ROH 015 – Expect The Unexpected – 15th March 2003
Ring Of Honor is fresh off it’s hottest show to date. The First Anniversary event was easily the most well-rounded release they’ve put out to date and it leaves us with a number of intriguing things progressing into year two of the ROH dynasty. There’s the brewing feud between The Prophecy and Steve Corino’s group which has potential (although it ended up going unrealised). Homicide has been elevated to being a real player since he too has issues with Corino & co. Raven debuts tonight and CM Punk has already let it be known that he doesn’t like him. There’s a ton of new talent to get excited about like Colt Cabana, Matt Stryker, BJ Whitmer, the emergence of Special K plus there’s still all the old favourites like Low Ki, AJ Styles, Paul London and so on. Plus there’s a race to be the guy that FINALLY ends the reign of unpopular champion Xavier. Lots to think about going into the second year of events then. Tonight’s main event has The Prophecy defending the tag belts – despite the fact that Donovan Morgan is still in Japan with NOAH. As mentioned, Raven debuts and CM Punk has already challenged him to a match. The #1 Contenders Trophy is on the line again, this time in a four-way featuring Homicide and Samoa Joe so that should be heated. There’s also a 6-man tag with Low Ki and Da Hit Squad aiming to beat some respect into Special K. This show takes place in another new building, but its back in the Boston market. This is Cambridge, MA. Hosts are Lovey and Murrow.
TOP 5 RANKINGS
1) Vacant (nobody holds the #1 Contenders Trophy)
2) Bryan Danielson
3) Steve Corino
4) Low Ki
5) CM Punk
(ROH is introducing rankings to see who challenges for title matches and so on. They also try to get over the idea that “just being in the Top 5” is prestigious…)
Christopher Daniels congratulates Xavier for beating Paul London in New York. Xavier doesn’t care who wins the #1 contenders four-way later, because he’ll beat them anyway. The Prophecy said they’ll defend the Tag Championship as a group, so tonight Daniels has to defend them without Donovan Morgan. But he’s fine with that because Xavier is a fine replacement. He says despite everything that’s changed in ROH, The Prophecy still hold all the titles. Allison Danger b*tches at Steve Corino too…
Matt Stryker vs Chad Collyer
Rematch from Revenge On The Prophecy when Collyer made Stryker tap to his cloverleaf. These guys are both solid mat wrestlers and they won over the crowd in West Mifflin so I suppose having them go at it again was really inevitable. The graphics for this show are amusingly indie…
The crowd seems lively tonight. Collyer and Stryker take it to the mat as the announcers INSANELY over-exaggerate how good they are. They do put together decent, fluid sequences though. Collyer eventually grabs Matt’s legs, which is really what he needs to do to prepare for the Cloverleaf. Groan…he goes back to the arm after that, stomping it into the mat. Stryker counters to an STF which is his first memorable offensive move of the match. Chad puts him in an armbar to stop that, so Stryker comes up with a dragon screw. He uses the Strykerlock for the first time but way too close to the ropes. That scare forces Collyer to go back to the leg with a shinbreaker. Stryker kicks his way free of leg submission work but needs the ropes to stand up. Chad kicks his leg again and puts on a horizontal bow and arrow. ‘Please tap out’ – Boston. Now he’s hurt Stryker just starts lashing Collyer with forearms, but he misses a knee strike and hurts himself on the turnbuckles. Cloverleaf locked in…but Stryker gets the bottom rope. Collyer grabs an arm hold instead, thinking maybe that arm work from earlier will get him a win. It doesn’t though. Stryker sunset flips out of another shinbreaker for 2, then annoys me by no-selling the leg to hit a jumping heel kick. He goes for a DVD then a hurricanrana. Is this guy an idiot? Toilet Flush pin gets Collyer 2. They’re just going back and forth with nearfalls now. Stryker applies the anklelock because he can’t use his leg for the Strykerlock. Collyer Cloverleaf blocked with a pin, then Matt goes to the anklelock again. Chad rolls through a sunset flip into the COLLYER CLOVERLEAF! Stryker taps at 16:06.
Rating – ** – There was more good stuff here, but also far more bad. I didn’t like how one-sided it was, although in fairness, I thought Stryker looked pretty bad for large parts. Credit Chad Collyer for putting a decent performance though. I didn’t like the arm work when his finisher works the legs, but at least he followed up on it later in the contest. Neither of these guys are particularly exciting which would ultimately limit them in what they could go on to achieve, but it was a solid opening bout.
Mafia seems pissed off and yells at Low Ki and Monsta Mack. They get it together enough for Ki to tell Special K they’re going to MAKE them show respect tonight. Mafia then interrupts him. Low Ki is unhappy off that Homicide is bringing thugs into ROH again…whatever that means.
Slim J vs Amazing Red
Special K are really getting some big matches on this show. ROH thought Slim J had a lot of potential as a high-flier. That’s why he’s getting the chance to wrestle the top flier in ROH now – Amazing Red. He’s fresh back from touring AJPW. J is accompanied by Slugger and another new guy – Hijinx. He’s only ever remembered for Rob Feinstein having a man crush on him…
Slim J shows an ability to hit headscissors’ from a number of positions. Red gets pissed off that J won’t shake his hand and lariats him so hard Slim flips and lands on his face. RUNNING SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! Red clocks Hijinx as well for good measure. He strings together a few dropkicks as Lovey reveals that AJ Styles has chosen him as the replacement for Paul London as his partner. SECOND ROPE corkscrew enzi gets Slim a 2. He follows that with a cool grounded flipping neckbreaker. He tries an electric chair move only for Red to counter it with a reverse rana. Slim J gets 2 with a cradle DDT. A springboard reverse DDT gets a nearfall too. Slugger grabs Red’s boot allowing J to hit an REVERSE CODE RED! Red comes back with the tornado facebuster from the second rope. F-5! Slim kicks out at 2. I miss Brock Lesnar. J tries a moonsault but Red catches him with an Ace crusher. Slim J blocks the reverse rana that Red tried earlier, but he still takes a corkscrew enzi then the RED STAR PRESS! Slugger grabs Red again and gets kicked in the face. INVERTED STYLES CLASH! Red takes it at 12:02.
Rating – ** – I don’t really think Slim J is ready for a singles match and it was exposed here. Not that this was totally bad since the spot work was all decent…there just wasn’t a whole lot stringing it together. Red is good but he isn’t the man to get an 18 year old spot merchant to a decent match. There’s potential in him though. Put it this way, he’s better than Angeldust.
Slugger isn’t happy about being kicked and gives Red the Bodybag…
Gary Cappetta brings out CM Punk. He comes out to cut the most important promo he’s had to date. He’s skilled enough to turn heel in a single promo with his ‘Straight Edge means I’m better than you’ routine. He also says Raven isn’t here tonight – which is lucky because he would’ve sucked like Konnan. He walks out…AND RAVEN IS RIGHT BEHIND THE CURTAIN! They argue about whether their match should be normal rules or Raven’s Rules. In the end they decide that if Raven can survive 10 minutes of a wrestling match then it’ll become Raven’s Rules. Punk then tries to start a fight but runs away before falling victim to the Raven Effect.
Carnage Crew vs Backseat Boyz vs AJ Styles vs SAT – Scramble MatchThe winner of this match gets the Tag Title shot in the main event tonight. AJ Styles had to pick a replacement partner since his original choice (Paul London) was taken to hospital needing emergency surgery. Unfortunately he’s reduced to wrestling solo since now his replacement is hurt courtesy of Slugger. SAT lost to The Prophecy at Final Battle so probably wouldn’t turn down a second shot. The Backseatz are set to be more regular in 2003 apparently, and this is Carnage Crew’s first Scramble.
Acid and Jose start, and it’s Maximo that gets the upper hand. Trent counters a bulldog into a Blue Thunder driver. Kashmere hits a mid-air spear on Loc which looks pretty badass. AJ comes in and SCHOOLS El Chunko on the mat. Joel responds by botching a hurricanrana. See why I hate the SAT? Joel avoids the quebrada inverted DDT so AJ kicks him out. PHENOM DDT ON THE FLOOR! Jose comes out to flatten him with a tope suicida, and Loc comes out too with a CANNONBALL SENTON from the apron. Stereo somersault planchas from the Backseatz come next before DeVito goes upstairs. FATTY MOONSAULT ONTO EVERYONE! Fat Joel stutters a little but comes up with a running swanton. AJ has snuck back into the ring. SPRINGBOARD LONDON STAR PRESS TO THE FLOOR! I say LSP because he yelled out Paul London before doing it. Spear/suplex combo by the Crew on Johnny K. Styles gets low-bridged to the floor by Trent, who comes in to give Jose the Yakuza kick. Dream Sequence on El Chunko. Loc seems to try a Stratusfaction on Joel but gets elevated over the top rope. Jose goes upstairs…MOONSAULT/NECKBREAKER COMBO! AJ gets 2 with an ocean cyclone/rear gourdbuster combo. HAMMERLOCK DRIVER on Acid. Joel stops him hitting the Spiral Tap, but the Crew stop them doing the Spanish Fly. T-GIMMICK ON LOC! The SAT save. AJ grabs Jose and pins him with a folding powerbomb at 12:16.
Rating – ** – I’ll admit to quietly enjoying that scramble. The dive sequence in particular was a lot of fun. I’m not saying it’s the greatest wrestling match of all time, and the SAT looked particularly lousy but still. The Carnage Crew brought an interesting new flavour to this type of match (kinda like Da Hit Squad did when they started doing them) so I’d like to see more of them in Scrambles. AJ, of course, was easily in a class of his own.
The Outcast Killaz come out and yell at the SAT…who kick their asses. Ummmm, why?
Special K vs Low Ki/Da Hit Squad
In theory Special K are Deranged, Dixie and Angeldust but as usual there are more members running around (I spy at least Hydro, Slim J and Brian XL). Low Ki has requested to work with Special K this month because he thinks they’ve got potential but need to learn respect. His partners tonight have had issues with the group in the past too.
Deranged mocking Low Ki’s fighting posture is another touch of comic genius that guy. Julius Smokes is in the crowd. A TRIO of somersault planchas from the Special K guys catch the Brooklyn crew before they even make the ring. They go for a second dive series which ends with Angeldust and Dixie getting slammed on the floor, and Deranged taking a capo kick through the ropes. Monsta Mack lifts Deranged into a JUMPING DEATH KICK! Mafia continues the demolition by cradle suplexing Deranged clean through Dixie. Dixie gets suplexed into the turnbuckles by Mack too. Angeldust tries to trade strikes with Ki and gets suitably mullered. It doesn’t help that he sucks and Ki gets pissed off every time he almost screws up. He tries a few kicks but Ki just ignores those and TURNS HIS SPINE TO MULCH! Not content with that Ki tree of woes him to batter him there as well. HANGING DRAGON! Mafia is so strong that he suplexes both Angeldust and Dixie at the same time. In the end it takes interference by Hydro and Slim J to turn the tables. Deranged heaves Mafia to the outside and distracts the ref whilst everyone else gets some cheap licks in. CRADLE DRAGON SUPLEX ON DIXIE! KOBASHI SUPLEX ON ANGELDUST! Hot tag to Ki, and he quickly kicks Brian XL off the apron when he tries to interfere. Hydro tries to interfere so Ki KRUSH RUSHES Deranged into him. Meanwhile DHS squish Angeldust in the corner. Slim J tries to bring a chair in and gets positioned on top of Dust. Mack goes to the top rope…UGLIEST SCREWED UP VAN TERMINATOR EVER! You fat idiot! Thankfully ROH did a nice clip job and covered it as a “Van Terminator headbutt”. Deranged uses a chair as this has become a huge mess. Eventually all of Special K get involved and that’s enough for them to be DQ’d at 13:13. But Low Ki gets up and says they don’t want a DQ victory. He demands the match is restarted, this time it’s 6-on-3! Special K try to run but Da Hit Squad drag them back up the aisle. Dixie offers Low Ki some ecstasy…and inexplicably he takes it. Rave music plays and Ki is apparently drugged up. Special K start dancing with his limp body…but he grins and spits the pill out, revealing he never swallows it. He grabs Dixie and does WHACKY NINJA SH*T with his cane. ALL OF SPECIAL K DOWN! TIDAL KRUSH! Mafia and Mack are back too. KI KRUSHA ON DIXIE! SCREWDRIVER ON ANGELDUST! BURNING HAMMER ON DERANGED! That’s it at 16:57.
Rating – *** – Well that certainly was different. This is unashamedly shilled as ROH trying sports entertainment…and for the most part it worked. It was a well worked 6-man in that Special K were utterly massacred unless they cheated – which was both obvious and very believable. Monsta Mack’s butt ugly f*ck up hurt the match, but it was covered well. The ending was…well a little silly, but Low Ki going ninja and using Dixie and his cane to obliterate all the other kids was awesome. Fair play to the Special K kids – especially Angeldust. They’re clearly going to be a big part of ROH in 2003 and I’d say this match constitutes them paying their dues. They were absolutely brutalised…
INTERMISSION – This is the first conventional ROH intermission segment with GMC. He’s with the Carnage Crew, who seemed to enjoy their first Scramble. They also don’t care about the fact that the Christopher Street Connection and the Texas Wrestling Academy have beef with them. Later Cappetta is with Raven as he approaches Trinity and convinces her to be his valet tonight.
Dunn & Marcos vs Quiet Storm/Ghost Shadow
Where the hell is Divine? Ghost Shadow is back after looking nothing more than average in the lucha trios match at Revenge On The Prophecy (where he faced Quiet Storm). Dunn & Marcos are lovable as ever. They also seem to have picked up a male groupie…
Storm and Shadow double team Marcos until he sends Shadow into the buckles. Assisted Shiranui by the ring crew. Ghost pulls Dunn out of the corner into a running Musclebuster. SPINAL SHOCK on Marcos. Dunn takes Shadow out with the Gory Driver. Together Storm and Ghost attack Marcos’ leg, and Storm wins it with a leglock at 03:50.
Rating – DUD – Nothing but a popcorn jobber match. Quiet Storm always looks a lot worse when he’s not wrestling familiar opponents (i.e. the Maximos).
CM Punk vs Raven – Raven’s Rules Match
Remember, Raven says he’ll WRESTLE Punk for 10 minutes before going hardcore. Punk objects to Raven being in ROH due to his alcohol and drug-ridden past. It offends the Straight Edge beliefs of Punk, and as soon as he heard he was coming in, a challenge for a match was issued.
Punk throws out a few hiptosses then sits in the corner a’la Raven to bring some mind games too. Raven comes back with armdrags then dropkicks Punk over the ropes. TWISTING PESCADO! Raven is unrelenting and keeps the punishment coming with a flipping neck snap. Punk has been comprehensively out-wrestled and he runs out of the ring. Punk tries to bring a chair in because Raven got the better of “his style” of match. He uses that, then we go into a brawl around ringside, breaking several sections of guardrail in the process. Back inside Punk whips Raven into a chair set up in the corner. To the outside again where Punk takes a pretty sizeable suplex bump on the wooden floor. Punk tries a top rope leg drop and misses, leaving both men down. Raven is bleeding (from a TNA wound to clarify – not from this match) and Punk capitalises by working a sleeper. Discus clothesline by the former ECW Champion, then the clothesline/bulldog corner combo for 2. Punk misses a missile dropkick and gets put in a sloppy Scorpion Deathlock. Raven tries to get a table but Punk dropkicks it into him. He shows he’s a heel by slinging Trinity into the railings for good measure. TOPE SUICIDA on the bloody Raven. Trinity is on the top rope…MOONSAULT PRESS ON PUNK! Punk responds by hammering on Raven with a chair, THEN LEG DROPPING TRINITY THROUGH THE TABLE! This is so ECW right now. Punk gets 2 with a Crappy Wizard. EVENFLOW DDT ON RAVEN! He applies his new submission hold – the Devil Lock – but Raven gets the ropes. Punk accidentally wipes out the referee. Between this and the Special K match I’m wondering if this is an ROH show at all. Raven hits his drop toehold on a chair but there’s no pinfall of course. Punk low blows Raven and forces him to tap to the Devil Lock at 18:49.
Rating – *** – That match was a total throwback to ECW. That means that whilst it may not have been a technical masterpiece, and whilst it may have been totally overbooked, it was totally entertaining. Raven turned up with his working boots on and busted his ass to impress the demanding ROH fans and put Punk over. All he wanted was an opportunity to show that he could still hang, and I’d say that (in his own way) he succeeded. He’s a limited worker but also a natural foil for CM Punk, and the feud that has begun at this show definitely has some legs. Punk gave a brilliant heel performance tonight. I wouldn’t argue with you if you said this was the best match in the Punk/Raven feud incidentally.
Raven is man enough to shake hands, but Punk kicks him and continues a brawl. The referee stops the Evenflow allowing Punk to escape, so Raven nails him with it instead.
BJ Whitmer vs EZ Money vs Samoa Joe vs Homicide – #1 Contenders Trophy Match
Winner challenges Xavier at Night Of Champions next weekend. The main issue here is obviously between Joe and Cide. Samoa Joe joined Steve Corino’s group at the First Anniversary Show, and Homicide hates Corino. Indeed, the New York riot all came about after a Homicide/Corino match. EZ Money probably earned a spot in this after winning a four-way the same night in Queens. Quite why BJ is in this is anybody’s guess. This is only his second match. Homicide’s thugs are in the crowd again (Julius Smokes, Becky Bayless and Benny Blanco). This is also the first time Homicide uses the recognisable music you see him with today. Well…sort of. He uses a 50 Cent song that uses the same sample anyway…
EZ and BJ start and they look incredibly similar. They do the standard opening stuff then make the tags everyone wants to see to Joe and Homicide. Homicide hits a running forearm in the corner, but goes for it a second time and takes the ST-JOE! Whitmer in and Homicide traps him in the corner for a charging knee. EZ flips in with a Money Clip clothesline then puts Whitmer in a pendulum swing. Joe reels off the chop/kick combo then shows EZ how to do a submission by applying the Samoan crab. Money gets 2 with a twisting suplex. BJ blocks Homicide’s lariat and hits a DRAGON SUPLEX for 2. Cide throws him outside…TOPE CON HILO! TOPE SUICIDA from Joe. Money rounds it out with a top rope plancha. He blocks Homicide’s attempted super rana and counters with a blockbuster. STIFF ASS STRIKE EXCHANGE between Joe and Homicide. Homicide tries the Kurt Angle triangle choke powerbomb counter…so Joe kills him with KNEE STRIKES! T-BONE SUPLEX ON WHITMER NO SOLD! EXPLODER ON HOMICIDE NO SOLD! SCOOP TOMBSTONE! Whitmer stays down that time! Joe puts BJ in the STF only for Homicide to break it. Money tries a moonsault but gets Whitmer’s knees. Homicide gets 2 on Joe with the Ace crusher. He kicks Joe in the balls and applies HIS STF…but EZ breaks. CHA-CHING for Homicide! Whitmer blocks the Money Clip and the Cha-Ching. EXPLODER ’98 but both Joe and Cide stop the pin. SAMOAN KNEE OF DOOM on Homicide! HEAD DROP GERMAN BY EZ! Idiotically he tries the Cha-Ching on Joe. CHOKE! Money taps at 16:34. Joe’s going to Philadelphia to challenge Xavier.
Rating – *** – Well that was thrilling. Technically perfect…definitely not. Good legal man enforcement…so very not. But hey, I love the four-man offensive splurges in these matches. Samoa Joe and Homicide didn’t touch each other all that often but when they did it really clicked. BJ and EZ were really nothing more than enhancement talents for the other two, but they played their part. I’m not a fan of EZ Money in singles matches but like I said at the last show, he’s got more than enough good spots for this sort of contest.
The match is over but Joe and Homicide are still in each other’s faces. This all ends up in a somewhat stupid send-up of the New York riot as the locker room empties to stop Smokes, Blanco and Becky, as Homicide and Joe brawl so hard they tear the curtains down. This all comes off as kinda dumb to me. There are lots of great Gabe shrieking scenes though…
Christopher Daniels/Xavier vs AJ Styles/Amazing Red – ROH Tag Title Match
When they won the Tag championship at Unscripted Chris Daniels declared that “The Prophecy” were champions and will defend the belts as a group. That’s why they were defended in a 6-man at All Star Extravaganza, and that’s why they’re being defended tonight even though Donovan Morgan is in Japan. Essentially it’s ROH using one of The Prophecy’s own loopholes against them. AJ was originally going to team with Paul London tonight with the mission of getting the titles away from the faction – whom they both dislike. However, with London out he’s called upon Amazing Red, who has recovered from Slugger’s Bodybag earlier. The babyfaces have Alexis Laree in their corner, since she doesn’t like The Prophecy either. She’ll counteract the threat of Allison Danger.
The Prophecy put the boots to their opponents from the bell, but AJ and Red recover by Styles leapfrogging Red into a DOUBLE dropkick! STEREO SOMERSAULT PLANCHAAAAAAS! Red flew with such velocity he ended up in the crowd. Xavier starts throwing him across the ring just like he did in their Road To The Title match last June. He shakes off a few kicks only to be rocked with a CORKSCREW ENZIGURIIIII! Red makes it worse with a satellite DDT for 2. Xavier seems to have been knocked a little goofy with that enzi. AJ and Daniels bring the usual good sh*t against each other. Styles hits the nip-up rana and then a nice hiptoss slam for 2. Red gives the Fallen Angel a 718 into an AJ somersault senton for 2. Daniels escapes after taking some punishment, but that puts the woozy Xavier in the line of fire for more shots to the head. COBRA SUPLEX! That puts Styles down and Daniels follows up on the neck with a swinging neckbreaker. HIGH LUNGBLOWER from Xavier, almost driving the knees right into the neck. Daniels elevates Styles on the ropes for an ACE CRUSHER/ELBOW DROP COMBO! AJ lands a desperation dropkick and gets the hot tag to Red. In the end he gets caught by Daniels, allowing Xavier to guillotine him over the top rope. AJ gets the tag and gives Daniels the Phenom. Suplex neckbreaker gets 2. Danger grabs his leg, and Styles hauls her into the ring for Alexis Laree to kick her ass. KISS YOUR X GOODBYE! CODE RED! AJ blocks Daniels’ blue thunder but Xavier turns up for a back suplex/neckbreaker combo. REVELATIONS ON RED! AJ comes in and clears the ring. Xavier is pretty much out on his feet, but AJ is unsympathetic and repeatedly kicks him. A brainbuster almost secures a title change. THUNDERFIRE DRIVER but Daniels breaks the pin. Red dives into a urinage slam then gets the BEST MOONSAULT EVER! Koji Clutch on Styles. The legal man enforcement here is non-existent. ANGELS WINGS…Red saves. Daniels tries to superplex him but Styles pulls him out of the corner. STYLES CLASH! That’s 3 at 21:10. But the finish was mildly screwed up thanks to Xavier being such a mess.
Rating – **** – If you can ignore some obvious flaws this is a really good tag encounter. This is 2003 ROH so nobody cares about the legal man rule. If you can remember that then you’ll be fine, and whilst that gets frustrating it leads to some hot exchanges and nearfalls. But that’s not the biggest problem – Xavier has to literally be walked through the match. He noticeably messes up on a few different spots, perhaps most obviously at the finish when he just didn’t turn up for Red to hit him with something thus confusing the referee. But in fairness, the guy was knocked out 5 minutes in and for somebody wrestling with a concussion, it could’ve been a lot worse. Like I said, this is good for what it is – a heated modern tag team match with the popular outcome of The Prophecy losing some gold at last. I think it’s a clear MOTN at least…
Homicide rants about The Group…but says he’ll have his homies watching his back permanently. To make that point Smokes and co. arrive to yell stupid ghetto crap.
Christopher Daniels refuses to cut a promo and runs the camera man off saying he was screwed.
CM Punk runs down Raven and claims he has the psychological advantage. He also says he has the advantage next week in Philadelphia, because Raven’s partner is Colt Cabana. Someone Punk knows better than anyone – and someone Raven can’t trust.
Tape Rating – *** – Maybe not the best show in terms of MOTYC’s…but I think it has enormous historical significance. The Punk/Raven feud begins in earnest here. It’s the beginning of the end of The Prophecy’s reign of terror over Ring Of Honor. But perhaps most importantly, it’s the first time ROH went to its traditional “format” with the intermission and two definite HALVES each with their own main event. Lets also not forget that it’s a very consistent show throughout. There’s only one bad match all night…that’s how solid it is. Raven/Punk, Prophecy/AJ&Red and the Special K 6-man are all well worth a look.
Top 3 Matches
3) Low Ki/Da Hit Squad vs Special K (***)
2) CM Punk vs Raven (***)
1) Christopher Daniels/Xavier vs AJ Styles/Amazing Red (****)