TAKA Michinoku . . . looks like he hasn’t lost a step since getting shunted into the oblivion known as the WWF Light Heavyweight Division.
Little Guido . . . isn’t perfect by any stretch, but shows that he’s good enough to be a standout performer.
Lance Storm . . . ultimately loses his match because he tried being like everyone else in ECW, rather than just sticking to his wrestling.
JERRY LYNN vs. TAKA MICHINOKU
The fact that this isn’t shown in full borders on being criminal. It’d be easy to see how this could be written off as a spotfest, since both guys bring a truckload of big spots to the match. But they move effortlessly from spot to spot, and get to them in a completely logical manner. TAKA does a backflip escape of Lynn’s German suplex and charges for a rana, only for Jerry to use his size advantage to counter into a running powerbomb for a near fall. It also helps that TAKA’s selling is amazing, even though you know that Jerry’s mid level spots like the powerbomb, til-a-whirl backbreaker, and Tornado DDT won’t be the finish, TAKA’s selling makes it seem plausible that each of those might be enough to finish him off. They get a little too cute for the real finish, with both of them wanting to hit their big move, but rather than seeing the moves get used and blown off, both men find ways to escape or counter, with Jerry eventually winning out and hitting the cradle Piledriver.
The only really disappointing thing about this match is that Jerry working over TAKA’s knee didn’t have a bigger impact on the match. It starts soon after the clip of the match begins, when TAKA hits a huge dive, and Jerry comes back with a dropkick and a dive of his own. It’s smart of Jerry to try to keep TAKA grounded, and Jerry has quite a few good ideas for ways to work it over, and TAKA’s selling is more than believable. It just should have lasted a lot longer. Even something like TAKA calling for the Michinoku Driver and taking a minute to shake out his knee would have been something. At worst, this is a damn fine match that had chances to be great. I’d wager it’s probably better than anything TAKA did in the WWF since 1997.
LITTLE GUIDO vs. NOVA
If this was only being judged on Guido’s performance, then it would come off pretty well. It’s fun to see him use his superior wrestling skills to work over Nova’s arm, and his reactions when Nova kicks out of something unexpected, like Big Sal’s splash behind the ref’s back, are rather amusing. Once Nova decides to make his comeback, however, the match starts sinking fast. It starts off looking like they’re going to be smart, with Nova surprising Guido with a standing switch, but being unable to follow up because he’s still too worn down. But, a minute later, Nova gets a reversal on a whip in the corner, and his first spot of the match is a Samoan drop from the second rope, and from there, it only gets more absurd. Nova gets whipped into the corner and gets a foot up to stop Guido’s charge, which stuns Guido so much that he staggers all the way back into the complete opposite corner so that Nova can charge back at him and do the ten-count punches. Sal tries to interfere again, which backfires when he squashes Guido, and it allows Nova to hit his finisher. Neither of them was anything great, but Guido was head and shoulders above Nova here, and it’s easy to see why he eventually wound up being a permanent fixture in both the TV and tag title picture.
TOMMY DREAMER vs. LANCE STORM
This has got to be one of the last pairings that I’d expect good results from, but, this is enjoyable for almost the entire way through. The work itself is surprisingly watchable, and there’s a few smart touches thrown in the mix as well. The bit with them playing to the crowd, with Storm yelling that Dreamer pulled his tights seems more appropriate for Tennessee than it does Queens, but, everyone does their part to make it work, and the fans eat it up. Storm and Dreamer are both able to take over by capitalizing on their opponent losing focus. The first is when Dreamer decides to have fun with Dawn Marie, and opens himself up to a superkick from Storm, and after Storm works over Dreamer for a bit, he stops and wedges a chair in the corner, and Dreamer takes the opening to surprise Storm and take the match over. Dreamer makes the same mistake a minute later, when he starts messing with a table, giving Storm the chance to baseball slide it back into his face.
As expected, the match itself is much better when Storm is in control, since he brings most of the good work. Once Dreamer takes over, it turns into the typical ECW brawl. The fight all over ringside, with Dreamer using a couple of drinks to get a crowd pop, and then the valets get involved. The last couple of spots are more or less what you’d expect, with the props conveniently being right where they need to be, such as Dreamer kicking out of the O’Connor roll and sending Storm into the chair that he’d wedged earlier, and the finish with Dreamer hitting the DVD on the table that was propped up in the corner. But, despite those moments, this is still a very fun match, and it’s a bit of a surprise that these two would have such good chemistry.
Conclusion: 1999 wasn’t exactly a strong year for wresting in the U.S. as far as the in-ring stuff went, so it’s somewhat remarkable how fun this hour of TV really is. If you’re looking for MOTY level stuff, look elsewhere, but this isn’t a bad way to spend an hour.