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017 ROH Epic Encounter 4/12/2003

ROH 017 – The Epic Encounter – 12th April 2003

Despite the fact that I’m falling further and further behind reviewing recent ROH releases I’m having such a good time revisiting old shows to review them again that I’ve decided to press on. This is Epic Encounter, famous pretty much solely for the 2/3 Falls Match pitting Bryan Danielson against Paul London, who returns from injury for this match. Interesting factoid – Gabe only booked them against each other as a panic decision after Low Ki pulled out of the show. Anyway, there’s also Punk/Whitmer, Homicide/Daniels and Joe/Hernandez, and a big ugly brawl main event featuring Dusty Rhodes. Since my original review this is one of the shows I’ve picked up on DVD. I’ve gone DVD on every show from 2004 to present day but I’m still trying to pick up all the 2002/3 shows since ROH is a little slow in releasing remastered copies. As is this is the old RFVideo DVD I picked up for a snip on eBay. Anyway, that’s enough jibberish. We’re in Philadelphia, PA with Chris Lovey and Ray Murrow.

TOP 5 RANKINGS
1) Doug Williams (won the trophy by beating Chris Daniels at Night Of Champions)
2) Low Ki (scored back to back wins over Special K in March)
3) CM Punk (made Raven tap at Expect The Unexpected)
4) Xavier (he’s in after holding the ROH Title for 6 months)
5) Bryan Danielson (not booked in March but beat new ROH Champion Samoa Joe in February)

That huge black guy that stared down with Slugger at Night Of Champions arrives.

Alexis Laree hypes up AJ Styles and Amazing Red. I guess she’s their manager now. She’s in their corner to make sure their challengers follow the Code Of Honor. Paul London walks in and acts all depressed that AJ won’t be teaming with him now. He even had matching matching tights made up, and has tried to make his own headband. London is AWESOME in this promo as a cocky airhead. Styles suggests he find his own partner and challenge them for the belts. It sucks that London left and they never got to do that.

SIDENOTE – It’s a new era for ROH. This is the first show where they turned out the house lights and replaced them with their own lighting rigs, darkened arena curtains etc. It’s obviously nothing compared to what they do today but it’s a massive step forward, and from here shows start physically resembling modern day releases…

Backseat Boyz vs Da Hit Squad
This was set up last month when the Backseatz started claiming they’re the best tag team in ROH and Da Hit Squad took offence. I suppose the winners here would be near the front of the queue for a shot at Styles and Red.

Mafia is noticeably getting in much better shape now. Monsta Mack tears at Kashmere’s wrist and hand, and Johnny hurts it when he tries to tag out. He does distract Mack to give Trent the advantage. Acid runs away before Monsta Mack can club him down with a lariat. Apparently Johnny Kashmere only showed up 15 minutes ago. In the end the Backseatz hammer Mafia in the corner. Half Nelson suplex blocked so Mafia just throws Acid with a HALF NELSON T-BONE! BSB chicken out on the floor again. They even run backstage – and I spot Rob Feinstein talking to future owner Cary Silkin as DHS go to get them. TOPE SUICIDA BY MAFIA! He mullers Kashmere in the corner with a cannonball senton too. Acid wipes Mack out with his Yakuza kick but celebrates it and gets a back superplex from the impressive Mafia. Monsta Mack has Johnny for a SPLASH MOUNTAIN TURNBUCKLE BOMB! RUNNING DOMINATOR on Acid! Mafia accidentally smacks Mack out of the ring and turns round into the T-GIMMICK! Backseats win at 08:04.

Rating – ** – This should’ve been a much bigger match given the status of the two teams at the time, although I guess Kashmere’s late arrival put pay to that. As was this was nothing more than a crowd-popping opener. It was stalling and took a while to get going but they threw some cool spots in, and the finish (whilst a little abrupt) is important so…

Mafia is pissed off about losing, and he walks out without shaking hands…or his partner.

Special K have an AMAZING new entrance using all the new lights. They seem to be at full strength (minus Jody Fleisch), as everyone from Mikey Whipwreck to Hi-jinx and Slugger is out there. Mikey says he knows a lot about tag team wrestling, since he teamed with Mick Foley and Tajiri…and trained the SAT and Divine Storm (he shouldn’t brag about that…). The point is, he proclaims ALL of Special K to be the next great team. Dunn & Marcos and Carnage Crew both come out to object. In the end the Backseat Boyz (who are still out there) suggest they all have a match, then the winners face them. I don’t understand why there are like five teams out there arguing about who the best team in ROH is…and NONE of them are Tag Champions.

Special K vs Carnage Crew vs Dunn & Marcos – Scramble Match
This is scramble rules of course. Special K are listed as Dixie and Hydro. And as we learned, apparently the winners will wrestle the Backseat Boyz. Everyone wants to be the next tag team in ROH…except the Carnage Crew who don’t care about that and just like having fights.

The rest of Special K are popping pills on the floor. Loc suplexes Marcos on his head. Carnageplex on Dixie before they clear out. Dunn plants Hydro with the Gory Driver, but Hydro recovers to get 2 with a Tiger Driver. Dixie gives Marcos a Kryptonite neckbreaker. DeVito suplexes him into the turnbuckles as the endless spots continue. DUELLING TOPE SUICIDAS by Dixie and Hydro. Loc dives onto the pile with a senton off the apron. DeVito thought that was pretty cool so he betters it with a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! STAGE DIVES by the Ring Crew Express. Deranged isn’t in the match but hits a springboard moonsault just for kicks. The Ring Crew drop Loc with an assisted Shiranui. Everyone piles up in the ring…but they all move before DeVito can squish them all with his moonsault. They screw up a big car wreck spot in the corner…and the Crew end that with a Spike Piledriver on Dunn. The ref is distracted so Mikey runs in to dish out WHIPPERSNAPPERS for Loc and DeVito. Hydro pins Dunn’s dead body for a Special K victory in 05:28.

Rating – * – I was going to go 2* on this since…even though it was nothing but a meaningless array of spots, they were hitting everything clean. Then they made a real hash of that big multi-man gig in the corner so. Lets face it…this match wasn’t that impressive. They weren’t doing anything especially innovative, difficult, or new. That plus screw ups means a stingy rating. We’ll be seeing Special K vs Backseat Boyz on May 31st apparently (that’s Do Or Die).

‘Hi everybody watching TV!!!!’ – Deranged. Slugger gives Marcos the Bodybag for no real reason. The other great big black man gets in for a staredown. Angeldust slaps him and gets destroyed.

AJ Styles/Amazing Red vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe – ROH Tag Title Match
Well if you’re going to do so many tag matches in a row you may as well send the champions out there, and put them in a rematch of the killer match they had with the Briscoes at the last show. I’d have put Punk/Whitmer here as the commentators have suggested, but what do I know?

Briscoes start aggressive and punch the champions. They get dumped to the floor, but are smart enough to block the stereo dives Red and AJ tried last time. Briscoes go for somersault planchas but the champions MOVE! CRISS-CROSS PLANCHAAAAAAS! AJ jumps the rail for the superkick but Jay catches his boot and hits his own superkick. Jay and Mark kick Red’s face in whilst Styles recovers. Red rolls off Mark’s back into a corkscrew enzi on Jay. Mark blocks Code Red but Styles returns to make sure he gets it. Whacky hang-time elbow drop gets Red a 2. Mark is taking a pounding now, typified by walking into AJ’s usual dropkick routine. Jay eventually blind tags for a leg drop/sidewalk slam combo, and just like that it’s Red getting worked over. More double-teaming with a sidewalk slam/inverted DDT move which draws a 2. Styles tries to interfere but Mark wipes him out in pretty brutal fashion. He then gets 2 on Red with a brainbuster. Finally Red nails a DDT which enables him to get the hot tag. Pumphandle gutbuster on Mark, then the rear gourdbuster on Jay. Mark tries something but Red cuts him off with a SHINING WIZARD OFF AJ’S BACK! SKIPPING A GENERATION SWINGING FLATLINER! The champs try the finish that won last time…BUT THE BRISCOES COUNTER WITH A POWERBOMB/NECKBREAKER! AJ gets clotheslined out. Mark tries a slinghot rana to the outside…CAUGHT WITH STYLES CLASH! In the ring Red counters the Jay Driller with the MAXIMO EXPLOSION! RED STAR PRESS! The champions retain (although technically AJ was legal, not Red) at 10:56.

Rating – **** – I’ve actually rated this match higher than I did last time around. It’s not as good as the first encounter, but they packed sh*tloads into the little time they were given…and even found time to bust-out some tremendous familiarity psychology and a bunch of crazy new stuff too. I’d totally forgotten that AJ and Red did an “Ode To Bulldogs” type move before Roderick Strong and Jack Evans. A total adrenaline rush of a match…

BJ Whitmer vs CM Punk
There’s no back story or anything here. It’s just two guys who have looked pretty good in 2003 thus far thrown together. I think this is also BJ’s first singles match. He’s looked impressive in a few fourways already this year so clearly we’re going to see him booked more. CM Punk finally stepped up and really shone for the first time during March. He declared war on Raven in an angle which has interested both casual fans and smarks alike, getting two good matches out of the ageing bird too. He’s been rewarded with a place in the Top 5, so if he wants a title shot he’ll need to keep winning.

Trinity appears from nowhere and pisses Punk off by sitting in the corner Raven-style. That’d be one of the mind games that Raven promised. Then she tries a top rope plancha on Colt Cabana who simply catches her and walks out. ‘What a weird little exchange’ – Lovey. After brawling with Raven, Punk looks pretty determined to show his wrestling side again and looks crisp on the mat. Whitmer eventually kicks him over the ropes to the floor. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA…but he pretty much lands flat-out on the wooden floor. He botches a tilta-whirl backbreaker as well. Punk recovers well with a springboard dropkick. Welcome To Chicago (Motherf*cker) backbreaker gets 2. He grabs a hammerlock and uses that to sweep BJ into a DDT. He sets up a table on the floor, but Whitmer is too heavy for him to even tease an Awesome Bomb. That must’ve been a screw up because they redo the spot. Whitmer blocks, then gets knee’d in the head with a Shining Wizard. Boston Crab applied, which is pretty cool because Punk’s hit the back a lot with his offence. He tries a running bootscrape but Whitmer cuts him off with a jumping knee strike. Punk tries a Saito suplex but that almost screws up too so they change in mid-air to a German. BJ gets 2 with a big lariat, then same again from an exploder suplex. TOKEN INDY FOREARM WAR! Punk makes me laugh by eye-raking his way free of that. Whitmer gets Punk’s head through the middle rope and KAWADA KICKS the life out of him. They slug it out on the apron. PUNK GERMAN SUPLEXES WHITMER THROUGH THE TABLE! They’re both dead from the sheer stupidity of that spot, and it’s a no-contest at 12:22.

Rating – ** – I can’t fault the effort both guys put in…but at times that was seriously ugly. Whitmer in particular looked very green and botched pretty much everything he tried. Not that Punk was the Messiah of the perfectly executed spot either. But it was a physical match…and anyone who has the balls to try a German suplex through a table on the floor deserves your respect.

Gabe, Feinstein and a few wrestlers (including Joe) are quickly on the scene, along with doctors. I think that finish was a legit double KO, but if it was planned – congratulations because it’s convincing.

Homicide vs Christopher Daniels
Given the talent involved, and how much they have contributed to ROH since the promotion started this is a pretty big match. Daniels is looking to regroup and rebuild The Prophecy after a terrible month of March when they lost the Tag Titles, the ROH Title, Xavier got injured and Doug Williams beat him for the #1 Contenders Trophy. Homicide is looking to break-out as a singles star in 2003, hence he’s wrestling twice tonight. This one is for his career…the main event is because he hates Corino. Remember though, Daniels is Low Ki’s hated rival. Homicide trained Low Ki, so will he be looking to give the Fallen Angel some extra abuse for all he’s put his friend through?

Homicide has his present-day music by this point (although I think it’s still the 50 Cent version). This is joined in progress with Homicide chinlocking Daniels. That doesn’t bode well. Daniels escapes and knocks Cide down with an enziguri. Neckbreaker gets 2. Homicide looks on the brink of screwing things up constantly. He takes two attempts but manages a dragon screw into an STF. He has to release it because Allison Danger distracts the ref. Homicide botches something else and eventually grabs a sleeper hold. Daniels counters to his own (much better) sleeper. He goes for Angels Wings but Cide escapes the attempt with a T-bone suplex. Daniels ducks the Lariat and suplexes Homicide on his face. I’m guessing Homi was supposed to land on his feet though because he pops up and dropkicks Fallen Angel outside for the Tope Con Hilo. Homicide to the top rope only to miss a diving headbutt. Daniels capitalises with the BME for 2. Cide is back up with ROLLING back drop drivers for 2. Daniels scores with a desperation STO and both men go down. Daniels seems to think it’s a good idea to go to the second rope. Homicide tries to capitalise with an Ace crusher…then they both sort of collapse off the top together. They do the same spot they did earlier, with Daniels ducking the Lariat and hitting a German. ‘Daniels looks slightly frustrated here’ – Murrow. He’s probably fed up of walking Homicide through this match. Cop Killa blocked but Cide spins round for the Lariat. That gets 2. ANGELS WINGS! That’s only a nearfall as well. Jesus Christ…Homicide messes up a nearfalls exchange too. In the end he does manage to roll Daniels up for a flash pin at 11:16.

Rating – * – Awful stuff…really abysmal. I don’t think it would’ve been any worse if they’d have gone out there and actively tried to have the worst match of their careers. Actually, that’s a lie. Who knows how bad this would’ve been if Daniels was wrestling as badly as Homicide then. Homicide didn’t hit anything clean the whole match. Everything they did went wrong…and some of it looked really hideous. And the finish was lame as well, and doesn’t really do anyone any favours in my opinion. Homicide winning looked lucky, not skilful. I know Cide likes the marijuana though…maybe he was high. Incidentally, they clipped off over 6 minutes from the start of this one. Who knows how bad they must’ve been considering the 11 lousy minutes that did get through the editing room. But hey, both these guys are still in ROH. Maybe a rematch now? There’s no WAY they wouldn’t top this.

Daniels doesn’t sake hands with Homicide…but does help him out as Samoa Joe and CW Anderson of The Group run in to attack the pair of them. Joe chokes out Homicide as Anderson and Jack Victory mob Daniels. Mafia comes out to make the save. Daniels rips off Mafia’s DHS shirt…to reveal a Prophecy shirt. He’s the newest member, and he dumps his Hit Squad shirt on Homicide…

INTERMISSION – Cappetta is with BJ Whitmer, who’s still groggy from the table spot. CM Punk comes to check on him as well. ‘Next time I’m going to go a little easier so you don’t just quit on me’ – Punk. What a jerk!

Elsewhere backstage Julius Smokes and some other ghetto guy beat up some jobbers.

Alexis Laree beats Ariel in clips. Ariel will go on to be the new Christopher St. Connection valet.

Hotstuff Hernandez vs Samoa Joe
Obviously Hotstuff hasn’t done anything to earn a title shot so Joe’s ROH Title isn’t on the line. What is at stake is pride as two of the biggest men in the promotion go head to head in what should be a hard-hitting encounter. Has this match happened in TNA since Hernandez broke out in LAX? I’d love to see it if so.

Despite supposedly being a heel Joe is way over. He uses his mat skills to negate the size and power of Hernandez. He’s finally able to get back to his feet though and he absolutely mullers Joe with a clothesline. Spinning heel kick follows that and that’s pretty impressive. FLYING BIG MAN PLANCHA! But he takes too long getting Joe back in the ring and takes a flurry of E Honda slaps. Hotstuff comes back again with a slingshot shoulder block. Jumping enzi from Joe stops him. Joe grounds the match once more with a camel clutch. Hernandez up again and he nails an overhead belly to belly. Joe blocks a pumphandle but Hotstuff powers him in the corner to evade the Choke. Hernandez hits a double choke powerbomb but Joe grabs a triangle choke and wins at 06:39.

Rating – ** – The finish was a poor but before that we had a really enjoyable heavyweight clash. I maintain that Hernandez was a little limited in terms of his moveset (that plancha will soon get old if he dies it in every damn match) and wasn’t really the right fit for ROH at this time, but he’s enjoyable in little matches like this. I need to check out some of his stuff in TNA because if he’s improved in the past three years he could be a real beast by now.

Joe isn’t finished for the evening. He takes a seat in the ring and GMC is sent out there to find out what he’s doing. Joe wants to defend the ROH Title as well – and he demands to defend it against the three men who were supposed to compete in the next match.

Samoa Joe vs Matt Stryker vs Colt Cabana vs Tom Carter – ROH Title Match
Remember, Steve Corino’s group don’t do what bookers tell them and basically call their own shots. That’s why Joe has made this an ROH Title Match – even though it’s not listed in the archives as an official defence. Anyway, Stryker still hasn’t got a win in ROH, despite a few impressive outings. Colt Cabana joined CM Punk and Ace Steel in the Second City Saints at Night Of Champions, and now comes out to ‘Copa Cabana’ – his character continues to evolve and take shape. Tom Carter (aka Reckless Youth) makes his debut tonight. He was supposed to wrestle Punk at the anniversary event but pulled out at the last minute. Anyway, he used to be a high-flier but apparently he’s coming to demonstrate his new technical abilities. Lets see what he can do…

Joe tries to attack everyone but that’s a mistake. Flipping neckbreaker by Carter into a Lionsault from Stryker. Cabana and Carter drop Joe with a double flapjack but then all three challengers bicker over who gets the pin. Hiptoss backbreaker from Carter to Stryker. He keeps bringing the greatness by slapping a grapevine anklelock on Colt. He escapes that, so Tom changes tack and pursues the arm instead. Cabana ties Carter up in a knot…but Joe slaps him in the face. Carter frees himself and puts Cabana in a Human Lasso. Colt comes back with a tornado suplex on Stryker for 2. He tries a regular suplex but Carter dropkicks his legs. Running somersault senton scores, then he tries more weird submissions on Matt. Stryker works Carter’s arm, which makes perfect sense considering his finishers work the legs. Regal Stretch on Stryker, with added dropkick from Samoa Joe. Reckless gets 2 with a top rope knee drop to the neck. Cabana tags only to be put in the Strykerlock. Matt manages to lift Colt to the floor as well, then flies after him with a pescado. Joe sets up for the elbow suicida but Carter cuts him off with a boot through the ropes. SHELLSHOCK on Joe gets 2. The champion gets up to sweep Carter’s legs with an STO. Stryker in…DEATH VALLEY DRIVER! Cabana breaks the pin. Kryptonite neckbreaker on Stryker gets 2. Cabana tries to climb but Reckless stops him. SUPER DDT! Joe desperately breaks up that pinfall. Colt blocks the Island Driver…CHOOOOKE! Carter is on top for a FROG SPLASH! BUT JOE HOLDS ON! Cabana taps at 13:22.

Rating – ** – Average match that just doesn’t hold up very well anymore. Tom Carter looked really great, Stryker and Cabana showed lots of personality, and Joe mostly stayed out of the ring allowing him to look like a killer when he did venture in. My problems with it were that it was really nothing more than an exhibition match. No plot, psychology or effort to string everything together. Everyone seemed pretty selfish in their desire to show how good they can be…rather than have a good match. Oh, and in classic 2003 style, there was a total lack of legal man enforcement. In 2003 I didn’t notice that so much but…given how much emphasis ROH has placed on it in years since, it makes it all really obvious now.

Outside in the street David Young and Iceberg (a big fatty from NWA Wildside that Homicide has brought in for the Bunkhouse match) are brawling…

Bryan Danielson vs Paul London – 2/3 Falls Match
Third time they’ve wrestled in ROH. Both guys have won a match, now it’s the clincher under classic 2/3 falls rules. Dragon won at All Star Extravaganza when they met in the #1 Contenders Gauntlet. But Paul London evened the score at Night Of The Butcher when he beat Danielson (in another #1 contendership decider). That match was one of the best of 2002 as well. Officially this is your main event since ROH “aren’t sanctioning” the I Quit Bunkhouse Riot shindig. London has new music (you’ll all recognise it, it’s that Hotei tune from Kill Bill Vol. 1). He’s also returning from that sinus cavity surgery which put the bricks on his potential tag team run with AJ Styles, and fresh from winning the ECWA Super 8 Tournament too. Enjoy Bryan Danielson here because due to various Japanese and British commitments this is the last time you’ll see him until November.

Super-intense collar-and-elbow starts us, and you can hear the crowd buzzing for this. London tries a headscissors but Dragon blocks it and stands on his face. Danielson acts a little cocky but it’s all respectful and they take turns faking out on strikes and hand shakes. Dragon escapes a wristlock by stepping through the ropes to tie Paul’s arm up in them then sticking the boots in. He’s so damn good! The mat work in this is also so damn good. Every hold looks beautiful simply because it’s portrayed as an immense struggle. Danielson epitomises the intensity here by escaping something and viciously kicking out at Paul’s face. Belly to belly suplex gets London 2, but by and large he’s working headlocks. Dragon finally escapes that with a backbreaker at 10 minutes. Finally free of the headlocks, Danielson unleashes a few big strikes, taking the time to place some boots in the midsection. Grounded abdominal stretch applied, but that’s not enough and AmDrag makes it worse with aggressive palm strikes. Danielson boots London in the head and lays him out with a back suplex. Dragon is really opening up an injury here. Abdominal stretch again, but this time London is more desperate in his attempts to escape it. The now famous duelling ‘Lets Go London’ and ‘Lets Go Dragon’ start up at this point. Danielson uppercuts London through the ropes then brings him in again with a suplex. But London finally gets his sh*t together and attempts a comeback. SPRINGBOARD twisting sunset flip gets 2. Danielson tries a catapult over the ropes, but Paul skins the cat into a headscissors that sends Dragon out. SPRINGBOARD ENZI with Danielson on the apron. But it’s not enough and Dragon eventually uses momentum to send Paul outside. TOPE SUICIDA NAILED! American Dragon is totally dominant, and he keeps it coming with the judo DDT then a diving headbutt for 2. London demonstrates that he’s not totally dead by ducking a roaring elbow. He comes out of the corner with a second rope spinning heel kick, then almost takes the first fall with a weird roll-up. Danielson pulls him out of the corner with a GERMAN SUPLEX for 2. He goes for more devastating offence on the torso with a back superplex. MID-AIR CROSSBODY COUNTER! London takes the fall at 20:29! The London fans are chanting ‘One More Fall’ which is pretty cool.

Danielson goes heel by faking a handshake to initiate a slugfest. London rocks off a few kicks then thinks about the London Star Press. Danielson catches him on top but it’s a real battle as Paul valiantly persists in going for his finisher. Dragon eventually dropkicks the knee…then ties it in the ropes! He goes nuts hammering at the exposed limb. That’s going to make it difficult to hit the LSP now. SHINBREAKER INTO THE TURNBUCKLES! London falls to the floor where he limps like crazy. Back in and he nails a German…but can’t capitalise. Dragon ducks an enziguri and counters with a dragon screw. Half crab applied, which works the leg and the back that he’d already injured in the first fall. London fights it…SO HE CRANKS IT HARDER! London taps at 27:18 and we’re tied up at 1-1. The rest period ends and London immediately has to connect with an enzi just to stop Dragon attacking his leg again. Totally BRUTAL kicks to Danielson’s face follow because he keeps grabbing at the knee. He tries a body slam but his leg practically gives out under him. Danielson gets 2 with a roaring elbow, then applies Cattle Mutilation for the first time. Too close to the ropes though. Paul is having to use the ropes just to stand now, but he slaps away at his opponent anyway. Dragon with a couple of enzis, with Lovey brilliantly pointing out that he’s stepping off London’s injured leg to hit them. DRAGON SUPLEX gets 2! HALF CRAB AGAIN! Danielson tries mounted headbutts in the corner…but London catches him with that CRADLE POWERBOMB! He’s too f*cked up to even pin him. Paul tries to go to the top even though he can’t stand on his leg at all. Dragon just shoves him off like a motherf*cker. Back up again with Danielson repeatedly clubbing at the back. BACK F*CKING SUPERPLEX! That wasn’t enough to win it so he puts on the half crab for a THIRD TIME! ‘Please don’t tap’ – London fans. EXTRA CRANK! All the pressure on the leg and the back but Paul fights to the ropes anyway. London refuses to die, so Dragon takes him to the top again. He seems to want to back superplex him to the floor. Paul blocks it with the Night Of The Butcher headbutts. SECOND ROPE tornado DDT! London gets the strength to climb the ropes one more time. LONDON STAR PRESS TO THE BACK! LONDON WINS! LONDON WINS! 41:13 is your time.

Rating – ****1/2 – Ladies and gentlemen, you may well have seen your Match of the Year right there. Super-human effort from both men, from a psychological point of view especially. It wasn’t all perfect (hence I’m not giving it the full 5*) but still, what a match. It really worked into the strengths of both men, which is why it was so good. Danielson is brilliant at telling stories with his matches, using multiple body parts and focused wrestling (hence the back and leg work) whilst Paul is awesome in the role of plucky underdog that never knows when to quit. He also sold the leg so amazingly well you’d almost believe that Dragon had broken it for real. So why not 5*? Well they don’t hit everything cleanly…but they were going 40+ minutes. I think they relied on fighting on the turnbuckles too much. Never once did they fail to incorporate these corner battles into the plot, but it was a tad repetitive. I also don’t feel London got enough offence in. The story they told was good. But it was basically Dragon kicking his ass for 40 minutes, but London managed to sneak in two falls. That worked for them…but I think had they had Paul get a little more offence in (particularly in the early stages of fall one, and the latter stages of fall 3) it would’ve been even better. Still…you have just witnessed THE Epic Encounter. It’s one of the most famous matches in ROH history and for a damn good reason.

Right…you have now reached the limits of your good wrestling quota. The sight of Julius Smokes and that other Homicide cronie (Louie Ramos – I think one of the guys that Abdullah forked the sh*t out of at Night Of The Butcher) tell you it’s time for a big garbage clusterf*ck match…

Homicide/Dusty Rhodes/Iceberg/Homicide’s Crew vs CW Anderson/Jack Victory/David Young/Random Brawlers – ‘I Quit’ Bunkhouse Riot
So here’s how it works. Homicide hates Steve Corino, and to a lesser extent Samoa Joe. Therefore he’s got embroiled in a feud of sorts with The Group. The basic idea behind this is that Homicide got to book whoever he wanted for the match, and The Group got to book whoever they wanted. But here’s where I have problems. Steve Corino isn’t there. Samoa Joe isn’t there. Michael Shane isn’t there…and who gives a f*ck about CW Anderson? Basically it’s just Homicide fighting with a bunch of wasters for no real reason. And he’s booked to fat goons who have no business in ROH. There seems to be no reason for this match. Anyway…in theory the Homicide/Corino war is on again after Cide gave Simply Luscious the Cop Killa at Night Of Champions. Dusty at least has a reason to be here – he has beef with Corino going back to ECW.

Smokes and Ramos through the front door with Becky Bayless. David Young and Iceberg’s fight comes from the street to the arena, with Young hitting a somersault senton of the Murphy Rec stage. All of a sudden Homicide and Anderson are brawling in the ring. Jack Victory arrives with Simply Luscious. Anderson Spinebuster on Homicide. The Midnight Rider (some 80’s gimmick) arrives and everyone thinks it’s Dusty Rhodes. It’s not because Dusty comes straight down the aisle to get funky like a fat, drunk relative at a wedding. Homicide is forking Jack Victory, as Iceberg drops Young with a DDT on a chair. CW’s big bald head is bleeding too…good. Iceberg sets Young up under a chair for a FATTY SPLASH! Anderson is using a cowbell on Cide but Rhodes ambles around to help out. Dusty tries to low blow Anderson but can’t lift his leg that high. Homicide gives him a piledriver instead. Two of the “old school brawlers” from Corino’s group try a run-in…and that brings in Smokes and Ramos to brawl with them. Luscious and Becky are brawling too. What the f*ck is going on? J-Train hits a missile dropkick off the apron. Dusty kisses Luscious. Homicide starts stabbing Victory with a spike but he won’t quit. GHETTO FORK IN THE MOUTH! Jack quits to end the “match”…not that the rest of the random brawling stops. No idea when the match started or stopped but the whole segment lasted maybe 15 minutes.

Rating – DUD – That sucked, although I wasn’t expecting anything else. At least the 6-man brawl from the last show had some talent in it. Dusty Rhodes, Jack Victory AND Iceberg all in the same match? Most of the Homicide/Corino feud has been awesome. This would be an exception. Just stop the tape/DVD after London/Danielson…

‘Thank you very much for having this old, fat man in ROH’ – Dusty. Fair play…

In the back Dusty Rhodes says that Homicide has beaten all Corino’s minions, and all that’s left is to beat Steve himself.

CM Punk and Colt Cabana say they’re together in the Saints because of their history together. Punk says that Raven’s mind games won’t work. The promo ends and Cabana tries out a few new catchphrases because he’s so over. ‘If you say anything about David Hasselhoff I’m going to knock you out’ – Punk.

Loc and DeVito laugh at the Dunn & Marcos and end up brawling with some of the ring crew. They need to do something new in their promos. They’ve been beating up the ring crew since they debuted.

The Prophecy next, and Daniels seems a lot happier all of a sudden. He wants revenge on Michael Shane at the next show after he superkicked the Fallen Angel during the Xavier/Joe title match. They welcome Mafia (now known as Dan Maff) to The Prophecy. Monsta Mack comes in to ask Maff why he joined them. Maff says following the Code Of Honor left him stuck in the midcard. Daniels and Maff tell Mack that he best not f*ck up when Da Hit Squad team for the final time at the next show.

Tape Rating – ** – Right, here’s the score with this one. If you’re a newer fan of ROH but love what you see, want to experience some older stuff, and want to get every one of the significant or defining matches the promotion has ever done…get this show. It’s worth it just for London/Danielson. The 2/3 Falls match is really that good. If you’re a new fan to ROH but have the ability to appreciate the older stuff for what it is…maybe get this show. London/Dragon holds up, the Tag Title match is good and only the main event is really terrible. If you like 2006 ROH but can’t get into older shows…skip this. It’s a total one match show, with a lot of mediocre and/or disappointing (Homicide/Daniels) junk to sift through. Sure Styles/Red vs Briscoes is great, but it’s the worst of their trilogy. The other two (Night Of Champions and Death Before Dishonor) are better matches and are on better shows. Basically, completists or those interested in fully understanding the rich history of ROH should get it. If you’re on the fence here you probably don’t want it. 2* is a fair rating.

Top 3 Matches
3) Samoa Joe vs Colt Cabana vs Matt Stryker vs Tom Carter (**)
2) AJ Styles/Amazing Red vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (****)
1) Paul London vs Bryan Danielson (****1/2)

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