Jimi Callear looks back at the last SummerSlam that took place in Toronto, 15 years ago as Randy Orton captures his first world championship!
SummerSlam 2004 gives us a new era of Superstars at the top. We see Randy Orton take on The World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Benoit. The Undertaker attempts to dethrone the WWE Champion, John “Bradshaw” Layfield. Edge, Batista, Chris Jericho and so much more in this edition of Chairshot Classics.
The days of Steve Austin and The Rock on top seem to be behind us at this point in WWE history. Goldberg is gone. Even last years top guy, Brock Lesnar is pursuing an NFL career. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a jam packed house though, with 17,640 in the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is actually up a little from last year but that is due to arena size. The PPV buy is right at the same number as last year, 415K. The main sponsor for this show is the same as last year, Stacker 2, but this time they are pushing their Yellow Jacket Stingers product. This is crazy that these speed-like diet pills were a featured sponsor a lot around this era. It’s time to “let the games begin” and see what this show has to offer.
Quick Results for WWE SummerSlam 2004
- Rob Van Dam beat Renee Dupree (Sunday Night Heat)
- The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray, Devon, and Spike) beat Paul London, Billy Kidman, and Rey Mysterio
- Kane beat Matt Hardy
- John Cena beat United States Champion Booker T
- Intercontinental Champion Edge beat Batista and Chris Jericho
- Kurt Angle beat Eddie Guerrero
- Triple H beat Eugene
- WWE Champion JBL beat The Undertaker by disqualification
- Randy Orton beat Chris Benoit to win the World Heavyweight Championship
The PPV opens with a package that shows us various Superstars competing in Olympic-like games. This is because the Summer Olympics were going on at this time in Athens, Greece. The video leads right into the next one and we see Randy Orton saying that he plans to become the youngest champion in WWE history when he beats Chris Benoit. More on this match later. The package even previews The Women’s Dodgeball Tournament. This is part of the WWE reality TV based Diva Search. The video highlights the main matches on the card before we enter the arena for the dual branded (RAW/SmackDown) Summerlam 2004. The RAW announce team of Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler welcomes us to the sold-out arena and introduces us to the SmackDown crew of Tazz and Michael Cole. Tazz and Cole are at ringside and that leaves the RAW guys on the entrance ramp for the second year in a row. I would definitely be willing to bet that JR hated this, as it would be harder to call matches from a distance. And just like that the first match is about to begin.
The men from Dudleyville enter first. The Dudley Boyz, Bubba Ray and D-Von are joined by their cousin and Cruiserweight Champion, Spike. Before the next team enters we see a clip of The Dudley family putting Rey Mysterio through a table. The reason that I mention this is that is wasn’t done in the normal “3D” method, but rather a Coup De Grace from Spike. The WWE Tag Team Champions, Paul London and Billy Kidman enter next and are joined by Mysterio. For those that aren’t familiar with Kidman I suggest you check out some of his Cruiserweight stuff from the WCW heydays. He was a member of Raven’s Flock and was one of my favorite members of that legendary Cruiserweight division of WCW past. London would go on to to be a WWE Cruiserweight Champion and find some success in the Indies afterward. Most notably a run in Pro Wrestling Guerilla with El Generico as PWG Tag Champs. El Generico is current WWE Superstar Sami Zayne.
The men of the mic for the first match are Tazz and Cole. We get D-Von and Kidman in the ring first, and after Kidman reverses D-Von’s whip to the corner, with a head scissors takedown, he is in control. The move gets the first pop and after an armdrag, Kidman is quick to try a cover. He only gets a two count, so he tags in London. The Tag Champs hit a double back elbow and London is soon attempting another pin, after an assisted standing moonsault from Kidman. London shows he’s got the cruiser moves here, hitting some big dropkicks and a cool dropsault off the top turnbuckle. Bubba slows him with the interference, and this allows D-Von to flatten London with a clothesline. D-Von is quick with the cover now and it takes a Mysterio interference to stop the count. Spike is tagged in and enters off the top rope by delivering a dropsault, or Coup De Grace, into the chest of London. After Spike works London for a bit, its Bubba’s turn to tag in. As soon as he enters he hits London with quite a suplex. When D-Von re-enters he applies the headlock and the crowd is cheering for the hot tag. London escapes with some elbows to the midsection, but when he comes off the ropes he is met with a brutal powerslam from D-Von. D-Von goes for the cover and it is Kidman that enters to break it up this time. Bubba enters again, and this is when London starts to rally. D-Von is sent off the apron when London ducks under Bubba’s clothesline and he instead connects with his partner. London hits an enziguri and the crowd is back in the fight with him. Mysterio starts the clap to power, but Spike tags in and grabs London’s foot. He manages to kick free and tag in Mysterio. This sends the crowd into a frenzy as this is what the build of the matches story is centered around.
Rey makes quick work of the smallest Dudley and is quick to go for a pin after he “Drops a Dime”. This is Rey’s version of a springboard leg drop if you were curious. Spike kicks out and Rey soon puts him on the top turnbuckle. He brings Spike right back to the mat with a jumping hurricanrana that the crowd reacts nicely too. Bubba tries to come to the rescue but his attempt is rewarded with a springboard seated senton. D-Von is in next and tries to slam Mysterio, but it is reversed with a DDT and the crowd is on their toes. Kidman tags in and enters from the top. He hits the standing, but dazed, Spike Dudley with a back elbow. This was a cool spot and the elbow looks like it planted firmly on Spike’s jaw. Bubba and D-Von re-enter the ring but are laid out by Kidman as fast as they entered. He hits Spike with the BK-Bomb, a powerbomb variant, but D-Von is there to break up the cover. At this point all men are in the ring, but the Tag Team Champs knock Bubba And D-Von out with dropkicks. London goes airborne when he leaps off Kidman’s back over the top ropes to hit Bubba with a suicide hilo. The 619 is delivered to Spike, and Kidman follows Mysterio’s finish with his own, the Shooting Star Press. It seems as though the match is over when Kidman goes for the cover but D-Von pulls him from the ring on the count of two. Mysterio jumps to the outside to assist Kidman but D-Von moves and Rey hits the security wall. D-Von then lays London out with a clothesline before he returns to the ring with Kidman. A “3D” is next for Kidman and this leads to Spike making the cover and getting the three. The match was an entertaining opener and the build-up to Mysterio/Spike was well done. I enjoyed the match and I think most wrestling fans would. Check this one out. Match Time: 8:06
We return to the RAW announce team as they introduce us to the next match and the stipulations that go along with it. It will Feature Matt Hardy with Lita versus the monster that is Kane. This is a “Till Death Do Us Part” match were Lita has to marry the winner. It doesn’t get much crazier than this folks. The pre-match package shows Lita telling Matt that she had his and the unborn babies DNA tested ad that it is Kane’s baby and not his. The baby was made when she was kidnapped and held against her will by Kane. There is no direct reference to the word rape here, but what in the actual fuck was the WWE thinking here? Spoiler Alert: The baby would later be miscarried when Snitsky strikes Kane with a chair, on the September 13th RAW, causing him to fall onto the pregnant Lita. I am not making this up, look into it if you think otherwise. The WWE was doing some weird shit in this era and children obviously weren’t their target audience as they have been in more recent years.
Lita enters first and instead of her normal 1999 Hot Topic ring gear she is dressed in more motherly clothing. A nice touch, I thought. Next into the arena is Matt Hardy Version 1.0 and the fans give him a warm welcome. Matt was suffering through what he thought was a injured MCL. After this match he would finally see the doctor and learn that not only was his MCL destroyed his ACL was as well. The bald, maskless version of Kane enters last and he is cackling the whole time as he makes his way to the ring. I always thought this was the creepiest version of Kane, and he is one ugly dude. As Kane enters through the ropes Hardy wastes no time getting the early attack. Hardy beats Kane like its a street fight, using mostly punches and kicks. Kane is soon laying over the second rope ad Hardy lands a leg drop onto the back of Kane. A cover is made but Kane is quick to kick-out. Hardy wastes no time and hits a tornado DDT that allows him to go for another cover. He again kicks out and I noticed a pattern here that the fans are just booing every kick-out that happens. I noticed it in the first match as well, and now I am curious as to if it will continue. Kane lands an uppercut out of nowhere that he soon follows with a clothesline that leaves Lita looking on in disbelief. Kane goes for the cover but Matt isn’t done yet. After he pounds Hardy into the corner and chokes him with a boot, Kane takes a moment to stare at Lita in a way that made even me feel uncomfortable with some of the looks he gave her. Kane soon finds himself on the outside after Hardy pulls the top rope down and avoids Kane’s charge. Matt is quick to spring to the outside and hit the crossbody. He follows this with the Twist of Fate and returns to the ring to tell the ref to start the count. At the count of six he sits-up like The Undertaker of old and returns to the ring at the count of nine.
Lita then slides the ring bell into the ring and proceeds to distract the official. After Matt hesitates for a moment, he picks the bell up and plants it into the brow of Kane. Hardy makes the cover but Kane gets his foot on the ropes before the count of two. Eventually Kane reverses the Twist of Fate into the big boot and this gets him some heat from the fans. Kane tries to go up top, but Hardy is there to join him on the second rope. Hardy then tries to DDT Kane off of it, but Kane overpowers him. Kane then delivers a jumping chokeslam off the second rope, and goes for the cover. Lita looks on stunned as the ref counts the three. The surgery that Matt Hardy would require on his knee after this leads to some pivotal points in his life. While he was taking a year to rehab the injury, his real life girlfriend Lita would begin her affair with Edge. That is a whole other subject that can be found all over the inter-webs that I don’t have the time to go into here. The match overall was entertaining and they accomplished what they needed in the ring story wise. The chokeslam finish may just be one of Kane’s top ten uses of the move. Match Time:6:08
Randy Orton is in the back and being interviewed by Todd Grisham. Orton is doing a good job at putting himself over when John Cena enters to cut him off. Orton is cut off right after saying “Tonight will be the night..” Cena finishes the statement with “..that The Franchise opens up shop on Booker T’s ass.” Cena does an even better job of putting himself over and when he asks the fans if they like Orton the respond with an overwhelming “BOO”. This is where Cena really started to shine with his imitation white rapper gimmick. Cena then ask the crowd if Orton is going to beat Benoit for the WWE Championship and this “BOO” is even louder. Orton insults the Canadian fans and ends the clip. Well done stuff here.
The United Stated Champion, Booker T, enters first to some pop and lots of fiery pyro. This is the first of five in the series with John Cena for the US Title. When the challenger, John Cena, enters wearing the Toronto Blue Jays jersey the crowd is going nuts and this is the best pop of the night thus far. The two start the match fast and are going punch for punch. Booker drills a knee to Cena’s midsection but Cena comes off the ropes and levels Booker with the clothesline. Cena goes for the cover but Book kicks out at one. Both men then return to their feet for a stare off and to reset the match. They go back and forth for a bit until Cena comes out ahead with a swinging neckbreaker or as he calls it, The Throwback. Cena goes for the cover but only is rewarded a two count. A side headlock is applied by Cena, but Booker reverses it by atomic dropping Cena onto the top rope. An Axe handle from Booker then knocks Cena to the outside. He returns Cena to the ring and does a “You Can’t See Me” of his own, before he drives his knee into the chest of Cena. Booker has the “Dr. of Thugenomics” right where he wants him, but instead of the cover he delivers some right hands into Cena’s head. The jumping leg lariat is next and Cole messes up the call here, but Tazz is quick to correct him. Booker then applies the camel clutch and the crowd is soon clapping for the Cena rally.
Cena eventually shows his strength here and stands up with Booker T on his back. He rams the back of Booker into the turnbuckle and frees the hold. It doesn’t slow down Booker, and he whips Cena to the corner. When Cena comes out of it Booker meets him with a nice and hard spinebuster. Instead of going for a pin he picks Cena up again to this time deliver a sidewalk slam. Booker then continues to wrench on the neck of John Cena. Cena makes it to his feet and rolls Booker up with a small package. The count is close but it is only a two. After he nails a clothesline, Booker attempts the Ax Kick but Cena rolls from harms way. They both lay on the mat until the ref counts six and then they start to rise again. Cena is first to attack with a series of rights and eventually lays Booker out with a clothesline. Cena tries to come off the ropes again but is pancaked by Booker this time. Booker rises to his feet with the Spin-a-Rooni and the crowd is popping. But Cena is just as quick to his feet and lifts Booker for the Attitude Adjustment. He slams Booker to the mat and goes for the cover. The ref counts the three and Cena is up one match in the best of five series for the United States Championship. The match wasn’t bad, but if I had to choose one to skip out of the first three, it would have to be this one. Match Time: 6:25
We see the new Commissioner of SmackDown, Teddy Long, in the back and he is congratulating himself for the booking of the best of five series. Raw Commissioner, Eric Bischoff, is soon in the room and congratulates him on his newly acquired position. Eric then reminds him that he is the fourth Commissioner to give the SmackDown brand a try since he took his job. They throw shade at each other and Teddy finishes by telling him that if his nephew Eugene loses he will sign him to SmackDown.
The first contender in the next match enters and it is the animal from Evolution, Batista. The crowd shows him some heat as he hits the turnbuckles to pose. Their emotions turn around quickly when Y2J’s theme comes on and Chris Jericho enters for this Triple Threat affair for the Intercontinental Championship. Canadian native Chris Jericho’s standing ovation is overshadowed when the Champion and Toronto’s own, Edge enters. This is a huge pop that will be hard to beat for the rest of the guys in the back. Edge doesn’t even get to remove his red trench coat before Batista attacks him. Edge was still posing on the ropes when the attack happened, so it caused him to tumble to the outside. Jericho sees this as his opportunity to strike and attacks the back of Batista. The plan works and he gets the early advantage on Batista, most notably some big chops to the chest of the Animal. When Jericho tries to whip Batista from corner to corner, he is easily overpowered and slammed into the corner. When he bounces off the turnbuckle Batista is there to destroy him with a back elbow. The shoulder blocks that he delivers to Jericho next are pretty brutal, especially the one that lays Jericho out when he comes off the rope. Jericho tries to rally behind some elbows to the midsection but when he come off the ropes for the crossbody, Batista catches him and drives him to the mat. Batista is about to ruin Jericho with a powerbomb but we see Edge enter the match for the first time and chop the knee out from under Batista. This saves Jericho, who rolls from the ring, and allows Edge to stomp away at the big man. Edge continues the beating of Batista but when he tries to come off the top turnbuckle Batista meets him with a boot to the midsection. Batista hits Edge with the snake-eyes next and the crowd I really giving him some heat at this point.
Batista is sizing Edge up as he rises to his feet, dazed. It’s Jericho who saves Edge, this time by grabbing the foot of Batista. He kicks Jericho off but the distraction allows Edge to hit the dropkick. Edge follows it by clotheslining the big man over the top rope. Edge joins them on the floor but Batista is quick to try and charge him. But Edge is even quicker and drop toe holds Batista into the ring stairs. Jericho sees this as an opportunity to strike and dropkicks the sitting Batista into the stairs again. The two Canadians return to the ring and this is what the fans have been waiting for. They go back and forth, but Edge comes out ahead with the knee to the midsection that sends Jericho flipping. Edge tries for the Downward Spiral but Y2J reverses it into the set-up for the Walls of Jericho. Before he locks it in, Edge rolls him up for the pin attempt. Jericho kicks out and both men are fast to their feet. After Jericho kicks out of Edges crossbody into a pin, Jericho is quick to pull Edge’s legs and go for another Walls of Jericho. This time he locks it in, and he is really sitting on the back of Edge. Edge, after some time, finally starts to make his way towards the ropes, but Jericho drags him back to the center of the ring. He is really wrenching the back of Edge, and just as you think he is going to tap out, Batista enters and breaks the hold. Batista throws Jericho, shoulder first, into the ring pole and this sends him crashing to the outside. Batista goes for the big clothesline but Edge ducks under it and hits the big man with the lifting DDT. He goes for the cover but Batista kicks out at two.
Edge is watching Batista rise to his feet in anticipation of the Spear. Just as he strikes, Jericho re-enters the picture and levels Edge with a clothesline. Batista rewards Jericho for his help with a brutal spinebuster, that JR compares to Arn Anderson. Batista makes the cover but Edge is able to just barely break it up. Batista charges at Edge but he pulls the rope down and the big man goes clumsily to the outside. Jericho slides in the ring and hooks the tights of Edge for the roll-up. Edge kicks out at two and the match continues. Jericho lays Edge out with a running bulldog and when Batista is back on the apron, Jericho springboards off the ropes to knock him back off with an enziguri. The distraction allows Edge to ambush Jericho with a Spear and goes for the cover. The ref counts the three and Edge is the second person to successfully defend the IC Title at SummerSlam, the first being Shawn Michaels in his iconic 1995 Ladder Match against Razor Ramon. This was the first appearance at SummerSlam for Batista and the match made for a good debut. If you were unsure of the winner going in, I think it would have been hard to predict the winner throughout the match. Each individual did a good job of keeping you on your toes. A match that is worth the watch. Match Time:8:26
Tazz and Michael Cole are quick to announce the next match that features Kurt Angle squaring off against Eddie Guerrero. This feud has been going on since Eddie beat Kurt at WrestleMania XX to retain the WWE Championship. We get a package that shows this and it also shows how Kurt cost Eddie the title when he interfered in his cage match versus JBL. Kurt ran out, dressed as a Luchador, and stopped Eddie from stopping JBL from exiting. This feud had a well done build-up and lets hope the match is the same. The challenger Kurt Angle enters first and the Canadian fans can’t even give up a “You Suck” chant. Kurt is joined by Luther Reigns. Luther was a wrester who hung around the WWE for sometime but never amounted to much. Eddie enters next and for the second year in a row he is driving a Low Rider out in a SummerSlam. This obviously draws a nice pop from the fans.
The collar and elbow is how the match begins and they then transition into various wrestling holds. They go back and forth for some time with no one really gaining an edge. They separate and return to their corners as if to restart the match. Eddie and Kurt again tie-up and this time Eddie gains the advantage with a side headlock. Kurt reverses out of it and into a wrist lock. The match is very technical early on, and I would expect no different from these two Hall of Famers. The escape is made when Guerrero lifts Kurt and slams him with the fireman’s carry. Now it is Kurt who is tied up with an armbar. After Eddie transitions to a hammerlock, Angle escapes and hits a German suplex. When he holds on and attempts the second one, Eddie escapes and applies the ankle lock onto him. It is locked in the center of the ring but after some time Angle rolls over and gouges the eyes of Guerrero. Kurt Angle delivers a sly Angle Slam, that no one sees coming, and instead of going for the cover, Kurt pulls the straps of his singlet down. It is now Kurt’s turn to apply the Ankle Lock and it takes some real work for Guerrero to escape this one. This is when we see Angle untie the boot of Guerrero. After some struggle he finally finds the ropes but it still takes the official to break the hold. While the ref pulls Angle away, Luther uses this window to deliver a boot to the head of Eddie Guerrero. Kurt locks the hold right back in but can’t fully get it because Eddie is holding onto his leg for dear life. Once again Eddie finds the ropes and once again it takes the official to break the hold. Kurt continues to work the ankle even wrapping it around the ring post.
Eddie tries to gain some momentum at every opportunity but whenever he lands a few punches, Angle takes him right back to the mat and works the ankle. Angle applies a headlock but Eddie slowly manages to rise to his feet. He escapes the hold by nailing Angle with a jawbreaker and is quick to scoop up Angle and hit him with his own finisher, the Angle Slam. This leaves both men on the mat as the ref starts his count. The official counts to six before they rise to their feet and this is where you can see that Eddie’s boot is completely unlaced. Latino Heat delivers a series of right hands and before he delivers the last one, which takes Angle off his feet, he does a nice little shimmy. Eddie nails the Three Amigos next, which is a triple inverted suplex, and then struggles to climb to the top turnbuckle. Kurt runs to meet him up there and throws him over his head with an under hooked toss. Cool spot here. Kurt tries for the cover, but the Latino Heat isn’t quite snuffed yet. Kurt pops to his feet and tries the Angle Slam. Eddie counters it and transitions it into a tornado DDT. Eddie Guerrero goes up top again and comes off with his patented frogsplash. Kurt manages to roll from harms way and both men again slowly rise to their feet. Kurt strikes first and delivers the Angle Slam. He goes for the cover, but again Guerrero still isn’t finished. Kurt now has a crazed look in his eyes as he applies the Ankle Lock again. He rips the boot from Eddie’s ankle and applies it to the exposed foot. Guerrero somehow manages to escape by pulling the ref into Angle. This leaves all three individuals prone on the mat. Eddie takes advantage of the downed ref and smashes his boot into Angle’s face. When Luther Reigns jumps onto the apron, Guerrero doesn’t hesitate and knock him back off it with the boot. Eddie lays back on the mat and when the ref regains awareness he hops right back to his feet. Great spot here by Guerrero. Eddie Guerrero goes up top once again and this time he nails the perfectly executed frogsplash. He goes for the cover but Angle isn’t done yet. Eddie begins to argue with the ref over the close call and this is when Angle strikes. Angle grabs the unbooted ankle of Eddie, applies the lock and after some struggle, he taps out. There isn’t much more to say about this match then go watch it on the Network. It’s worth it. Match Time:13:38
The package for the next match shows how Triple H and Eugene formed their bond. Triple H makes the feeble minded Eugene a honorary member of Evolution because Triple H is his favorite wrestler. This is all part of Hunter’s master plan to have him interfere at Vengeance and cost Chris Benoit the Title. This doesn’t go as planed and Eugene accidentally hits Triple H with a chairshot and costs him the match. Triple H and the other Evolution members fake an apology on RAW before they destroy Eugene. They hit him with all the finishes and even draw some color from Eugene. Triple H then goes on to beat up his mentor, William Regal, with the patented sledgehammer. Once again we get some color, this time from Regal. These events lead to Eric Bischoff granting Triple H with this match.
The Game, Triple H, enters first and he is spitting water everywhere, per usual. The Evolution leader spits some more water from the apron and hits the turnbuckle before Eugene’s theme begins. As he makes his way to the ring the crowd is giving him a pretty warm welcome. As soon as the bell sounds the two go to work by exchanging punches. Triple H gets first advantage after a knee to the midsection and continues to stomp away on Eugene. It isn’t long before Eugene reverses an Irish whip and catches Hunter with a back elbow. A back body drop is next from Eugene and the crowd gives him a standing ovation for this. They soon find themselves on the outside and Triple H grips Lillian Garcia, who is sitting in the timekeeper’s area, and uses her as a shield. Triple H eventually shoves her to the floor, and when Eugene tries to help her, Triple H ambushes him. Triple H returns Eugene to the ring and proceeds to stomp a mudhole into him. Not long after that, Triple H re-exits the ring and begins to dismantle the Spanish announce table. After he finishes, Hunter grabs Eugene on the apron as if he is going to powerplex him over the ropes and through the table. Eugene overpowers him and Triple H is suplexed into the ring instead. After Eugene pounds Triple H with the ten count in the corner, Triple H is asking as if his knee has given out. When Eugene gives him some space to try and recover we see that it was all a work and Hunter ambushes Eugene. The ref is about to stop the fight, due to Hunter’s “injury”, when he strikes Eugene and throws him from the ring.
Triple H doesn’t waste any time returning Eugene to the ring. Once back inside, Triple H hits him with a pair of backbreakers. This is when we hear, what I interpreted as, “Eugene Sucks” chants from the fans and Eugene attempts to rally. Eugene hits a headbutt and follows it by leveling Triple H with a shoulder block. The crowd is really booing Eugene at this point and this is when the term “Bizarro World” is coined. Lawler is shocked by this crowds reactions and rightfully so. A crowd should respond any way that they choose, but they still don’t usually go against the grain. This is more common nowadays and the fans aren’t afraid to boo the leading BabyFace. Right Roman? Eugene stomps a mudhole but when he walks away Triple H rise to his knees and pleads for mercy. Eugene looks confused because Triple H is offering him a handshake. But when Eugene takes Hunter’s hand instead of shaking it he pulls Hunter in for the Rock Bottom. He slams Triple H to the mat and now the crowd wants to cheer him. The faces Eugene makes when he is setting up the People’s Elbow next are hilarious. When Eugene returns off the ropes Triple H hops to his feet and slams him with a spinebuster. Triple H then chokes Eugene until the ref forces the break. Hunter reapplies it three times in a row but he breaks every time the ref counts three. I am always a fan of spots like this because I think it really helps to tell the Heels story in the ring. Triple H takes Eugene outside next and whips him into the ring stairs. Lawler has a great line here, saying “Eugene wasn’t even his moms favorite. And he was an only child.” Classic King here and the banter throughout the whole show between him and JR is great.
Triple H returns Eugene to the ring and is really working him with punches. Eugene tries to slow the Cerebral Assassin but this is quickly stopped and Eugene finds himself in a sleeper hold. Eugene rallies free and the crowd really doesn’t like this. When he comes off the ropes Triple H is there in waiting to drive a boot into Eugene’s midsection. When Hunter grabs Eugene for The Pedigree the crowd explodes and they are really behind the Heel here. Eugene counters it though with a back body drop, and the fans are right back to booing. Triple H bounces Eugene’s head off of each turnbuckle, but Eugene seems to “Hulk-Up” more and more after each one. After the last one he is fully charged and starts to hit Triple H with some right hands. The last one he throws, which JR calls “A Kerry Von Erich discuss lariat”, takes Hunter off his feet. Triple H tries to kick Eugene in the midsection to slow him, but Eugene catches his foot. When Eugene flips him the bird and hits the Stone Cold Stunner, the crowd erupts and now wants to cheer him. After this is when we see The Nature Boy, Ric Flair enter the arena. He is strutting down the aisle and this distracts Eugene. Hunter tries to attack him from behind, but Eugene is quick to counter the punch. He catches Hunter with the big boot and the fans know what is coming next as Eugene starts to do some Hulk Hogan poses. Eugene drops the leg and the fans erupt as he goes for the cover. The Hulk Hogan spot was a cool homage to WrestleMania 3, that took place in Toronto which is where Hogan famously dropped the leg on Andre the Giant.
Triple H kicks it out and Ric Flair is now up on the apron. Eugene is quick to knock Ric off the apron and climb to the top turnbuckle. Eugene comes off the top with an ax handle but Triple H meets him with a boot to the gut. Triple H grabs Eugene up for a Pedigree, but Eugene is able to pull H’s legs out. He then catapults Hunter into the turnbuckle. Eugene hits Triple H with his own Pedigree and goes for the cover. It appears as Eugene is going to get the three count, but Ric Flair puts Triple H’s foot onto the ropes. This forces the ref to stop the count, but Eugene is celebrating as if he has won. Flair grabs the foot of Eugene which leads to the ref banning Ric from ringside. Flair heads to the back but is pretty pissed about it. But before he exits, Regal appears behind him and has the brass knuckles. As soon as Flair spins around he gets leveled by the knucks. Eugene is watching this and cheering Regal on. Regal is telling Eugene to turn around though because Triple H has risen to his feet and is standing behind him. When Eugene turns around he is met with The Pedigree and Regal cant make it in the ring quick enough to stop the count. The ref counts three and the fans are unsure if like this or not. The match was good, but the finish sucked. Eugene was an alright gimmick, as he was a life long wrestling fan and used his favorite wrestler’s finishes. The crowd here is really strange and the term “Bizarro World” is first used in the wrestling business here. This is different than the “Bizarro World” of today though, because today the fans seem to boo whoever they feel is getting the forced push by the WWE Machine. Back at this time they were cheering for one of the biggest cogs in said Machine, Triple H. Match Time:14:06
Jonathon Coachman welcomes us in to the segment that was rated number two by the fans as the best “match” of SummerSlam 2004 on WWE.com, Diva Dodgeball. When I did my research for this SummerSlam I came across a few rumors that this thing wasn’t scripted and quickly turned into a shoot game. We are introduced to Team Dream first. These are the women competing in the Diva search. Team Diva is next out and they are made up of current Diva’s on the roster. Trish Stratus is the captain and she is joined by Molly Holly, Jazz, Stacy Kiebler, Gail Kim, Nidia and finally, Victoria. Team Dream mops the floor with The Divas and win with five members of their team left. After the game Trish and Victoria get into a tussle and I’ve read that this to was a shoot and wasn’t part of the plan.
Tazz and Cole introduce us to the next match between The Undertaker and John “Bradshaw” Layfield, and we get a Tale of the Tape before it. The Undertaker’s card has a graphic that says “12-0 at WrestleMania” and I’m curious if this is when they first started to mention The Streak. The lights go black when we enter the arena again and the stage is full of fire and smoke. The bells are tollin’ as The Undertaker of old makes his way to the ring. This was a happy sight for me to see The Deadman version return opposed to the Big Evil version I have gotten in the last few SummerSlams. The WWE Champion, John “Bradshaw” Layfield is introduced but he doesn’t walk out. He is driven out, by his assistant Orlando Jordan, in his white limo that is fully decked out with the bullhorns on the hood.
The opening collar and elbow doesn’t last long because Taker shoves JBL right out of the ring. Taker joins him on the outside and bounces JBL off the steel steps before returning him to the ring. Once inside, The Undertaker goes for his Old School move, the tightrope lariat, but JBL counters with some punches and pounds away on him in the corner. They go back and forth a bit until Bradshaw hits a big sidewalk slam and goes for a cover. Taker is quick to kick-out though, and JBL goes to the top rope. As soon as Taker rises to his feet JBL leaps from the top and takes him back down with a shoulder block. JBL drives an elbow into the chest of the Deadman and goes for another cover, but Taker is again quick to kick-out. The tides shift when JBL goes for a clothesline but Taker ducks it and uses the missed momentum to apply an armbar. The Undertaker continues to work the left arm of JBL and eventually leads him to the corner to try for the Old School again. This time it is a success and the crowd really enjoyed it. Taker goes for a cover after a Russian leg sweep variant, and just when it looks over, Bradshaw grabs the rope. The Deadman wastes no time and is quick to apply a triangle choke, using the left arm for leverage. Just when its starting to look as JBL will tap, Jordan grabs his foot and puts it in the rope. JBL catches Taker with a big boot but he no-sells it and levels JBL with a big boot off his own. Jordan is on the apron and trying to assist JBL but Taker doesn’t want to leave him out of the big boot party and knocks him off the apron with one. When he does this he gets his foot caught on the tope rope and JBL chops his knee out. Bradshaw then slides from the ring and wraps that knee around the ring post. The ref becomes distracted by Orlando Jordan and JBL uses this window of opportunity to deliver a chairshot to the knee of the Deadman. JBL wraps the knee around the pole again, but when he goes for another one, Taker kicks him in the face and escapes. Taker bounces JBL off the ring stairs and he is doing a good job selling the injured knee. When Undertaker goes to strike again, Bradshaw chops the injured leg and brings the Deadman down. Bradshaw returns to the ring and is arguing with the referee. While this is happening Taker is struggling to get to his feet, so Jordan assists him and throws him into the ring.
JBL works the knee and when he locks it up the crowd is electric, and it appears as if they are doing the wave. Taker eventually rolls out of the lock and transitions it into a one legged Boston crab. JBL is fast to find the ropes and break the hold. Undertaker hits JBL with a rolling legbar and that is something I don’t know if I remember Taker doing very often, if ever. The hold is released quickly though, and both men return to their feet to start anew. The Deadman strikes first and his punches send Bradshaw through the ropes and crashing to the floor. The crowd is chanting “Undertaker” now as he suspends the head of JBL off the apron and drives his elbow into it. The Undertaker is on the apron with him now and drops the leg onto the suspended head of JBL. The crowd tune changes here and they are now chanting “Spanish table”. I must say I really enjoyed this chant and it is one that is rarely heard. JBL starts to return to the ring and Taker tries to hurry it along by lifting him by the hair. This backfires and Taker gets hung up on the top rope with a hot shot. JBL takes to the top rope next, but The Undertaker meets him there with his famous uppercuts. Taker then joins him up top and brings JBL slamming to the mat with a superplex. The Undertaker rolls onto JBL for the cover, but he narrowly gets the shoulder up. The crowd returns to booing the false finishes here and its strange because these are what normally draw some of the best pop from the fans. Bizarro indeed. The fist of Undertaker is raised, and he is setting up for the Last Ride. JBL saves himself, though, by chopping the injured knee of Taker and stopping the powerbomb. He works the knee some more before he hammerlocks it. Taker struggles for a minute, but when he reaches up and grabs JBL by the throat the crowd erupts. They both rise to their feet and Taker is still holding the throat of Bradshaw. He is about to lift JBL for the chokeslam but yet again a well timed kick to the knee saves him. JBL comes off the ropes, but Taker meets him with a brutal spinebuster. The Deadman tries for the cover but JBL isn’t done yet, and neither are the fans with their booing of the kick-out.
The men slowly return to their feet and stand toe-to-toe and exchange right hands. The Undertaker wins this battle and hits his flying lariat off the ropes. Taker puts JBL into the corner and is really selling the injured knee as he hits JBL with a sequence of splashes. Taker gives Bradshaw the snake-eyes, and the crowd erupts when The Undertaker hits JBL with his own Clothesline From Hell. But once again, Bradshaw gets a shoulder up to stop the cover attempt. A chokeslam is next, but once again, JBL gets a shoulder up. Taker picks JBL up for the Tombstone Piledriver but has to put him down because Jordan is on the apron. He levels Jordan with an uppercut but when he spins around, Bradshaw destroys him with the Clothesline From Hell. Bradshaw makes the lazy cover and this allows the Deadman to kick-out. The Undertaker whips JBL into the corner but the referee gets in the way and is sandwiched between the turnbuckle and the whipped JBL. Both men then connect the double big boot that lays them both out. When they return to their feet Jordan tosses JBL the Golden Strap and he plants it upside The Undertaker’s head. The ref is still knocked out from the corner bump so when JBL goes for the cover, there is no one to count it. Jordan slides into the ring and uses the referee’s hand to make the count. The fans count along but the Deadman still kicks out. Jordan then attacks The Undertaker but he is quickly countered and thrown from the ring. When Taker turns around he is hit with yet another Clothesline From Hell. JBL then takes him into the corner and begins the ten count. But after only two punches The Undertaker picks him up and delivers the Last Ride. This takes all the Deadman has, and he falls to the mat too. Taker slowly rolls over for the cover, and after a second the ref is stirring and starts the count. But once again JBL gets the shoulder up. And once again the fans boo. Jordan comes into the ring again and this time has the Strap. Taker flattens him with the big boot and the Title is now in the hands of the Deadman. He strikes JBL in the head with it but the ref sees this and rings the bell. And John “Bradshaw” Layfield retains the WWE Championship. The crowd really boos this, but starts to cheer when Taker throws JBL out of the ring. When Taker picks JBL up you can see the blood starting to flow from JBL’s face. Taker then leads him up the ramp and slams him onto his own limousine. After he removed the horns, of course. JBL is left on the hood of the car as The Undertaker starts to leave the arena. There is a cool shot here of Bradshaw laying on the hood with the blood flowing from his face and down the white hood of the car. As The Undertaker is about to leave the arena, he turns around and heads back to the limo. Taker then takes JBL onto the roof of the car and chokeslams him through it. This is a spot that was almost blown by a fan. At some point in the match a fan supposedly jumped the security rail and tried to climb onto the limo. Luckily security caught him first and made the save. If not the fan most certainly would have fell through the roof and ruined the spot. The crowd rewards Taker with some “Holy Shit” chants as he looks over the crowd. This was a great match and was probably my favorite one up until this point. I didn’t even mind the DQ finish. The Undertaker wanted JBL to win the fight clean because he thought it would give JBL’s cowardly character some credibility. Bradshaw was against this, as he thought it would hurt his character more if he went over clean. I think the two real life friends came up with a good finish and I would recommend this match to anyone. The following year The Undertaker would be the Best Man in Bradshaw’s wedding so it makes sense that Taker would try and help put him over. Match Time:17:37
After The Undertaker smears JBL’s blood across his chest and rolls the eyes back he exits the arena. This is when the medical staff enters and put the neck brace onto JBL. This dude has some serious blood flowing at this point and the EMTs do the stretcher job. Jordan stops them to make sure that JBL has the WWE Title before they stretcher him out.
We get Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler back and they introduce us to the last match of the night and the second half of the Co-Main Event. Lawler comments again that “He loves it here in Bizarro Land”. The challenger, Randy Orton, enters through a spark shower, and like most of this event, the crowd doesn’t have much of a response. Orton earned this match by winning a number one contender Battle Royale two weeks prior on RAW. The World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit’s theme cuts Orton’s celebration short, and The Wolverine enters his hometown arena. Once both are in the ring they enter into a vicious stare-off that lasts until the bell rings and they tie-up. Its the usual collar and elbow, but Benoit is quick to push Orton into the corner. He holds Orton there until the ref separates them and we are back to square one. Orton applies the hammerlock next but Benoit is quick to escape and hit Orton with a drop toe hold. Benoit applies a reverse chinlock and starts to work Orton’s neck. Orton eventually stands it up and drives Benoit into the corner. This leads to the ref separating them again and restarting the match. A test of strength is next and just when it looks like Orton is going to overpower Benoit with the Greco-Roman knucklelock, he starts to push back. Benoit takes Orton down with a wristlock and some more hold wrestling continues.
Orton finally escapes the hold and flattens Benoit with a shoulder block. The momentum is swiftly back in Benoit’s favor after he takes Orton back down with an arm drag. And once again Orton is in a wristlock. Orton eventually rises to his feet and escapes with an elbow to the side of Benoit’s head. Orton then whip him into the ropes and gets airborne for a dropkick. Benoit holds the ropes though and Randy lands squarely on his back. Benoit tries for the Sharpshooter but Orton rolls him over. Orton then puts the Sharpshooter onto Benoit. He looks to be in trouble but he overpowers Orton and it is now Orton who is in the Sharpshooter. Just when Orton is about to get the ropes Benoit breaks the hold and tries to apply the Crippler Crossface. Orton and Benoit roll together, to the outside, and Orton soon slams Benoit into the ring pole. Orton slams Benoit into the pole one more time before he returns him to the ring. Randy is quick to go for the cover and use the ropes for leverage. Before the ref even starts the count he notices the cheating efforts of Orton. Orton then starts to really wrench on the elbow of Benoit with an armbar hybrid. They eventually return to their feet but Orton maintains the advantage by suplexing Benoit onto the top rope. This leaves Benoit on the apron Orton soon joins him out there but after Benoit delivers a few kicks to his midsection, he finds himself getting DDTed onto the apron. Benoit returns him to the ring and is fast on the cover attempt. When Orton kicks out at two the crowd is still booing it. Orton rolls from the ring to recover but Benoit runs and baseball slides Orton. This sends him crashing into the apron and Benoit is soon leaping through the ropes for the suicide dive. Benoit is cruising and when Orton moves he drives his head right into the security wall. Vicious bump here and I rewound it a few times, I must confess. Orton rolls the dazed Benoit back into the ring and goes for the cover but Benoit narrowly gets the shoulder up.
Orton applies a chinlock next with one hand while he clubs Benoit’s chest with the other. Orton puts Benoit in a side camel clutch next and even pulls Benoit’s hair for leverage. Benoit eventually stand it up and tries to escape with some elbows to Orton’s midsection. Orton lets him go but nails him with a European Uppercut. Orton then picks Benoit up onto his shoulder for a backbreaker but when he brings Benoit down he transitions into a cutter. Cool spot here. The crowd erupts for this but when Benoit kicks out of the cover attempt their right back to booing. Orton works the side headlock next but Benoit slowly rises to his feet and escapes with elbows. They both hit the ropes and go airborne and collide mid-air with the double crossbody. These leaves both men prone for a moment as the official starts his count. They make it to their feet around the six count ad begin to trade punches. Orton hits the ropes but Chris levels him with a series of shoulder blocks. Benoit then throws Orton sky-high for a back body drop. The northern lights suplex is next but Orton manages to barely kick-out. Benoit then puts Orton onto the top turnbuckle and joins him up there. This soon backfires and Orton shoves Benoit to the mat. When Benoit rises to his feet dazed Orton leaps from the top rope to nail the crossbody. He hooks the tights and rolls Benoit up but the cheating avails him nothing and Benoit kicks out. Orton goes for the RKO but Benoit shoves him away and into the ropes. When Orton comes back off the ropes Benoit flattens him with a clothesline. After a German suplex, Benoit is quick to apply the Sharpshooter. Just when Orton looks like he is out of it he come back to life and gets the bottom rope. Benoit holds the waist of Orton tight and deliver six German suplexs in a row and he doesn’t let go until the last one. Impressive stuff by Benoit here. Benoit does the “throat slit” and goes to the top turnbuckle. The crowd is going nuts when he comes off it for the diving headbutt but Orton meets his forehead with his feet. When you watch Benoit’s matches back under a microscope you see this guy take some serious head bumps. I know it is a touchy subject but the stuff this guy subjected his body to is just plain nuts.
The ref again starts count and Orton eventually rolls over to make the cover. When Benoit kicks out at two he is quick to lock Orton into the Crippler Crossface. Orton eventually rolls out of it and when they rise to their feet Orton is quick to strike with the RKO. Orton hooks the leg and the fans count along as the ref counts the three. And Randy Orton is the new World Heavyweight Champion and the youngest to ever do so at the age of 24. This victory would unseat Brock Lesnar, who was the former bearer of that record. A look of complete shock comes over Randy Orton’s face as he is handed the Title and begins to celebrate. Some say that the reason the record was taken from Lesnar is because they had soured on him for leaving the company. This is funny seeing as were we are today. The match was fantastic and the story was great. It is a shame that the career of Benoit is tainted with such tragedy because in the ring he was amazing. Match Time:20:10
Well that concludes another edition of The Chairshot Classic and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I really enjoyed this whole card and the three must see matches for me are Taker/JBL, Benoit/Orton and the probably the opening Six man tag match. As I always like to do at the end of these, lets see what Dave Meltzer had to say of it. These star ratings were gathered from www.profightdb.com. Dave was really impressed with the Orton/Benoit bout and gave it four and a half stars. If you use the Tokyo scale and convert that it is a solid six I’m sure. The only other match to break a three was the Guerrero/Angle match. To steal a line from Bruce Prichard here, on Dave’s analysis of this PPV, “Fuck Dave Meltzer.”
As always head over to Twitter and give me (@james_callear) and The Chairshot a follow. A lot of hard work goes into this content so share it among your friends and help us out. If you are into Profession Wrestling and don’t follow them you are just doing something wrong.
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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