021 ROH Wrestlerave 6/28/2003

ROH 021 – Wrestlerave ’03 – 28th June 2003

My original plan was to start reviewing 2007 shows after I finished Night Of The Grudges. I’m so far behind on them, with everything up to Good Times, Great Memories (04/28) sitting on my shelf waiting to be reviewed. However, I’ve got a few e-mails asking me to hurry with this review since it’s one of the shows ROH has taken an eternity to remaster and re-release. I guess people are curious to know what they’re missing out on. It’s not too much of a problem though, since I remember really liking this show first time around. There’s an exciting night of action in store, with the deciding bout in the Stryker/Collyer rivalry, Joe defending the ROH Title against Dan Maff, Raven and Chris Daniels joining forces to combat the Saints, AJ Styles defending the NWA Heavyweight Championship and Homicide and Trent Acid bringing their CZW/BJPW feud to ROH in a Fight Without Honor. There’s also the debut of a couple of guys called Alex Shelley and Jimmy Jacobs. I’m sure you’ve never heard of them! We’re back in Philadelphia, PA. Commentating once again are Chris Lovey and Ray Murrow.

TOP 5 RANKINGS
1) Paul London (awarded the #1 Contenders Trophy despite drawing with AJ due to higher ranking)
2) Dan Maff (goes straight in at #2 after pinning the World Champion and gets title shot tonight)
3) Christopher Daniels (drops a spot due to success of Maff and London)
4) Homicide (holds onto fourth because he won a fourway at Night Of The Grudges)
5) Matt Stryker (keeps his spot after beating Chance Beckett last time)

Low Ki opens the show with a promo that I suppose was meant to set up the rest of his 2003 run in ROH. He invites Flash Barker to ROH for a rematch against him, and asks to be tested against some of the new stars like Punk, Cabana, Whitmer or Stryker. There’re also some shots at the likes of Dan Maff, Julius Smokes, The Prophecy and Samoa Joe. All of this came to nothing though since he let his attitude get the best of him and he’s only on a couple more shows after this in 2003.

Rob Feinstein camps it up backstage. He has a good time telling Simply Luscious that she’s not booked anymore though. She storms off to complain to Steve Corino apparently.

Dunn & Marcos vs Prince Nana/Jimmy Jact Cash
Nana returned to Ring Of Honor at the last show in Boston. He promised then that he had a partner to help him rise through the tag team ranks. Is Jimmy Cash really that guy? That’s just so not a team I want to see on a regular basis! I assume they’re winning here though since the RCE job to everyone.

Cash looks like a male escort. I hope Dunn & Marcos rock him…LIKE A HURRICANE. Things don’t start well though, since the two big men jump the ring crew from the bell. Nana drops a big fat senton on Marcos. Cash then heaves him across the ring with an overhead suplex. Flying elbow strike gets 2. Tags all round with Nana almost decapitating Dunn with a clothesline. Murrow says Nana is an underrated wrestler. RUNNING UNDERRATED ASS TO THE FACE! The new Nana/Cash duo score another 2 with a leg drop/sidewalk slam combo. Jimmy drops Dunn again with a generic muscle-head spinebuster. Out of nowhere Dunn nails the Gory Driver and gets the hot tag. Electric chair senton on Nana and Cash has to break the fall. ASSISTED SHIRANUI ON CASH! DUNN & MARCOS WIN! That would be their first ever victory in ROH at 04:18.

Rating – * – I’m giving a star purely because this whole thing was booking genius. Nana claiming he was getting a partner to climb the ranks, the fact that the RCE haven’t won ever. It made the match seem like a formality, so Dunn & Marcos winning got a huge response and made for a great way to open the show. So what if Cash was blatantly not the legal man when he was pinned. So what if the match was entirely forgettable. Kudos to some clever booking that started the show off in a good way.

Alexis Laree vs Sumie Sakai
Basically Alexis has beaten all the native talent ROH can be bothered to book her against, and they need to keep her over as a legit decent wrestler as well as a valet for AJ and Red (where the hell is Red by the way?). They’ve now brought in Sakai to oppose her. For some reason Sumie has the reputation for being a decent worker, but I’ve never seen a match of hers that I’ve enjoyed. She seems to do the same thing in every single one and her act is tired. Maybe I’ll check out some of her Japanese work.

Sloppy armdrags to start, then Sakai mullers Alexis with a dropkick for 2. Laree does a dropkick too and hers is nowhere near as good. Sumie comes from the turnbuckles with missile dropkicks then ties Laree up in a bow and arrow stretch. She then does the hair pulling camel clutch that she does in every match. Mickie hits a desperation satellite headscissors but pops up to take a knee in the stomach, then has to act fast to escape a Michinoku Driver, then a fisherman buster. ULTRA-quick rolling cradle gets a big pop. Sakai gets nearfalls first with a back suplex, then a northern lights. Moonsault misses though, and Laree wins with her inverted DDT. 5:03 is your time.

Rating – * – Lovey proclaims this to be a triumph for women’s wrestling. Sorry Gabe, but you’re wrong. I don’t call 5 minutes of Sumie beating on your top female athlete then having Alexis win with one move a triumph. Anybody that’s seen any Joshi, or even any SHIMMER will tell you that this wasn’t very good. At this point Alexis wasn’t anything like as good a worker as ROH claimed either.

The Prophecy get some promo time and they all look super cool. Tonight’s agenda is for Maff to take Joe’s ROH World Title, whilst Daniels will eliminate another threat to The Prophecy by helping Raven take out the Second City Saints. Raven is sitting in the background with a bruised ankle.

Chad Collyer vs Matt Stryker – Tap Out Match
These guys debuted together at the start of the year, and impressed everyone with a solid technical bout to open the Revenge On The Prophecy show. There it was Collyer who made Stryker tap out to his Texas Cloverleaf. They had a rematch at Expect The Unexpected, and once again Chad came out victorious, and had no qualms with rubbing it in Stryker’s face. Matt was able to make Collyer tap in a five-man match at Round Robin Challenge 2 but he wants a definitive singles victory. Tonight these guys settle it in a match where you can only win by making your opponent submit. Originally this was supposed to happen at Death Before Dishonor, with Stryker/Carter II going ahead tonight. I’m guessing Tom Carter pulled out for millionth time this year.

Stryker is getting pretty over with the crowd, proving that had he not been shoved down our throats through the second half of 2003 he could actually have been a big star. No prizes for guessing that this one starts with some cagey chain wrestling. Stryker grabs an STF at the four minute mark but Collyer drags himself to the ropes. Chad responds by going straight after Stryker’s leg, which makes sense since he’s made him tap to the Cloverleaf twice previously. In a couple of minutes he has him limping but Matt still comes up and goes after the arm. Collyer sets up for a figure 4 as a defensive move in order to get his opponent away from him. Stryker still attacks the arm though, with Lovey making the point that an injured arm will hamper Chad’s ability to apply the Cloverleaf. Everyone is losing focus now, with Lovey complaining about the WWE whilst Collyer has forgotten about the leg and is now working Stryker’s arm. Stryker counters an armbar into a Texas Cloverleaf. He hasn’t done enough damage though so Chad is able to find the bottom rope. That’s a wake up call and Collyer goes back to the leg with savage ferocity – slamming it against the apron then the ringpost. Back inside he puts a figure 4 on. Stryker is fighting like crazy to escape it though. He breaks free temporarily but soon Chad has the hold locked in again. This time Stryker turns it over and starts doing damage to Collyer’s leg instead. It’s his turn to capitalise and he drop toeholds Collyer for an anklelock. Eventually he manages to kick his way free but Chad suffered some real damage first. Strykerlock countered into the COLLYER CLOVERLEAF! Matt must absolutely despise that move by now and he refuses to tap out. Collyer comes from the top rope but takes a dropkick into the chest. Strykerlock applied, which makes no sense since he’s had his leg worked on all match. It doesn’t get him a win anyway. Collyer dragon screws the knee. CLOVERLEAF AGAIN! Stryker taps once more at 18:23.

Rating – *** – Solid match and certainly the best of the Stryker/Collyer series…but it still had some very obvious flaws. Stryker no-selling his leg (which had been the focal point of the match) to apply the Strykerlock annoyed the sh*t out of me. The way he randomly worked the arm for no reason for most of the match annoyed me too. He’s got a lot of potential but he keeps making basic errors such as this and it’s hurting his matches. Like I said after his match with Chance Beckett, if you’re going to work the style of match he needs to do it well otherwise it makes his matches seem boring and fundamentally flawed. Not that this match was all bad because it wasn’t. The story told was as good as these two have put together in ROH. They wrestled with an intensity and purpose here that was missing from their first two bouts, and thus made this effort seem more of a big deal and less like an exhibition. If you’re looking for comparison, I thought Stryker/Carter was better.

Special K vs Carnage Crew
Representing Special K tonight are Izzy, Dixie and Deranged. I’d probably say that’s their best three guys (since this was before Jay “Hydro” Lethal had really broken out) and Jody Fleisch is now on the shelf. Anyway, there’s a feud starting to develop between Special K and the Crew (including new member Justin Credible). It seems the disrespectful rich kid ravers are a natural irritant to the pissed off veterans Loc, DeVito and Credible.

Justin is still getting some serious nostalgia love so it takes ages to get the match going. Deranged brings his usual comic awesomeness by mocking Justin’s poses. I love this guy. Credible rides him like a b*tch then slaps him in the face…so Deranged starts complaining that he ‘hits too hard’. He manages a headscissors then a corkscrew enzi which sends Justin back into his corner. Loc rocks Dixie with a sweet press slam into an X-Factor. DeVito hauls Izzy in and slugs him around. Izzy. Deranged gets caught in the ring for Justin’s superkick then Loc’s Saito suplex…but shows some courage by kicking at 2. DeVito has him now…CROSSFACES OF DEATH! Fatty moonsault misses though and Deranged gets the tag out to Dixie. He cleans house on the whole Crew before Deranged and Izzy dropkick Loc and DeVito into each other. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA to the floor from Dixie. SPRINGBOARD PLANCHA OFF IZZY’S BACK BY DERANGED! SPRINGBOARD TWISTING MOONSAULT FROM IZZY! But all the diving has taken it’s toll on the little kids. Carnageplex on Deranged. Izzy hits a double moonsault kick then a standing Contra Code on Loc and DeVito. Justin superkicks him away. THAT’S INCREDIBLE on Dixie! Justin gets the pinfall in 09:12.

Rating – *** – Well that certainly was a pleasant surprise. Whilst it had obvious limitations, this turned out to be a really fun little 6-man. Clearly Gabe realised he was onto something with the massive babyface reaction the Crew got when pulverising the Christopher Street Connection in Boston. Adding Credible to them and pairing them in a feud with Special K has basically turned them face and the majority of the crowd really seemed to buy into it. It seems a natural fit that bitter, well-travelled veterans like Loc, DeVito and Credible would want to kick the sh*t out of disrespectful punks who don’t take it seriously…so there was a real chemistry. Look for this feud to go on…

Samoa Joe vs Dan Maff – ROH World Title Match
Maff is taking advantage Ring Of Honor’s unwritten rule that if you pin the champion in a non-title match you are eligible for a title shot. He pinned Joe in the Prophecy/Group 6-man at Night Of The Grudges – a match which also forced all Joe’s friends (Anderson, Shane and presumably Corino too) out of ROH. He also did it with a quick roll-up – again proving that Joe is susceptible to the flash pin. On a poignant sidenote, Maff is wrestling the day after his father died. To that end storylines are largely being thrown out the window and Dan is out to honour is father with his performance tonight.

The crowd are aware of Maff’s situation so give him a big ovation. He’s still a Prophecy member though and he jumps Joe during his introduction and beats him to the outside. Maff with a CRAZY tope suicida still inside the first minute telling you how up for this he is. Back in the ring and they take it in turns to slap each other. E HONDA SLAPS INTO AN ENZI from the World Champion. To the floor again and Danny does everything in his power to avoid the Ole Ole Kick. Joe just kicks him down and slings him back into the chair for the Ole Ole Kick anyway. Remember Maff is still carrying an injured jaw from when Joe attacked him in the locker room at Do Or Die. The brutality gets upped another notch as Joe shunts Maff head and neck first into the rails, then belts him with a chair. That can’t be legal can it? Joe is in control now, breaking out the chop/kick/knee drop flurry for a nearfall. Kawada kicks find the mark, then a GERMAN SUPLEX! Maff NO SELLS it and comes up to clothesline Joe down. He takes the champ to the corner. CANNONBALL TO THE KNEE! That was pretty cool, and he follows up with a lariat for 2. Burning Hammer BLOCKED WITH THE CHOKE! MAFF BREAKS IT WITH A BACK DROP DRIVER! Corner again…SICK ST-JOE! He then powerbombs Maff into the STF and the crowd beg The Prophecy’s Assassin not to tap. Maff obliges them. ST-JOE ON JOE! He thinks it’s Burning Hammer time again, but once more Joe counters. A big enzi kick connects with the back of Maff’s head, then a dragon suplex finishes him off at 10:37.

Rating – *** – Rapid, hard-hitting match that probably stands as Maff’s best singles effort in ROH. From the pace they wrestled the first two minutes at it was obvious this wasn’t going long, but they packed a lot of intensity into the time. Truthfully it was nothing more than a copy and paste Joe match – dominate, allow the opponent a few hopeful spots to a big crowd response, then come back to kill him at the end. But it’s still good to watch. Dan Maff should be proud of what he did in the ring tonight, as I’m sure his father was too.

Joe actually bows to Maff as he receives a deserved standing ovation. The poor guy looks emotionally destroyed…

INTERMISSION – GMC is hanging with Homicide and Julius Smokes. Cide promises to demolish Trent Acid tonight. Capetta stirs the pot and creates some tension by telling them that Low Ki blames Smokes for Homicide not winning the World Title. J-Train says it was Ki’s fault, and sounds like Cousin Skeeter as he invites Ki to meet him after the show.

Alex Shelley vs Jimmy Jacobs vs BJ Whitmer vs Tony Mamaluke
Totally unique match in prospect here, as ROH gives debuts to the VERY young-looking duo of Shelley and Jacobs and throws them in with multi-man match specialist BJ Whitmer and SERIOUS TONY, who clearly impressed enough in his recent match with Jason Cross to earn more bookings. Shelley and Jacobs earned this opportunity basically by setting the Midwest on fire with their matches against each other in that region. They’re both still under 21 and have only been wrestling for about a year at this point. BJ Whitmer is basically losing for fun at the moment and needs a win to get some momentum going. Mamaluke, meanwhile, needs to enter a performance in order to solidify his spot on the roster. He hasn’t been a regular for some time now.

Its 2003 so Jimmy is in full-on HUSS mode. Tony tests out the rookies and gets the better of both of them. Shelley and Jacobs then get in there together and it’s very obvious that they’ve wrestled each other on numerous occasions. In truth the stuff they’re doing is so fluid it becomes a little fake. Its still captivating to watch though and in 5 minutes they’ve clearly impressed a lot of people. Whitmer comes in and picks them both up for a DOUBLE EXPLODER! That’s killed them and since this is 2003 and nobody gives a sh*t about the legal man, Tony comes in to work his random “shooter” style without ever focusing on a body part for more than a second at a time. Alex makes a tag and bootscrapes Mamaluke whilst Whitmer has him captured in a camel clutch. Jacobs hits a big boot on Shelley…so BJ steps in to boot him clean through the ropes. Whitmer is really shining by tossing around some smaller wrestlers. Case in point, the way he tags Jimmy into the match by simply throwing him over the ropes. Jacobs sells it further by giving Shelley a neckbreaker over the knee then running away from BJ in the corner; tagging in Tony instead. Both the veterans grab Shelley and put him in a double Fujiwara armbar. Mamaluke thinks about his superplex front choke. Shelley fights it off only to be crotched by Whitmer anyway. Jacobs climbs up top so Alex grabs him for a TOP ROPE ALLEY-OOP INTO THE BUCKLES! Mamaluke ties Shelley in a not only for Whitmer to dive in and break the hold with a diving headbutt. A brainbuster puts Serious Tony down for 2 before Jacobs breaks it with the senton bomb. Whitmer makes him pay with a blue thunder driver. MONSTER LARIATO on Shelley as BJ basically obliterates the entire field. Mamaluke traps Jacobs in a bridging hammerlock…which Shelley breaks with a FROG SPLASH! Whitmer cleans Mamaluke’s clock with another lariat. EXPLODER ’98 on Shelley…but Jacobs runs in to boot Whitmer in the head. CAPTURE INTO A HEAD DROP EXPLODER! Whitmer pins his future tag team partner at 14:35…but Tony Mamaluke isn’t happy since he had Alex Shelley tapping on the other side of the ring.

Rating – *** – Bearing in mind the fact that Shelley and Jacobs were total unknowns to a large portion of the crowd I’d say that one went down really well. The match seemed to be designed to get Whitmer over, and he seemed to enjoy his moment to shine. He definitely dominated this match and looked great, especially when bullying the man he’d go on to hold tag team gold with. Shelley and Jacobs impressed people with their skills and easily did enough to earn a call back in the future. Even at this point Shelley looked a hell of a talent, whilst Jacobs’ HUSS schtick was way over. As for Tony Mamaluke…well, he was the same old really.

CM Punk/Colt Cabana vs Raven/Christopher Daniels
Raven and Daniels make such a cool team. Imagine the promos they could come up with if they stuck together long term! I have no idea what the rules are for this one, but I’d imagine they’ll be lax at best. Raven is still gunning for CM Punk, who has continually one-upped him since his arrival in ROH. Punk beat him on debut at Expect The Unexpected, formed the Second City Saints and left Raven in a heap at Night Of Champions, then left on the winning team of their engaging brawl at Night Of The Grudges too. Punk also has issues with Chris Daniels. The two exchanged words during a four way at Do Or Die, when Daniels attempted to recruit Punk for The Prophecy, only for Punk to reject on the grounds that the Fallen Angel was running scared of the Saints. It was as a result of that confrontation that Raven asked Daniels to team with him tonight. Both of them have a desire to kick the sh*t out of the brash CM Punk and his goofy sidekick.

Raven and Daniels amusingly refuse to let their opponents into the ring, forcing Punk to get on the microphone and throw a hissy fit. Colt Cabana misses a frog splash and the match finally gets started. Daniels tears into Punk on the floor and introduces him to the metal rail on numerous occasions. The babyfaces do the old rowboat trick before bulldogging Colt into the already aching groin of his tag partner. Punk still manages to avoid the trademark chair drop toehold from Raven, but then Daniels runs in with another chair and absolutely LAMPS him. He misses a shoulder block in the corner though and it’s Punk’s turn to swing a chair. Both are bleeding thanks to that, and this is the first time Daniels has bled in ROH. Something resembling a tag match is established now with the Saints isolating the leader of The Prophecy. They do a good job of keeping Raven out of the ring too, despite another grotesque blade job from Punk. Daniels tries the Koji Clutch on Colt, only for Punk to break the hold with a flying leg drop. That only delays the inevitable though, as Fallen Angel finally comes up with an enzi and an inverted DDT which allows him to make the hot tag. Raven brings his all the offence you’d expect, including succeeding with the chair drop toehold on both opponents. Colt tries a springboard crossbody and inadvertently takes out the referee. RAVEN EFFECT but obviously there’s no official now. Lucy tries to interfere but she gets taken out by Allison Danger…cue the obligatory catfight. PUNK SUPERKICKS ALLISON! Daniels is pissed off and hits him with ANGELS WINGS! COLT 45 ON DANIELS! ANOTHER RAVEN EFFECT ON CABANA! Punk runs in with a chain and starts choking and whipping Raven with it. In the end he just wears him out with the chain and wins at 13:47.

Rating – *** – I thought the Saints vs Raven/Whitmer tag was better, purely because it was more of an explosive brawl where as this one had the middle period where they worked more of a regulation formulaic tag match, and I felt that portion dragged a little. Still, the start and the end of the match were really hot and did a good job of keeping the thrilling Punk/Raven deal going.

Punk continues to choke Raven with the chain post-match, and Cabana holds Daniels down to make him watch. After that sadistic attack they leave to ‘Copa Cabana’ which is an odd juxtaposition. When Raven comes too he challenges Punk to a Dog Collar Match

The Saints are now backstage where Punk cuts the best promo in ROH…EVER. I’d put a transcript in but I don’t want to ruin it. I’m tempted to say people should get this show for the promo alone…but it’s included in full on the Death Before Dishonor release as well. Anyway – long story short, Punk hates Raven not just due to their opposing lifestyles, but also because Raven reminds him of his alcoholic father. He plans to finish Raven for good at Death Before Dishonor.

‘THIS IS TRUE…THIS IS REAL…THIS…IS…STRAIGHT EDGE’ – CM Punk.

AJ Styles vs Chris Sabin – NWA Heavyweight Title Match
No history here, just ROH showing a little bit of congratulations to AJ by showcasing him as NWA Champion on their show. Obviously TNA had a heavy hand in the booking of this though, as he faces X-Division Champion, Chris Sabin. Styles comes out to Flair’s music for extra historical kicks. I guess if you’re really looking for a background to this you could look at the fact that AJ Styles BUILT TNA’s X-Division along with Low Ki, Jerry Lynn, Chris Daniels and others. For now he has moved on from the X-Division, paving the way for people like Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian and Michael Shane to move in. Can the current head of the X-Division’s new class beat the old pro?

We go to the mat for some intense exchanges. Sabin edges the first but AJ shades the second so they’re still even. Sabin has the normal Styles dropkick routine scouted but can’t get the shoulders down as he looks to capitalise with a roll-up. The X-Division champion tries to control things with a headlock but AJ almost counters it with a Styles Clash. Naturally Chris wants to find the ropes and evade that. SLINGSHOT headscissors guillotine by Styles as he innovates something totally out of the blue. Sabin makes up a move of his own by backwards rolling through the ropes INTO a headscissors on the floor. Back in the ring he takes AJ down for something resembling Alex Shelley’s Border City Stretch but he doesn’t force a submission. Styles responds by suplexing Sabin into an OVER THE SHOULDER NECKBREAKER! That looked disgusting, and AJ only adds to it with a brainbuster for 2. Quick powerslam gets the defending champion another 2-count. DUELLING enziguris and both men are decked. Standing switches into a FACE DROP GERMAN SUPLEX from Sabin. Not enough to win him the NWA Title though. Styles dumps him with the hammerlock back suplex. Sabin blocks the Phenom DDT and goes for a swinging backbreaker…BUT AJ COUNTERS IN MID-AIR with a crucifix pin for 2. Swinging backbreaker nailed second time of asking by the challenger. Sabin gets crotched and pulled off the ropes for a STYLES CLASH! It’s over at 10:04.

Rating – *** – Criminally short meaning it was nothing more than an exhibition match (maybe the NWA or TNA had something to do with that, I don’t know) but I had fun watching it. These are two talented guys (even back then when Sabin was really inexperienced) and they know how to make 10 minutes highly watchable. A few unique spots, some really nifty counters etc. I’m sure they’ve had better matches (since I don’t really watch TNA I couldn’t tell you) but this was fine for what it was.

Styles gets the mic after the match and runs through some of the history of the NWA Title in his redneck voice. He demands respect for the title in the same city that Shane Douglas through it down and proclaimed himself ECW Champion…nice touch.

Backstage and Capetta is being irritating some more. He finds Low Ki and informs him that J-Train wants to meet with him after the show. Unsurprisingly Ki isn’t scared.

Trent Acid vs Homicide – Fight Without Honor
In ROH terms there hasn’t been an awful lot of build to this match. Trent attacked Homicide and gave him the Yakuza Kick at Do Or Die, and that’s really the extent of it. But they have a lengthy history in other promotions and apparently their hatred has spilled over to ROH (even though in late 2002 Homicide was hanging out backstage with the Backseat Boyz and blaming their Glory By Honor match on Steve Corino). Personally I haven’t seen much of their stuff outside of ROH so I can’t comment too much on what’s happened between them. Let’s just get to the match.

Trent is such a weird looking guy. He attacks during Homicide’s entrance and delivers a CRAZY ASAI MOONSAULT which massacres both guys. Acid cracked his shins on the rail a’la Jody Fleisch at Road To The Title there, and apparently landed on his head as well. How he’s still walking after that is a mystery. ROH are so afraid of the potential violence these guys will serve up that they’ve removed the fancy new ring canvas and replaced it with the sh*tty old one. Homicide knees Trent in the corner and hits rolling T-bone suplexes for 2. Acid drops his adversary with a superkick and almost decapitates him when coming from the top with a missile dropkick. He brings a ladder in and sets it up in the corner…but Homicide grabs him for a BELLY TO BELLY INTO IT! Trent needs moments on the floor to recover from that bump. Unfortunately Cide takes advantage with a FLYING TOPE THROUGH AN OPEN CHAIR! They fight on the ladder bridged between ring and the guardrail. ACID WITH A DDT ON THE STEEL! More punishment follows – LADDER ASSISTED YAKUZA KICK! Cide is suitably incapacitated for the time being, allowing Acid to set the ladder up between two chairs. BLUE THUNDER DRIVER THROUGH THE LADDER! That gets 2 only. That’s totally insane, but the Philadelphia fans live up to their bloodthirsty reputation – they want tables. Homicide is back up and locks Trent in the STF. It’s his choice to let him go though – BRAINBUSTER THROUGH A CHAIR INSTEAD!

Homicide thinks about a Cop Killa but Johnny Kashmere does a run in T-GIMMICK on Homicide…but then Smokes comes to his aid and starts fighting with Kashmere. Meanwhile Acid has Homicide in the corner for a disgusting BACKSEAT DRIVER. Did Homicide actively try to cripple himself with that bump? It got 2 anyway. He also blocks a second Backseat Driver attempt and strings together an Ace crusher then a northern lights bomb. Outside again, and Homicide puts Trent on a table. He goes to the top but Acid gets a chair and throws it at him. He then brings a table into the ring, and whether the table likes it or not, he sets it up. ‘Fix the table’ – Philly. They fight upstairs until they’re standing on the top rope. HOMICIDE HITS A F*CKING SUICIDAL ACE CRUSHER THROUGH A TABLE ON THE FLOOR! DANGEROUS! I’m not even kidding, how can one of these two not be crippled at this point? That’s not even the end of the match. Homicide only gets a 2 count from the ensuing pin. YAKUZA KICK DUEL! Acid wins the duel but it’s still not enough to win. He pulls out a huge ladder (we’re talking London/Shane at Unscripted huge) and, for some reason, thinks it’s a good idea to climb it. HOMICIDE PUSHES THE LADDER OVER! Acid wipes out on the guardrail so Homicide takes a moment to set up another ladder on the floor, despite the fact he can barely walk. Back in the ring, but he EATS LADDER BY MISSING A TOPE CON HILO! Does that win it? Like hell it does. More Yakuza kicks…before Homicide tries the Cop Killa again. Acid counters with the sloppiest roll-up in the history of wrestling and wins at 19:42.

Rating – **** – That finish was the sh*ts, but everything before that was absolutely psychotic. If you like the Hardyz/Dudleyz/Edge & Christian TLC-era matches then you’ll love this. It’s literally 20 minutes of one crazy stunt after another, and the scariest part is half the time they were struggling to hit these spots clean. It’s now 2007 and that ace crusher to the floor spot remains one of the most insane things I’ve seen in wrestling. I remember I went ****1/2 on this match last time, and I almost feel guilty lowering the rating, but there’s no way I can call this an MOTYC. But in truth, ratings mean nothing. If you like hardcore stuntshow matches you’ll love this. If you hate them then you won’t like this either since it’s a classic example of it’s genre. A succession of suicidal moves, people popping up after what should’ve been killer moves, lengthy set-up periods (although not as long as some I’ve seen)…but what the hell. This is a hell of a match that has totally been forgotten with time and with the influx of newer fans who either don’t want to catch up on the old ROH product, or simply can’t because they can’t get the DVD.

Johnny Kashmere is back to check on Acid, as Low Ki and Homicide’s thugs check on Homicide. They prepare to handshake, until the lights go out, and Special K arrive on the assumption that coming out after an amazing match would be a neat thing to do. They randomly put the Backseat Boyz through a table…then decide it’s time to rave. IT’S A RAVE IN WRESTLING RING! WRESTLE-RAVE!! Seriously…we get lesbian kissing and everything. The house lights start coming on as Dixie climbs the hard camera stand. Lovey and Murrow try to convince us that the show is over, whilst the K rave all over the place. ‘I think they’re on E’ – Lovey.

To Jim Cornette (‘hold your applause’ – Cornette) and he says he’ll be coming to Dayton in August. He knows all about the next big thing (he’s even cutting this promo from OVW, where they trained “the Next Big Thing” Brock Lesnar himself), and apparently is ROH is the next big thing.

Back to the Murph where the rave continues. The Backseatz are up now and have no idea what’s going on. The sensible fans have left, but there are more than enough staying to dance like fools on camera. This is surely the peak of Special K’s run in ROH. It’s an entirely odd spectacle to say the least.

Carnage Crew promo, and they are giddy with happiness about beating Special K. They’re also excited because at Death Before Dishonor they have another match with the TWA guys…in a Hardcore Match. They talk about what it means to be hardcore…and damn Loc cuts a good promo. Hardcore is also being married to their hideous wives lol.

Still the rave carries on…even as the ring crew (yes that includes Dunn & Marcos) start taking the ring down. The remaining fans are even chanting for them now. Stop it you fools! Those fraggles don’t deserve your applause…except Deranged maybe. That guy that always used to yell at CM Punk is in the thick of it and looks like a right tool…

Samoa Joe checks in and he talks about his match with #1 Contender Trophy holder Paul London at Death Before Dishonor. His message to London is…please don’t die.

To GMC somewhere else backstage. He’s trying to check up on how the Low Ki/J-Train meeting went. There is chaos in the locker room, but one of the crew kicks Capetta and the camera man out. This is closed doors I guess…but there’s clearly been some kind of incident.

SHOWCASE CARD
Benny Blanco d. Lit
Hydro d. Angeldust (any idea why team-mates were wrestling each other?)
Christopher St. Connection d. Outcast Killaz

Tape Rating – *** – Had this show had a legit MOTYC (as opposed to the niche appeal of the Acid/Homicide stunt show) then I think it would get loads more praise. It’s honestly one of the most underrated shows Ring Of Honor have ever produced. After the slow start everything from Stryker/Collyer onwards hits at least 3* and there’s just so much to enjoy. Dan Maff’s emotional World Title battle, the debuts of Jacobs and Shelley, CM Punk’s incredible promo, the historical significance of the NWA World Title defended in ROH, the sheer carnage of the main event and the infamous rave. Seriously, I wish ROH would get their asses in gear re-release these 2003 shows. It’s a crime that more people haven’t seen this – even if most of the matches are probably on various best of’s now. If you can find a copy I’d suggest you snap it up.

Top 3 Matches
3) CM Punk/Colt Cabana vs Raven/Christopher Daniels (***)
2) Samoa Joe vs Dan Maff (***)
1) Trent Acid vs Homicide (****)

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