ROH 019 – Do Or Die – 31st May 2003
These days this actually a pretty famous ROH show, but going into it the promotion was getting heat for the card being seriously under-strength, without the likes of Danielson, Low Ki (who is now out with a broken collarbone), Paul London, Raven, AJ Styles and so on. Instead ROH used the opportunity to give a number of guys opportunities to shine (starting the “Do Or Die” concept which would spawn several afternoon pre-shows where new talent would be given similar opportunities). Dan Maff has his first singles match here. There are debuts for the likes of Jimmy Rave, Frankie Kazarian, Jason Cross and John Walters. The Backseat Boyz probably have their highest profile match since debuting in October. CM Punk makes his commentary debut here. You see where I’m going? Basically it got crapped on at the time but turned out way better than everyone expected and is now written into ROH folklore. We’re back (with the fancy new lights) in Philadelphia, PA. Chris Lovey and the aforementioned CM Punk handle commentary, but I think Ray Murrow pops up a few times too.
TOP 5 RANKINGS
1) Homicide (won the trophy at Round Robin Challenge 2 – title shot is tonight)
2) Christopher Daniels (is in second after winning the Round Robin Challenge)
3) Paul London (scored a singles win over Amazing Red at the last show before losing to Daniels)
4) Low Ki (falls a spot due to inactivity, and is now out injured)
5) CM Punk (drops to 5th after losing a #1 Contendership match with Homicide)
Homicide cuts a less-good version of his great promo at Final Battle 2002 and basically reiterates that the World Title means everything to him because he can make money and make a better life for him and his son. He promises a classic with Samoa Joe. Watching Julius Smokes in the background, he hasn’t changed his act even a single little bit in the last four years.
Special K are partying in the locker room (filmed on Deranged’s ‘R U Hizigh Cam’). They act like idiots and try to get the lighting guy to let them use the new light rig for a rave. The lights look really incredible tonight. This is the first show that vaguely resembles like modern day ROH events (right down to the sheet metal guardrails)…the production values have been noticeably upped.
BJ Whitmer vs Dan Maff
This match is a big deal to both competitors. Whitmer has been in ROH since the start of the year but hasn’t done a whole lot outside of winning a jobber fourway at Night Of Champions. He’ll be looking to get some momentum going here. Meanwhile this is Maff’s first match since DHS finally parted ways. He walked out on his old team to escape midcard mediocrity and elevate himself as a singles wrestler with The Prophecy. You’d think a win here would be a good start.
Maff slaps Whitmer in the face to prove he’s now a member of The Prophecy. He lights BJ up with a few massive chops but Whitmer comes back with an exploder suplex. Dan immediately heads to the floor but Whitmer pursues him up the aisle. He immediately starts testing out the new guardrails by flinging Maff into them repeatedly. Maff does the same thing right back then wisely brings it back into the ring to escape the unforgiving steel. BJ hits a series of chops and kicks but Dan clotheslines him right onto his neck. In the corner Maff thinks about the cannonball senton but it’s cut off with a jumping knee strike. Whitmer lands more knees to the head but gets caught with a HALF NELSON SUPLEX! He tries to get up…SO MAFF KOBASHI-PLEXES HIM AGAIN! Whitmer still isn’t dead and wriggles free of the Burning Hammer. He German suplexes Maff on his head then thinks it’ll be a good idea to go to the top rope. Allison Danger sneaks into the ring to crotch him. BURNING HAMMER! Maff wins at 09:10.
Rating – *** – Not a lot of psychology but it did its job as an opener and proves that in the right environment (i.e. stiff, head droppy undercard matches) both these two are viable singles wrestlers. They always had good chemistry with each other (both as opponents then later partners) and this is a good example of that. Nice way to start the show.
Julius Smokes appears to berate Maff for forgetting where he came from and joining The Prophecy. Lovey and Punk make a few jokes about having no clue what he’s saying. Ki comes out and despite only having one good arm, is still scary enough to force Maff to bail. He then turns his angry monkey face on Smokes and says he doesn’t belong in ROH. Homicide has to come out and separate them. This bizarre segment ends with Trent Acid appearing to Yakuza Kick Cide and bring their feud to yet another promotion (they’ve already fought in CZW and BJPW).
CLIPS – Special K (Hydro and Slugger) beat Dunn & Marcos in a dark match.
Tony Mamaluke vs Jason Cross
This contest would obviously fall under the “Do Or Die” banner. Jason Cross debuts having impressed in Wildside and in a few cameos on TNA. I imagine he’s mostly getting looked at because his finisher (the Crossfire) is a shooting star leg drop. This also makes the return of SERIOUS Tony. We haven’t seen him since Scramble Madness when he teamed with the laughable Matt Thompson against Da Hit Squad. He appears to be sticking to the vow he made to James Maritato though, and wants to get over as a SERIOUS wrestler rather than a comedy act.
Serious reversals and chaining gets the match started (without an opening bell which makes timing difficult). ‘The difference between backyarders and professional wrestlers is that backyarders wrestle in the backyard’ – Punk. Cross sends Mamaluke to the floor for a RUNNING CORKSCREW PLANCHA! He doesn’t have long to bask in his success though because Mamaluke pitches him into the railings. Somersault pescado wipes Tony out again and gets Cross a 2-count. Mamaluke drops him on his head with a Saito suplex then a HANGING DDT. He works on the neck to set up for the superplex front choke finish which I like. He then inexplicably switches to the leg, hitting a shinbreaker, a dragon screw then applying a horse collar. Cross dropkicks the knee for a FLIPPING UNPRETTIER! He then goes to the ropes for a flipping neckbreaker that gets 2. Punk is seriously ragging on Cross for not hooking the leg. Front guillotine choke by Mamaluke but Jason escapes by suplexing him into the turnbuckles. ROLLING BRAINBUSTERS…CROSSFIRE MISSES! No need to sell missing it though, he pops up to dragon suplex Mamaluke then go to the top again. Tony catches him for the superplex front choke (which I’m calling the SERIOUS STRETCH). Cross taps at 08:52.
Rating – ** – In all fairness, that really wasn’t so bad. It was certainly entertaining and watchable, but I think my only memory of this match will be that it was a great example of why both guys didn’t catch on and go places in ROH (I know Mamaluke won the tag belts, but that was like 2 years later, and he bombed then too). Cross was all spots and nothing else in terms of selling, psychology and so on. Mamaluke has the skills but as usual was totally unfocused and couldn’t hold Cross’ spotty tendencies together to make the match any better. CM Punk seriously KILLED Cross on commentary incidentally.
Rob Feinstein talks to Gabe about what promos to tape, but is interrupted by Iceberg who thanks him for the opportunity to wrestle tonight. He then leaves to reveal he has ‘ROH’ written in tacks stuck into his forehead…nice. The Outcast Killaz pick an inopportune time to complain about not getting matches, so Feinstein feeds them to Iceberg.
Oman Tortuga vs Iceberg
It appears that it’ll be Oman representing the OCK. They’re another jobber tag team on the ring crew, except unlike Dunn & Marcos they’re just not over. Iceberg is a morbidly obese man from Wildside. He was part of Homicide’s team in the Bunkhouse match at Epic Encounter, did nothing then and won’t do anything tonight either. Feinstein just said backstage that he’s not getting booked again.
Punk refers to Tortuga as ‘that guy’. Iceberg makes ROH look totally bush league so I’m glad he won’t be back. Oman bounces off him then gets totally squashed with a sidewalk slam. A “running” (term used loosely) powerslam gets 2. He has it won with a suplex DDT but pulls Tortuga up for more punishment. Tortuga botches a sleeper hold. Yep, a sleeper hold. AIR RAID CRASH from Iceberg. He wins it with a “running” senton at 02:59.
Rating – DUD – Iceberg is fat, useless, has no place in ROH. Oman looked incredibly green, but had nothing to work with. Even as a squash that wasn’t particularly good (check out Burchill/Double Dragon from Frontiers Of Honor for a good squash) but it was short and it’s done now.
I’d like to move on but Iceberg isn’t quite done yet. He gives Diablo Santiago one of the worst German suplexes in the history of the business before Dunn & Marcos come out to rescue them.
CLIPS – Persephonie defeats Alexis Laree in a pre-show rematch from Round Robin Challenge 2.
Matt Stryker vs Tom Carter
I’m not sure but I think we were originally supposed to get Stryker/Collyer III here but Chad pulled out of the show. Anyway, this is an interesting match since both men have skill but neither has really taken the ball and really gotten themselves over just yet. Carter (the artist formerly known as Reckless Youth) has only appeared on one show previously, appearing as part of a fourway match at Epic Encounter. Matt Stryker has jobbed a lot since debuting in January, but is coming in on the back of a big win in the five man match at Round Robin Challenge 2 where he finally forced Collyer to tap.
Punk wastes no time getting in a few lines about Reckless breaking his skull. The fans are really hot and chant for both guys. They do some pretty chaining without accomplishing a whole lot in the first few minutes. It’s mostly arm-centred stuff and it’s mostly Carter controlling things but Stryker manages to hold his own. He escapes a cross armbreaker and puts Youth in a bow and arrow. Carter shows he can counter too by escaping a camel clutch to lock in an STF. He drops Stryker with a faceplant then a somersault senton for 2. After working the arm for most of the match he switches to an indescribable leg lock but Stryker finds a way to escape. He catches Carter in a powerslam then slows the pace again with a chinlock. Carter to the floor and Matt launches himself out after him with a pescado. That landed, but both fight again on the apron where Reckless nails a DDT. Stryker looks done so Carter thinks it’s time for his frog splash. ROPE RUN BELLY TO BELLY SUPERPLEX by Stryker to block that. His version is nowhere near as good as Kurt Angle’s. Carter blocks Matt’s DVD with a brainbuster then goes up top again. FROG SPLASH scores for 2. Both guys bust out a flurry of nearfall pinning combinations and end up flat out on the floor gasping for air. Stryker again tries the DVD and NAILS IT this time. The gasp when Carter kicks out suggests that the Murphy Rec crowd thought the match was over there. He tries a Super DVD instead but Tom counters with a MID-AIR inverted DDT. He dragon screws the leg then puts Stryker into an inverted cloverleaf. Matt has to give it everything to find the ropes. Youth is sticking on the legs now and tries the inverted cloverleaf again. Stryker counters to a roll-up and gets the victory at 18:26.
Rating – *** – That still stands up as arguably Stryker’s best ROH performance ever, but in other regards I don’t think time has been as kind to it. It’s still a good match, but I think they could’ve done more with the almost 20 minutes they were given. I liked the dynamic of two quality, evenly-matched pure wrestlers countering back and forth and they played that up very well. However, the opening portion just felt so slow. They initial countering and chaining, as good as it was, went almost 10 minutes. Then, they switched to the “bigger” stuff with almost no transition whatsoever. At no point did Carter really work the legs to set up for that inverted cloverleaf. Same goes for Stryker and his Strykerlock. There was a semblance of working Matt’s midsection to soften him up for the Frog Splash, but that didn’t amount to much. My problem with this match is that it was GOOD (and certainly, to this point, a real break-out match for both guys – an example of what they’re capable of and what they brought to the roster at this time), but it could’ve been so much better.
Tom Carter refuses to shake hands, then cuts a bizarre promo where he puts himself over and slags off Stryker, his debut match (which seems silly since it was supposed to be an ROH Title match) and ends up challenging Stryker to a Tap Out Match. Allison Danger comes out and says that Chris Daniels wants to talk to Carter about joining The Prophecy. Tom doesn’t seem too interested since he shakes Stryker’s hand and leaves. It’s a good idea to capitalise on a break-out match by creating a new midcard character in Tom Carter. It’s just a shame he didn’t stick around to follow up on this.
Right as the next match begins we clip backstage to see Joe KILLING Dan Maff with a knee to the head. That’s revenge for attacking him after the main event at Round Robin Challenge 2.
Special K vs Carnage Crew vs CM Punk/Colt Cabana vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe – Scramble Match
The last couple of Scrambles have been pretty weak so I assume we’re putting a bit more talent into this latest one in an attempt to reinvigorate the match format which has been a staple of ROH’s midcard since last summer. Special K are represented by Izzy and Dixie which is probably their best team. CM Punk has a natural rivalry with the young druggie ravers and the borderline alcoholic Carnage Crew which should make for some interesting exchanges. Jay and Mark will be looking to work their way into contention for another Tag title shot at AJ and Red by picking up a victory here.
Jay and Cabana start and both look SO much younger than they do now in 2007. Colt gets the advantage on Briscoe before Jay knocks him out of the ring for a pescado. DeVito falls victim to a swinging DDT from Dixie but he just gets up and suplexes him into the turnbuckles. Loc lays out Mark with a swinging neckbreaker before Izzy moonsault kicks both Crew members. Standing Contra Code gets Izzy 2. Mark lays him out with the urinage suplex and Punk comes in for the first time. He gets a big reaction, but quickly everyone piles in so he doesn’t have to do much. Izzy tries to invite him to smoke some weed and gets clotheslined to the floor. Punk gives Jay a backbreaker then the Pepsi Twist. Colt grabs Loc and the Saints hit a slingshot senton/backbreaker combo. Izzy and Dixie screw up an attempted double team because no Scramble is complete without an embarrassing botch. The Saints try a Doomsday Dropkick…BUT IZZY COUNTERS WITH A REVERSE RANA ON COLT! His reward is taking the Carnageplex. Mark drops DeVito with another urinage then Jay murderises Loc with a running Yakuza kick which the fans lap up. Loc doesn’t sell that for too long though as he’s soon up and dropping Mark on his head with a Saito suplex. Dixie saves Izzy from the Spike Piledriver then dives off the top into a crossbody to the floor. RUNNING MOONSAULT OUTSIDE by Mark! FATTY MOONSAULT FROM DEVITO! Punk is on the top rope with Izzy which just can’t be good. COLT 45 ON DIXIE! PUNK PEPSI PLUNGE’S IZZY ON TOP OF HIM! Saints win at 09:27 shown.
Rating – *** – It seems strange to be giving this kind of mindless spot madness the same rating as the Stryker/Carter match but I think the rating is fair. Obviously they aren’t the same kind of match, but in fairness, aside from the one Special K botch I thought this was a decent scramble. Obviously the more talented line-up of teams helped but it was the pacing that made this one feel fresh. They didn’t go crazy with high spots from the bell, but built up to them. From Izzy’s awesome counter to the Doomsday Device onwards it had the crowd totally lapping it up.
Victory isn’t enough though, because CM Punk grabs the microphone and declares that he is starting a Straight Edge revolution. It’s another tremendous promo, and it’s brilliantly contrasted by a childlike Colt Cabana constantly pawing at Punk trying to get some mic time for himself. Eventually he just grabs it and starts goofing off like an idiot. Colt asks Lucy to be his girlfriend but she says no. That’s quite sad. For an in-ring promo which essentially didn’t do anything, that was a marvellous example of why both Punk and Cabana are such brilliant entertainers, and why they’re now both cashing paychecks signed by Vince McMahon.
INTERMISSION – Cappetta interviews BJ Whitmer, who vows revenge on CM Punk for putting him through a table at Epic Encounter. Curiously, Chris Daniels then arrives to complain about Joe f*cking up Dan Maff’s jaw. He tells Whitmer that maybe he’ll consider BJ for The Prophecy in the future, then challenges Samoa Joe to an Empty Arena match after the show. Remember this intermission segment when you’re watching Final Battle 2003 folks. GMC’s interview skills are really awful too.
John Walters vs Andy Anderson
Two more debutants being given a chance to shine “do or die” style. Anderson is a well-built guy who wrestles mostly in Puerto Rico, Walters is from Boston. Walters would go on to become a Pure Champion, and almost signed for the WWE at one point, whilst this is Anderson’s only ROH appearance to date. Guess who looks more impressive in this one…
Walters looks pretty smooth as he flips and counters out of Anderson’s wristlocks. They trade counters but CM Punk is taking all focus off the match with his return to the commentary booth. Anderson gets 2 with a stalling falcon arrow. John springboards off the ropes into a sunset flip powerbomb then works on the leg. Anderson gets 2 again with a colossal Splash mountain powerbomb. He tries to go to the top rope but Walters pulls him off in a horribly messy lungblower. Hurricane DDT nailed for 2. Double A comes back with a Twirly Bird and wins at 06:44.
Rating – DUD – Truthfully I didn’t think either man looked particularly impressive. Walters was smooth when it came to the chaining but looked nervous when it was his turn to hit some bigger spots. Anderson, meanwhile, had some impressive power-based offence but looked always looked a little clumsy and awkward. I suppose Walters got asked back over Anderson simply because there really aren’t enough guys of Andy’s size and style on the roster for him to mesh with.
Jimmy Rave vs Frankie Kazarian vs CM Punk vs Christopher Daniels
It’s a four way which is interesting for a number of reasons. It’s Jimmy Rave’s first appearance on an ROH main card but he has appeared before, losing to AJ Styles in a match taped for High Impact TV. Frankie makes his only (to date) ROH appearance here. He was just starting to take off in TNA and had been putting on some good matches with the likes of Chris Sabin (I believe) so ROH has decided to jump on the bandwagon. This would also be the first time the leaders of the Prophecy and Second City Saints factions would come into contact with each other.
Punk is pretty arrogant and plays a few mind games with Rave. In the Jimmy chops him in the back so he runs all the way to the floor. Rave scores with a few armdrags as well so Punk tags out to Kazarian. Rave drops him with a belly to belly suplex too before Daniels blind tags him out and claims all the credit by laying waste to Frankie as he lays on the mat. Kaz gives the Fallen Angel a neckbreaker and he mirrors Punk by getting the hell out of the ring. Rave and Kazarian collide in mid-air and both tag out bringing Punk and Daniels face to face for the first time. The fans decide that Daniels is the fan favourite between these two. They’re charismatic enough to build a real aura around their confrontation without doing anything particularly demanding. Everything Daniels tries Punk has a counter or another mindgame for In the midst of that Rave manages to throw both of them to the floor and hit a crossbody from the top rope. Frankie gets involved by throwing himself into a pescado. Punk and Jimmy are the first back into the ring and it’s the Chicago-native getting the upperhand via a stalling brainbuster. Daniels is the man to cut off his momentum so Punk bails to avoid him. Rave gets 2 with a lousy-looking jumping heel kick. He kicks Punk down and we get to see the debut of the CRAPPY WIZARD! Trying to put that running knee over as a Shining Wizard is just a crime. Jimmy decks everyone then traps Punk in the Satellite Crossface. Kazarian breaks the hold so Rave drops him with a bridging back suplex. Punk runs to the top rope and superplexes Daniels for 2 demonstrating that there are no legal man rules now. Welcome To Chicago backbreaker nailed as the fans get behind Daniels. Allison Danger breaks the Code Of Honor and sweeps Punk’s leg…so Lucy does the same to Daniels. The girls look set to fight but are pulled apart by their charges before they go back to fighting each other. Punk blocks Angels Wings but has his Shining Wizard evaded too. Frankie runs in and lays out the pair of them with kicks to the face. Pepsi DDT almost puts Kaz away. Rave stops him nailing the Pepsi Plunge, and Frankie thanks him by nailing the Wave Of The Future for 2. Ocean Cyclone suplex on Daniels who kicks out. Frankie keeps it coming with a springboard leg drop for 2. Daniels sweeps his legs from under him with an STO. LAST RITES and Daniels wins at 20:14.
Rating – *** – The action was almost tediously slow at times but the interactions between Punk and Daniels were so absorbing that you couldn’t help but be interested in the match. Both men have their own issues right now (Punk with Raven, Daniels with Joe/The Group) but the seeds have definitely been sewn for these two to hook up somewhere down the line. The point here was to elevate Punk to the point that fans view him as Daniels’ equal – and it was mission accomplished. Indeed, they were so good that it made Jimmy Rave and Frankie Kazarian almost totally unimportant. They were simply bodies to flesh out the match and avoid giving too much Punk/Daniels action away. Neither looked bad, but neither stood out particularly. Jimmy was solid, but just lacked any kind of charisma in everything he did making it impossible to really get behind him. Kazarian has the look but he played to the crowd a little too much. Certainly he didn’t show enough to warrant being flown in from the west coast for ROH bookings.
Daniels is uncharacteristically complimentary of all his opponents then offers CM Punk a spot in The Prophecy. Punk says that offer is being made simply because Daniels fears the potential threat of the Second City Saints. Eventually he agrees to join…if Daniels will shake his hand. Obviously the Fallen Angel isn’t interested in that proposal and he says Punk’s refusal will mean war between them in the future. Credit to Chris Daniels who has busted his ass to put Punk over tonight, both in the ring and on the stick.
Special K vs Backseat Boyz
ROH has spent money flying in two of the more supposedly talented members of Special K for this match, meaning they’ve got Jody Fleisch and Slim J out there. This match was set up at Epic Encounter when loads of guys had a big argument about who the best tag team in ROH were. Special K won the ensuing tag team match and advanced to face the Backseat Boyz tonight. This match has been hyped as somewhat of a big deal and that, combined with the relatively rare appearances of Jody and Slim implies that Gabe had high hopes for this one. Maybe he’s looking for it to be a break-out match similar to the Stryker/Carter match from earlier in the show.
Fleisch and Trent start, and obviously that’s a big deal since they were the CZW Best Of The Best finalists the previous year. They demonstrate their familiatity with some awesome fast paced stuff. Acid blocks the 720 DDT but Fleisch ducks right under the Yakuza Kick in return. Slim J isn’t as keen as Jody to get involved with the Backseatz. Eventually the two druggies start goofing off with repeated tags. Eventually they catch J going for a somersault senton and kill him with a powerbomb/neckbreaker. STEREO somersault planchas wipe out all 56,000 Special K members at ringside. Both teams trade hybrid dance/wrestling moves, and it appears that Acid and Kashmere are mildly better at that. Slim J does his best to murder Acid by giving him a neckbreaker whilst Jody elevates his legs. Fleisch gets 2 with a standing moonsault into a standing SSP. Slim gets his own nearfall with a sloppy tornado double underhook DDT. Special K get 2 with some bizarre double suplex. Trent just about evades the 720 again and he climbs the ropes for a SUPER REVERSE RANA on Jody. Kashmere charges in to spear both his opponents at the same time. INEXPLICABLE HEAD DROP DRIVER scores but J kicks out at 2. Dream Sequence for him, but Fleisch stops the final part of that with a 720 DDT. That looked horrible. Slim J gets 2 with an equally sloppy looking springboard inverted DDT. He’s been total crap tonight. We go to the outside where, of course, there are tons of extra guys to give Special K an advantage. Jody and Slim J climb up a conveniently placed scaffold. DUELLING SUICIDAL SCAFFOLD-SAULTS! Fleisch looks legit injured as a result. Slugger has to carry Trent back to the ring but even with that assist he kicks out of Slim’s pin. Jody can’t even walk but for some reason he still tries to go to the top rope. He falls off though, and this is a total mess. The Backseat Boyz pop up…SUPER T-GIMMICK! They win at 15:48.
Rating – ** – The first time I reviewed this match I was incredibly harsh on it – and with good reason. Slim J was the absolute sh*ts in there and struggled to hit anything clean all match, and the finish was a real farce thanks to Fleisch’s injury. However, second time around I found myself enjoying this a bit more. The Fleisch/Acid stuff at the start was sweet, and I thought some of the early stoner comedy team antics of the K guys was entertaining. You’ve also got to acknowledge the sheer insanity of that scaffold spot. There was no need for it but it was very memorable, to the extent that I’d call it an iconic moment for ROH in the Murphy Rec Center. Don’t get me wrong, this match still tanked and came in well below the expectations I’m sure Gabe had for it – but on second viewing it wasn’t as bad as I remembered.
Samoa Joe vs Homicide – ROH World Title Match
After the first international defence of the belt in the UK at Frontiers Of Honor, ROH’s premier singles title is now a World Title belt. We’ve been building to this match for a long time and expectation is pretty high for it. Homicide stated at Final Battle 2002 (and again earlier tonight) why winning the ROH Title is so important to him – he wants more money to make a better life for him and his son. But he has become embroiled in his own war with Steve Corino – the founding member of The Group, of which Samoa Joe is also a part. And since Corino appears to be done with ROH for the time being, he’ll settle for revenge on his henchman (who himself has played his part in Homicide’s recent troubles – remember the riots at the Anniversary show and Expect The Unexpected). This is probably the most build an ROH Title match has ever had thus far, so there’s pressure on these two to produce a stormer.
There’s a real big time feel to this title match, which thus far in ROH had been pretty rare. Joe demonstrates his striking ability by slapping and kicking Homicide to the canvas. He responds by dropkicking Joe and going for his STF – the move he used to win the #1 Contenders Trophy. Joe is quick to flee the ring to evade that dangerous move. But he’s quickly down in the corner allowing Homicide to keep his momentum going with a running knee strike. He goes to the well once too often and finds a second attempt met with the ST-Joe. HEAD DROP EXPLODER SUPLEX from the Notorious 187. Joe’s bump there was sickening. But there’s no time to reflect since we go to the floor where Joe SLAMS Homi into the railings. BELLY TO BELLY ON THE FLOOR! Homicide looks really unhappy at his landing there, and is equally displeased to discover an Ole Ole Kick meeting his face. Around the ring we go, and the inevitable second Ole Ole Kick is even more brutal than the first. Homicide is actually bleeding from it. CHIMERA SUPLEX COMBO! That defeated Zebra Kid in England but Cide manages to kick out. He gets to his feet and leaps into a swinging DDT which leads to us going to the floor again. Smokes sets up a table at ringside and you can sense what’s coming. TOPE CON HILO THROUGH THE F*CKING TABLE! He drags the big World Champion into the ring but despite what happened on the floor Joe kicks out. Homicide gets dropped with a big powerbomb. STF…INTO THE CHOKE! Low Ki is at ringside…and he motivates Homicide to counter the devastating Choke. Joe pauses to spit at Ki…then delivers a devastating knee strike to Homicide. The ref counts for a knockout, but Ki again tries to motivate his trainer. KI SLAPS HIM IN THE FACE TO FIRE HIM UP! ‘Get the F*CK up’ – Low Ki. HOMICIDE ESCAPES THE ISLAND DRIVER AND HITS A BACK DROP DRIVAAAAAAA! The crowd literally went ballistic then. Ace Crusher nailed, and then Cide scales the ropes for a DOUBLE STOMP! How much energy does Homicide have left though? ENOUGH TO HIT A F*CKING PSYCHOTIC BRAINBUSTER! Joe rolls to the floor and a cluster of referees appear around him to make sure he isn’t dead. It looks like he may actually be injured, but Homicide goes out to retrieve him regardless. REPEATED boots to the head by the challenger and Joe’s eye is practically swollen shut. Homicide takes it to the top rope but is distracted by the sight of Smokes and Low Ki arguing on the floor. Joe capitalises on the distraction. TOP ROPE MUSCLEBUSTAAAAAAAAAAAA! Are you kidding me? Joe retains at 18:16
Rating – ****1/2 – There’s been like 12 million Joe/Homicide matches these days, but this one remains my favourite. The raw emotion of the match provided by the scalding hot crowd was mirrored only by the staggering, almost senseless violence of the match itself. I know some people have called it spotty and head droppy, but that was the POINT of this match. It’s two guys who want something so bad they’re willing to beat the living sh*t out of each other to get it. It’s not like the Joe/Punk series where it was about mind games and strategies. This was a flat-out fight pure and simple, and it was an absolutely sensational main event. In my opinion it’s the best ROH Title match since the Iron Man at Crowning A Champion. It’s even so good it probably slides in behind London/Danielson and London/Ki/Styles for ROH MOTY right now.
Joe mockingly shakes Homicide right in Low Ki’s face continuing to build the Joe/Ki heat for a rematch that would, unfortunately, never come. He gets a massive reaction post-match, but Homicide looks absolutely distraught at not winning the belt.
Backstage Joe cuts a promo with most of his face horribly swollen after that war. He says he’ll put everything on the line to keep his ROH World Title. Just like he’ll do everything to finish the war with Christopher Daniels and The Prophecy.
And we’re still not done because it’s time for the Empty Arena match. Joe and Daniels barely have time to throw a few punches before they get pulled apart. I’m guessing they had to jack the idea for an Empty Arena deal after Joe got f*cked up wrestling Homicide.
Chris Daniels challenges The Group to a 6-man tag in Boston and vows to end the war there. At the time I really wasn’t feeling the Prophecy/Group feud because Corino walked out, but rewatching these shows a few years later it’s much better than I remembered. Over the last two shows (RRC2 and tonight) Daniels and Joe have done a superb job restoring heat to an issue that looked dead in the water.
Tape Rating – *** – If you can get your hands on it this is one vintage ROH show I’d say you definitely need to add to your collection. It’s another significant night for CM Punk, as he breaks out in a big way with masses of promo time, two solid matches and it’s the first time he did commentary too. He came into the show on the cusp of stardom thanks to the immediate heat behind the Raven feud, and with a little help from Chris Daniels he ends as ROH’s next superstar. The other reason to buy this tape is the superb main event. Don’t get me wrong, it has its critics. I know there are others who prefer Generation Next or Death Before Dishonor 2 Night 1, but to me this is the definitive Joe/Homicide match and something you need to check out. Add those two factors to a decent night of action with only minimal amounts of the expected crap you find on the midcards of earlier ROH shows…I’d definitely recommend you grab a copy of Do Or Die.
Top 3 Matches
3) Christopher Daniels vs Frankie Kazarian vs Jimmy Rave vs CM Punk (***)
2) Matt Stryker vs Tom Carter (***)
1) Samoa Joe vs Homicide (****1/2)