016 ROH Night of Champions 3/22/2003

ROH 016 – Night Of Champions – 22nd March 2003

It’s been a while since I’ve done an ROH review (or in this case, since I’m revisiting another one of the shows I’d already reviewed once and lost, a RE-review), but it’s not like I haven’t had a good reason. I moved house at the end of November and it’s taken me till now (December 23rd) to get into any kind of review form. If you’re interested in my move, I’ve got new doors and windows in…and am now looking forward to a wonderful Christmas surrounded by boxes and no furniture! Anyway, onto ROH matters. If you’re looking for new reviews I’ve got Epic Encounter 2 through to The Bitter End waiting to be reviewed – but it’s taking time to get round to everything. Onto this event – widely regarded as one of the best of the year. The line-up is solid, with Chris Daniels against Doug Williams with heaps at stake, the Briscoes challenging new Tag Champions AJ and Red, Low Ki taking on Jody Fleisch in a dream match, CM Punk clashing with Raven once again and Xavier defending the ROH Title against Samoa Joe in the main event. Chances are, if you’re a fan of ROH you’re going to want this show. We’re back in Philadelphia, PA for the first Murphy Rec show of the year. Hosts are Chris Lovey and Ray Murrow.

Steve Corino opens the show in the shower. Thankfully we see nothing graphic. He laughs that he’s in Japan rather than ROH. He has words for Daniels and Homicide too. Same old…

Special K are raving in the locker room. Jody Fleisch doesn’t partake of the festivities in order to prepare for his match with Low Ki. Mikey Whipwreck (who joined the faction at the anniversary show) demands some rock and roll whilst wearing a giant hat, which is beyond trippy.

The Prophecy get some promo time next. Daniels gloats that he has stopped Doug Williams shaking hands and holds the premier title for Doug’s home promotion. Xavier says that if Joe can’t beat Low Ki then he doesn’t stand a chance tonight. Allison Danger has words for Steve Corino too. The promo ends and Daniels expresses some concern over Xavier’s health…

TOP 5 RANKINGS
1) Samoa Joe
2) CM Punk
3) Low Ki
4) Bryan Danielson
5) AJ Styles
(What an immense Top 5 that is. 5 guys that would go on to become indy superstars)

Matt Stryker vs BJ Whitmer vs Alex Arion vs Dixie
There have been a number of good fourways recently, but they had far superior talent. Stryker and Whitmer have notched up a couple of appearances this year, but both are winless coming in to their first Philly appearances. Arion and Dixie are nothing but jobbers, except Dixie isn’t quit as job-tastic as Alex – he’s at least got a gimmick. Still, these four corner matches tend to disguise the weaknesses of the athletes and accentuate their positives so.

Stryker and Whitmer start with the basics. I will say this – Murrow and Lovey are doing a great job putting them over on commentary. The pace quickens to counters, missed strikes and then duelling dropkicks which draws a nice ovation. Dixie tags and gets treated like a b*tch by Stryker. Arion comes in and kicks the crap out of Dixie too. Stryker gets 2 with a backbreaker, and Whitmer follows up with a back suplex as they start to isolate Arion. Arion is toss by the way. He’s got zero charisma and keeps f*cking up. He also collides mid-air with Dixie leading to hot tags all round. Whitmer and Stryker stiff the crap out of each other until Matt hits a DVD for 2. Dixie gets the same with a Kryptonite neckbreaker. Arion hits a sit-out splash mountain on the Special K member. Stryker puts him in an anklelock only for Dixie to break it with a messy flying rana. WRIST CLUTCH EXPLODER BY BJ! That’s enough for Whitmer to pin Dixie at 11:24.

Rating – DUD – That was really lousy to be honest. Alex Arion had a terrible night and needs to be dropped from the roster ASAP, Dixie shouldn’t be booked in singles matches at all…and ultimately Stryker and BJ were the only two who were a) any good and b) over. Even then I found myself noticing how green Whitmer looked here. Skip right on past…

Next up Mikey Whipwreck has summoned his students (SAT and Quiet Storm) to explain why he screwed them over in New York. Unfortunately, it seems that he has no explanation (mostly because it made NO sense) and he was only setting them up to be jumped by more Special K goofballs.

Special K vs SAT/Quiet Storm – Scramble Match
The Maximos and Divine Storm have been at odds with the K crew pretty much since they formed. Indeed, Brian XL got them together as a group because he wasn’t allowed to hang out with the Whipwreck trainees in the first place. Which group are the premier group of spot-monkeys? It’s hard to tell (as always) but I think Special K are Izzy, Deranged and Angeldust.

The kids kick us off with a badly timed three-way dive sequence. Quiet Storm and Deranged go in the ring with Storm landing SPINAL SHOCK! Jose clobbers Angeldust with a flying elbow then gets dumped over the railings by a rule-breaking Whipwreck. Izzy lands some random flippy moves on El Lardbutt Maximo but eventually eats an OCEAN CYCLONE over Jose’s knees! Angeldust almost f*cks something else up…then the SAT almost KILL him with a f*cked up double Ace crusher. Deranged comes in with Izzy for a moonsault dropkick/standing Shiranui combo. Dust mis-times a double dropkick sequence…then Izzy overshoots on a springboard 450. Jose grabs Deranged for ROLLING BRAINBUSTERS into an Orange Crush for 2. Storm is in! STORM.CRADLE.DRIVER on Angeldust. Izzy breaks the pin so Fatty Maximo powerbombs him to hell then bastardises the Ganso Bomb for good measure. Mikey sneaks in to dish out WHIPPERSNAPPERS to all his students. Special K get the win at 06:21.

Rating – * – Goodness me that was a big ol’ mess. It’s hard to believe they managed to botch so much in such a short period of time. The SAT seriously need to look at themselves. They were the worst wrestlers in this match…and I do include the consistently awful Angeldust in that. Speaking of Angeldust, he’s lucky not to have been killed by then with that blown Ace crusher spot. Still, they get a star for the effort, and it was more exciting than the opener at any rate.

Special K celebrate by having Slugger give Storm the Bodybag. Some other huge black guy steps in from the crowd to face off with Slugger. He’s actually bigger…

Meanwhile in the crowd we see some of Homicide’s crew arguing with Gabe Sapolsky and security.

Dunn & Marcos vs Backseat Boyz
This would be the team styled after a boyband and a team wielding air guitars. We were promised to get the Backseatz on a more regular basis in 2003 and they’re making their second appearance in the space of a week. They have to beat the jobbers if they want to get into title contention.

Trent doesn’t seem that impressed by Marcos’ threat to rock him LIKE A HURRICANE. The Backseatz immediately seize the advantage but the RCE respond with AIR GUITAR! Kashmere and Acid come back with some boyband dances then return to clobbering the Crew. They also come up with some entertaining double teams. Outside Dunn lifts Kashmere into a STALLING SUPLEX ON THE FLOOR! In the ring we see the assisted Shiranui on Acid, then Dunn’s Ode To Savage elbow for 2. GORY DRIVER on Kashmere! Backseatz respond with an attempted Dream Sequence but a think Dunn screwed it up. Powerbomb/neckbreaker combo on Marcos. Marcos recovers to save Dunn from the T-Gimmick, but inadvertently hits him with a crossbody. He gets T-GIMMICKED on top of Dunn. The BSB get the victory at 05:18.

Rating – ** – Again, some obvious screw ups but that was easily the most coherent match thus far this evening. As far as squash matches go that was pretty entertaining and did exactly what it should do. Acid and Kashmere got to look like a big deal and show off their double team moves, without totally destroying the credibility (what little they have) of their opponents.

Trent Acid puts every other team on notice by proclaiming the Backseat Boyz to be the best tag team in the world, and promises the Tag Title before the end of 2003. Da Hit Squad meet them behind the curtain and don’t seem very impressed with Trent’s statements.

Christopher Daniels vs Doug Williams – FWA Heavyweight Title/#1 Contenders Trophy Match
As you can see, there’s already a ton on the line here, but Chris Daniels has added more. He beat Williams at Glory By Honor and took away his right to shake hands. Tonight Williams can win that right back if he wins the match. With Xavier as ROH Champion, the Fallen Angel wants the #1 Contenders Trophy to block any future challenges to his stablemate. He also defends the FWA Title – the top belt in the Frontier Wrestling Alliance, Doug Williams’ home promotion.

Daniels gets totally overpowered and runs away in the first 10 seconds – I love this guy! He then tries to cheat and Williams comes back by CHAIN-WRESTLING the sh*t out of him. Doug has counters for Daniels’ counters because he’s so immense. In the end Daniels knees him in the stomach and goes after the eyes in the corner. He’s a cocky dick when he manages to trap Doug in a headlock too. Williams escapes by suplexing his opponent on his neck and just like that he starts working on that body part. There’s a few Philly morons yelling boring but Doug ignores them and drops Daniels with a neckbreaker then brings on more “boring” with a grounded headscissors. On commentary Murrow points out that this is perfect set up for the Chaos Theory. Daniels seems to know that too since he throws Williams out of the ring, then rams him chest-first into the ring apron. That’s his strategy now, and stays on the ribs with a gutbuster for 2. Daniels is still selling the neck like a trooper though, making hard work of a scoop slam, then changing up the Arabian press for a slingshot elbow drop to the torso. Doug looks for a sunset flip but it’s countered with another elbow drop aimed at those ribs. Daniels suplexes Williams over the ropes which leads to a slug out on the floor. Fallen Angel catapults Doug chest-first into the bottom rope, then uses the same rope to apply a camel clutch. Williams tries the triple knee combo but Daniels knees him in the gut and slams on an ab stretch. Doug escapes and knees Daniels in the face. Daniels avoids a double stomp but gets rocked with a big lariat leaving both men down and selling their injuries. Williams is first up with a belly to belly then a FISHERMAN BUSTER! He’s slow to cover though. Revolution DDT blocked with shoulders to the midsection, but Williams goes to the neck once more by blocking the Fall From Grace with a tornado DDT instead. Daniels thinks about a BME but Doug slaps on a CROSSFACE! All pressure on the neck only for the leader of The Prophecy to get the ropes. He comes up with another gutbuster. DOUBLE JUMP MOONSAULT right on the ribs…for 2. Williams hits the ropes and runs into the urinage slam. KOJI CLUTCH! Daniels has even turned it to stretch the middle of the body. WILLIAMS COUNTERS WITH NECK CRANKING! Chaos Theory blocked…Last Rites blocked. SWINGING COBRA CLUTCH from Williams! BOMB SCARE ON THE DAMN NECK! Daniels is desperate and repeatedly shoulder charges in the corner. Angels Wings…no…CHAOS THEORY! Williams wins at 19:12. He can shake hands again, and does so with his fallen opponent on the way out.

Rating – **** – Technically that match was absolutely perfect. The psychology in this one was so simple, yet so well-executed it was a joy to behold. There wasn’t a wasted motion in the entire match. Daniels is a prick but Doug is focused on winning everything and totally out-wrestles him from the bell. That’s followed by some spot-on body part work and magnificent selling down the stretch. Lovey calls this a ‘sleeper MOTYC’ and it’s almost that good to be honest. My biggest problems come in that it’s a little too…technically perfect. Beyond Daniels’ incredible heelisms in the first few minutes, it’s a little emotionally cold. The fans REALLY wanted to dislike Daniels and cheer Williams, but they were so busy going through their methodical hold-for-hold match that they didn’t really stop to bring an emotional factor into it. But still a brilliant match that still holds up years later.

Samoa Joe, CW Anderson and Simply Luscious head to the ring to wind up the crowd and Homicide’s crowd thugs. Julius Smokes moons them…then gets his ass kicked by Jack Victory (and some fan who rather comically tries to get involved). Victory is some guy that was in ECW. He’s probably done something more than that but…I could really care less. Him being booked is just more of the RFVideo crew showing some ill-advised loyalty to an ECW alumni who really has no place in ROH. Anyway, Homicide and Da Hit Squad make their way out for a brawl/match

Samoa Joe/CW Anderson/Jack Victory vs Homicide/Da Hit Squad
Homicide has beef with Steve Corino stretching back to Glory By Honor, so it’s only natural he’d want a piece of Corino’s stablemates. That’s not even considering they were involved in starting the big New York riot last month too. Joe is wrestling in long tights tonight for some reason. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen him do that. Not sure why he’s bothering with this when he’s got a title match later…

Homicide lugs CW around then blasts him with a guardrail-shattering TOPE CON HILO! Oh, there’s a bell. Joe and Monsta Mack test each other’s strength then change to attempted decapitation with wild swinging lariats. Joe wins that duel with a jumping enzi so Mafia takes up where his partner left off. He lands a German on the #1 Contender to the ROH Title. Cide knees Anderson in the corner but Joe is up again and drops him with a messy STJoe. Hit Squad ground Joe in the corner for Mafia’s cannonball senton. Mafia then blocks the Anderson Spinebuster once but eats it second time of asking. He rolls out and has to deal with Joe diving after him with an elbow suicida. Luscious and Victory are beating on Mack on the floor. Joe runs across shot with a pre-Ole Ole kick. Homicide tries to make CW tap with an STF. Becky Bayless tries to interfere and gets her hair pulled by Luscious. Homicide pulls her into the ring…COP KILLAAAAAAAAAAA! Steve Corino’s girlfriend is dead. Anderson drops Cide with a Fame Asser (yeah, he would use Billy Gunn’s finisher – BG sucks too). SPINEBUSTER THROUGH A GARBAGE CAN! That’s a no contest at 07:08…I think.

Rating – ** – Overbooked and it made minimal sense…but it had some car wreck appeal, plus the Joe/DHS segments were pretty cool. I suppose without having Steve Corino around it was the best way to carry on the feud. At least Jack Victory barely made it into the ring.

Homicide’s thugs (who got thrown out earlier) come back again, including one guy wielding a frickin’ machete. That’s not cool…even at a wrestling show. It’s also not cool that the Dirty Rotten Scoundrelz are on my screen…

INTERMISSION – Gary Cappetta interviews Doug Williams who promises he’ll add the ROH Title to his FWA British Heavyweight crown next time he’s in the US.

Mace/Hotstuff Hernandez vs Carnage Crew
Buff E. is at ringside, but Mace kindly informs us that he isn’t wrestling because his ass hurts. His replacement is the massive TWA grad Hotstuff Hernandez who impressed at the First Anniversary Show (in a match with the Carnage Crew ironically). Again, this is the guy that’s now in LAX with Homicide and Konnan. Carnage Crew were embarrassed in NYC so are coming for revenge I suppose. At least ROH are trying to create more storylines in otherwise meaningless undercard matches.

Hernandez is a beast and positively mauls both members of the Crew. Mace takes advantage with some comedy gayness. Loc responds to that by dropping him on his head with a Saito suplex. Mace is isolated now, but goes to what he knows best – rubbing his crotch in another mans face. Carnage Crew have to team up for a back suplex on Hotstuff. He gets up and DDT’s both of them at once. He effortlessly lifts DeVito into a Hurricane DDT (sit-out Dominator), then catches Loc for a powerbomb too. ULTRA HEAVYWEIGHT FLYING TOPE TO THE FLOOR! But going out there was a mistake because DeVito flapjacks him literally through a piece of guardrail, then knocks him out with a chair. Mace eats SPIKE PILEDRIVER and we’re done in 06:18.

Rating – * – Went on a little long for a comedy match but it had the traditional “dead” post-intermission slot and it did exactly what it was supposed to – entertained and livened the crowd ahead of the bigger matches still to come. No complaints…but nothing I want to see again either.

AJ Styles/Amazing Red vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe – ROH Tag Title Match
Unlike The Prophecy, AJ and Red have promised to be fighting champions and defend the belts as much as possible. They start here against the Briscoes, who team up in ROH for the first time. They spent all of 2002 feuding, but Mark has had a change of heart and now they want to dominate the tag ranks. Alexis ‘Mickie James’ Laree is with the champs.

Jay and Red have wrestled with each other repeatedly in the past year and it’s those two that kick us off. Mark comes in to put on a great back and forth sequence. AJ gets the tag and goes to the mat with the younger Briscoe. HEAD DROP GERMAN! Jay tries to help his brother but Red superkicks him into another HEAD DROP GERMAN! STEREO SOMERSAULT PLANCHAS BY THE CHAMPS! Mark slaps AJ then suplexes him on HIS head. The Briscoes hammer Styles down against a corner pad and simultaneously boot him in the head. Jay gets too confident and gets obliterated by an awesome flurry of high-impact moves. Red gets the tag and gets 2 (and major hang-time) on a Savage elbow drop. Mark blind tags for a missile dropkick then does the same gutwrench/knee drop combo that he’s still doing in 2006. Red catches him…INVERTED STYLES CLASH! That’s one way to tag out. Styles in – STALLING BRAINBUSTER! That’s followed with a backbreaker/gutbuster combo for 2. Mark counters AJ’s dropkick with a powerbomb. He then blocks the Phenom DDT with a dropkick to the ass! He goes for his trademark springboard Ace crusher but Styles counters with a MID-AIR back suplex! RED STAR PRESS gets 2. Jay whacks Red from the apron and that enables his brother to tag out. He comes close to booting the little guy’s head off his shoulders as well. Mark takes another shot at Styles (after blocking all his trademark moves earlier) with brainbusters on his partner. Red almost finds a tag but Jay murders him with a lariat. The Briscoes use the heel ref distraction tactic to stave off the hot tag but Red eventually rolls off Mark into a spinning heel kick on Jay, then pops up again for a HIPTOSS DRIVER on Mark! That’d be your hot tag there. HAMMERLOCK BACK SUPLEX OF DEATH for Mark! Red and Mark both go for Shining Wizard’s off their partners and collide in mid-air! Jay stops Red hitting Code Red and helps his brother with a double DDT for 2. Styles in with a PHENOM DOUBLE DDT! Jay Driller and Styles Clash blocked…SCREWDRIVER on AJ! Red (with crazy afro) saves. He goes to the top with Jay. TOP ROPE CODE RED! LEAPFROG SUPER RANA ON MARK…AND AJ CATCHES HIM FOR A STYLES CLASH! Red and AJ retain at 16:44!

Rating – **** – The first time you see this match (particularly if you haven’t seen much ROH before) it totally blows your mind. It’s not technically perfect like Williams/Daniels, but it’s non-stop excitement from bell to bell. Lets face it, if they were throwing body part plot devices, selling and legal men work into this match you’d be moving towards 5* territory so. These are four guys famous for delivering matches filled with head drops and high impact spots and that’s exactly what they produced. Easily the best ROH Tag Title match to date, although the only real contender (unless you count the 6-man last November) was AJ/Red vs Prophecy match last week when Xavier wrestled semi-conscious.

Jody Fleisch vs Low Ki
I have a theory that this whole “Low Ki wants to work Special K to teach them some respect” angle was concocted specifically so they could book Ki/Jody in a dream match like this. Anyway, the premise of this is that Ki thinks the Special K stable is talented but until they learn to have respect, honour and discipline they will get nowhere. He and DHS mullered a whole bunch of the drugged up fraggles last week in Boston. Now he’s got the most talented member of the group (not saying much I know) in his sights. Is another sh*tkicking in the offing, or can Fleisch surprise us?

Jody demonstrates his serious approach by trying to work the mat with Ki. He tries to grab Ki’s legs and gets kicked a few times. He avoids a few more in Ki/Red fashion then they go mad with the reversals until Ki kicks Fleisch in the chest. 720 DDT blocked, and Jody gets right up to escape the Dragon Clutch! That sh*t was crazy! Ki decides to slow it down instead but Fleisch is able to pop up with a satellite headscissors then a reverse rana which sends him out. Ki is smart enough to know about Jody’s springboard SSP and rolls back in. Jody switches it into a springboard missile dropkick. SPRINGBOARD SHOOTING STAR TO THE FLOOR! I love it when they work in trademark spots with intelligence like that. Jody gets 2 with a split-legged moonsault. He gets a little too confident and flips off the ropes right into Ki’s SPRINGBOARD ENZIGURIIIIII! Jody recovers for a reverse heel kick. CORKSCREW CROSSBODY gets 2. Low Ki blocks the 720 again so Fleisch applies a triangle choke. Ki just lifts him up for the Krush Rush and a b*tch of a capo kick. The punishment continues with the Krush Combo then some Kawada kicks to boot. Tidal Krush misses…SECOND ROPE GERMAN SUPLEX! Fleisch gets 2 from that only for Ki to grab his leg and stretch it. Fleisch tries his best to trade strikes, eventually flooring Ki with a stepping enzi. He tries a hurricanrana and gets powerbombed. Ki Krusha countered into a small package for 2. Jody tries a satellite headscissors and gets swung straight into the turnbuckles! That’s what happens when you try the same move twice. He is placed on the second rope for a TIDAL KRUSH which sends him outside. Both men are low on gas and Fleisch is able to the apron. SHOOTING STAR PILEDRIVER! Does such a thing even exist? Ki rolls outside he’s so dead. Jody drags him back in but only gets 2. Ki can’t stand for Fleisch to utilise the 720 so he pulls him to the top rope instead. Ki comes back to life for TOP ROPE KAWADA KICKS! TOP ROPE KI KRUSHAAAAAAAAAA! Low Ki takes it at 19:39.

Rating – **** – If you liked Ki vs Red at Road To The Title then you should love this. It’s the same formula for a match only longer with crazier high spots. There was also a surprising amount of thought put into it as well. I was really impressed by the way they teased Jody’s usual SSP to the floor for instance. And you can’t talk about this match without mentioning the Shooting Star Piledriver. Call it a botch, call it intentional, and the weirdest move ever invented – it really doesn’t matter. The point was it f*cked Low Ki up in spectacular fashion. The fact that he’s never done it again makes me think it was probably a screw up but I could care less. An exciting 21st century wrestling match demonstrating the sort of high-velocity, high impact style you’d expect from these two wrestlers.

Jody Fleisch arrives back in the Special K locker room and is revived by the miracle of illegal substances. That’s pretty funny.

CM Punk/Ace Steel vs Raven/Colt Cabana
Even though it only started a week ago this is already one of the hottest feuds in ROH. Punk and Raven are such polar opposites, but both such great promos that anything they do together seems like a massive deal. Punk made Raven tap out at Expect The Unexpected, so now Raven has chosen to team up with a man who knows Punk better than anybody – long term friend and rival Colt Cabana. Ace Steel trained both Punk and Cabana. Technically he debuted at Final Battle 2002 against Jay Briscoe but that match was clipped and shoved onto High Impact TV instead so this is the first time he’s made a card. Don’t expect a lot of rules in this one…unless ‘Raven’s Rules’ actually counts.

Bell rings and Punk confirms that it’s Raven’s Rules. He also gives Cabana grief for teaming with Raven against his best friend his trainer. He then bails rather than start in the ring with Raven. Colt and Raven work Steel over for a bit until the former ECW Champion clobbers him with a trash can lid instead. Punk finally gets in the ring when Cabana is in there but again he runs away from Raven. Steel hits Raven with a chair then Russian legsweeps him into the railings. Of course now Punk wants to get in the ring, and he goes right after the Devil Lock that made Raven tap last week. The tongue-in-cheek commentary on this is quite funny. ‘Where do you get this information? Do you know the booker?’ – Murrow to Lovey. Raven escapes the Devil Lock and busts out the trademark drop toehold into the chair. Cabana gets the hot tag. SPIRALBOMB on Ace. He clotheslines Punk out, and Raven takes both himself and Steel to the floor. Raven hits Punk from behind with a chair, and he staggers into the COLT 45! Ace saves at 2. Double underhook backbreaker on Colt gets 2. Giant swing/missile dropkick combo by Punk and Steel gets 2 again. It’s Cabana isolated, and he gets caught in the corner for a running dropkick by Steel, followed right up with a Diamond Dust by Punk. Punk dives off the top rope but gets caught with a CRADLE double underhook powerbomb. It wasn’t too clean though. Hot tag to Raven (with garbage can). Punk tries to dropkick it into Raven’s face and gets clobbered. Raven then drop toeholds Ace into a tope on Punk. CORKSCREW PLANCHA FROM RAVEN! MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR BY CABANA! Something went wrong there because he is literally screaming in pain and grabbing his knee. Back inside Steel saves Punk from the Raven Effect. They lay Raven on the table but Punk misses a flying elbow drop and crashes through it himself. RAVEN EFFECT ON STEEL! It’s over at 15:51.

Rating – *** – Truth be told that was a real mess at times, but there was enough effort and storyline in there to drag it up to 3*. The last few minutes were really good, and it started well, but it really dragged in the middle portion as they couldn’t seem to decide if they wanted to work a tag match or a hardcore match…and ultimately didn’t really do a good version of either. Cool finish as Raven wins but neither beats Punk nor manages to give him the DDT.

Raven tries to get a handshake from Punk. But unlike Raven last week, Punk shows no class in defeat. He flees before he can fall victim to the Raven Effect too…so Raven does it to Ace again. Punk ends up mobbing Raven…and Cabana helps him. He sets up a chair for Punk to give Raven a drop toehold, and walks out with his opponents. That’s the formation of the Second City Saints right there…

Homicide says he’s recruited Dusty Rhodes to be on his team for the ‘I Quit Bunkhouse Riot’ against Steve Corino’s group at the next show. Julius Smokes cuts his first ever super-annoying rambling ghetto promo. Low Ki comes in and objects to Smokes being in ROH.

Xavier vs Samoa Joe – ROH Title Match
It seems like it’s all falling apart for The Prophecy right now. They lost the tag belts last week, and Daniels lost his FWA Title to Doug Williams earlier. Is Xavier the final man to fall in your main event of the evening? Joe was once paid to be in The Prophecy with Xavier, but is now a member of The Group, a faction that wants to displace The Prophecy and take over as the top group in ROH. Xavier is also working this match injured after picking up a concussion against AJ and Red in Boston last week.

Xavier is immediately distracted as CW Anderson and Michael Shane come to ringside and attack Chris Daniels and Allison Danger. Why wasn’t Shane in a match tonight? As you’d expect Joe is pummelling the champion. Xavier tries to skin the cat only for Joe to grab him and kick him flush in the chest. GUARDRAIL DEATH KICK on Xavier. Joe brings him back in for a volley of short kicks. Finally Xavier counters the Island Driver with a big lungblower. That hurts Joe’s neck which he apparently injured in the 6-man earlier. He manages to lift Joe into an overhead belly to belly suplex for 2. The challenger spills to the floor. TOPE SUICIDA INTO A DDT ON THE FLOOR! That’s the coolest thing Xavier has done in his entire life! Back in the ring he repeatedly strikes at the neck, then applies a rear chinlock. More awesome strength shown as he hits a perfect vertical suplex on the hefty Samoan. But Joe has had enough, getting to his feet and laying in some sick chops. He tries to suplex Xavier but the neck is too injured. Instead he no-sells few Xavier clotheslines then sends him spinning through the air with a club-like lariat. CHIMERA SUPLEX COMBO! That’s Xavier dropped on his head three times! X-Breaker blocked, but Xavier counters another suplex attempt by kneeing Joe in the injured neck. X-BREAKER! He goes for the 450…AND GETS KNEES! ENZI TO THE HEAD! GROUNDED KNEE STRIKES! CHOOOOOOOOOOKE! XAVIER IS OUT! NEW CHAMPION! Samoa Joe wins the belt in 11:55.

Rating – *** – In many ways that was Xavier’s best title match. The 1YA London match was great in a sports-entertainment sense, but for an ROH-style match, that was the best he’s ever managed. It didn’t go that long (but with Xavier injured and Joe having wrestled once already that shouldn’t be too surprising) but they worked a great story, through in some terrific spots, and the pop the finish got was really surprising. It took a few tedious months, but in the first few months of 2003 Xavier was finally the heel champion ROH wanted him to be, and he deserves some credit for how hard he has worked to improve and get himself over for something other than sucking. His run is over and perhaps the most famous of all the ROH Title reigns has begun.

SIDENOTE – I do this almost whenever the ROH Title changes hands. At the time it seemed like a strange decision to put the belt on Joe. People had been clamouring for Xavier to lose it, but after going through big name babyface challenges like AJ Styles and Paul London, handing it to a midcard tweener like Joe seems strange. But it made storyline sense given that The Group (admittedly looking totally directionless without Corino as the mouthpiece) were supposed to be feuding with The Prophecy to be the dominant faction. Joe as ROH Champion in The Group is basically the same booking logic as Xavier in The Prophecy. The leader/mouthpiece of the stable (Daniels or Corino) is already over, so why not use the belt to elevate one of his stablemates? Would I have put the belt on Joe at this point? Probably not. I’m just saying that it makes sense. Personally I’d have had London win it in Queens (that would’ve got a massive pop), then have Joe take it from London at Death Before Dishonor. But it’s easy to armchair book, particularly with years of hindsight on my side.

Raven is sitting in a corner somewhere. He’s frustrated that he still couldn’t hit Punk with the Raven Effect. He’s not on the next few shows but the mindgames will continue until he’s nailed that DDT.

In a promo taped a couple of days after the event was taped, Chris Daniels reflects on a lousy week for The Prophecy. They’ve lost all their titles, The Group finally fired the first shot in their feud, and Xavier is now out injured due to repeated concussions. Daniels calls Corino a coward for not landing the first blow himself, and promises that The Prophecy will come back stronger than ever.

Steve Corino ends the show back in Japan complaining about Homicide giving Simply Luscious the Cop Killa. He declares their feud on again…

Tape Rating – **** – This is probably the worst show ever to receive the 4* rating since there is a lot of lousy filler to sit through, and angles that don’t really go anywhere (Slugger/Omega, Group/Prophecy and the Homicide/Ki). But here’s the important facts to consider – all the big money matches deliver, THREE matches reach the 4* mark, and you get two massive landmarks in ROH history with the formation of the Second City Saints and Samoa Joe winning the title. As far as early ROH shows go I’d say this was up there with the very best of them. It’s also the only show with machetes…

Top 3 Matches
3) Low Ki vs Jody Fleisch (****)
2) AJ Styles/Amazing Red vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (****)
1) Doug Williams vs Christopher Daniels (****)

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