’s mind. All the time and energy spent getting to tonight and for it to finally become a reality. Will that pressure affect his performance or will he raise to the moment? I’ve never been the biggest fan of Cody as a singles wrestler. Let’s see if he can buck that trend…Aldis has Shawn Daivari, Tim Storm and Jeff Jarrett with him. I sense clusterfuck afoot…I do miss the days of actual theme music, as I mentioned earlier. The instrumental Aldis comes out to is cool, but it doesn’t feel championship like…little surprised Bobby Cruise has the ring introductions instead of Justin Roberts…ring intros do make this match feel like a big deal…Earl Hebner is apparently a robot. He’s not aged in two decades…opening bell here…fans are definitely into this one. Loud ovation right after the opening bell…Cody with a cartwheel. Aldis with the Shawn Michaels ‘laying across the buckles’ in response…pretty basic start to the match about three minutes in. Taking their time to build to something, which I like…Cody with a suicide dive. Not something we usually see from him. He hit it flush too…focus goes to the back of Cody after Aldis sends him into the ring post…we’re working a very methodical pace here. As I said, the fans are into it which helps…that superkick missed by a good foot. Nice attempt to sell it by Aldis, but no…thus far, I do like that they have each other well scouted. It plays into the importance of the contest for both…double springboard dive to the floor and Cody caught that elbow flush. Would not be surprised if he comes up bleeding…Hebner throws up the X which may be legit or may be Cody and friends working the fans. We all know how Being the Elite leans ‘smark’ heavy…DDP comes out to catch on Cody as we’ve grinded to a halt…Cody is NOT busted open and Daivari comes down to shove DDP aside, calling for the towel to be thrown in…BANG~!!…not bad for a sixty year old. Hell, Page may even be seventy at this point…I think Hebner just ejected Page…and now Cody is bleeding. Alright, I’m calling shenanigans on this one. I get the story they want to tell with it, but that was blatant. The old wrestling adage is that ‘red equals green’. I need to be able to suspend my disbelief for that to equate and it doesn’t here…powerslam almost drops Aldis on his head…Cody is getting what I’ve come to know as ‘Corino Hair’…moonsault press was nice but no water in the pool…second rope fall away slam. Everything Aldis has done in this match has been on point…little quick for Cody to get back on the attack, but it’s a historically significant move. Both his father and his father’s greatest rivals used it…Aldis gets swept on the apron at the attempt on the PK, but catches Cody in a running PS on the floor…Cody’s back gives out on an Alabama Slam attempt. He gets it at the second time with an adrenaline burst. I actually do like that. Sell what’s happened, give the fans a chance to rally you, pay it off…Cody goes for the Disaster Kick (I think he calls it the Beautiful Disaster now), but Aldis ducks. A quick powerbomb gets two for Nick and Aldis puts on the Kingsland Cloverleaf…Ian raises a good point here. Very loose grip by Aldis. Sells the fatigue of the match thus far as we come up on seventeen minutes in…Cody keeping a bridge to ease the pressure but the back gives out once. It gives out a second time as Brandi encourages Cody. Third time, Cody gets to the ropes…Jesus, that looked rough. High angle piledriver…Aldis going up and looking for the flying elbow drop. Brandi tries to talk Aldis out of it, but Nick to the top and he drops the elbow on Brandi as she covers Cody! That’s a hell of a bump for someone who is a part time wrestler at best…Aldis does a hell of a job selling that he was aiming for Cody and that Brandi got in the way…paint brush slap by Aldis but Cody circles him at the ropes and hits the Beautiful Disaster. Cross Rhodes only gets two though…trading shots in the center for the Yay-Boo chant. Cody gets the edge and goes for the Vertebreaker, but Aldis escapes. Aldis goes for the Cross Rhodes and Cody snapmares his way out. Cody does duck his head too soon and Aldis goes up and over on a sunset flip, but Cody sits down on it, hooks the legs and that’s a three count at 22:03…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.

*Post-match: Crowd erupts as Cody is given the ‘ten pounds of gold’. Aldis would go onto regain it at the NWA’s 70th Anniversary Show, which is another show I’ve considered covering. It’s a good moment though…side note, I need to give Cody’s song a full listen. Sounds like something I’d rock on my Winamp…this post-match is taking a very long time. Knowing what we know about how the main event goes, this may have had something to do with it…Brent Tarring leaves the commentary booth and Don Callis takes back over as the color commentator.

*Match #7: ‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela
The Who: Adam Page aka ‘Hangman’ is going to be one of the primary players in AEW going forward. He’s someone who has grown significantly on me from the first time I saw him as I was not impressed but now, I’ve comes to respect his abilities. Joey Janela is another one of those guys who can lay the claim to being one of the hottest acts on the Indies. His ‘Spring Break’ shows with GCW have been some of the craziest we’ve seen in recent years in addition to being some of the best. While he’s nothing great in the ring, he carries himself like a star and for a company such as this, that’s super important.
The Why: We actually get a video for this one too! See, this is what I asked for…Adam Page destroyed Joey Ryan because he was jealous of the rest of the Elite being hung up on Ryan’s gimmick. Wait, that came out wrong. Anyway, Joey Janela stands up for Joey Ryan here since Joey is unable to rise for himself.
The Match: Janela doesn’t get as strong of a reaction as I suspected he would. He didn’t have a ton of exposure on BtE going into All In, so I’m not surprised. I do think he’ll be a good addition for AEW though. Plus, Penelope Ford is gorgeous. This will be nothing but help raise her stock as well…Britt, Penelope and Brandi. The era of the diva is once again upon us in AEW. That’s not to say they can’t wrestle, because I can’t make that judgment. I’ve not seen enough of any of them. I meant diva more so in the way they carry themselves…Ian and Callis mention here what I did about Janela. The fact that he’s built his brand as well as he has speaks without any major access to do speaks to the gritty entrepreneurial attitude that Janela possesses…Page definitely looks his gimmick…Ian points out that Adam has a thing against Joey’s. Excalibur then adds “if I was the inventor of the tree of whoa, Joey Lawrence, I’d be worried”. Pretty sure he stole that joke from Dave Prazak. It popped me anyway…apparently, murder is legal in AEW. As long as it was justified…opening bell here…Janela loses the head band early and Page catches Janela with a suicide dive. Janela fires back with a (cleaner) one of his own…don’t expect a whole lot of actual grounded wrestling moves here. That sequence was inside the first minute…Page redeems the suicide dive with a beautiful moonsault to the floor…pumphandle throw into an open chair by Page. That looked cool…it’s a cracker barrel. Of course, it is…I mean a Cracker Barrel barrel…alright, the tope con hilo off the barrel was pretty cool. Chair to step up and then flips off the barrel…Page just Super Mario’s over the barrel and then EZ Money’d over the barricade into a huge lariat…Page grabs a table as Don busts Ian’s balls for putting over he and Excalibur’s careers as wrestlers…Page looking for a superplex to the floor but Janela has none of it, pulling out Page with a Blu-Ray (DVD into the buckles)…ladder next and bridged from the ring on the barrel…burning hammer on the ladder. That just seems excessive, man…Ian: ‘Don’t give him any ideas, Don’. Don: ‘It’s a Chicago Street Fight. He (Page) can murder whoever he wants’…Penelope into the ring to help Janela, slapping Adam in the face. Penelope backflips out of a couple clothesline attempts and a stunner sends Page to the floor. Penelope beats him around ringside over towards the table where a Janela flying elbow of the buckle above puts Page through it…this is one of those spot, rest, spot, rest kinda brawls that I don’t care for. I get the reasoning why. They pop the live crowd. But to a fan such as I watching at home, it’s not nearly as captivating…towards the entrance ramp and stage they go…long way to go just for a lariat there…table number two and three out and set in the entrance way…okay, that was brutal. And I don’t Page got all of it, because Janela only made it to one of the tables. Ouch…Page brings Janela back to the ring. Another EZ Money flipping lariat (Page calls it the Buckshot) sets up the Rite of Passage (Beach Break or down the back Tombstone) for two when Penelope makes the save…and the bag Penelope made the save with have the boots that have been talking to Page. Penelope goes to grab a boot and Page superkicks her. Janela superkicks Page but only gets two…Janela out to the floor to get a ladder and a table. Setup in the ring and Page set up on the table. Janela climbs the ladder before Page greets him. Page pulls the phone that he murdered Joey with out of the other bag and clocks Janela in the head with it, stopping him on the top of the ladder. Page then hooks Janela for and delivers Rite of Passage off the ladder through the table. The three count is academic there at 20:09…it 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 of a downtime in this one. Honestly, to me anyway, Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say ABOVE AVERAGE but nothing I’d probably go back and re-watch. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it.

*Post-match: I’m sure if you are reading this, you’ve probably seen the show or have at least heard what happens here. I won’t go into too many details here because I don’t want to give it away if you don’t know what to expect. There’s some serious ‘sports entertainment’ going on here though, just as a heads up. My thoughts on it all: indifference to be frank. It’s part of Joey’s shtick, which we discussed on the United We Stand review. I don’t love it myself but here, it’s a satisfying payoff to the story they told on the way to ‘All In’.

*Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon
The Who: Jay Lethal is the (at this point now) former ROH champion, but was the champion here, obviously. Most people will know him from his run as ‘Black Machismo’ in TNA/Impact, but he’s a very reliable hand. Flip Gordon won the ‘Over the Budget’ battle royal to get to this spot. He had been petitioning for a spot on ‘All In’ to Cody and the Bucks for weeks to no avail on Being the Elite.
The Why: As mentioned, Flip Gordon won the battle royal on the pre-show to get this opportunity here on the main card. Pretty self-explanatory.
The Match: Crowd is definitely behind Gordon. They gave him a loud reaction for his win in the ‘Over the Budget’ and they are chanting his name to his music here as well…Brandi accompanies Flip to the ring as Don rants about Flip trying to scoop Brandi. I feel like that plays out in AEW down the road, unless Flip signed with ROH…and speaking of ‘Black Machismo’…not only is Lethal coming out as ‘Black Machismo’, he’s got Lanny Poffo (brother of Randy Savage) accompanying him. That’s a pretty cool moment for Lethal. I’m fairly certain Savage before he passed said that he approved of Lethal’s impression as well. This is yet another seal of approval to that. I don’t think ‘Machismo’ is something that would work on a full time basis anymore, but as a one off, it’s very cool none the less…to my knowledge, it has been quite a while since he’s pulled out ‘Black Machismo’…it does make sense that Bobby Cruise has this match…crowd reactions seem to be pretty split here…cool to see Cary Silkin get a moment. Guy doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves for what ROH was at it’s peak…Lethal’s mannerisms are so spot on with it…dig it, opening bell here, uh huh…alright, the bit where Lethal confuses Brandi for Liz makes me chuckle, probably more then it should given what we know now…lots of arm drags. It’s like Savage vs. Steamboat for the next generation…Lethal gives chase to Brandi. Brandi informs him that she is not Liz, Lethal lifts her up on the shoulders in the Liz pose anyway…I don’t like all the insider terms just getting tossed around on commentary. Reminds me way too much of WCW circa 2000. Nobody wants that back in their lives…Gordon chains moves together really well. The soccer kick into the standing moonsault, for example…is it possible that Flip Gordon was Alex Koslov in a previous life? I’ve seen those kip ups before…trio of dives by Gordon have him in firm control of the match…corkscrew frog splash. That was new…there’s a lot happening. Too much to call. But the fans are more into the antics here then any kind of back and forth wrestling…having this match follow a brawl in Page and Janela may not have done these guys any favors…Gordon with an impressive springboard kick and goes for the 450, landing on his feet when Lethal rolls in. Lethal then gets the Lethal Combination (backbreaker into Flatliner) for two…Lethal calls for the Lethal Injection but Flip with an O’Connor Roll, followed by a Falcon Arrow, prompting the trademark call from Excalibur. Unlike Excalibur’s claim, Lethal does kick out…both men back up and Gordon goes for the springboard but gets caught in a torture rack. Lethal then gets a inverted Finlay roll and looks for the Lethal Injection, but Poffo up on the apron to thwack Jay in the shoulder, triggering Machismo once again…center ring slam and Lethal goes up for ‘Hail to the King’. A second and third follow, but Gordon is out at two. Strongly disagree with that…oh lord, he’s turning into Flip Hogan…this is absolutely absurd…okay, that Pele brings us back. Thank god…man, he really is a Flip, isn’t he? Two back to back moves I’ve never seen before to set up the Cancun Tornado, which was perfectly executed…Flip goes for a top-rope frankensteiner, but Lethal stops it. Gordon kicks out of a super bomb attempt and goes for Kinder, but Lethal stops it an avalanche ace crusher. The Lethal Injection follows and that’s a three count at 14:25…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 nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out ‘Black Machismo’ again.

*Post-match: Lethal and Gordon shake hands after the match before Bully Ray comes down to attack both of them. Bully using a chain to take out Flip Gordon to continue their beef from Ring of Honor…Lanny Poffo attempts to make the save, Bully Ray kicks him in the balls. Because I’m a terrible person, I laugh…how do you not know what Bully is looking for, announcers?…and Cabana makes the save to a loud home Chicago reaction…and the trio of Colt, Flip and Jay put Bully through his own table with a triple powerbomb…back over to the announcers, where they get us ready for Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

*Match #9: Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
The Who: Kenny Omega is the 2019 ‘PWI 500’ number one. He has had critically acclaimed matches throughout Japan and is very well known by most independent wrestling fans despite not having a major stay in the US. Pentagon Jr., this is like the sixth time I’ve covered him and with good reason. Everyone on the US Indies wants a piece of both Pentagon and his brother Fenix. They tore the house down with LAX at Homecoming and Pentagon Jr. has the best match in the return of ‘What I Watched’ with the war with Sami Callihan at Slammiversary.
The Why: Two of the best wrestlers in the world squaring off. Sometimes, you don’t need any more of a story then that.
The Match: I don’t feel the need to add much here. This should be fantastic…reaction for Pentagon was loud but I think Kenny’s was louder…Kenny gets pyro too. That makes sense though. He’s Elite. He’s He’s Elite…Kenny had just won the IWGP Heavyweight title at Dominion two months prior. Obviously non-title here, but it’s a matter of pride…opening bell goes here as Excalibur mentions that Pentagon Jr. is coming off the main event of Triple Mania for AAA just a week prior. These might be the two biggest names not associated with the WWE in wrestling. If not the two biggest, certainly two of the top five…and Omega with a pie face…Omega tries to back roll and Penta kicks him square in the stomach…this is going to be one of those matches where I don’t say much because I’ll be caught up in the match itself…Kenny sets up for the Terminator dive, but Penta cuts him off with Slingblade. Omega out the floor and Penta soars with a no hands tope con hilo. Super smooth all of it…95 kilos looks to be what? About 240 lbs? To Google, where I find out that it’s only 209. He looks bigger then 209 pounds…the mats on the floor help a little but that powerslam probably sucked for Omega…Paul Turner never counted anyone. In fairness, I wouldn’t want a riot on my hands either…this match has leaned significantly more towards Pentagon then I thought it would be…Kenny doesn’t even have to call for the dive, as the Terminator clap starts. Instead, it’s a springboard frog splash to a standing Pentagon. That looked really cool despite almost losing his footing…everything Omega does is precise. Pinpoint precision on the missile dropkick…superkick counter to the V Trigger sets up a counter sequence. Kenny gets the better and gets the snap dragon. One Winged Angel attempt is countered into a lungblower for two, though…Pentagon to the top floor and a double stomp meets canvas as Omega rolls in. Another counter exchange leads to a DVD from Kenny. I don’t think these two have had a singles before but they are flowing really well…Omega looks for the avalanche brainbuster but Pentagon out into a tree of whoa double stomp. I still hate that move, but at least the setup here didn’t look nearly as contrived as it usually does…the announcers keep talking about Pentagon’s weight advantage on Kenny. Kenny actually outweighs Pentagon by twelve pounds…Pentagon gets caught in a series of V Triggers after a series of Cero Miedo’s…another try at the OWA is countered into another try at the Package PD. When that is escaped, Pentagon converts to the Pentagon Driver which gets a really close two count. Totally would have bought that as the finish…out to the apron they go and Pentagon gets the Package PD onto the apron!!! Fuck that noise!…Penta up top where the double stomp lands but a lax cover only finds two…Kenny just sticks Pentagon with a tornado package piledriver for two. I’ve said my piece on that move being kicked out of before. I won’t do it again…another try at OWA, but Pentagon traps the arm and hits the snapback arm-breaker. Fear Factor follows but again it’s only two. Well, that’s that finish dead in this match…audience is absolutely losing their minds here. I dig the ambiance, even if how we got there irks me a bit…now we’re just trading big moves. Eventually, a fifth V Trigger sets up a fourth attempt at the One Winged Angel. This attempt lands and that’s a three count at 17:48…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 excellent for me. The ridiculously spotting 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 then I thought they might. But there was no where 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.

*Post-match: this is going to be another one of those if you don’t know, watch for yourself moments as I don’t want to give away the big surprise. If you are watching Double or Nothing soon after this review gets posted, you know what happens. But if you don’t, know that they pulled off one of the bigger coo’s in modern wrestling to make happen what they did here.

*Match #10: Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
The Who: Kazuchika Okada is the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight champion of all time. He is also as of this writing once again the champion, having beaten Jay White for the belt. If I recall, he also had a brief run with Impact here in the US where he was kidnapped by Samoa Joe. I might be wrong on that. Marty Scurll is the Villain from the Bullet Club/Elite and while we’ve covered Marty before here on ‘What I Watched’, we’ve never covered him in the Villain persona. Scurll has really stepped into his own with this gimmick and would probably be up there for the list of most sought after wrestlers in the world, regardless of which company they call home (ROH and NJPW for Scurll at press time).
The Why: While the obvious answer is the man with the umbrella vs. the Rainmaker, there is a deeper meaning here. Marty doesn’t appreciate being pigeon holed as Jr. Heavyweight in New Japan. What better way to prove he can hang at the Heavyweight level then to take down the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight champion of all time?
The Match: Tiger Hittori is your referee for this contest. Rare to see him here in the US, so it’s a nice moment for Tiger. Fans give him a pretty good reaction…I don’t get the skit with Scurll before the match, but his entrance is a sight and sound to behold. I’m a little sad Marty decided to stay with ROH because he could have done big things with AEW…unlike most Indie fans, I’m not a huge Okada guy. In fairness, I’m not much of a NJPW guy in general…entrance for Okada is impressive as well, but I do think Scurll’s was better…Okada causes a ‘205’ chant to start towards Marty. Okay, that shit is funny. It’s a fun little inside joke that hurts no-one and rallies your fans together…opening bell here…seven hundred and twenty seven days. Almost two full calendar years. It’s hard to argue his drawing power over in Japan…the height difference is quite noticeable…Scurll causes Okada to flinch as well…again, the announcers go super insider with the references. I guess some watching will appreciate that. But focus on the match, not each other…there’s a bit of smugness to the way Okada is handling himself. I don’t mind it because it gives us a story…Scurll gets a run of offense leading to an Austin Aries styles tope through the bottom and second rope…another brawl around ringside…makes sense for Marty to keep Okada grounded. We’re all the same size on the canvas…Okada quickly turns the tide however and gets back in control. We once again go the floor. It’s a recurring theme tonight…DDT on the floor as Ian shouts out Jake Roberts. I miss the days of the DDT as a finish. Especially when properly done…Okada pulls a page from the Eddie Guerrero playbook with the rolling hilo outside in, before taunting Scurll…Scurll with an overhead chop and Okada puts him on his wallet with a forearm…Japanese Stranglehold. Apt move for him to use…Scurll up and counters out into a cross-arm lungblower…Okada boots Scurll in the face but Scurll responds with the ‘Just Kidding’ superkick at the knees…Callis rips Hittori for being a slow counter. Ian calls out Hebner for being a fast counter. He also likes to call for bells too…makes me sad that the DDT is just a transition or a near fall move anymore…these two are definitely laying it in. You can hear the strikes land. Marty catches a brainbuster which leaves both men down…Marty is taking too long though and Okada blocks causing Marty to hurt his back. Kryptonite Krunch over the knee for Okada gets two. Ian calls it an Air Raid Crash. Either move name is effect. I’m just a Nova mark…I don’t feel like a superplex is in your best interest, Marty…then again…fish out of water or ‘let’s blow up the referee’…Scurll with a powerbomb. Jr. Heavyweight this, sucka!…I appreciate that Excalibur calls it John Woo…high and tight Japanese style missile dropkick by Okada. It looks so much more effective then its American counterpart…Tombstone is countered once with a DDT by Scurll. Scurll tries for one of his own and Okada turns that into a proper Okada Tombstone before calling for the Rainmaker (with camera zoom out)…apparently when you take time to taunt with ‘205’ before the Rainmaker, you get your fingers broken. Now we know…I wonder who did the finger break spot first. Scurll or Dunne?…okay, that was a really cool counter out of the Rainmaker into the Crossface Chicken Wing…Scurll doesn’t quite have the grip and Okada is able to rise up…the grip gets broken by Okada but Marty puts it back in before Okada counters into a cradle for two…Hittori gets drilled, which I think may be our first referee bump of the night. And we had a match with Earl Hebner as the zebra…Marty grabs his umbrella. Okada goes for the Rainmaker which Marty ducks and open the umbrella to distract Okada before thwacking him upside the facial region with it. Scurll then hits the Rainmaker and that gets two! I bit there…this time, the CFCW is countered into the Rainmaker. Fans are going crazy for both as Hittori counts both down…Okada drags Scurll back up and Scurll begs for Okada to keep bringing the fight, as each forearm puts Marty back on his ass…Scurll spits at Okada and slap him in the face. Okada retorts with a discus Rainmaker before the standard version puts Scurll down for three at 26:06…probably a little long. But they told a VERY GOOD story throughout. I have made it no secret in the past that I am 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.

*Match #11: Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio
The Who: Young Bucks are to some the best tag team in wrestling. Personally, I’d put them third behind the Revival and LAX. Kota Ibushi made his name here in the States participating in the Cruiserweight Classic. Despite the WWE wanting to sign Ibushi, he went back to his native Japan where he’s doing quite well for himself as the IWGP Intercontinental champion. Bandido is now exclusively to ROH but he’s another one of the recent group of luchadores to come to the US from Mexico and achieve some commercial success. Fenix as we discussed earlier is the brother of Pentagon Jr. Together, they are the Lucha Brothers and both are two of the most sought after acts on the US Indies. Rey Mysterio Jr., are you kidding me? You think I need to describe who Rey Jr. is? What I will say if that I appreciate Mysterio Jr. keeping this booking despite having returned to the WWE by this point.
The Why: Six high flyers out to have a balls to the wall spotfest to wrap up the show.
The Match: We’re going to rush the scene here since we’re down to around sixteen minutes of PPV time left. They knew going into this match that they were running short. Such is the peril of planning your own show for the first time. It shouldn’t have happened but what’s done is done…Rey took his sweet time for the entrance, but the Wolverine gear is pretty cool…Golden Elite do all come out together, which makes sense on both a time and a actually formed trio level…referee is Rick Knox, which is really nice for him…unfortunately, he’s out to a firing squad here. Just let them do their thing, Rick…opening bell at 3:45:30…tornillo cross body by Bandido. Nice…they’ve been doing this almost fifteen years and the Bucks are still smooth as silk as a team. It’s quite impressive the staying power they’ve had. And the ability they’ve had to avoid any kind of major injuries…that was like a quadruple springboard arm drag…fans go ape shit at the thought of Ibushi vs. Mysterio Jr.…Mysterio moving like a much younger man here…and he gets kicked in the face…it has to be cool for guys like Matt and Nick to be in the ring with Rey. I’m sure Rey is a guy who strongly influenced their style…feel like both Ibushi and Bandido could lay claim to fastest wrestler in the world. Bandido is someone I’ve not seen a lot of though…Bucks are definitely getting their shit in here…and Kota gets the Golden Triangle moonsault…Rey turns the clock back to the mid 90s with a huge quebrada…the dives come in bunches and there is no easy way to describe them…tope con hilo off the ramp. Well, if their were ropes, it would have been a tope con hilo. I guess technically it was a cannonball dive…I’m surprised there are still tags in this match…Bandido takes down all three Golden Elite’s with a head scissors…I’m sorry guys, I just can’t keep up with everything here…that series of moves that culminated in the frog splash by Rey very easily could have been the finish. I know why it wasn’t, but it could have been…Fenix and Rey look to double team Matt. Matt gets outs but Bandido looks to take advantage, doing so with the moonsault fall away slam for two. Nick in to break, but the Bucks take control with a superkick party…More Bang for Your Buck with added Kota moonsault may have been the finish, but Fenix makes the save. Seconds later, Bandido gets caught in the Meltzer Driver and that is a three count at 11:44…clearly much shorter then it was probably going to be, they packed a ton in these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone, 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 it isn’t anything that’ll be looked back upon fondly down the road.

*Post-match, there’s not much to discuss as we very quickly head off the air. Ian Riccaboni doesn’t even get through his sign off before the sound drops and the production screen rolls. That brings us to an end for All In.

RESULTS
Match #1: Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35 (VERY GOOD) (Pre-show)
Match #2: Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray (N/R) (Pre-show)
Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07 (GOOD)
Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
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 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03 (VERY GOOD)
Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25 (GOOD)
Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48 (VERY GOOD)
Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06 (VERY GOOD)
Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44 (GOOD)

FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
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 luchadore/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis and Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting. 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.

THE FINAL REACTION
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: Has to be the production, does it not? Hard to fault them for it as they are inexperienced show runners but when your main event gets less time then every single other match on your show save one, it’s not a good sign. Especially when said main event has three of the biggest names in the promotion of the show.
MVP: I’ll go with Cody here as well. It was a good night for young Mr. Runnels.
FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10

My next review that comes to you guys will be PROGRESS Chapter 5, “For Those About to Fight”. Hopefully, I’ll get some more shows into the archive for you guys as well. I would also hope that you guys will 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.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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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!

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WWE NXT Takeover Philadelphia Andrade Almas Johnny Gargano

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):

Leaderboard

#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.

New Leaderboard

#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!

The Doc Says NXT Takeover

Listen here:
http://thechairshot.com/2019/06/the-doc-says-instant-reaction-analysis-to-a-memorable-milestone-nxt-takeover/


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Chairshot Classics: Impact Wrestling Homecoming 2019

Harry takes us on a few, more recent Impact Wrestling classics. He lends his experience to this new look Homecoming PPV! How does it stack up?

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IMPACT Homecoming

Harry takes us on a few, more recent Impact Wrestling classics. He lends his experience to this new look Homecoming PPV! How does it stack up?

Welcome back into ‘What I Watched’, everyone. As you all know, Rebellion has come and gone from Impact Wrestling. Andrew does an excellent job of covering the show, which you can see (HERE). The idea for ‘What I Watched’ was to cover the PPV prior to Rebellion as a way to get everyone hyped for the show. Thankfully, the United We Stand review going up when it did basically served that purpose. Now, I get the chance to take my time and give Homecoming a fair and honest shake as opposed to the rush job that would have had to happen to get it up in time. As far as where ‘What I Watched’ goes from here…obviously back to PROGRESS for Chapters 6 and going forward. Chapter 5 is already in the queue as discussed before. Having subscribed to IWTV (Independent Wrestling TV) for the time being at least, I now have access to new CHIKARA, Glory Pro, Black Label Pro and much more. Plus classic independent wrestling shows as well. The Club WWN thing is still in the planning stages as well, though that may be a tougher nut to crack.

That brings us to why we’re here today. As mentioned, Impact Wrestling had the Rebellion PPV on the 28th of April. As has been the tradition of ‘What I Watched’, I usually look at the PPV before it to see what they need to improve and what stood out from the prior show. I honestly don’t remember anything about the card for Homecoming since I’ve been focusing on looking at the build to Rebellion as well as my coverage of ‘United We Stand’. All this said, it’s into the way back machine where we head to January 6th, 2019 as ‘What I Watched’ presents Impact Wrestling’s ‘Homecoming’ 2019.

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. If you are interested in reading any of my previous reviews here at the Chairshot, feel free to click my name at the top of this article to go to my archive of posted material.

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.

Impact Wrestling: ‘Homecoming’
From: The Asylum in Nashville, Tennessee
Date: January 6th, 2019
Run Time: 2:50:01 (Impact Plus (the new GWN)

*GENERAL NOTES: The nostalgia is strong with this show. I can remember watching some of the early TNA weekly PPVs, so for them to be back where it all started almost seventeen years later is quite the feat. Looking forward to see how much of the history of the building comes into play and if they bring in any blasts from TNA/Impact’s past…the building looks really well set up and most importantly, full.

*COLD OPEN: Narrated by Johnny Impact. It’s not bad. I think I liked the Bound for Glory narrated by LAX more but part of that is LAX comes off as more themselves, where as Impact comes off as playing a character most of the time. Still a nice way to look back at days of TNA past. It does a pretty good job of letting us know a good portion of the card for tonight.

*Match #1: ‘Ultimate X’ for the vacant ‘X Division’ Championship- Rich Swann vs. Trey Miguel vs. Ethan Page vs. Jake Crist
The Who: Rich Swann is the former WWE Cruiserweight champion, After personal issues, he left the WWE and ended up in Impact where his wife also is. He defeated Dave Crist to get into this match. Trey Miguel (just Miguel in Impact) got here by beating Trevor Lee. He’s one third of the Rascalz as Wentz (Zachery) and Dez (Dezmond Xavier) came out to the stage with him but then went to the back. Ethan Page beat his mentor (and the man he teamed with back at Bound for Glory) Matt Sydal to qualify here. Still doing the ‘Third Eye’ gimmick here, he has thankfully since dropped that and gone back to the much more familiar ‘All Ego’ Ethan Page. Jake Crist got here by beating Willie Mack. He’s one half of Irish Airborne and (at this point) was one third of oVe (Ohio Versus Everything) with his brother Dave and the leader of the group who we will probably see later in Sami Callihan.
The Why: Brian Cage was the X Division champion, however he cashed in that belt for this opportunity at the Heavyweight title later tonight. On the road here, the four men listed above had the qualifying matches where they advanced to compete for the title in ‘Ultimate X’. I believe they used the same format back in 2012 when Austin Aries cashed in his X Division title for a shot at Robert Roode’s heavyweight title and I want to say that DJ Z (Zema Ion) won the title in that ‘Ultimate X’ match.
The Match: Having just watched the one at ‘United We Stand’, I’ll be curious to see how it compares. I know I’m not supposed to compare one match to another, but it’s human and reviewer nature to do so…opening bell goes here…Ethan is a little big by X Division standards. Doesn’t really wrestle the X Division style either. But I like him as a character and a performer so I wouldn’t have been opposed to him winning here…opening sequence is everyone rushing the belt and then dropping off into frankensteiner when they can’t get to it. Different way to start, I suppose…well, that’ll work. Page body slams Miguel off the top onto Swann and Jake…admittedly choreographed sequence with all the kicks, but the fans liked it…Josh announces that the X Division title went into abeyance when Brian Cage got his opportunity at Johnny Impact later. Man, they sign all the former WWE people…double cutter by Jake to take down Swann and Miguel…showstopper elbow off the cables by Page. Damn, son. Prove me wrong why don’t you…Swann catches Page with a beautiful handspring cutter. His reward for doing so is a double stomp to the back of the head by Trey…so, one cool thing about this match is the guys using the cables to amp up their moves. Does it make a bit of sense? No. But it’s visually impressive and that’s also part of the point of wrestling too…someone needs a Heel Section sign in that crowd…did someone just grab a ladder? That seems moderately unsporting in this match…Trey uses Swann as a projectile off the Ultimate X holder and does a moonsault off it himself. Again, visually impressive and took out all three opponents…different take on the Tower of Doom…just noticed that the ref is ‘Kid Ref’ Kris Levin…Tombstone on the floor. Fuck that noise…Crist tries going across the cables and Ethan spears him off. The one at United We Stand looked better though…leap of faith (Jigsaw) style ’rana by Swann. Miguel tries to return the favor but Swann lands on his feet and races to the other side. He travels down the cable and right as Trey tries to reach out to him, Swann grabs the belt to win the match at 14:01…well, as I said, it’ll be hard not to compare this to the ‘Ultimate X’ match we had at United We Stand. While I thought that match was a better athletic display, I think this one tells a better story with all four men being first time competitors in this match type. Ethan Page impressed me the most with the way he adapted his style to the ‘Ultimate X’ playground. However, I can’t be mad at Swann getting the win here as he’s one of the better Jr. Heavyweight or Cruiserweight wrestlers in the world. Call this one GOOD but a slight step below the ‘Ultimate X’ from ‘United We Stand’, in my opinion.

*Announcers run down the card. Don Callis attempts in vain to keep his cowboy hat in place. The card itself looks pretty good. There isn’t a match here that looks like it’ll be bad. Impact has had two good PPVs prior to this so they seem to be in good shape to keep that run up…we then go backstage to a Brian Cage interview with McKenzie Mitchell. Cage isn’t the best promo but when you look like he does, you don’t have to be. Mitchell isn’t a bad interviewer, but this would have been a good opportunity to go into the Impact past and bring back someone like Goldilocks here.

*Match #2: Allie/Su Yung vs. Jordynne Grace/Kiera Hogan
The Who: Allie is the former Cherry Bomb on the indies and is a former Impact Knockouts champion. Su Yung is a former champion as well, having lost the title in between the Slammiversary and Bound for Glory PPVs last year. Jordynne Grace is making her Impact PPV debut here, but had been on quite the roll in the company up to this point having not lost. At this point in time, she may be the most sought after female talent on the indies. Kiera Hogan, I honestly don’t know much about. I’m starting to go back and watch some of the SHIMMER and SHINE shows, but she’s the wild card here to me.
The Why: Allie was feuding with Su in an attempt to save her friend Kiera, even traveling to the Undead Realm to rescue Kiera when Su abducted her (it‘s Lucha Underground rules at Impact these days). However when she did, she made a deal with Father James Mitchell to get into the Realm at the expense of her soul. A darker and more vicious Allie began to emerge and she eventually sided with Su against her former friend. That led to Jordynne making the save for Kiera during a two on one attack and thus bringing us to this tag match.
The Match: Knowing what we know now (Allie has since left Impact Wrestling and signed with AEW), I feel like Jordynne pinning Allie would have been a good way to announce Jordynne’s arrival into the upper tier of the Knockouts division. As they say though, hindsight is twenty-twenty, so let’s see what did happen…what the sam hill is Kiera wearing? Did she steal Natalya’s side gig as a dominatrix?…Josh: ‘Is Jordynne Grace the most powerful Knockout you’ve ever seen?’ Me: ‘Not in a world where Awesome Kong existed. But she might be second’…I like Jordynne. I am happy to report that she would eventually take her place in said top tier of Knockouts, getting the title shot at the next PPV. Su is a strong character but I’m not sold on her in-ring work. Allie, I like and I always have. But she’s now part of AEW, so I guess that’s irrelevant around Impact these days…opening bell goes here…Grace goes for a powerbomb to open the match. Yeah, I got nothing for that…a snapmare into a sliding clothesline is a much more appropriate opening spot however…tags made on both sides…Kiera’s dropkick does not look good…the hip attack and sliding kick do look better though…lengthy distraction sequence leads to Su pulling Kiera into the buckle…Dark Allie and Su take over at this point…man, Allie has quite the ass (I’m a guy, sue me)…tree of whoa neckbreaker by Su looks really nice. She’s gotten better in the ring in the several years she’s been doing this…good double team work by Allie and Su with the Arachnidrana into a lungblower…neither Kiera nor Su throws a good looking strike. Even the forearms look like they wouldn’t break a piece of paper…Jordynne’s strikes look much better…I actually think Kiera’s gear may be actually be a Harlem Heat tribute. Just saw the flames on the back. Wonder if she broke into the business at Reality of Wrestling…double team suplex and cross body to the floor. Give Su credit, that is a hell of a bump, even with the mats…Allie goes to the eyes and Kiera tags herself in. Allie takes advantage of that, but Kiera catches a swinging fisherman’s suplex…Jordynne with a fall-forward slam to Allie at the same time as she powerbombs Su…Su mists Jordynne sending her to the floor. Allie catches Kiera with a Codebreaker. Instead of going for the cover, she crawls over to Su and gets the glove that Su has used for the Mandible Claw in the past. Allie then applies the Mandible Claw herself on Kiera and the referee notes that Kiera is out, calling for the bell at 8:52…better then I thought it would be, but it wasn’t anything you need to see either. Su is much more sizzle then steak and while Allie isn’t a bad worker, she’s nothing to write home about either. Jordynne has the potential to be something special down the line and while Kiera is getting better, she’s by far the lowest of the four on the totem pole. Again, knowing that Allie would soon be gone, I think I’d have given the win to Jordynne and Kiera here, but all in all, it’s an AVERAGE match with a strong finish due to the mind games that Su has worked on Allie.

*Post match- the attack on Kiera continues and it leads to the Undead Bridesmaids bringing a casket onto the stage, much the same way Madison Rayne found herself inside of it at Slammiversary…Su grabs Kiera and sends her toward the casket, calling for it to be opened. When it is opened, Rosemary pops out. It would be the first time we’ve seen Rosemary at ringside since she tore her ACL back in early 2018…Rosemary lays out a few of the Undead Bridesmaids before throwing a charging Su into the pack…Rosemary and Allie come face to face and Rosemary goes for the ‘bunny pat’ but Allie slaps her hand away and escapes the ring.

*Match #3: ‘Falls Count Anywhere’- Moose vs. Eddie Edwards
The Who: Moose is a former NFL player who has made the transition to wrestling, first stopping at ROH on his way to Impact. Eddie Edwards is, well at this point, a crazy person. He’s also one of the few who can claim they are an Impact ‘Grand Slam’ champion, having held the Heavyweight, X Division, Tag and Grand Championships for the company.
The Why: This match was supposed to happen at Bound for Glory, but Killer Kross got involved at ringside and the match got turned into a tag match between Kross and Moose against Edwards and Tommy Dreamer. That didn’t settle the score and Impact management has given them a ‘Falls Count Anywhere’ match here to hopefully settle their differences once and for all.
The Match: Video package before as is the norm and man, that powerbomb onto the ramp had to hurt like hell. Screw that noise…they put Eddie in a mental asylum. The irony of that is there have been times where Impact’s booking has made me feel like I should be in one of those myself…Raven being used in the build makes sense though, given that they are in the Asylum for this show…Moose makes his entrance and Eddie jumps him in the aisle way, giving us our opening bell…Josh calls Eddie a ‘loose cannon’. Let’s not go throwing that around so flippantly, shall we?…that plancha looked really awkward…the suicide dive catch into the apron powerbomb looks a lot better…and that’s a double your pleasure moment…Moose uses the ring steps (one piece ring steps) to bridge a guardrail off the side of the ring. This probably ends poorly for someone…if at first you don’t succeed, suicide dive again…weekly PPV flashback time as they begin to brawl all around the Asylum…start my own ‘I can’t see shit’ chant at this point…we finally catch up as they make it to what used to be Raven’s Nest…plancha out of the Nest by Edwards. Nice move…Josh points out that ‘Anarchy Rules’ in the Asylum. Don’s microphone goes silent for a bit as I assume that popped him…Edwards is on those ‘red equals green’ types. For the second time in a big singles match at a PPV I’ve covered, he’s busted open…Edwards chair chucks at Moose twice, hitting him in the head both times. Sabu wouldn’t show back up until ‘United We Stand’, so someone had too…superplex into a chair stack…strike exchange and it actually looks good. Both guys are very believable strikers…and Moose goes through the guardrail. Well, it is Wrestling 101. ‘He who sets it up usually goes through it’. Usually works for tables, but I guess guardrails bridged like a table works much the same…it’s Falls Count Anywhere, Eddie. Just pin him there…kendo stick shots to the quad. That’s such a jerk move…Eddie’s wife Alisha comes down and pulls the kendo stick from him, yelling that it’s enough. She then proceeds to beat Moose with the stick herself. When in Rome, I suppose…Edwards gets in one last shot himself that splinters the cane. Eddie follows up with a double arm DDT and that’s three at 13:20…so, I’m a little torn here. The match itself was very good. Exactly what it needed to be with the physicality and Edwards finally able to overcome the size disadvantage to stand tall. I don’t care for the ending. I get that Moose has been mean to Alisha as well as Eddie, but her going off on Moose with the cane seemed like she took Eddie’s moment to me. I’m still going with a GOOD rating here, but I think it’s higher if Alisha isn’t involved.

*Sami Callihan promo to get us to the next match, which will be Callihan vs. Willie Mack. Callihan delivers his usual strong promo here, but for as much as I like Willie Mack, I can’t help but feel like Sami is underutilized here.

*Match #4: Willie Mack vs. Sami Callihan
The Who: Willie Mack made his Impact debut right around Bound for Glory last year, where he teamed with Rich Swann to beat Ethan Page and Matt Sydal. Sami Callihan had my best match of 2018 in Impact with Pentagon Jr. at Slammiversary. Sami was also voted Impact Wrestler of the Year and for those more into the WWE, was briefly known as Solomon Crowe in NXT.
The Why: Guessing it goes back to Jake Crist beating Willie Mack to get into the ‘Ultimate X’ match. Willie wasn’t cool with that after Sami cost him the match and went after Sami, despite Rich Swann telling Willie that Sami isn’t a war worth fighting.
The Match: Sami makes friends with everyone around ringside before eventually yelling at Don Callis. Who does he think he is, Austin Aries?…as soon as Sami gets into the ring, Willie charges in with a clothesline and an opening bell…Willie with a tope con hilo and lands on his feet. I’ll point out at this time that if you aren’t familiar with Willie, he also weighs about three hundred pounds. That’s insane agility for a guy his size…weird to see Mack controlling the opening part of this match. I do like he’s getting the chance to showcase some of his moveset…Willie decides to go after Dave and it turns the tables to put Sami in control…bicycle knee while Mack is trapped in the apron. Unique offense…that’s just fucking gross, Sami…pretty lengthy rest hold here. Not what you’d expect from these two…jaw-jacker by Willie to escape another sleeper. Not the Stunner he was using back in Lucha Underground though…that Samoan Drop->nip-up->standing moonsault combo by Willie always impresses me. An incredible blend of strength and athleticism…jesus, that cannonball…Stunner attempts gets countered but Mack catches the Sky-High (called such by Matthews) for a close two…speaking of bicycle knees. (Callis cant help but call it the ‘V Trigger’)…Mack does get the Stunner but Callihan is able to get a foot on the rope. Mack to the top but while Sami has the ref, Dave Crist distracts Mack long enough for Sami to get over and bring Willie down with an avalanche DVD…for a ONE COUNT! DISRESPECTFUL!…burning lariat gets another one count…fans rally behind Willie as Sami lays in strikes. Willie tries a lariat of his own, but it’s ducked and Sami turns him inside out with another burning lariat. Callihan then catches Mack with a piledriver (Memphis style) for the three count at 10:20…there we go. Leave it to Sami to once again deliver. I’m not going to say excellent, because I don’t think it’s long enough to justify that. That being said, it’s one of the better ten minute matches I’ve seen. I’ll go with a VERY GOOD here and these Impact PPVs just keep killing it.

*Eli Drake interview with McKenzie Mitchell here about Monster’s Ball up next…forget the promo for a second here…how did Impact let this guy fall so far? Yes, he’s not exactly great in the ring, but the guy has the kind of promo skills that can carry a company. For the longest time, he did carry the company. I get the whole ‘he was fired because of disparaging remarks about Impact’ thing. At the same time, his character at this time is anti-Impact Wrestling management. There’s nothing there that couldn’t have been worked out. Honestly, I would not be surprised to see him signing with AEW or the WWE by the time people are reading this if not shortly thereafter.

*Match #5: Monster’s Ball- Eli Drake vs. Abyss
The Who: Eli Drake, I talked about just above. Former Impact world champion and while he’s not anything special in the ring, he can talk them into the building. Abyss is the most homecoming of all the people at this show as he broke out as Abyss here in the Asylum in the early (ish) days of TNA. He was even on the first weekly PPV for TNA as Prince Justice (though that wasn’t here in the Asylum. That was in the Von Braun Center, I believe)
The Why: Eli has been speaking out against hardcore wrestling. Who better in TNA/Impact world to defend it then Abyss? There was also the whole Abyss put Eli through a table with a Chokeslam at Bound for Glory situation too.
The Match: Eli brings out what looks to be an ore as weapon. Why the hell not?…and yet again, another jumpstart as Eli attacks Abyss before the opening bell at…Abyss throws his jacket at Eli and misses, but Eli catches it in time for continue what they had planned. That’s a professional…Abyss has a staple gun. Eli tries a sunset flip. This goes about as well as you would expect for Eli…we’re almost two minutes in and Eli still hasn’t gotten his ring jacket off…Abyss sets up tables and goes for a Chokeslam but Eli goes to the eyes…they then begin brawling into the crowd which would have been a lot more effective if Eddie and Moose hadn’t done it less then an hour ago…traveling case as a weapon. That works…Eli calls himself the ‘last of a dying breed’. Well, he break into TNA with Eddie Kingston…JESUS! Overhead belly to belly from the ring to the floor through the tables! That’s a dummy no for Eli…and Abyss has the thumbtacks…Abyss calls for the Chokeslam but Eli escapes. Drake gets a handful of tacks, but Abyss ducks and Kid Ref takes them in the face. With Levin being attended to, Abyss hits the Black Hole Slam, but there’s no zebra to count, despite the crowd’s best attempt…corner charge attempt by Abyss meets a chair that was placed there I think at the start…Eli has a chair. Abyss has Janice. Eli proceeds to beg before a gut shot with the chair. Eli tries to use Janice but Abyss catches Eli in a goozle and this time, it is the Chokeslam into the tacks complete with full ‘FML’ face from Eli…jesus christ, his back is a pincushion…face full of tacks to Abyss this time and Eli tries to use zip ties. That does not work, so instead it’s a series of chair shots. I lost count around 10…it was an attempt at the Rock-Austin Mania X7 finish but Abyss out at two…Eli grabs the paddle (the thing I thought was an ore) and breaks it over Abyss’ head. That’s your three count at 12:12…by Monster’s Ball standards, it was a little tame. Having the Falls Count Anywhere match earlier in the show may have taken some of the shine off it as well. That said, I enjoyed the match. I thought Eli looked really good here and for as long as it’s been for Abyss to be a regular competitor in Impact, he more then held his own. Eli getting the win here made sense too because you could use it to springboard him back up the card (which they kind of were going to with Eddie Edwards before Drake got fired). Neither one of these guys is still with the company, but it was an ABOVE AVERAGE match to go out on.

*Killer Kross promo backstage with McKenzie Mitchell…and his promo ain’t make a damn bit of sense. He seemed to still be channeling his Lucha Underground Rabbit Tribe gimmick then anything that checks inside of Impact. He does call out Johnny Impact and hopefully, that’s not foreshadowing his involvement in the main event.

*Match #6: Impact Tag Team titles- LAX © vs. Lucha Brothers (Fenix and Pentagon Jr.)
The Who: LAX (Ortiz and Santana) come into this match after having successfully defended their tag belts at Bound for Glory in the ‘Concrete Jungle’ match, teaming with Konnan to beat the original LAX of Hernandez and Homicide along with Eddie Kingston. Lucha Brothers come into this on a PPV losing streak for Fenix, as he dropped the fall in the four way at Slammiversary and alongside Brian Cage and Pentagon Jr., they were bested by the Crist brothers and Sami Callihan at Bound for Glory.
The Why: LAX wanted to know if they could beat the Lucha Brothers. Sometimes, you don’t need a complicated story. Just a battle for respect.
The Match: I really didn’t feel the need to the talk about the who much here. I’m actually debating dropping that going forward. I can talk about people here on the match section and for some of these people, the who becomes very redundant…having watched Rebellion live, I know what they did in the match that followed this. I’m curious to see how this goes without the stipulation to guide it…then again, Pentagon Jr. might just have been the hottest wrestler in the world at this point not named Becky Lynch…Josh and Don do bring up a valid point going into this match as LAX is not accompanied by Konnan. The last time they had a PPV title defense not with Konnan, they lost the tag belts. Though Josh and Don don’t name who, the answer is Eli Drake and Scott Steiner…there is a sign at ringside they keep showing that does make sense. “LAX vs. Lucha Brothers. Los Ganadores: Nosotros”. Despite my limited knowledge of Spanish, the sign translates to “LAX vs. Lucha Bros. The winners: All of us” or something similar…opening bell here…and the opening double team starts just about a minute into the match. If I’m the referee here, it’s Lucha rules. Let them go balls to the wall. Everyone wants to see it, why the hell not?…double stomp powerbomb combo lands Santana square on the back of his head. Oops…man, Fenix eats shit to the floor…once Santana is able to cause shit-eating, LAX brings the double teams. I go back to what I’ve said before. I think LAX is one of the top three best tag teams in the world when it comes to double team work. I’d also put the Lucha Brothers either in the top five or really close to it…Ortiz with a tope con hilo of his own and almost eats it into the barricade. The adrenaline is flowing for all four guys to start this one…top rope Asai Moonsault by Santana. Yep, balls to the wall…I don’t even know how to describe some of the double team work in this match…what the hell was that? Like an overhead throw assisted suicide dive by the Lucha Brothers. That’s a new one for me…you get a tope, you get a tope, you get a tope. Everyone gets a tope…your referee is Brandon Toll. Or as he’s known for this match: ‘that poor bastard’…360 kick by Fenix sets up a Codebreaker with double stomp combo…that’s it. I’m out. I got nothing. Top rope splash by Ortiz on Fenix. He goes the cover which Pentagon Jr. breaks up with a double stomp. Pentagon Jr. goes forward from that double stomp into a Canadian Destroyer on Santana as well…and a near standing ovation breaks out from it…that whole exchange looks cool but comes off really choreographed…double stomp Fear Factor lands this time but Ortiz throws Fenix into Pentagon to break up the count…Fenix is the man of 1000 double stomps. This one breaks up the cover after the Street Sweeper. He came from completely out of camera range to hit it, which did make for a nice visual…shortly after the breakup, Pentagon Jr. rolls out to the floor, leaving Ortiz and Fenix in the ring. Santana gets the tag and a series of moves that I don’t try to describe leads to a double team chicken wing into a facebuster that gets the three count at 11:31…exactly what I wanted from this match. I’d put it as good as the ‘Full Metal Mayhem’ match they’d go on to have at Rebellion. This match here though had none of the toys to work with that match had. Instead it was just four dudes going out there and busting their asses to entertain the fans in attendance and the paying audience at home. A VERY GOOD match here but given the four, that’s probably not that much of a surprise.

*Post-match: Konnan comes out and puts over all four guys as well as the building itself. Josh wants to see more and we would.

*McKenzie Mitchell is now backstage with Gail Kim, who has quite the little referee outfit on. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Gail may have had some work done…Gail mentions everything that’s been going on with Tessa and says that she’s here to call it down the middle to make sure the right women is the Knockout’s champion.

*Match #7: Impact Knockouts title- Tessa Blanchard © vs. Taya Valkyrie with Gail Kim as the special guest referee
The Who: Tessa Blanchard is the current champion and is a third generation wrestler (Grandfather is Joe, father is Tully). Taya Valkyrie is still relatively new to Impact at this point but was a key player in Lucha Underground. Gail Kim is the most celebrated Knockout in TNA/Impact history. However, she’s been retired from wrestling (as a competitor) since Bound for Glory 2017.
The Why: Tessa beat Taya at Bound for Glory, albeit under some controversial circumstances with a referee paying more attention to a ring apron than to Taya’s pin after the Road to Valhalla. Taya was granted the rematch and Tessa began disrespecting everyone, referees and staff alike at Impact to the point where Gail Kim stepped up and said she’d be the referee for the rematch here at Homecoming.
The Match: Let me first say that I don’t dislike Taya. I’m just not a huge fan of hers. If I had to sum it up with one word, it would probably be indifference. That’s not a good thing. My adoration of Tessa is well documented by this point and I don’t wish to expand…the cameraman for Gail’s entrance is getting fired…crowd seems pretty evenly split here though…Gail and Tessa get into a verbal spat before the opening bell. Let’s go ahead and telegraph this one way out in front, why don’t we…opening bell here…and the opening collar and elbow looks awkward. Not a great start…most of the Lucha sequence that follows looks good, until a mess is made of a tilt-a-whirl head scissors attempt. Not on the same page at the start of this one…it has been the night of the double stomp. Taya with a standing one to Tessa’s back…DDT onto the apron turns the table, though…the Survivor schmucks they showed earlier (I did not make mention of it) have a “Dicks Out 4 Taya” sign. The fuck is wrong with you morons?…basement dropkick into the guardrail by Tessa. Looked vicious…well, that’s quite the arm bar…looked like a Zig Zag with the hair there by Tessa…Gail and Tessa goes nose to nose. It leads to Taya fighting back for a brief moment before Tessa regains control…release German by Taya looks good…charging hip attack by Taya leads to the double knees in the corner…Buzzsaw DDT attempt by Tessa is countered nicely into a northern lights suplex by Taya. Tip toe bridge too until Taya rolls back and hits another double stomp, this time to a flattened Tessa…Taya goes for and misses a moonsault leading to a Tessa spear for two…Taya ducks and Tessa drills Gail. Accidentally, but I don’t think Tessa cared. Tessa gets the Buzzsaw DDT, but Gail is down so there’s no count. Turnabout being fair play from the referee at Bound for Glory…Tessa grabs the belt, but by the time she tries to use it, Gail tries to pull it away from her. A tug of war leads to Gail smacking Taya with the belt as Taya smirks. Tessa demands a count and Gail does, not even looking at the shoulders for two…Tessa shoves Gail. Tessa with a second shove and Gail shoves back into a roll-up for two by Taya. Glad that wasn’t the finish…Taya also gets out of the corner trap chestblower. Tessa grabs Gail by the throat, forcing her into the buckle. Tessa takes a swing at Gail. Gail ducks and catches Tessa with Eat Defeat. Tessa stumbles forward towards Taya, who lifts Tessa up and plants her with Road to Valhalla. With no ring apron distraction this time, it’s a three count at 10:41…definitely had it’s ups and downs. The booking of the match made sense with the story they are trying to tell so I won’t be too upset about that. Unfortunately, there was a lot of other moments here and there where they didn’t seem to be on the same page that hurt the flow of the match. For as relatively good as I thought their match was at Bound for Glory, this is a bit of a disappointment to me. Call it AVERAGE, but slightly better then the tag match that went on second on this show.

*Post-match, Taya seems to be genuinely happy that she’s won the belt. I can’t hate that. Tessa looks furious and the stage is set for a Rebellion…we then go to Josh and Don who run down everything that’s happened before giving us the Impact to Twitch announcement. The announcers then set the stage for Johnny Impact and Brian Cage.

*Johnny Impact promo, once again with McKenzie. I still say they missed an opportunity with not using old Impact interviewers since they were back in the Asylum…Impact has become a little better at promos but he’s still not great.

*Match #8: Impact Heavyweight title- Johnny Impact © vs. Brian Cage
The Who: Johnny Impact is the former John Morrison, of course. He’s been the champion since Bound for Glory when he beat Austin Aries. At this point, he was still a baby face as well. Brian Cage was also loved by fans here (and still is). Bound for Glory was not so kind to him as he suffered his first loss in Impact when he was pinned in that previously mentioned six-man tag by Sami Callihan.
The Why: This is an ‘Option C’ match up, where Brian Cage cashed in his Impact X Division title for a shot at Johnny Impact and the Heavyweight title. To this point, I don’t believe Cage had been beaten in a singles match either.
The Match: Cage comes out looking like he found the Gauntlet from Lucha Underground…Josh puts over Johnny during his entrance. Callis then puts over Cage. I think we know who is siding with who here…I feel like Johnny’s and Survivor don’t mix. Whatever you do, don’t bring back Fairplay…opening bell here…Cage snuffs a single leg attempt and it ends up as a stalemate…Impact teases a test of strength before clocking Cage with a kick. Obviously, Impact is going to have to use stamina and intellect here…that was kind of a northern lights. I’m not sure what it was supposed to be but I’m guessing that’s not it…fans seem to be leaning Cage but Impact catches a pretty good looking springboard spear gets two for Impact…well, that’s one way to turn the match. Cage sweeps the leg and Impact goes back into the buckle before face into the mat…Cage’s strength does allow him to combine offense like few can…monkey flip. Because of course Cage does a monkey flip…Impact escapes a power slam attempt and sends Cage into the cover. Leverage is also going to be key for Impact here…Cheeky Nandos! And Callis gives credit to Will Ospreay on the call. Never change, Don! It sets up a really nice looking electric chair facebuster too…Cage going for more of a grounded match then I thought he would. It’s like he’s intentionally trying to throw Impact off his game…Impact with a big dive to the floor and flushes Cage in the face with his knee! Jesus, Johnny. Fans chant ‘TNA’ too, so they have been hit with the knee as well…that definitely turns the tide as Impact takes over…Johnny Impact with a discus forearm. He’s never been a strike guy though, so Cage takes over almost immediately thereafter…apparently Josh has forgotten that the neckbreaker is called ‘Moonlight Drive’…Impact goes for the Razor’s Edge Urinage but Cage escapes. Cage goes for the Drill Claw, but Impact escapes. Impact catches some, but not nearly all, of the rope-hang German suplex. Sometimes, I think Johnny’s offense is too fancy just for the sake of being fancy…that was a pathetic looking kickout…they are just trading bombs at this point…Impact out of the discus lariat which I believe was one of Cage’s primary finishers in Lucha Underground…Impact catches Starship Pain but it’s a clean kickout by Cage. I’m trying to remember if Aries kicked out of it at Bound for Glory. I think he did, but I’m not sure…Impact with a top-rope Spanish Fly. For one. Because of course…Cage looking for Weapon X and this time gets it, but Impact gets the rope at the last split second. Maybe even just after what would have been the three. Given what we know now, that moment makes a lot more sense in hindsight…and Cage launches a Survivor douche three rows deep with a shove. Hahahahaha!…Drill Claw but there’s no referee as he’s dealing with the Survivor schmucks. Referee finally in and it’s a last second kickout from Impact. Cage looks for the Cesaro superplex but Impact counters it twice. Impact finally swings around and it’s a sort of powerbomb kinda that just barely gets a three count (again, what we know now) at 19:12…the finish was blown to an extent but they recovered it enough to make it work for where it was going. In addition, I could have done without the involvement of the dumb asses from Survivor as well. As far as Impact and Cage alone go, the match was GOOD but never anything above just because it came off kinda clunky. Neither one of these guys is known as a match leader and it showed here as they battled some miscommunications. Middle of the pack match for the title, sad to say.

*Cage is fuming after the way the match ends, grabbing the belt from referee Johnny Bravo. Cage debates what to do before throwing the belt at Impact and storming off. Seems to be a theme around here…Impact slowly makes his way back up as Taya makes her way out to the ring. Fans are booing and I saw a couple water bottles chucked, but the final thing we see are Impact and Valkyrie celebrating their wins and titles…right as I type that Killer Kross jumps Impact. Valkyrie tries to defend Impact and Kross powerbombs her off the ramp into the crowd onto black shirt security (hey, a throwback) and Killer Kross celebrates as the last thing we actually see.

RESULTS
Match #1: ‘Ultimate X’ for the vacant X Division title- Rich Swann wins 4 way by grabbing X Division title @ 14:01 in a match that also included Ethan Page, Jake Crist and Trey Miguel (GOOD)
Match #2: Allie/Su Yung def. Jordynne Grace/Kiera Hogan, referee stoppage when Allie has Mandible Claw on Hogan @ 8:52 (AVERAGE)
Match #3: Falls Count Anywhere- Eddie Edwards pins Moose, double-arm DDT @ 13:20 (GOOD)
Match #4: Sami Callihan pins Willie Mack, piledriver @ 10:20 (VERY GOOD)
Match #5: Monster’s Ball- Eli Drake pins Abyss, series of paddle shots to head @ 12:12 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #6: Impact Tag Team titles- LAX (Ortiz/Santana) © defeat Lucha Brothers, Santana pins Fenix after a double team facebuster @ 11:31 to retain (VERY GOOD)
Match #7: Impact Knockouts title- Taya Valkyrie pins Tessa Blanchard ©, Road to Valhalla after Eat Defeat @ 10:41 to win the title (AVERAGE)
Match #8: Impact Heavyweight title- Johnny Impact © pins Brian Cage, quasi avalanche powerbomb @ 19:12 (GOOD)

FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
Another Impact PPV, another banger of a show to me. Was it to the level of Slammiversary or Bound for Glory? No. But to expect that on a consistent basis is to set yourself up for disappointment. There are two really good matches that are well worth your time (Sami-Willie and the tag titles) and two others that are almost to that level (Ultimate X and Eddie-Moose). That’s half the PPV at GOOD to VERY GOOD or above. You can’t argue quality like that.

THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Whoever made the decision to let the Lucha Brothers and LAX go out there and just bust ass. The match itself, officially. But honorable mention to that guy (probably Scott D’Amore). You da real MVP.
Worst match/moment: Dark Allie and Su Yung vs. Jordynne Grace and Kiera Hogan. Wasn’t a bad match but was the worst thing on the show. The booking in the main event is the runner up.
MVP: They call him ‘The Draw’ for a reason. When I saw that Sami Callihan was facing Willie Mack, I was disappointed. I like Willie but Sami has been the best thing in Impact for close to a year now. The match itself was a ton of fun though.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10

The next time I come at you guys with a review will be when I cover “All In” right before the ‘Double or Nothing’ offering from AEW. After that, my next review that comes to you guys will be PROGRESS Chapter 5, “For Those About to Fight”. Hopefully, I’ll get some more shows into the archive for you guys as well. I would also hope that you guys will 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.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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