Back in June 2013 the Place to Be Nation invaded the information super-highway with the launch of the website you are visiting just now. Since then a back catalogue has grown to include thousands of podcasts and written pieces, some of which you might have missed and it is my
arduous task pleasure to go through the archives and bring you some of the highlights of PTBN through the years.
Firstly, I apologise to anyone who was anxiously waiting on their weekly fix of PTBN history, however fear not as we are back this week with a double header special. The first audio offering to come to you this week from the vault comes to in the form of the episode #1 of DC Post-Crisis Management. For those who aren’t familiar with this show, host Russell Sellers is joined by various guests to explore the meanings, ramifications and quality of the stories while trying not to lose his mind.
Here, the skies turn red for the first time as universes across the DC Comics multiverse die, one by one, in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Manager Todd Weber joins Russell for this inaugural show to help guide him through what the landscape of DC Comics was like leading into and immediately after this reality-altering event, which can be found here.
And if that wasn’t enough, you can also listen into of Tim Capel and Andy Halleen’s discussion on the WCW’s biggest show of the year Starrcade on Survey Says: A WCW Retrospective. Starrcade was promoted each year from 1983 to the last instalment in 2000, and your hosts survey each and every one of them for your entertainment, and you can find it here.
As always, you can enjoy some of our fantastic written pieces from the archives as you listen. This week, in honour of the new segment on PTBN’s Main Event, we travel back to September 2016 as the Match of the Week Club have a look at Matt Riddle vs. TJP from Evolve 69. Fresh off of his win the Cruiserweight Classic, the then-WWE Cruiserweight Champion makes his last independent appearance for almost 3 years as he faces off against the Super King of Bros.
And, as an added bonus, the match is available on the WWN YouTube, so watch along and see if you agree or disagree with the teams views, or find yourself somwhere in between.
TJP – The youngest veteran in the business. TJP has been on the indies for multiple years and is now currently the WWE Cruiserweight Champion
Matt Riddle – A former Ultimate Fighter competitor, Riddle was released from the UFC and trained at the Monster Factory.
Nothing too complex here as it was well known this would be TJP’s last match in the company. Both competitors are affiliated with the Catch Point group in EVOLVE.
If you haven’t seen Matt Riddle, you need to see Matt Riddle. You can now throw Riddle’s name into the hat of folks who picked up wrestling the quickest. Riddle’s name goes right beside Owen Hart, Barry Windham, Jun Akiyama, and Kurt Angle. You can make a case for Riddle being the most outstanding wrestler of 2016, which is insanity when you realize Riddle started training in October of 2014, had his first match in February 2015, and only debuted in EVOLVE in October 2015. He started training essentially two years ago and may be the best wrestler in the world, right now. I joked on twitter that in a few years be prepared for the greatest match of all-time at WrestleMania when Nakamura faces Riddle, this match gives you a glimpse of why.
A few year’s ago EVOLVE re-branded taking on a more shoot style focus, with guys like Timothy Thatcher and Drew Gulak. There was some great stuff, but it never felt like it took hold. That is, until Riddle (joining up with the Catch Point stable) came into town and established himself. This match kind of felt like a changing of the guard. TJP represented more of the original EVOLVE style, while Riddle represented the current EVOLVE style. Yes, TJP did work the leg and mixed it up on Riddle’s level, but he did have a different flare than Riddle. Riddle worked on the arm and is very much a UFC fighter in wrestling. Every time he pulls off a suplex or more wrestling type move it feels like an event.
This built really well from the beginning, but the later part really stole the match. The trading of submissions and near falls gives everybody hope for the future that wrestling will not all be about how many flips you do and how many times you can hit your finisher. TJP gets a nice send off to his new career and Riddle will get the same in (probably) the near future as well!
Well, thanks to the wonders of the WWE Network I’ve now actually seen one of these competitors in a match before. The sum total of my background on Riddle is the following: a) he used to be an MMA fighter; 2) he’s one of these indy guys everyone loves. Which means he has better than even odds of showing up in NXT within a couple of years, but hey, one step at a time.
Of course TJP is the star of the cruiserweight division now (as we hear hype for on Evolve commentary, which feels slightly absurd but that’s just how wrestling works in 2016), and he’s highlighted here in a match that’s very similar to the ones he had in the CWC. Unlike in the CWC, though, I got a cocky vibe from a lot of Perkins’ mannerisms, which could serve him well in time given the seeming dearth of heels in the cruiserweight division as it’s presently constituted. Other than that shading of his character, this really was just the style of match he had in the CWC, with high spots combined with a ton of submissions and reversals to show that the two men are evenly matched, leading to an exciting ending sequence in which TJP escapes Riddle’s submission and Riddle pummels him in the head for a minute so he can’t escape again. In that way, Riddle works in some MMA-style offense without being obnoxious or boring, which is a real danger in these contexts — his jumping tombstone is also a hell of a thing, and by being so far from the MMA stuff shows that he’s more multifaceted than that.
Random notes: kudos to the dude in the crowd who watched Riddle slip on the rope before hitting a springboard knee strike and yelled “That’s why you wear shoes!” Speaking of which, does Riddle have a slight Von Erich vibe to him, or is it just the hair and the bare feet? (I know it’s not the moveset.)
I walked into this match fully expecting to be doing my write-up about how annoying I find TJ Perkins’ persona to be. During the CWC he basically became my #1 Heel of the tournament with his propensity to say ludicrous skater-poet-bro things like “When they see me wrestle, I want them to feel… love.” It seemed like every time TJ opened his mouth in a backstage promo or interview I would either shudder or roll my eyes. Something strange happened when I started this match. TJ Perkins, a wrestler who I have a visceral and instinctual dislike for, might as well have not been there. I’ve seen the star of the future and his name is Matt Riddle.
Every so often, there is a name you hear in the wilds of the indie scene that reaches fans before they can be watched by the general wrestling fanbase. We heard about AJ Styles in 2002, and Kevin Steen in 2010, and most recently Zack Sabre Jr was exposed to the WWE for the first time. Matt Riddle is going to be the next in that lineage. What I saw in this match was Brian Kendrick with Kurt Angle’s size and credentials. He was well versed in submissions and mat wrestling, which are the focuses of the EVOLVE style. He has WWE size and some measure of mainstream credibility from UFC and The Ultimate Fighter. He has personality for days as a stoner-bro frat boy. He shoots It-Factor out of his pores.
When I watched him wrestle, it was clear (at least to me) that he’s not long for EVOLVE. He looks like the surest thing I’ve seen in a very long time on the indies. I’d be willing to go so far as to say by the year 2020, he’ll have been WWE Champion. This is what the future looks like.
When Gabe tweeted that they were releasing this match for free in advance of the CWC live show, I watched it almost immediately. In a world where there is so much wrestling to consume, this urgency is notable for me. And this wasn’t the first time this happened. When the Monster Factory released Delirious vs. Riddle on a seemingly random Monday or Tuesday night – I was all-in to see this prodigious talent in another environment. He does not disappoint.
And neither does TJ Perkins in his send-off from EVOLVE. TJ establishes the leg work early, and in turn Riddle does the same with the arm. From the early minutes of this match until the very end, everything plays back to these core themes. And this is in no way a trading of moves match. Perkins’ psychology is nearly flawless here: Riddle has him in strength, but not experience so he does everything he can to avoid his kicks and reverses out of a number of attempted suplexes. About five minutes into the match we get to see Riddle take control as he starts deadlifting and throwing TJP around. TJP then avoids a charge in the corner in the best transition spot of the match: he pops up onto the top turnbuckle and grabs Riddle’s leg. This leads into an extended sequence where TJP just grinds Riddle down, trying to take away his advantages in the contest.
Riddle tries to come back but TJP cuts this off with a guillotine in the middle of the ring, which is the perfect transition into Riddle again showing off his power and hitting a huge fishermen buster. This seems like a lot of play-by-play for a quick thoughts piece, but the transitions and layout of this match really stuck out to me. When Riddle hits a huge jumping tombstone, it’s a legit nearfall. That is the only pinfall Riddle goes for in the match, and it fits his character perfectly. None of this transition move into a pin attempt stuff. No acts of disbelief from Riddle when a guy kicks out of a regular move. He knows what it takes to finish a guy off. Big power moves, submissions or TKO only. Perkins isn’t done yet though, they trade thrust kicks and build to a slick finish after both guys counter out of submission attempts. Everything circles back to Riddle’s power as he essentially stands up out of the leg lock and just pummels TJP’s neck before again locking on his Bro-mission for the win. That’s how you build on your already strong submission to make it a match ender – and it plays into his past MMA stuff and comes off legit.
Not lost in this fantastic match is the continued elevation of Riddle in EVOLVE. It’s pretty textbook, yes, but seeing the future CWC champ put over this amazing talent on his way out legitimizes Riddle even more, positioning him (along with the end of this particular EVOLVE show) as the top face in the company.
This match highlighted why I absolutely adore both these guys. Riddle and TJP seemed to have turn it up to 11 here and as a result it did not disappoint, but this was predictable when it had two of the best wrestlers in the world currently? TJP worked the match like BattlArts Minoru Tanaka and it was a thing of beauty, especially considering Riddle is a former UFC fighter and his arsenal is heavily inspired by said martial arts. It just made pure magic. TJP’s kneebar in the Cruiserweight Classic had been built up to be such a devastating submission, I was convinced that Riddle was losing this match on more than one occasion. Not to mention at the pace these two were working at, there was hardly any time for me as a fan to get bored, which is more than what I can ask for. The finishing stretch is a thing of beauty and may be my favorite finishing stretch to a match all year. EVOLVE this year is seemingly producing a MOTYC every weekend, so for this to be a Top 5 match in EVOLVE this year is quite the feat. I would recommend any fan of wrestling to check out, it’s only twelve minutes! ****1/2.
This match is proof positive on how something in wrestling can turn from just a match on the card to a must see event in just a matter of moments. If this same matchup would have happened in January, it would have been a very good affair. Commentary would likely had been centered around Riddle botching one move because he is so inexperienced and TJP being a great partner for him to work in this match. There also could have been a semblance of explaining how TJP has been around the wrestling scene for over a decade and never quite gotten his due. Fast forward to September and you have TJP, the cruiser weight classic star that at this point was heading into a huge semi final match vs. Kota Ibushi. It was no secret that this was TJP’s last EVOLVE match and that he had Monday Night Raw as a future destination to hone his craft. Matt Riddle has went from being the big favorite in the Rookie of the Year voting in January to being one of the best rookies in wrestling history and a making a legit claim for being wrestler of the year worldwide.
The match was a fantastic blend of grappling wrestling, exchanging submission but also a dazzle of the personality that each men exudes. Shoot style wrestling can be a really hard style for a viewer to come into, but I thought they did a marvelous job of mixing that up here. Little touches like TJP doing his dab dance before clinching in a brutal submission really added flavor to the match. The other thing on display was the fantastic athleticism of both men. At one point, they both bridge straight up in quick fashion from a seated headlock position. That makes an ordinary counter into a memorable one. The closing moments were fantastic and drama enriched. It didn’t feel like each person exchanging submissions just for the heck of it, it was a real struggle with each guy knowing their submission would end the contest if applied at the right moment. After the match, TJP gets a well deserved send off and really stakes his claim as one of the feel good stories in wrestling in 2016. Final Rating: ****
I was only going to do one written piece this week so as to not bore everyone with a wall of text, but this one was too good to pass up. Back in September 2014, Brian Bayless took a trip down memory lane with a look at OVW Christmas Chaos from January 2001. Fear not, Brian does explain why a Christmas titled show was held in January!
Not only does this show feature some well known names of the time, but also the famous OVW Class of 2002 which has produced many world champions in WWE and, of course, UFC. Parts of this show can be found on WWE Network including the main event if you feel the need to see these after reading Brian’s review, with YouTube and Dailymotion able to fill some of the gaps too.
January 31, 2001
Your host is Jim Cornette
The show was supposed to be held on December 13th, 2000 but was cancelled due to a snow storm. It was held the following month at the Louisville Gardens and drew 5,000 fans.
Minnesota Stretching Crew vs. “Smooth” Johnny Spade & Sly Scraper
For those of you who do not know, the stretching crew consists of Brock Lesnar and Shelton Benjamin. Lesnar was sporting a singlet here. Scraper was better known as Sylvester Terkay. Spade was a skinny cruiserweight who acted cocky and facially resembled Kid Kash. Lesnar and Benjamin were rookies at the time too. Spade starts off by spitting at Benjamin then gets backed into the corner. Spade escapes and tags Scraper, who works the arm of Benjamin. After a minute, Benjamin shows off his athleticism to escape then climbs on Scraper’s shoulder but they completely botch a rana, with Scraper seemingly having no clue on how to take the move. Benjamin kills him with a superkick, busting Scraper open in the process, then tags Lesnar, who drops an elbow. Lesnar knocks Spade off of the apron after getting hit but walks right into a spinning heel kick. Spade tags and gets two off of an elbow smash. Lesnar tosses him off, then kips up and catches him with a press slam. He hits him with a belly-to-belly suplex then tags Benjamin. They knock Scraper out of the ring and Lesnar follows him outside. Scraper then pulls down the top rope on Benjamin and he falls to the floor. Spade holds Benjamin in place as Scraper comes off of the top with a headbutt to the groin. He then hits a pumphandle suplex before he picks up Spade, who splashes Benjamin. Brock breaks up the count then Spade goes to work on Shelton. Both men collide attempting crossbody blocks and are down on the mat. Both men tag and Brock runs wild. He hits Scraper with a tilt-a-whirl slam then he tags Benjaimn and they hit a double urinage. Spade breaks up the pin with a top rope legdrop. He rakes the eyes of Benjamin, who lands on his feet after a monkey flip attempt. Spade taunts the crowd then walks into a vicious superkick. Scraper breaks up the cover but Benjamin lands on his feet after a backdrop and hits a knee smash and his momentum carries him to the corner as Spade backdrops him to the floor. Brock then climbs up top and hits a shooting star press halfway across the ring. Holy shit was that beautiful. Spade breaks that up at 2.9999 but Brock catches him and hits a backbreaker then Shelton comes off of the top with a 450 splash for the win (8:02) **1/4.
Thoughts: Sloppy at times but Lesnar and Shelton were just oozing potential here. Some awesome stuff from those two. Scraper was very slow and cumbersome in the ring and did not look too good at all. Spade was competent but very much the definition of an “indy” guy with a bad look and average physique.
Slick Robbie D. vs. Randy Orton
Robbie D. passed away about a year after this match when he committed suicide shortly after being arrested due to sleeping with an underage female. He had a lot of other trouble with the law too. Here, he was billed as having a 48’ inch vertical leap. Orton was also a rookie, as was the referee for the match, Donna Derring. Robbie takes him down with a shoulder block then stomps away before taunting Orton with a dance. That might have gotten over on the main roster, actually. Orton comes back with a hiptoss and a dropkick before going to work on the arm. Orton stops short on a leapfrog and hits a sweet wheelbarrow slingshot suplex for two. He should do that today as a signature spot. Robbie leaps right to the top and comes back with a sunset flip, getting two. Superkick gets two then he argues with the ref. Robbie hits a slam then follows that with a legdrop, getting two. He sends Orton over the top rope with a dropkick then follows out with an beautiful tope that cleared the top rope. He rolls Orton inside and heads up top but plays to the crowd and that allows Orton to get up and cut him off. Orton climbs up and hits a superplex as both men are down. Orton gets up first and fires away. He hits a backdrop and a clothesline before getting a nearfall with a T-Bone Suplex. He tries for his finisher, the full nelson slam, but Robbie escapes then quickly after that, Orton hits the move for the win (7:19) **1/2.
Thoughts: Both guys looked very impressive. Even as a rookie, you could see the potential in Orton. He sold like a champ when he had to and seemed to be in the right spots. Robbie was a freakish athlete and had not only wrestled in Memphis before signing a developmental deal but also acted as a stuntman in Hollywood. If he held his demons in check, he probably would have gotten to the main roster.
UFC Rules Match
“Ironman” Rob Conway vs. Ron “H2O” Waterman
The rules are the match is won when you make your opponent submit or tap out. Waterman was a former UFC competitor prior to signing a developmental deal. He had a great look but never made it to the main roster. Conway stalls for a minute then they lockup and go right through the ropes. Conway is limping around the ring as Waterman tosses him back inside. Conway fights back and hammers away in the corner. Waterman comes back with a few suplexes before putting him in a Boston Crab. Conway fights out and ducks outside before going back and landing a few shots. Waterman catches him with an inverted atomic drop before taking down Conway with a poor excuse of a clothesline. He hits a back suplex but eats boot on a charge and Conway takes control. He works on the injured arm of Waterman for a minute. Waterman comes back and hits a backdrop. Conway rolls outside and ducks a clothesline, as Waterman hits the post with his injured arm. In the ring, Conway puts on an armbar and Waterman refuses to tap out then Waterman becomes unconscious as the ref rings the bell (7:10) ¾*.
Thoughts: The match was slow and plodding and there were barely any submission holds applied, making the UFC stipulations ridiculous. Waterman performed poorly in the ring, just looking slightly better than Scraper did.
The Suicide Blondes (Rip Rogers & Jason Lee & Derrick King) vs. Sean Casey & Chris Michaels & Phil Phair
The stipulations of this match were that if the Blondes lost, they would have their heads shaved in the middle of the ring and if Phair’s team lost, he would have to kiss the ass of every member of the opposing team. Phair comes out with a neck brace and states that he hurt is neck by slipping on gravy in Kenny Bolin’s dressing room and introduces his replacement partner, “Nature Boy” Buddy Landell. Lee starts off the match by beating on Casey. The blondes use quick tags as Michaels tags and catches King with a slam. He heads up top but King cuts him off then takes him off with a hurricanrana. He tries a float over in the corner but Michaels catches him with an Alabama Slam. Landell tags and chops down King. He catches him off of a crossbody attempt and hits a backbreaker before tagging Casey. King gets double-teamed by Casey & Michaels as the pace remains fast. King comes back with a facebuster as both men are down. King makes the tag to Lee and he goes wild. He hits a moonsault on Casey but Landell breaks that up as the match breaks down. Lee goes after Phair on the ring then Rogers hits Phair with a noogie punch and they all cover him for the pin (4:41) *1/4. After the match, Phair kisses everyone’s ass in PG fashion.
Thoughts: Quick match that had some decent action. Lee & King were guys that kicked around the southeast indies for a while. Casey was under a developmental deal at this time and had worked as a jobber on “Sunday Night Heat” and “Shotgun Saturday Night” but never got called up to the WWE. Michaels was almost 40 years old at the time and oddly enough, wrestled in the Suicide Blondes in ECW, when it was known as “Eastern Championship Wrestling” along with Johnny Hot Body and Chris Candido. Landell looked huge, he wore what looked like a prison jumpsuit, but could still go in the ring and his punches looked fantastic. After this, he wrestled a few matches for NWA-TNA during the first few months of the company along with Rick Michaels.
Ten Count Match
The Damaja vs. Russ McCollough
McCullough was billed as 7’0 and looked similar to Kevin Nash. He carried a New York Jets helmet to the ring as he allegedly played for them. The Damaja was better known as Danny Basham. McCullough beats on Basham before tossing him outside. He then knocks him off of the apron before Damaja comes back in and hammers away. He uses his quickness but McCullough overpowers him. He picks him up but Damaja counters that into a DDT and McCullough gets up at the 6 count. Damaja fires away in the corner but gets shoved away. McCullough hits a powerslam then drops the leg as Damaja gets up at eight. McCullough knocks him back down but Damaja fights back until McCullough hits him with a powerbomb and Damaja gets up at nine, only for McCullough to clothesline him back down. He tries for another powerbomb but Damaja escapes then hits a flying headscissors. He hits a rana and heads up top and connects with a missile dropkick that has McCullough get up at eight. Damaja hits a corner splash then hits the Brain Damaja (sitout chokeslam) as McCullough just beats the ten count. McCullough kicks Damaja in the groin then hits him with his helmet as Damaja cannot get up at the ten count (6:16) ¼*.
Thoughts: The worst match of the night, IMO. McCullough was awful and the Damaja was dull and together, they had a boring match with a crappy ending. McCullough was another big guy who had the look the WWE loves but was awful in the ring with shitty ring presence and never made it to the main roster. Who knows what happened to him.
Flash & Trailer Park Trash vs. Rico Constantino & Mr. Black w/ Kenny Bolin
Rico was ripped and sported long hair, looking like a star. How the WWE thought bringing him up as a homosexual stylist was a good idea I will never know. Flash wrestled as Kobain in TNA for a match as part of the Disciples of the New Church. Mr. Black was a fat guy and I do not know much about Trash. Anyway, the Flash & Trash combo bring a ton of weapons to the ring then use trashcan lids on their opponents. The camera shows Mr. Black hitting Trash with weapons outside of the ring. The camera work is awful here as the arena is dark enough as it is and having them brawl outside means you can barely see anything. Trash brings a bowling ball into the ring and rolls it into the nuts of Mr. Black. Flash sets up Rico on a table outside of the ring and puts him through it with a springboard legdrop. Trash hits Mr. Black with a DDT then lays a door across the ring and guardrail. He tries to suplex Mr. Black, but gets shoved and falls through the door. In the ring, Rico rolls away from a moonsault by Flash then we have Black hanging Trash over the ropes. Black then hits Flash with a frying pan as Trash brings a tire into the ring. Rico puts the tire around Trash’s neck then hits him with a superkick. He goes outside and beats on Flash with a cane before choking him out. Mr. Black smashes a mailbox over Trash’s head as Black catches Flash with a side slam. Rico slams Flash on a chair as Mr. Black climbs up top but Trash comes in and tosses him off. Trash now goes after Rico as Flash whiplashes Black off of a chair for the win (9:42) *1/2.
Thoughts: The production values were horrendous. The clipping was more noticeable than ever in this match too. Rico stood out far and above anyone else in this match though and just looked great in everything he did. The match was basic hardcore fare but performed competently at least.
Mark Henry vs. Big Show
Henry was a heel here, being led to the ring by a guy pretending to the Randy Savage that was tossing Slim Jims to the crowd. Henry gets in Show’s face then they have a shoving match. Show takes him down with a drop toehold then a big boot that showed a ton of light. He whips Henry into the corner then punches away before knocking him down with elbow smashes. Show had quite the gut at this point in his career. He no sells a few clotheslines from Henry then connects with a superkick! Show knocks down the Macho Man impersonator from the apron but that allows Henry to attack him from behind. He yells that it is football season before booting Show in the ribs. Show shoves Henry into the Macho Man guy’s briefcase then gets the win with the chokeslam (2:56) ½*. After the match, Bolin runs in and Show nails him with a punch but Henry gets up and hits Show with a belly-to-belly suplex and attacks the ribs. He hits a few splashes as well.
Thoughts: I think this was done to write off the Big Show from the OVW storylines as he returned to the WWF at the Royal Rumble just before this show took place. He was in OVW at this time to lose weight and improve his cardio. Henry was also sent to OVW around this time for the same reason. The match wasn’t much at all.
The Hardy Boyz & Lita vs. Disciples of Synn
This version of the Disciples were Damian, Payne, and Synn (The current wife of Jim Cornette). The crowd goes crazy for the Hardys and Lita. Damian and Matt start off the match. Matt hits a discus punch and a clothesline to start. Payne tags and they double-team Matt for a bit until Synn tags in and slaps Matt a few times. Matt rolls her up as the crowd chants for Lita and the crowd goes nuts as she tags but Synn escapes and tags Damian. Jeff tags and he and Matt double-team him for a bit. Jeff connects with a flying forearm and that gets two. Jeff gets clotheslined by Payne behind the ref’s back as the Disciples neutralize him in the corner. Damian gets two off of a spinebuster. Payne tags and chokes out Jeff before ripping his head off with a clothesline. They continue to work over Jeff as the crowd chants for him to make the tag. Jeff counters a tilt a whirl with a facebuster on Payne then kicks him off before tagging Matt. He runs wild as the crowd is eating this up. He takes them down with a double clothesline then hits Payne with a leg drop off of the second rope that Damian breaks up. Matt and Payne clothesline each other as the crowd tags for Lita. Synn tags first but misses an elbow drop. Matt tags Lita and she hits a hurricanrana on Damian but Payne kills her with a clothesline as she made her way toward Synn. Lita gets roughed up by Synn but she is able to slam her off of the top rope. She takes her down with a spear then slams her head off the mat. Lita heads up top and hits the moonsault but Damian breaks up the pin. As the Hardys deal with him, Payne hits Lita with the Sky High then calls for a table. Damian brings in the table and they set Lita up as he goes up top for a legdrop but Jeff knocks him off the top rope and Matt takes out Payne. He and Lita hit Synn with a double DDT then put her on the table as Jeff hits the Swanton for the win (11:40) **1/2.
Thoughts: Decent match. Payne and Damian were competent in the ring at least. Payne, who also wrestled as B.J. Payne, kicked around OVW for a few more years. I have no idea what happened to Damian though. He looked like a backyard wrestler to be honest but better than half of the OVW guys in the ring.
OVW Heavyweight Championship Match
Chris Benoit vs. “Mr. Wrestling” Nick Dinsmore (Champion)
Benoit makes himself a heel by cutting a promo on the crowd before the match. It was surprisingly good too. He goes to work on the arm until Dinsmore reverses. Benoit then works a headlock then a test of strength. They then have a pinfall reversal sequence that looked pretty good. Dinsmore hits an arm drag and connects with a dropkick. Benoit takes a breather then puts on an armbar before switching to a surfboard. Dinsmore backs him into the corner and escapes with a mule kick. He takes Benoit down with a dropkick, who rolls outside for a bit then comes back in and works the leg but Dinsmore reverses. They have a nice Irish whip sequence that ends with Benoit booting Dinsmore before suplexing him onto the ropes. Benoit gets up and taunts the crowd, who boo him. He is doing a good job as a heel here. He lays into Dinsmore with chops in the corner then takes him halfway across the ring with a hiptoss. He sends Dinsmore outside with a baseball slide then follows him out and roughs him up. Back inside, Benoit gets two off of a snap suplex. Dinsmore surprises Benoit with a small package and that pisses off Benoit, who lays into him even harder with chops. He works a side headlock until Dinsmore escapes. He gets another rollup for a near fall but Benoit comes back with a clothesline. He whips Dinsmore into the corner then tries it again but Dinsmore ducks and gets another nearfall with a rollup then Benoit hits him with another clothesline. He stomps away on Dinsmore until Dinsmore takes him down with a leg screw. Benoit takes him back down with a drop toehold but Dinsmore comes back with a sunset flip. Benoit takes him back down with a clothesline and heads up top but Dinsmore cuts him off and chops away before hitting a superplex as both men are down. Dinsmore fires away then puts his foot up as Benoit charges at him. He hits a backdrop and a clothesline, setting him up for a super kick. Benoit blocks the move but Dinsmore comes right back and hits him with the move. He heads up top and connects with a missile dropkick, which was the set up for his finisher, the German suplex. He hits the move but Rico runs in and breaks up the pin for the DQ (15:14) ***1/2. Rico kicks the shit out of Dinsmore until Benoit gets pissed at Rico for costing him the match then punches him in the head.
Thoughts: Good match. It was a bit one-sided but the match was laid out well, with Benoit taking Dinsmore lightly and letting him hang around until he almost lost the match. Dinsmore was good in the ring and it’s a shame that he is no longer wrestling on television today.
Jim Ross comes into the ring to interview Steve Austin. He sucks up to the crowd for a bit then says how OVW has the WWF superstars of the future. The crowd explodes when Austin enters the ring. JR asks him about becoming the WWF Champion at WrestleMania X-7 as Austin says that he is coming back and will kick Triple H’s ass. Someone tosses him a beer as he runs down Vince McMahon until JR asks him about Rico Constantino. Austin does not like him as Rico and Bolin come down to the ring. Rico tells Austin that he was an American Gladiator and demands that he looks at him when he speaks, which causes Austin to call him a jackass. Rico goes on for a minute and tells Austin that he will kick his “hiney” when he comes up to the WWF and shortly after that, he eats a Stone Cold Stunner. Austin then pours a beer all over him before getting in his face and flipping him off.
A hype video for the Leviathan (Batista) airs, followed by a video for Kane. Leviathan was undefeated in OVW at this point.
Leviathan w/ Synn vs. Kane
After a staredown, they trade punches. Kane tosses Leviathan in the corner and hammers away. He ducks his head for a backdrop attempt and gets tossed down. Kane ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own in an awkward spot. He hits a side slam but Leviathan fights out of a chokeslam and hits a belly-to-belly suplex. He clotheslines Kane to the floor and follows him out. Kane fights back and rams his head off of the guardrail but Leviathan fights right back. Back inside, Kane gets beat down until he comes back with a DDT. He charges but Leviathan catches him with a spinebuster. After an obvious edit, Kane is slugging away in the corner. Leviathan slams Kane but misses an elbow drop and they have a slugfest. Big boot by Kane and he heads up top for a clothesline but Leviathan fights off a tombstone attempt and shoves Kane into the ref. Kane hits a chokeslam but the ref is still out as Synn runs in and whips Kane, who gets right up and corners her. The Disciples run in and the numbers game catches up with Kane until the Hardys and Lita run in to even the score. Austin then runs in and stares down Leviathan. He flips him off and ducks a clothesline before hitting him with the Stunner. Kane is up and looks around as Leviathan is up walking around but Kane catches him with a chokeslam and grabs the ref and he counts to three (7:09) *1/2.
Thoughts: This was heavily edited but what was shown was alright. Batista was still green in the ring but had a good presence, unlike other guys like McCullough or Waterman. This was fun and a good way to send the crowd home happy.
Final Thoughts: The show suffered during the middle but overall it was okay. Just looking at the card it shows how stacked developmental was at this time. You had Lesnar, Orton, Batista, Benjamin, Conway, Dinsmore, and Rico. Slick Robbie D. looked to have worlds of potential too but his personal life go in the way of that. Hell, even the Damaja made the main roster. Also, it was sad to see how the WWE could not figure out a way to make Conway and Rico appear bigger on television. They made them look like jerkoffs. I think Cena debuted in OVW very shortly after this show. This was part of the golden age of OVW too. If you want to see guys before they became stars, then check out their matches otherwise I would give the rest of this a pass.