061 ROH Back to Basics 3/12/2005

ROH 61 – Back To Basics – 12th March 2005

Over the last four weeks, ROH has given us steel cage matches, falls count anywhere matches, Bobby Heenan, Jim Cornette, the Trios Tournament and more…so now it’s time to get “back to basics”. The premise of this show is simple – lots of talent, straight-up matches. No gimmicks, no fuss, no tournaments and no distractions. It’s actually quite unique in that, compared to some shows, the talent list is fairly limited. ROH Champion Austin Aries is in Europe defending the belt. Bryan Danielson isn’t here, neither are the staples of the midcard of late – The Embassy. This means big chances to shine for guys like Roderick Strong, Jack Evans, Rocky Romero and Jay Lethal, who are in far bigger matches tonight than they might otherwise be. Main eventing is a tag match for #1 contendership to the Tag belts. It’s Joe and Lethal against Punk and Corino (wink, wink), but Corino is no-showing. ROH is debuting tonight in Woodbridge, CT. The commentary duo for this show are Jimmy Bower and Mark Nulty, just to show off how many commentators the company has.

Guests are Dunn & Marcos. They want tag gold, but Nigel McGuiness interrupts them. He wants Cabana to be serious since they’ve got a Tag title shot tonight. He’s also pissed that Colt has got himself a singles match as well…

Special K ravers prepare for their big match tonight…by watching Deranged do a handstand. Lacey wants them to win the rights to the K name tonight so they can make merchandising money.

Colt Cabana vs Delirious

Cabana requested this singles match on top of his Tag Title match later in the show so he can rise up the singles ranks and get in line for Pure and World Title gold too. If Delirious can beat Colt here, that’d guarantee him a permanent spot on the roster. Both of these men are excellent chain-wrestlers and hilarious comedy guys too, so this should be interesting.

The bell rings and Delirious goes mad. He runs round the ring like a psycho, then tries to convince the ref Colt pulled his mask. Delirious covers up on the mat, so Cabana dumps him on the top rope. Lizard-pose by Delirious, but Cabana traps him in a bodyscissors. Criss-cross, before Colt runs through a series of pinning combinations, all for 2. Flying hurricanrana from Delirious for 2. Cabana fires back with a swinging neckbreaker. He works Delirious’ leg with a spinning toehold. Delirious is set up for a superplex, but he blocks…SHADOWS OVER HELL for 2! Colt comes back with the spinning Razor’s Edge and that’s enough to win it at 07:48.

Rating – ** –
If they’d have chosen to go down a more serious wrestling route, I’m sure it would’ve been executed just as well, but there was no need here. What this called for was a comedy match to get the show off to a good start, and that’s what they delivered. If needed, Delirious is capable of so much more than these brief comedy runs, but the roster is so packed at the moment there just isn’t room for him.

Alex Law/Ricky Landell vs Dunn & Marcos

I have no real desire to see Steve Corino’s young protégé’s in action here, but that’s what I shall get. They previously got squashed by Roderick Strong at It All Begins back in January. Dunn & Marcos, meanwhile, are facing the very real prospect of, for the first time in three years, wrestling a match where the other team are the jobbers. You see where not taking it anymore tours get you!

Law and Landell get an early start, but Landell quickly gets thrown to the floor. Tandem bulldogs by the Ring Crew Express. Law blocks the Gory Driver and tags in Landell, who hits a double underhook suplex for 2. Law hits a big rubbishy lariat, then dropkicks Dunn in the face. Landell dropkicks Dunn in the knee as he looks to fightback. Gory Driver on Ricky and this time the tag is made. Marcos gives Law his swinging neckbreaker, and dishes out a falcon arrow on Landell. Law eats the kick trio and goes down hard. Double Regal neckbreaker from Team Corino for 2. Dunn gives Landell a Saito suplex, then pulls Law down off the top rope with a cutthroat powerbomb. SECOND ROPE ELECTRIC CHAIR SENTON…and that puts Law down at 05:45.

Rating – * –
Dunn & Marcos looked ok, Ricky Landell didn’t do badly, whilst Alex Law just looked a bit rubbish. Landell is definitely the better wrestler in Team Corino. He showed it getting squashed by Roderick Strong in January and again here. This could’ve been cut from the tape quite easily…or we could’ve had an extra five minutes for one of the other matches tonight…definitely a waste of valuable tape time.

ARIES UPDATE – We get a clip of him defending the ROH Title against Vordell Walker in FIP. He’s trying to be like an old-school champion and defend the belt in different territories, and trying to take it to even more countries than Samoa Joe…and that’s why he’s not on the show tonight. He’s in Austria and Switzerland this weekend. He’s back next show to defend against Homicide.

Jack Evans vs Spanky

Two of the more charismatic workers in ROH clash here. This should be interesting because you rarely get to see Spanky in a match where he’ll be aiming to slow the pace down and ground his smaller opponent, such as is the case here. Evans has been impressing in the ring lately, as shown in his great singles match with Alex Shelley in Chicago two weeks ago.

Evans almost out-smarts Spanky in a dance-off and rolls him up for 2 right at the bell. Spanky comes back by monkey flipping Jack over the top rope to the floor. Outside, Spanky whips Evans so hard into the railings he flies over them into the front row. Second rope knee drop from Spanky for 2. Boston crab applied, but surely Evans is just too flexible to tap out to this. Evans scores with some right hands but he walks right into a jumping heel kick. Evans blocks Sliced Bread then hits a stepping flip dropkick which sends Spanky outside. SPACE FLYING TIGER DIVE!! Back inside, Evans nails a corkscrew enziguri, then a handspring elbow in the corner. Standing corkscrew moonsault for 2. Spanky forces Evans down from the top then drills him with a superkick. Evans climbs the ropes again and gets crotched. SECOND ROPE SLICED BREAD #2! Spanky is your winner, 07:26 is your time.

Rating – ** –
Fun spot exchange from two of ROH’s more entertaining wrestlers. It wasn’t particularly deep or powerful stuff, but in less than 8 minutes, it was never going to be. I’m sure this would’ve gone longer and probably been a better match, but events later in the night put pay to that.

Gary Capetta comes to the ring to deliver the news that if James Gibson fails to beat Rocky Romero tonight, Spanky gets a World Title shot in Boston in April16th. Roderick Strong comes out and says Spanky has to go through all of Generation Next to get the ROH Title. Evans and Strong lay a beating on him as a message, and to soften him up should he be the one getting the shot.

Izzy/Deranged vs Dixie/Azrieal

Winners get the rights to the Special K name. This is the culmination of the Special K split angle which started way back last summer. After Scramble Cage 2 last March, K were trapped in an insanely long losing streak and general slump. Izzy brought in his new girlfriend Lacey, and since then things started to fall apart. She only cared about Izzy, and blamed guys like Dixie and Azrieal (then Angeldust) for their defeats. Eventually it all fell apart at All Star Extravaganza 2 when Lacey and her troops (Izzy, Deranged, Cheech and Cloudy) kicked Dixie, Azrieal and Becky out of Special K. Since then Lacey has put Becky out of wrestling with her implant DDT (at Final Battle 2004), whilst Dixie and Azrieal have vowed to become more serious. Can they now extract the ultimate revenge by gaining the rights to the Special K name?

Izzy and Deranged pretend to play nice to get a jump on their opponents. Springboard dropkick on both guys by Deranged. Dixie stays down and gets trapped in a running chinlock. They throw armdrags at each other, but Dixie is serious so traps Deranged on the mat with his wrestling skills. Azrieal tags in but Deranged goes to the eyes. Izzy stretches Az’s arm in the ropes, but Azrieal fights back and applies an octopus stretch. Mexican surfboard from Izzy. ‘Chant for my team damnit’ – Deranged to the fans. Azrieal breaks out a bow and arrow stretch. Azrieal avoids the moonsault dropkick and gives him a neck ringer. Back suplex/leg drop combo by the serious Special K duo for 2. Cheech and Cloudy distract Dixie to allow Izzy to guillotine him over the top rope. Izzy and Deranged give Dixie a double brainbuster for 2. Cheech and Cloudy take their chance to choke him over the middle rope whilst Azrieal complains to the referee. Enziguri from Dixie, and that allows him to make a tag…but the ref doesn’t see it. Standing moonsault/somersault leg drop combination by the ravers. SNAP German suplex on Izzy, and again Dixie goes looking for a tag. Azrieal gives Deranged a tilta-whirl backbreaker. Izzy springboards RIGHT INTO SOUTH OF HEAVEN! Deranged breaks the pin on that. MAD SCIENTIST BOMB/NECKBREAKER COMBO…for 2. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY IZZY ONTO DIXIE! Deranged hits a springboard double stomp to the chest of Azrieal. Deranged wants a top rope rana, but Azrieal blocks it. SOUTH OF HEAVEN OFF THE SECOND ROPE! Azrieal wins at 12:39.

Rating – *** –
In terms of straight wrestling, these four guys (traditionally spot-merchants) have never looked better in all their time in the company. This match wasn’t a mad, manic exchange of high-spots, rather a solid wrestling match, with good heat segments for both teams, which gradually built to the spotty climax everyone wanted to see. The crowd was perhaps a little quiet, but it seemed more respectful than bored so it didn’t detract too much. Based on this performance, both teams should perhaps get a serious run in the tag division (which is lacking teams as it is) since, with the right opponents, they could do well.

ROH STRAIGHT SHOOTIN’ SERIES – ummm…yeah, buy them. Especially the one with Mike Rotunda. That IRS…he’s just guaranteed to be a big seller.

Roderick Strong vs Homicide

Big chance for Strong to impress here, because this is easily his biggest match in singles competition in the company. In IWA and CZW he’s really impressed me when he’s gone solo (especially in a couple of big hitting bouts with Samoa Joe at the 2004 TPI and Strong Style tournaments in IWA-MS) so I’m confident he’s ready to step up. He’s also got a job to do here. Homicide challenges Austin Aries for the ROH Title at the next show. Strong will surely be going out tonight to soften Homicide up for his Generation Next partner. Strong has Evans with him, Homicide has Smokes…but both agree to send their seconds to the back and have a straight fight instead (good).

Neat wrestling exchanges kick us off, before Homicide heads to the floor to argue with as many fans as he can find. Back in the ring and Homicide bites Strong’s hand as a counter in their next exchange. Homicide slows the pace with a rear chinlock because Roderick was just a bit too good and hung with him in the chaining. Armdrags from Homicide, followed up by a baseball slide to the outside. He smacks Strong in the neck with a chair, but the GeNexter fires back with chops. Running forearm from Homicide, sending Rod tumbling around ringside. Out of nowhere Roderick slams Homicide against the ringpost, then spins him right round, dumping him against the railings. It’s a stiff-fest on the floor with chops and forearms next, but Strong has done some damage to the back…and he’s the Messiah of the backbreaker folks. Stalling vertical suplex from Strong for 2. Jawbreaker by Homicide, but he runs right into a belly to belly suplex. Neckbreaker by Cide, and this time he does get himself a break from Strong’s offence. He traps Strong in a hammerlock with a leg around the back of the head to add some pain there. Double clothesline in the middle of the ring and both men go down with injuries – the back on Homicide and the neck on Strong. Homicide blocks a backbreaker and throws Rod outside…TOPE CON HILO! Did that do more damage to him than to Roderick though? Strong blocks the lariat and hits a half nelson backbreaker for 2. Homicide scores with a top rope hurricanrana, and follows it with a piledriver. Strong avoids another neckbreaker…Rock Bottom backbreaker, right into a Boston crab! Homicide takes Roderick upstairs again, this time for the DOUBLE UNDERHOOK SUPERPLEX! That hurt his back almost as much as it hurt Roderick. T-BONE SUPLEX from Homicide for 2. Strong gets taken to the top again…super Ace crusher scores. STRONG WALKS RIGHT INTO THE LARIAT! TWO COUNT! Homicide doesn’t panic though…and dumps Strong right on his neck with a second Lariat of utter death. Strong is done at 18:28.

Rating – **** –
I’m a big fan of solid work, and matches that tell a solid and focused storyline always score big marks with me. This is no exception, I totally enjoyed it. I’m sure to some it wasn’t the most interesting of matches, but meh, this is my review. Homicide and Strong both constantly focused their offence on what wins them their matches – the back for Strong’s backbreakers, and the neck for Homicide’s lariat and Cop Killa. There were some selling issues, particularly Homicide repeatedly going to the top with a bad back, but I’m not arguing this is perfect. Big time break-out match for Roderick, perhaps not in terms of his star power in ROH, but he just erased all the doubts – he’s a damn good worker too, just like Aries, and just like former leader Alex Shelley. He goes into next months Best of American Super Juniors.

INTERMISSION – GMC (it says ‘JUGS’ on the wall behind him hehe) has Azrieal and Dixie with him. They throw down the Special K name – they’re ashamed of their past and don’t want it.

Lacey vs Cindy Rogers vs Allison Danger vs Daizee Haze

More women’s fourway action here (after the success of the Dayton and Chicago matches – the Chicago one being a dark match). The real issue is the heat between Lacey and Daizee. Daizee pinned the (now former) Special K member back in Dayton during the Third Anniversary week, so Lacey is gunning for revenge. Meanwhile, Allison is apparently deranged at the demise of The Prophecy and pissed off that Daizee Haze knocked her out in Dayton. This is Rogers’ ROH debut, and the first time I think I’ve seen her, so lets see what she can do.

Danger and Rodgers kick off, allowing Cindy to show off what chaining ability she has. Lacey comes in to show how much smoother she is than Rogers, before they battle in a rolling cradle. Haze comes in with a flurry of pinning combinations but can’t put Cindy down. Lacey kicks Haze into a Russian legsweep. Big sidewalk slam by Rogers for 2. Lacey tags in with Daizee for the first time, and plants her with a cobra clutch backbreaker. Allison in, and she murders Haze over the bottom rope to extract some Dayton revenge. Daizee goes for a monkey flip but it’s blocked. She does score with a missile dropkick though. Rogers rocks Lacey and Allison with clotheslines. Haze sunset flips Lacey into German suplexing Cindy. Haze goes for the heart punch, but has to move so Cindy can nail Lacey with a superkick. Lacey gives Rogers an Ace crusher but Danger breaks the pin. Danger plants Cindy with an STO and it’s over. That got 08:47…surprisingly long.

Rating – * –
Not as good as the Dayton fourway in my opinion. I’m taking these girls seriously, and as such, I’m grading them equally. If men went out there and put on something that sloppy and poorly executed it’d get a bad rating…same rules apply for this. Lacey and Daizee Haze are miles better than Allison or Cindy, yet they seemed to spend most of the time out of the match…which is doubly surprising considering they had the most heat in the match going back to Dayton. Plus the decision to put Allison Danger over seems particularly baffling. Until Chris Daniels is able to make his return, she really has nothing to do. The Prophecy storyline is dead. Her feud with Maff and Whitmer is dead. Her nutty gimmick is getting her nowhere. I don’t criticise Gabe’s booking often, but I think this match could’ve been done better, both in terms of the wrestling and the booking.

Dan Maff/BJ Whitmer vs Colt Cabana/Nigel McGuiness – ROH Tag Title Match

Simply put, Cabana and McGuiness beat the champions in a non-title match in Chicago, and in ROH-land that immediately qualifies them for a title shot – here it is. However, this match will surely be hugely different from their first encounter, which was overshadowed by the antics of Jim Cornette and Bobby Heenan at ringside. Will the power and impact of the champions prevail, or will it be the superior wrestling skills of the challengers?

They’re heels now, so Maff and Whitmer hammer away on the challengers right after the handshake. Whitmer beats on Nigel, but McGuiness is able to use his wrestling skills to bring himself back into the match. Cabana applies a bow and arrow, much to BJ’s displeasure. Arm wrenches on Maff, but the bigger man is able to overpower Colt and throw him to the mat. McGuiness applies a cobra clutch but immediately gets dumped. Nigel trades strikes with Maff and gets the upper hand. He eventually floors him with a superkick for 2. Colt gives Whitmer a hurricanrana for another nearfall, as Maff and McGuiness stiff it out on the floor. Cabana is carrying a neck injury from the Delirious match earlier, and the champions go after that to gain an advantage. Colt makes a tag, but Whitmer is distracting the referee, then tags in himself to deliver a neckbreaker. Cabana finally escapes a kravatte to make a tag, but Nigel is on the floor jawing with Maff. ASAI MOONSAULT from Colt, and that enables him to make a tag. McGuiness rocks Maff with a lariat for 2. Hammerlock DDT from Nigel, but Whitmer breaks the pin, and gives Nigel a brainbuster. Cabana flies in with a missile dropkick. Colt blocks the Wrist Clutch Exploder and almost rolls BJ up. Whitmer blocks the Razor’s Edge…WRIST CLUTCH EXPLODER! The champions retain at 13:58.

Rating – *** –
Far better than I’d expected the match to be. It had two solid stories – one; of the challengers trying to out-wrestle the hard-hitting champions, and two; of the champions working over Colt’s neck for their big head-dropping finishers. It wasn’t electrifying wrestling, but it was a smart way to work a match with an obvious styles clash. That being said, I don’t think Maff and Whitmer’s neck assault was particularly creative – lots of stomping and punching which I didn’t like. Nigel McGuiness was also pretty underused. He’s a talented guy that is ready to step further up the card and put on top notch matches, but it seems like there just isn’t room for him.

Rocky Romero vs James Gibson

This is a big chance for Romero to establish himself as a singles star in ROH. He’s already proved in matches against Chad Collyer (Death Before Dishonor 2) and Samoa Joe (Gold) that he’s got the talent, and he’ll get a real chance to put on a top quality match now. Since debuting two weeks ago, Gibson has already shown exactly how good he is. Good matches with Spanky and Puma, and a good performance in the Trios Tournament have left him in a strong position. If he wins here, he’ll challenge the ROH Champion in Boston in April.

It seems both are defensive to being with – Romero fearing Gibson’s wrestling skills, whilst Gibson aware of Rocky’s striking capacities. Indeed, that’s a pattern to their early exchanges, Gibson trying to wrestle, with Romero on the defensive then swinging a kick. Romero scores with a snapmare and Gibson retreats to the floor to re-evaluate. Gibson blocks a hiptoss and dumps Rocky on the mat to trap him in a chinlock. Gibson stomps the hands, and Romero replies with a volley of kicks. Romero goes outside…AND GIBSON FLIES AFTER HIM WITH A TOPE! Back in the ring Romero gets in his first significant offence with a kick to the back. Rope walking hurricanrana from Rocky, followed by more kicks to the head. Romero looks for an abdominal stretch but Gibson counters with a gutbuster. Octopus stretch from Rocky, as it seems both men want to work the midsection. Kicks to the chest from Romero, and they leave James in a heap on the canvas. Gibson is further worn down with a surfboard. Gibson works his way free, and they collide in mid-air as they both attempt crossbody blocks. Gibson floors Romero with a huge forearm. Romero blocks a clothesline…JUMPING KNEE STRIKE! Gibson pops right back up and hits back with a clothesline. Gibson looks for the Tigerbomb, but Romero counters with a hurricanrana…into the triangle choke. Gibson is too fresh though, and he powerbombs Rocky to break it. Brainbuster from Gibson for 2. He goes for a superplex, but it’s blocked…sunset flip powerbomb off the ropes from Romero. Gibson avoids a springboard dropkick and almost steals a win. Jujigatame from Romero, but Gibson is too close to the ropes. DDT from Gibson, INTO THE TRAILER HITCH! Romero is in the ropes this time. Hammerlock from Romero, but Gibson turns it into a bridging pin for 2. Rocky drops Gibson with another big knee strike. NECKBREAKER from Gibson…TRAILER HITCH AGAIN! Romero taps at 16:54, and Gibson earns himself an ROH World Title shot.

Rating – **** –
That was awesome, like…break-out performance from Romero, and give Gibson the ROH Title now awesome. My biggest criticism is that it ended too soon. Both guys had just started breaking out the bigger moves, and seriously attacking body parts for their submission finishers. As is, it was a good story of Gibson trying to out-wrestle the striking power of Romero, with Rocky trying to use that ability, and his quicker pace to break down Gibson so he could hang with him on the mat. All this match needed was another five minutes to fully develop the themes it established and we’d be looking at an MOTYC. Somebody book a rematch!

GMC hits the ring and joins the fans in giving Gibson a standing ovation. He informs Gibson officially that he’ll be getting the title shot on April 16th. Jack Evans and Roderick Strong come out to mug him…but Spanky hits the ring to make the save. Spanky wishes Gibson luck in his match…and says he wants to be the first challenger. I’ve enjoyed these segments tonight, they’ve really made the new process of determining title challengers seem important.

Lacey berates her troops for losing the Special K name. But she has a new gimmick idea, now they’re going to be Lacey’s Angels…and this leads to them posing like Charlie’s Angels. Funny stuff.

CM Punk comes out for the main event, but Steve Corino still hasn’t shown up. In storyline it’s because he’s pissed off after their argument last week…in reality, for some reason he no-showed. Anyway, Punk asks anyone in the locker room if they want to team up…and this brings out Spanky McMic-time because he hasn’t been on the show enough already.

CM Punk/Spanky vs Samoa Joe/Jay Lethal

Winners become #1 contenders for the Tag belts. Obviously the biggest deal here is that it’ll be the first time Punk and Joe have been in the ring since their trilogy of awesome matches. Can Punk finally get a win over Joe, or will Joe maintain his edge. It’ll also be a rematch from Survival Of The Fittest last year, when CM Punk abused Jay Lethal in one of Lethal’s early “break-out” performances. Spanky and Joe met last week in the Trios Tournament, and if Spanky wants to get in line for title shots, a win here would certainly do that. In theory, if Punk or Spanky can pin Lethal, that puts them in line for Tag and Pure Title shots.

Punk and Lethal get us underway. There’s lots of nice chaining action with Lethal more than holding his own. Jay misses an enziguri and almost gets rolled up by Punk. Shining Wizard attempt blocked by Lethal, into a pin for 2. Spanky comes in and tries to silence the fans chanting ‘Joe’. He picks at Lethal’s legs but Jay can hang with him as well and has an escape. Satellite headscissors out of the corner by Spanky, and he follows that with a flying forearm. Joe tags and Spanky just can’t hang with the power. He looks for shoulder blocks but that just isn’t happening. Punk tags, and now it’s on! Punk looks for headlocks but Joe has an escape for every attempt. E HONDA SLAPS, but they opened Joe up and Punk is able to clamp on a headlock. Spanky in and he teams up with Punk to hit a double shoulder block. Joe comes right back up and floors both of them with a tackle of his own. Spanky gives Lethal a dropkick, but the Pure Champion fires back with a double knee backbreaker for 2. He holds Spanky in the corner…RUNNING BOOT from Joe! Back suplex backbreaker from Joe, into a Boston crab, as he assaults the back. Jay almost drops Spanky on his head with a back suplex, yikes. The attack continues with a big backbreaker, and Joe is brought in for a stalling vertical suplex. Spanky tries to fight back but gets dropped on his face, and Joe runs right into a huge senton to the back. Lethal wears Spanky down with a cobra clutch backbreaker stretch, but Punk breaks it up. Spanky is able to kick Jay outside, where Punk drops him chest-first over the guardrails.

Back inside, Punk goes after those ribs with a suplex over the top rope. In a cool move, he deathlocks the legs to open Lethal up for a series of free shots to the exposed chest. Joe breaks that with a kick, but that allows Spanky in to start knee dropping Lethal in the stomach. Punk in with a backbreaker/gutbuster combo for 2. He headbutts Lethal right in the ribs repeatedly, but Lethal eventually counters into a sunset flip. That comeback doesn’t last long, and Punk traps him in an abdominal stretch. As Joe complains, Spanky pulls back on Punk, adding still more pressure. Hiptoss from Lethal, but Punk stops the tag and brings in Spanky. Lethal blocks Sliced Bread and kicks Punk off the apron. Hot tag to Joe and he plants Spanky with a powerslam for 2. He locks in a cross armbreaker but Punk breaks it with a slingshot hilo. STF on Spanky, stretching out his injured back. Spanky bites his way free of that, but Lethal comes in and gives him a DIVING HEADBUTT! Spanky comes back by springboarding off Joe into a tornado DDT on Lethal. Punk gives Jay an enziguri into a Spanky flatliner for 2. Lethal with chops on both opponents but they hammer him down with shots to the back. Punk gives Lethal a German but Joe breaks the pin. ELBOW SUICIDA ON SPANKY! Punk sets up for the Pepsi Plunge on Jay…BUT STEVIE RICHARDS WALKS TO THE RING! STEVIE KICK ON PUNK!! WHAT THE F*CK?? DRAGON SUPLEX BY LETHAL! He gets a huge win and the pin on CM Punk at 25:58.

Rating – ****1/2 –
What a flat-out awesome tag team main event that was. Great heat segments with sound psychology on the “weaker” members of each team, a couple of fun little exchanges between Punk and Joe, referring back to their epic trilogy and the interference of Stevie Richards was just bizarre. Jay Lethal stepped up his game in a huge way with his performance. He was definitely the greenest wrestler in the match, which is to be expected, but he in no way looked like he didn’t belong in that ring. He hung with all three of his fellow wrestlers. His rib-selling was decent, his chain-wrestling was fantastic, and he is one of the most over babyfaces in the company. I’d say he’s got a long way to go before he deserves the comparisons with Paul London in terms of in-ring ability…but in terms of popularity and rise through the ROH rankings, they certainly are fitting. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise that Corino no-showed. Not that it’s not disappointing, but adding Spanky to the picture certainly added a workrate element to the match, as opposed to the pseudo-comedy style that Punk and Corino work when they tag together. A definite MOTYC candidate.

Colt Cabana tries to do his show with Dunn & Marcos again, since Nigel McGuiness interrupted earlier. Unfortunately, Nigel interrupts again, and yells at Colt for not taking their match seriously. He breaks up their team, saying they’re better off as opponents. Yeah…Cabana/McGuiness rematch…’mate’

A video package charting the good times and great memories of Special K. Everyone is here – Izzy, Dixie, Brian XL, Mikey Whipwreck, Becky Bayless, Slugger, Abyss, Deranged, Angeldust, Joey Matthews, Hydro, Hijinx, Elax, Cloudy, Slim J, Jody Fleisch, Fred the Elephant Boy, Mellow, Lacey, Cheech and more. We close on a beautiful freeze-frame from Wrestlerave 2003, arguably the climax of Special K’s existence.

The tape closes with the news that Dan Maff is out of ROH and the Tag Titles are vacant. Kayfabe says he was in a car accident and has had to retire. The real deal is he did something to piss of Homicide, and retired as a result. Unsolved mystery there…but it leaves the flagging tag division in still more trouble. New champions will be crowned on the next show…

Tape Rating – *** –
Really good show, with three excellent bouts that make it a worthwhile purchase. It’s not up there with the Dayton Third Anniversary show, since there’s some crap (Team Corino and the women’s match) and a couple of entertaining, yet ultimately short and inconsequential matches (Cabana/Delirious and Spanky/Evans). However, it’s got a unique feel to it as, without a lot of guys (Aries, Danielson, The Embassy, Ricky Reyes etc) who have been on a lot of shows, it’s a big chance for people such as Rocky Romero, Roderick Strong, Spanky and Jay Lethal to step up and they didn’t disappoint. The main event was awesome…and plus Stevie Richards was on the show. Nobody is exactly sure why he actually was. The WWE was going to let him make some appearances, but when his scheduled dates were leaked he was pulled…so now it gets passed off in storyline as Prince Nana paying him to attack Punk on behalf of The Embassy. Anyway, it’s not blow-away awesome, but it’s one of the better shows thus far in 2005, and that’s saying something.

Top 3 Matches

3) Homicide vs Roderick Strong (****)

2) James Gibson vs Rocky Romero (****)

1) Samoa Joe/Jay Lethal vs CM Punk/Spanky (****1/2)

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