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014 ROH First Anniversary Show 2/8/2003

ROH 014 – First Anniversary Show – 8th February 2003

Ring Of Honor exploded onto the independent scene in it’s first year with numerous great matches and memorable moments. Guys like Low Ki and Bryan Danielson became independent superstars. Samoa Joe was presented as an absolute killer. Christopher Daniels drove the promotion forward from a storyline perspective. Meanwhile young guys like Paul London, Spanky and Xavier were given a chance to make their mark and shine. Now we celebrate the special first year with a big anniversary blow-out in New York City. We’re in the former ECW Mad House of Extreme (Elks Lodge) with a massive card. Grudge matches are the order of the day with Briscoe vs Briscoe 2, the first Homicide/Corino match and Dragon/Joe 2. But sitting pretty at the top of the card is a mega-threeway pitting Low Ki, Paul London and AJ Styles against one another, with the winner going on to challenge Xavier for the ROH Title tonight. There’s also the most retarded Scramble match conceivable but the less said about that the better. This is easily the promotion’s biggest show to date, it’s a huge event spanning two tapes, and it’s obviously a big deal going into NYC for the first time. This is Queens, NY. Calling the action will be Chris Lovey and Ray Murrow.

Low Ki is out in the street. He talks about all that he and ROH accomplished in the first year, and says that you can expect more of the same in the next 12 months.

FIRST YEAR FLASHBACK – Ki vs Dragon vs Daniels from Era Of Honor Begins.

Paul London thinks he let everyone down when he couldn’t win the title at Final Battle. He vows to put that behind him tonight and leave with the gold.

Chad Collyer vs EZ Money vs Colt Cabana vs Michael Shane
I guess we’re packing the big names in for a big opener. Michael Shane said he wants to get into title contention this year so he needs to win. The other three are looking to solidify spots on the roster so a win would go a long way. Collyer got a big win over Matt Stryker at the last show, whilst Cabana was in an action-packed fourway that almost stole the whole event. This is Money’s second appearance.

Money and Collyer run through some stuff first and it’s all pretty smooth. Cabana hits a quebrada on Shane for 2. EZ back to put Collyer in a pendulum swing. Shane cheaply knees Money in the back prompting the inevitable ‘he’s just an asshole’ call from Lovey. He ducks an enzi and applies an STF which has EZ scrambling for the ropes. Eventually Money connects with a second rope clothesline on Collyer, but Shane pisses everyone off again by refusing a tag. Shane cuts off a hot tag to Colt so EZ hits him with a really sloppy handspring elbow. Second rope gourdbuster follows and this time he does get the tag to Cabana. Kryptonite neckbreaker on Collyer gets 2. Shane jumps in and Colt catches him with a CRADLE double underhook powerbomb. INVERTED TOMBSTONE from Money to Cabana. Shane gives him a powerbomb as tag format goes out the window. Collyer dives to the floor with a tope suicida. EZ follows with a double clothesline to the outside. RUNNING SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY SHANE! Collyer is back in first to drop Cabana on his head with a German suplex. Shane comes from the top right into a MID-AIR ACE CRUSHER! DOUBLE MONEY CLIP on Collyer and Cabana. Shane lays EZ out with a clothesline. PICTURE PERFECT ELBOW MISSES! Collyer stops Cabana hitting Colt 45 and he walks into SWEET SHANE MUSIC! COLLYER CLOVERLEAF ON SHANE! EZ grabs Chad for the CHA-CHING! He wins at 15:18.

Rating – *** – Not exactly pretty or anything especially complex but it was tons of fun, especially at the end when they went for the big spots. EZ Money is terrific in this sort of match because he’s got a zillion somewhat silly moves to pop a crowd. Credit to Michael Shane for holding the match together with his heel act. Definitely up there with the best opening matches ROH has put on. Non-stop entertainment for all the family…

FIRST YEAR FLASHBACK – Tommy Dreamer’s appearance at All Star Extravaganza.

AJ Styles says it won’t be easy, but he’s going through Paul London and Low Ki tonight to take the ROH Title from The Prophecy.

Fast Eddie/Don Juan/Hotstuff Hernandez vs Carnage Crew
This is a 6-man, as Masada is back as the third member of the Crew. Their opponents are all graduates from the Texas Wrestling Academy. We’ve seen Fast Eddie and Don Juan before – Eddie is blind, stupid and crazy; Don Juan is just stupid. Hernandez debuts…this is the guy you see as part of the LAX these days. This is sort of a rematch from Scramble Madness when the CC beat Eddie, Juan and Arion.

It’s all TWA to start with, particularly since Hernandez is huge. He destroys Masada with a modified Emerald Fusion. Fast Eddie is blind so he Lionsaults his own partner. Blind moron. SAITO SUPLEX on Juan by Loc. Masada throws stupid Don Juan around some more before DeVito comes in to suplex him into the turnbuckles. Yeah, kick the sh*t out of that annoying, stupid-haired b*tch. Loc and DeVito put on a double crab whilst Masada comes off the ropes with a leg drop. DeVito misses his fatty moonsault and Hotstuff is brought in to massacre everyone. OVERHEAD CHOKE SUPLEX! Eddie tries an Asai Moonsault to the floor and EATS HUBCAP! That’s a DQ at 05:40.

Rating – * – As far as squash filler goes that was enjoyable. I hate Don Juan so seeing him get his ass kicked was amusing, as was the usual Fast Eddie screwing things up because he CAN’T SEE! Hotstuff Hernandez is an absolute beast…

The Carnage Crew continue beating the crap out of everyone until familiar music hits. It’s the Christopher Street Connection…and BUFF E. IS BACK! The gays clean up with comedy homo offence, ending with the Gay Basher on Loc.

FIRST YEAR FLASHBACK – Mark Briscoe beats his brother Jay at Honor Invades Boston.

Mark Briscoe vs Jay Briscoe
Big storyline developments surround this match. Apparently one of Mark’s friends died in a car crash and that’s caused him to have a total life rethink. He’s left The Prophecy, and this is the last match between these two guys before they will unite to form a tag team. Mark made Jay’s life miserable in 2002. He laughed at him when he lost, beat him twice at the Boston shows and turned his back on the family by joining The Prophecy. Can Jay end the rift between them by winning their final clash?

It starts with respectful (but still swish) chaining to generally set an honourable tone for the contest. Mark blocks some crossfaces so Jay hits the ropes and boots him in the head. But the younger Briscoe sells it like death as a trick and uses Jay’s compassion to go after his leg and get an advantage. That leads us back to the canvas for more back and forth exchanges. Jay tries the Driller but Mark counters it with a hurricanrana. Sambo suplex plants Mark instead. He goes back to the leg to stop Jay, working a half crab. Jay takes it outside with a Cactus clothesline, leading to a WILD strike battle on the floor. SPRINGBOARD SWANTON BY MARK! Jay is bleeding just like the Boston match. Meanwhile Mark heads to the top…MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! He goes aerial once too often and dives into a superkick from Jay. He follows that with a firemans carry backbreaker then a DVD for 2. Climbing Wizard from Mark, and he sets up for the SPRINGBOARD Ace Crusher. Cut-Throat Driver blocked but Mark still counters the Jay Driller again. Second springboard Ace crusher tried…SUPER ACE CRUSHER BY JAY! We have a chop war ending when Jay levels his brother with a big Yakuza kick. Ligerbomb to follow that before he climbs to the top for a senton bomb. There’s duelling ‘Jay’ and ‘Mark’ chants as Mark nails an urinage suplex. MARK DRILLER…ONLY GETS 2! He gets desperate and misses a moonsault. WHAT THE F*CK…ROLLING JAY DRILLERS! Jay wins at 16:39.

Rating – **** – Less depth and psychology than the Boston match, but they made up for that with extra crazy spots, including possibly my favourite finish to a match ever. These guys are so damn good. The tag division best get ready for a serious injection of talent with these two coming in…

Da Hit Squad are on the roof which gives us a nice panoramic shot of NYC. They promise the biggest Scramble Match of all time…and then promise more brutality in year two of Ring Of Honor.

FIRST YEAR FLASHBACK – “The Matrix Minute”, Ki vs Red at Road To The Title.

Homicide says it’s an honour to be in New York tonight. He has his crew in the crowd and swears revenge on Corino for taking him out of the fourway at Final Battle.

Steve Corino (with Luscious and Joe) comes out and this is Homicide’s hometown so he’s already a heel. He makes it ten times worse by launching into a promo insulting as many of the fans as possible. The point is he wants to introduce CW “worked shoots are cool” Anderson and Michael Shane as the newest Group members. Apparently Low Ki is going to be next…and that pisses Homicide off.

Steve Corino vs Homicide
This has been brewing since Glory By Honor when Steve Corino superkicked Homicide (his partner) and cost him the match against CZW’s Backseat Boyz. At All Star Extravaganza Cide got revenge by stabbing Steve in the eye with a fork. Corino quit, then came back at Final Battle 2002, took over the whole show and put himself in the main event at the expense of Homicide – who desperately wanted to win the match, the #1 Contenders Trophy and the ROH Title. The crowd heat for this is intense…

Homicide gets it started by cracking Corino with the microphone. He gets 2 from a T-bone suplex then slaps on his STF. Corino applies a crossface but way too close to the ropes. CW Anderson is jawing with some plants in the crowd. In the ring Homicide hits the charging knee strike in the corner. Steve blocks a super rana then jumps off with a top rope bulldog. Neckbreaker by Homicide…Samoa Joe is arguing with a different group of plants. Homicide takes a while but finally does set up for a top rope Ace crusher (the Briscoes kinda killed that spot’s effectiveness). He goes on to get 2 again with a lariat. SCOOP Tombstone for another nearfall. Old School Expulsion blocked with a reverse DDT, but the ref inadvertently got kicked in the balls. AMERICAN WIZARD OFF THE REF’S BACK! Joe is arguing with Julius Smokes now! Homicide sets Corino up on the floor but he moves…TOPE CON HILO THROUGH A CHAIR! Haha…CW Anderson is in a shouting match with Gabe and Feinstein now. Homicide seems to have killed himself wiping out the chair. Corino gets 2 with the Old School Expulsion. Homicide can’t move but refuses to quit. He gets to the ropes once from the Cobra Sleeper only for Corino to lock it on again in the middle of the ring. 12:11 and Homicide is out cold.

Rating – ** – It started well and there were some decent bits and pieces in a heated atmosphere. However it just degenerated a little too much into storyline, with the match slowing to a snails pace in order to maximise the opportunities to play to the fans, argue with the plants and the like. Give respect to Homicide for taking that ridiculous tope con hilo bump.

But we’re not over yet. The whole Group start taunting the fans as Corino starts choking out Homicide again. The plants start storming the guardrail…RIIIIIIOOOOOOOOOT! Some real fans jump the rails as well (you can tell because Homicide starts attacking them) and the locker room empties as this worked angle gets completely out of control. The Christopher Street Connection are out there stiffing people! Yeah, I just said that. Elsewhere Samoa Joe is absolutely terrifying as he charges around attacking fans and plants alike by the looks of things. Listen out for Gabe Sapolsky going berserk and screaming like a lunatic. Feinstein has to calm a bunch of VERY angry wrestlers down, including Homicide who seems to want to kill him. The whole deal gets replayed from different angles just so you can take in as much of the insanity as possible…

RIOT THOUGHTS – I’ve never heard conclusively what the deal is on this. I’m sure it’s been cleared up in some form of shoot interview but whatever. As far as I can tell it’s mostly a work…but there’s no doubt that real fans get caught up in the whole thing and a few of them jump the rail. I may be wrong. But it just seems like there’s way too much senseless kayfabe breaking and other irregularities that just wouldn’t happen if it was a totally smooth and faultless angle. I’m happy to be wrong though. Was this angle necessary – probably not. Was this angle a good idea – probably not. Was this angle in good taste – DEFINITELY not. But you can’t deny it made for great viewing. I hope for Rob and Gabe’s sake it was mostly work…there is NO way I’d want Homicide that angry at me for real.

FIRST YEAR FLASHBACK – The Prophecy win the Tag Titles at Unscripted, but American Dragon and Michael Modest are sore losers and waste the trophy.

INTERMISSION – Christopher Daniels is in Japan but he’s sent a tape to address the growing issue with Corino’s group. He refutes Corino’s claim that it’s “just business” and begs him to start the war.

FIRST YEAR FLASHBACK – The Crowning A Champion Iron Man in 95 degree heat. Low Ki won the belt and cried in the locker room, dedicating the match to Russ Haas.

It’s supposed to be Dunn & Marcos against Outcast Killaz in the ultimate jobber challenge, but Gary Cappetta interrupts proceedings to bring out CW Anderson. What, we haven’t seen enough of this guy? At least CW cancels Jobfest 2003 by toasting the jabronis. CM Punk comes out for an impromptu bout. And that’s the end of tape 1 which is weird. Why not split the tapes after the riot?

CW Anderson vs CM Punk
Punk was originally supposed to be facing Reckless Youth at this show, but he cancelled at the last minute. Hopefully putting him in there with CW will make Anderson somewhat less dull. Unlikely but one can hope. Punk wants to make a name for himself in 2003 after earning a full-time spot on the last show of 2002.

Anderson goes after Punk’s arm from the bell, which makes sense since his new finisher is an arm submission. The fans are sh*tting on this. Ordinarily I’d complain but I hate CW so. Punk keeps going after the legs so Anderson has to drop him with a jumping armbreaker. Next up is a FIREMANS CARRY ARMBREAKER! The “shoot” commentary is doing my head in. CW hits a superplex leaving to both men laid out on the canvas. Punk botches a springboard sunset flip for more laying around. Punk hits a suplex using the arm that CW has been working. Anderson hits back with his ferris wheel suplex for 2. Punk gets a nearfall of his own with a pretty lame-looking Shining Wizard. Anderson connects with a superkick, only to have his spinebuster countered into a roll-up for 3 at 09:42.

Rating – * – Overall that was pretty lousy. Awful crowd, terrible commentary and a real mish-mash in the ring. In fairness, they only found out they were working each other last minute but still. Anderson bored me to tears as usual. He started well with some good arm work, but it quickly degenerated into the usual CW snooze-fest. I hate that guy. Punk has a bad night and botched quite a lot, but at least he got the win. He’s now won three matches in succession…

FIRST YEAR FLASHBACK – The London vs Shane Unscripted Street Fight…’please don’t die’!

Bryan Danielson vs Samoa Joe
So there were heated clashes at Final Battle 2002, leading to a deliciously violent match at Revenge On The Prophecy in West Mifflin. Anybody that watched the first match would’ve immediately called for a rematch, and thankfully we don’t have to wait long.

It looks like they’re bringing the same intensity that we’ve seen before. Danielson manages to hold a bridge even with 300lbs of Samoan on top of him. Joe tries the sick half crab that he used last time but Dragon finds the ropes much more quickly. Danielson bridges into a chickenwing with a deathlock hooked as well. He’s definitely working the leg to try and ground the bigger man. But Joe is still enormous, and he sits into the Samoan crab. He follows that by targeting the back – backbreaker gets 2. Dragon ignores to the oldest rule in wrestling – never headbutt a Samoan – and eats a stalling suplex as a result. VIOLENT shots by Danielson…but he charges into the ST-JOE SLAM for 2! Again notice it’s the striking power of Samoa Joe that’s winning out over the mat skills of American Dragon. He boots Danielson in the head and almost wins by knock-out. Powerbomb into the floating STF but Danielson finds the ropes. Dragon just refuses to stay down and is getting pummelled as a result. Finally he musters up enough for a couple of JUMPING ENZIS! Both men down. Danielson is up first and starts laying in another flurry of stiff shots. A running elbow smash then the judo DDT get 2. He tries another running elbow and gets dragged into a German suplex. BOOT SCRAPES B*TCH! For some reason Joe goes to the top rope and inevitably gets caught for a superplex. FLYING HEADBUTT gets Danielson another 2. BACK TO THE DUELLING STRIKES! ROARING ELBOWS by Danielson but still he can’t get the victory. Joe takes out the leg…KNEE STRIKES! PALM STRIKES! JUMPING KNEE STRIKE OF DEATH! He goes for a powerbomb but Dragon pins him out of nowhere and gets the victory at 15:21.

Rating – *** – Despite a rather disappointing finish, this was another fine match between two incredible talents. They pretty much picked up where they left off in January, using a lot of the same themes and exchanges from the first clash. I despise roll-ups as a finish, but surely a better one here would’ve been Dragon pinning Joe as he went for the Island Driver. It was the big knee/Island Driver sequence that won at Revenge On The Prophecy – if they HAD to use a flash pin finish then why not one that made more psychological sense, as opposed to a somewhat botched-looking powerbomb? This does continue the theory that Samoa Joe is vulnerable to the quick roll-up though.

FIRST YEAR FLASHBACK – Xavier and Daniels screw Low Ki out of the ROH Title at Unscripted. That’s a moment and match I’d rather not ever flash back to in all honesty. Unscripted was like…one of the worst shows of 2002. How the hell has it got three flashbacks??

Allison Danger brings Ring Of Honor Champion Xavier to the ring. He winds up the crowd but is essentially out to do some scouting since the next match is the #1 contenders three way. He points out that he’s already beaten everyone in the match so he doesn’t care which of them wins…

Paul London vs AJ Styles vs Low Ki – #1 Contenders Trophy Match
These are three of the most exciting and popular men on the roster – and you know this one will be absolutely crammed with action. Everyone has motivation to go on to wrestle Xavier, since he’s beaten and pissed off all three. He screwed Low Ki out of the title and joined his hated enemies The Prophecy. As part of that group he made AJ Styles’ life hell in late 2002, leading to their match at Night Of The Butcher. At Final Battle 2002 he overcame London, who felt he let the fans down when he couldn’t win the belt. Will the fact that AJ and Ki teamed with each other last month be a factor here? Ki also beat AJ twice during 2002 – Night Of Appreciation and Honor Invades Boston.

Strap yourself in because this’ll be a wild ride. They start by striking until Ki springs off AJ’s back into a splash on London. He tries the Krush Combo but AJ springboards into the ring with a forearm. DOUBLE DROPSAULT by Paul! He then brings the awesomeness by sliding straight through the ropes with a dropkick on Styles. He tries a tope suicida and gets caught by a CAPO KICK! Ki and AJ lug the SH*T out of each other on the floor. But they stay out there a little too long…LONDON HITS A FROG SPLASH ON BOTH OPPONENTS – WHILST STANDING! London tries to skin the cat but AJ throws him back-first onto the hard floor. It’s Styles’ turn to show off now. He dropkicks Ki then reels off the backbreaker/gutbuster sequence. London MURDERS him with a missile dropkick, but AJ comes back with the nip-up rana. This is non-stop. ROLLING northern lights into a bridging fallaway slam for 2. Ki broke that fall and gets 2 of his own with the Mutoh elbow. London is more over than Low Ki, so Ki squishes him in the corner with another capo. Ki is more popular than AJ so AJ kicks him in the side of the head. It’s the most f*cked up popularity contest ever. He tries the Phenom DDT…AND GETS KNEE’D IN THE F*CKING HEAD! DRAGON CLUTCH on London. PHENOM DOUBLE DDT BY STYLES! Backbreakers and gutbusters for London, then a vicious urinage suplex get Styles 2. AJ applies the Muta Lock but London gets to his knees so they can trade-off neck vices. AJ HOLDS LONDON OPEN FOR THE KRUSH COMBO!

The kick of death is so hard that it hurts Styles too. AJ gets put in the Dragon Clutch but he’s still attached to London…and Paul comes back with NECK CRANK on Ki! SPRINGBOARD ENZI ON AJ! Krush Rush next but fatigue is starting to set in. London refuses so gratefully receive Kawada kicks, then counters another Krush Rush with a DDT. He tries to take Styles to the top rope but they engage in an UBER-INTENSE slug-out for so long that Low Ki comes back. London suplexes Ki into…SUPER RANA ON AJ, AND HE FLIES INTO A LONDON POWERBOMB! BEST MULTI-MAN SPOT EVER! RUNNING CAPO KICK BY KI! KAWADA KICKS ON STYLES! AJ POPS UP…HEAD DROP-GERMAN! KI BLOCKS THE GOURDBUSTER…DRAGON CLUUUUUUTCH! AJ fights it and London pulls Ki into a neckbreaker. Styles is still stringing suplexes together – a German rolled into a back drop suplex on Paul. London tries something in the corner but Ki flips across the ring with TIDAL KRUSH! Styles blocks the Shining Wizard…BLACK MAGIC CONNECTS INSTEAD! London blocks the Super Ki Krusha and AJ eventually helps him out. THREE-WAY TOP ROPE STRIKE WAR! SUPER KI KRUSHA ON STYLES! LONDON STAR PREEEEEEEEEEEESS! London pins Styles and goes on to get the title shot after 18:49.

Rating – ****1/2 – If Meltzer can give the first Joe/Styles/Daniels three-way in TNA 5* then I can damn sure call this a legit MOTYC. This may well just pip the Era Of Honor Begins triple threat as my favourite 3-way dance of all time. It’s not the most intelligent match ever but it’s 20 minutes of non-stop innovative wrestling – and the best part was that they were hitting EVERYTHING. Totally state of the art stuff from three guys at the top of their game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many unique three-way spots in one match. If the rest of the show sucked this would be worth it.

Outside the ring Xavier takes off his street pants to reveal wrestling tights. He’s decided to be a total jerk and give London ZERO time to rest. The title match is on now…

Xavier vs Paul London – ROH Title Match
The champion is really starting to get some good heel heat, as opposed to the ‘you’re so sh*t’ hatred he’s been getting for the first few months of his reign. He’s even delivered two great matches in his past two outings, including a successful defence against London at Final Battle. Paul felt like he let the fans down by failing to take the belt from the unpopular champion, and now has a chance to make amends. But does he even stand a chance, just moments after going through the most chaotic of 3-way sprints imaginable? Will he mark the first anniversary of Ring Of Honor with a memorable title win?

Allison Danger distracts London so we get a dishonourable start with Xavier jumping him. Despite going 20 minutes Paul tries to get some quick stuff going, but doesn’t have enough in the tank to flip properly on his dropsault. Danger grabs at his foot to make things even worse, and Xavier comes out with a belly to belly. Alexis Laree comes out for a fight with Allison since she hates The Prophecy too, and Xavier has to separate them. London recovers and puts together a few more gutsy offensive flurries. Xavier blocks a tornado divorce court with a HEAD DROP GERMAN! He hammers on the neck but Paul blocks the Cobra Clutchplex with the rope-run pin escape. London neckbreaker gets 2 so Xavier throws him over the top rope and flying through the timekeeping table. Out there he gets tossed around like a ragdoll, bouncing off railings, then getting busted open on a ringpost. How much does this guy have to take? Xavier marks an ‘x’ on his own chest with Paul’s blood then brings more of the dickisms by choking him on the ropes…oh, and pounding on the bloody forehead too. COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX…gets 2. He tries a back superplex but London spins it in mid-air for a crossbody. DROPSAULTS NAILED THIS TIME! But Paul is so damn tired he takes an eternity to get to the top rope. Xavier rolls to the floor to escape…SO LONDON JUST DIVES BACKWARDS INTO A PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR! Slingshot springboard moonsault back in gets 2. Xavier cuts him off with a low blow, but London still almost wins it with a backslide. Danger accidentally trips Xavier. Paul goes for a pescado…BUT XAVIER THROWS ALLISON INTO HIS PATH! She took a pretty sick header on that. London checks on her then moves so Xavier SPEARS her too! MOONSAULT OFF THE RAIL! Back in the ring Paul finds a 2 with the legsweep DDT. Xavier gets pushed away from the ropes. LONDON STAR PRESS! LONDON STAR PRESS! ALLISON DANGER PULLS XAVIER TO THE FLOOR! She gets in the ring…but Alexis is in as well. CAT FIGHT! CAT FIGHT! CAAAAAAAT FIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT! London and Xavier take centre stage again. KISS YOUR X GOODBYE! 450 SPLASH! LONDON F*CKING KICKS OUT! Xavier tries the X-Breaker now, but London blocks and gets 2 on small package. Xavier GRABS THE TIGHTS and gets the win at 19:22.

Rating – **** – That whole deal was sports entertainment wrestling done as well as you could possibly want. Seriously, if the WWE packed this much emotion into any of their ppv main events then it wouldn’t be in the creative slump it is right now. I mean, you’ve got the plucky, tired, super-over babyface. You’ve got the HATED dickhead heel champion using every tactic in the book. High spots, table bumps, hot girls in cat fights, HOT nearfalls and a cheap finish that left you furious. It had a lot of shortcuts but chalk this up as Xavier’s best singles match thus far – by some distance. It’s not the sort of pure wrestling clinic ROH is famous for…but for the love of god appreciate this match as a superb piece of theatre. This, in my mind, is one of the most underrated matches ROH has ever done. And (speaking in November 2006) I do mean EVER. And for TNA fans – this is the kind of match Jeff Jarrett wishes he could have.

SIDENOTE – I felt this deserved its own extra. How f*cking awesome is Paul London? The guy just worked over 40 minutes and stole the show TWICE. He looked knackered during the Xavier match, but since that played into the story they were going for it didn’t matter. It’s performances like that which would’ve pretty much secured the WWE contract he earned later in 2003.

FIRST YEAR FLASHBACK – Eddie Guerrero’s final appearance in April.

Da Hit Squad/SAT/Divine Storm/Mikey Whipwreck/Trinity vs Special K – Scramble Match
All the babyfaces wear face paint to show solidarity. This is the biggest, dumbest, most ill-advised Scramble ever. It’s so big that the Special K team is…well it’s everyone. Izzy, Dixie, Deranged, Hydro, Angeldust, Slim J, Yeyo, Brian XL, Slugger and Jody Fleisch (who joined at Final Battle). Does that mean this is technically a handicap match since there are more of them? I’m sure Red would’ve been in this match but I think he’s touring Japan. DHS, the Maximos, Storm and Divine have all felt disrespected by the punk raver kids in 2002. Now they’re all coming for revenge. Get yourself a beverage and make yourself a snack because…unfortunately we’re here for a while. This match is so long, so RIDICULOUSLY, STUPIDLY long that Lovey and Murrow take the time to mention every single promotion, wrestler, promoter, office boy, bell-ringer, timekeeper and programme seller they’ve worked with over the first year of Ring Of Honor’s existence. It’s REALLY that long…

Classic Scramble starter with lots of pointless “look we can wrestle, we just choose to be fraggles and not do it” mat stuff. At least Divine drops Angeldust on his retarded head with a German suplex. XL and Jose do some abysmal lucha sh*t. Lard Ass Maximo clobbers Izzy with a lariat. Deranged brings the comedy as usual by posing topless, then trying to tickle Monsta Mack. He then brings more comedy by f*cking up a couple of moves. Mack gives him a NIPPLE CRIPPLE then suplexes him into the turnbuckles. Jody Fleisch dances much to the disgust of Mafia who decimates him. Deranged springboards into a spinebuster, then gets a cradle suplex straight into Jody. Mikey comes in to take Slim J to school then clubber as many of the raver kids as he can get his hands on. All the faces get knocked out. Special K prepare themselves. MULTIPLE PLANCHAS AND TOPES ALL OVER THE RING! Jody gets left alone to hit a SPRINGBOARD PLANCHA! Whipwreck goes to the top rope to hit a SWANTON ONTO EVERYONE! The SAT hit a logic-defying swinging DDT/Tombstone combo on Morondust for 2. ‘Prince Nana…ummm…well, he was there’ – Lovey.

I do laugh at his shot at Eric Gargulio though. Angeldust gets set up in the corner for all the faces to hit baseball slides…ending with a huge multi-man basement dropkick. Then a cannonball senton from Mafia. If Angeldust wasn’t already dead he gets squashed with the figure 4/fatty splash by Da Hit Squad. Inexplicably Mikey Whipwreck turns on all his team. WHIPPERSNAPPERS ALL ROUND! So he joined Special K after wrestling them for 15 minutes? That makes NO sense. Trinity isn’t impressed with that so Slugger kills her with the Bodybag. Mikey and Slugger leave dragging out Trinity. What the f*ck is going on? Special K line up Quiet Storm in the middle of the ring and take it turns to double stomp him. He gets crotched so they can do their own multiple person baseball slide spot. Angeldust f*cks it up though because he’s a terrible wrestler. CANADIAN DESTROYER by Storm but in this retarded extravaganza of sh*tness that’s barely good for 2. 20 minutes in and the fans are so getting fed up. The SAT get in there again meaning there’s a load of RANDOM head dropping with no real point. CRADLE DRAGON SUPLEX BY MAFIA! See now, HE can get away with stuff like that. Deranged cuts him off with the Mad Scientist Bomb (Code Red). Bored yet? The fans certainly are. Meanwhile in the ring every single guy piles into one corner for the POWERBOMB ULTRA MEGA SUPER DUPER SUPERPLEX CARWRECK OF DOOOOOOOOM!

In reality it was just a big mess of people landing on top of each other. Mack press slams Slim J down the aisle into a pack of his homies. Izzy gets isolated for the moonsault/leg drop combo by Los Maximos. Quiet Storm hits a spider German superplex on Deranged, setting him up for a guillotine leg drop by his partner Divine. I say partner in the tag sense, not in the gay lover sense. I don’t think anyway. Maybe Divine experiences a whole different kind of Storm Cradle Driver. Spinal Shock on Dixie for 2. X-Clamation point on Storm gets 2. Brian XL and Fat Mexican f*ck up a few spots until Joel tries to powerbomb Brian through the ring then officially murder him with the Maximo Explosion for 2. WHY ARE ALL HEAD DROPS GETTING TWO COUNTS!? WHY CAN’T ONE GUY BREAK A F*CKING PIN! Fleisch flies back in with the 720 DDT for 2. Jose grabs Jody…ROLLING PILEDRIVERS! Is someone breaking the pin this time?? Nope. Slim J hits a Rubix Cube, but Mafia comes in with a Musclebuster. Springboard 450 by Izzy, and I sh*t you not this match is over half an hour. Izzy and Deranged are so bad they can’t time a double enzi spot. Monsta Mack hits a sit-out Tombstone on poor Deranged. Spanish Fly for Izzy. FINALLY SOMEONE BREAKS A PIN! Mafia crotches Jody and Brian XL then grabs Deranged. TOP ROPE BURNING HAMMER! KOBASHI SPITS ON YOU MAFIA! This sh*t is finally over at 33:47. Yes…33:47.

Rating – DUD – When people ask me what the worst match in ROH is, my answer is always this. It’s just abysmal. It’s 30 minutes of complete stupidity. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good wrestlers in here (I’m looking at Jody Fleisch, Deranged and DHS in particular) but this was an appalling waste of everyone’s time. I’d say the basics were horrible except…there were NONE. It was half an hour of high spots. The fans stopped caring after ten minutes and beyond that it beggared belief. The commentators (featuring ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky) ripped the piss out of it the whole time. The finish (when it thank god FINALLY came) pretty much summed the whole thing up. A top rope Burning Hammer. What the f*ck is up with that? I hope to god Kenta Kobashi has never ever seen it. And what was going on with the Mikey Whipwreck stuff? The whole thing is a joke. But the biggest joke of all – much like Abdullah The Butcher last November – this match is so dreadful that I do enjoy it a little bit. It’s so bad it amuses me in some way. Not so much that I want to watch it again in the next year though…

FIRST YEAR FLASHBACK – Low Ki and AJ Styles get REVENGE ON THE PROPHECY!!!

Christopher Daniels sheds the robes of the Fallen Angel because what he’s got to say is personal. He talks about his history with Steve Corino. He was happy when Corino was ECW Champion. When Corino was NWA Champion he was happy. When Corino became a star in Z-1 he was happy. Now it’s him that’s successful in ROH, he’s upset that Steve Corino isn’t similarly supportive. He closes a terrific promo by pleading with him to throw the first punch.

AJ Styles finds Paul London backstage and suggests they form a tag team to take the Tag belts from The Prophecy. Paul seems to agree. Unfortunately he’d get ill and the team would never see the light of day – which sucks because how amazing would a Styles/London team been?

CM Punk has requested some promo time to make a point about respect. He respects everyone he’s faced in ROH thus far (including Colt Cabana – who makes a brief appearance)…but not someone who’s coming in. Raven is coming to ROH, and as someone who follows a Straight Edge lifestyle, Punk is offended by that. He issues a challenge because ‘Straight Edge means I’m better than you’.

And leading from that…we get a motherf*cking Raven promo. He sucks in TNA these days but I f*cking love Raven. Meeting him at International Showdown was a real treat – and I touched his bloody head during his match! Anyway, he points out that he’s been in Punk’s position – the youngster hating on the older guy. He thinks the drugs and alcohol have preserved him, and he’s in the best shape of his career. Quoth the Raven…Nevermore.

The show ends with Rob Feinstein getting cake in his face amidst a locker room full of half naked men. I’ll say no more…

Tape Rating – **** – That’s right, despite the main event being a total atrocity, this is still a candidate for best show thus far. It’s EVERYTHING a super show should be. Great matches, tremendous angles…it’s got the lot. It’s a card that packs in Briscoe/Briscoe, Dragon/Joe, Homicide/Corino, Ki/Styles/London, a great opener, a thrilling title match and a friggin’ riot…how could it not be good? Just remember to stop the tape before the main event, or skip past it to the top notch Daniels, Punk and Raven interviews. This is one of the early Ring Of Honor events that you simply have to own. Trust me…

Top 3 Matches
3) Jay Briscoe vs Mark Briscoe (****)
2) Xavier vs Paul London (****)
1) Paul London vs AJ Styles vs Low Ki (****1/2)

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