018 ROH Round Robin Challenge 2 4/26/2003

ROH 018 – Retribution: Round Robin Challenge 2 – 26th April 2003

I haven’t done any old ROH shows in ages. Obviously I still need to re-review everything between here and Final Battle 2005 (that’s 70+ shows, not including the FWA/ROH show, the JAPW/ROH show, three Do Or Die afternoon cards and Uncensored Volume 1) but I’ve had my work cut out keeping up with modern day ROH. I just finished 2006 so I figured before moving onto shows from 2007 I’d go back and do a bit of work catching up. We’re back in the Pittsburgh area as ROH presents their second Round Robin Challenge. If you’re wondering why it seems a little thrown together – it was. Originally the plan was to have AJ and Red defend the tag belts against Paul London and partner (Hotstuff Hernandez was who Gabe had in mind for that role), but Styles pulled out with an injured knee so the RRC was thrown in at the last minute. Also in the line-up is Homicide/Punk for the #1 Contenders Trophy, Joe’s first official ROH Title defence and Da Hit Squad’s final match as a team. This is back on the CCAC South Campus (with none of the new lights we saw in Philly) in West Mifflin, PA. Commentators are Chris Lovey and Ray Murrow.

TOP 5 RANKINGS
1) Doug Williams (#1 Contenders Trophy holder – gets his title shot tonight)
2) Homicide (pinned Chris Daniels at Epic Encounter)
3) Low Ki (victories over Special K in March see him placed high)
4) CM Punk (is still strong after beating Raven in Boston and forming Second City Saints)
5) Paul London (had to be in after beating Danielson at Epic Encounter)

Chris Daniels talks about all that has changed in ROH since the last time we were in Pittsburgh. Then they were the hunted because they held all the belts. Now they’re the hunters and they’re here for “retribution”. Daniels calls Samoa Joe the leader of the Group…is Gabe trying to put Joe over as the leader now since Corino is proving so difficult to book? Dan Maff wanders in wearing a hat and sunglasses looking like he’s had a day at the beach. Maff complains about the Code Of Honor getting him stuck in the midcard. This promo has gone on way too long.

Amazing Red vs Christopher Daniels – Round Robin Challenge Match
Daniels is looking to show everyone that Red and Styles winning the tag belts in Boston was a fluke. Remember he wants tonight to be The Prophecy’s return to glory after months of defeat. After failing in 2002 he’d love to win the Round Robin Challenge second time of asking.

Fallen Angel dominates Red from the bell and tosses him around the ring with ease. Red increases the pace and dropkicks Daniels to the floor. SLINGSHOT RANA ON THE FLOOR! He flies back in with a missile dropkick but Daniels kicks out at 2. Daniels almost clotheslines Red out of his boots then plants him with a neckbreaker to regain the advantage. Allison Danger chokes him on the ropes because The Prophecy have no respect for the Code Of Honor. He still manages land on his feet as Daniels goes for a German suplex and almost sneaks victory with a Magistral cradle. SWINGING FACEBUSTER gets 2 but Daniels lays Red out with an enziguri. He cranks on Red’s neck then works a sleeper hold, utilising his size advantage. Eventually Red breaks free and nails a satellite inverted DDT. 718 scores…WEST COAST POP! Red Mysterio get 2. Corkscrew enzi smacks Daniels in the jaw but the leader of The Prophecy still kicks out. He comes back to plant Red with a sweet STO. Best Moonsault Ever for 2. Super rana by Red, then CODE RED! The crowd think that’s it but Fallen Angel kicks out again. He’s thinking about Infra-Red but Daniels shoves the referee into the ropes to crotch him. LAST RITES! Daniels wins at 11:07.

Rating – *** – Perfect for an opening match. Red’s crowd-popping flying underdog act works well when he’s up against someone like Daniels who is great with the more spot-orientated wrestlers. These days Red tends to get a lot of criticism but this kind of match shows that he wasn’t a total spot-monkey and could work a decent match with the right opponents. He gets unfairly lumped into the same category as the SAT. Anyway, Daniels goes 1-0 and is still in with a chance of becoming the first ever RRC winner.

SIDENOTE – Scott Chong formerly of WWE’s Tough Enough reality TV show (I think he was from the 3rd series) is guest time keeper. He’s famous for sucking, getting drunk and pissing himself.

Da Hit Squad vs Colt Cabana/Ace Steel
Obviously Mafia is now part of The Prophecy (and now known as Dan Maff, complete with ugly new ring gear) but DHS were already signed on for this match so it now serves as a farewell of sorts for what has been one of ROH’s premier teams. Colt and Ace are teaming up for the first time in ROH.

Monsta Mack shakes hands and looks generally quite depressed. He sends Cabana clean across the ring with a big forearm smash. He nails an overhead belly to belly suplex as well and Colt crawls to his corner to tag out. Maff in as well to decapitate Steel with a jumping heel kick. He misses a senton though. DRAGON SUPLEX drops Ace on his head and he’s joined by Mack for a double press slam. Steel tries to mount a comeback only for Maff to rake his eyes. They trade slaps and chops with Maff getting the better of it. Ace traps him in the corner for a running dropkick. Cabana misses a running knee strike and Mack drops him with a powerslam. SCREWDRIVER on Colt gets 2. MONSTA LARIAT for Steel too. Maff tries his cannonball senton only for Steel to move aside and come out of the corner with a tornado DDT. DOUBLE COLT 45 ON MACK! The Saints win at 08:12.

Rating – ** – There were a few pretty cool spots, and I thought Maff and Mack did a good job conveying their respective characters in DHS’ final match…but ultimately it wasn’t anything memorable. Actually, that pretty much sums up Da Hit Squad’s run in ROH. A few cool spots but in the end they never really achieved anything substantial. Maff moves onto the next stage of his career now, and this would be the last time we’ll see Monsta Mack wrestling in Ring Of Honor.

Dunn & Marcos promise to rock their Scramble Match tonight…LIKE A HURRICANE. The Outcast Killaz request some promo time then say they’re done paying their dues.

Dunn & Marcos vs Special K vs EZ Money/James Keenan vs SAT – Scramble Match
Special K have Brian XL, Hydro, Angeldust and Slugger out there and I’m not sure who is wrestling. I think it’s Hydro and Brian. In case you’re wondering, yes that is Sterling James Keenan teaming with Money. This was his ROH debut. Four years later and he’s still no closer to earning a regular spot. I imagine EZ will be in his element here with lots of little guys to do his weird spots on. The other huge black man that doesn’t like Slugger is in the crowd.

Dunn gets tossed over the ropes by Money who then drops Marcos with a twisting inverted suplex. Hydro hits a tope suicida as Keenan hits a suicide dive on Jose Maximo. Fat Joel kicks XL out of the ring but Brian catches himself and kicks Joel in the head as he goes for a tope suicida. Dunn falls off the top rope as the RCE go for a Stage Dive…doh. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA by Brian saves that mess somewhat. Joel hoists Brian onto his shoulders for a SKIPPING A GENERATION SPLASH ON HYDRO! Jose drops XL with a Tombstone but the Ring Crew prevent the SAT winning. Brian catches Dunn on the top rope but Money just picks them both up and tosses them off his shoulders. Money Clip on Brian. Angeldust dives into the ring with a blockbuster on EZ. Keenan ends his cameo with a dragon suplex. Hydro drops SJK on his head with some weird ass move. Swinging neckbreaker on him by Marcos. Repeated powerbombs by Joel, until Dunn runs in to Gory Driver him. ROLLING BRAINBUSTERS by Jose. DOUBLE CHA-CHING on Angeldust and XL only for Dunn to break the pin. Money dives to the floor and wipes out a whole bunch of guys. Spanish Fly on Dunn gives the SAT a win at 09:15.

Rating – * – I’ll give it a star because there was some fun patches…but as per usual that was largely a mess. Lots of inane contrived spots, lots of totally unfeasible no-selling and I was ready for it to end well before it did. I feel bad for James Keenan since he barely got a chance to do anything. Couldn’t we have maybe had one less Maximo/XL exchange and let him get involved a little more?

Slugger is a sore loser and lays out a few guys, bringing the other massive black guy into the ring. Unfortunately the anonymous huge guy doesn’t see Angeldust behind him and Slugger drops him too.

Before the next match a “fan” runs in and impersonates Raven to try and piss CM Punk off. Daffney from WCW makes her ROH debut and DDT’s him though. She’s called Lucy now.

CM Punk vs Homicide – #1 Contenders Trophy Match
Both guys are involved in feuds of their own right now (Homicide with the Group, Punk with Raven) but both have strung some impressive victories together and now find themselves in the Top 5. The winner here means the winner of tonight’s title match in Philadelphia. Interestingly, on his way out of ROH CM Punk called this his “break-out” performance in the promotion so lets see how it holds up. More trivia about this match – it’s the first time Homicide brought Julius Smokes to the ring with him.

Homicide tries to whack Punk into his STF right away but he rolls off to the floor. They start some pretty intense chaining which is well received by the sparse crowd. Cide drops Punk with an exploder suplex for 2 then boots him hard into the corner. The first three minutes of this match have been wrestled at a frantic pace. Punk hits a shoddy looking Shining Wizard which sends his opponent outside. TOPE SUICIDA NAILED! Back in with Punk hitting a tilta-whirl backbreaker then the Pepsi Twist (before it was called that) for 2. Lucy starts choking Homicide on the ropes which freaks the commentators out since they thought Punk respected the Code Of Honor. Punk comes up with a hammerlock backbreaker but goes on to miss a slingshot senton. Cide repeatedly kicks away at Punk’s spine then surfboards him hard. Punk rolls out into his own STF but found himself too close to the ropes to stand a realistic chance of victory. Homicide rolls Punk into what looks like Davey Richards’ 14:59 Kimura but again the victim of the move finds a counter. Punk to the floor…TOPE CON HILO by Cide! He scored with that, but continues the fight on the floor and Punk beats him back with a BELLY TO BELLY ON THE FLOOR! Homicide is pretty f*cked up but Smokes shows his worth as a manager by firing him up. He goes back inside and drops Punk with a BACK DROP DRIVER! Super rana follows that but Punk kicks out at 2. Something else gets attempted in the corner which is dangerous. PEPSI PLUUUUUNGE! HOMICIDE KICKS OUT! ARE YOU CRAZY? ACE CRUSHER ON PUNK! LARIAT…FOR 2! He goes for the Lariat a second time and gets hooked up in a legsweep DDT. SCOOP TOMBSTONE almost f*cking kills Punk but he still kicks out. He also evades the Cop Killa. DVD plants Homicide but Punk takes way too long to cover. He tries an enzi and botches it, then has a neckbreaker countered into the STF! Punk taps at 15:29.

Rating – **** – I’m positive there are people who absolutely loathe this match. It’s so INDY-tastic it’s unreal, complete with total no-selling, random head drops, numerous big finisher kick-outs and numerous clumsy, semi-botched moments too. But after both guys had disappointing matches at Epic Encounter they turned up here and put on a break-out singles performance for both men that proved them to be viable future main eventers (along with guys like Joe and AJ) as ROH prepares to enter a new period of existence since American Dragon is in Europe until further notice and Low Ki is taking more and more Japanese dates. It’s a landmark match even if stylistically it’s not your thing.

Carnage Crew vs Hotstuff Hernandez/Fast Eddie/Don Juan – No DQ Match
As you’ll notice, the opposition have 3 members so tonight it’s the three man Carnage Crew with Masada joining Loc and DeVito to beat the crap out of his fellow TWA grads. The Crew administered a somewhat wicked beating on Texans at the First Anniversary Show so they’re coming for some revenge here and will get the chance without the limitations of rules. I feel a little sorry for Hernandez in hindsight. He went from a potentially star-making tag title match alongside AJ, London and Red to having to team up with a blind lunatic and Don ‘the only thing that sucks worse than my wrestling is my stupid face’ Juan.

DeVito calls Rudy Boy a b*tch before Team TWA clear the ring. He lugs Hernandez with a hubcap as Loc and Masada bring a chainlink fence into the ring. Juan forearms a chair into Masada’s face then grabs it to take a home-run swing with it. ELEVATED DDT ON THE CHAIR! He then holds him down in the corner for Eddie to nail a SOMERSAULT VAN TERMINATOR! Loc neckbreakers the blind fool through an open chair before the camera switches to the outside where Masada breaks another chair on Don’s big ugly head. Hernandez effortlessly lifts DeVito into a Dominator. Camera zooms in on a pretty disgusting gash in the back of Loc’s head. Hotstuff’s next feat of strength is an unreal release splash mountain bomb on Masada. Loc Saito suplexes the big guy to stop his reign of terror. ‘I love this sh*t’ – DeVito. He probably doesn’t love it as much after Hernandez wildly swings another chair at him. DJ gets crotched on the top by Masada and he capitalises with a SUPER DVD! He tries to go to the top again only to be caught by Eddie. SUPER LOONY SUPER RANA THROUGH CHAIRS ON THE FLOOR! He’s not done. HERNANDEZ POWERBOMBS EDDIE DOWN THE AISLE AT LOC AND DEVITO! Hernandez goes for his big man suicide dive…but the Crew block it by holding up a chair and the bump is totally brutal. Carnageplex on Eddie then the DOUBLE SPIKE PILEDRIVER! Carnage Crew win at 09:12.

Rating – *** – Forgive the poor word play but that quite literally was utter carnage. Ten minutes of non-stop blood shed, wild bumps and whacky brawling that was almost senselessly violent. Had this taken place on a bigger show (or had more of a feud surrounding it) it would’ve been a real break-out match for the likes of Hernandez and Fast Eddie. For instance, why isn’t it mentioned that Masada is from the TWA as well? That would add a real emotional twist to this brawl, instead of ‘you hurt us on that show so now we want to hurt you on this one’. I always point to this match when people ask why the Carnage Crew were ever in ROH. Criticise their wrestling (and their needless Tag Title reign) all you want, but they were damn good as midcard brawlers, and with the right opponents put on some underrated matches.

The Carnage Crew randomly beat the crap out of Scott Chong after the match as well. What rascals!

Paul London vs Amazing Red – Round Robin Challenge Match
This is the only match in the 2003 RRC that has any kind of story surrounding it. Paul London returned to ROH at Epic Encounter after missing some time with injury. He was due to team with AJ Styles, and was pretty upset that AJ had selected Red as his new partner due to Paul’s absence. Originally he was scheduled to challenge them for the belts (too bad that never happened) but he will now attempt to show Styles exactly why he should’ve stuck with the original team. To make the point he comes out wearing an AJ Styles t-shirt. Anyway, Red is already 0-1 and won’t want to lose both matches tonight, or lose face and seem like an inferior tag partner.

Red tries to headlock London, but given that Paul is fresh off beating Bryan Danielson in a 2/3 Falls match, you’d imagine he has the wrestling capabilities to counteract that. They go back and forth with some intricate stuff until Red quebradas into a swinging DDT. Paul hiptosses him into a kick to the spine then gets 2 with his dropsault. Corkscrew enzi by Red and he follows it by kicking Paul out of the ring. He tries to jump off the apron only for London to hotshot him into the guardrail. London is upset (in comedy fashion) that he’s got a bloody eyebrow. He stretches Red from a series of suplexes but Red fires back. He small packages away from a stalling vertical suplex but can’t get the win. German suplex does score but London kicks out again. Red tries a slingshot sunset flip only to have it countered into ROLLING northern lights. Paul is mocking AJ as he beats Red down as well. To the ropes…SUPER CODE RED…only gets 2 though. RED STAR PRESS gets 2 as well. He tries to go Red Mysterio and West Coast Pop again, but London catches him. STYLES CLASH! Paul wins at 10:11.

Rating – *** – Good match as you’d expect as both guys were really terrific in the first six months of 2003. It’s a shame Red got injured and London went onto bigger things since everyone on the indy scene was enjoying their great work. Anyway, these two probably have a better match in them but I think Red was a little tired having already worked once, whilst London was probably holding a little back since he now has a big match with Daniels later on the show. Regardless, it was still a decent, with extra kudos for London’s constant AJ-taunting (including stealing his finish way before Jimmy Rave ever did it) to further that little issue.

INTERMISSION – Cappetta talks to Matt Stryker and inexplicably hypes his random midcard fourway as the biggest match of his career. Stryker bores the sh*t out of everyone and says nothing of any importance. Kind of like his ROH career in general. Chad Collyer comes in to gloat that he’s made Stryker tap twice already this year. GMC finds Michael Shane and Simply Luscious as well. Shane seems a little upset that his match with Chris Daniels was cancelled tonight, but since he’s part of The Group he’ll continue their tradition of doing whatever they want.

Persephonie vs Alexis Laree
This is a rare sighting of an unclipped early ROH women’s match. At this point ROH had no real women’s division since Alexis was the only woman they booked with any talent, and even she wasn’t particularly good at this point. I have no idea who Persephonie is or what she’s doing now. I assume since she isn’t in SHIMMER she’s left wrestling, with the WWE in some manner or just plain sucks.

Laree kicks Persephonie about but struggles to keep her opponent on the mat. They start swinging punches before Persephonie tries to run away. It was a ploy to trap Mickie in a guillotine before she starts swinging her around by the hair. Chris Lovey is making needless amounts of pervy comments on commentary, although he makes a mildly amusing, pseudo-abusive joke in amongst them. Persephonie gets 2 with a swinging neckbreaker, and ducks as Alexis tries a crossbody in a spot that looked dreadful. Eventually Laree does get some offence in, including a pretty rough looking missile dropkick. She picks up the win after an inverted DDT at 05:22.

Rating – DUD – Meh, just forget about it and move on since it wasn’t very good. Persephonie looked much better than Laree in my opinion. I never really got on board with ROH pushing Alexis as some amazing wrestler and didn’t like her work till she made it to the WWE so maybe I’m being harsh. At least Persephonie didn’t constantly try moves she can’t actually do properly and, as a result, make the entire match look second rate.

Speaking of second rate, a second rate female wrestler called Simply Luscious appears with Michael Shane to lay out both women. Her DVD’s look as bad as Alexis Laree’s missile dropkicks. Shane obstinately grabs a chair and sits in the ring because The Group call their own shots.

CM Punk leads the Second City Saints into some promo time (they all look really young here). He cuts a terrific little promo and runs down Raven in the process. He also tells Lucy that Second City Saints don’t break the Code Of Honor. This breaks down into Cabana, Ace and Lucy goofing off and singing, leaving Punk sitting on the floor in despair. Awesome…

Donovan Morgan vs Matt Stryker vs BJ Whitmer vs Chad Collyer vs Michael Shane
Apparently Shane refusing to leave the ring has led to him being added to what was scheduled to be a “pure wrestling fourway”match. Too many cooks anyone? Anyway, there is some interest here since he’s a member of The Group, and he’ll surely clash with Donovan Morgan (who is looking rather fat) representing The Prophecy. Stryker and Collyer also aren’t too keen on each other as we saw at intermission. Chad has beaten Stryker with the Collyer Cloverleaf at Revenge On The Prophecy and Expect The Unexpected. BJ’s tanked in his first big singles match (with Punk at Epic Encounter) so has been relegated back to midcard multi-man match duty for now.

Shane wants no part of Donovan Morgan so it’s Whitmer that ends up starting the match with him. Morgan gets some control but is distracted by Shane allowing BJ to ground him with a few kicks. Now Michael tries to come in, but he needs Simply Luscious to save him when Donovan connects with a few dropkicks. They fight on the floor so Stryker takes advantage of the situation and socks Morgan from behind. Collyer/Stryker come together for the first time and once again display their familiarity with smooth chaining. Chad dropkicks BJ then brings Morgan in again for the Prophecy member to score with rolling suplexes for 2. He drops Stryker on his head with a Saito suplex for another nearfall as well. Michael Shane seemingly comes in illegally but apparently he blind tagged and punches Collyer down in the corner. Collyer tries a series of pinning combinations so Shane chopblocks his knee and starts working over the leg. Everyone else takes a cue from him and they all attack the same body part. Stryker in particular seems to enjoy this since Collyer has made him submit twice before. It’s unfortunate that Shane boots him out of the ring and Luscious slaps him in the back really – spoilt all his fun. Shane tries an STF but Chad is too close to the ropes. Eventually Collyer tags out to Morgan meaning we finally get the big Prophecy/Group showdown. Morgan totally dominates until Shane enziguri’s his fat ass and both men go down. BJ comes in but Donovan drops him with SAYONARA! SWEET SHANE MUSIC! Stryker plants Shane with a DVD only to be taken out with a Collyer crossbody. As usual with 2003 ROH legal man rules are gone now. Collyer kicks Matt away as he goes after the leg. COLLYER CLOVERLEAF! Shane breaks that with a superkick. GOLDEN GATE SWING on Shane. EXPLODER ’98 by Whitmer then he chops lumps out of Stryker. Heel kick/German suplex combo on Whitmer by Stryker and Collyer. Strykerlock and Chad taps at 19:18.

Rating – ** – There was some interesting stuff going on there in terms of storylines with the Collyer/Stryker and Group/Prophecy angles furthered nicely, but that was pretty dull for most of it. At almost 20 minutes long it simply became boring. Michael Shane is the only one of the five men with any kind of personality and it showed. I still don’t understand why he was dropped from the roster. Speaking of dropped from the roster, BJ Whitmer is the only guy on this show who is still a part of the full-time roster in June 2007 (I don’t include Doug Williams and James Keenan who make rare apps).

Christopher Daniels vs Paul London – Round Robin Challenge Match
Both men won their first match so whoever is victorious here will be the first ever Round Robin Challenge winner. This was always going to be the marquee match of RRC2, and the benefit of losing the proposed AJ/Red title defence against London is that we get to see him wrestle Daniels instead. There’s really no back story to speak of, just two of ROH’s best guys getting ready to go at it. Daniels stated at the top of the show that tonight is about The Prophecy’s RETRIBUTION and what better way to achieve that than winning tonight’s tournament?

Daniels is in no rush to lock up with London and takes his sweet time. Paul plays mind games in return by delaying the match himself. He slaps Daniels in the face and the Fallen Angel threatens to walk out. To the mat both men go in typically swish fashion until Daniels leaves the ring again. He demands London stop goofing off and take the match seriously. Paul says he’ll be serious if he can get a handshake…and Daniels offers one only to kick him in the stomach and beat him down. He tries to skin the cat but London dropkicks him in the back of the head then flies to the floor with a pescado. Back in with London getting 2 with a dropsault. Daniels uses the same tactics he used against Williams at Night Of Champions and goes after the midsection with a gutbuster. Not only will that be painful, it obviously negates Paul’s ability to do more of his high-flying stuff. The inevitable abdominal stretch is applied complete with repeated punches to the ribcage. London hits a dropkick so Daniels one-ups him by dropkicking the injured ribs which is a really neat little piece of psychology. Abdominal stretch again, then ANGELS WINGS for 2! Naturally Daniels is pretty upset that he didn’t score the win right there. London springboards off the ropes into a flying forearm but takes an age to follow up. He’s still selling the ribs like crazy during his comeback. Slingshot Lionsault misses and he crashes down onto the ribs again. Daniels takes him to the corner for the FALL FROM GRACE. London’s landing was brutal on that but he kicks out again. BME misses but as Paul tries a sunset flip Daniels simply drops an elbow to the gut. He manages to knock Fallen Angel away from the turnbuckles then nails the LONDON STAR PRESS! BUT IT INJURES THE RIBS! He can’t cover right away and by the time he pins Allison Danger is distracting the referee. London kisses Danger…THEN BACK DROPS DANIELS ON TOP OF HER! TOPE SUICIDA BY LONDON! Naturally that kills Paul’s injury but he drags himself and his opponent back inside. He gets 2 with his legsweep DDT. LONDON STAR PRESS INTO THE KNEES! DANGEROOOUUUS! Daniels capitalises with a flatliner. BEST MOONSAULT EVER! Daniels wins the RRC at 18:53. The Prophecy get RETRIBUTION!!

Rating – **** – A great match, which is obviously what you’d expect when you put two quality wrestlers such as these two in the ring together. The story was sound, the selling was superb and it all built steadily to an exciting climax. Say no more really…it’s an easy MOTN for me. Incidentally, was that the debut of Gabe’s trademark DANGEROUS?

Samoa Joe vs Doug Williams – ROH Title Match
This is the Samoan’s first officially recognised title defence, despite him putting the belt on the line in a four way at Epic Encounter. Doug took home the #1 Contenders Trophy and booked his place in this match by defeating Chris Daniels at Night Of Champions. That night he became the new FWA Champion as well, and promised he’d add the ROH belt to his collection when he next came to the US.

This was always going to be Doug’s mat skills against Joe’s brutality, and Williams wastes no time in breaking out the funky mat work to evade Joe’s strong kicks. Joe grabs a leg and tries to hang with Williams and just doesn’t see some of the challenger’s crazy counters coming. Eventually Doug goes for Chaos Theory and gets enzi’d in the head. I’m guessing it’s too early for that then. The chop/kick combo leaves him flat on his back but Joe quickly takes him to the corner for some vicious bootscrapes. He demonstrates his considerable strength by holding Williams in the air for a stalling brainbuster that gets 2. Now it’s Doug that makes the mistake of playing Joe’s game. He tries to throw European uppercuts with Joe and gets beaten back. He goes back to the mat and softens up the arm with an Anaconda Vice variant. He realises that’s a weakness and really goes after the arm. Joe tries an Air Raid Crash only for Doug to grab an armbar and force him to break it. STO SLAM from the champion but that hurt his arm to execute it. Bridging German suplex too, but with a weakened arm he can’t hold the bridge. STF locked in but Williams doesn’t tap and takes Joe down with a FUJIWARA ARMBAR! DOUBLE KNEE STRIKES TO THE ARM! BOMB SCARE KNEE ON THE ARM! That’s awesome sh*t! Joe shows his immense power and almost flips Doug in mid-air with an arm-selling lariat that gets 2. He’s trying to get the Choke but Williams blocks it. Chaos Theory…blocked. KNEE STRIKES…CHOKE! Williams is out at 11:45.

Rating – *** – It’s a really sweet little match but I’m gutted it was so short. Literally it finished just as it felt they were really getting going with the match. The dichotomy of Joe’s striking power and aggression and Williams’ superb technical ability worked really well and I don’t think anyone was ready to see it end when it did. What was here was really good…I just wish there was more of it! Minor criticism on the finish though, since Joe used the Choke – with an arm that Williams had really worked over during the match.

The Prophecy come out and to attack Joe after the match. Michael Shane tries to make a save for his stable-mate but gets taken from behind by Daniels. Shane gets dropped by Revelations then Daniels grabs the ROH Champion for LAST RITES! THE PROPHECY’S RETRIBUTION! That segment may well be the only time the Group/Prophecy war became mildly interesting.

The Carnage Crew are excited about the Scramble Match they’re booked in a Scramble Match at Do Or Die (the next show) because they want some revenge on Special K and want to test their brawling skills against the likes of the Briscoes, Punk and Cabana. It’s a really good promo from these guys so it’s a shame it’s wasted on a total throw-away Scramble match that no-one cares about.

The Prophecy are in celebratory mood. Daniels demands they name the show “Retribution” (since they named the last Pittsburgh show ‘Revenge On The Prophecy’) since it all went so well for his group tonight. They’re coming for The Group…

Samoa Joe (with a broken nose) promises to break Chris Daniels in half.

Tape Rating – *** – Considering where ROH was at in April 2003 this is a hell of a show. This event was taped in front of a meagre crowd in the Pittsburgh market which was dropped after two poor attendances. This event went ahead without major talents like Low Ki, AJ Styles, Steve Corino or Bryan Danielson. Yet it was still a totally solid show with few poor matches (Laree/Persephonie and the Scramble are pretty much all the sucktitude you’ll find), a Round Robin Challenge that delivered three top bouts, a competitive ROH Title match at main event as well as break-out performances from Homicide and CM Punk. It’s a fresh feeling card which showcases ROH moving away from it’s initial era defined by Ki and Danielson and allowing newer talent like Cide, Punk and Joe to shine. If ROH ever gets off their asses and decides to re-release this DVD you should totally pick it up.

Top 3 Matches
3) Samoa Joe vs Doug Williams (***)
2) Homicide vs CM Punk (****)
1) Christopher Daniels vs Paul London (****)

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