032 ROH Final Battle 12/27/2003

ROH 32 – Final Battle 2003 – 27th December 2003

ROH moves into it’s new Philadelphia home with another massive show. We’re going co-promotional once again, as ROH welcomes the stars of All Japan Pro-Wrestling. No Kawada unfortunately, but we do have Satoshi Kojima, Kaz Hayashi and this other guy you might have heard of…The Great Muta. Fair to say it’s quite a big show then. But ROH vs AJPW isn’t all that’s on offer tonight. ROH is bringing enough to the table by itself. Samoa Joe defends the ROH Title against Mark Briscoe, who earned a shot at the title over the double shot weekend. The Xavier/John Walters feud ends in a Fight Without Honor, and the Field Of Honor comes to a close with Matt Stryker taking on BJ Whitmer in the final. You’ll hear my personal feelings on that match later. American Dragon is here as well…jerking the curtain unbelievably. THAT’S how stacked the card is tonight. The National Guard Armory in Philadelphia, PA is the setting, with ROH’s largest crowd ever. Chris Lovey and CM Punk are your hosts.

Top 5 Rankings –
1) Mark Briscoe
2) CM Punk
3) BJ Whitmer
4) Matt Stryker
5) Homicide

Gary Michael Capetta is the first face we spot and he’s chatting about Cornette. The Carnage Crew are pissed off and they want him to tell them where Special K are. The issue between those 2 groups has gotten personal. In case you’re missing the Carnage Crew tonight, the show is SO loaded there was a big convention card in the afternoon jammed full of ROH midcard talent like the Crew. That’ll be released by ROH eventually…when it is, expect a review.

SAMOA JOE’S RING – New feature on ROH releases, Joe has his own segment where he shows viewers a few wrestling techniques, and how he likes to do things in the ring. Oman Tortuga arrives and he thinks it’s like Colt Cabana’s show and he’s a big guest. Joe plays up to this hilariously until he demonstrates the Choke for the people. This makes a point especially to Mark Briscoe. Oman runs away rather than take more abuse.

Bryan Danielson vs Jay Briscoe
Yes people, incredibly enough THIS is your opening match. Bryan Danielson makes his fifth ROH appearance in 2003 (only 5…incredible) and takes on Jay Briscoe, who is coming off a great double shot weekend as one half of the Tag Champions. The Briscoes defended the belts against Samoa Joe and AJ Styles at The Conclusion, then The Prophecy of Chris Daniels and Dan Maff at War Of The Wire. He won’t be massively fresh though as they had to defend the Tag Titles against the SAT on the convention card.

Big scrap over a lock-up to begin. Danielson attacks the arm but Jay manages to get some separation. Dragon puts Jay into a surfboard and tries to turn it into Cattle Mutilation, but Jay makes the ropes. Jay works a headlock which Punk practically has an orgasm over. Dragon finally escapes it and drags Briscoe into an elevated Boston crab. Danielson goes back to the arm again and Jay grinds his forearm across Dragon’s face to break it. Nice dropkick from Dragon gets 2. Jay goes to a neck crank on Danielson, then stiffs him hard with a forearm.
Jay goes for another headlock, Danielson tries to back suplex out of it, but still Briscoe holds on. Dragon puts Jay into a headscissors and continues to stretch out the arm before Jay goes to another headlock. STIFF European uppercuts from Dragon, met with a snap suplex from Jay. Big clothesline gets Jay a 2 count. Stare down before they just UNLOAD stiffness on each other. Neckbreaker from Jay Briscoe drops American Dragon again. Stepping enziguri from Dragon, before he almost takes Jay’s head off with another European uppercut. Airplane spin on Jay, into a front slam…DIVING HEADBUTT SCORES! Jay blocks a roaring elbow attempt and slaps Danielson in the face. Dragon spits on Jay then gets a slap in, so Jay fakes a slap then rakes the eyes. FALCON ARROW BY JAY…FOR 2! Mafia kick from Jay gets another nearfall. Briscoe goes for the Jay Driller but Dragon counters with a suplex. Dragon suplex from Dragon gets 2…but he floats over into Cattle Mutilation, and Jay taps at 13:35.

Rating – *** – Fantastic opener, absolutely reeking of quality. Wherever Danielson has been for the majority of the year, he’s come back an incredibly improved performer (yes, improved on how GOOD he was before he left), capable of drawing the crowd into his match with ease. Had this not been the opener and had another 5 or 6 minutes to develop we would easily have been talking 4*+.

Trent Acid meets Jay backstage to request a Tag Title shot. Briscoe says they do what Jim Cornette tells them to do…so I guess Acid has to go through him.

John Walters vs Xavier – Fight Without Honor
After a straight match couldn’t settle the score between these two at War Of The Wire, there was only one thing left to do – take it to a Fight Without Honor. They have a strong legacy to live up to, as the only previous matches of this kind are Samoa Joe vs Low Ki from Glory By Honor and Homicide vs Trent Acid from Wrestlerave 2003. Xavier has been a cocky, cheating little bastard to John Walters since Glory By Honor II when he screwed him out of their FOH match. He’s won a fourway and a tag match featuring Walters. John finally manages a win against Xavier at War Of The Wire, but Xavier soured it by battering him senseless with a chair then a ladder after the match. This issue is settled once and for all with the FINAL BATTLE between them (I heart references to the show title).

Walters jumps Xavier as he comes through the curtain because he’s that pissed off at “AC Slater”. ‘We Want Screech’ – Philly. Xavier goes for the X-Breaker early, but Walters almost counters with the Hurricane DDT. Walters catapults Xavier over the top rope to the floor then slings him into the railings. Walters hunts under the ring and pulls out a chair. Xavier avoids a chair shot and plasters Walters with knee strikes in the corner. He takes the chair and uses it add extra impact on his slingshot knee drop…as Prince Nana arrives at ringside to watch. Nana looked like he fancied Xavier at Main Event Spectacles…so maybe he’s out here now to ask him on a date.
Xavier brings a ladder into play but gets it THROWN INTO HIS FACE! Walters sets the ladder up in the ropes and looks to lift Xavier into it…ALABAMASLAM THROUGH THE LADDER! Xavier has to roll to the floor after that, but Walters just drops the broken ladder on his head. Walters props the ladder between the ring and the rail, and he looks for a Hurricane DDT off the apron. Xavier escapes then knees Walters down onto the ladder, which collapses under his weight. Xavier drags out a table but lays Walters out over the ladder…ARABIAN PRESS – THROUGH WALTERS AND THROUGH THE WRECKED LADDER!

Nice butterfly suplex from Xavier, rolled through into an inverted full nelson, to continue the punishment to Walters’ back. Xavier blocks the falling double knees to the back, but Walters just drives the knees into his chest instead before clotheslining Xavier out of the ring. Walters sets up the table on the outside but we go back inside where Xavier sets up a chair. Walters back inside AND HE GIVES XAVIER THE HURRICANE DDT ONTO THE CHAIR! Walters busts Xavier open with a chair shot to the head, much like Xavier did to him at War Of The Wire. Chinlock over the steel chair by Walters, as he claws at the wound on Xavier’s forehead.
He goes to the ring apron and tries to suplex Xavier through the table. Xavier blocks and kicks him onto the table WHICH LEAVES HIM PRONE FOR A SPRINGBOARD 450 SPLASH TO THE FLOOR! Xavier is a mess but he somehow brings Walters back inside so they can trade right hands. Xavier gets another chair shot in then goes to the floor where Nana helps him drag out another ladder. Xavier sets it up in the ring and pointlessly climbs it. He gets caught by Walters…FALLING DOUBLE KNEES OFF THE LADDER! Walters covers…and Nana pulls the ref out of the ring! Walters sets one ladder up in the ropes in the corner…X-BREAKER FROM XAVIER…BUT WALTERS KICKS OUT! To the top rope as Walters looks for a superplex. Xavier blocks AND NAILS A SUPER KISS YOUR X GOODBYE! Both men climb up the upright ladder, and Xavier wants to superplex Walters off the ladder through the ladder set up in the corner…SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB FROM WALTERS…CARWRECK!! Walters smacked against the ladder and Xavier landed on his head in the corner. Walters pins for the victory at 18:42.

Rating – **** – What a match, and folks, if you’d told me after Era Of Honor Begins I’d be saying this I’d have laughed hysterically but…XAVIER IS THE F*CKING MAN! Seriously, he completely stole the show with his performance in this. Walters was solid throughout but Xavier bumped around like a maniac to put him over, and all credit to the former ROH Champion, he has won me over. I am officially a fan of this guy. I’m SO disappointed (FOR them, not WITH them) that they blew the climactic spot of the match, I docked a ½* for that even though it was disgustingly brutal in itself.

Walters takes the microphone and demands Xavier shake his hand and show him some respect after the match they just had. Nana takes the mic and gets laughed at just for his accent. Nana says Xavier is the first member of his new stable, The Embassy…and to make the point that Xavier is no longer in The Prophecy, Xavier shakes Walters’ hand.

Matt Stryker vs BJ Whitmer – Field Of Honor Final Match
It could be argued that it’s been destined to be these two in the final for a long time. They both debuted at Revenge On The Prophecy back in January. They earned their invitations to the Field Of Honor together after wrestling to an excellent 15-minute draw at Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies. They’ve been friends for a long time going back to their HWA days in Ohio…but Whitmer showed how important winning the FOH is to him when he gave an injured Matt Stryker the Wrist Clutch Exploder to win the Gauntlet Match at War Of The Wire. This match is infamous for being a flop, being sh*t on the fans and the start of the serious Stryker backlash from the ROH fans. Bear in mind going into this BJ has a fever and an elbow injury, whilst Stryker enters it having separated his shoulder on a show the previous night. Let’s check out their FOH Records before we go to the match.

Matt Stryker – Cincinnati, OH – debuted vs Chad Collyer 11/01/2003 – FOH Record 3-0
Stryker d. John Walters (Beating The Odds 06/09/2003)
Stryker d. Chris Sabin (Tradition Continues 16/10/2003)
Stryker d. Xavier (The Conclusion 28/11/2003)

BJ Whitmer – Cincinnati, OH – debuted vs London, Homicide, Cabana – FOH Record 3-1
Whitmer d. Jimmy Rave (Glory By Honor II 20/09/2003)
Colt Cabana d. Whitmer (Tradition Continues 16/10/2003)
Whitmer d. Dan Maff (Empire State Showdown 25/10/2003)
Whitmer d. Dan Maff & Colt Cabana in a Block B Tiebreak (The Conclusion 28/11/2003)

Whitmer goes right for the arm, as the excuses for this match bombing are reeled out by Lovey in the opening exchanges. Naturally CM Punk loves the fact that Whitmer has something to complain about. Great commentary from Punk about separated shoulders…although he doubts the legitimacy of BJ’s injury, which Stryker is attacking, fake or not. Whitmer gets thrown to the outside, and in fairness to them, neither look particularly sharp tonight. SOMERSAULT SENTON FROM STRYKER…WHAT?? You read that correctly, a somersault senton to the floor by Stryker, but BJ comes back quickly by whipping Stryker shoulder-first into the ringpost. His shoulder tastes ringpost two or three times before BJ takes him back inside to work am armbar. ‘They took his temperature rectally no doubt’ – Punk of Whitmer’s 100 degree temperature.
Stryker nails a kick to BJ’s perennially injured knee, and singles it out, slamming it hard into the mat to follow up. Stryker tries to rip his knee brace off, doesn’t succeed there but locks in a modified Strykerlock. ‘Lets Go Jesus…Lets Go Satan’ – Philly busting out hysterical duelling chants. Horse collar (BrockLock) applied to BJ, which naturally Punk finds pretty funny.

To the floor and Stryker drops Whitmer knee-first onto the timekeepers table. He slams BJ’s knee into the crowd barrier, then brings him back inside. Figure 4 leglock applied and Whitmer’s knee takes some more punishment before he finally rolls it over. Stryker goes to the floor – FIGURE 4 AROUND THE RINGPOST! Stryker goes back to the horse collar and once more Whitmer has to fight to the ropes. BJ finally buys himself some time by kicking at Stryker’s shoulder. Swinging fisherman suplex from BJ, which piles more punishment on the shoulder, but he can’t capitalise right away because his knee hurts. Armbar applied and now it’s Stryker in a fight to the ropes. Whitmer goes to the camel clutch to continue the assault. He nicely modifies this to continue the focus on the shoulder. He looks for the Wrist Clutch Exploder, but Stryker escapes and dropkicks him in the knee.
Back suplex from Stryker gets 2. He scores another 2 with a powerslam. Stryker hooks BJ up and locks in the Strykerlock. Whitmer taps at 18:10.

Rating – ** – Not the abomination it was made out to be…but for a 20 minute match, it had ZERO excitement. I liked the psychology from both guys (particularly from Stryker, who picked a body part, stuck with it and made it work for a finish for once), but was just so lifeless. I guess the injuries they were working with played their part…and much like all the matches that have gone before, the final limps off into the FOH history books without making that much of an impact.

Sidenote – FOH THOUGHTS – So what did I think of the Field Of Honor? Personally I thought it was a failure. In many ways, the final summed it up accurately. Nothing actively bad, but not a lot to get excited about either. The FOH gave all the midcard talent something to do, but provided us with nothing more than the 10, sometimes 15 minute matches we could have expected from these guys otherwise. Besides John Walters (who was elevated more by the feud with Xavier that came as a result of their FOH Match than the FOH itself), nobody really became a star out of the whole deal – least of all Matt Stryker. He was a solid midcard talent before, but being rammed down the fans throats exposed his faults and made him less, not more popular. Thanks to a wonderful piece of booking later in the night, it was Whitmer that would leave Final Battle 2003 much closer to the main events, not Stryker. The highest rating an FOH Match got was 3*…good, but not great…the Field Of Honor ladies and gentlemen.

Top 3 FOH Matches
1) BJ Whitmer vs Dan Maff – Empire State Showdown 25/10/2003
2) Xavier vs John Walters – Glory By Honor II 20/09/2003
3) Matt Stryker vs John Walters – Beating The Odds 06/09/2003

Samoa Joe vs Mark Briscoe – ROH World Title Match
Mark earned a title shot by pinning Samoa Joe in a tag match at The Conclusion, and this continues the Samoa Joe/Briscoes feud that erupted at Tradition Continues when Joe beat Jay Briscoe then choked out Mark for fun. The Briscoes enlisted Jim Cornette as their manager and totally shafted Joe in the process at Main Event Spectacles, then beat him and AJ Styles in the aforementioned Tag Title match at The Conclusion. Can Mark succeed where Jay failed and upset the Champion? Mark has Jay in his corner.

Joe rushes at Mark and unleashes stiffness on him, booting him in the face…and we go to the floor as Joe looks for an early Ole Ole Kick. Mark flees back into the ring to avoid that. Mark tries to work a chinlock but Joe easily escapes that and completely out-wrestles the younger Briscoe. Camel clutch with STIFF crossfaces continue the punishment to Mark. Briscoe fires back with a forearm to the face and he unleashes some more strikes in the corner. He drops Joe with a lariat for…1! BOOTSCRAPES BY MARK! He looks for the running one but just gets PALM STRUCK down! Joe again goes for the Ole Ole Kick but this time Jay drags Mark out of the chair.
Joe whipped across the ring – STO SLAM! CHOP/KICK COMBO! More kicks to the spine and they are just brutally stiff. Back suplex backbreaker gets 2. Boston crab applied, and you KNEW that extra crank was coming. Joe looks for a lariat – URINAGE FROM MARK!

Suplex from Briscoe, but Joe comes right back with a powerslam, then another kick which sends him to the floor. Jay checks on Mark…SO JOE KNOCKS HIM OUT WITH THE ELBOW SUICIDA. OLE OLE KICK ON MARK! He pulls out a cellphone and has a chat before pulling Mark back in the ring for a 2 count. Rolling cradle gets another nearfall. Powerbomb-2 count-STF!! Mark escapes and acts like he can punch out Joe…SO HE GETS E HONDA SLAPS…ENZIGURIIIIII! Yeah, Mark got owned there. He does get 2 with a German suplex though. Back suplex gets him 2. Mark wants the Cutthroat Driver, so Joe almost knees his head off. Dragon suplex almost ends Mark’s challenge. MORE E HONDA SLAPS! KNEE STRIKES!! CHOOOOKE!! Mark is unconscious at 14:43.

Rating – *** – Brutal, brutal ass-kicking from Joe there. Wasn’t as good as the Jay Briscoe match from Tradition Continues, because there just wasn’t the believability that the Briscoe might actually pull a win out. For Mark it was getting flurries of offence in between Joe’s trademark spots. Loved the spot where Mark acted like he could punch Joe out so Joe slapped the sh*t out of him. Matches like this are why Joe as champion are so fun…he can have good matches with pretty much anyone because he’s just so damn violent.

CM Punk (who left commentary during the match) hits the ring and says he’s going to ruin the show…but Samoa Joe cuts him off. Joe demands Punk get out of the ring and show him some respect…and Punk leaves with his tail between his legs. Joe then walks because he’s made his point…and Punk promptly scampers back in. Crowd were ITCHING for a Joe/Punk fight here by the way…bodes well for a match in 2004.

With that done Punk calls out The Prophecy…and out they come. Daniels and Maff brawl with Joe in the aisleway…and Punk takes the opportunity to grab Daniels. Punk and Daniels fight in the ring. Daniels goes for Angels Wings but gets jumped by Colt Cabana. Maff and Joe have brawled to the back, and as Colt wails on Daniels, Punk is choking Allison Danger out with a towel. Punk says he’ll kill Allison Danger…SO DANIELS ADMITS IT WAS THE PROPHECY THAT TOOK OUT LUCY! BJ WHITMER CHARGES THE RING AND BLASTS THE SAINTS WITH A STEEL CHAIR! BJ Whitmer was the one that took out Lucy in Dayton, and he’s the newest member of The Prophecy. AWESOME angle…probably my favourite ever in ROH. In 5 minutes, BJ becomes twice the star that FOH winner Matt Stryker is or will become. Dan Maff arrives and looks pissed…he swore on his fathers grave that The Prophecy didn’t do it remember. He was left out of the loop…and he doesn’t like BJ anyway. Maff grudgingly agrees to be a team player.

INTERMISSION – GMC has the Briscoes. They lost their matches tonight, but they claim that with Cornette in their corner they’re the best team in the world. The Carnage Crew bust in and reveal that Special K have gotten to DeVito’s family. GMC tells them that Special K are on their way to Chicago to be on Good Times, Great Memories. Given that it’s NEVER been taped in Chicago this is funny stuff…and Loc and DeVito head off to find where Cabana is taping his show today.

The Ring Crew Express try to tell Great Muta they’re the top tag team in ROH but he freaks out and scares them off. That’s…odd

CM Punk/Colt Cabana vs Tamiaoki Honma/Kazushi Miyamoto
It’s ROH vs AJPW time, and the Second City Saints, who will no doubt be in a foul mood following the whole Prophecy angle before intermission. Not that you could tell considering Cabana is as goofy as ever. Honma and Miyamoto (known as Tumeric Storm) represent AJPW. Honma is a reformed hardcore guy, and was the first man to ever use a light tube. Miyamoto is a young star, and might be known better to you as The Great Kazushi (and would go on to make more ROH appearances in the summer of 2004).

Cabana and Miyamoto start and they rattle through some nice little exchanges. Kazushi with a dropkick to the back, before Punk and Honma come in. Punk gets an armbar on but Honma escapes and pulls Punk to the floor. Punk whips him hard into the guardrail as a result. Honma goes for a chair since he’s hardcore but Punk backs off. Miyamoto in and he gets grounded by Punk before he tags Colt back in to work his leg. Cabana gets volleyed with right hands by both of them. Inverted Boston crab by Cabana, and Punk tags himself in to add to it with a camel clutch. Honma breaks that up with a double boot to the face.
Saints double team Miyamoto, before Cabana gives him a neck ringer. The Saints both hit high knees in the corner.
Miyamoto tries to tag out but Punk drags him away from his corner to tag Cabana in. Cabana thumbs Kazushi in the eyes, then tags Punk back in. Miyamoto manages a suplex on Punk and he finally makes a tag.

Bulldog on Punk and Cabana has to make the save. Flatliner/DDT combo from Honma on both Punk and Cabana before he goes to the top rope. Punk throws him off with a press slam then tags in Cabana…who gets grounded with a powerslam. Kryptonite neckbreaker from Colt scores 2. Forearms exchanged before Honma drops Cabana with a DDT. Miyamoto tagged in but he gets taken straight down with a hurricanrana. Kazushi to the top rope – SWANTON BOMB FOR 2! Cabana gets a double knee to the head in, but it’s no sold and Miyamoto knocks him down with an enzi. Honma and Punk in and they trade chops. Falcon Arrow from Punk sends Honma rolling to the outside. Punk goes for a tope BUT GETS CUT OFF FROM A MIYAMOTO SPEAR. Cabana gets a forearm from Honma so Punk catches him with a springboard dropkick.
Diving blockbuster off the top rope from Honma but Punk kicks out at 2. Punk gets taken back to the top rope…FOR HONMA TO HIT A SUPERPLEX OFF MIYAMOTO’S SHOULDERS! Kazushi throws Cabana to the floor and MISSES a pescado. Cabana onto the apron AND HE SCORES WITH THE ASAI MOONSAULT! Back in the ring HONMA NO SELLS A HEAD DROP BACK SUPLEX! HAMMERLOCK DDT FROM PUNK…FOR 2! Cabana back in and he shoves Honma to Punk…PEPSI PLUUUUUUUNGE! ROH goes 1-0 at 16:34.

Rating – *** – Started slow as they felt each other out for a good 10 minutes, but it was all worth it in the end because the explosive last few minutes were awesome. Colt Cabana looked particularly impressive here, as for the first time in months he paid more attention to wrestling than comedy – and he really is a solid worker when he puts his mind to it. His Asai moonsault is also SO impressive.

Duelling ‘ROH’ and ‘All Japan’ chants for a fine effort there.

Kaz Hayashi vs AJ Styles
Trivia provided by Ray Murrow here – Hayashi was the first man ever to take a Styles Clash, back in AJ’s brief WCW stint. Hayashi is a big name in the US thanks to his time as part of the Yung Dragons in WCW, and you’d think his style would mesh pretty well with AJ’s. He’s in AJPW as part of an attempt by Mutoh to compete with the excellent Jr. Heavyweight divisions of NJPW and NOAH by building a rival division of his own. Last time I checked he does not have Naomichi Marufuji, KENTA, Jushin Liger, that Curryman chap or some pasty white guy called American Dragon.

‘I speak Japanese’ – Ray Murrow. Murrow has actually done bucket loads of homework on the Japanese contingent and is rewarded by getting to commentate with CM Punk when he returns to the booth. Hayashi traps AJ in a side headlock. Kaz has AJ scouted as he holds the ropes to avoid his dropkick…so AJ just blasts him with it when he lets go. Hayashi up with a dropkick of his own and we go to the floor. Styles jumps the guardrail and runs off into the crowd. Back in the ring they chop each other damn hard, with AJ seemingly hurting Kaz much more than he’s getting hurt himself. Styles scores with a sweet reverse heel kick…JUMPING REVERSE HEEL KICK FROM KAZ! Brainbuster follows and that gets Kaz a 2.
Styles looks for a Styles Clash but Hayashi escapes with a kick to the face. Piledriver drops AJ on his head but doesn’t put him away. He looks for a second but AJ back body drops out of it. Swinging over the back backbreaker from Styles – SWISH!
Conventional backbreaker continues the assault, then a knee drop gets 2. Bow and arrow lock stretches Kaz out, but he rolls free pretty quickly. AJ takes a drop toehold over the ropes, then Kaz comes in off the apron with a slingshot DDT. Pumphandle gutbuster from Styles, then an STO backbreaker. Handspring mule kick from Kaz…both guys miss kicks then take each other down with clotheslines. Kaz looks for a hurricanrana and Styles looks to Styles Clash him again…but Kaz manages to drag him over with the rana anyway. Kaz goes to the Crossface but Styles escapes – then takes a dragon suplex! Crossface applied again and this time AJ has to fight to the ropes. Hayashi goes to the top but he gets dragged off the top. AJ goes for the Styles Clash, but again Hayashi looks for a rana…AJ ROLLS THROUGH – STYLES CLASH!! AJ wins the match at 14:48.

Rating – *** – Another wonderfully solid match. There seemed to be a far greater degree of flow and familiarity between these two than in the first match, and it paid off. I really liked how Kaz continually blocked the Styles Clash, but AJ finally caught him trying to counter and planted him with it.

Kaz says he’ll come back in the future so they can have a rematch…hell yeah I’d be up for that.

Satoshi Kojima vs Homicide
Bar Muta, Kojima is probably the biggest name AJPW star on the card tonight, and after the year he’s had, I think it’s a fitting reward for Homicide to get to wrestle him. Kojima is a favourite puro star of mine, and it’s hard to argue with Homicide in 2003, so hopefully they can string together a great match. Homicide has a bumper load of guys in his corner tonight, with Julius Smokes, Steve (Monsta) Mack and Low Ki (yes him) all accompanying him to ringside. Clearly the Ki/Homicide issue will be forgotten since Ki isn’t with the promotion anymore.

Koji finds Smokes a little odd, unsurprisingly. Homicide tries for shoulder blocks but it takes him three attempts. Homicide kicks Kojima to the floor but he’s got the tope con hilo scouted. He takes a seat and bows instead. Homicide goes after his arm and he has to scramble to the ropes. Koji gets distracted by Smokes again so he…gives him some D-X crotch chops ha ha. They trade chops before Kojima thumbs Homicide in the eye. Koji chokes Cide on the ropes, and doesn’t break it at 5 because he ‘doesn’t understand’ the ref. ‘I’m Japanese goddamnit!’ – Kojima.
They try again to blast the crap out of each other, before Homicide returns the thumb to the eye. Homicide rolls through a German suplex, then dropkicks Kojima to the floor for the TOPE CON HILO! Koji back…BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX ON THE FLOOR! That’s Homicide knocked silly people…his eyes are glaaaaazed. Satoshi shows he cares…by taking a picture.

Running knee in the corner, but he is not right in the head, as he sluggishly ran the ropes there. Koji hits a running forearm before he climbs to the top rope for an ELBOW DROP! Homicide gets a boot up in the corner and dives off the ropes with a jump swinging DDT. Kojima nails a Rydien bomb but Homicide’s head bounces off the canvas again. Koji calls for the lariat but Homicide blocks. DDT, then the ace crusher gets 2. Homicide off the ropes – KOJI CUTTER! Kojima winds up again but again Homicide blocks the lariat. Ace crusher scores again but again it only gets 2. Homicide off the ropes RIGHT INTO THE LARIAT…BUT HE KICKS OUT! LARIAT SCORES AGAIN! Kojima takes the scores to 2-1 at 13:09.

Rating – *** – It could’ve been a lot better, because after he knocked Homicide out Kojima had to really slow the pace and walk a barely-there Homicide through the rest of the match, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Priceless comedy stuff from Koji, and lots of lovely stiffness…plus he hit the Koji Cutter, which is always a bonus. I feel bad for Homicide because he didn’t get to put on an absolute classic to round out 2003, which would have been fitting after the year he’s had. Lots of fun to be had here though…ROH vs AJPW rocks.

Kojima gets on the stick and thanks Philly in comic Japanese fashion…I love this guy.

Jerry Lynn is…somewhere. He likes the idea of the Pure Wrestling title since…that’s what he’s MADE OF! Jerry…that was corny. Looking forward to seeing him back in Ring Of Honor though.

Great Muta/Arashi vs Christopher Daniels/Dan Maff – AJPW Tag Title Match
Yes, Muta and Arashi’s Tag Title is on the line in your Main Event tonight. This is one of the biggest moments in ROH history, as they bring a bona fide legend into an ROH ring. Love him or hate him, Muta is a huge star, and to be able to pull this off shows you just what a head of steam the company were in in December 2003. Arashi meanwhile is an ex-sumo wrestling, meaning he’s big, fat, talentless, motionless and generally a waste of a pair of wrestling tights. The guy is f*cking awful. Is Maff going to be able to work as a team with Daniels after the events of earlier?

Maff and Arashi start, and Maff gets thrown down without Arashi actually moving. ‘You’re an asshole’ – Philly at a fan that chanted ‘You fat f*ck’ at Arashi. Maff looks for a shoulder block…several times. E HONDA SLAPS FROM ARASHI! And he’s ACTUALLY a sumo wrestler! Daniels (unsurprisingly) doesn’t want to wrestle Arashi, and he obliges by tagging in Muta. Daniels tries to play mind games with Muta, so Muta fires back with GREEN MIST!
Daniels takes over on Muta in the corner not that you’d notice by how much Muta sells it. Muta tags Arashi back in and Daniels gets a hard scoop slam. Maff has to help Daniels shove Arashi into their corner. It doesn’t take long for Arashi to come back, so Maff thumbs him in the eye. Arashi quickly back on offence since he sells nothing anyway, before he tags in Muta. He takes Daniels down and NAILS the Muta elbow drop. He goes for a moonsault, but Allison Danger distracts him. He threatens her with more mist, but she bails…damn. Maff and Daniels choke Muta over the ropes then beat on him in the corner. No need to sell there either of course. He finally sells some forearms to the back from Maff, before Daniels is tagged in to hit the Arabian press for 2.

Muta fires back with right hands, but Maff nails him into a Daniels flatliner. Headscissors crossface applied, so Arashi has to make the save. Maff in with a leg drop for 2. Dropkick from Muta, before he tags in Arashi. FAT MAN DROPKICK FROM ARASHI! Belly to belly suplex from Arashi gets 2. Maff hits him with forearms, which Arashi almost manages to sell. Daniels tagged in and he hits an STO (with an assist from Maff). Arashi back with a powerslam and he tags in Muta. Dragon screw on Daniels, before he slaps on the Figure 4.
Maff stamps on his face to break that, and Arashi slooooowly lumbers over to fight on the floor with him. Muta off the ropes, and Maff DRILLS him with a chair to the back. He steps into the ring and looks for another chair shot – RED MIST! Urinage slam from Daniels…but he misses the double jump moonsault…SHINING WIZARD NAILED! Muta and Arashi retain, and we end in a 2-2 tie at 16:04.

Rating – * – The match sucked dick, but that really wasn’t the point. Muta was in an ROH ring – THAT’S the point. Unsurprisingly it didn’t look like he cared that much (really, an indy show in front of 1000 people, it’s not the biggest deal in the world) but he hit all his trademark spots, got the pops and…Muta was in an ROH ring! Arashi sucks, but the fatty dropkick was great.

The Prophecy still don’t shake hands after the match, but instead bow to Muta which is a nice touch.

GOOD TIMES, GREAT MEMORIES – Special K and CM Punk will be your guests tonight. Special K bundle in and Cabana doesn’t know their names. They’re rich…and Becky Bayless arrives. She’s back for the first time since she was left with Raven. Cabana checks her breasts out but she’s too ditzy to notice. The Carnage Crew bundle in and get a few right hands in on the K ravers before they bail. ‘You guys came all the way to Chicago!!’ – Cabana. Apparently DeVito’s daughter has been raving, and someone slipped her X. NOW this is personal folks. Unfortunately the set is ruined so we’re unable to bring Punk out this time.

Maff and Whitmer are arguing before Daniels pulls rank and tells Maff to deal with it. Time for a promo, and Daniels points out that a year ago The Group were trying to run The Prophecy out of business, and they failed. Apparently Donovan Morgan is spreading the word of The Prophecy around the world apparently…anyway, my tape cuts out here…but I assume his point is, the Second City Saints will fail just like The Group. It’s the Saints vs The Prophecy in 6 Man Tag action on the first show of 2003.

Tape Rating – *** – The rating is possibly misleading, since believe me this show is MUST SEE. ROH pulls of the coup of bringing the stars of All Japan to America…and Great Muta was in the Main Event. Saints/Tumeric Storm, Styles/Hayashi and Homicide/Kojima are all solid bouts, and on the ROH side of things, John Walters and Xavier totally steal the show. Good stuff from start to finish…

Top 3 Matches
3) Samoa Joe vs Mark Briscoe (***)
2) CM Punk/Colt Cabana vs Tamiaoki Honma/Kazushi Miyamoto (***)
1) John Walters vs Xavier (****)

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