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.
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.
Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!
Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?
ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!
What I Watched #16
ECW Guilty as Charged 1999
Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL
Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)
Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)
- Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
- Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
- Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
- Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
- Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
- Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
- Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15
Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)
Super Crazy vs. Tajiri
Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)
John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent
So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)
Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley
Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…
The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)
TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm
Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.
The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)
Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer
The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of.
As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)
Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz
So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent.
The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)
THE FINAL REACTION
- Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
- Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
- Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
- MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.
It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.
So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.
What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018
Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!
Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.
I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.
What I Watched #10-B
ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018
Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL
Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)
Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)
- Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
- Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
- Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
- Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
- Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
- Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
- Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
- Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
- Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
- Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
- Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44
Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)
*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)
Over the Budget Battle Royal
*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross
*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)
Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)
*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)
Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)
NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)
*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)
‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela
*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)
ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon
*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)
Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)
Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio
*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)
THE FINAL REACTION
There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.
Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.
Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.
Overall Show Score: 8.5/10
MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.
And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.
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