043 ROH Reborn: Completion 7/17/2004

ROH 43 – ROH Reborn: Completion – 17th July 2004

So it’s been a good couple of months since I last did an ROH review. In the meantime I caught up with some other stuff, and started my second year of university, in a term which has seen my attendance slump to frankly disgusting lows. Next term things will change damnit. Anyway, time to head into Ring Of Honor’s summer schedule, and kicking me off is this puppy – Reborn: Completion. It marks an end to the post-Feinstein era turbulence and the beginning of a series of flat out-awesome shows which hasn’t ended yet (and this review comes having just finished watching the three October shows).

I left off two months ago with Survival Of The Fittest, a show which, looking back, I was remarkably harsh on. Maybe after so much ROH reviewing I’d just become a little hard to please. Anyway, Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries put on a cracker to end that tournament, on a night when no storyline was significantly advanced. Tonight is different as the Homicide/Joe feud rages into 6 man tag form, as Homicide teams with the newest Rottweilers, the Havana Pitbulls, whilst Joe must team with former enemies the Briscoes. We will see a new Pure Champion crowned, as 8 men enter two fourways, with the two winners going on to compete for the belt. The Carnage Crews do battle with the losers being forced to split up…and lots more besides, so lets not waste more time – lets jump into the action. This is ROH’s return to the RexPlex in Elizabeth, NJ. Hosts are Jimmy Bower and CM Punk.

Contenders Ring –

Austin Aries (I assume from his performance at Survival Of The Fittest)

Colt Cabana (gets a title shot at DBD2 Part 2 after pinning Samoa Joe last show)

Bryan Danielson (guaranteed a title shot after winning the Survival of the Fittest)

Homicide (gets his title shot on the first night of the DBD 2 weekend)

CM Punk (still riding the wave of his fantastic performance at World Title Classic)

Shawn Price welcomes us whilst being VERY close to the camera…and he has Samoa Joe with him. Joe points out that the Pitbulls know him particularly well – they’re from his dojo in California. He seems pretty confident that he has good partners in the Briscoes though. He promises us a war. Hydro walks in at the end and Joe tells him to stop clowning around with Special K.

Everything has pre-match videos tonight. Not feud packages, just highlights from previous shows. I’m sure ROH can do better than this – it’s lazy, and frustrating to those who’ve already seen the shows.

Special K vs Generation Next

Representing K will be Izzy and Dixie, whilst the GeNext team is Rod Strong and Jack Evans. Special K (along with the Christopher Street Connection) were massacred by Generation Next back at the event with the same title, and were the first to lose to the faction in a match, as Izzy, Dixie and Angeldust lost in a Scramble to Aries, Strong and Evans. A chance for retribution…or more of the same? Izzy and Dixie have the rest of the crew with them, including the returning Hijinx. Shelley and Aries are out there as well.

Strong and Izzy kick us off, but Evans soon invades and takes a nice rana from Izzy. Heel kick on Strong, and Evans comes back. Izzy gives him the moonsault kick and that sends Evans to the floor. Izzy springboards into a somersault senton to the floor. Dixie with a botched rana on Strong, then a dropkick in the corner. Springboard blockbuster from Izzy for 2. Double dropkick on Strong, and Evans has to save. Punk is happy ‘Mark Nutly’ isn’t there. Dixie gets distracted by Evans, and Strong just boots him through the ropes to the floor. It breaks down to a brawl on the floor between the two groups…SPRINGBOARD 450 TWISTY SPIN DIVE FROM EVANS! Evans is the legal man with Dixie apparently, and he gets a 2 count with a dropkick. Fisherman’s buster gets 2 as well. Strong tags back to bring more hideously stiff chops. He hits a diving elbow off the second rope for 2. Stalling vertical suplex from Rod before he brings Evans back in. Strong hoists Izzy into a torture rack…AND EVANS COMES FROM THE TOP ROPE TO SPRINGBOARD OFF HIM INTO A MOONSAULT ON DIXIE! THAT ROCKED! 2 count only though. Springboard swinging DDT from Dixie to Strong and he tags Izzy. REVERSE RANA on Evans! Hiptoss facebuster by Izzy and Dixie on Strong. POWERBOMB BACKBREAKER ON DIXIE! 630 SENTON ON IZZY! Generation Next pick up the win in 9:00.

Rating – ** –
Really fun to watch, much like the initial match back at Generation Next. In this environment (the brief spot match) Jack Evans is truly a fantastic performer, as he pops the crowd with his whacky sh*t…but I’d like to see if he can do something more meaningful now. Izzy and Dixie were refreshingly pleasing in this match. They had a couple of early hiccups but after that filled their role as babyface lambs to the slaughter really well. After seeing them team in matches like this for 2 years, I’ve honestly never been more impressed.

GeNext aren’t done though, as Alex Shelley and Austin Aries join Strong and Evans in a massacre of the Special K guys. Strong gives Becky Bayless a backbreaker for good measure – that was mean. Shelley promises that tonight will go down in infamy thanks to them. Aries gets some mic time because the threat of TNA has ensured that ROH can’t give Shelley a huge push as GeNext leader – he could be pulled like Daniels or Styles at any time.

Dave Prazak (has he replaced GMC?) is backstage with Danny Daniels and Masada. Daniels says he hates Loc because he kissed more ass than him to get into ROH. Masada says he was the brutality of the Carnage Crew, not Loc and DeVito…Prazak has weird eyes.

Jay Lethal vs Nigel McGuiness vs Doug Williams vs John Walters

This is the first of two fourway qualifiers for the Pure Title match later tonight. Lethal has ditched they Hydro name and is wearing proper wrestling gear for only the second time in ROH (he had a High Impact TV match with Homicide in 2002 as Jay Lethal), so it’s probably safe to assume he’s out of Special K. This is probably Nigel’s biggest match in ROH to date, as he continues to get more and more exposure. Could he be on the brink of breaking out? Doug is back from the UK for the first time since the Second Anniversary Show (although sadly not using ‘Song 2’ – Blur as his entrance theme again). John Walters has floated around the midcard for the first half of 2004…could that all be about to change?

Williams and Nigel have a staredown before the bell even rings, but Walters tags in before they get a chance to go at it. Walters and McGuiness start, they chain a little, before Doug tags in. Lethal tags Nigel out, so now it’ll be Williams/Lethal. Jay is shockingly popular, and holds his own on the mat with Williams. Nigel storms the ring, and he and Williams finally go at it. Some retards chant ‘USA’ at them as they go hold for hold. It’s fantastic watching these two go at it, as CM Punk points out, there’s nobody better at their style than these guys right now. McGuiness goes into a headstand on the top rope, taking boots to the face, then gets rolled up for 2. McGuiness goes for more pinfalls, but can’t put Williams away. Doug comes right back by chain-wrestling all over Nigel’s ass. Lethal and Walters get fed up and force the Brits out of the ring. Walters blocks a hurricanrana and puts Lethal in an elevated Boston crab. Into the middle of the ring, and Walters goes for a Mutalock. Williams comes in and puts Walters into a Goku Raku stretch. Goku Raku legsweep from Walters. Huge forearm shunt from Williams knocks Walters down. Lethal in with a back suplex on Doug for 2. A backbreaker gets 2 as well. Nigel joins Doug in the ring and they take it in turns to crank pain on poor Jay Lethal. Lethal crotches himself in the corner – DOUBLE KNEE BACKBREAKER from Walters. HUGE clothesline from Lethal for 2. Walters fires back with one of his own, again for a nearfall. They clothesline each other, and now both men are down. Walters and Lethal opt not to tag the English back in, but Williams and McGuiness force it upon them. They take it back to the mat as Lethal and Walters continue to fight. Lethal gets dumped on his head from a fourway spot. Lethal goes onto the apron – SPRINGBOARD DDT on Walters! HEAD DROP GERMAN FROM WILLIAMS! HAMMERLOCK PEDIGREE FROM MCGUINESS ON WILLIAMS! McGuiness gets the DOUBLE KNEE BACKBREAKER from Walters. ACE CRUSHER on Lethal from Nigel for 2. He tries to do it again and Walters rolls Lethal up for 2. McGuiness boots Williams to the floor. Walters covers Nigel…BOMB SCARE KNEE DROP TO BREAK IT! CHAOS THEORY ON LETHAL! Doug advances at 18:38.

Rating – *** – I enjoyed it, although ultimately, it was a pretty by-the-numbers ROH fourway. All the early matwork was really fun, and I loved the shift from the neat wrestling of Nigel and Doug to Lethal and Walters just battering each other. However, abandoning the psychology at the end to throw all their high impact stuff at each other is pretty cheap at the end of the day. It’s fun, but it’s superficial for guys that are as good as these four. So like I said, enjoyable, but pretty hollow. In the best part of 20 minutes you’d think these guys could do more.

New & Improved Carnage Crew vs Carnage Crew – Weapons Match

At Our Best was pretty much the pinnacle of the Carnage Crew’s accomplishments in ROH. They main evented a huge show, and went out with the crowd chanting ‘ROH’ and cheering for them. They get backstage and their moment is ruined because someone took a sh*t in their bags. Long story short, it was Masada and Danny Daniels. They’ve formed a Carnage Crew of their own, they meet now with the losing team being forced to split up. DeVito is back after taking June off with a knee injury given to him at Generation Next by his adversaries tonight.

Masada and Daniels jump the gun, but DeVito takes a crutch to the pair of them. Daniels runs at Loc, who lifts him into the first row. Loc takes a wrench to Daniels in the ring as DeVito continues to hammer on Masada with his crutch. Daniels takes a Carnageplex onto a couple of chairs. DeVito with clotheslines on Masada…then the crossface stiffness. Daniels puts Loc in a tree of woe, and then dropkicks a chair into his head. Daniels goes for a tornado DDT on DeVito but gets suplexed into the turnbuckles. HEAD DROP back suplex from Loc to Masada. Punk bails from commentary to prepare for his match as DeVito hammers Daniels with a trash can lid. Masada slams Loc onto a chair, but MISSES a 450 splash off the top. Swinging back suplex from Daniels on DeVito for 2. Loc nails Masada with a swinging bulldog. They brawl onto a table propped up between the ring and the crowd barrier…LOC NECKBREAKERS MASADA RIGHT THROUGH IT! HOLY SH*T! DeVito puts a trash can over Daniels’ head…AND THE ORIGINAL CREW LAY WASTE TO HIM WITH BASEBALL BATS! YOU SICK F*CKS! Loc and DeVito win it at 10:09.

Rating – * – I
t gets a star for the two sick spots, because the rest of this was really awful. It frustrates me because the Carnage Crew have the ability to put on really compelling brawling matches (see their efforts with the Natural Born Sinners, Da Hit Squad, the Texas Wrestling Academy, Special K etc), but this was sub-standard. Aimless weapon shots, pointless blading and the general tedium of bad garbage wrestling. Thankfully that’s the end of this issue, and the end of the Masada/Daniels team. Masada now heads to Japan for a while, which is sad because in the last few months he’s shown some real talent.

Sidenote – (and a particularly pointless one) Looking back at a highlights video from World Title Classic, I guess Shelley did beat Stryker in a best of 3 series. Stryker won the first (Battle Lines Are Drawn), Shelley won the second (Round Robin Challenge 3) and then the third was the 6 man at World Title Classic which GeNext (including Shelley) won. I feel bad for saying ROH decided to bail on that idea now…

New Code Of Honor (it’s now optional rather than mandatory) –

1. Shake hands if you respect your opponent
2. Keep the playing field level (no outside interference etc)
3. Respect the officials

Matt Stryker vs Austin Aries vs Alex Shelley vs CM Punk

This is the second Pure Title qualification match, and it’s as interesting, in terms of personnel, as the first one. Stryker continues to be wildly unpopular, earning chants of ‘Die’ before he’s taken more than 5 steps past the curtain. His post-Final Battle 2003 push is well and truly over. Can he produce a performance to win the fans back? Aries and Shelley are, beyond question, two of the finest young talents in America right now. Given that they’re both members of Generation Next, are we going to see them go at it? CM Punk, meanwhile, came close to the Pure Title on two separate occasions when AJ Styles was champion, and tries to win the belt again tonight. He has his “final confrontation” with Ricky Steamboat later however, so it could be a busy night for him. Doug Williams awaits the winner of this later in the event.

We don’t get a handshake, instead, Aries and Shelley jump Punk, who has to be saved by Stryker. They play some volleyball with Shelley until Aries pulls Punk out. Punk tries to screw Stryker over and get the quick pin but only gets 2. Punk and Stryker continue to put a beating on Aries and Shelley whilst wrestling each other…which is fun to watch. Aries and Shelley tagged and they’re pretty reluctant to fight each other. Stryker doesn’t keep his eye on the ring, and Aries drags him back into the match. Generation Next have isolated Stryker, which from a crowd POV sucks since nobody cares if he’s getting his ass kicked. Punk tags in…and he’s heel too. Four heels in one match, whilst the other one had four babyfaces. Genius booking here. Punk with a stalling suplex on Aries, then an abdominal stretch. Stryker tags back and he wants Shelley (remember they’ve had issues since the start of the year). He goes for the Strykerlock, but Shelley scrambles to the ropes. Abandoning that approach, Stryker goes to Shelley’s arm and gives it a pretty rigorous working over. Punk in, and he continues the work Matt Stryker started. Stryker folds up Shelley’s arms and legs, stretching him out, then tags Punk back. Aries chokes Punk against the top rope to buy Shelley some time, and he spends it by driving his knee into Punk’s neck. Aries slingshots in with a hilo, as he turns things up a notch with his arrival in the ring.

Shelley tries to mock Punk’s Straight Edge pose, but hurts his own arm in the process. Bridging camel clutch, but he can’t keep it on for a long period due to his arm injury. Aries slingshots in with a leg drop, driving Punk into a backbreaker from Shelley. Punk and Shelley clash heads in the middle of the ring, with Punk falling head-first into Shelley’s groin. Stryker and Aries in, and Stryker opens up on all three of his opponents. He nails a powerslam on Aries and gets 2. Pepsi Twist on Stryker gets 2. Punk chops both GeNext members, but gets the crap beaten out of him…BORDER CITY STRETCH/RINGS OF SATURN COMBO! Stryker saves…gutbuster…INTO A DVD ON ARIES! Shelley makes the save…and gets put in the Strykerlock (after a match of work on the arm). ARIES SAVES WITH A 450! PUNK NAILS ARIES WITH A SHINING WIZARD! Stryker and Punk go at it again until Aries turns up to trade forearms with Punk. It turns messy as Punk botches his mule kick on Shelley…Duelling roll ups…The referee counts the three count with Shelley pinning Stryker at 19:31…despite the fact that Punk had Aries pinned on the other side of the ring…and despite the fact that Stryker and Aries were the legal men.

Rating – * –
Pretty much the worst match these four could’ve had. For a start I think this was booked wrong. The first fourway had four faces in (I assume Walters, in all the apathy that surrounds him, is supposed to be babyface), whilst this one had absolutely no crowd heat since all four of them were heels. Still, that aside, this was shoddy. The finish was a complete mess…the match was needlessly long. Literally the only reason this avoids a DUD is the neat work on Shelley’s arm, which will become more relevant later in the night. This was majorly disappointing.

Shelley and Aries head to the back (Shelley selling the arm), but Punk grabs the mic. He rips on Shelley’s “Baby Bear” gimmick from TNA. He says the Saints are the top faction in ROH…not Generation Next. He says he’s gonna kick Steamboat out of ROH later tonight as well.

Colt Cabana/Ace Steel vs Dan Maff/BJ Whitmer – Falls Count Anywhere Match

This is the last time a Saints team will battle Maff and Whitmer on the east coast, as the feud between them ends in Chicago on the second night of the Death Before Dishonor 2 double shot. Obviously this lot have some history by this point. Maff and Whitmer were part of The Prophecy that attacked Lucy…but since then Maff and Whitmer have left Allison Danger and The Prophecy. But the heat is still there, and it wasn’t settled last time the factions clashed at Generation Next. Cabana and Steel meet Maff and Whitmer tonight, and it’ll be Punk and Steel against Maff and Whitmer in a couple of shows in Chicago to round things off. Lots of fun to be had methinks…but not a patch on the raging war the Saints vs a Prophecy with Chris Daniels would’ve been.

The brawl starts in the aisle, but it breaks off with Steel and Whitmer fighting in the ring whilst Maff and Cabana go at it on the floor. They spill inside, but Cabana blocks the half nelson suplex then clotheslines Maff down. Punk returns and naturally he’s not happy…and promises violence on Maff and Whitmer at DBD2. Meanwhile in the ring it’s degenerated into a dull clubberfest. Maff sends Steel into the guardrails…then launches him into the first row. Into the crowd, and Steel gets the upper hand with a chair…and out of nowhere Cabana and Whitmer appear. Maff smacks Ace with a chair as we’ve made it all the way back to the bleachers. Cabana jumps off them onto Maff and the slugging continues. Steel suplexes Maff on the floor…and after 8 minutes we have a wrestling move. Onwards we go and we go up onto the hard camera balcony. Maff is still swinging a chair, then throws a garbage can around. Maff teases a certain-death bump off the balcony but doesn’t go – BJ makes the save. Whitmer shoves Cabana over the other railing and Colt “falls 20 feet”…as in, we don’t see it and he lands on some nice padding. Maff smacks Ace in the face with a spotlist…then a Con-Chair-To and Maff and Whitmer take the win at 10:50.

Rating – DUD –
For the people that were there live I’m sure this was a lot of fun. These four guys fighting onto your laps must be kinda cool, and the visuals up on the balcony were sure to be far more dramatic. On tape, this was dreadful. It was 10 minutes of four men walking around and swinging fake punches, with a fake bump at the end to round it off. Messy, horrible…please let Chicago be better than this crap. One of the worst matches in ROH…ever.

Allison Danger climbs into the ring and says Maff and Whitmer won for The Prophecy. They themselves gesture that she’s insane because they left. Danger says she owns their contracts…and The Prophecy will never die.

INTERMISSION – GMC is here it turns out, and he’s with Special K. Dixie is an absolute mess, Becky is on the floor. Angeldust is still feeling his neck from Scramble Cage 2…they all argue and nobody helps poor Becky up off the floor.

Prince Nana and the Outcast Killaz arrive to introduce the newest member of The Embassy…the one Nana emptied his Ghanaian banks to recruit. Whoever it is will be wrestling Trent Acid anyway. His new man comes out shrouded in a robe…it’s Jimmy Rave. You KNEW they wouldn’t stick to the ‘he’ll never be back’ angle after World Title Classic right?

Jimmy Rave vs Trent Acid

Acid is still bouncing around after going solo, why’d he do that again? Rave is returning from a lengthy absence of all of one show. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s back, and felt his last performance (in the 6 man at WTC) was his best in ROH to date. These two have clashed a few times in other companies, but I think this is a first for ROH. Incidentally, this is clever booking – an intriguing and somewhat humorous angle to fill the traditionally dead-end first slot after intermission. Acid is NOT an attractive man…he looks like a human/rat hybrid.

‘Die Jimmy Die’ – Elizabeth. Acid runs away from Rave to start, then NAILS an Asai moonsault, wiping out the whole Embassy. Rave takes a swinging neckbreaker over the middle rope…SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT from Acid to the prone Jimmy. Corkscrew leg drop from the top as he continues to fly around the ring. Rave comes back with a clothesline. Stepping high knee from Rave, and Trent is down in the corner. Acid blocks the Satellite Crossface and scores with a superkick. Double knee in the corner scores, but Nana sweeps his leg as he prepares for the Yakuza kick. Rave hits a back suplex to restore his supremacy. Springboard swinging DDT from Trent, before he goes back to the top. Nana grabs his leg and Rave climbs up – ACID HITS A SUPER BLUE THUNDER DRIVER…for 2! Suplex powerbomb from Acid gets 2 as well. Rave ducks a roaring elbow…INVERTED BRAINBUSTER for his trouble. Nana distracts the referee so Trent can’t take the win. Jimmy goes for a cheap schoolboy but only gets 2. CRAPPY WIZARD…only gets 2. Yakuza kick from Trent…but Jimmy blocks another inverted brainbuster attempt…RAVE NAILS A STYLES CLASH!! (RAVE CLASH?!?) Jimmy picks up a win at 10:02.

Rating – ** –
Enjoy this for what it was – 10 minutes of filler action before we get to the serious stuff which the second half brings. Trent really busted a gut and threw himself around the ring which I appreciate, and there were enough decent spots to keep it going. I didn’t dig Nana’s interference, but realistically, this match means nothing anyway, it’s not like he’s ruining an ROH Title match. The Rave Clash finish is intriguing…clearly Gabe hasn’t entirely given up hope on AJ coming back to end his deal with Jimmy Rave.

Doug Williams vs Alex Shelley – ROH Pure Title Match

So once again we’re ready to crown a Pure Champion…and hopefully they’ll stick around longer this time. Doug won through to this match by defeating Jay Lethal, Nigel McGuiness and John Walters, whilst Alex Shelley came through Matt Stryker, CM Punk and GeNext stablemate Austin Aries. Bear in mind Shelley is carrying an injury to his arm from the qualification match. This is under Pure Title rules, meaning three rope breaks, no punching and 20 counts on the floor.

Shelley has left Evans, Strong and Aries backstage for this which is nice. Williams goes right after the arm in the initial grappling. Shelley’s arm holds up okay though, and he hooks Doug in a version of CM Punk’s Devil lock early. Williams works a headscissors, then forearms Shelley in the face. More smooth chaining, and they’re pretty even, testing each other and perhaps trying to steal an early rope break. Camel clutch from Shelley, with his arms across Williams’ face, but he can’t keep him down on the mat no matter what he tries. Doug stretches out Shelley’s arms, and with every minute that passes he exposes the weakness in the arm a little more. He wrenches it some more, then launches him shoulder first into the turnbuckle. 10 minutes in and Doug forces Shelley to use his first rope break to escape Doug’s focus on the injury. Shelley walks right back into a hammerlock. Enziguri from Shelley buys him some more time. Neckbreaker drops Williams again, and Shelley follows up with a fist drop – which of course, is illegal under Pure rules. Slingshot leg drop from Shelley gets 2. He stamps on the back of the head, as Shelley has responded by focusing on Doug’s neck. Shelley avoids a knee drop…but gets caught in a Fujiwara armbar. He has to take his second rope break to escape that!

Neckbreaker over the knee on Williams, then he drops a flurry of knees to the back of the head. Shoulderbreaker from Williams…BOMB SCARE KNEE DROP! HAMMERLOCK WITH A BRIDGE! Shelley escapes…SO DOUG APPLIES IT AGAIN! Shelley uses his third rope break to break free. DDT out of nowhere from the GeNext man…but it only gets 2. High knee from Doug drops his opponent again. High knee to the shoulder…but Shelley fires back with a superkick. FUJIWARA ARMBAR from Williams…SHELLEY COUNTERS WITH THE BORDER CITY STRETCH! Williams has an injured neck but he escapes. Shelley goes upstairs…DOUBLE STOMP to the head! SHELLSHOCK…DOUG KICKS OUT AT 2! Williams HAMMERLOCKS SHELLEY IN THE ROPES! He taps at 19:22 – Doug Williams is your new Pure Champion!

Rating – **** – 4*’s for that because I thought it was absolutely fantastic stuff. The opening 7/8 minutes of chain wrestling were so clever in their subtlety. Both men picked at each other looking for weaknesses, but it always came back to Doug looking for that arm injury, and Shelley attacking simply to protect himself. Then from the second Doug slammed the shoulder into the turnbuckles it was, from a psychological point of view, a joy to behold. Shelley going for the neck was a nice subplot, but it was so thrilling watching Williams pick apart Shelley’s arm to give him the increasingly inevitable finisher. I wish this one could’ve got an extra 5 minutes to really bring some more drama (perhaps with more of a deal made of Doug’s neck injury)…but I guess for some the pace was pretty slow. I loved this, and it’s the best match of the show by a long way thus far.

Doug celebrates with the belt in the ring, and someone hands him a Union Jack for extra British kicks. It’s nice to see a guy who’s had nothing but quality matches since June of 2002 in this company get the belt…even if Alex Shelley doesn’t think so.

Highlights of all the moments in the Punk/Steamboat feud so far…meaning lots of armdrags and chops amidst a load of Punk heelishness. I guess that means it’s time for the FINAL CONFRONTATION (dum dum dummmmmmm!)

CM Punk/Ricky Steamboat – The Final Confrontation

Gary Capetta is the host of this, and his speech before bringing out Punk and Steamboat is embarrassingly cheesy and old school. Unlike Generation Next this is a brawl all the way, as Steamboat charges the ring and the fight is underway. It’s cool to see Ricky rumble around the ring, but this brawl goes on for a little too long given his obvious limitations. Punk gets the advantage with a piledriver, and wants to use the ring bell again, but gets cut off by Ricky. He stands over Punk and puts him over as a great wrestler and a jackass.

Generation Next invade the ring and jump Steamboat from behind, beating him down and leaving Punk with the mic. He swerves all of GeNext and attacks them instead – FACE TURN! Steamboat and Punk clear off GeNext…as New Jersey chants their names. The whole “confrontation” thing sucked…but the aftermath is awesome. Babyface Punk and the prospect of a Saints/GeNext feud on the horizon…it’s gonna be an awesome second half of 2004.

Homicide/Rocky Romero/Ricky Reyes vs Samoa Joe/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe

This is what the people came to see, as the war between Homicide and Samoa Joe speeds towards its supposed conclusion at Death Before Dishonor 2 next week. Obviously the history is pretty extensive, given that their issues go all the way back to ROH’s first year of business. Since Reborn Stage 1 Homicide has been off the rails, after thinking he’d held Joe’s shoulders down for a three count. He fireballed him that night, took over Samoa Joe’s Ring the next night. They brawled at Round Robin Challenge 3, and Homicide still wasn’t pacified after losing to Joe again at Generation Next. He stole Joe’s new championship belt and disrespected Punk and Joe’s incredible 60 minute match at World Title Classic, then we saw another brawl at Survival Of The Fittest. Now Homicide brings his new recruits to the Rottweilers, the Havana Pitbulls…meaning Joe must turn to a team he has a respect for to help him out – after all, they spent the end of 2003 and the start of 2004 feuding. The Briscoes also have issues with the Pitbulls stemming back to their violent match at Reborn Stage 1, and Homicide himself for the way he savaged Jay Briscoe’s neck at Survival Of The Fittest. Joe also holds a victory over Ricky Reyes (the man who turned the lights off in St. Paul) from RRC3.

It’s a big fight to start, with Homicide looking for the tope con hilo but getting cut off with a chop from Joe. He tries to set Smokes up for the Ole Ole Kick but gets caught by Homicide…so Joe suplexes Cide onto J-Train! OLE OLE KICK CONNECTS THIS TIME! Smokes’ selling of that is funny as hell…as Joe and the Briscoes stand tall in the ring. Homicide heads down the aisle and calls someone on the phone…interesting no? Romero and Joe start the match properly, and they throw strikes at each other. Joe pummels Romero in the corner for his trouble. Reyes and Jay next, with these two taking it to the mat, which looks a little clichéd after watching Williams/Shelley already tonight. Reyes fires off some kicks before Mark tags in. Homicide soon follows but Mark shows no fear. Reyes-Jay again now, and Reyes unloads with more stiff kicks. Romero in and he breaks out the lady of the lake. Mark tags in and takes him up on his challenge and gets dragged into a Rings of Saturn…which Joe breaks with a kick. Romero tries to do the lady of the lake stuff with Joe and gets kicked all over the shop for it. Gory Special on Romero, into a pin for 2. Romero pulls Joe back into the Rings of Saturn but he can’t keep hold of it. Joe shoulder blocks Rocky right out of the ring. Reyes in and he gets booted in the corner by both Briscoes. Mark applies a chinlock to wear Reyes down…and he gets kicked in the head by Romero. Joe comes back, and he and Mark deliver a double suplex. Chop/kick combo, followed by the knee drop from Joe, before Jay tags in – and hits a dropkick for 2. Romero cheapshots Jay, which leaves him prone to a back suplex from Reyes. Homicide tags in and brings the suplexes. DDT OFF THE ROPES drops Jay on his head, but somehow he kicks out at 2.

Romero is in at 20 minutes and scores with more kicks. Homicide and Romero crotch Jay against the ringpost, leaving him exposed to a double boot from Reyes. Crossface chickenwing from Romero, but Jay escapes and nails a diving clothesline. He scores with a Yakuza kick and in comes Samoa Joe. Joe clears the ring of Cide and Romero…E HONDA SLAPS ON REYES! ENZI KICK OF DEATH! Mark goes to the top rope…CORKSCREW SENTON TO THE FLOOR – but all he hit was his own brother. ROMERO FLIES OVER THE ROPES WITH A SUICIDE DIVE! Joe’s the only man left but Homicide arrives before he can hit a tope. Joe batters Homicide – THEN FLIES TO THE FLOOR WITH A CORKSCREW PESCADO! Homicide teases the tope con hilo but doesn’t do it. The Briscoes drag him out and throw him into the railings. Back inside Romero takes the STO SLAM for 2. Romero goes for a cross armbreaker, but Joe hauls him up and Mark Briscoe kicks him in the face! Romero blocks the Jay Driller, so Jay heads upstairs for a guillotine leg drop. Romero puts Jay in an octopus stretch as Homicide and Reyes stop Joe and Mark saving. Mark finally finds a way through to save. Inverted DDT/back suplex combo from the Pitbulls on Jay. Reyes gives Jay a Fisherman’s DDT for 2. Yakuza kick from Jay and he tags Mark. He goes upstairs…SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE – 2 COUNT! They try it again but Homicide drags Mark to the floor. Reyes gives Jay a German suplex…AND MARK ALMOST KILLS HIMSELF BOTCHING A SHOOTING STAR PRESS! DANGEROOOOOUUUUS! Homicide comes in…and somehow Mark suplexes him. Urinage on Romero…and he goes upstairs again! Homicide cuts him off…DOUBLE UNDERHOOK SUPERPLEX! TIGER DRIVER…Joe saves! Homicide pokes Joe in the eyes…BUT GETS DROPPED ON HIS HEAD WITH A DVD – ROMERO SAVES! Joe knees sh*t through Romero’s face for that. HOMICIDE THROWS ANOTHER FIREBALL…AND IT HITS MARK BRISCOE! JOE DUCKED AT IT HIT MARK! That’s a DQ victory for Joe’s team at 32:03!

Rating – *** –
It was cool to start with, but the elongated feeling out process definitely dragged. It just seemed they did a whole lot of stalling for at least 10 minutes, with guys filing in and out of the ring with no real rhyme or reason. It all came together with the isolation of Jay Briscoe, and by the end just felt like an absolute war. Mark’s botched SSP was sick (not quite Brock Lesnar ‘Mania 19 bad though) but ultimately it didn’t hurt the match too much, since it went with the general theme of the contest – 6 guys who hate each other and will do anything to win. The non-finish was kinda sucky after 30 minutes, but at least fireballs are cool (the St. Paul one was better though).

Now the fun begins, as Jay takes Mark to the back, leaving Samoa Joe alone with all the Rottweilers. Jay comes back with a chair to make the save until Smokes distracts him. Jay takes a beating along with Joe…UNTIL LOW KI’S MUSIC STARTS TO PLAY! OH YOU BETTER BELIEVE LOW MOTHERF*CKIN’ KI IS BACK IN ROH! He herds the Rottweilers away from Joe and grabs the title belt. Homicide is pissed – and b*tches that this is his time. Ki takes the stick and says that nobody disrespects the ROH Title…but him. HEEEEEEEEEEL TURN! Ki smacks Joe in the face with the belt…and now the massacre continues! Homicide introduces Low Ki as the newest member of the Rottweilers! Ki says that since he left ROH it’s been all downhill…but now he’s back The Champ is here! They pose over his carcass then bury him under an ROH banner…SEVEN shades of awesome chaps!

SSP is backstage waiting for Special K. He catches them as they head out of the building, and there’s dissension in the troops. Hijinx, Cheech and someone else want to party, whilst Angeldust and Dixie are pissed off. That’s where we end the show…that’s not interesting…AND neither are you Sugar Shawn!

Tape Rating – *** – I almost dropped this show down to 2*…but I think that would’ve been a little harsh. However, it cannot be denied that as far as match quality goes, this is sub-par for ROH. Aside from Williams/Shelley and the main event, the best anything else reaches is averagely good. There are two poor brawls, a hugely disappointing and messy fourway whilst the tag opener and Acid/Rave matches are nothing more than fun pieces of filler. However, what drags this up is the sheer awesomeness of some of the booking advances. Punk’s face turn has so many exciting possibilities for the future, whilst Low Ki’s return to ROH was an unforgettable moment. I think this was also the show when Mick Foley’s appearance at September 11th’s Glory By Honor 3 was announced. It’s not fantastic, but this probably is one of those ‘must-see’ shows through storyline advancement alone. It’s a mixed bag, sure there’s some stuff dragging it down, but there’s enough here to ensure you won’t go disappointed.

Top 3 Matches

3) Doug Williams vs Jay Lethal vs Nigel McGuiness vs John Walters (***)

2) Samoa Joe/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Homicide/Rocky Romero/Ricky Reyes (***)

1) Doug Williams vs Alex Shelley (****)

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