Thursday, March 13, 2014

PWG All-Star Weekend X: Night Two Review

Johnny Gargano gets his shot at Adam Cole!

PWG All-Star Weekend X: Night Two
Reseda, California 12/21/13

1.) Three Way Tag Team Match – PPRay (Peter Avalon & Ray Rosas) vs. B-Boy & Willie Mack vs. The RockNES Monsters: ***1/2

Now this was a match that I've really been looking forward two. PWG has had a few Three Team Ladder Matches recently, but it's been a while since we've seen a normal three way involving tag teams. As far as openers go, this was great! It was a lot of fun to watch as these three mid-card tag teams get a chance to showcase themselves. There were a few sloppy bits, but on the whole it was nonstop action from bell-to-bell. The RockNES Monsters get the win which is nice to see.

2.) Anthony Nese vs. “Sicilian Psychopath” Tommaso Ciampa: ***1/4

We're getting to see some Dragon Gate USA/Evolve vs. ROH action here. A fine match here. A bit slow in the beginning, but it picked up towards the end with some pretty crazy spots. Ciampa emerges victorious.

3.) Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent?) vs. The Unbreakable F’N Machines: ****

Much like the Best Friends/Dojo Bros match from Night One, the match started off a bit slow, but really picked up towards the end. I'd even go as far as to say that I enjoyed this match a little bit more than the Best Friends/Dojo Bros match. Really great stuff towards the end. Best Friends get the win, and I should note that up to this point, Best Friends are undefeated in PWG as a tag team.

4.) ACH vs. Chris Hero: ****

This was another match that I was really looking forward to. I really enjoyed it. You saw some really good action here and both guys looked good. Hero would end up eventually getting the win, but ACH was very impressive.

5.) AR Fox & Rich Swann vs. The Dojo Bros (Eddie Edwards & Roderick Strong): ****1/4

Again....another match that I was really looking forward to. I'd have to say that this was definitely the match of the night. When you get these four guys involved, you know it's going to be great, and it certainly was. There seemed to be a bit of a screw with the referee towards the end, but that was the only real hiccup in this great match. Dojo Bros get the win.

Eddie Edwards cuts a farewell promo afterwords, while Roderick Strong leads the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" to Eddie.

6.) Davey Richards vs. Ricochet: ****

I think this is yet another first time matchup. I've seen some differing opinions on this one, but personally, I really enjoyed it. Really great match, in my opinion. The only real problem was that I felt like the match went a little longer than it needed to. Still, pretty sweet stuff here. Ricochet gets the win.

Ricoceht leads a "Thank You Davey" Chant as Eddie Edwards comes out to say goodbye with his American Wolves teammate. Davey goes on for a bit but in the end thanks everyone before heading out.

7.) Mount Rushmore (Kevin Steen & The Young Bucks) vs. Drake Younger, Joey Ryan & Candice LaRae: ****

Steen is once again in his matching Young Bucks attire. A really good trios match, but it wasn't as good as the previous night's trios match. I don't know why, exactly. Out of the two trios matches, I'd think this one would be the better of the two given that, in storyline, their are more issues going into it. There were a few botches in here, which I think hurt the match, and the crowd to me just didn't seem to be as loud as you would think. Still, it was a pretty good match, as Drake, Joey & Candice are able to sneak out a victory over Mount Rushmore!

8.) PWG World Title – Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano: ***3/4

This is a pretty big match, as it's the ROH World Champion vs. The Dragon Gate USA Open The Freedom Gate Champion. A really great Main Event. They had some really good back and forth action and a lot of great wrestling, which is exactly what you would expect from guys of this caliber. Mount Rushmore tried to interfere, but were held off by the rest of the roster! Nice to see something different! This, in the end, wouldn't matter, as Adam Cole would get the win and retain his World Title once again.

After the match, Johnny Gargano apologizes to the fans for letting them down, but says he'll be back, and that they are the reason why he loves pro-wrestling.

Overall: 9.5/10

Comparatively, Night Two was definitely the better show when compared to Night One. I'd actually compare this show to Night Two of All-Star Weekend IX. There were no real Match of the Year contender's, but the show had several matches around the **** mark (Five of them, in fact) that made the show amazingly consistent. Another amazing show from PWG and a pretty great way to close out 2013.

PWG All-Star Weekend X: Night One Review

Chris Hero returns to PWG!

PWG All-Star Weekend X: Night One
Reseda, California 12/20/13

At the start of the show, we get Mount Rushmore interrupting Excalibur to cut a promo, but are quickly interrupted by the returning Chris Hero! He takes out Steen & The Young Bucks and is about to get Cole before the PWG World Champion makes a hasty retreat. Hero wants his title match with Cole right now, but Cole backs away.

1.) Brian Cage vs. Anthony Nese: ***1/4

This is rematch from TEN a few months prior, and I gotta say this was definitely a step up from that match. Very solid opener. 

2.) Candice LaRae & Joey Ryan vs. The RockNES Monsters: ***1/4

Due to Chris Hero being a late addition to the card, some matches had to be shuffled around, and one of the new matches was this one. A pretty good tag team match. I'm really enjoying Joey & Candice as a team, and the RockNES Monsters looks good here as well. There were some pretty cool moves in here, but Joey & Candice would get the win. Really fun to watch.

3.) “Sicilian Psychopath” Tommaso Ciampa vs. Drake Younger: ***1/2

You know it's going to get crazy when these two are involved. A really good match here. You saw a lot of crazy stuff in here, which is exactly what you'd expect from these guys. No real complaints here.

4.) Johnny Gargano vs. Davey Richards: ****1/4

This might be one of the first times these two have faced each other (might be wrong, I don't quite remember). I though this was a great match. Johnny Gargano is someone who's quickly become one of my favorite wrestlers, and Davey was as great as he always is, so all together, it was pretty awesome.

5.) Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent?) vs. The Dojo Bros (Eddie Edwards & Roderick Strong): ***3/4

Another unique match that you'll only get to see in PWG. Chuck Taylor's "Slow-Motion Dive" Spot keeps getting funnier and funnier. Once again, we have another pretty great match. It was a tad slow to start, but really picked up by the end and it had a lot of cool stuff in it. Still kinda unsure of The Best Friends using a Double Chokeslam as their finisher, but I'm sure it'll grow on me.

6.) ACH vs. “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin: ***1/2

These two had a match earlier in the year for Ring of Honor at Dragon's Reign in Pittsburgh. It was a very solid match, but at the same time, it was slightly disappointing. It was nowhere near as good as their ROH match, in my opinion. Something was just missing. Regardless, it was still a pretty good match.

7.) Mount Rushmore (Kevin Steen & The Young Bucks) vs. AR Fox & The Inner City Machine Guns (Ricochet & Rich Swann): ****1/2

Kevin Steen comes out with matching attire with The Young Bucks, and has the word "Fuck" written on the back of his ring-vest/jacket thing. It's truly a sight worth seeing. As far as the match goes, it was completely insane, in an awesome way! Just outright craziness from the opening bell as bodies were flying everyone. For me, this is not only the match of the night, but the match of the weekend as well. Mount Rushmore get the win in an amazing affair. 

8.) PWG World Title – Adam Cole vs. Chris Hero: ***3/4

This is Chris Hero's first match in PWG since he left for the WWE two years earlier. Now he's back, and he's looking to win the World Title. On the whole, I'd say that the match was pretty good. Not the best on the show, but very solid. One thing that kind of took the rating down a bit for me was the finish.  It was basically an overbooked mess of a finish. You had two referee bumps, the usage of the Golden Elbow Pad, and all of Mount Rushmore interfering. I understand why Mount Rushmore would get involved, but it's something that's getting really old....really fast. Very unusual thing to see from PWG. Anyway, through all the madness, Cole retains his title.

Hero cuts a promo after the match, which at one point, turns into Hero defending Norman Smiley (who works with WWE as a trainer and such) against some fan who bad talked Smiley. Hero said he would bring Smiley to Reseda so the rowdy fan can suck his you know what. He also says he's ready to face whatever competition comes his way here in Reseda and PWG

Overall: 8.75/10

A pretty good show from PWG on the whole. It's not one of the really awesome shows we've seen from PWG this year (like BOLA: Night 2) but it had a lot of great stuff on it. The Six Man Tag was pure insanity, and the rest of the undercard was very solid and, for the most part, delivered. Despite the overbooked finish, the Main Event was still pretty good, leading to a very solid showing from PWG.

Monday, March 10, 2014

ROH Final Battle 2013 Review

All roads lead to New York City for Ring of Honor biggest show of the year!!

ROH Final Battle 2013
Manhattan, New York 12/14/13

Before the actual show, we get a really awesome video package highlighting what led to the Main Event.


1.) Brutal Burgers vs. Team Benchmark: **

The pre-show match features "Brutal" Bob Evans & Cheeseburger vs. Bill Daly & Will Ferrera. A perfectly acceptable pre-show match. Actually pretty entertaining. Brutal Burgers get the win.

Main Show

1.) Adam Page vs. Matt Hardy: **1/2

So the story here is that even though he was forced out because of S.C.U.M.'s defeat, he still has one more date that needed to be fulfilled on his ROH Contract. He made a few ludicrous suggestions (like being put in the World Title Match and being Eddie Edwards' partner), but Nigel McGuinness responded with something more reasonable: a match against the young up & comer Adam Page. Hardy tried to cut a promo before the match, but the crowd was booing so heavily that he stops trying. The crowd even throws his T-Shirt back at him! The match itself was decent opener. Page looked good in the loss.

2.) Strap Match - Silas Young vs. Mark Briscoe: ***1/4

This had been building for a few months in the form of a few matches and several post-match attacks. They're 1-1 so this is the rubber match. I know that some didn't like the stipulation of a strap match, but I actually really enjoyed this. A lot of really stiff stuff in here and they actually made really good use of the strap. The ending was kind of predictable but still a fun match. Silas Young gets the win.

3.) Adrenaline RUSH vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks: ****1/4

Since their last ROH appearance, The Young Bucks made their debut in New Japan and won the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. This was an awesome match!!! The Young Bucks once again prove why they the best tag team in the world and Adrenaline RUSH showed a lot in this match. Not as good as the Young Bucks/Forever Hooligans match from Manhattan Mayhem V, but still really great! Their was an awesome spot where ACH goes for a dive on the outside to The Bucks, but they hit ACH with a SUPERKICK IN MID-AIR!! They then give TaDarius Thomas More Bang For Your Buck to finally win the match.

4.) Stretcher Match - Kevin Steen vs. Michael Bennett (with Maria Kanellis): ****

They had a really good video package previewing this match which recapped their feud over the past few months. Weird that they're using an old army-style gurney. At one point Steen throws the stretcher threw the curtain and basically says "Screw The Stretcher"! From this point on it turns into basically a Knockout Match. On the whole, this was pretty great. Definitely one of Michael Bennett's best matches in ROH. Both he & Kevin Steen worked really hard and it showed through their performance. Tables were used, and Steen eventually hits Bennett with a Package Piledriver on top of some chairs to win the match. Personally, with the way they ended up taking it, I feel like a Last Man Standing Match would have been a much better choice if they were going to do a gimmick match. Still, this was a lot fun to watch.

After the match, Maria slaps Kevin Steen, who gives her a Package Piledriver! Steen tells Maria "Merry Christmas, Bitch!" before leaving the HammerSTEEN Ballroom.

I should add that Nigel McGuinness commentated the first half with Kevin Kelly, while Steve Corino takes over for the second half.

Prince Nana comes out as the second half gets started to talk about his role as ROH's Talent Scout, which includes the upcoming Top Prospect Tournament. He also brings up Outlaw Inc. challenging reDRagon and doesn't try to hide who he wants to win. This brings out reDRagon, who after a quick retort, deliver Chasing The Dragon to Nana. Outlaw Inc. come out in response and the next match is underway...

5.) ROH World Tag Team Titles - reDRagon vs. Outlaw Inc.: **

Coming in I'd heard a lot of live reports which said this match was, for lack of a better word, s**t. After watching it, I do agree that it was certainly a bad match, especially for a World Tag Team Title Match at Final Battle, but I would stop short in calling it awful. These two teams just didn't mesh well together. It felt very uncoordinated. It just didn't work and the crowd reactions reflected that. Plus with Outlaw Inc.'s actual alignment (babyface, heel, tweener?) in question since their debut, I really didn't know who to cheer for. reDRagon win via Chasing The Dragon but with a chair instead of a kick.

Outlaw Inc. do not react very kindly to the loss, as Homicide gives Da Cop Killa' and Eddie Kingston cuts a promo saying they're done playing by everyone else's rules, because now they're playing by their own. They then seem to get into a heated exchange (not physical) with some fans in the crowd.

6.) ROH World TV Title - Matt Taven (with Truth Martini) vs. "Sicilian Psychopath" Tommaso Ciampa: GREAT SEGMENT

This whole thing was just fantastic. Ciampa comes in, kills EVERYONE (Taven, Truth Martini, and both Scarlett Bordeaux & Kasey Ray), wins the title, and leaves. Badass. Think of it as an extended version of the Honky Tonk Man/Ultimate Warrior Intercontinental Title Match from SummerSlam 1988. Great stuff. Not much else two say.

7.) Roderick Strong & Jay Lethal vs. Eddie Edwards & BJ Whitmer: ***1/2

This was originally going to be Strong & Lethal vs. The American Wolves, but after the Davey Richards Fiasco (his departure from the company), Edwards was left without a partner, so ROH promised a surprise partner, which Nigel McGuinness announced as being...for one night only...BJ Whitmer. Yeah....the guy who was forced to retire a few months prior. In the end, it ended up being a pretty solid tag match. Pretty standard stuff given the four involved. Actually kind of felt is was missing a little something. Edwards scores the winning fall to end his ROH Career (for now)...

After the match, Jay Lethal tells Edwards he's going to leave so he can say his stuff, but Strong & Whitmer stay. Edwards puts over ROH, Cary Silkin & the fans. He then turns to BJ Whitmer, who was also wrestling his last match, and thanks him even though his career was cut short. As they hug, Whitmer says that his career is just getting started, and he turns Eddie around into a BIG KNEE from Roderick Strong, then Whitmer hits The Exploder!! Jimmy Jacobs comes out and says that it makes him sick to see people applauding people like Eddie Edwards who "walk out" on ROH while people like himself, Whitmer & Strong have been in ROH for so long and don't get the same appreciation. He then attacks Edwards with his trademark spike, and The Decade has officially been formed, albeit in shocking fashion.

The turn was pretty shocking. Although I would have enjoyed to see a Jacobs babyface run last a little longer than it did, I really like the idea of this stable. I think Corino & Kelly sold it really well with their reactions. From what we would see in later shows, BJ Whitmer's injury must not have been as serious as what we were told because he is wrestling again. A lot of questions there but we'll save it for another time.

8.) ROH World Title - Triple Threat Match - Adam Cole vs. "Real" World Champion Jay Briscoe vs. "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin: ****1/2

Once again we get to see the awesome video package that awesomely recaps this feud.

The match started off slow for sure, with Cole avoiding Briscoe & Elgin, but then he got back involved and things really picked up as the match progressed. They came up with some really cool spots which I enjoyed. It was a pretty great main event. Some people might see the match rating as a bit high, but for me personally, this deserves an extra 1/2* (at least) for the story that led up to this match. I cannot understate how AWESOME the build-up to this Main Event was. The match eventually involved Table Spots, Matt Hardy (who revealed himself to be Adam Cole's Mentor), and Mark Briscoe. Elgin looked awesome in here and Jay Briscoe looked good as well. In the end, Adam Cole sneaks away with a roll-up to retain. People may not like the fact that Cole won with a rollup, but in the context of the match it was perfect booking in my opinion, and it worked in the context of the match and Cole's character.

After the match, Adam Cole & Matt Hardy lay out Michael Elgin & The Briscoes, but then Chris Hero's music hits, and That Young Knockout Kid (who had wrestled earlier that night at CZW Cage of Death XV) entered through the crowd and laid out both Matt Hardy & Adam Cole!! He cuts a quick promo saying that you can't have Final Battle without Chris "Mother-Fucking" Hero and makes his intentions clear that he's back and that he's coming for the World Title. Awesome way to end the show!

Overall: 9.0/10

In the end, I really enjoyed this show. While the show did suffer from a stinker of a World Tag Team Title Match, the combination of great wrestling, as well as major storylines/returns takings place more than made up for it. The Young Bucks proved that ROH needs to book them more regularly. We saw great blow-offs to the Briscoe/Young and Steen/Bennett feuds. The formation of The Decade was truly a surprise that nobody saw coming. The main event had a combination of both wrestling and storytelling, with Cole trying to avoid Briscoe & Elgin as much as he could, great action in the ring (including some new, unique spots), the revelation of Matt Hardy as Cole's mentor, and the return of Chris Hero. I'd say that ROH definitely ended 2013 on a high note and it looks like 2014 will be even bigger!

CZW Cage of Death XV Review

It's finally happening....I'm reviewing a CZW Show!

Now before I begin the actual review, I should start with a preface. I've never really been a fan of CZW. I enjoyed their incursion into ROH as part of the ROH/CZW war (when I went back and watched it) but overall my feelings about CZW were generally negative. I could never really get into the death matches or ultra-violent nature (Light Tubes, Glass, etc...) of CZW. I've always known that CZW isn't just a bunch of hardcore wrestlers, they have some legit talent, but CZW just isn't my thing. Now in regards to this show, I heard a lot of the hype surrounding it, including Chris Hero challenging Drew Gulak for the CZW World Title, the inclusion of Davey Richards following his controversial departure from ROH, and the fact that it was on the same day (almost at the same time) as ROH Final Battle 2013. So, with that being said, I've decided to give CZW a shot.

CZW Cage of Death XV
Voorhees, New Jersey 12/14/13

The show starts off with Tommy Dreamer & Maven Bentley. They honor longtime CZW Photographer Lyle Williams, who's retiring after this show. Then Dreamer cuts a promo putting over the CZW Locker Room and CZW as a whole, until Chris Hero comes out, making his CZW return! He says that he wants his CZW World Title Match right now, and his request is granted! Dreamer & Bentley ban The Gulak Campaign from ringside.

1.) CZW World Title – Drew Gulak vs. Chris Hero: ***3/4

I figured that given their styles we would get a combination of hard strikes and mat-wrestling, and this is exactly what we got. Personally, I thought this was pretty great. This is kind of what I mentioned earlier, in regards to CZW having legit wrestling talent alongside their hardcore guys. Gulak works over Hero's leg for the most of the match and it pays off with an eventual submission victory for Gulak, who retains his title.

Gulak celebrates his victory post-match, but MASADA makes his CZW return (which I believe is his first appearance since losing the CZW World Title to Gulak a few months earlier) and confronts Gulak, who quickly retreats.

2.) Six-Way Scramble – Azrieal vs. Joe Gacy vs. Andrew Everett vs. Anthony Nese vs. Chuck Taylor vs. AR Fox: ***1/2

Nothing really on the line here. This match had a lot of high octane action. Brawling all over the place and bodies flying everywhere. For what it was, it was fantastic. On the downside, it was really just a massive spot-fest. Joe Gacy gets the win, though I would argue that he was the least deserving of the win compared to the other five guys in the match.

3.) Relaxed Rules Match – Freight Train (with Cherry Bomb) vs. Greg Excellent (with Momma Excellent): DUD

Many of you may know Freight Train from $5 Dollar Wrestling. They're fighting over Cherry Bomb, essentially (if I got that right). Really more of a comedy segment (involving shenanigans from Cherry Bomb and Momma Excellent as well) than anything else. Nothing really much to see here. Greg Excellent carries Cherry Bomb away afterwords.

4.) CZW World Tag Team Titles – BLK OUT (BLK Jeez & Ruckus with Robby Mireno) vs. The Juicy Product (JT Dunn & David Starr): **1/2

I caught a match or two of both Dunn & Starr in Beyond Wrestling, so I know a bit about them. It was an ok match. It had its moments, but a pretty average match. The crowd really wasn't that into BLK OUT that much, it seemed.

5.) Kimber Lee vs. Christina Von Eerie: *1/2

Lee is a member of the Gulak Campaign. A fine women's match. They did some brawling on the floor and in the end, interference from The Gulak Campaign got Kimber Lee the win. 

After the match, Von Eerie attacking Kimber Lee with skewers (a trademark of MASADA)!!! Ouch!!!

6.) #1 Contender’s Match – The Beaver Boys (Alex Reynolds & John Silver) vs. The Colony (Fire Ant & Green Ant): ***1/4

Very odd seeing a CHIKARA tag team like The Colony in a CZW Ring. Very enjoyable match here. I love The Colony so it was easy for me to get into it. The Beaver Boys, the eventual winners, were equally as impressive. They've definitely won me over in the few times I've seen them. Silver & Reynolds earn a future CZW World Tag Team Title Shot.

7.) Chris Dickinson vs. Davey Richards: ****

So Davey Richards was originally scheduled to wrestle at ROH Final Battle 2013 this very night, teaming with long time partner Eddie Edwards in The American Wolves farewell match, as they were on their way out to, eventually, TNA (though we didn't know it for certain at the time). But he and Ring of Honor would part ways about two weeks prior, and we would later find out that Richards now has a less than favorable opinion of the company he was once World Champion of. This opened the door for CZW to book him for Cage of Death XV, against a man who is also well known for his striking ability and overall toughness, Chris Dickinson.

This was an awesome match! Easily the Match of the Night up to this point. Both guys worked really hard, beating the crap out of each other, and definitely put on a show. Dickinson would eventually get the win over The American Wolf.

After the match, Dickinson cuts a promo putting over Richards, followed by Richards cutting a promo about how ROH "lost its heart". He then says that even though his time on the indy scene is coming to an end (again, eventually he would wind up in TNA), he couldn't think of a better place to wrestle one of his last matches.

8.) OI4K (Irish Airborne & Nevaeh) vs. DJ Hyde & The Front (Biff Busick & Niles Sozio): **1/2

DJ Hyde is the owner of CZW. A decent match here. I'd say it was a little better than the World Tag Team Title Match, probably because this match has Busick & Irish Airborne in it. As you would expect, it fell apart into a wild brawl, and at one point, Jake Crist gives Sozio a Superplex from the top rope to the outside onto a pile of chairs!!! Absolutely sick. OI4K get the win after Nevaeh hits Hyde several times in the head with a chair (what that really necessary?).

9.) CZW Wired Title – Alex Colon vs. Shane Strickland: ***1/4

I believe this is my first time seeing Alex Colon. The match was really just kinda there until it picked up   in the end and got good. A solid match overall. Colon retains the Wired Title.

10.) Cage of Death XV – The Nation of Intoxication (Danny Havoc, Devon Moore & Lucky 13) vs. The Forgotten Ones (Drew Blood, Matt Tremont, Rory Mondo & Ron Mathis): ***

This is my first time seeing an actual CZW Cage of Death Match, as the ROH/CZW Cage of Death from Death Before Dishonor IV in 2006 was a different variation and (from what I've gathered about other Cage of Death Matches) much tamer version of the match. The Cage is made up of various parts and contraptions, including barbed wire tables, wooden fencing, a trap door of chairs strapped to a piece of cage, panes of glass on scaffolds, a scaffold that crossed the top of the cage, and a mystery box handing high about the ring that was filled with (as we soon found out during the match) legos, shards of glass, and thumbtacks. The match is held under the traditional WarGames rules, with two men starting out for five minutes and then another person enters at two minute intervals. Eliminations can happen at any time and can occur via pinfall, submission, or by being thrown out of the Cage.

The match itself honestly wasn't that bad. They built up the big moments/spots (which were kinda cool) really well, and they got great reactions from the crowd. This is something that I think gives CZW's Cage of Death an edge over similar WarGames style matches: There are a ton of major spots. The return of a man who had been gone from CZW for a Decade, "Sick" Nick Mondo (I guess he was the Mystery Partner for the Nation of Intoxication but it wasn't really confirmed as he didn't come out until the very end of the match), who helped Lucky 13 defeat Matt Tremont (who were the final two), to win the match for the Nation of Intoxication was a really great moment and got and amazing pop from the crowd. That being said, for this being my first true Cage of Death, one thing that I guess I didn't like was how the match was structured. The match was really built solely around the big weapons spots and the eliminations, and their wasn't that much action outside of that. In this regard, ROH's Steel Cage Warfare and, to an extent, TNA's Lethal Lockdown have a bit of an edge over the Cage of Death. On the whole, I thought it had it moments that made it enjoyable, but it's not for everyone.

After the match, Lucky 13 said he wants a match with Drew Blood at the next show, and Moore puts over Nick Mondo. Rory Mondo (no relation to Nick) is still in shock over Nick Mondo's return. He talks about how Nick left CZW, but he retorts by talking about all the crazy stuff Rory has done over the years, and tells Rory that he's done enough and that he respects him. Rory breaks down and says that's all he ever wanted in CZW was Nick Mondo's respect (as he used the Mondo name in Nick's honor and emulated him throughout his CZW Career). Rory announces that this was his last match and thanks the fans as he & his idol Nick Mondo celebrate together to close the show.

Overall: 8.0/10

I wasn't sure what to expect about this coming in, especially with all the hype surrounding it. In the end, I gotta say it was a good show. It started off really well with two pretty good to great matches. Then the show kinda hit a roadblock with the middle portion which really didn't deliver. Richards/Dickinson was easily MOTN and is worth seeking out. Finally, while it isn't for everyone, the Cage of Death was to an extent entertaining and it ended on an emotional note. If you're a long time CZW Fan, you'll definitely love the Main Event.

Friday, March 7, 2014

WCW Halloween Havoc 1996 Review

The undercard delivers (mostly) while Hogan and Savage crap the bed in the Main Event.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1996
Las Vegas, Nevada 10/27/96

The PPV is sponsored by Slim Jim, and they refer to the show all night as "Slim Jim's Halloween Havoc".

1.) WCW Cruiserweight Title - Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko: ****¼

This is Malenko's chance to reclaim the Cruiserweight Title. Really great match here. I think the matchup of Misterio Jr. vs. Malenko (speed vs. technical/power) worked really well, and it showed with an awesome opening match. Malenko gets the victory and wins back the Cruiserweight Title.

2.) DDP vs. Eddie Guerrero: ***½

This is a continuation from the last PPV, but this time DDP is facing Eddie Guerrero. They're fighting over the Battle Bowl Ring, but the feud has become a lot more personal. Really good match here. Both guys worked hard and you really felt like they hated each other. DDP gets the win in another solid match.

I should note that the crowd was really into these first two matches.

The New World Order have their own little interview area up in the stands, which is also where all the n.W.o. members will be entering from throughout the night. Ted DiBiase, the New World Order's "financier", interviews The Giant, who's in possession of Ric Flair's United States Title, which he stole from the injured Nature Boy. Giant basically says he's gonna beat up Jeff Jarrett. 

3.) The Giant vs. Jeff Jarrett (with Ric Flair): **

Jeff Jarrett is subbing for Ric Flair, who is injured. For the second PPV in a row, The Giant put forth an ok effort, which for The Giant in 1996, is him at his best, I guess. The match actually told a decent story here as Jarrett tried to fight off the size of The Giant. They both end up on the floor at one point and Flair low blows The Giant, causing a DQ Finish.

After the match, the rest of the Four Horsemen come out to make sure The Giant backs down, which he does.

They go back to Ted DiBiase who does basically the same thing with Syxx that he did with The Giant as we head into our next match.

4.) Syxx vs. Chris Jericho: ***

Syxx (Sean Waltman) recently joined the New World Order with DiBiase, so this is his first PPV Match for WCW. A solid match. Not as good as some of the earlier matches, but fine for what it was. Nice high impact moves from both guys. Syxx gets the win after referee Nick Patrick basically screws over Jericho.

I should mention that members of the Dungeon of Doom (The Taskmaster, Konnan & Big Bubba Rogers) are sitting in the front row, for some reason...

5.) Arn Anderson vs. Lex Luger: **¼

Luger's hair looks freaky!! The basic story is that these two are fighting over the loss at WarGames and who's to blame. An ok match here. There was some decent bits of brawling on the outside and Luger attacks Anderson with a chair. He eventually locks on the Torture Rack and holds it on for a long time after Anderson submits.

Arn Anderson is tended to by medical staff and his fellow Horsemen members after the beating he took from Luger. He's stretchered out.

6.) The Four Horsemen (Chris Benoit & Steve “Mongo” McMichael with Woman & Debra McMichael) vs. The Faces of Fear (Meng & The Barbarian with Jimmy Hart): ***¼

I really wasn't sure about this one coming in (because it's Mongo, Meng AND The Barbarian) but it actually turned out to be good. Their were some really good power bits with Mongo & Meng and Barbarian looked fine as well. Benoit of course displayed his technical ability and eventually won the match with a diving headbutt after Mongo hits Meng with his steel briefcase. Although they lost, I never thought the Faces of Fear could look this good.

Afterwords, The Faces of Fear attack The Four Horsemen, and The Dungeon of Doom jump the guardrail to join the beating. The other Four Horsemen don't come out because they already had left the building to tend to the injured Arn Anderson.

Ted DiBiase is back to hype up The Outsiders for their upcoming title match as they make their way through the crowd.

7.) WCW World Tag Team Titles - Harlem Heat (with Sherri & Col. Robert Parker) vs. The Outsiders: **¼

This was an ok match, though it was strange seeing the commentators putting over The Outsiders as heel but yet they were not only cheered, but basically wrestled as babyfaces most of the match until it came time to cheat behind the ref's back. Scott Hall kisses Sherri at one point and Kevin Nash takes Parker's Cane and attacks Harlem Heat with it, allowing The Outsiders to claim the World Tag Team Titles.

Ted DiBiase introduces "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, who's wearing an AWFUL spiked toupee for God knows what reason. Randy Savage tops Hogan entrance with a Macho Man/Slim Jim Monster Truck, which was raffled off to a fan earlier as part of a sweepstakes (seriously, WCW raffled off a FREAKING MONSTER TRUCK!!!).

8.) WCW World Title - “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage: *½

Savage eventually takes off both Hogan's sunglasses & toupee and wears them himself. This was pretty boring to be honest. Another awful title defense from heel Hogan. Foreign Objects were used, Miss Elizabeth came out, Nick Patrick screws Savage out of the World Title, and The Giant puts the nail in the coffin with a chokeslam on the floor. It was really hard to keep track of what was going on because I was bored. More of a spectacle than anything else. Why would anybody by into this shit main event?!

After the match, Hogan's cutting a promo in the ring (after being revived by The Giant via a bucket of ice water) when freaking ROWDY RODDY PIPER comes out!! They have a verbal exchange about the two of them being Icons, and basically the challenge is laid out to finish the war they started over 10 Years ok, and Piper continues to spew words as the PPV goes off the air.

Overall: 7.5/10

Once again, a WCW PPV has some shitty matches in the Main Event but the undercard and (in this show's case) the hot crowd kept the show from turning into a train wreck. I enjoy watching characters like Randy Savage & n.W.o. Hogan, but they're actually wrestling it completely sucks. Then they through Piper into the mix? Oh boy. Bottom line, if you're going to see this, see it for the undercard. Guys like Misterio Jr., Malenko, Benoit, Guerrero, DDP, and so on, are delivering consistently good matches, and that's all you really need to see.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

The New World Order collides with Team WCW in WarGames! Plus, who's side is Sting really on?

WCW Fall Brawl 1996
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 9/15/96

We get a nice recap of the whole WCW vs. n.W.o. story that has developed for the past few months, including "Sting" turning on his longtime friend Lex Lugar (in favor of the New World Order) on the episode of Nitro before the PPV.

1.) DDP vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.: ***¼

So going into this, DDP had been feuding with Eddie Guerrero, so I suppose having a match here with Chavo Guerrero Jr. was pretty natural. The commentators were pushing that Chavo was fighting for his family's honor. Very solid opener here. DDP would eventually get the win with the Diamond Cutter.

2.) Submission Match - Scott Norton vs. Ice Train (with Teddy Long): *¾

These two had an atrocious match at Hog Wild. This time it's a Submission Match and Teddy Long is in Ice Train's corner. Another bad match, but definitely an improvement over their first. Ice Train gets the win with a Full Nelson.

3.) AAA Heavyweight Title - Konnan (Jimmy Hart) vs. Juventud Guerrera: ***

After losing the United States Title to Ric Flair, Konnan turned heel and joined The Dungeon of Doom, thus Jimmy Hart is out with him. I believe it was mentioned that Psychosis was originally scheduled to challenge Konnan but was injured, so Juventud Guerrera is taking his place. A fine match here. It had some fast paced action but both guys, at the same time, had a lot of missed and/or blown spots. Might have been on the same level of the Misterio Jr./Super Calo Match later on if not for that. Konnan wins & retains his title.

4.) Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit: ***¾

This is Jericho's WCW PPV Debut, and was before he would come up with his heel character later on. I really enjoyed this match. You can tell that Jericho was going to be a star judging by the fact that he was THIS good in late-1996. Benoit was really good also and he would leave with the win over the young Jericho.

5.) WCW Cruiserweight Title - Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Super Calo: ***¾

First time seeing Super Calo. Another really good match here. Both guys busted out some great high risk moves and put on a really good show. In the end, Misterio Jr. would retain his Cruiserweight Title.

6.) WCW World Tag Team Titles - Harlem Heat (with Sherri & Col. Robert Parker) vs. The Nasty Boys: ***¼

Now this is the kind of match that you might think would suck, but it was surprisingly pretty solid. Can't believe that out of the WCW PPV's I've seen on the WWE Network, The Nasty Boys are 2 for 2 in terms of entertaining matches in my eyes. It looks like they had the titles but outside interference from Parker & Sherri get Harlem Heat the victory.

7.) The Giant vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage: **

Wasn't really looking forward to this one considering The Giant's previous WCW performances I've seen. Since Hog Wild, The Giant has inexplicably joined the New World Order, which to me makes no sense at all. Anyway, his match with Savage was actually passable. Just ok, but easily his best, which says a lot about how bad the future Big Show was in 1996, despite being one of the company's top guys. The rest of the New World Order would interfere and attack Savage while the referee (Nick Patrick) was "distracted" with The Giant, who picked up an easy victory when Savage was carried back to the ring.

8.) WarGames Match - Team n.W.o. (WCW World Heavyweight Champion “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall & “n.W.o. Sting”) vs. Team WCW (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger & Sting): ***¼

A little backstory: Sting was originally on Team WCW, but on the episode Nitro before the PPV, he, along with the rest of the n.W.o., attacked Lex Luger in the pouring rain outside the arena. While Lugar & The Horsemen were doing a pre-match interview, Sting came to them and told them passionately that he didn't attack Luger, which he didn't believe.

This is my first time watching a full WarGames Match. I gotta say that I find the whole "two rings" idea is pretty weird, but I'm come to accept that I won't "get it" because I didn't grow up in that era, which is fine. I have my opinions. The match starts with Scott Hall & Arn Anderson. Kevin Nash is out next, then followed by Luger, Hogan & Flair (in that order). The fourth member of the n.W.o.'s team appears to be "Sting", who comes out and starts hitting all of Sting's signature moves. Then the real Sting shows up and reveals himself as the fourth member of Team WCW. He comes out and cleans house on the n.W.o., while his teammates just stand there and watch. Sting has words with Luger and basically tells him to go screw himself for not trusting his best friend when he said he didn't do it. Sting leaves the Cage, basically sending it back to a 4-on-3 n.W.o. advantage, and they shortly thereafter get the win. The match itself was pretty solid. I LOVED the whole storyline with Sting, as this would be the start of his dissent into his "Crow Sting" character that made him even more famous.

After the match, Randy Savage comes out to attack the New World Order but his beaten down. Miss Elizabeth comes out to protect Savage, but gets branded with n.W.o. Black Spray Paint for her troubles. On their way out, they run off the announce team and sarcastically close the show. 

Overall: 7.5/10

By WCW standards, this was a pretty consistent PPV. You only really had one match that I'd say is bad, but the rest is relatively solid. Even The Giant had an ok match. The undercard was, as always, very solid with guys like Benoit, Misterio Jr. & the newcomer Chris Jericho putting on great perfomances. The WarGames Match was on the whole a solid match that had a very important moment in WCW's History with regards to Sting. Once again, a pretty consistent showing from WCW.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CHIKARA Zelda The Great Review

The 2012 King of Trios Champions get their shot at Tag Team Gold!

CHIKARA Zelda The Great
Chicago, Illinois 11/10/12

The show starts off with the lyrical stylings and guitar skills of Gavin Loudspeaker, who sings "CHIKARA's Just What I Needed", which is a take on "Just What I Needed" by The Cars. Really awesome job by Gavin and the crowd was really into it.

1.) The Batiri (Kobald, Obariyon & Kodama with Ophidian) vs. Da Soul Touchaz (Marshe Rockett, Acid Jaz & Willie Richardson): ***

Ophidian accompanies The Batiri to ringside. I think this is my first time seeing Da Soul Touchaz in action. They've semi-regulars in CHIKARA over the years, mainly doing their Mid-West Shows. I gotta say this was a very entertaining opener. The Batiri were great as always and Da Soul Touchaz were impressive as well, but an Ophidian distraction allows The Batiri to get the win.

Sidney Bakabella is out next to give to local guys an opportunity. Unfortunately for these two local talents, their "opportunity" is against Bakabella's Devastation Corporation.

2.) The Devastation Corporation (Max Smashmaster & Blaster McMassive with Sidney Bakabella) vs. Wayne Campbell & Garth Algar: DUD

Nothing much to say here. Basically a squash. McMassive shows impressive athleticism for a guy his size. The Devastation Corporation get the win with The Death Blow.

3.) El Generico vs. The Shard: ***1/2

Now this was a match that I was really looking forward to seeing. These two had an really good match! Right from the opening bell they went right at it and the action never stopped. El Generico proved why he is one of the best in the world and The Shard put out a really impressive showing. In the end, El Generico would get the win in a very solid contest.

4.) The Swarm (Soldier Ant & deviANT) vs. F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor & Johnny Gargano): **3/4

Of course Soldier Ant is now technically apart of The Swarm because of the unnecessary melding of Director of Fun Wink Vavasseur. Nothing overly good, but a fine outing. Gargano & Taylor are very entertaining as apart of F.I.S.T. and they continued to play up The Swarm/Soldier Ant situation, where Soldier Ant sees himself as a Prisoner of War. He even purposely hits his partner/enemy deviANT! This dissension would lead to a F.I.S.T. victory and gives them another point towards a Campeonatos de Parejas shot.

5.) Mike Quackenbush vs. Colt Cabana: ***

This is a rematch from Shoot A Crooked Arrow in Milwaukee a few months prior, which Quackenbush won. Pretty much exactly the kind of match you'd expect from these two. A lot of catch-as-catch-can wresting and exchanging of holds. Cabana would get the win after a series of pinfall exchanges. Pretty entertaining stuff. 

Both guys shake hands and compliment one another after the match.

6.) Six-Man Tag – Jigsaw, Fire Ant & assailANT vs. Jimmy Jacobs & The Bravado Brothers: ***1/4

I believe that Green Ant was originally supposed to be teaming with his fellow Colony members in this one, but from what I remember hearing he had an illness and couldn't make it. This is apparently Jimmy Jacobs' first appearance in a CHIKARA ring since 2005. He & The Bravados are teaming up as a bit of a preview for the big Cibernetico match the following week (they are apart of Kevin Steen's team). Another entertaining trios match on this card. They had a lot of good action in here while simultaneously continuing the story of Fire Ant still not fully trusting assailANT. This match sees a lot of back & forth action until Jacobs & The Bravados are finally able to score the victory.

7.) Gran Akuma vs. Tim Donst (with Jakob Hammermeier): **1/2

While it was a fine match, it was probably the weakest on the card. Their was good action but it just never really grabbed my attention. Donst continuously abused Jakob at various points throughout the match. While the ref is distracted, Donst hits Akuma with a bag containing something of a sizable mass and locks in a submission for the eventual victory.

8.) Four-Team Elimination Match – 3.0 (Scott Parker & Shane Matthews) vs. The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield & “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti with Veronica) vs. The Mysterious and Handsome Stranger & Sapphire) vs. F.I.S.T. (Icarus & Sugar Dunkerton): ***3/4

Points toward the Campeonatos de Parejas are on the line here. I've heard a lot of people of people say that this is the kind of match that encapsulates CHIKARA, and they were exactly right, from eight man submission holds, to dancing, to even offense from The Mysterious and Handsome Stranger's "Feral Pigeon" Sapphire, who even gets stuck in Sugar Dunkerton's afro!! The match then takes a gruesome turn as Mr. Touchdown, for lack of a better term, murders Sapphire. Everyone is shocked, from the wresters, to the commentators, to the referee Bryce Remsburg and the fans. The Stranger is in shock and this leads to Touchdown eliminating him first. Soon after F.I.S.T. is eliminated by 3.0. Finally, 3.0 is able to eliminate The Throwbacks to get the win and two points towards a future title shot. A great combination of action, hilarity, and story telling...exactly what is CHIKARA is famous for.

9.) CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas – 2/3 Falls – The Young Bucks vs. The Spectral Envoy (UltraMantis Black & Hallowicked): ****

All matches for the Campeonatos de Parejas are contested as 2/3 Falls Matches. The Young Bucks score the first fall pretty quickly with a Spike Tombstone Piledriver on UltraMantis. This plays into the match as now The Spectral Envoy fight the proverbial "underdog's fight", coming back in spectacular fashion to score the second fall and tie things up. Hallowicked & UltraMantis seemingly had the titles won at several points during the third fall, but interference from The Batiri prevents this from happening. Everything is breaking down and bodies are flying everywhere! It would end up taking a combination of Ophidian Poisonous Venom and More Bang For Your Buck to secure the third fall for The Young Bucks, who retain the titles. I was really into this match. A great main event to close the show.

Overall: 8.0/10

A very solid showing here from CHIKARA. Virtually every match on the show was at the very least decent, and on the whole we saw very consistent action. What I really like about this card is that we got to see various forms of CHIKARA's specialty: Tag Team Wrestling. From two very solid trios matches, to a four-corner tag team match, and finally the Main Event for the Campeonatos de Parejas (which was the Match of the Night), you got to see what CHIKARA is all about. El Generico vs. The Shard & Cabana vs. Quackenbush deserve special mentions for their performances as well. A very entertaining wrestling show, the likes of which only CHIKARA can provide!

ROH All-Star Extravaganza IV Review

Ring of Honor returns to Philadelphia for one of it's signature events!

ROH All-Star Extravaganza IV
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 12/26/08

1.) Kenny Omega vs. Rhett Titus: **1/2

Nothing to flashy here, but a decent opening match for sure. I really like Kenny Omega's finisher, Croyt's Wrath, which he uses to pick up the win.

2.) Erick Stevens vs. Chris Hero (with Sweet ‘n’ Sour Inc.): **3/4

Stevens is just one of the many men who have been having issues with Sweet 'n' Sour Inc. in the second half of 2008. Hero is continuing his transformation as "That Young Knockout" Kid. Larry Sweeney, Sara del Rey & Bobby Dempsey accompany Hero to ringside. Another fine match. Like the opener, it wasn't anything overly good, but it was solid. Hero puts his Loaded Elbow Pad on his boot and uses it for the win.

3.) Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Roderick Strong & Brent Albright: ***1/2

I was actually very intrigued to see this match. Both sides have a big power guy (Sasaki & Albright) and a smaller, quicker guy (Nakajima & Strong). Very solid match here. Good wrestling all around and a nice showcase of the styles of power & speed from everyone involved. A lot of stiff action as well. Sasaki & Nakajima pick up the victory. 

4.) Takeshi Morishima vs. Go Shiozaki (with Larry Sweeney): ***1/2

Another interesting matchup as we have two NOAH stars going at it. Morishima looks as large as we've ever seen him. Once again, we have a really good match. At one point Go gets thrown through the barricade by Morishima and he gets a gash on his side and back. The dangers of the ROH Guardrails. Overall, as I said, a very enjoyable contest. Morishima picks up the win and the momentum heading into his Fight Without Honor with Bryan Danielson the next night at Final Battle.

5.) Three-Way Elimination Tag Team Match – ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness & Claudio Castagnoli vs. The Briscoes vs. The American Wolves (with Larry Sweeney): ***1/2

Very strange that the first time Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards team up as The American Wolves, they're in a seemingly random Three-Way. This was actually a pretty good match. It was awesome seeing Nigel & Claudio teaming as the "European Union" and The American Wolves had a really good showing. Their end sequence with The Briscoes (who won the match) would be a sign of things to come as 2009 draws ever closer.

6.) Naomichi Marufuji vs. Austin Aries: ****

Leading up to this match, Aries had been showing signs of a potential heel turn, which eventually he would the next night at Final Battle, which would lead to the birth of "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived". Before that, he has an awesome match here with Marufuji. You could tell Aries was changing in this match with his jeering towards the fans. Marufuji would get the win here over A Double. Aries gets a standing ovation on the way out but that quickly turns into boos.

After the match, Prince Nana comes through the crowd and, like at several previous shows before this, begs for his job back before being dragged away by security.

7.) The Necro Butcher, Kevin Steen & El Generico (with Daizee Haze) vs. The Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black & Delirious): ***1/4

This is sort of a preview for the next night World Tag Team Title Match between Kevin Steen & El Generico (The Champions) and the Age of the Fall (Delirious & Jimmy Jacobs). Nothing really fancy here, but a very solid six-man tag. At one point Delirious pulls out the spike and was going to use it, but Daizee Haze intervenes and seemingly talks Delirious out of it. It looked like the faces were going to win, but Davey Richards of The American Wolves comes out and attacks Steen's knee with a pipe, leading to his teams defeat.

8.) Bryan Danielson vs. Jerry Lynn: ****

ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness joins the commentators for this one, which is a first time ever meeting between these two. It was an awesome display of technical wrestling that truly showed how great these athletes are. Amazing work from both guys. The match ends in a pinning combination where both are simultaneously pinned (seemingly), but it was revealed that Danielson got his shoulder up at the last second before the three count, and The American Dragon was awarded the match.

Overall: 8.0/10

This was a very interesting show. While it didn't deliver any truly awesome matches that one might expect from on of Ring of Honor's signature shows, the card was still pretty good. The openers did a fine job, the rest of the undercard was very solid, and you had two of the main matches that definitely delivered. On the whole it was a very consistent show, and it made for a very enjoyable watch.