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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WWE Extreme Rules 2016 – Styles vs. Reigns

Eric Ames takes you back to WWE Extreme Rules 2016, featuring AJ Styles one on one against Roman Reigns in an Extreme Rules Match!

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Extreme Rules 2016

Eric Ames takes you back to WWE Extreme Rules 2016, featuring AJ Styles one on one against Roman Reigns in an Extreme Rules Match!

Kickoff Show – In The Arena: The Dudley Boyz come down to the ring and talk about the glory days of ECW, getting the people to join in with a chant. Bubba turns on the crowd and claims that they’re a big part of the reason for ECW going under after they left. They speak about being eager to get out of New Jersey, but here comes Big Cass to the stage. Cass states that The Dudleys don’t get the table anymore because they ate it, along with all of it’s contents including cookies, pizza and more.

He thinks The Dudleys are wrong about the new era, saying that they will do tonight what The Dudleys did in bingo halls and ballrooms. Everyone knows that The Dudleys are full of it, but they’re also aware he’s 7 foot tall and you can’t teach that. Big Cass enters the ring and The Dudleys ambush him stepping inside, pummeling him to the mat, Bubba lines him up for a clothesline, Cass ducks and D-Von gets dropped instead. Cass with a big boot to Bubba, plants D-Von with the East River Crossing, then leaves, taking the mic and spelling out the word to describe them. “S-A-W-F-T!”

Kickoff Match – No Disqualification: Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
Both guys go eye-to-eye at the bell, Corbin pie-faces Ziggler, Dolph pushes him to the turnbuckles in the corner and scores with a dropkick for a quick 1 count. The Show Off staying on him with a splash in the corner, unleashes a barrage of rights, irish whip across is reversed and Dolph spills over the top to the floor. The Lone Wolf is in pursuit, Ziggler battles back to no avail, Baron grabs the arm through the corner and pulls him face-first into the post before rolling Dolph back in. Corbin in complete control, unloads with the heavy artillery in the corner, shoots him across and The Show Off hits the turnbuckles hard sternum-first.

Baron ties him up in the ropes, hammers Ziggler with big fists while talking trash, then basks in the boos of the people. He hooks Dolph’s arm and wrenches on the chin, Ziggler fights up and escapes after a jawbreaker, Baron charges in, but The Show Off uses the momentum to send him to the outside. Corbin quickly slides back inside, Dolph starts to build momentum with clotheslines, hits another splash in the corner and follows with the neckbreaker. He feigns going for a big elbow drop, The Lone Wolf rolls to the outside to avoid it, Ziggler reaches over the grab him and gets dropped on the top rope with a hot shot. Baron slides inside and Dolph pops back up with a dropkick, plants an elbow drop to the chest and gets a count of 2.

The Show Off gets a head of steam for the Famouser, The Lone Wolf blocks it and has him set for a powerbomb, Dolph rolling through with a sunset flip for a near fall. Both guys are up quick, Ziggler runs at Baron and gets caught with Deep Six, barely kicking out at 2 and both guys struggle to their feet. Corbin’s up first, lifts Dolph into position for a powerbomb, The Show Off with right hands, gets tossed backwards to the corner, lands on his feet on the 2nd rope and jumps off into a DDT. He plants Corbin with a Famouser that nearly finishes it, Dolph remaining aggressive with fists and headbutts, attempts a superkick, The Lone Wolf ducks it and uses a low blow to stop the onslaught, picks him up and hits End Of Days for the win.
Winner: Baron Corbin (End Of Days)

  • EA’s TakeFor the entirety of the match I was wondering why on Earth it was a no DQ match, as it didn’t come into play until the very end. Kind of weak if you ask me, but it’s certainly a different way to use the stipulation than we’ve ever seen before. This was only a solid Kickoff match for me.

Open: “Rules, they’re built to control us. Designed to keep us in line. Created to dictate what’s right and wrong. But, on this night, we do what we want. We make our own rules. This is our night. This is a war. On this night, we rise. We will come at them from all sides. A revolution unwilling to submit. Unhinged warriors of the rebellion. Make no mistake, they who take the most extreme measures, they will create a great change. Tonight, power shifts. Tonight, we raise our instruments of anarchy. Tonight, we are unbound by law. Tonight, we go…extreme.”

Match #1 – Tornado Tag Team Match: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
We’re not waiting for the bell and all 4 men meet in the aisle as Gallows & Anderson make their entrance, we head to the ring and the bell rings to start the match. The Usos with a double back elbow to Anderson, double elbow drop and a cover for 2. Anderson rolls outside, Gallows is left alone and The Usos trade-off forearm shots in the corner, double clothesline sends Gallows over the top rope and to the floor. We pair-off outside briefly, Anderson back body drops Jey into the crowd, Jimmy’s left alone and the double team is on, driving Jimmy into the barricade. Jey recovers, slides inside and then flies over the top rope with a crossbody plancha to take them both out, tosses Anderson in the ring, heads to the top rope and connects with a crossbody for a count of 2.

Gallows drives Jimmy into the post on the floor, Jey takes to the air with a suicide dive, Gallows catches him in the air, delivers a big right hand and elevates him onto his shoulders. Anderson steps out to the apron, they clock Jey with the Boot Of Doom, send him inside and cover for 1. Jey getting double teamed in the corner now, Gallows with a barrage of heavy fists, Anderson with a big boot, Gallows following with a splash and this time get a 2 count. They prevent Jimmy from getting inside, Gallows puts Jey on his shoulders, Anderson looks to go up top, but here comes Jimmy back to prevent it. Jey rolls off Gallows’ shoulders into a schoolboy, Jimmy helps bring him over with a dropkick from the top, another count of 2.

Anderson drags Jimmy outside and lays him out with a clothesline, Jey hits the ropes for an outside dive, Gallows trips him up and Anderson comes back inside, drilling Jey in the head with a running knee that gains 2. Anderson picks him up, sends Jey into a Gallows big boot, but still can’t get 3, Gallows picks him up for the Boot Of Doom, but Jimmy drags Anderson to the outside now. He slides back in and ducks under a Gallows clothesline, The Usos score with a double superkick, head upstairs to opposite turnbuckles, Anderson gets back to the apron and shoves Jey down to the floor. Jimmy hops down and goes after him on the apron as Gallows gains his footing, charges in and meets a back elbow, Jimmy coming off the top with a corkscrew senton, but misses.

He gets planted by the Gallows Pole, Jey’s back in and hits a Samoan drop to Gallows, now here comes Anderson to take him out with a spinebuster for a near fall. Everybody’s down in the squared circle now, Anderson stumbles up first, kicks Jey out of the ring and heads outside, talks some trash and then measures him, running into a superkick. Jey has him set and hits the running hip attack the barricade, turns around and Gallows is there to flatten him with a clothesline. He deposits Jey over the barricade into the fans, grabs the ring bell and heads into the ring, calling for Jimmy to get to his feet. Jimmy pulls himself up, turns immediately and hits a superkick, goes to the top turnbuckle for the Uso Splash, misses and lands abdomen-first on the ring bell. Gallows comes to, Anderson is back in and they plant him with the Magic Killer for the victory.
Winners: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (Anderson/Magic Killer)

  • Off The Top: Some fast-paced action to hopefully set the tone for the rest of the night, big win for Gallows & Anderson too. They really had to go over here, I can only recall one win for them since arriving and that was their in-ring debut. I’m assuming the beating The Usos took in this match could come into play in the main event between Styles & Reigns, which is the match I’m REALLY interested to see what direction the company goes in.

Match #2 for the WWE United States Championship: Rusev w/Lana vs. WWE United States Champion Kalisto
Kalisto strikes first with leg kicks, Rusev picks him up for a slam, the champion slips out of it, ducks a roundhouse and goes back to leg kicks. The Bulgarian Brute pushes him away, catches him in the air trying a crossbody, tries a fallaway slam, but The King Of Flight lands on his feet. He hits the ropes and ducks under a right hand, Kalisto springs off the 2nd rope with a spiral crossbody and gets swatted in the air with a double axe handle. Rusev starts to dominate and stomps away at the champion, whips him sternum-first into the corner, following with a roundhouse kick to the jaw. The Bulgarian Brute drops a big elbow that only gets 1, shoots him to the ropes, Kalisto goes low with a kick, hits the ropes to pick up steam and gets blasted by a clothesline for a 2 count.

Rusev picks him up off the mat and grips him in a bearhug, then rides him down to the mat to take away the champion’s air. The Bulgarian Brute breaks it on his own accord, drives a knee to the spine, then puts him on his shoulders in a torture rack to keep the pressure on the back. The King Of Flight with knees to the head, slips down into a sleeper on the challenger’s back, Rusev reaches for the ropes, starts to fade and then simply jumps backwards to squash Kalisto. The Bulgarian Brute regroups, sends the champion into the corner, charges in and eats a boot, Kalisto coming off the 2nd rope and spiking the challenger with a DDT. The King Of Flight goes back to the leg kicks, tries a crossbody and again gets caught, The Bulgarian Brute looking for the fallaway slam, Kalisto lands on his feet once more, ducks a clothesline and scores with the springboard spiral crossbody.

He plants Rusev with the spikerana that nearly gets a 3 count, rolls to the apron, springboards in over the top of The Bulgarian Brute as he gets to his feet, then avoids him running in and sends him to the outside. The champion hits the ropes, slides to the outside with a hurricanrana, Rusev is sent flying into the steel steps, Kalisto rolls him back in, springs off the top rope with a frog splash and gains a near fall. The King Of Flight is thinking Salida Del Sol, Rusev pushes him away and ducks to the outside, Kalisto steps to the apron, springs to the top rope and flies with a moonsault to the floor. He tosses the challenger into the ring, climbs to the top, Rusev is up to grab him, then drops him down to the apron off the press slam.

The referee checks with the champion and tries to keep The Bulgarian Brute away, the official calling for the doctor at ringside. Rusev grabs Kalisto’s foot and drags him to the center of the ring for The Accolade, the official steps in between again, but isn’t able to keep the challenger away, The King Of Flight with no choice but to tap.
Winner and NEW WWE United States Champion: Rusev (The Accolade)

  • EA’s TakeThis started out a wee bit sloppy and slow, but really got more exciting towards the conclusion. Nothing too out of the ordinary here, a pretty predictable way to go with the finish after the injury angle they ran last week on RAW. Nasty bump taken by Kalisto on the apron though. I’m glad that Rusev is the champion, I’ve been calling for Kalisto to drop the belt for a couple of months now, nothing he’s done with it was interesting aside from his initial feud with Del Rio that saw him gain the title.

Match #3 for the WWE Tag Team Championships: WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) w/Kofi Kingston vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch)
Woods & Aiden will get the action started, Xavier accelerates into a clothesline right at the bell, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Woods ducking multiple shots and scores with a headscissors takedown. He drill English in the chest with a double palm strike, runs at him in the corner, gets elevated to the apron, lands on his feet and hits Aiden with a forearm. Simon tries to get involved and eats a back elbow, English takes the opening to drop Xavier to the floor, tags out and Gotch drops down to deliver a running boot.

The Gentleman Brawler sends Woods inside, drops knees across the forehead for a quick 1, Aiden tags in and the challengers connect with Dukes Up for a count of 2. English drives a knee to the spine, drops one across the chest for another 1, then grounds Woods with a rear chinlock. Xavier works his way up, hits the ropes and gets dropped by a back elbow for 2, Gotch gets the tag and now grinds away with a front facelock. Woods again finds a standing position, fights out with fists, hits a discus punch, reaches for a tag, Simon grabs him for a back suplex, Xavier flipping out and connecting with an enzuigiri. Both guys crawl to tags, Big E tosses Aiden with overhead belly-to-belly suplexes, delivers one to Simon, then another for English. He hits the ropes for a massive splash, claps it out and gets surprised by back elbows, English charging in and gets elevated to the apron, but lands on his feet.

E hits the ropes to build a head of steam for the apron spear, English meets him with a knee lift to prevent it, steps back in and plants him with a front facelock driver, nearly getting a 3 count. Kofi with a slight distraction outside, Aiden turns around and Big E picks him onto his shoulder, Woods making a tag to go for the Midnight Hour, but here comes Simon to make the save. Everybody to the outside now, Gotch deposits E into the ring steps, Kingston gets taken out, they toss Woods inside, Gotch gets a tag for the Whirling Dervish, but Xavier barely kicks out at 2. The Gentleman Brawler can’t believe it, rushes at Woods in the corner and meets a boot to the chops, Aiden intervenes from the apron, attempts to suplex Xavier to the outside, but he stops it with a knee to the head.

Big E hits the ring, delivers a spear that sends himself and English flying to the floor, the official is distracted, Kofi climbs to the apron and clocks Simon with an enzuigiri, Woods follows with a shining wizard and the champs retain.
Winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day (Woods/Shining Wizard)

  • EA’s TakeNot as exciting as our opening tag contest, this one probably should have came first since it was just a normal tag match instead of one with a gimmick. As soon as I saw that Woods was in the match and not Kofi, I thought that signaled a title change. They often use Xavier as the “jobber” of the group and when the challengers hit the Whirling Dervish, I was pleasantly surprised by the kick-out. Woods is pretty underrated and unfortunately he likely always will be because of his size, so it was nice to see him pick-up a rare pinfall win.

Backstage: AJ Styles is walking through the hallway when Renee Young comes up with some questions. Styles thinks that he’s talked about Gallows & Anderson enough, vowing that no matter what he will walk out tonight as the champion. He walks away and enters The Club’s locker room.

Match #4 – Fatal 4 Way for the WWE Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz w/Maryse
The bell rings and Sami charges at Owens with a Helluva Kick, taking him out of the ring immediately. Cesaro follows with a charging uppercut to The Miz, now we’ve only got 2 guys in the ring. Sami with a deep arm drag, hits another and grabs an armbar, The Swiss Superman kips up, hits an arm drag of his own that sends Zayn to the apron and Cesaro kips up once more. The Underdog from the Underground keels him over with a shoulder to the midsection, flips over the top of him into the ring, hits the ropes, ducks a shot and scores with a headscissors takedown, following with a heel kick and Cesaro kicks out at 2.

Sami utilizing a front facelock now, The King Of Swing counters to a side headlock, gets pushed away to the ropes, Zayn attempts to leapfrog over and gets caught, Cesaro cracking him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2. He shoots Sami to the ropes, The Underdog from the Underground uses the bottom rope to hop up and over, baits The Swiss Superman near the ropes and dumps him outside. Miz is back in and clocks Zayn from behind, Cesaro hangs him with a hotshot on the apron, the champion tries a follow-up back suplex, Sami lands on his feet and pushes him into The King Of Swing, both guys falling to the floor. The Underdog from the Underground hits the ropes and takes to the skies with a somersault plancha, rolls The A-Lister inside, hooks the leg and only gets 1. The champion begs off, pulls Sami face-first into the 2nd turnbuckle, then takes control and stomps away at him in the corner.

Miz runs in with a corner clothesline, climbs to the top rope, Zayn meets him with a forearm, climbs up for a superplex, but here comes Cesaro. He grabs Sami in position for a powerbomb, Owens finally gets involved, dumps Sami down to the mat, Miz is pushed to the floor and he drives Cesaro shoulder-first into the ring post. KO unleashes on Zayn with right hands, levels him with a short-arm clothesline, then buries a stiff kick into the spine. The Prize Fighter puts the bad mouth on his former friend as he continues the punishment, keeps Cesaro from entering the ring, hits the ropes and squashes Sami with a running senton for a near fall. He blasts Miz off the apron with a right hand, picks Zayn up and rams him into Cesaro on the apron, then lifts Sami onto his shoulders.

The Underdog from the Underground battles out of it, sets for a back suplex, KO staves it off, Zayn coming right back with punches, tries to climb the ropes for an arm drag and Owens crotches him instead. The Prize Fighter puts him in position and heads upstairs, the champion is back in the mix, meets KO for a superplex, but he gets dropped back down by a headbutt. Sami’s back up now and looks for a superplex of his own, Owens fights him away, Miz is back in it, teams up with Zayn for a double superplex, Cesaro’s in and he powerbombs everybody down to the mat. The Swiss Superman tries a cover on Miz & Sami for 2 counts as Owens rolls to the floor, The King Of Swing lifting Zayn with a delayed vertical suplex, Sami fights it off with knees, then plants him with a Blue Thunder Bomb.

The A-Lister with a kick to the face, covers Cesaro for 2, looks for one on Zayn and only gets another count of 2. The A-Lister sends Sami into the corner, charges in and runs into a back elbow, Zayn tries a boot, Miz catches his leg and hooks him for an exploder suplex. The Swiss Superman’s back up, grabs The A-Lister from behind and tosses them both, The Prize Fighter drags himself back inside and everybody’s struggling to their feet. The King Of Swing notices everyone pulling themselves up in the corners, goes into the Uppercut Train and all three of his opponents, floors the champion and calls for the Swing. KO grabs him from behind and delivers a german suplex, sees everyone seated in the corners and delivers a Cannonball to them all individually.

He wants to finish it and shoots Zayn to the ropes for the Pop-Up Powerbomb, Sami avoids it and lands on his feet, throws Owens with a half & half suplex, turns around and Cesaro clobbers him with the Very European Uppercut, Miz slides in from behind and scores with the Skull Crushing Finale, but only gets 2 off it.The champion is stunned that Cesaro kicked out, The A-Lister lifts him back up, slaps The Swiss Superman and then takes on in return. The King Of Swing ducks a left hand, springs off the middle rope with an uppercut, Cesaro takes him down and goes into the Swing, slaps on the Sharpshooter, Miz reaching for Maryse and pulls her in as Cesaro drags him back to the center of the ring. The official gets Maryse back out of the ring and doesn’t see Miz tapping, The Swiss Superman breaks the hold thinking it’s over, KO with a schoolboy from behind and he gets 2.

He attempts to dump Cesaro outside and gets dumped out himself, the champion looks to ambush The Swiss Superman from behind, gets taken down again for the Swing, but hangs onto the ropes to block it. Owens heads to the apron and then up top, delivers a frog splash to Miz, Cesaro picks KO up, scores with the Neutralizer and Sami just barely breaks it up at 2. The Underdog from the Underground picks Cesaro back up, The King Of Swing with an uppercut attempt, Zayn avoids it, hooks him in a backslide and gets a count of 2. He goes to the ropes now, Cesaro attempting a back body drop, Sami counters into a sunset flip bomb, but still can’t put it away. The Underdog from the Underground measures The King Of Swing for the Helluva Kick, Cesaro meets him with a big uppercut, Zayn comes right back with the exploder suplex in the corner, lines up for the Helluva Kick again, but Owens slides in and cuts him off with a superkick.

He plants Cesaro with the Pop-Up Powerbomb, hooks the leg, The A-Lister drags him out of the ring at a count of 2, tries to drive him into the barricade, but Owens sends him in instead. Maryse gets in The Prize Fighter’s face, Miz takes the opening, plants KO with the Skull Crushing Finale on the floor, quickly heads into the ring to cover Cesaro and only gets a near fall. The crowd rises to their feet with a standing ovation as everyone’s down, the champion lines Cesaro up in the corner, charges in and gets elevated out to the floor, Zayn running right in with the Helluva Kick, covers and now Owens pulls him outside to break it up. Sami loses his temper and does a number on The Prize Fighter, back inside The A-Lister covers and steals the 3 count.
Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: The Miz (Helluva Kick)

  • EA’s TakeIncredible match, no better way to describe it than that. Absolutely a match of the year candidate, every competitor was completely on their A-Game tonight. The false finishes were perfectly placed and the drama continued to build, even after the big start of Sami scoring with a Helluva Kick at the bell. I’m a little surprised that Miz is retaining, but I can’t complain with whoever walked away with the title. He’s a damn good heel and it’s entirely possible that any number of these challengers will get another shot. I’d like for Owens to be moved up to the main event, he’s #1 in my personal power rankings, so I’d like for him to be elevated.

In The Arena: Our Kickoff panel of Renee Young, Booker T, Jerry Lawler & Corey Graves run down what we’ve seen so far tonight, then refer us to video of Big Cass’ run-in with The Dudley Boyz on the Kickoff show earlier in the evening, as well as Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin.

Match #5 – Asylum Match: Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose
Dean holds the center of the ring as Y2J circles him, Ambrose strikes first with right hands, drives Jericho head-first into the top turnbuckle, shoots him to the ropes and Jericho puts on the brakes, asking for the door to be opened. The Lunatic Fringe grabs him from behind and grinds his face into the cage, pulls him back in and drops Y2J with a short-arm clothesline, hits the ropes and Jericho comes back with a back elbow. He starts to climb up after a weapon, Ambrose is there to pull him back down, shoots him to the ropes for a crossbody and Dean unloads with fists. He deposits Jericho face-first into the cage multiple times, looks up at the selection of foreign objects and decides to go for the mop.

Jericho pulls him down and goes after it himself, Dean meets him on the top rope, Y2J gets his hands on the mop, Ambrose swipes it and pokes him in the ear with it to drop Jericho down. The Lunatic Fringe using the mop now to deliver a clothesline, cracks it over Y2J’s back, then uses it to hit a side russian leg sweep. He wipes it all over Jericho’s face before tossing it away, whips Jericho to the corner, charges in and takes a boot to the jaw, Y2J coming off the 2nd rope with a dropkick for a quick 1 count. Y2J gives Ambrose a receipt with a mop shot to the back, he points up at the barbed-wire wrapped 2×4, climbs up after it, Dean is able to stop him and scores with a back suplex off the top rope. Both guys stumble to their feet, start climbing up opposite sides after weapons, Jericho gets the barbed-wire 2×4 while Dean gets numchucks.

Y2J berates Ambrose, wondering what he’s going to do against the 2×4, The Lunatic Fringe shows off some moves with them, ducks a 2×4 shot and unloads with body shots. He shoots Y2J to the ropes, clotheslines him with the nunchucks, then ditches them. Irish whip to the corner and Jericho scales the corner looking to escape, Dean is able to grab him by the hair and pull him back up, Jericho with a poke to the eye, grabs the hanging kendo stick and smashes Ambrose over the back, dropping him all the way to the mat. Y2J drops down to the top turnbuckle and comes off with another kendo shot, then uses the nunchucks to the back for a count of 2. Jericho goes back up for a weapon and takes the leather strap down, hooks it on his wrist and starts to whip The Lunatic Fringe across the back, climbs to the 2nd rope, Ambrose is able to grab the other end of it and flip him down to the canvas.

Ambrose gains possession of the strap now and smacks Y2J across the back over and over, then unloads with a barrage of right hands. He attempts to launch Jericho into the cage, Y2J turns the tables, screams at the referee to open the door, but those aren’t the rules of the match. He starts to climb to go out over the top, Ambrose won’t go away and meets him on the top rope with right hands, crotches Y2J and then goes up after the fire extinguisher. Jericho tries to get the straightjacket, The Lunatic Fringe pulls both down, goes for a shot with the fire extinguisher, Y2J throws the jacket in his face to blind him, connects with an enzuigiri and gets a near fall. He rams Dean into the cage, springs off the 2nd rope with a dropkick, does some premature celebrating and then drives fists into Ambrose’s skull. He locks Dean in the straight jacket, Ambrose works to a vertical base, fights his way out of the straight jacket and starts to build momentum with chops and right hands.

He hits the ropes for multiple forearm shots, scores with another in the corner, looks to follow with a bulldog, gets pushed away to the ropes, but comes right back with a clothesline for a near fall. The Lunatic Fringe goes to the high rent district, Y2J finds his footing, Ambrose hops over the top of him, Jericho to the midsection with a kick and cracks him with a double underhook backbreaker, only getting a count of 2. He whips Dean to the corner and looks for the running bulldog off the rebound, Ambrose pushes him away to the opposite corner, charges in with another forearm and hits a bulldog of his own. Ambrose starts to climb upstairs, Jericho meets him with punches, Dean battles back to knock him back down, then climbs on top of the cage. He leaps off with an elbow drop to Jericho, drapes the arm over for a cover, Y2J barely kicking out at 2.

The Lunatic Fringe wants another weapon and goes up after the mop bucket, opens the lid and reveals a black bag, emptying it on the canvas to unveil hundreds of thumb tacks. Jericho looks shocked and tries to escape by climbing up, Ambrose is there to put him onto his shoulders, Y2J with a victory roll for a near fall. Dean picks him up for a slam on the tacks, Jericho slides out of it and sets for a powerbomb, The Lunatic Fringe blocking and looks for an Alabama slam. Jericho rolls through and hooks the legs for the Walls Of Jericho, Dean rolls him away, hits the rope to build a head of steam and gets pushed into the side of the cage, Y2J wanting to follow with the Lionsault, but Ambrose gets the knees up. He sets Jericho for Dirty Deeds on the tacks, Y2J with another counter into the Walls Of Jericho and this time locks it in.

The Lunatic Fringe crawls around and gets his hand on the kendo stick, uses it to break out of the hold by cracking Jericho in the back, then him charging into the corner with a kick to the jaw. Dean goes to the top to deliver a kendo stick shot, Jericho sprays him in the face with the fire extinguisher to avoid it, connects with a Codebreaker and Ambrose kicks out at 2. Y2J turns his attention to the barbed-wire 2×4, buries it into Dean’s abdomen, smashes him over the back and then back to the midsection. Jericho shooting his mouth off, calls for another Codebreaker, The Lunatic Fringe blocks it, then plants him down on the thumb tacks. Jericho writhes in pain, Ambrose spikes him with Dirty Deeds on the tacks, covers and gets the 1-2-3.
Winner: Dean Ambrose (Dirty Deeds)

  • EA’s TakeThese guys had a pretty tough act to follow and in all honestly, I found this to be a little boring up until the end. Obviously Ambrose’s elbow off the top of the cage was a highlight and Jericho being dumped on thumb tacks is a first for him as far as I know, but other than that there wasn’t much notable. Overall I’m calling the Asylum match a dud, some of it was brutal, but a lot of it felt really cheesy to me.

Match #6 – Submission Match for the WWE Women’s Championship: Natalya vs. WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte
Collar & elbow tie-up to get things going, both ladies jostle for position, Charlotte backs Natalya to the corner and they break. She charges back in, Nattie with multiple side headlock takedowns, the champion regrouping in the corner. They meet in the middle again, The Queen Of Harts with a double leg takedown, targets the knee and puts the bad mouth on Charlotte, the champion countering out into a chinlock. Natalya works to a vertical base, snapmares the champion over, Charlotte misses a wild right hand, Nattie with a modified atomic drop, steps over and hits a basement dropkick. She locks the champion in a surfboard, Charlotte rolls through to get out of it, Nattie with fists, sends her to the corner and the champion flips herself to the apron, landing on her feet. She hops back inside, the challenger meets her with Nattie By Nature, Charlotte rolls to the outside, but Natalya’s in pursuit.

Charlotte surprises her with knife-edge chops, The Queen Of Harts picks an arm, drives the champion into the post and they head back inside. Nattie really aggressive with rights in the corner, the official seperates them, Charlotte uses the opening to connect with a big boot to the chin, then starts to work over the knee. She’s thinking figure four, the challenger counters with a small package, switches to an armbreaker, Charlotte powering to her feet and plants Natalya with a sit-out powerbomb. The champion goes back to work on the left knee, slaps on a reverse figure four, Nattie claws her way to the bottom rope to force the break. Charlotte remains in control and stomps a hole in the challenger, snap suplex drives Natalya’s legs into the ropes and the champion lets out a “Woo!”. She looks to the corner and goes upstairs, hits a moonsault, then utilizes a single leg crab.

The Queen Of Harts is able to kick her away, throws Charlotte with a german suplex and locks in the Sharpshooter, but the champion gains the ropes. Nattie pulls her back to the middle of the ring, Ric Flair’s music hits and Natalya drops the hold, Dana Brooke making her way out dressed as The Nature Boy. Charlotte looks to take advantage of the distraction with the figure four, Natalya kicks her out of the ring, Dana hops to the apron and gets the challenger’s attention again. The champion hits the ring, clobbers Nattie from behind, locks on the Figure Eight and Natalya submits.
Winner and STILL WWE Women’s Champion: Charlotte (Figure Eight)

  • After The Bell: Ric Flair makes his way down and gives Dana a high-five, then get in the ring and raise the champion’s arm up in victory.
  • EA’s TakeThis was sub-par to say the least and not a step in the right direction for the women’s division. The problem with placing the ladies so high up on the card is that they will often have to follow phenomenal matches, so it’s not entirely their fault. A submission match hardly constitutes being an “extreme rule” unless it’s booked as more of an I Quit Match with all the “plunder” as Dusty Rhodes would say. Interesting to have Dana Brooke get involved, but she was clearly struggling on her own after Emma’s injury. I feel like her call-up was too soon and it’s shown in her ring work, especially considering she was out with injury for so long.

Match #7 – Extreme Rules for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship: ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles vs. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns
Lock-up to begin, Roman powers AJ into the corner, rushes in for a clothesline and Styles rolls out of the way. They circle back around into another tie-up, AJ with a waistlock, Reigns forcing him off with a back elbow. They meet again, The Phenomenal One tries to pick the leg, the champion blocking it, but AJ comes right back with a stiff forearm. The Big Dog goes back to the power and shoves Styles to the corner, AJ ducks a punch, turns the tables and fires off a barrage of his own, then kicks to the ribs. The champion catches his foot and tosses him away, unleashes with a multitude of clotheslines in the corner, misses a follow-up right and the challenger with more punches of his own.

He hits the ropes, Roman explodes up with a big high knee, AJ rolling to the outside to collect himself, grabs a chair at ringside, turns around and Reigns clocks him with a fist. He rolls Styles inside, grabs the chair and slides inside, looks to crack it over AJ’s back, but he rolls to the outside and attempts to drag Reigns with him. The Big Dog kicks him away to the barricade, Roman still wants to hit a chair shot, misses and hits the steps instead, jacking up his fingers in the process. The challenger takes the advantage and the battle wages towards the announce table, getting a head of steam and scoring with a clothesline. The Phenomenal One cleans the table off, another clothesline to the champion sends him over the barricade into the fans, Styles in pursuit as they fight through the crowd. Back-and-forth action as they work their way over to the Kickoff panel set, Roman muscles AJ into the air and tosses him onto the glass table.

Styles with a desperation kick, jumps off the table with a forearm, the two combatants continuing to trade shots as they work their way back to the timekeeper’s area at ringside. The challenger bounces Roman face-first into the ring post, takes the protective padding off the barricade and deposits the champion into it. He proceeds to expose the concrete floor at ringside, puts him in position for a Styles Clash, The Big Dog escapes and drops him with a big uppercut, then rams AJ’s head into the steps. The champion clears off the german announce table, lifts Styles up for a powerbomb, The Phenomenal One fights it off with heavy punches, sets for the Styles Clash on the table, but again Roman fights it off with another right hand. AJ spills over the barricade, hops back up and runs at the champion, Reigns with a back body drop and Styles is sent crashing through the original announce table.

The Big Dog tosses him into the ring for a count of 2, lifts The Phenomenal One up into a sit-out Razor’s Edge, Styles just barely kicking out at 2. The champion sets for the Superman Punch, Styles ducks it and takes him out at the knee, Roman writhing around in pain and grabbing at his leg. The challenger tries to pick him up and gets driven backwards into the corner, Reigns looks for a shoulder to the breadbasket, Styles gets a knee up and then delivers a snap suplex into the corner. The champion rolls out to the floor, The Phenomenal One steps to the apron, for a running knee, attempts to come off the apron with a hurricanrana, The Big Dog blocking it and whips the challenger into the LED board on the ring, then the barricade.

He powers Styles back up and tosses him through the spanish announce table with a powerbomb, waits for the challenger to get back to his feet, runs in for a Spear, AJ side-stepping it and Reigns goes through the barricade. The challenger rolls Roman into the ring, looks to spring in from the apron with a Phenomenal Forearm, Reigns pops to his feet and catches him with the Superman Punch, Styles spilling down to the floor. The champion rolls out on the other side, waits for AJ to get to his feet, jumps over the ring steps with a Spear and plants The Phenomenal One into the floor. They head back into the ring, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson run down to the squared circle, they connect with the Boot Of Doom on Roman, put Styles on top and the champion kicks out at 2. Gallows & Anderson grab a couple of chairs on the outside, The Usos sprint down to the ring, take them out with in-stereo superkicks, then drop the challenger with one.

Jimmy goes upstairs and squashes him with the Uso Splash, they put Reigns on top for the cover, Styles barely kicking out at 2. Gallows & Anderson take The Usos out on the floor, Anderson hits the ring and gets dropped by a Superman Punch, one for Gallows on the apron and the champion is in position for the Spear. The Phenomenal One meets him with a kick, connects with the Styles Clash, but only gets a near fall. The challenger goes for the chair now, sets for another Styles Clash, The Big Dog blocking it, flips him over, charges in for a Superman Punch, but is met by an enzuigiri. AJ plants him on the chair with a Styles Clash, Jey grabs his foot for a slight distraction, giving Roman just enough time to kick-out at 2. The Phenomenal One is incensed, grabs the chair and unloads on Reigns, The Usos hit the ring and get dealt a beating, Styles snapping and clearing them both out. He steps out to the apron and calls for the Phenomenal Forearm, springboards in, The Big Dog explodes up with a Spear in mid-air and gets the 3 count.
Winner and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Roman Reigns (Spear)

  • After The Bell: Seth Rollins comes in out of nowhere behind the champion, spikes him into the mat with a Pedigree, grabs the title and then holds it over his head as the show comes to a close.
  • EA’s TakeAnother awesome main event between both of these guys, I was actually impressed by Roman’s offense tonight, but to be fair, a lot of that had to do with Styles and hits talents. AJ was off the charts tonight in terms of the risks and nasty bumps he took tonight. He was banged up heading into this match, so I can only imagine how he’s going to feel tomorrow night. Also, the use of Gallows/Anderson and The Usos was perfect, not too much of them or too little. Huge pop for the return of Rollins as well, I’m more excited for RAW tomorrow than I have been for a number of weeks now just to see what they try to do with him, since he will be getting cheered over Roman.

EA’s FinisherAlthough a couple of matches fell pretty flat to me, from top-to-bottom it was a pretty enjoyable card. Of course the return of Seth Rollins is huge news and will be a big shot in the arm for the roster, I’m pretty excited about the possible new match-ups we could see including him. I’m also looking forward to where The Club goes from here, will AJ get another shot perhaps in a triple threat match or does Rollins get a 1-1 title shot. The real standout tonight was the IC Title Fatal 4 Way, total show stealer and it was difficult for any match after to keep the crowd engaged until the main event. Rusev/Kalisto was predictable, but sometimes predictability can be okay and it’s not always smart booking to throw a curveball just for the sake of throwing a curveball. Biggest disappointment for me is a tie between the Asylum Match and Women’s Title Match. Seperate reasons why both were underwhelming for me, but the Fatal 4 Way before they went on didn’t help their case. Side note – lack of blood brings lack of realism on a night that’s supposed to be “extreme”.

Top Three To Watch
1 – Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn vs. The Miz
2 – Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles
3 – Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. The Usos


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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!

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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

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

  • 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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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.

 

THE SIGNOFF

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.


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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!

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ALL IN

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

9/1/2018

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)

THE RESULTS

  • 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

 

THE BREAKDOWN

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.

THE SIGNOFF

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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