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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WWE Extreme Rules 2017 – Fatal 5-Way

Eric Ames takes a look back at the 2017 edition of WWE Extreme Rules!

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WWE Extreme Rules 2017 Chairshot Edit

Eric Ames takes a look back at the 2017 edition of WWE Extreme Rules!

WWE Extreme Rules 2017 took place on June 2, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland, from the Royal Farms Arena…better known to wrestling fans as the Baltimore Arena!

Kickoff Match: Kalisto vs. Apollo Crews w/Titus O’Neil
Apollo ducks the opening lockup and takes Kalisto down with a waistlock, The King of Flight finds his footing, counters to a wristlock, Crews pushes him off to the ropes and gets caught with a wheelbarrow arm drag. The crowd breaks out with “Lucha” chants, this time Kalisto goes under a tie-up for a waistlock, standing switch from Apollo, brings him down with a side headlock, The King of Flight reverses to a headscissor, Crews kips up to his feet and we have another stalemate. Kalisto picks the arm for another wristlock, Apollo counters out to one of his own, shoots him to the corner and follows in, The King of Flight hops up-and-over, hits the ropes, Crews leapfrogs over and scores with a dropkick for a 2 count.

He goes right back to a waistlock to ground The King of Flight, Kalisto works back to his feet, grabs a side headlock, Crews pushes him off to the ropes and drops down, but the masked man goes over the top of him in a walking handstand, then back handsprings into a headscissors takedown. He hits the ropes and sends Apollo to the outside with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors, The King of Flight leaps over the top rope, springboards off the bottom rope with a somersault senton and lands on his feet. He lines Crews up and charges in, gets elevated up onto the 2nd rope, springboards off with a crossbody, but Apollo clobbers him in mid-air with an enzuigiri as we go to a break….We return and Apollo delivers a delayed vertical suplex, kips back up to his feet, plays to the crowd and finally covers for a count of 2.

He looks to wear Kalisto down with a front facelock, The King of Flight battles to a standing position, Crews muscles him up for a body slam, Kalisto slips out of it, utilizes a schoolboy and nearly steals it. Apollo quickly levels him with a clothesline for a near fall, gets some words of wisdom from Titus, then goes right back to the front facelock. The King of Flight fights his way back up and hits the ropes, Crews ducks down for a back body drop, Kalisto counters with a sunset flip and finds a 2 count. Both guys back up quick and Apollo connects with a back elbow for another near fall, gets some more advice from O’Neil, drags Kalisto up and The King of Flight fires away with kicks, then executes a jawbreaker. He hits the ropes and ducks under a clothesline, springboards off the 2nd rope with a corkscrew headbutt, Apollo attempts another clothesline, Kalisto back handsprings under it, then clocks him with a spinning back kick.

He goes to the ropes for a head of steam, plants Crews with a short spikerana that almost finishes it off, calls for the Salida Del Sol, but gets pushed off to the corner. The King of Flight catches Apollo walking in with a back kick, springs off the 2nd rope with a moonsault, gets caught over Crews’ shoulder, looks to tilt-a-whirl into a DDT, but Apollo blocks it and dead-lifts him for a suplex. Kalisto counters to a small package for a count of 2, quickly buries a spinning back kick to the breadbasket, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Apollo launches him into the air, The King of Flight turns it into a DDT, but still can’t put it away. Kalisto slides out to the apron, looks to springboard in for a crossbody, Apollo catches him and delivers a samoan drop, connects with a standing shooting star press, hooks the leg and The King of Flight barely kicks out at 2. Titus climbs onto the apron and Apollo wonders what else he has to do, Kalisto grabs him for Salida Del Sol while walking up O’Neil’s chest, makes the cover and picks up the win.
Winner: Kalisto (Salida Del Sol)

  • EA’s TakeIf you can forget the fact that this angle has been less than stellar to say the least, this is one of the better Kickoff matches I can remember in some time. Both guys provide impressive offense and the springboard somersault senton by Kalisto to the outside was a sight to behold. Crews is starting to lean more towards being a heel, which is what needed to be done in order to give him some direction because his association with Titus has felt very meaningless with Apollo playing a tweener. People wanted to cheer him, but weren’t sure if they were supposed to and that can kill a Superstar. By the way Sam Roberts, Apollo did a standing shooting star press, not a standing 450 splash.

Open: “Orderly. Predictable. Cautious. None of those terms apply as the RAW Superstars go extreme. Tonight the rules will be re-written. History will be made. This is Extreme Rules.”

Match #1 for the WWE Intercontinental Championship – Title Can Change Hands By Disqualification: The Miz w/Maryse vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose
Collar & elbow tie-up to begin, the champion goes to a waistlock, Miz counters to a wristlock, Ambrose reverses to one of his own, then brings him down with a side headlock. The challenger back to his feet and sends Dean off to the ropes, The Lunatic Fringe scores with a shoulder knockdown, Miz seeks reprieve in the ropes, then steps back in for a test of strength. Dean kicks his hand away and regains a wristlock, The A-Lister with a counter to a hammerlock, the champion reverses to one of his own and they trade-off the hold multiple times, Miz finally pushing Ambrose away and taunts him. He backs off to the corner and the ref steps in to force a break, The Miz slaps The Lunatic Fringe across the face, Ambrose pummels him in the corner, the official again stepping in between them.

The challenger with another slap to the face to anger Dean, the referee has to push the champion out of the corner, Miz calls for a disqualification, rushes in for a clothesline, The Lunatic Fringe ducks it and fires away with stinging chops. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Dean delivers a spinning back elbow, clotheslines The A-Lister to the outside, hits the ropes for a head of steam and takes flight with a suicide dive. He deposits the challenger into the barricade, drives him spine-first into the apron, rolls in-and-out to break the ref’s count, then picks up a steel chair. The official slides out and convinces him to drop it, The Miz takes advantage with a big boot, the ref backs Maryse away, Miz looking to use the chair behind his back.

Ambrose avoids it with a kick and grabs the chair, the official turns to see it, The A-Lister calls for a DQ again, but the champion tosses the chair aside and hits a series of forearms. He throws the challenger into the ring, Miz tries to escape back outside, Ambrose hooks him by the hair, gets chastised by the referee, steps out to the apron and The A-Lister surprises him with a kick. He spikes Dean on the apron with a short DDT, rolls him inside and covers for a 2 count, slaps on a rear chinlock and looks to wear the champion down. Ambrose works to a vertical base, they exchange blows, Dean rebounds off the ropes for a Lunatic Lariat, The A-Lister ducks under it, cracks him with a modified backbreaker, then follows with a neckbreaker for a count of 2.

He chokes The Lunatic Fringe using the 2nd rope, hooks on a cravate, Ambrose fights to break free, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Miz buries a knee to the midsection, hits the ropes for a boot to the jaw and gains another near fall. He batters Dean with left hands, rips away at his nose, posts his knee into the spine and wrenches back on the arms, the champion with kicks to the knee to try and escape. The Miz rips him to the mat by the hair, hammers The Lunatic Fringe with more stiff punches, Ambrose staggers up in the corner, the challenger charging in with multiple dropkicks. He measures the champion for the Awesome Clothesline, scales the corner for a double axe handle, nearly gets caught coming down with Dirty Deeds, reverses for a Skull Crushing Finale, but Dean counters out with an arm drag.

He rushes The A-Lister in the corner and runs into a boot, Miz hops to the 2nd rope, Ambrose rocks him with a forearm, sending the challenger spilling to the floor. The champion climbs to the high-rent district, takes Miz out on the floor with a diving elbow, sends him into the squared circle, hits the ropes and begins to build momentum with running forearm shots. He goes to shoot Miz to the ropes, the challenger reverses, Ambrose connects with a clothesline, delivers a bridging fisherman’s suplex and The A-Lister barely kicks out at 2. The Miz pulls himself to his feet in the corner, Dean runs in with a forearm, looks to follow with a running bulldog, the challenger pushes him off to the mat, hits the ropes for a kick, Ambrose ducks it and uses a schoolboy for a near fall.

Both guys back up quick and Miz attempts a clothesline, Dean counters into a swinging neckbreaker for 2, looks to go back upstairs, jumps over the top of the challenger, lands on his feet and tweaks his knee. The A-Lister spots it, corners him and unloads with kicks to the leg, charges back in, the champion surprises him with a sunset flip, but Miz rolls through and locks in a figure four. The Lunatic Fringe drags himself to the ropes to force the break, Miz pulls him back to the middle of the ring to hook the figure four back on, Ambrose counters it with a small package and finds a 2 count. The challenger stumbles to the corner and Dean rushes in, gets elevated over the top, lands on his feet on the apron, catches Miz with a forearm shot, then hops to the top turnbuckle.

The A-Lister sweeps the legs and crotches him, climbs up to deliver a superplex, Dean blocks it, slides down for a powerbomb, Miz rips off the turnbuckle pad trying to hang on, slides out to his feet and takes a kick to the midsection. Ambrose looks to drive him head-first into the exposed buckle, puts on the brakes, turns around and the challenger delivers a running knee, hooks the leg, but still can’t put it away. The Miz lines Dean up for the Yes Kicks, the champion blocks a blow to the head, picks the leg, then slaps on a figure four of his own. The challenger claws his way to the ropes forcing the break, both guys struggle back to their feet, Miz tries a Skull Crushing Finale, Ambrose counters to a victory roll, but only gets 2. The A-Lister quickly drills him with a left hand, the champion rebounds off the ropes with a Lunatic Lariat, Maryse climbs onto the apron, Dean looks for Dirty Deeds, The Miz slips out, pushes him off towards her, but Ambrose puts on the brakes.

The challenger charges Dean from behind, The Lunatic Fringe side-steps, Miz nearly runs into Maryse, but holds up and catches Ambrose with a back elbow. The A-Lister tells Maryse to slap him and she obliges, the official sees it, realizes what they’re trying to do and tosses Maryse away from ringside. The Miz pleads with the ref for a disqualification, gets surprised from behind by a roll-up, barely kicks out at 2, Maryse marches back down towards ringside to distract the official and Miz throws the champion into him. The referee falls to the floor and has words with Ambrose, goes around ringside to tease calling for the bell, The Miz grabs Ambrose from behind for the Skull Crushing Finale, the ref slides back in and makes the 3 count.
Winner and NEW WWE Intercontinental Champion: The Miz (Skull Crushing Finale)

  • EA’s TakeGreat opening contest here and by far the best part of this entire Miz/Ambrose feud to date. Excellent use of the stipulation with the multiple teases of a possible disqualification, everybody including the referee playing their role to perfection. I’m pretty pleased that Ambrose’s title reign is over because it has not been exciting and done nothing for the championship, so hopefully Miz can do for it what he did on SmackDown Live last year. I’d imagine Dean will get a rematch here, I’m hoping it will happen rather quickly because I’d like to see both guys move onto something else as this feud has been too long for the lack of excitement it has given me.

Backstage: Charly Caruso welcomes in Bayley, The Huggable One says that Alexa Bliss thinks a lot of things like how her ‘This Is Your Life’ segment was good, but she’s not Mankind or The Rock. She talks about how the champion believes that she can’t get extreme, Bayley speaking of watching footage of Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman and Steve Blackman to brush up on using a kendo stick for tonight, but also saw ‘Wonder Woman’ and it inspired her. Bayley claims she’s here in WWE to inspire people and not hurt them, but she’s willing to do whatever it takes to regain the RAW Women’s Championship.

Match #2: Noam Dar & Alicia Fox vs. Rich Swann & Sasha Banks
Alicia & Sasha will kickoff the action, Foxy avoids the opening lock-up and slams Banks down by the hair, retreats away to her corner and tags out. Swann steps in and ducks under a clothesline from Dar, hits the ropes to deliver one of his own, Noam staggers to the corner, Rich fires away with stinging chops, then drives him head-first into the top turnbuckle. He picks him back up, The Scottish Supernova surprises Swann with an arm whip to the canvas, The Outlandish One pulls himself up in the corner, side-steps Noam rushing in, then charges in and meets a boot to the jaw. Dar hops to the 2nd rope, Rich explodes up with a hurricanrana, climbs to the top rope for the Phoenix Splash, but Noam scurries away to his corner into Alicia’s arms.

She gets the tag and The Boss comes in, they break into a brawl with fists flying, Sasha blocks a kick, clocks Foxy with a knee, then hits the ropes and tilt-a-whirls into the Bank Statement. Dar baits Swann into the ring to distract the official, reaches in and puts Alicia’s foot on the bottom rope, the ref turns and forces the break, The Boss realizes what happened and has some words for Noam. She turns around and Foxy drops her with a big boot for a 2 count, drives her knee into Sasha’s spine, drags her up for a big forearm, then mocks Rich on the apron. She chokes Banks on the middle rope, sends her to the ropes for a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, covers for another count of 2, then grinds Sasha down with a rear chinlock. The Boss works back to a standing position, Foxy whips her to the corner and follows in, Sasha gets the boot up to the chin, tries to jump towards his corner, Alicia catches her, backs her into the turnbuckles and looks for a big boot, but nobody’s home.

Both ladies crawl to tags, The Outlandish One unloads with right hands to Dar, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Swann scores with a tilt-a-whirl hurricanrana, buries a spinning back kick to the midsection, hits the ropes for a standing somersault leg drop and gains a near fall. He hooks Noam for a tiger driver, The Scottish Supernova slips out for a roll-up that nearly steals it, both guys up quick try a clothesline and hit, then stagger and begin to trade-off punches. Rich counters an uppercut for a backslide, Noam rolls through it, connects with an uppercut, hits the ropes and runs into the Rich Kick. Alicia & Sasha both charge in and brawl to the outside, Banks drives Foxy back-first into the ring apron, Dar & Swann fight to the floor, The Scottish Supernova ramming Rich into the barricade. Sasha climbs to the top turnbuckle, leaps off to the floor with double knees to Noam, The Outlandish One rolls him into the squared circle, goes upstairs for the Phoenix Splash and that’s all she wrote.
Winners: Rich Swann & Sasha Banks (Swann/Phoenix Splash)

  • EA’s TakeI can totally understand why this was put together as it gives Sasha something to do while she’s out of the title picture, but also gives a rub to the Cruiserweight Division at the same time. However, I could totally live without it as the Swann/Dar angle has grown tired at this point, the match was nothing thrilling and it doesn’t seem like this is propelling any of the participants into something of any significance. If they were all high school students, then this entire angle would be called “busy work”.

In The Ring: ‘The Drifter’ Elias Samson introduces himself and wonders who wants to walk with him tonight. He speaks about strolling along the harbor earlier today and watching all the people, claims he wrote a song about Baltimore and asks for all applause to be held until he’s done. The Drifter strums his guitar and sings about Baltimore being bathed in filth, depressing and the people are all to blame for it, claiming what it needs is what he is.

Match #3 is a Kendo Stick On A Pole Match for the RAW Women’s Championship: Bayley vs. RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss
Alexa & Bayley exchange words at the bell, Bliss mocks the challenger, Bayley makes a move towards the kendo stick, but gets ripped down by the hair. The champion starts to climb up, The Huggable One pulls her down, sends Bliss head-first into the top turnbuckle, then scoops her up for a body slam that gets 2. She looks to go up for the kendo stick, Alexa brings her down by the leg, sends Bayley to the outside with a stiff right hand, then starts to head to the pole. The challenger gets to the apron and steps up to meet her with fists, they trade-off shots, Bayley grabs the stick and pulls it down, but drops it as they both spill down to the floor. Both ladies stagger to their feet and eye the kendo stick, Bayley rolls in to cut Alexa off, chases her outside, drives the champion spine-first into the barricade, then plants her with a back suplex on the floor.

The Huggable One slides inside and grabs the kendo stick, Little Miss Bliss realizes it, Bayley chases her around ringside and back into the ring, Alexa tries to beg her off and surprises her with a tackles. The champion takes the stick and unloads on the challenger, Bliss measures for one more final blow, The Huggable One catches her with a Bayley-To-Belly, both struggling back to their feet. Alexa crawls to the kendo stick and props it up in the corner, Bayley grabs her from behind to roll Bliss away from it, the champion shoves The Huggable One shoulder-first into it, cracks her across the back and spikes her with a DDT to retain.
Winner and STILL RAW Women’s Champion: Alexa Bliss (DDT)

  • EA’s TakeWell this was uninspiring. Really quick match for a title match, especially on a pay-per-view and a main card only consisting of six matches. This is another angle from the red brand that has left a lot to be desired, especially after that abysmal ‘This Is Your Life’ segment that was cringe-worthy and for lack of a better term, just plain bad. Not the kind of “bad” that’s like watching a car crash either, but the kind that makes your skin crawl. You have to imagine that Sasha Banks will be in line for a title shot at some point here, but the way this ended I’m wondering if Bayley might not be done with Alexa yet. Personally, I could go for something new and fresh.

Match #4 is a Steel Cage Match for the RAW Tag Team Championships: Cesaro & Sheamus vs. RAW Tag Team Champions The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff)
The bell rings and the challengers immediately start climbing the cage, The Hardys drag them back down, they pair-off, Cesaro & Sheamus again trying to climb over the top to no avail. Sheamus shoots Jeff to the ropes for a tilt-a-whirl powerslam, The Charismatic Enigma slips out, sweeps the legs and hits a double leg drop to the lower abdomen. He clotheslines The Celtic Warrior into the side of the cage, Cesaro launches Matt into it on the other side, Jeff turns his attention to The Swiss Superman with fists, turns back to Sheamus and walks into an Irish Curse. The challengers drive the champions head-first into the cage separately, start to scale the ropes to climb out, The Hardys are able to hold them off, the challengers then looking to whip them into each other from opposite corners.

Matt reverses it and sends Cesaro into Jeff, begins climbing as The Great White heads up on the other side, The King of Swing and Jeff drag them back in, Cesaro & Sheamus both getting crotched on the top rope. Matt & Jeff bounce the challengers’ heads off the cage multiple times, deliver in stereo dropkicks, sandwich Sheamus into the cage with Poetry In Motion, then do the same to Cesaro. The champions look head head over the top now, Cesaro & Sheamus stagger to their feet and climb up to meet them, The Celtic Warrior drops back down to the mat, plants Jeff and his partner to the mat with a double powerbomb, Matt following with an elbow drop from the top to Cesaro. The Great White looks to send him into the cage, Matt turns the tables and introduces Sheamus instead, climbs all the way to the top of the cage, but The Swiss Superman reaches up to get him.

He hammers Matt with forearms the spine, drops him on Sheamus’ shoulders for a rolling fireman’s carry, The Great White heads for the door and Cesaro tosses Jeff into the cage. Matt grabs The Celtic Warrior by the foot to keep him in, the challengers put the boots to him, Sheamus rams The Charismatic Enigma into the cage, sends Matt to the ropes with Cesaro and they launch him into the steel. The challengers attempt to do the same to Jeff, The Charismatic Enigma counters with right hands, Cesaro tries to toss him into the cage, Jeff grabs on instead and begins to scale up the wall. The King of Swing is there to stop him, Sheamus batters Matt with a barrage of fists, drops him with a back elbow and Cesaro comes off the top with a double axe to Jeff.

He holds The Charismatic Enigma up as Sheamus lines up for a Brogue Kick, Jeff side-steps it, throws Cesaro into the cage, kicks The Celtic Warrior away and into Matt who’s waiting to deliver a tornado DDT. The Hardys begin to ascend up the cage and reach the top, Cesaro & Sheamus stumble back up, climb up after them, The Swiss Superman hangs onto Jeff by one arm, but gets clocked by right hands and The Charismatic Enigma falls to the floor. Matt plants Cesaro with a Side Effect back in the ring, avoids Sheamus coming off the top, hits him with a Side Effect for his troubles, then starts climbing up the cage and reaches the top, but The Swiss Superman grabs him by the leg. Jeff climbs back up to try and pull his brother over, The King of Swing knocks him back to the floor with a fist, Sheamus helps drag Matt back down and they plant him with a Double High Cross.

The Charismatic Enigma looks to get back inside through the door, Cesaro is there to meet him, Jeff slams the door in his face, but Sheamus delivers a Brogue Kick through the door to knock Jeff to the floor. He starts to step out and Matt pulls him back inside, The Great White picks him up over his shoulders, Matt slips out and drops him with a Twist Of Fate. Cesaro starts climbing up on the other side, Matt tosses him back down with a military press, starts to ascend to the top, but The Swiss Superman quickly climbs up to meet him. He rocks Matt with an uppercut, Sheamus goes up the ropes to meet them, pulls him down on his shoulders and delivers an assisted White Noise off the top with Cesaro. Jeff scales the side of the cage and stands on the top, flies back inside on the challengers with Whisper In The Wind and Matt crawls for the door. The challengers stumble back to their feet and climb up the cage, Matt drags Jeff to the door, gets outside and tries to pull him to the floor, but Cesaro & Sheamus drop to the floor seconds before.
Winners and NEW RAW Tag Team Champions: Cesaro & Sheamus

  • EA’s TakeFairly entertaining contest that saw The Hardys take some of the high risks they are known for, which is what most were expecting heading into this match-up. I’m not certain how long they will be a part of the Tag Team Division for, so it was only a matter of time before they dropped the titles and I’m not surprised it happened here. They beat Cesaro & Sheamus clean at Payback, so there was no real reason for a rematch if there wasn’t going to be a title change. The whole division is in a bit of an odd state with those questions surrounding The Hardys remaining a tandem, The Revival still being out due to Dash Wilder’s injury and now the storyline surrounding who’s attack Enzo & Big Cass. Before, I would have thought that at some point here you’d think Enzo & Cass were in line for a title run, but who knows now?

Match #5 is a Submission Match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Austin Aries vs. WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville
They lock-up and the champion backs Austin to the ropes, doesn’t break clean and scores with a leg kick, Aries fires back with some of his own and they jostle into the corner. Neville again doesn’t break clean and slaps on an armbar, the challenger rolls through to a wristlock, The King of the Cruiserweights returns the favor, but A-Double reverses back and rolls him into a modified octopus stretch. The champion gains the bottom rope to force a break and steps to the apron for a breather, has some words for the fans and climbs back inside. Neville calls for a test of strength and tries to pick the leg, Austin slaps him across the bag, hops into a guillotine, but gets backed into the corner.

The King of the Cruiserweights buries shoulders to the breadbasket, shoots him across and follows in, Aries hops up-and-over to hit the ropes, cartwheels around a back body drop attempt and scores with an ear clap. The champion elevates him over the top to create space, A-Double lands on his feet on the apron, connects with an elbow, then slingshots in with a somersault senton. He quickly hooks on the Last Chancery, Neville slips away to the outside, Austin slides out in pursuit, the champion tries to send him into the barricade, but Austin reverses and sends Neville in instead. He deposits The King of the Cruiserweights sternum-first into the retaining wall, muscles him on onto his shoulders, drops Neville face-first off the apron, then rolls him back into the squared circle.

The champion wisely rolls right back out, Aries slides in, measures for the Heat Seeking Missile, but Neville takes a walk to prevent it. A-Double puts on the brakes and climbs up top instead, takes flight with an elbow drop, tosses Neville back in, steps in from the apron and The King of the Cruiserweights surprises him with a kick to the knee. The champion goes right to work on the leg with a dragon screw leg whip, stomps away at the challenger’s face, then begins to punish the left knee with a heel hold. The Greatest Man That Ever Lived is able to kick him away to the corner, gets caught walking in by a back elbow, Neville hops to the 2nd rope, Austin cracks him with a left hand and the champion spills to the floor. He drags himself back into the ring and Aries meets him with a series of shots, levels the champion with a clothesline, then delivers multiple shin breakers, following it with an inverted back suplex.

He lines The King of the Cruiserweights up for the Discus Five-Arm, Neville tries to cut him off with a kick, Aries blocks it, scores with a dragon screw leg whip, then looks for a figure four. The champion kicks him off and Austin catches himself on the apron, surprises Neville with a shoulder to the midsection, sets for a neckbreaker over the 2nd rope, but The King of the Cruiserweights powers out, then knocks him to the floor with a dropkick to the knee. A-Double is favoring his shoulder after the landing, The King of the Cruiserweights steps out after him, starts targeting the left arm and rolls him back inside. The champion steps in and goes to work on the shoulder with kicks, taunts the crowd while dishing out punishment, then arm-whips Austin to the canvas. He ascends the corner to the top rope for a missile dropkick, the challenger catches him by the legs, slaps on a figure four and The King of the Cruiserweights drags himself to the ropes to gain the break.

A-Double looks to drag him up, Neville grabs a handful of tights to launch the challenger to the outside, Aries hangs onto the apron, drops him across the middle rope with a neckbreaker, then heads to the high-rent district. He flies off with a missile dropkick that’s off target, the champion quickly locks on the Rings Of Saturn, The Greatest Man That Ever Lived works his way to the ropes forcing the break and Neville argues with the official. He hauls Aries to the middle of the ring to put him back in the Rings Of Saturn, the challenger counters to his own Rings Of Saturn, but the champion grabs for the referee and the official warns about a disqualification. Austin releases the hold and pleads with him not to call for the bell, turns around into a superkick, The King of the Cruiserweights props him on the top turnbuckle, then climbs up and readies for a superplex.

A-Double fights it off and knocks him back to the mat, Neville quickly climbs back up, gets caught in a guillotine, Aries releases it and plants him with a sunset flip powerbomb. He immediately rolls into the Last Chancery, Neville drags himself outside under the bottom rope, Austin maintains the hold and the champion taps, but the ref waives it off because they aren’t in the ring. The challenger rolls The King of the Cruiserweights back onto the apron and slides inside, drags him to his feet, Neville picks the arm and drops it across the top rope, but Austin comes right back with a Discus Five-Arm. The champion stumbles to the floor, Aries hits the ropes for the Heat Seeking Missile, but nobody’s home and Neville throws him into the ring. The King of the Cruiserweights quickly goes upstairs, connects with the Red Arrom to the back, immediately slaps on the Rings Of Saturn and Austin taps out.
Winner and STILL WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Neville (Rings Of Saturn)

  • EA’s TakeExcellent match, probably the best one the Cruiserweight Division has had PPV-wise since Neville/Gallagher at the Royal Rumble. I’m shocked that Aries didn’t go over here, I can’t believe you give him three straight title shots and in the end he loses. I really thought that it was an inevitability he would become champion at some point in this rivalry, so I’m wondering if maybe he’s injured or something since he was sporting the tape around his shoulders and that’s not the norm for him. I really have no idea where you go with Neville at this point, I can only think of two men he hasn’t faced yet and that’s Cedric Alexander and Akira Tozawa. If Aries couldn’t win the title and perception-wise he’s a level above both of those guys, I find it hard to digest either of them will dethrone The King of the Cruiserweights.

Match #6 is a WWE Universal Championship #1 Contender’s Extreme Rules Fatal 5-Way: Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns
The bell rings and everyone pairs off leaving Roman standing on his own, the ring clears with Reigns observing the action on the floor, Bray drives Finn spine-first into the apron, then slides inside. The Big Dog rocks him with an uppercut, gets caught coming into the corner with a boot to the jaw, The Eater of Worlds hops to the 2nd rope, Roman powers him out for a Samoan Drop, Joe slides in from behind and lifts him for one of his own. Reigns slips out of it, plants him with a Samoan Drop, turns to see Balor, The Demon King fires away with rights, Roman lifts him up for another Samoan Drop, but Finn avoids it and scores with a barrage of forearms. The Big Dog pushes him off to the corner and charges in, Balor hops to the apron to avoid him, tries an enzuigiri, Roman blocks it, then clocks him with an uppercut.

Rollins rolls inside and goes face-to-face with Reigns, Bray & Joe hit the ring to ambush The Big Dog, Seth getting involved to even the numbers. Wyatt sends Roman shoulder-first into the ring post and he falls to the floor, turns his attention to The King Slayer, Balor slides in and evens the sides, The Destroyer tossing Seth to the outside. He builds a head of steam for an outside dive, Rollins slides in and he slides out, The Architect hits the ropes, then takes him out with a suicide dive of his own. Finn delivers a dropkick to Bray back inside, slingshots off the bottom rope with numerous stomps, keeps Rollins & Joe from coming in, then hits the ropes and flies over the top with a somersault senton. He turns around and The Big Dog levels him with an uppercut, launches The Demon King into the barricade, drives him head-first off the apron and Wyatt reaches outside to grab him.

Reigns cracks him with an uppercut, sets for the Drive-By, The Destroyer cuts him off with a back elbow, deposits Roman into the retaining wall, then teams up with The Eater of Worlds to dish out more punishment. They toss Reigns shoulder-first into the steel steps, take the top half of the stairs and flatten Rollins & Balor, then do the same to The Big Dog. They put the boots to The Demon King and toss him into the squared circle, batter him in the corner with heavy shots, Balor tries to battle back to no avail, gets sent to the ropes for a double shoulder block, Bray then scooping him up for a body slam. The King Slayer hits the ring and takes Bray out with a single-leg dropkick, plants Joe face-first into the 2nd turnbuckle with a reverse STO, looks for a suicide dive to Wyatt, but gets cut off by an uppercut. The New Face of Fear sees Roman getting up and drives him into the barricade, spikes Seth head-first on the steps with a DDT, meanwhile Finn starts to mount a comeback on Joe in the ring.

The Destroyer ducks a right hand and goes for the Coquina Clutch, Balor uses his feet to walk up the ropes, flips himself over to escape and connects with a double stomp to the breadbasket. Bray slides in from behind and clobbers him with a chair, uncorks shots on Reigns stepping in, kicks him back to the floor, acts as if he’s going to smash Joe, but instead whacks Finn across the back again. He lays the chair across Balor’s chest, The Destroyer hits the ropes and lands on top with a running senton, lays the chair back on top of The Demon King and Bray delivers a senton of his own. The Eater of Worlds props the chair between the ropes in the corner, sets Balor up against it, Samoa Joe shoots Bray in, but Finn gets his feet up, then side-steps Joe rushing in. The Destroyer goes head-first into the chair, The Demon King avoids Wyatt looking for a flying forearm, Roman surprises him with a Drive-By, then plants Balor with a schoolboy powerbomb.

Joe charges at Reigns for a clothesline that misses, The Big Dog makes him pay with one of his own, batters Wyatt in the corner with a barrage of clotheslines, then side-steps Joe charging in to collide them into each other. He hits the ropes for a big boot, Joe follows in to run a misdirection, Reigns does the same, scores with the big boot, then flattens The New Face of Fear with a clothesline. He readies for a Superman Punch, Samoa Joe drags him out of the ring, Wyatt pairs back up with Joe, plants Roman on the announce table with a uranage, then goes to climb back inside. Rollins is there to meet him with a forearm shot, slingshots over the top with a crossbody to The Destroyer, throws Bray into the squared circle, then springboards in from the apron with a clothesline for 2. Joe steps back in and runs into a boot in the corner, The King Slayer hops to the 2nd rope, delivers a double blockbuster to The Destroyer & Bray, covers Wyatt and finds another count of 2.

Joe rolls to the outside, Seth hits the ropes and takes him out with a suicide dive, The Eater of Worlds comes back in, rushes Rollins and gets tossed to the floor. The Architect goes back to the ropes for another suicide dive, Wyatt shoves Joe in harm’s way, Seth sends him back into the ring, slides in and sets for a clothesline. The New Face of Fear looks to counter with a uranage, The King Slayer slips out of it, hits the ropes and gets floored by a clothesline. Bray hauls him up and hooks him for a suplex, Seth blocks it, powers him up for a falcon arrow that gains a near fall, steps out to the apron and springboards back in, but gets caught and planted with Sister Abigail. Bray makes a cover and Joe breaks it up at 2, yells at The Eater of Worlds and a shoving match ensues, they come to blows and The Destroyer corners Wyatt, then charges in with a back elbow.

He follows with an enzuigiri and covers for a near fall, hits the ropes and gets cut down by a flying forearm, The New Face of Fear calls for Sister Abigail again, but The Destroyer avoids it and slaps on the Coquina Clutch. Balor climbs back in with a chair, unleashes a flurry of shots to them both, lays it across Bray’s chest and delivers a double stomp, then hits Reigns with a sliding dropkick to keep him on the outside. Finn steps out to the apron, drills The Big Dog with a soccer kick, rushes around ringside for a dropkick to Wyatt, delivers another to Samoa Joe, then rams Bray head-first off the announce table multiple times. He clears one table off and lays The Eater of Worlds across it, The Destroyer grabs him from behind with a Coquina Clutch, Roman charges in with a Spear and all three of them crash through the barricade into crowd.

The King Slayer ascends the corner to the top rope, flies outside with a frog splash, crashes on top of Bray through the announce table and now everyone’s down. Reigns & Rollins stagger to their feet and come face-to-face in the ring, The Architect unleashes a flurry of fists and hits the ropes, they begin to trade-off shots, Seth ducks a clothesline, connects with an enzuigiri, then sets for the Buckle Bomb. The Big Dog counters with a back body drop, Rollins flips to his feet, gets rocked by a Superman Punch, Reigns hooks the leg and Seth barely kicks out at 2. Roman gets in position for the Spear, The King Slayer counters with a schoolboy for a 2 count, quickly follows with a superkick for another count of 2, then heads to the high-rent district for a frog splash, but still can’t finish it. He drags The Big Dog towards the corner, climbs back up top for a phoenix splash, Reigns rolls out of harm’s way, Seth lands on his feet, but turns around and gets caught for Sister Abigail.

Reigns charges in and Bray releases Rollins, looks for Sister Abigail to The Big Dog, gets pushed off to the ropes and then split by a Spear. The Architect quickly spins Roman around for the Short-Arm High Knee, The Big Dog avoids it, hits the ropes and runs into a kick, Rollins launches him into the corner with a Buckle Bomb, but Reigns rebounds back out with a Superman Punch. Balor rolls inside, lines him up for a Shotgun Dropkick, The Big Dog cuts him off with another Superman Punch, sets for the Spear, but Finn surprises him with a Sling Blade instead. The Demon King follows with the Shotgun Dropkick, climbs to the high-rent district for the Coup De Grace, makes the cover, Joe slides in and slaps on the Coquina Clutch and Finn fades out.
Winner: Samoa Joe (Coquina Clutch)

  • EA’s TakeGreat main event and you could tell that the fans were mostly surprised by Joe winning if you heard their reaction to the finish. If you followed the news lately, you would know that WWE was looking for a “one-and-done” opponent for Lesnar and wanted to save Balor & Rollins for more longer term programs with Brock, plus Roman is scheduled to be his WrestleMania opponent. Therefore, Bray & Joe were the most likely to win this match and honestly, Joe is the right choice. I think if WWE chooses, you could have a pretty interesting long-term feud between Lesnar & Wyatt as well, plus eventhough this will be Joe’s only shot at him, you still have five weeks to build to their match. Also, it’s something we’ve never seen before and is really a dream match between two legitimate tough guys. It’s not the sexy pick, but it’s the right one.

EA’s FinisherA good effort for the most part tonight, there weren’t really any glaring botches to speak of, but certainly a couple of matches were either uninteresting or fell flat. Bayley vs. Alexa was not all it could have been and was very short, while the Mixed Tag Team Match was not something I was ever invested in. Believe it or not, the Kickoff match was pretty good in comparison and gave a much better effort than either. The main event definitely delivered and The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose played up the stipulation of their match to perfection, while the Cruiserweight Division gave its best effort since January. I’d call this a solid show if you average out the good and the bad, but I’m still looking forward to things ramping up as we draw closer to SummerSlam in August.

Top Three To Watch
1 – Extreme Rules Fatal 5-Way
2 – The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose
3 – Neville vs. Austin Aries


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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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