Eric Ames takes a look back at the second ever PPV version of the WWE King of the Ring, the 1994 WWF King Of The Ring!
In the spirit of the 2019 WWE King Of The Ring, we’re looking back at another past WWE tournament with the 1994 King Of The Ring! Following Bret Hart’s King Of The Ring win last year, his brother Owen looks to claim the throne for himself and step out on his own. However, the likes of Razor Ramon, Bam Bam Bigelow, Jeff Jarrett and The 1-2-3 Kid all have their sights set on the crown. Let’s jump into the action!
Open: Earlier in the day as the camera crews were setting up around the tournament bracket board, Jeff Jarrett showed up to do some premature advancing of his name. Owen Hart would walk in to correct him, followed by Bam Bam Bigelow and Irwin R. Schyster. Todd Pettengill then voices over highlights showcasing tonight’s card, including the first round tournament matches, our WWF Title match and Roddy Piper vs. Jerry Lawler.
In The Arena: Bill Dunn asks the crowd to please rise, as Ricky Medlocke of the band Blackfoot sings our National Anthem.
Match #1 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Bam Bam Bigelow w/Luna Vachon vs. Razor Ramon
Luna has some words for The Bad Guy and he tosses his toothpick in her face, Bam Bam ambushes him from behind as the bell rings, clobbering him down to the mat. He sends Ramon to the ropes for a shoulder block, whips him back in for another, plants him with a body slam, drops a headbutt and follows with a big leg drop. Bigelow to the top turnbuckle for the Diving Headbutt, Razor rolls out of harm’s way, scores with big right hands, irish whip to the corner is reversed and The Bad Guy hits the turnbuckles hard.
The Beast from the East looks to send him back across, Ramon reverses, follows in and slides under the legs to the outside, trips Bam Bam up and yanks him in an unforgiving position into the ring post. The Bad Guy climbs back in, comes off the 2nd rope with a bulldog for a near fall, starts to target the left leg with elbow drops and grabs a heel hold. Bigelow kicks him away, goes for a kick that gets caught, tries to bring his other foot around for an enzuigiri, Ramon ducks it and then staggers him with a clothesline. He goes to the ropes for another and can’t bring Bam Bam down, tries once more, The Beast from the East side-steps it and uses the momentum to dump Razor over the top to the floor.
Bam Bam goes out and hits a couple of rights before rolling Ramon back in, clubs him in the back, loud “Razor” chants and Bigelow puts the boots to him for a count of 2. He clocks Razor with an enzuigiri for another 2 count, drives headbutts into the lower back, then powers him into a torture rack. The referee checks the arm, Ramon doesn’t let it drop on the third attempt, Bigelow can’t hold him up anymore, flips him over to his feet for a side headlock and The Bad Guy counters with a back suplex. Both guys stagger to their feet, Ramon blocks right hands and returns fire, irish whip to the corner is reversed, Bam Bam charges in and The Bad Guy side-steps out of the way.
He delivers a body slam, lifts him up to prop him on the top turnbuckle, Bigelow with a big back elbow to avoid it, then plants Razor with a body slam of his own. He scales the corner to go for the Bam Bamsault, Ramon pops to his feet, plants him into the canvas, stacks The Beast from the East up and gets a 3 count.
Winner: Razor Ramon (Bam Bamsault Counter)
- EA’s Take: This has nothing to do with the match, but I need to address it right off the bat…why on Earth is Art Donovan on commentary tonight? Just awful. Anyways, good to open the night and tournament with this one as Razor is over and Bam Bam was one of the best heels in the company. Honestly, either of these guys would have been excellent choices to win the whole thing. In case you’re wondering, after retaining his Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania against Shawn Michaels, Ramon would lose it just a few short weeks later to The Heartbreak Kid’s bodyguard, Diesel.
Backstage: Todd Pettengill is standing at the King Of The Ring board with Irwin R. Schyster & Mabel with Oscar, opponents in our next tournament match. IRS informs Mabel he’s not worried about him and then next up will be Razor Ramon, then says he hopes 1-2-3 Kid makes it to the finals before walking off. Mabel thinks Schyster needs to stop thinking about Razor and be concerned with him, then states if he meets Ramon then he will learn who the real Bad Guy is.
Match #2 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Irwin R. Schyster vs. Mabel w/Oscar
IRS tries to attack from behind after the bell, Mabel drives him head-first into the top turnbuckle over and over, levels him with a clothesline, then plants The Tax Man with a body slam. He hooks Schyster for a delayed vertical suplex, grabs a wristlock for clubbing blows to the back, brings him back to the canvas with a modified fireman’s carry takeover, then drops a massive elbow to the chest. Mabel shoots Irwin to the corner and follows him in for a splash, IRS side-steps it, delivers a knee to the back to send the big man to the outside and takes himself a breather in the ring.
Mabel rolls back into the squared circle, Schyster meets him with right hands, sends him off to the ropes and drops him with the Write-Off followed by multiple elbow drops for a count of 2. He attempts to pick Mabel up for a body slam, can’t lift the weight, Mabel counters to a small package for a quick 2 count and IRS swiftly starts putting the boots to him before slapping on a rear chinlock. The big man powers up to a standing position, backs Irwin into the turnbuckles to break the hold, hammers him with big punches, shoots him to the ropes and elevates him with a big back body drop.
Mabel runs him over with a clothesline, shoots Schyster back to the ropes for a high back elbow, then back in again for a sidewalk slam, nearly putting the match away. He drives IRS into the mat with another body slam, climbs to the 2nd rope, Irwin quickly shakes the ropes forcing Mabel to lose his balance, he crashes down to the canvas, Schyster with a cover using the ropes for leverage and he gets the win.
Winner: Irwin R. Schyster (Pinfall)
- EA’s Take: Ho-hum, pretty basic stuff here to get IRS to advance and meet Razor Ramon is the semi-finals. The company was trying out Mabel as a singles competitor for the first time as they still were enamored by Superstars of enormous size, but it wouldn’t last past the summer and he’d slide back into tag team action with Mo.
Video: Earlier in the day, Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette were prepping Yokozuna & Crush for their match-up for the WWF Tag Team Titles tonight. Cornette says Fuji has his boys well prepared to take the championships tonight, Fuji stating he wants The Headshrinkers to be squashed and for his guys to walk out as the new champs.
Match #3 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Tatanka vs. ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart
Owen steps into the ring after his entrance and Tatanka immediately meets him with right hands, the bell sounds and The Native American whips him back and forth into the turnbuckles, elevates him with a back body drop and gains a quick 2 count. He executes a vertical suplex for another count of 2, The Rocket goes to the eyes to stop the onslaught, slows things down with a standing side headlock, The Native American pushes him off to the ropes and gets knocked down by a shoulder block.
Hart goes back to the ropes, Tatanka drops down, leapfrogs over and catches him with a hip toss, shoots him back to the ropes for a Japanese arm drag, then grabs a side headlock of his own. Owen shoves him off to the ropes, Tatanka with a big shoulder knockdown, goes back to the ropes, The Rocket drops down and uses the momentum to toss him over the top to the floor. The Native American back to his feet, sweeps Owen’s legs from the outside and drags him under the bottom rope, connects with a series of overhand chops, Hart returns fire and whips him shoulder-first into the ring post before rolling back inside.
We go backstage where IRS & Razor Ramon are involved in a shoving match, WWF officials having to step in between them as Tatanka pulls himself back into the ring in the arena. Owen drops him on the 2nd rope and chokes away, hits the ropes and drops all his weight onto the back with a seated senton, then rakes Tatanka’s face on the top rope. He plants The Native American with a gutwrench suplex, heads upstairs for a dropkick, hooks the leg and gains a near fall before grabbing a rear chinlock. Tatanka fights up to his feet, hits the ropes and ducks under a clothesline, The Rocket slaps on a sleeper hold and The Native American starts to fade down to the canvas.
The referee checks the arm, Tatanka shows some life on the third attempt, battles his way up, Owen clocks him with fists, drives him head-first into the top turnbuckle over and over, but it has little affect and The Native American goes into his war dance. He pummels The Rocket with knife-edge chops and punches, makes a cover for a count of 2, irish whip to the corner is reversed, Owen follows him in and runs into a boot to the jaw. The Native American spikes him with a DDT for a near fall, plants him with a body slam, heads to the top rope for an overhand chop, but still can’t get a 3 count.
Tatanka sends Hart to the corner and charges in behind, The Rocket looks to hop up and over, gets caught on The Native American’s shoulders, but Tatanka gets frustrated after another 2 count. He argues with the official about the count, catches Owen trying to sneak up from behind, irish whip to the ropes is reversed by The Rocket for a back body drop, Tatanka goes for a sunset flip, Hart drops down on top, hooks the legs and advances.
Winner: ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart (Sunset Flip Counter)
- EA’s Take: Another bit of a “ho-hum” contest, but much better than the previous IRS/Mabel match. Owen is really on fire as a heel following his win over Bret at WrestleMania, a quarterfinals loss here would have made no sense whatsoever, no matter how over Tatanka was at the time.
Backstage: Todd Pettengill is standing by with WWF Intercontinental Champion Diesel & Shawn Michaels, he refers us to some video of Diesel delivering a Jackknife to Bret Hart on The King’s Court a couple of weeks back, The Heartbreak Kid sarcastically stating that The Hitman’s pain upsets him. Diesel says he’s only got two words for Bret, “Jack-Knife”, informing us that it’s happened once before and it will happen again. Shawn tells Pettengill he’s not concerned about The Hitman possibly having a family member in his corner, reminding us it certainly won’t be Owen and claiming Diesel will be the new WWF Champion.
Match #4 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: ‘Double J’ Jeff Jarrett vs. 1-2-3 Kid
The Kid looks for some kicks to start, Double J quickly backs away to avoid them, ducks outside under the bottom rope, picks the leg and drives the back of Kid’s knee into the ring apron. He slides into the squared circle and whips Kid hard into the turnbuckles, drives him face-first to the top turnbuckle, whips him back across and follows in, The Kid hopping up and over for a roll-up that gets a count of 2. Jarrett swiftly puts the boots to him, shoots him to the ropes for a back elbow, then back in for a clothesline and Double J is feeling confident.
He sends Kid to the ropes again, doesn’t find the mark with a dropkick, The Kid hops onto Jarrett’s shoulders for a victory roll and Double J just kicks out at 2. Jarrett back on the attack again with stomps, plants Kid with a slingshot suplex, comes off the 2nd rope with a fist drop, sends him to the ropes and misses a wild right hand, The Kid clobbering Double J with a spinning heel kick for a near fall. He plants Jarrett with a body slam and scales the corner to the top, attempts a somersault senton, Double J just rolls out of the way in the nick of time, then chokes him on the 2nd rope.
Seated senton to the back misses the mark, The Kid goes back upstairs, Jarrett catches him with a punch to crotch Kid on the top turnbuckle, climbs up for a superplex, but it’s blocked and Double J crashes down to the canvas. 1-2-3 Kid comes off the top with a crossbody that almost finishes it, unloads of Jarrett in the corner with fists and kicks, shoots him across and charges in, Double J side-stepping out of the way and The Kid’s hurt his knee. Jarrett targets the hurt leg with elbow drops, calls for the Figure Four, Kid counters to a small package and steals the victory.
Winner: 1-2-3 Kid (Small Package)
- After The Bell: Jarrett is stunned, shoves the officials out of the way and spikes The Kid with 3 straight piledrivers, more referees come out to stop the assault, but Double J goes to the 2nd rope multiple times for more fist drops before taking his leave.
- EA’s Take: Fast-paced action as you would expect with The Kid in the ring, he’s still playing the “ultimate underdog” role at this time, so any victories he picks up remain being looked at as upsets. Knowing that the winner would face Owen Hart really gave us an indication that Jarrett likely wasn’t going to win, but Double J was just starting to come into his own as a personality in the WWF.
Backstage: Todd Pettengill welcomes in WWF Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart, shows him more video of the champion getting Jackknifed, The Hitman stating it was a long drop, but Diesel is a long way from doing it to him again. He’s not sure if he could kick-out of the move, but Diesel’s mistake is overestimating himself, reminding us he’s The Excellence of Execution and he doesn’t duck any challengers. Hitman claims he will bring the big man down to his size, Todd tries to get more info on the family member Bret has brought tonight as back-up, but doesn’t get anything out of the champion.
Match #5 for the WWF Championship: WWF Intercontinental Champion Diesel w/Shawn Michaels vs. WWF Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart w/Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart
The bell rings, the official gets all the other parties to the outside and we’re underway, collar & elbow tie-up to begin, Diesel using his strength to push Hitman away. They lock back up and Bret with a go-behind to a waistlock, the challenger drives him back into the turnbuckles to break the grip, pummels him with big rights and lefts, then chokes the champion with the bottom of his boot. Big Daddy Cool charges in for a big boot, Bret ducks it, the challenger is caught up on the top rope and The Hitman takes advantage with fists, starts targeting the left knee and delivers a headbutt to the lower abdomen.
Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Diesel attempts a slam, The Excellence of Execution slips out of it, grabs a roll-up and gets an early 2 count. He hits the ropes for a crossbody, the challenger catches him in the air and plants him into the canvas, hits the ropes for an elbow drop, misses the mark and Hitman drives Diesel head-first numerous times into the top turnbuckle. Big Daddy Cool sneaks in a shot to the eye to stop the onslaught, buries elbows to the back of the neck, chokes Hart in the corner, sends him across and follows in for a running knee, but the champion side-steps out of harm’s way. Bret goes to work on the leg with kicks to the back of the knee, uses a single leg takedown to remove Diesel’s vertical base and continues to soften up the knee, slapping on a figure four.
The challenger uses his long arms to reach the bottom rope and force a break, The Hitman keeps on the injured leg, utilizes a spinning toe hold, Diesel finally kicks him away and Bret spills to the outside. Big Daddy Cool reaches over the ropes to grab the champion, Hitman sweeps the leg, pulls him towards the ring post, drives the bad leg into the steel, Diesel is finally able to crawl away and as the referee checks on him, Michaels levels Bret with a clothesline. The Anvil chases Shawn around ringside, The Heartbreak Kid slides in the ring and out the other side, Neidhart’s in pursuit, the referee cuts him off and it enables Michaels to get in another cheap shot on the champion.
The challenger drags Bret up to the apron, Hitman buries a knee to the shoulder, climbs up top and jumps off, Diesel catching him in the air for a bearhug, but it’s botched. He powers Hart back up and rams him back-first into the corner, slaps the bearhug back on, Bret biting the forehead to escape it, delivers a dropkick to the back and dumps the big man over the top to the floor. The Excellence of Execution slingshots over the top for a crossbody, the challenger avoids it and Bret drops to the floor, Big Daddy Cool picks him up, drives him spine-first into the ring post and rolls him back inside. Diesel goes at the lower back now with forearms, shoots the champion hard into the turnbuckles, gets some advice from The Heartbreak Kid, plants The Hitman with a side slam and covers for a count of 2.
He cracks Bret with a backbreaker then planks him over his knee, lets Hart go to drop a big elbow, hooks the leg and gets another 2 count. Diesel chokes the champion on the 2nd rope, Neidhart sneaks around ringside to get his hands on Michaels, the official is distracted, Shawn getting in another cheap shot and then Big Daddy Cool with a seated senton to Bret’s back. He stands on the back of Hitman’s neck, The Heartbreak Kid slaps him in the face behind the ref’s back, Diesel props the champion into the corner for more right hands, Bret blocks and fires back, but takes another shot to the eye. Big Daddy Cool whips him sternum-first into the turnbuckles for a near fall, has some words for the official about the count, The Excellence of Execution surprises him with a schoolboy, nearly stealing the match, but gets flattened by a short-arm clothesline immediately following.
The challenger gains another count of 2, wrenches away at the champion’s neck to wear him down, unloads with more punches, connects with another backbreaker, but again Bret kicks out at 2. The Heartbreak Kid hops to the apron and starts untying one of the turnbuckle pads, The Anvil attempts to get the official to pay attention to it, but only creates a distraction as Diesel lifts The Hitman up into an over-the-shoulder backbreaker. The Excellence of Execution works his way out and slaps on a sleeper hold, Big Daddy Cool drives him backwards into the corner to break it, whips him across and charges in, Bret gets the boots up and hops onto his back for another sleeper, but gets the same result.
The challenger pummels Hitman with a big right hand, the referee gets knocked down in the process, Diesel goes over to expose the turnbuckle as Shawn holds the official’s attention, Big Daddy Cool attempts to ram Bret into the steel, but the champion blocks and returns the favor. The Excellence of Execution starts to unleash a barrage or fists, climbs to the 2nd rope to reign down a flurry more, finally drops the big man, then hits the ropes for a clothesline. Diesel is staggered, The Hitman goes back to the well a couple more times to drop him, hooks the leg for a count of 2, shoots him to the ropes and goes to the breadbasket with a fist, then scores with a side russian leg sweep. He comes off the 2nd rope with an elbow drop for another near fall, Bret goes up top to plant Diesel with a bulldog, sets for the Sharpshooter and Michaels hops to the apron.
Hart releases the hold and decks Shawn with a big punch, goes back to the 2nd rope and clotheslines Big Daddy Cool, lateral press and he still can’t put the match away. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Diesel attempts a clothesline, the champion counters into a backslide, can’t bring the challenger down to the mat, uses the ropes to flip himself over and utilizes a small package that nearly ends it. More heavy shots from the champion, irish whip to the corner is reversed, Big Daddy Cool follows him in, The Hitman looks to hop up and over, gets caught on the challenger’s shoulder and Diesel tries to ram Bret into the corner.
The Excellence of Execution slips out behind and sends the challenger into the turnbuckles, hits the ropes and Diesel clocks him with a big boot, stands over the laid-out champion and calls for the Jackknife, The Hitman playing possum and he quickly picks the legs and rolls into the Sharpshooter. Diesel is too close the ropes and reaches them to create a break, Bret hits the ropes and dropkicks Big Daddy Cool over the top to the outside, Neidhart stalks the challenger, but doesn’t get involved and turns to walk away. Diesel rams The Anvil into the ring post, the referee has his attention on the proceedings outside, The Heartbreak Kid slides into the ring behind Bret and clobbers him with the IC Title.
The challenger steps into the ring, drops an elbow for good measure, makes a cover and The Hitman barely kicks out before a 3 count. Michaels is beside himself on the outside, Diesel thinks it’s time for the Jackknife and plants the champion, Neidhart rocks Shawn on the outside with a haymaker, slides into the ring and levels Big Daddy Cool with a clothesline, causing the referee to call for the bell.
Winner: Diesel (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: The Anvil can’t believe that the official ended the match and storms off to the back, meanwhile The Heartbreak Kid comes into the squared circle, spikes Bret with a piledriver, then holds him up for Diesel to hammer him with big punches until a number of referees come out to break things up.
- EA’s Take: This was sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Obviously to no fault of Bret’s, Diesel was always pretty limited in what he could do, but at this point he’s still seemingly green as grass. The company was behind Big Daddy Cool however, of course because of his size which is why he gained the IC Title in the first place. It’s a little odd that Michaels doesn’t have a match on the card tonight, but the WWF really was looking to put the quintessential “rocket pack” to Diesel’s back as he’d continue to quickly climb the card through the summer and into the fall. After an over 2 year absence, this was The Anvil’s return to the WWF and he was very logically placed beside Bret, but only briefly as we’d come to find out later in the evening.
Backstage: Joining Todd Pettengill this time around is Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, The King speaking about how big of a mouth Roddy Piper has, rips on Todd’s suit and then takes a shot at Art Donovan’s commentary. Lawler goes back to the matter at-hand though, stating Piper’s been retired and he’s now “the pits” because his show The King’s Court has become the premier WWF talk show in Roddy’s absence. Since Hot Rod wants to donate all his earnings tonight to a children’s hospital, he’ll make sure those sick kids never see a dime.
Match #6 – King Of The Ring Semi-Finals: Razor Ramon vs. Irwin R. Schyster
Irwin puts the bad mouth on The Bad Guy as he heads to the ring, Ramon hops outside and blindsides him with right hands, the bell rings and we’re underway. Razor drives Schyster into the ring post, hammers him with more right hands, tosses him into the ring, irish whip to the ropes is reversed and IRS buries a knee to the abdomen. He rams Ramon head-first into the top turnbuckle, snapmares him over for an elbow drop, hooks the leg and gets an early 1 count. Irwin cracks The Bad Guy with a backbreaker, hits the ropes for a crossbody, Razor ducks under it, Schyster flies over the top rope and spills to the floor.
Ramon reaches over to pull him up to the apron, Irwin sweeps the legs, drags him out under the bottom rope, Razor blocks a fist, fires off some of his own and introduces Schyster to the steel steps. He rolls IRS into the squared circle, pummels him with stiff punches, Irwin goes to the eyes, starts to target the right knee with kicks, shoots The Bad Guy to the ropes and finds the mark with a back elbow before utilizing a rear chinlock. He uses the bottom rope for extra leverage out of the referee’s vision, Ramon battles his way to a standing position, Irwin goes right back to the eyes, attempts to drive Razor head-first into the top turnbuckle, but it’s blocked and Schyster gets a taste of his own medicine.
More heavy rights from The Bad Guy, whips IRS to the ropes for a back elbow, shoots him hard into the corner, grabs him by the tie and flips him down to the canvas. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Schyster connects with the Write-Off, doesn’t go for a cover, sends Ramon back in for a back body drop, The Bad Guy counters with a kick, elevates him for the Razor’s Edge and moves onto the finals.
Winner: Razor Ramon (Razor’s Edge)
- EA’s Take: Pretty standard stuff here and a fairly quick match, lasting only about 5 minutes. IRS had previously “repossessed” Razor’s gold chains, so The Bad Guy not only advances to the finals of the tournament, but gains a measure of revenge, yet still doesn’t get back his stolen property.
Backstage: WWF Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart is searching the backstage area for Jim Neidhart, busting through doors, but unable to find him.
Backstage: Todd Pettengill is standing at the tournament board, informing us he was supposed to get a word with 1-2-3 Kid, but nobody has seen or heard from him since he was viciously attacked earlier in the night.
Match #7 – King Of The Ring Semi-Finals: ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart vs. 1-2-3 Kid
The Kid hobbles down to the ring, looks to climb inside and Owen drops him with a baseball slide as the bell rings, hits the ropes and then takes flight with a suicide dive before rolling him into the ring. The Rocket climbs upstairs and connects with a splash for a near fall, irish whip to the corner is reversed, Hart hits the turnbuckles hard sternum-first, Kid climbs up top for a crossbody, nearly putting the match away. He quickly uses a roll-up for another 2 count, gains a wristlock, The Rocket rolls through it, grabs a handful of hair, slams The Kid to the canvas and grabs a wristlock of his own.
Kid kips up to his feet and scores with kicks to the chest, lateral press for a count of 2, lifts Owen back up and shoots him to the ropes, Hart reverses, looks for a kick to the ribs, The Kid blocks it, but doesn’t see the other foot coming around and gets clocked by an enzuigiri for another 2 count. The Rocket whips him to the ropes for a back body drop, The Kid has it scouted and prevents it with a kick, delivers a bridging northern lights suplex, the ref counts to 3, but notices Owen’s foot was on the ropes. Hart rolls outside to regroup, slingshot somersault senton from The Kid takes him out, he tosses The Rocket back inside, sends him to the ropes for a spinning heel kick, Owen catches him in the air, plants him with a bridging german suplex and still can’t find a 3 count.
The Rocket shoots him back to the ropes for an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for 2, sets for a vertical suplex, Kid slips out behind, hops onto his shoulders for a victory roll and a count of 2, Hart going to a roll-up of his own off the kick-out and The Kid just kicks out before a 3 count. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Kid hops up for a hurricanrana, The Rocket plants him with a powerbomb, slaps on a Sharpshooter and gets the submission victory.
Winner: ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart (Sharpshooter)
- EA’s Take: Shorter than our previous semi-final match, but much more entertaining with these two quick high-flyers. The beat down that Jeff Jarrett put on The Kid earlier in the night allows for him to still come off looking fairly strong in the loss, but of course at this time you weren’t going to see a whole lot of heel-heel or face-face match-ups, so Owen needed to go over. Plus The Rocket is still being propelled as one of the top antagonists in the company, so it only makes sense that he gets the win.
Backstage: Earlier in the day, cameras caught up with ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper to talk about his return to the ring tonight, Hot Rod stating he saw everything Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler said about him leading up to tonight. Piper says he enjoyed the imitator of him on The King’s Court, but he thinks Lawler took advantage of the kid and would like to find him and steer him in the right direction. He informs The King that all the talk doesn’t mean anything anymore, tonight it’s time to fight.
Match #8 for the WWF Tag Team Championships: Crush & Yokozuna w/James E. Cornette & Mr. Fuji vs. WWF Tag Team Champions The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu) w/Captain Lou Albano & Afa
The four competitors all go face-to-face and a melee breaks out, they pair-off in opposite corners, the challengers whip The Headshrinkers into one another, the champions colliding and then hammering each other with forearm shots. Crush & Yoko look for headbutts that have no affect, the champions return fire, knock Yokozuna to the outside with a double headbutt, do the same to Crush and they clear the ring. Order is restored, Samu & The Mighty One take the ring, collar & elbow tie-up sees Yoko power Samu to the ropes, Samu shoves the behemoth, Yokozuna returning the favor and pushing him down to his backside.
Samu pops back up and scores with rights and chops, attempts a body slam, can’t pick up all the weight and Yokozuna hammers him with clubbing shots, sends him to the corner and charges in. Samu spins out with a reverse thrust kick, scores with a dropkick, delivers a clothesline and The Mighty One falls between the ropes to the outside to regroup before stepping back in and tagging out. Fatu tags himself in and goes eye-to-eye with Crush, the big Hawaiian clobbers him with forearms, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Fatu ducks for a back body drop, Crush sees it coming and plants him face-first into the mat, but again it has no affect. Fatu goes to the breadbasket with a kick, spikes him with a piledriver, climbs to the 2nd rope for a diving headbutt, lateral press and he gets a count of 2.
He sends the big Hawaiian to the ropes, irish whip is reversed, Fuji uses the flagstaff for a cheap shot to Fatu’s back, the official doesn’t see it and Crush takes the advantage, turning Fatu inside-out with a clothesline. The big Hawaiian lifts Fatu up and connects with a piledriver of his own for a 1 count, sends him to the ropes for a drop toe hold as Yoko tags in, The Mighty One follows with a massive leg drop to the back of the head, makes a cover and Samu saves the match after a count of 2. The referee works to get him back to the apron, Crush & Yoko swap out without a tag, clubs Fatu with forearms for another 2 count, then locks on a nerve hold to the trap muscle.
Fatu works his way up, Crush lets go of the hold and delivers a body slam, Yokozuna re-enters the match, whips Fatu hard into the corner, rushes in for a back splash, but doesn’t find the mark and hits the turnbuckles instead. Both guys crawl to tags, Samu with a barrage of right hands, shoots Crush to the ropes for a powerslam, Yoko’s still in the ring and tries to help out his partner, eats a number of right hands and gets dropped by a clothesline. All 4 guys in the ring now, the champions whip the challengers into one another and Crush goes down, double superkick to The Mighty One sends him to the outside, Samu climbs the corner to the top rope, Fatu rams Yoko into the ring post on the outside and it causes Samu to get crotched on the top turnbuckle.
The big Hawaiian makes it back to his feet, climbs up to meet Samu for a superplex and connects, follows with a big leg drop, then knocks Fatu off the apron as he climbs back up. Yoko comes in behind the ref’s back and delivers another leg drop to Samu, Lex Luger makes his way down to ringside, exchanges words with Crush, Samu with a roll-up from behind and he almost steals the win. Captain Lou climbs to the apron and has some words for the official, Fatu switches out with Samu behind the ref’s back, clocks Crush with a superkick, lateral press and the champions retain.
Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: The Headshrinkers (Fatu/Partner Switch-Superkick)
- After The Bell: The big Hawaiian is not pleased and attacks Luger on the outside, deposits him into the steel steps, rolls him into the ring, Fatu decks Crush with one of the title belts and The Headshrinkers team-up with Lex for a 3-1 assault before Yoko can pull his partner out of the ring.
- EA’s Take: This was actually not that bad, but there was just too much going on out at ringside to try and pay attention to everything in the squared circle. If anything, this just shows how decimated and weak the Tag Team Division was at this period, especially with The Steiners on their way out the door. The Headshrinkers turned face just before taking the titles off The Quebecers, Captain Lou being brought back to help out with that transition which never quite worked out as it was supposed to. The Headshrinkers would go on to lose the titles to Shawn Michaels & Diesel just one day before SummerSlam. Luger’s involvement stems from a KOTR qualifying match he previously had against Crush in which the big Hawaiian cost Lex a spot in the tournament. After rumors started that Lex was joining Ted DiBiase’s new Million Dollar Corporation in July, the rivalry was dropped with no conclusion and Crush would take a leave of absence just before SummerSlam in August.
Backstage: Todd Pettengill is joined by Owen Hart at the tournament board, The Rocket stating his brother may have won the crown last year, but tonight The Hitman is a loser. He vows to win it tonight, then sarcastically wishes his dad a happy Father’s Day.
Match #9 – King Of The Ring Finals: Razor Ramon vs. ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart
Collar & elbow tie-up to begin, The Rocket gains a side headlock, Razor sends him off to the ropes, clocks him with a heavy right and Owen complains to the official about the closed fist. They lock-up again, Hart with a wristlock this time, The Bad Guy counters to one of his own, Owen rolls through it, regains a side headlock, Ramon looks for a back suplex to reverse it, The Rocket lands on his feet and slaps him across the face. He hits the ropes and attempts a crossbody, Ramon catches him in the air, plants him with a body slam, follows with an elbow drop and covers for a count of 2. He shoots Hart back to the ropes, The Rocket slides between the legs, slaps The Bad Guy again, scores with punches, whips Razor to the ropes and tries to leapfrog over, Ramon catches his legs and catapults him into the turnbuckles.
Schoolboy for another 2 count, he takes Owen to the mat with a side headlock, The Rocket utilizes a headscissors to escape it, Razor floats over into a cover for 2, Hart bridges to his feet for a backslide, but it’s blocked and The Bad Guy uses one of his own for another near fall before taking Owen back down with a side headlock. Hart works to a standing position and sends Ramon off to the ropes, gets knocked down by a shoulder block, The Bad Guy heads back to the ropes, The Rocket pops back to his feet and connects with a spinning heel kick. He buries a boot to the abdomen, rakes Ramon’s face on the top rope, slaps on an abdominal stretch and uses the top rope for more leverage out of sight of the ref.
The Bad Guy finds a rush of adrenaline and escapes with a hip toss, can’t capitalize and Hart clobbers him with fists, shoots him to the ropes for a hip toss, Ramon blocks it, attempts one of his own, Owen blocks now, flips himself over and gets caught by the neck, then planted into the canvas with a chokeslam for a count of 2. Razor tosses him with a fallaway slam that almost finishes it, hooks Hart for a vertical suplex, The Rocket slips out the backside, scores with a side russian leg sweep, thinks it’s over and goes to the top turnbuckle for a moonsault. Ramon sees it coming and crotches him on the top turnbuckle, climbs up and delivers a back suplex from the 2nd rope, calls for the finish and positions Owen for the Razor’s Edge.
The Rocket counters with a back body drop that sends The Bad Guy over the top to the floor, Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart comes down to ringside to check on Razor as Owen holds the official’s attention, helps him to his feet and drops him with a clothesline, drives Ramon into the ring post, then rolls him into the ring. The Rocket climbs upstairs, connects with an elbow drop, the official drops down and makes the 3 count.
Winner: ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart (Top Rope Elbow Drop)
- After The Bell: Fireworks go off above the ring, Neidhart comes into the squared circle and 2-on-1 assault goes down, Owen & The Anvil hitting Ramon with a Hart Attack before a number of referees come down to break it up and get them out of the ring. Backstage, Raymond Rougeau is with WWF Champion Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart for his thoughts on what just happened, The Hitman saying he can’t believe what just happened and doesn’t want to talk any further. Back in the arena, Todd Pettengill is at the stage for the King Of The Ring coronation ceremony proclaiming Owen as the new King. The Rocket grabs the mic and states that he did what he said was going to do and wants everyone to start giving him the proper respect he deserves. WWF President Jack Tunney is here to do the honors, but Owen doesn’t want Tunney to do it, claiming The Anvil will be the man to present him with his crown and then forcing Todd to get down on his knees. Neidhart hands The Rocket the scepter, dons the cape around Owen’s shoulders and then places the crown on his head as Owen takes a seat on the throne. The Rocket swipes the mic again, proclaiming that from this day forward he will known as ‘The King Of Harts’.
- EA’s Take: Another fairly quick match between arguably two of the greatest performers of all-time to never be a World Champion. The addition of Jim Neidhart to the Owen/Bret feud provided a new wrinkle and layer to the storyline that may not have been needed because Owen was so hated, but certainly did not hurt the situation at all. The only odd thing to come from this was that Razor basically got screwed over and just took it without ever getting any kind of retribution, which really didn’t fit his gimmick, but that’s just knit-picking on my part.
Video: For weeks and weeks, Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler continually abused ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper on the microphone, claiming his show ‘The King’s Court’ was now the standard for WWF talk shows, unlike the “relic” known as ‘Piper’s Pit’. Lawler would use a Piper impersonator to get under Hot Rod’s skin leading to Roddy finally accepting The King’s challenge for a match, tonight.
Match #10: Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler vs. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper w/The Piper Impersonator
Hot Rod throws his kilt in Lawler’s face and starts to unload with right hands as the bell rings, the referee tries to intervene and Piper chases him off, continues hammering The King in the corner with fists, then tosses him across the ring with the kilt wrapped around his neck. Jerry backs up to the corner and tries to beg him off, Roddy offers a handshake, but instead buries a kick to the ribs, clocks The King with a haymaker and Lawler slides out under the bottom rope to take a walk. The Rowdy One goes out after him in pursuit, brings him back ringside in a full nelson, holds him in place and The Impersonator slaps Jerry across the face before Lawler rolls back inside.
Hot Rod rolls in and pummels The King with a series of rights and lefts, unleashes more fists on the mat, chases the official away again and grabs Lawler with a side headlock. Jerry sends him off to the ropes, drops down, Piper puts on the brakes and stomps away, The King backs up t the corner and Roddy calls him to bring it on. They lock-up and Lawler grabs a side headlock, Roddy shoots him off to the ropes, drops down, The King looks to stomp away, Hot Rod blocks it, gets back to his feet and delivers kicks to the back of the leg before spinning him around for an atomic drop that sends Jerry spilling to the outside.
The King sets his sights on The Impersonator, Hot Rod goes out after Lawler, tackles him to the floor, drives him head-first into the barricade and scores with fists and chops, Jerry tries to battle back, gets his hand caught and Roddy rams it into the ring post before rolling back in. Lawler regroups and tries to go after The Impersonator again, Hot Rod gets him from behind, pays for it and eats stiff right hands, The King rolls The Impersonator into the ring and puts the boots to him, Roddy trying to cover the kid up in the process and gets him out of the squared circle. Jerry stomps away at Piper, pummels him with lefts and rights, chokes him on the mat and drops a fist to the forehead for a count of 2.
More punches from The King, shoots Hot Rod to the ropes and slaps on a sleeper hold, Piper starts to fade away and drops to the mat, the official checking the arm, but Roddy finds a rush of adrenaline on the third attempt and makes it to his feet, reaching the ropes to force a break. The King with more heavy right hands, spikes Piper with a Piledriver, wastes time before making a cover and only gets a near fall because of it. Hot Rod uses the ropes to pull himself up, gets dropped by more right hands, Lawler turns his back and has words with the fans, Piper pulls himself back up, tells The King to bring it on and gets clocked by more lefts and rights. Roddy refuses to stay down and pulls up again, absorbs punches this time and they exchange fists.
Hot Rod getting the better of it, pokes Lawler in the eyes and plants him with a running bulldog. He goes back to the well and scores with another bulldog, tries for one more, The King pushes him away, Piper knocking down the referee in the process. Jerry reaches into his trunks and pulls out some kind of foreign object, lays Piper out with it, makes a cover with his feet on the ropes, the official crawling over to make a slow count, but The Impersonator pushes Lawler’s legs off at the last second to breakup the count at 2. Hot Rod quickly gets to his feet, connects with a back suplex, stacks The King up and gets the 1-2-3.
Winner: ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper (Back Suplex)
- EA’s Take: U-G-L-Y, they ain’t got no alibi, this match was ugly, *clap clap*, it’s ugly. Brutal match here that was really hard to watch and probably should not have closed the show. While Hot Rod looked to be in the best shape of his career, neither one of these guys were ever known for their workrate and were much better on the stick than in the ring. I get that this was Piper’s big return match and that’s likely why it went on last, but that’s probably a decision that’s regretted to this day and even Hot Rod himself admitted that it was horrible on his WWE documentary. The Rowdy One would not be seen again until 1995, meanwhile The King would return to commentary and continue his on-again, off-again feud with Bret Hart.
EA’s Finisher: Other than Owen Hart winning the King Of The Ring, this was overall a very forgettable show that likely would be booked differently if the company could turn back time. It was a big deal for Roddy Piper to have a comeback match, but it had no business closing the show in hindsight and the finals of the tournament probably should have gotten that spot. This was a time when the WWF liked to send fans home happy, so I can see why they didn’t want a heel victory to be the lasting image, but honestly, that’s what it should have been. There were no classic matches, no real storyline advancement due to the tournament. We didn’t even get a great showing from Bret Hart, mainly because despite Diesel getting a monster push, he was still greener than goose dung. Not to mention Art Donovan sounding like a complete moron throughout the entire event, really showing he had zero knowledge of the product. I’d suggest maybe skipping to the Owen/Razor match just to see The Rocket’s crowning moment, then leaving this one in the WWE Network archives untouched.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Owen Hart vs. Razor Ramon
2 – Owen Hart vs. 1-2-3 Kid
3 – The Headshrinkers vs. Crush & Yokozuna
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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