Back with some more ROH. Sadly I couldn’t find Honour Invades Boston (Though I’m sure I have it or have had it in the past) so it’s on to Unscripted next. This has quite a famous and often debated moment in it when it comes to classic ROH.
ROH will be crowning their first ever Tag Champs tonight, so there should hopefully be some really good action on display!
The event is emanating from the Murphy Rec in Philly on the 21st of September 2002
Calling the action are Chris Levie (Gabe Sapolsky) and Rey Muro
We open up with Paul London in the ring. The sound isn’t great, but what seems to be the gist is that London was supposed to be teaming up with Spanky in the Tag Title Tournament, but Spanky isn’t here, so London requests to team with American Dragon instead. This leads to London’s rival Michael Shane coming down to the ring annoyed that he didn’t pick him. This leads to a brawl between the two, with London getting an incredible Shooting Star Press from the top rope to the floor on Shane for a big pop. That looked outrageous. London says he’s dropping out of the tournament and that he will face Shane in a Street Fight later on. He brings a ladder into the ring to make an example of one of the weapons he will be using later. Dragon is bummed by this but understands that London has to do what he has to do. He says he has an idea of who his replacement partner could be though.
ROH Tag Title Tournament
Christopher Daniels and Donavon Morgan w/ Simply Luscious Vs Joel and Jose Maximo
Daniels and Morgan are part of the heel Prophecy stable who want to tear down ROH’s “Code of Honour”. Trinity gets a cameo to yell at Luscious from the front row during the entrance. This one starts fast, with Los Maximo’s doing some wacky double teams to pop the crowd. Gabe explains that the show is called Unscripted because some people have dropped out, so they are kind of flying by the seat of their pants. He probably had experience of that happening from his days in ECW to be fair.
Daniels and Morgan cheat to cut off Joel and work some heat on him. I never really got the fuss about Morgan to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not bad or anything, but he’s pretty bland and his work isn’t especially spectacular, which it kind of needs to be when your personality isn’t really that intriguing. Daniels gets sick of Trinity jawing with his valet and shoves her down, but this allows Joel to tag out to Jose.
Jose runs wild on the heels but sadly he and Morgan botch a Cactus Clothesline spot. Trinity covers for it though by getting a big moonsault onto the heels for a pop before carrying Luscious to the back. Los Maximo’s try to finish Daniels with the Spanish Fly, but Morgan breaks the count up at two before finishing things off with a sit out Pedigree.
WINNERS: DANIELS & MORGAN
Fine for an opener, as they did a pretty abbreviated match where Joel and Jose got to do some nice double teaming before getting beaten clean by the heels.
Dick Togo and Ikuto Hidaka are chatting backstage in their native tongue, when they are interrupted by everyone’s favourite offensive gay stereotype gimmick of the Christopher Street Connection, who have Indy guy The Japanese Pool Boy with them as part of their act now. This leads to Togo and Hidaka being very bemused by what’s going on. This act is death and I can’t wait until we reach a period where they aren’t getting booked anymore.
James Maritato and Tony Mamaluke are warming up for their tournament match. The sound guy comes over to ask for their music. Mamaluke wants to use the old ECW F.B.I theme, but Maritato isn’t having that and demands they use something new. Mamaluke switches the tapes however.
ROH Tag Title Tournament
Dick Togo and Ikuto Hidaka Vs Tony Mamaluke and James Maritato
Togo will probably most be known to people from my age bracket for working for Michinoku Pro and also having a brief stint in the WWF as part of the Kai-En-Tai group. Hidaka started out doing shoot style stuff in BattlArts but also worked in Zero-One. Mamaluke and Maritato were a regular team towards the end of ECW, but the story here is that Maritato felt that was a comedy gimmick and wants them to be more serious now, whilst Mamaluke still wants to do what worked in ECW.
Hidaka and Maritato do some really nice wrestling to start us out and the crowd appreciates it. Mamaluke and Maritato tease dissension in the ranks, as it’s clear that they aren’t on the same page but are trying to get it together for the sake of the tournament. All four men keep it respectful for the most part and the work is executed well. Hidaka in particular is a guy whose work I’ve always admired and it’s a shame he didn’t get to do more in the west than he did, because he was a strong wrestler who was skilled in a mixture of styles.
Mamaluke cheap shots Hidaka at one stage, which Maritato is not happy about because he wants to win this one honourably and isn’t in to the idea of cheating. Mamaluke and Maritato work Hidaka over regardless, with Maritato in particular busting out some nice submission styled offence. Hidaka eventually manages to powerbomb Mamaluke and makes the tag to Togo, who does a good hot tag segment with high impact moves. Things break down as all four men go at it in the ring, which leads to Togo getting a big senton back splash on Mamaluke for the three count.
WINNERS: TOGO & HIDAKA
Enjoyable stuff there, with good work and some hot moves thrown in for good measure.
Gary Michael Cappetta comes down to the ring with a mic to see what’s going on with Mamaluke and Maritato. Maritato says he wants to drop the comedy, but Mamaluke doesn’t want to do that, which leads to Mamaluke saying he made Maritato a Champion in ECW and demands a match right now. Maritato tries to make up with a handshake and hug, but Mamaluke turns that into a suplex and the fight is on!
Tony Mamaluke Vs James Maritato
Both men fight outside the ring, with Mamaluke giving Maritato a drop toe hold into the metal guardrail, drawing blood in the process. Things are pretty back and forth back inside, with both men delivering a lot of strikes to one another. Maritato has a fantastic front dropkick I must say. Mamaluke goes low and gets a roll up, with Maritato getting his hand on the rope. The ref doesn’t see that though and counts three.
WINNER: TONY MAMALUKE
Too short to rate, but it was good action whilst it lasted.
Maritato challenges Tony Mamaluke for the show on the 5th of October, where Mamaluke will get the F.B.I gimmick if he wins.
Gary Michael Cappetta asks American Dragon about the tournament and he reveals that Michael Modest from Pro Wrestling NOAH will be his partner.
ROH Tag Title Tournament
Quiet Storm and Chris Divine Vs American Dragon and Michael Modest
Storm would go on to wrestle in Japan, and is still going now I think. It’s mostly all mat based in the early going and it’s good stuff, with Dragon (Daniel Bryan) even busting out the old Bob Backlund lifting counter to an arm bar. Modest had a cameo in Beyond The Mat as an Indy guy trying to make it in the big leagues, and he ended up doing well to get himself a good run in NOAH, which was the premier Japanese company of this era. He’s got good intensity and the crowd is into his work.
Divine gets worked over for a bit but things break down with him going at it with Modest in the ring whilst Storm and Dragon fight outside the ring. Dragon body slams Storm on the floor whilst Modest finishes off Divine with a Super Perfect-Plex.
WINNERS: MODEST & DRAGON
This was one level below a squash, as Modest and Dragon laid a whupping on Divine Storm and ended up winning rather handily. The action wasn’t particularly bad or anything, but the match was a bit short and Storm was barely involved for large chunks. Still, it established its goal of making Modest and Dragon look like a dangerous team who had a shot of winning the belts.
From earlier in the day, HC Loc and Tony DeVito of the Carnage Crew are unhappy that they haven’t been booked in the tournament, so they attack some ring attendants. Surprisingly it’s not Dunn & Marcos. I’m not sure who the guys are actually, but they sell the beat down well.
ROH Tag Title Tournament
Da Hit Squad (Dan Maff and Monsta Mack) Vs The Natural Born Sinners (Homicide and Boogalou)
Loc and DeVito attack Da Hit Squad during their entrance, with Gabe stating on commentary that The Sinners have been jumped in the back as well, with Boogalou getting especially beaten down. I think this was how they wrote Boog out of the company actually, as the commentators push on commentary that it will just be Homicide and Da Hit Squad coming for vengeance. Boogalou had jumped to XPW I believe. There is no match and it seems like both teams are eliminated.
Carnage Crew cut an angry promo about being left out of the tournament
ROH Tag Title Tournament
Daniels and Morgan Vs Togo and Hidaka
So Modest and Morgan will be getting a BYE to the final, which doesn’t often happen with babyface teams in these sorts of situations. Morgan suckers Hidaka into a cheap shot from Daniels after some nice wrestling, which leads to the match breaking down into a brawl. It’s not a bad brawl actually and settles into a more traditional tag match back inside the ring, with Togo and Hidaka working over Daniels. A Morgan distraction allows Daniels to get a low blow on Hidaka, which leads to him getting cut off.
Hidaka sells the heat well and The Prophecy does some nice tag stuff together. Daniels in particular looks really good, delivering moves well and having some good heel charisma. Hidaka is an excellent face in peril actually, as he bumps and sells to a high standard and does a good job of drawing sympathy. Hidaka manages to get a desperation swinging DDT before making it over for the tag to Togo, who does a good hot tag segment with Morgan.
Togo goes to a crossface on Morgan, but Daniels breaks it up before his partner can tap. Hidaka gets a nice twisting body attack to the floor on Daniels, whilst Morgan gets a swinging neck breaker on Togo back inside the ring for two. Togo gets the big back senton splash again, but Daniels manages to break the count up at two before dragging Morgan to his corner for a tag. He catches Hidaka with the Angel’s Wings, but it only gets two in a good near fall.
Best Moonsault Ever comes next, but Togo breaks up the count for a standing ovation from the crowd. This has been a really fun and energetic bout, with some excellent work and a good responsive crowd. Hidaka gets a powerbomb to Daniels but Morgan breaks the count up at two before holding down Hidaka’s leg when Daniels pins him for the cheap heel victory.
WINNERS: DANIELS & MORGAN
Dunn w/ Marcos Vs Alex Arion w/ Prince Nana
Dunn & Marcos were the resident enhancement talent tag team, who spent most of their time getting battered during, before and after the show. They managed to develop a bit of a cult following as a result though and older ROH viewers like me tend to have nostalgic feelings for their act. Arion worked a handful of ROH shows during this period and I’ve always felt he was a bit generic. He looks a bit like a combination of Johnny Smith of AJPW fame and Chad Collyer.
Nana got knocked out by Low Ki in a match they had earlier in 2002, so since then he’s been trying to avoid getting hit in the head again. This is why we have the singles match here instead of a tag match between the two teams. Nana decides to wear protective headgear, even though he’s just standing at ringside. Obviously a “LOL, he’s wearing protective headgear like a coward because he had a concussion, what a LOSER” storyline wouldn’t go down especially well today in a post-Benoit world.
Arion seems to be working the match as a face, even though he’s associated with the clearly heel Nana. Dunn does what he’s best at; which is bump, sell and do some flippy stuff. However, he doesn’t last very long and Arion polishes him off with a top rope splash.
WINNER: ALEX ARION
Too short to rate, but Arion didn’t look bad or anything.
Arion keeps the Code of Honour following the bout, but Nana attacks Marcos because he’s a devious heel. Nana grabs the mic and tells Arion off for being a sportsman, and then commands him to become a servant. Arion isn’t having any of that though and super kicks him in his injured head. Oh the hilarity!
The Christopher Street Connection of Buff E, Mase, Allison Danger and Japanese Pool Boy come down to the ring. They kiss Nana to wake him up and he flees. They riff on the Billy and Chuck wedding angle from Smackdown, which leads to Buff E and Mase making out in the ring. Alexis Laree (Mickie James) ruins their moment though by running down and laying a whupping on all four of them, targeting Pool Boy especially.
We get a call back to the show from Boston last month, where Low Ki has successfully defended his ROH Title against AJ Styles. Xavier requests a Title shot and Ki accepts.
Champ: Low Ki Vs Xavier
You may have possibly heard of this one before. I will say that Xavier’s “The Word” theme by Dope Smugglaz is awesome and possibly the best part of his entire act. So Ki won the belt in July and on that show Xavier had asked if he could get a Title shot if he won. Kid said yes, so that’s why we’re having this despite Xavier losing to Scoot Andrews on that show.
The story in the early going is that Xavier tries to match Ki kick for kick, but that ends up going poorly for him as you’d expect. Ki continues to control things in his usual snug manner, but Xavier hangs in there and they have a decent battle between one another. Xavier shows some good fire at points, trying to fight his way back in, but Ki no sells his kicks to pop the crowd and it becomes very clear that Xavier is outgunned in that aspect when Ki lays a whupping on him with slaps and the like.
Xavier does manage to control things for a bit after a while and goes for his neck breaker finisher, but Ki fights him off and then kicks him down to the floor from the apron in a gnarly bump. That did not look fun. The fight continues outside the ring, with Ki getting a Muta styled power elbow drop before putting Xavier back in for a suplex, which gets two. The pace has notably slowed here, possibly because Ki had just got back from a tour of Japan and the fact the Murphy Rec looks overly warm once again based on the amount of sweat flying.
Xavier actually busts out a version of Cattle Mutilation whilst Ki is in a sitting position, which looks cool and I think was a move you could do on one of the Fire Pro games. I do think we reach a point where the match goes on for a bit too long, as they lose the crowd a bit and they both start to tire even more, which leads to some of the execution getting a bit sloppy due to a combination of fatigue and how slippery each man is getting due to all of the sweat.
They give Xavier a big spot by having him manage to fight his way out of Ki’s Dragon Sleeper, a move he had used to beat quite a few people with up to this point, and then counters a flying kick into a wacky kind of powerslam for two. This is Christopher Daniels’ cue to come down to the ring, which the commentators ponder, but it soon gets revealed that he’s here to help out Xavier, as he distracts Ki so that Xavier can attack him from behind and then hit him in the chest with a concrete slab.
Ki goes the whole hog of biting on a condom for the “internal bleeding” sell before bravely dragging himself back down to the ring. However, as soon as he gets back in he is met with a 450 Splash from Xavier and that’s enough to win the Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: XAVIER
So yeah, they took the belt off Low Ki in only his second defence in a match that seemed like just a throwaway one in the mid-card with a guy who wasn’t really a genuine contender coming in. This remains a very controversial decision, but I dug it at the time just because Xavier was one of the few guys in the company who would actually work like a heel, so I liked the fact he was successfully able to wind up the smarter than smarter ROH fan base. The match itself went on for too long, but Xavier would have some better matches as his reign went on, with AJ Styles and Paul London in particular having some good battles with him.
The Prophecy celebrate by burying Ki under an ROH banner. Surprisingly no one runs down to try and help him.
Takao Omori Vs Sonny Siaki
Omori had runs in both All Japan and NOAH over the years, whilst Siaki was currently part of The Flying Elvis team in TNA, so he comes out wearing that get up. Siaki is replacing Modest here due to Modest having to enter the tag tournament. There’s a lot of back and forth, with both men trading holds and strikes with one another. Omori gets some control and works a chin lock, which succeeds in getting a few people in the crowd to clap, but not many.
It’s a bit dull to be honest, even though the work isn’t too bad. Siaki always struck me as a WWE styled guy who felt out of place in more work rate focused companies, but when he eventually did snare a WWE Developmental deal it didn’t really lead to much, which is strange because he’s basically what WWE would want if they could create a wrestler in a lab. You can tell the commentators get a bit bored with the match as they talk about magazine coverage instead, including a shout out for dearly departed UK mag Power Slam. Siaki gets a bit of a comeback but Omori shrugs it off and gets a modified styled piledriver to pick up the three count.
WINNER: TAKAO OMORI
Just a match. Nothing wrong with the work but nothing especially exciting about it either. It felt like something you could easily cut from the show to be honest.
CM Punk (still a babyface at this stage) comes down to the ring to cut a promo. He says he’ll be wrestling on the 9th of November 2002 show. He says that he takes wrestling seriously and will be proud to wrestle in front of the great ROH fans. This leads to Colt Cabana coming down to the ring to say that both men made one another and that he’s annoyed that Punk got the booking and he didn’t. Cabana says that in due time the greatest feud from the Mid-West will come to ROH.
Jay Briscoe says working in ROH hasn’t been great due to all his losses since the company started, but that he came back to beat Tony Mamaluke only for his brother Mark to ruin the moment for him. Mark busted Jay open to beat him in Boston, so Jay declares he won’t be losing in ROH anymore.
Jay Briscoe Vs The Amazing Red
Mark tries to worm his way into being Red’s manager for the night, but Red wants none of that and super kicks Mark before heading to the ring. Both men tenaciously fight over a front face lock in the early going, which gets an appreciative reaction from the crowd. They try going a bit too fast on occasion, leading to some sloppiness, but the amount of effort they are displaying helps with keeping the crowd on board because they appreciate how hard they are working.
Red gets a cool counter by turning a powerslam attempt into a reverse DDT for two, but Jay cuts him down with a vicious lariat straight after. Jay uses his size to gain control of things for a bit but Red uses his speed to get back into the match. The action is good for the most part and the crowd remains invested, reacting to the big moves and not especially cheering for one guy over the other. Red ends up getting a Yoshi-Tonic from the top rope before following up with a standing Shooting Star Press, but it only gets him a two. Jay gets the J-Driller not soon after and that’s enough for three.
WINNER: JAY BRISCOE
This was spotty but featured some exciting moments and the crowd dug it.
Dixie and E-Lax of Special K attack Red post-match, but Los Maximo’s run down to rescue their fellow Spanish Announce Team member. Once that is done with, Slugger (A big dreadlocked bloke in a suit) comes down to attack the referee before walking off. I think it’d eventually be revealed that Slugger was the bouncer at the clubs Special K went to or something. He was definitely associated with them at one stage I’m sure of it.
Michael Shane Vs Paul London
Both of these guys had come out of the Texas Wrestling Academy and had been feuding for a few months leading up to this. It’s a brawl right from the off, as they don’t bother with lockups and just go straight to slugging one another. Shane flings London through one of the metal railings before going to set up a table, but that allows London time to recover and he fights back before bringing out a chair from under the ring. Shane dives out onto London before he can use the chair however, with the chair bonking London in the face in the process.
London blades from that and Shane keeps attacking the head area back inside the ring. Shane props a chair up between the top and middle ropes, but London ends up throwing him into it instead, which leads to Shane also getting some juice, making this a quite literal blood feud. Shane’s blade job is considerably bloodier than London’s, and he’s made sure to wear white tights so as to accentuate it. Sadly it looks like they botch something, as London comes off the top with a move of some kind and it looks like Shane needs to catch him before doing a move of his own, but it all goes awry and London just crashes to the mat. Thankfully no one is seriously hurt and they keep going.
A ladder gets involved as promised from the opening segment and Shane drops it on London but London replies with an insane head scissors to send Shane off the apron through the table that was set up earlier. That was absolutely NUTS and worked really well because I had honestly forgotten that the table was there. London brings out the super special extra tall emergency ladder and puts it in the ring, where he props it in the corner and delivers a back body drop to Shane straight onto it. Shane tries to flee following that, but London sprints up the ladder in the corner and then dives off straight on to Shane in the entrance way. That was incredible!
London tries leaping off the ladder with something back inside but Shane counters it into a powerbomb on the way down for a great near fall. The fans are loving this and so am I! Shane goes for his Picture Perfect Elbow Drop from the top rope, and gets it, but London is able to kick out at two for another good near fall. London replies with the Shooting Star Press, but Shane manages to kick out this time, as these two guys are emptying their arsenal and are bringing the crowd to their feet in the process.
London struggles to climb up the ladder from earlier, which is still bent due to Shane getting back body dropped on it, but Shane fights him off and then climbs up before getting the elbow from up there. Amazingly London kicks out from that, getting a big surprise pop from the crowd who thought it was all over. Shane tries going up again but London gets a wacky springboard back flip kick to knock him down and then ascends the rickety ladder whilst the fans chant “Please Don’t Die”. London thankfully manages it and then comes off with an amazing Shooting Star Press for the win.
WINNER: PAUL LONDON
This was a great combination of a hate filled brawl and an insane spot fest and I really enjoyed it. The fans chant “Match of the Year”, which is very nice of them, but it’s probably not the best match of the year in ROH for 2002, and that’s before you start looking at stuff in other companies. It was still an excellent match though and it was great to see that the fans appreciated it so much. This really should have been the Main Event as no one is following this.
Shane gives London a hug post-match to tease an end to their feud, only to cheap shot him so this feud is clearly going to continue.
Earlier today, Donavon Morgan tries to get Mike Modest to join The Prophecy and gets angry when he says no, which leads to them going at it and Morgan bailing. That was a good segment as it felt like a real conversation that escalated into something rather than people just robotically reciting a script.
Final of ROH Tag Title Tournament
Daniels & Morgan Vs Dragon & Modest
Morgan doesn’t want to come in until Daniels has Modest down in a nice touch, but they eventually go at it, doing the old unmovable shoulder block spot, which Modest eventually wins. The Prophecy eventually manages to isolate Dragon and start working him over, targeting his leg. Whilst this goes on, Gabe reveals on commentary that Abdullah The Butcher will be debuting on a December event. He’s pretty much the antithesis of what ROH was going for isn’t he? Dragon sells the heat well, including getting flung into the railings around ringside. Maybe that’s where Jay White got that spot from?
Dragon eventually manages to make the tag to Modest, who does a nice hot tag segment with Daniels and gets a lovely diving head butt from the second rope for two. Mike Modest is really quite good. Everyone comes in to hit a move and we get a quadruple down, as even the commentary team admits that the crowd is knackered due to how unreasonably long this show has been. We get a series of dives, as Daniels moonsaults onto Morgan and Modest but then eats a suicide dive from Dragon. Dragon sells that he’s re-hurt his knee in the process though.
Modest gets the Super Perfect-Plex on Daniels but Morgan breaks up the count. Dragon comes in for an attempted Dragon Suplex and really has to fight for it, before he eventually settles on a Regal-Plex for two before going to Cattle Mutilation. Daniels breaks that one up before Morgan can submit and Morgan is able to counter a superplex attempt into a spine buster from the second rope for two. Daniels tries to put Dragon away with Last Rites (Roll of the Dice) but Dragon fights him off, only to get caught in a Koji Clutch.
Modest breaks that up and things break down with all four men going at it inside the ring. This leads to Dragon getting an enziguri on Daniels for two, whilst Modest and Morgan fight outside. Dragon goes for his big super back drop, but Morgan pulls his leg so that Daniels lands on top. Daniels follows up with the Last Rites and that’s enough for the win and the belts.
WINNERS AND FIRST EVER ROH TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: DANIELS & MORGAN
Work was fine but the crowd was tired and this wasn’t the best choice for the show closing bout, especially when London and Shane stole the show in the previous one.
So The Prophecy now holds all the Titles, two shows after Daniels failed to win the ROH Title. Modest is angry about this and attacks the new Champs to cause them to bail. The Prophecy is supposed to get a trophy for winning, but Dragon and Modest decide to do a tribute to Bret Hart at WrestleMania IV by destroying it. That feels a lot like sour grapes from the faces and the crowd doesn’t really react to it either, especially as The Prophecy won it reasonably clean. It’s not like the faces weren’t double teaming and brawling too.
The Prophecy celebrates backstage, and says that they now make the rules seeing as they hold all the Titles. Daniels says none of the Titles are on the line at Glory By Honour, and that Xavier will be facing someone in a non-Title match. Mark Briscoe comes over to offer Jay for the match, and it’s on. Daniels also says that Dick Togo and Doug Williams will face one another for the right to face Daniels, but if they lose to him then they won’t be allowed to shake hands in ROH again.
Shane Vs London is the definite stand out here, with the rest of the card having some decent matches but also dragging a bit. They could have cut a couple of the mid-card matches and the show would have flowed much better.
Xavier winning the Title makes it a newsworthy and controversial event, but even though the match with Low Ki went on for a bit long I liked the idea of Gabe and Feinstein bowling a Yorker super early on by giving Xavier the belt almost out of nowhere. It creates the idea that the belt can truly change at any time, thus giving each Title match an extra bit of juice.
I do have Glory By Honour (Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to spell it the American way) so that will be the next ROH review I do. I’m not sure when that will be but I’ll try and squeeze it in when I get some free time. I’m expecting reviewing Summer Slam Main Events to take up a considerable amount of my time in the coming weeks.