ROH 005 – Crowning A Champion – 27th July 2002
This is the first Ring Of Honor show I ever saw. Back in 2002 I’d heard a lot about ROH. The internet buzzed after the initial Ki/Daniels/Dragon 3-way, and subsequent shows were well received too. But it was the reaction to the Iron Man main event of this show that finally led to be caving, finding a tape dealer (yes, piracy does help get people into ROH – I now own every show) and putting an order for this, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tonight’s main event, as mentioned, and as is pretty obvious from the name of the show, will crown the first ever ROH Champion. Low Ki, Christopher Daniels, Spanky and Doug Williams will compete for 60 minutes in what promises to be a classic. That’s a loaded main event, but in classic ROH fashion, that may well leave the undercard a little lacking. There’s no American Dragon tonight, no Red, no Donovan Morgan etc etc. Intriguing draws on the undercard include the Natural Born Sinners and the Carnage Crew clashing in a Bunkhouse Match, and AJ Styles defending the TNA X-Division Title against two of his fellow NWA-Wildside athletes. Next show we move to Boston but for now, we remain in Philadelphia, PA. On commentary is Steve Corino (who sounds like he’s talking on a cellphone) and Donnie B (who, interestingly, is the brother of Simon ‘Nova’ Dean).
Low Ki opens the show with an in-ring promo way before the fans arrive. He talks about his history, and all his stellar matches thus far. He ends it with a warning for his opponents tonight to be ready.
Steve Corino says the big question in ROH is what’s going on with him and Luscious. He’s a modest guy then. He says their relationship is personal, her stuff with the Prophecy is all business.
The Christopher Street Connection walk in on Brian XL, Izzy and Dixie partying in the locker room to trance music. Special K – combining Feinstein’s two passions. Lame trance and young boys.
Tony Mamaluke tries to get more FBI shirts from James Maritato who again tells him the gimmick is dead. The Natural Born Sinners come to talk to Maritato but Tony pisses them off, and Homicide challenges the former FBI to a match in Boston.
Jeremy Lopez vs Tony Mamaluke
Entrances clipped from the tape here to save time for the main event. Jeremy is debuting tonight. Apparently he’s toured Japan and impressed in Wildside. Mamaluke is back for his second appearance after losing to Jay Briscoe on his debut at show 3. He’s still wearing the FBI tights and doing the gimmick which annoys Maritato. It’s a shame he doesn’t wrestle like he used to in ECW really. Both are trained by Dean Malenko so I’m told.
Lopez dropkicks Mamaluke in the back of the head to round out a decent pure wrestling opening. Tony drop toeholds Lopez over the bottom rope then slingshots the ropes with a leg drop. Lopez blocks a back suplex and connects with a roaring forearm. He gets 2 with a neckbreaker. Crippler Crossface locked in to zero heat (as Corino is going on about how hot the fans are in the opening match). Mamaluke hiptosses him into a shortarm scissors. Lopez counters by lifting Tony over his head into a nice throw. Tornado DDT blocked allowing Jeremy to score with a tornado butterfly DDT. Sit-out powerbomb gets the debutant another 2. Standing switches before Mamaluke breaks out a double underhook implant DDT then applies a front choke for the submission victory at 07:22.
Rating – * – These two actually both looked like good wrestlers in this match. But they made no attempt to do anything decent in their 7 minutes. It was like a completely self-interested exhibition match where each guy took turns showing off cool things they can do. I’ve got no interest in seeing bland technical wrestlers do average things for no reason. And Mamaluke will never get over.
Divine Storm talk about their match with Da Hit Squad until Mase and Buff E. interrupt with tidings of bananas and to tell them that Brian XL is hanging with a new crew. Quiet Storm doesn’t care – neither do I. What the hell was the point of this?
Prince Nana/Jacobs Ladder vs Christian York/Joey Matthews
Ladder is Nana’s tattoo’d new man-servant. This is the only the fifth show and Nana is already on his fourth lackey – following Eric Tuttle, Elax and Simply Luscious. York and Matthews are 1-1 in ROH, and haven’t exactly set the world on fire thus far. Don’t expect them to start here. Alexis Laree (Mickie James) makes her ROH debut in their corner tonight.
Prince Nana says that nobody can hit him in the head tonight thanks to the injuries he got when being knocked out by Ki. After that he and Ladder jump their opponents from the bell. Jacobs nails a full nelson slam on York whilst Nana hits the RUNNING FAT ASS on Matthews. Nana misses a fatty enziguri on York, who is joined by his tag partner for a double enzi. Nana walks out after that. Matthews and York pin Ladder after a flapjack/leg drop combo at 01:44.
Rating – DUD – Pointless squash, awful match, pretty much the epitome of Nana’s in-ring career in ROH. Quite why they wasted time booking him is beyond me. He’s not even entertaining as an undercard comedy act.
The inexplicable antics of the Christopher Street Connection continue as they come out to the ring. Apparently they’re out here because Allison Danger has a crush on Alexis. She’s clearly homophobic since she lays out Allison. It breaks down into a brawl for no real reason. What’s the point???
Cut to earlier today with the TWA crew arriving after their long journey from Texas. That’s where Jacobs Ladder was from clearly. Michael Shane tells Don Juan to carry his bags…
Michael Shane/Bio-Hazard vs Paul London/Don Juan
I’m guessing ROH have realised that Shane is much better as a heel, judging from the last segment. This is another TWA tag match like at Era Of Honor Begins, where the winner gets an ROH contract. Don Juan is lame, but you shouldn’t know that yet since it’s his debut. Bio-Hazard got crushed by American Dragon in like two minutes last month. Michael Shane already holds victory over Paul London in the TWA Gauntlet Match at Night Of Appreciation.
Shane and London start with an immediate dynamic of Shane trying to ground the aerial specialist. CLIP to London hitting a somersault plancha on Shane and Bio on the floor. Moonsault press missed and Shane suplexes Paul into the turnbuckles for 2. ‘He’s a baked potato with legs’ – Corino on Rudy Boy. Hazard suplexes London on his head. Somersault headscissors buys London enough room to make the tag. Shane gives Don Juan a superplex for 2, then holds him in place for a second rope flipping neck snap by Hazard. Juan gets the knees up to block a moonsault then hits a DDT. Hot tag to London who DROPSAULT SPLASHES both opponents! Second rope moonsault on Shane gets 2. He walks straight into a superkick though. Bio misses another neck snap, but still manages to pin London. His own partner breaks up the pin – missed by both commentators. HAAS OF PAIN on Paul! Juan tries to pin Hazard, but moves out of the way so Shane lands a PICTURE PERFECT ELBOW on his partner. London breaks the pin this time. London hits a legsweep DDT on Hazard and pins him, but the referee counts the fall for Shane and Juan instead so Michael gets the contract at a clipped 08:32.
Rating – * – I’m not sure who was legal at the finish. To be honest, the match hadn’t drawn me in enough to help. Admittedly the clipping didn’t help but it just felt like a succession of spots to be honest. London looked a little exposed here as someone who can’t do a lot more than flippy moves, which basically left Michael Shane to carry it by himself – and he’s not that good. I enjoyed the way their own partners were breaking pins, and this one got over with the fans (since everyone loves London). I didn’t like though. This show has been lame thus far.
Michael Shane calls out Spanky and says he’s the Showstopper. London takes offence to that and tries to give him a London Star Press…but misses. Shane misses a Picture Perfect Elbow before Rudy Boy and other TWA grads break it up. Rudy says he’ll get then a singles match next month.
Divine Storm vs Da Hit Squad
Three tag matches in a row?? During the big, overly-long tag team brawl at Road To The Title, Quiet Storm got right in DHS’s face and told them that they ‘ain’t sh*t’, and can’t be the best tag team in ROH since they haven’t had a proper match yet. I guess this counts as their debut then? I’d love to see Storm hit STORM…CRADLE…DRIVER on either one of these guys! That would be funny…
Storm and Divine start screaming at Mafia and Monsta Mack again. Storm takes Mack down with an armbar which is quite impressive. Unfortunately he comes right back with a belly to belly suplex. Mafia goes for the Burning Hammer early but Divine crazily lifts him up instead for a DVD. He manages to get Mafia up for a spinebuster as well. Running Ace crusher blocked though, and Mack whips Mafia into a cannonball senton in the corner. Divine eats a cradle butterfly suplex then Monsta goes to the top rope for the FATTY FROG SPLASH! MIDGET FROG SPLASH gets Quiet Storm 2. He pulls Mafia off the top rope with an elevated Ace crusher. Burning Hammer blocked again but Mack kills Divine with a lariat. Storm gets speared out of the ring as Divine again shows awesome power by belly to belly suplexing Mack. He eats a brutal neck drop powerbomb and DHS pick up a victory at 04:34.
Rating – ** – Ordinarily I don’t think I’d go this high, but this show has been lame so far, and this match was at least entertaining. Fatties vs midgets made for some fun, and they packed as many spots as possible into a sub-5 minute match. Divine put in the best performance with his power moves, but after spending four shows building them up as killers, I don’t see the logic of putting them in there with two much smaller guys and letting the mini’s get so much offence in.
Xavier wishes Low Ki luck in his match tonight, and requests a title shot if he wins.
Jay Briscoe vs James Maritato
After the dross that we’ve seen thus far, this match suddenly seems like a potential MOTYC. Young Jay Briscoe has impressed everyone (except his brother Mark) with his efforts thus far, but has a miserable 1-3 record, beating only Maritato’s former tag partner Tony Mamaluke. Maritato lost his debut match but came back to win a triple threat against Xavier and Scoot Andrews last time we saw him. He’s looked like an awesome talent crying out to be booked with better opponents.
Maritato tries to use his superior wrestling skills but Jay looks up for this and tries to hang with him every step of the way. He attempts a DVD only for Maritato to counter into a tight Fujiwara armbar. Briscoe applies an STF to prove he knows submission holds too. CAPTURE STUNNER sends Maritato spinning across the ring. He tries to take Jay back to the mat with a cross armbreaker, but foolishly tries a springboard crossbody and eats canvas. Death Valley Driver nailed but Briscoe doesn’t even try a pin. ELECTRIC CHAIR GOURDBUSTER! Maritato pushes Jay away from the ropes and nails a crisp missile dropkick. At ringside Mark Briscoe seems to be cheering for Jay’s opponent. Maritato takes it to the ropes again and deservedly gets pegged with a SUPER gourdbuster. Jay tries a powerbomb but winds up dropping Maritato on his ass then getting dropkicked in the face. SICILIAN SLICE for 2! Jay goes for a neckbreaker, but quickly has to block the Kiss Of Death. Mark Briscoe walks out distracting Jay. KISS OF DEATH! At 08:31 TAFKA Little Guido gets the victory.
Rating – ** – Leveling with you guys – that was massively disappointing. Rather than walk the young Briscoe to a good match, Maritato seemed to descend to his level. Whilst that wasn’t bad it was nothing more than an array of spots, some good, some merely average. It got better as it went along but I was expecting a lot more. If they had this match in 2006 it’d be miles better.
Christopher Daniels cuts an awesome promo next – the best thing on the tape so far (almost an hour in). He complains about the Code Of Honor and his treatment so far in ROH. Tonight The Prophecy’s mission begins in earnest – when he wins the title. He will punish Low Ki for trying to murder him last show.
Elsewhere Doug Williams is warming up by stretching the sh*t out of some random jobber.
Natural Born Sinners vs Carnage Crew – Bunkhouse Match
At Era Of Honor Begins referee HC Loc disqualified the Sinners for using a rubber chicken on their opponent. Homicide and Boogalou reacted by stabbing him with a spike and beating the crap out of him. Loc’s response was to call up his friend, former member of Da Baldies Tony DeVito, and form the Carnage Crew to get revenge on them. They attacked the Sinners at Road To The Title and the challenge was extended for this match tonight.
Street clothes for everybody with all four guys intent on beating the sh*t out of each other. DeVito uses his own boot to smack Homicide about with. There’s barbed wire round one of the ringposts and he starts grinding Cide’s face into it. Soon it’s turned round with DeVito getting barbed wired. Homicide pulls out the ghetto fork next. There’s blood on the camera now. Loc Saito suplexes Homicide, so Boogalou does the same to him. On the floor DeVito is sticking it to Cide with a chair. Boogalou lays Loc out with a cowbell, whilst their partners continue to rough each other up at ringside. Homicide makes Loc squeal like a girl as he drives a belt buckle into his forehead. Back inside he gets 2 on DeVito with the American Wizard. Cop Killa blocked with a series of shortarm clotheslines then a suplex INTO the barbed wire turnbuckle. DeVito puts the wire on Cide’s torso. BARBED WIRE MOONSAULT! Loc tries to give him another Saito but eats an Ace crusher. Boogalou has the wire now and socks DeVito with a BARBED WIRE LARIAT! Loc is on the floor and takes a TOPE CON HILO THROUGH THE GUARDRAIL! BARBED WIRE CAMEL CLUTCH ON DEVITO! That’s one of the sickest finishes to a match ever. He taps at 09:36 with barbed wire in his mouth. Post-match the Crew retaliate by attacking the Sinners with hubcaps until Da Hit Squad make the save.
Rating – *** – Good wrestling match? Oh hell no, but for a sick, ultraviolent fight this was pretty well done. Lots of really violent stuff very efficiently conveyed the hatred between these two teams. I liked the way they ran this match more like a fight, less like a hardcore stunt show. I just reviewed Whitmer/Necro from War Of The Wire 2, and whilst it’s a great match, it came off like a series of really violent set-up spots as opposed to a vicious fight between two hated rivals. This Bunkhouse match covered that aspect really well.
Spanky takes time out to give his thoughts on the main event. He says Doug Williams has the size advantage and mystery factor, Daniels is a respected veteran, whilst Low Ki ‘looks like Nosferatu’ and has devastating kicks. But he’s got victories over both Daniels and Ki in the past, and whilst he’s never wrestled Doug, he’s been trained by William Regal and Robbie Brookside. He’s got heart – something none of them have. He lives for wrestling and will walk out champion tonight. Another top promo…
Mike Tobin complains that Rob Feinstein has booked him to team with Dunn & Marcos tonight whilst his partner in the Boogie Knights is injured.
AJ Styles vs Adam Jacobs vs David Young – TNA X-Division Title Match
Elimination rules in effect here, meaning it’ll take two pins to win. This is the first time the X-Division title has been defended outside of the TNA product. AJ said last show that he was bringing Jacobs and Young up as fellow representatives of NWA-Wildside to show what the southern wrestling scene is all about. He’s added to the prestige of this match by defending the fledgling X-Division title belt.
Jacobs whips Young into an AJ Styles heel kick, but soon falls victim to a sit-out powerbomb from the same man. Young with a hurricanrana on AJ with agility that belies his beer belly. Jacobs slingshots into a sunset flip on David, then gets laid out with an enziguri from the other man. Young and Styles brawl on the floor busting AJ open. ASAI MOONSAULT by Young! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA from Jacobs. Back in the ring the bleeding Styles nails the Phenom DDT on both men. Sayama kick on Jacobs, only to get German suplexed by David Young. He goes for the Styles Clash but Jacobs breaks it with a basement dropkick on Young. Spinebuster from Young to Jacobs. AJ WITH A F*CKING DRAGONRANA ON YOUNG! SPIRAL TAP eliminates him at 05:29. I wish Donnie B would stop calling that a ‘thingymajiggy’. A sweet swinging DDT gets Jacobs a 2 count. Styles lets him think he’s going for the Clash but instead switches to a Boston crab. Adam cuts off a second Spiral Tap attempt but idiotically goes for a frankensteiner. SUPER STYLES CLASH! AJ retains at 07:59.
Rating – *** – Not very good by recent standards, but this was 2002, and compared to any of the other wrestling on this show it’s a masterpiece. Essentially it was the tried and trusted jam as many spots into a short space of time so it doesn’t get boring technique – something I’ve noticed happens a lot in early ROH matches. This was my first ever look at AJ Styles and I remember being amazed by him at the time. Anybody that was doing a dragonrana outside of the Smackdown video games was ok by me! Jacobs and Young barely got a chance to do anything, although Young looked moderately better, purely because he’s bigger.
Stephen DeAngelis pimps the next Philly show. It’ll feature a tournament to crown the first Tag Champions, plus debuts for Steve Corino and Michael Modest (except Corino took a Japan booking instead). Rudy Boy Gonzalez comes out to complain about how much Corino buries him on commentary. He books American Dragon vs Steve Corino for the next Philadelphia event in September. Too bad it didn’t take place until October 2005.
The next two matches are clipped up too much to bother rating. Mike Tobin, Dunn & Marcos beat Brian XL, Dixie and Black Gordman in a 6-man. If Izzy was backstage why wasn’t he in this match? Gordman hasn’t been seen since…and then we could’ve considered it the official debut of Special K. Dixie and XL start beating up their own partner leading to Dunn pinning Gordman with a leg drop. A huge black guy comes out and murders all three of them after the match? It all makes sense in time…
The second clip-show is Scoot Andrews vs Xavier – if Scoot loses he leaves ROH. Again it looks as though these two had another boring dud to be honest. The crowd heat seems minimal and even in clips it doesn’t seem very entertaining. Xavier bleeds, blown finish, Scoot wins with the Force Of Nature
Carnage Crew are pissed off with Mafia and Monsta Mack. They challenge Da Hit Squad to a Boston Massacre Match when ROH invades the Boston area in August.
SIDENOTE – This is July in Philadelphia in a small building without any air conditioning. Temperatures in the cramped Murphy Recreation Centre reach in excess of 100 degrees tonight. Something to bear in mind when you enjoy the amazing efforts of the four men in the epic main event.
Low Ki vs Spanky vs Doug Williams vs Christopher Daniels – ROH Title Iron Man Match
Note the unique point-scoring rules of this match. The winner of a fall gets 2 points, whilst the loser loses 1. Meaning we could get people on minus points. The set up for this has been masterful. Low Ki and Christopher Daniels are positioned as arch-rivals, one the staunch upholder of the Code Of Honor, a respectful and disciplined fighter. The other a sneaky, cunning asshole determined to disrespect the promotion and it’s wrestlers. Spanky is undefeated and has beaten everyone put before him with his devastating Sliced Bread #2. Since show one he’s impressed everyone and risen up the card with a series of awesome performances. Doug Williams comes in as the unknown quantity. The exceptional wrestler who became a star in one night by beating Jay Briscoe and American Dragon. I imagine his role would’ve been taken by Dragon had Danielson not been booked elsewhere. He’s a more than capable replacement I assure you. Settle yourselves down because this one is a cracker.
Daniels dives to the floor to avoid wrestling Low Ki. Doug Williams immediately grabs his legs with Ki’s vicious kicking power in mind. But it’s early so he’s still feeling Ki out, going after the arm as well. He continues to stop the fire power of Low Ki with an inverted surfboard. Spanky tags and is seriously over tonight. He’s also deadly serious it seems. Doug throws him away having out-wrestled him which brings Daniels in. Doug is wowing this crowd with his amazing chaining ability as well. Having made his point with all three opponents he tags out to Spanky who continues to work over Daniels’ arm. Daniels drops him with an extreme back suplex then tags out to Low Ki – conveniently meaning he won’t have to wrestle him himself. Spanky launches a violent assault on Ki’s right (kicking) leg at the 10 minute mark and quickly tags out to Williams to continue working the body part. Now he’s injured Daniels is fine with getting in the ring with Ki. All three of them are doing a number on the right leg of Low Ki. Ki goes for the Dragon Clutch out of desperation on Spanky but can’t lock it in. He wisely gets out of the ring, and Williams attacks the Fallen Angel’s arm again. Spanky does the same thing, wrapping it in the ropes to do so. Daniels tries to soften up his neck with neckbreakers…and yet again in comes Doug Williams to follow up on an injury. Ki in only for Williams to crank on his leg again. Daniels invades the ring to take a few cheap shots on his fallen adversary as he continues to be a complete bastard. TORTURE DEVICE standing horse collar submission rips apart Ki’s leg some more. Low Ki snaps the neck of Spanky that Chris Daniels started working over, and Daniels blind tags him out just to piss him off. A brainbuster inflicts more punishment, and it’s followed by a bridging camel clutch. Spanky escapes that by going to the arm. Everyone but Doug has injuries now. Low Ki finally gets to work with Daniels…CAPO KICK! He sets up for the Krush Combo but his normal leg hurts so he switches to the left side. CHOPBLOCK ON THE RIGHT KNEE! The psychology in this match is beautiful. Daniels gives out of the way and Spanky dropkicks Low Ki. REVOLUTIONS DDT from Williams to Daniels. SLICED BREAD #2 ON DOUG! KI TIGER SUPLEXES SPANKY! DANIELS FLATLINERS KI! 25 minutes in and all four men are a mess. Ki looks for the Tidal Krush…DANIELS BLOCKS IT WITH ANOTHER CHOPBLOCK! LAST RITES! He pins Low Ki at 25:31 to get 2 points and put Ki to -1.
Spanky hits a Saito suplex on Daniels for 2 as Ki lies in a heap on the floor. Williams puts him in a camel clutch to batter his neck again. Daniels can’t suplex Doug because his arm is f*cked and the Anarchist is like…Fujiwara armbar for you b*tch. Spanky tags again and Fallen Angel goes to the neck again – this time with a DDT. They switch between a neck vice and an armbar in case you missed the point that they’re both injured. Williams tries to make Daniels tap with a cross armbreaker as Low Ki finally gets back onto the apron. Corino breaks kayfabe on commentary and says Daniels is Curry Man. Revolutions DDT attempt blocked this time with a sit-out powerbomb. You can’t hit the same move twice! Daniels is still selling the arm so he can’t execute a piledriver on Spanky. Williams makes that worse still with a shortarm scissors. Keeping Ki out of the ring when he’s on -1 means that, if Daniels can keep the other two opponents at bay he’ll guarantee himself the title. Daniels and Spanky decide Doug has been dominant enough and try to open up his back with a slingshot hilo/backbreaker combo. CHAOS THEORY ON SPANKY…but no way will Daniels allow the fall. KOJI CLUTCH for Doug. KI BREAKS IT WITH AN EARLY VERSION OF THE GHETTO STOMP! He rolls out selling the leg then tags with a chop on Daniels. Dragon Clutch blocked and Williams hits a running Gory Special on him into the turnbuckles. Ki tries a swinging rana from the top rope then traps Williams in a triangle choke – but he’s too strong. Williams tries the Chaos Theory not knowing Spanky has blind tagged. CHAOS THEORY BUT KI FLIPS INTO THE DRAGON CLUTCH ON SPANKY! AT 42 MINUTES SPANKY TAPS! Low Ki is back up to 1 point, but Daniels leads with 2. Fallen Angel has no choice but to get in with Ki – Lionsault TO THE LEGS! Spanky is desperate now (at -1 points) but MISSES a frog splash. TORNADO PEDIGREE! Trips would be so pissed that it only got 2!
Williams repeatedly slams Spanky’s head against the mat as everyone starts getting a little manic with 45 minutes gone. Ki pins Daniels but Doug breaks it with the BOMB SCARE KNEE DROP! Ki tries Kawada kicks but his leg is too injured. RAPID FIRE HEADBUTTS INSTEAD! HELL F*CKING YES! Daniels STO’s Doug. BEST MOONSAULT EVER ONLY GETS 2! Low Ki tries the springboard enziguri but when he gets caught he drags Williams into BITE OF THE DRAGON! All four men in the ring again. SLICED BREAD ON WILLIAMS! Daniels falls to the floor with Spanky. KI TRIES THE PHOENIX SPLASH…AND ALMOST LANDS ON HIS HEAD AND DIES! HOLY F*CKING SH*T! He still pins Williams to take a 3-2 points lead with 11 minutes to go. Daniels and Ki are just going at it now. They trade chops and wipe each other out with clotheslines. Daniels misses the BME. Ki goes for the Phoenix Splash but GETS THE KNEES! Spanky attempts Sliced Bread…KI WITH A TOMBSTONE! Daniels goes Curry Man on Spanky and gives him the SPICY DROP! Doug is back and piledrives Daniels for 2. TIDAL KRUSH BLOCKED WITH A LIGERBOMB! Spanky tries to superplex Ki and gets thrown off. 450 SPLASH BY LOW KI…BUT HE HURT HIS OWN KNEES! Spanky recovers to FROG SPLASH Daniels. This is completely wild now – 5 minutes on the clock. Kendrick nails Ki with a back drop driver. SOMERSAULT PESCADO on Williams! Daniels goes crazy trying to pin Low Ki and get his win back. STROKE FOR 2! Williams hits a REVOLUTIONS DDT OFF THE DAMN APRON on Spanky! They’re out of this now at -1 points and less than two minutes to go. Daniels can’t hit Angel’s Wings because of his bad arm. One minute left…DRAGON CLUTCH ON KI! CAN HE HOLD ON??? The fans are begging him to. He’s fighting it. 10 SECONDS…LAST RITES ON DANIELS! TIME LIMIT EXPIRES! 60 MINUTES GONE! LOW KI WINS! LOW KI WINS!
Rating – ***** – Get off your asses, give these men a standing ovation. That match still stands up today as a stunning and simply epic effort today. Psychologically perfect, multiple stories relevant from start to finish, brilliant mat-wrestling, outstanding flashes of raw excitement and four men bringing everything together for a spectacular and enthralling climax. Doug Williams was the work horse of the match, being the key proponent of injuries on all three men. Spanky played the courageous outsider quite brilliantly, taking himself from impressive midcard guy to bonafide STAR. Unfortunately he’d be gone a couple of months later. The WWE, unsurprisingly, were already calling for him. The story of Low Ki vs Chris Daniels was done superbly. Daniels was a jerk, and when they finally got their hands on each other the crowd went nuts. Low Ki’s performance was awesome – the leg injury meant he couldn’t use the kicks he’d built his matches around, so he changed it up. He took to the skies, he did whatever it took to win. There was some weird legal man interpretations at times, a few selling issues, and the botched Phoenix Splash is terrifying, but there’s still easily enough to notch this to 5*. This is my favourite Ring Of Honor match ever. Despite all the later classics that came along (many of which are technically better matches) this still stands proud as THE match that hooked me on the wrestling product I still enjoy and follow almost religiously four years later. I stand in absolute wonder at the sensational efforts of Ki, Daniels, Spanky and Williams in 100 degree heat.
This one gets the standing ovation treatment of course, and a deserved ‘match of the year’ chant. Everyone shakes hands except Daniels who walks out furious that he didn’t get pinned and still lost.
Ki is the last to leave, and he starts crying as he gets through the curtain. He dedicates the match to the memory of Russ Haas. A classy gesture from someone who is so quickly labelled an “asshole”…
Jay Briscoe yells at his brother for laughing at him. Jay challenges him to a match next month since they’re in Boston and there’s no law against a 17 year old wrestling. Mark agrees…
Christopher Daniels berates a passing referee. He’s still complaining that he pinned Low Ki, didn’t get pinned himself and still isn’t champion. Daniels says he was screwed…
Tape Rating – ** – ROH’s early shows have a reputation for being one match cards. This one is about as one match as it gets. But WHAT a damn match. It earns 2* overall rating by itself. You’re buying this show for the main event and it delivers on all accounts, and when it takes up more than an hour of a three hour show you really can’t complain that you’re not getting your moneys worth. Most of the undercard is flat-out awful, but the Bunkhouse and X-Division matches are worth a gander. I’m tempted to rate the whole show at 3* just for the main event (which is 2002 MOTY for me), but I do need to show just how poor everything else is. It’s a case of all the talent being loaded into the main event, leaving it spread pretty thin for every other match. American Dragon was sorely missed for instance. We move to August next as ROH leaves the Murphy Rec for the first time and debuts in Boston.
Top 3 Matches
3) AJ Styles vs Adam Jacobs vs David Young (***)
2) Natural Born Sinners vs Carnage Crew (***)
1) Low Ki vs Christopher Daniels vs Doug Williams vs Spanky (*****)