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Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #12 – ACW Peace, Love and Anarchy 2012

Harry is back with some Anarchy Championship Wrestling! Who’s ready for some Peace, Love and Anarchy?

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Realistically, I’m not Steven Mitchell. I have no clue how the guy does it honestly. That being said, I hope to do anywhere from 2-3 of these a week in order to keep fresh content rolling out for you guys. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed the return of ‘What I Watched’ with the CZW show that was posted before this. Any and all questions, comments, complaints and criticisms are welcome if you want to reach out to me on either Facebook or Twitter. I’m hebtheeagle on either platform. 

So, what are we up to today? We’re going to take a trip back more than a decade ago, as I head to Austin, Texas in the year 2012. The company is Anarchy Championship Wrestling. It’s owned by Darin Childs and is a hotbed in the area as these shows usually draw pretty well for an Indie. I have seen the shows that proceed this but if you are interested in looking into more information, I recommend visiting the http://www.cagematch.net page for ACW for more backstory. With that said, it’s off to April 15th of 2012, as ‘What I Watched’ goes to Peace, Love and Anarchy from ACW.

What I Watched #12

ACW Peace, Love and Anarchy 2012

4/15/12

Austin, TX

Runtime: 3:19:58 (IWTV, available for $10 a month. Highest recommendation for this service from yours truly)

 

THE RESULTS

  • Match 1: Davey Vega/Pierre Abernathy def. Jojo Bravo/Jordan Jensen, Abernathy taps Jensen with a Crossface @ 8:25
  • Match 2: ACW U-30 Title- Chingo del Santos pins JC Bravo ©, Muscle Cruncher @ 9:35
  • Ricky Romida vs. Chris Conine is removed from show
  • Match 3: ACW Hardcore Title- Matthew Palmer © pins Rachel Summerlynn, Centerfold Splash @ 18:20
  • Match 4: Darin Childs/Kris Wolfe/Scot Summers def. Jason Silver/Killah Kash/Sky de Lacrimosa, Childs pins Silver with “Fall From Grace” @ 14:36
  • Match 5: ACW Anarchy Televised Title- Davey Vega © pins Jerry Lynn, V-8 @ 11:30
  • Match 6: Evan Gelistico wins 6 way elimination match @ 13:32
*JT LaMotta pins Gregory James, toss-up ace crusher @ 6:28
*Mat Fitchett pins LaMotta, SSP @ 8:38
*Awesome Andy pins Bolt Brady, Tiger Driver @ 9:45
*Fitchett pins Andy, poison ‘rana (and a doozy) @ 11:22
*Gelistico taps Fitchett, elevated St. Louis Stretch @ 13:32
  • Match 7: Lady Poison pins Serenity, Poison Kiss @ 4:50
  • Match 8: ACW American Joshi Title- Angel Blue © pins Barbi Hayden, rollup with tights @ 9:43
  • Match 9: ACW Heavyweight Title- ACH wins 4 way elimination match @ 21:18
*Jaykus ‘Biohazard’ Plissken pins Gary Jay, Brainbreaker @ 13:48
*Plissken pins Shawn Vexx, jumping knee @ 14:58
*ACH pins Plissken, 2nd rope 450 splash @ 21:18

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Davey Vega/Pierre Abernathy vs. Jojo Bravo/Jordan Jensen

*A breezy comedy match to open but I think one that overstays its welcome a little. I like Vega and have for years. You’ll get a better chance of seeing what he’s capable of later in the show. Abernathy has a great mind for the business (owns and operates St. Louis Anarchy these days), but was never the best in the ring. Bravo and Jensen were a young team and still learning but they were clearly in the ring to be fodder for the “St. Louis Superpowers”. (**)

ACW U-30 Title- JC Bravo © vs. Chingo del Santos

*This match goes all the way back to the breakup of the Smurf Nation, which was a fun little group that also included Barry Breeze (who retired and got engaged) and Angel Blue (who we’ll talk about more later). JC is legit like five foot even whereas Chingo is a bigger dude, so the big man/little man dynamic was an easy story to tell but JC did end up in control of most of the match. The best part of the match is the finish, which I’d imagine Chingo has a name for but I do not know. It started like a ‘Muscle Buster’ but then Chingo pushes JC out into a variation of Nikki Roxx’s “Barbie Cruncher” which compresses the spine. Visually impressive and got a reaction from the fans at the Mohawk too. (**)

ACW Hardcore Title- Matthew Palmer © vs Rachel Summerlynn

*I have a very serious issue with a balcony fall being no-sold. I get that Palmer’s character is borderline psychotic but having him get right back up after being thrown off the balcony into the ring (probably a ten foot drop?) just didn’t sit well with me. The rest of the match is slightly above average and Rachel is someone who, if she could have kept her head straight, could have been a star in wrestling. Attractive, strong worker, believable, passionate. Alas, the star burned out. Palmer is still wrestling these days but would probably be better known to most wrestling fans as Mr. Ember Moon/Athena. (***)

Jason Silver/Killah Kash/Sky de Lacrimosa vs. Darin Childs/Kris Wolfe/Scot Summers

*Good news, bad news from this match. The bad news is this match devolves into a clusterfuck relatively quickly. I kind of expected that given the participants and the company, but some semblance of order would have been nice. That said, I did really like the angle that came out of this match with the spike that Killah Kash used on ‘Showtime’ Scot Summers. It gave Kash instant heat by taking out a fan favorite and boosted a dude who has a tremendous look to that next level. Summers is taken out with an eye injury and somehow replaced in the match by Jerry Lynn. They do go to the finish shortly thereafter as Childs catches Silver with the ‘Fall From Grace’, a fireman’s carry into Michinoku Driver (think Whiplash by Lash LeRoux or Shinsuke Nakamura’s Landslide) for the win (**½)

ACW Anarchy Televised Title- Davey Vega © vs. Jerry Lynn

*Two of the best in Texas at the time (Lynn at one point may have been the single most underrated worker in the world) and it’s sadly used as a background to continue the split of the Submission Squad in ACW (Vega/Abernathy/Gelistico/Jay/Athena). The match itself is good but you can’t help but feel a little disappointed. I’m all for storytelling but I usually prefer it not to come at the expense of what would have been a big moment in a relatively young Davey Vega’s career as it is the interference of Jay and Gelistico that directly leads to the finish with Vega getting the win. (***) 

Mat Fitchett vs. Gregory James vs. JT LaMotta vs. Awesome Andy vs. Bolt Brady vs. Evan Gelistico

*Best match on the show up to this point and in a rarity for these type of matches, no notable obvious screwups. There were a couple moments were things got a little sideways but it wasn’t anything major and the action flowed very well while telling a good story in the process. Gelistico’s story is that he’s snapped after losing his opportunity at ACH and the ACW Title. He works a very calculated match here and it ties in well with the new character. My favorite elimination is Fitchett taking out Awesome Andy with a poison ‘rana in one of the few times that move looks devastating. Gelistico does secure a win here and I’d imagine sets himself up for another run at ACH or perhaps a shot at Vega at the TV title based on the finish of that match (***½)

Serenity vs. Lady Poison

*Take two girls, give them about five (ish) minutes and have the finish be a kiss spot. Kinda misogynistic (not the worst thing on the show, sadly) but works for the bar crowd they are marketing too. Lady Poison (Jessica James’ alter ego) is a crowd pleaser and similar in presentation to an early Undertaker in that it is very difficult to hurt her. Serenity came in and did okay, I guess. I’ve not seen her before and the truth is, I wasn’t terribly impressed here. (*½)

ACW American Joshi Title- Angel Blue © vs. Barbi Hayden

*First things first, as a man, Barbi Hayden is an absolutely stunning woman. The thing that you wouldn’t expect is she’s a tough little thing too. The ring gear (it basically amounts to a red leopard print bikini) is clearly sex appeal but there is some go behind the show. Angel Blue is a story of “owner sees, owner likes” and the fans turned on Angel because of it. She would actually develop into a pretty decent little wrestler off of it but fans never really got over the fact that Darin Childs chose Angel over Rachel and they held it against Angel. Justin Bissonette burying the girl on commentary (see you next Tuesday…) drives that point home as well. (**½)

ACW Heavyweight Title- ACH © vs. Shawn Vexx vs. Gary Jay vs. ‘Biohazard’ Jaykus Plissken

*Of the four, ACH is probably the biggest name but sadly for all the wrong reasons with the way his WWE run (as Jordan Myles) ended. Gary Jay is one of the Indie mainstays in 2022 and a super cool dude (the documentary about him on the St. Louis Anarchy Youtube page is fantastic). Plissken was someone I never got invested in but he was a veteran at this point, having trained alongside Bryan Danielson, Brian Kendrick and Paul London at the Texas Wrestling Academy…the school that was owned by Shawn Michaels. Sadly, the fourth member of the match requires a down note to finish the review as we lost Shawn Vexx on May 1st, 2021. RIP, “Infamous”.

As for the match…one of the biggest tropes I hate in wrestling is when a guy (or girl) keeps picking up an opponent they have beaten in order to “extend the beating” or “establish dominance”. I hate it. It’s overused and it does no favors to the person being picked up. Especially when that person is your Heavyweight champion of the company. I get that they want to put over the fact that Plissken is a monster. I have no issues with that. But I think you do a fine enough job of that by having him take out both Jay and Vexx from the match so that you don’t need to go back to the trope mentioned above. Overall, the ring work in this match is excellent and the phrase “Best in Texas” got thrown around a lot at this time but each of these four could have made a case for it. (****)

 

THE FINAL REACTION

Slightly better than the CZW show I did for #11. The valleys were slightly lower here (the sub five minute women’s match and some questionable choices in terms of editing. To say nothing of the post-show promos which are basically more or less inaudible). But with the six way and four way elimination matches delivering and a chance to see one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time (Lynn), it’s a pretty easy way to spend just over three hours.

One of the things I do think ACW needed to work on is show lengths. Ideally, two to two and a half hours for an Indie show to keep most people’s attention. After that, you start losing the thread to some of your followers. It’s also the reason a lot of promotions cut entrances these days (well, that and bands starting to crack down on unlicensed use of their music at sporting events). Call it a 7/10 with room for improvement. Good start for Anarchy here at ‘What I Watched’.

Best Match/Moment: Main event for sure as all four work hard even if the closing story works against them.

Worst Match/Moment: The sign that was held up during Chingo del Santos’ entrance. IWTV may want to consider scrubbing that. It’s 2022, guys.

Overall Show Score: 7/10

MVP: This is a tough one. I’ll give it to Mat Fitchett with the way he tied everything together in that six way scramble match. Honorable mentions to Davey Vega and Evan Gelistico.

 

THE SIGNOFF

And thus concludes the second review of the return from hiatus. ACW is a promotion that I got into when I first got into the Indies back around 2008/09, so it was nice to go back and relive some of what made me enjoy the company in the first place. I do hope that Darin Childs will eventually allow more of the ACW back catalog to be put on IWTV because it would be fun to go back and watch the shows that originally got me into the company.

Where does ‘What I Watched’ go next? As I told you guys last time, I honestly am not sure. I do want to cover some mainstream shows and in my Network watchalong, I am approaching WCW Starrcade 1998 which is a pretty notorious show for a number of reasons. Is that where I go next? There will be another Indie show watched now and Starrcade too, so perhaps that will be my next choice. Who knows. But I do hope you’ll tune in to find out. Thanks for reading, everyone and I’ll see you next time for ‘What I Watched’.

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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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