By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New York, New York at the New York Hilton Midtown
Broadcast live on FITE TV
The ring announcer noted that they were still waiting on a couple of things from the athletic commission and for an ambulance to arrive. He said they didn’t have to wait for the entertainment to begin. Road Warrior Animal was introduced as the event’s ambassador and he came to the ring and welcomed fans to “the biggest weekend in the history of our business.” Animal said he couldn’t do the ambassador job by himself.
Animal introduced Ric Flair, who walked to the ring wearing a suit. Flair said some guys were lucky enough to make it to the level he did and others were not, but they are all still a fraternity. Flair said he made a lot of money whenever the Road Warriors were on the card. Flair put over the organizer of the show. Flair said there was a time when no one wanted 200 wrestlers in a hotel. Fans laughed. “No shit,” Flair said to more laughs.
Flair got emotional as he mentioned his daughter wrestling on Sunday night at WrestleMania. “The women deserve the opportunity, but it wasn’t given to them” Flair said. “This is every bit as big as Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant.” Flair said he is proud to be a father. Flair thanked the crowd and was cheered. He told the fans to come see him on Friday at the convention and said they shouldn’t bring a credit card because they won’t work…
The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Excalibur spoke and said they were surprised by the Flair appearance. They said the show should be starting in just a few minutes, then they went back into wait mode with a graphic noting that the show would begin shortly…
Powells POV: As frustrating as the late start is (especially since I’m hoping to catch the start of the Impact Wrestling tonight!), that was a pretty impressive way to fill the time. The fans responded well to Animal and loved the Flair surprise. I can’t even imagine what an emotional mess Flair will be on Sunday night.
In the ring, the ring announcer noted that they lost Highspots worker Mark Hitchcock last year. He noted that they renamed this event after him. The ring announcer welcomed Hitchcock’s sister and fiancee. The women thanked the fans and spoke about losing Hitchcock briefly. The fans applauded them afterward. A video played on Hitchcock that included photos of him with various wrestlers. Very classy…
1. Masato Tanaka vs. Eddie Kingston. Kelly spoke about how they tried to get Tanaka to ROH several times and it never happened. He said Kingston is the perfect opponent for him. Tanaka performed a top rope frogsplash for a two count. Kingston came back with a couple of suplexes for a near fall of his own. Kingston performed a falcon arrow for another two count. The wrestlers exchanged strikes. Tanaka got the better of it, then performed a running forearm or elbow onto a seated Kingston and pinned him.
After the match, Kingston took the mic and said that after 17 years of wrestling, Tanaka was his dream match. Kingston bowed and the wrestlers hugged…
Powell’s POV: A solid opening match. The atmosphere in the building is not as hot as it was for the Bloodsport event earlier today, but that may change as the show moves forward. The production is good in terms of the ring being lit well and the crowd seems to be well mic’d. By the way, I’m going with streamlined notes on the matches. It’s the second of three shows I’m covering today and lord knows how many I’ll be covering this weekend. In other words, I’m pacing myself.
Pentagon Jr. and Fenix came to the ring and said they are open to accepting a challenge from any team. Fenix mentioned some other “tag team brothers.” Fans booed and then a “Young Bucks” chant broke out. Fenix implied that the Young Bucks are afraid of the Lucha Brothers. Pentagon Jr. took the mic and cursed about the Bucks in Spanish (I think). Fenix suggested the Lucha Brothers could fight one another…
2. Pentagon Jr. vs. Fenix. Pentagon immediately rolled up Fenix for a two count to start the match. Pentagon was in offensive control early on and picked up a few near falls. Fans chanted “Lucha Brothers”. Fenix came back until Pentagon cut him off. Pentagon performed a popup powerbomb for a two count. Pentagon followed up with a Canadian Destroyer for a two count. The wrestlers ended up fighting on the top rope where Fenix performed a Spanish Fly and scored the pin. Fenix raised his brother’s hand after the match and then they hugged and played to the crowd.
Fenix defeated Pentagon Jr.
Powell’s POV: A fun big spot match. These two could probably work this match together in their sleep. They’ve had better matches, but worked hard and took some big bumps for two guys who have another match later tonight with Rob Van Dam and Sabu on the Impact Wrestling event (stick around for my live review of that show). I still look forward to the day when Pentagon and Fenix have a good storyline breakup that leads to an actual feud between the two.
3. Tajiri, Puma King, DJZ, and Samantha Heights vs. Sammy Guevara, Diamante, and “LAX” Santana and Ortiz in an eight-person tag match. Guevara put a bandana over the bottom of his face and flipped off DJZ early on. Later, Heights and Diamante performed stereo summersault dives from the top rope onto piles of wrestlers at ringside. In the ring, Tajiri sprayed green mist at Ortiz, delivered his finishing kick, and pinned him.
Tajiri, Puma King, DJZ, and Samantha Heights beat Sammy Guevara, Diamante, Santana, and Ortiz.
Powell’s POV: This was fine for what it was. The crowd was happy to see Tajiri and they got to see him do his thing at the end.
4. Robbie Eagles vs. Arez vs. Flamita in a three-way. Eagles was over big with the crowd before the match. Eagles won the match with a 450.
Powell’s POV: Unfortunately, I had a buffering issue and missed a decent portion of the match, so I can’t really provide a fair assessment. It’s just a hiccup that was probably related to my wifi more than anything else.
5. Jushin Liger, Sean “X-Pac” Waltman, Hurricane Helms, vs. Caleb Konley, Jake Manning, and Zane Riley. The fans popped big for the legends, especially Liger, who is retiring at next year’s Tokyo Dome event. Waltman was all smiles early on as he stood in the corner and watched Liger do his thing with Konley early on. Riley checked in and called out Waltman, who tagged into the match wearing his green and black gear with the NWO logo. The crowd chanted “Hall of Famer” for Waltman, who will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on Saturday. Helms and Manning were in next and shook hands with one another and then engaged in a bit of a dance off. Helms locked arms with his teammates for a thee-man arm worm dance. Funny. In the end, Liger performed a brainbuster on Manning and pinned him.
Jushin Liger, Sean Waltman, and Hurricane Helms beat Caleb Konley, Jake Manning, and Zane Riley.
Waltman took the mic afterward and once again put over Liger, which drew a “Liger” chant from the crowd. Helms took the mic and said everyone knows who he works for, Waltman is going into the Hall of Fame, and added that he asked for permission to work this show just so he could team with Liger. Fans chanted “thank you, Liger” as the legends hugged…
The ring announcer said the show would continue after a brief intermission.
Powell’s POV: A really fun treat to see the legends team. It’s cool that Waltman and Helms were so excited to team with Liger, and also cool of WWE to give Helms permission to work the match. Liger deserves all the adulation he gets and I’m still amazed that he’s able to do what he does at age 54. On a side note, Konley has worked a lot of places, but I’ve always been surprised that he hasn’t found a full-time job with one of the national promotions.
6. Dragon Lee vs. Cavernario. The feed was out for the majority of the match. This one was not just on my end. Lee won clean by pinfall. Fans threw money into the ring after the match. The wrestlers shook hands afterward.
Powell’s POV: Dammit, I really wanted to see this match. Stupid technology. It’s a shame because the stream on FITE was great for the Bloodsport event and all of this show through the intermission, but then it conked out right when they returned from the break. The good news is that the show will be available on VOD, so we should be able to go back and watch it at a later time.
7. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Shane Strickland. The fans clapped along with Strickland’s entrance music and there was a brief “Swerve” chant. Sabre was in control early, then Strickland came back with strikes. In the end, Sabre won via submission. Kelly told the story that Sabre was waiting for Strickland to go for his double stomp and was ready. Sabre left the ring first, then the crowd chanted “thank you, Strickland.” Strickland took a bow.
Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Shane Strickland.
Powell’s POV: A good match. The broadcast team spoke about “whatever’s next” for Strickland. Kelly said you never know what’s going to happen and maybe Excalibur will call another one of Strickland’s matches.
SCU came to the ring. Daniels had a mic on the top half of a mic stand and played to the crowd for SCU chants. After doing some mic work, they claimed that was it and they were done. Orange Cassidy made his entrance and was joined onstage by “Best Friends” Trent Barreta and Chuck Taylor.
8. Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, and Scorpio Sky vs. Orange Cassidy, Trent Barreta, and Chuck Taylor. It’s an unofficial AEW showcase match (well, almost, I don’t know if Cassidy will be working for AEW). All three members of the Cassidy team put on shades at one point. Daniels was down and when he got up, he also had shades on. Daniels and Cassidy did the lightest chops and strikes in the world bit, which led to loud wooos from the crowd. In a fun twist, the production team got in on the fun by switching camera angles as they went back and forth with “rapid fire” light strikes. Daniels low-blowed Cassidy, who backed into his corner and was tagged out. In the end, Daniels and Kazarian performed the Best Meltzer Ever on Cassidy and got the win. There was a group hug afterward. Five wrestlers raised their arms while Cassidy kept his hands in his pockets.
Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, and Scorpio Sky defeated Orange Cassidy, Trent Barreta, and Chuck Taylor.
Powell’s POV: There was plenty of comedy in this one. Not all of it is necessarily my cup of tea, but some of it was funny and the live crowd seemed to enjoyed a lot of it, so that’s what counts.
9. Bandido vs. Will Ospreay. The match started with a standing Spanish Fly by Ospreay for a two count. Bandido came back and performed a big flip dive. Back inside the ring, Bandido held up Ospreay for a vertical suplex and performed a squat while he had him in the air before taking him down. Ospreay got fired up and cussed out Bandido at one point, as Ospreay is wont to do.
The wrestlers traded strikes and then Ospreay performed a wicked dragon suplex. Bandido popped right up and came back with a popup powerbomb. Both men remained down. Bandido went for his finisher, but Ospreay landed on his feet. Ospreay performed a twisting kick. Ospreay raced to the corner, but Bandido followed and performed a Backstabber style move.
A short time later, Ospreay dumped Bandido to ringside and then performed a springboard frogsplash style cross body block. Ospreay returned to the ring. Bandido barely beat the referee’s count. Ospreay performed a missile dropkick. Bandido countered a move into a huracanrana for a good near fall. Bandido performed a GTS for a great near fall. Ospreay dodged Bandido’s finisher, then performed a Rainmaker clothesline and an Oscutter for a two count. Ospreay followed up with another move for the clean pin.
Will Ospreay pinned Bandido.
Ospreay helped Bandido up afterward and they had a moment together while the fans chanted “this is wrestling.” Ospreay took the mic and spoke about meeting Ric Flair, X-Pac, and others, then said Bandido is f’n awesome. Ospreay marveled over Bandido being younger than he is. He later called Bandido one of the best luchadores in the world. Ospreay and Bandido hugged in the middle of the ring again. After Ospreay left, Bandido took the mic. He spoke in Spanish and English. It was hard to make out what he said, but he was emotional and the fans loved it. Bandido posed on the ropes while Kelly and Excalibur closed the show…
Powell’s POV: A terrific main event that lived up to some very high expectations. One can only hope that this isn’t the last we see from these two in the ring together given that they work for companies that are friendly with one another. That was special. And it was a fun show overall. The main event was the best match (though in fairness the feed conked out during Dragon Lee vs. Cavernario) and both men seemed very sincere with their words and emotion after the match. It was fun to see the legends on the undercard and even before the show. This event had a little something for everybody. Up next… check out my live review of Impact Wrestling’s United We Stand on the main page.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest John Thorne, who discusses promoting the AIW Slumber Party Massacre on the Thursday of WrestleMania weekend (available live and via VOD on FITE TV), being a small fish in the big WrestleMania weekend pond, his long history with Johnny Gargano, and much more.