Mike Reviews – ROH Night of Champions (22nd March 2003) – Part Two

Let’s finish this off.

The highlight of Part One was a darn fine technical wrestling battle between Doug Williams and Christopher Daniels (Yeah, Doug Williams had a great technical wrestling match, what are the odds?).

This week we’ve got AJ Styles, Low Ki and Samoa Joe on the show, so there’s probably even more good wrestling to come.

Gary Michael Capetta is with Doug Williams, who defeated Christopher Daniels in Part One to win both the FWA Title and the #1 contender trophy. Doug says that Daniels was ducking him, but now he’s got the FWA belt back the next target is the ROH belt.

Match Six
Mase and Hernandez w/ Buff E Vs The Carnage Crew (Loc and DeVito)

Mase and Buff E were an extremely offensive gay-baiting tag team known as The Christopher Street Connection, and they’d recently aligned with Hernandez (Who would be the same Hernandez of TNA fame). Buff E’s “ass hurts too much” apparently, which is why Hernandez is stepping in for him tonight. Oh what a bunch of cards that ROH creative team was eh? Forget low hanging fruit, this was fruit that had long since fallen off the tree and gone rotten.

The Carnage Crew are of course unhappy about these homo-sexuyans trying to give them the gay (because this was 2003 and such an attitude was babyface behaviour). I mean, I assume The Carnage Crew are supposed to be the babyfaces here because ducking out of a match and bringing in a big bloke like Hernandez to wrestle for you instead is kind of a Heel move, but who even knows at this stage? Maybe we’re supposed to genuinely believe that Buff E’s anus is just too sore to allow him to wrestle and he’s actually got a doctor’s note for it or something?

Mase does a bunch of suggestive spots with The Carnage Crew, which leads to Hernandez coming in to catch them both with a DDT before getting a legal tag and running wild. So maybe The Christopher Street Connection is supposed to be the babyfaces here? Hernandez looks impressive and gets some nice power stuff before getting a very cool dive out to the floor. How did TNA have this guy and screw it up? I mean, I know why, they’re TNA, but still. DeVito flapjacks Hernandez onto the railings outside the ring and then destroys him with a frankly disgusting chair shot. Mase is thus left alone and a Spiked Piledriver ends his night soon after.

WINNERS: THE CARNAGE CREW
RATING: *1/4

Hernandez looked great but the match itself wasn’t much

Buff E and Hernandez send The Carnage Crew packing following the match. Buff E then gives Mase mouth-to-mouth resuscitation whilst Hernandez looks on bemused. I don’t think a career in the St John’s ambulance is in Buff E’s future to be honest.

Match Seven
ROH Tag Team Titles
Champs: AJ Styles and The Amazing Red Vs The Briscoe’s (Mark and Jay)

AJ and Red had only just won the belts whereas this was one of the first times The Briscoe’s had teamed together in ROH, as previously they had been feuding with one another. As you’d expect from these four guys, this match is a combination of technical wrestling and high-flying, as AJ and Red get stereo dives out onto Briscoe’s only a few minutes into the match. Start as you mean to go on I guess!

There are a few moments where the timing isn’t quite right but most of the work looks good here, with AJ in particular having a great night. I still hadn’t seen a lot of him prior to watching this show, but this match absolutely got me on board with him as a worker due to how impressive he looked. Red is the one with the most timing issues, but he still mostly looks good and hits some hot moves before getting cut off and worked over by the challengers.

Red as the face in peril and AJ as the hot tag guy is a pretty genius way to combine these two guys and I remember they were always a good team to book on EWR back in the day. The Briscoe’s do some good tag stuff, even working in the old false tag spot, until Red fends them off (losing his bandana in the process) before tagging in AJ. AJ’s hot tag segment is really good and it leads to both Red and Mark going for Shining Wizards at the same time in a wacky spot.

We get the mandatory near fall sequence in the closing stretch, with Red’s “Carrot Top” styled wacky hairdo on full display. Now I know why he would always wear the bandana! The finish is suitably insane, as Red gives Jay a rana off the top rope and AJ catches him on the way down before heaving him up into a Styles Clash for three. That was a moment where AJ Styles truly lived up to his “phenomenal” tagline!

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: AJ STYLES & AMAZING RED
RATING: ***3/4

This one is often remembered fondly and it deserves to be as it featured some wild moments and had a finish that sent the crowd absolutely bonkers!

Some might not enjoy that as much due to how many big moves and dives it had, but I think it rode the line well between a spot fest and a traditional tag team formula match, which isn’t always easy to do.

Match Eight
Jody Fleisch Vs Low Ki

The story here was that Low Ki felt the Special K guys didn’t have enough respect for wrestling or for ROH as a whole, so he’s demanded to be booked against them so that he can teach them all some respect the hard way. Jody is next on his list, but as mentioned in Part One he’s decided that he’s going to knock off the drug taking for one night so that he can actually have some semblance of a chance of escaping with his life.

Some of the counter-wrestling that goes on early in the bout is incredible and the crowd loves it. It looked a little bit too choreographed at points, but I have to admit that the execution from both men during it was perfect. Jody manages to catch Ki with a reverse rana and Ki sells it big, only for Jody to up the ante high a huge springboard dive to the floor. Wow, Jody’s high-flying skills during this period were on another level.

Jody makes the mistake of slapping Ki around back inside though, which leads to Ki kicking him in the face and getting a great bridging under-hook suplex for two. Jody keeps coming but his 720 DDT gets countered into the Krush Rush and a forward rolling Liger kick follows. Jody is bumping, feeding and selling this offence all fantastically, making it look like Ki is gradually murdering (Yeah “looks like”) with each move. He’s looked competitive enough that he’s gaining something from the match though, even though Ki is slaughtering him at points.

We get a chop battle, which in-turn leads to a kick battle, and that ends with Jody getting an enziguri for a double down. Both men get some near falls following that, with Jody countering the Ki Krusher into a cradle for two in a very well executed one. Both men fight on the top rope and that leads to Ki kicking Jody down to the floor. Sadly the really big spot they have planned goes awry, where Jody tries a springboard Shooting Star Press Piledriver. They get some of it, but it looks really sloppy, which is a shame as that would have been amazing had it come off.

Jody tries the 720 DDT again following that, but Ki is out from the previous move and doesn’t stand up, meaning that Jody has to drag him to the corner for a move off the top instead. That proves to be a mistake though, as Ki recovers and then heads up to join him before delivering a huge Ki Krusher from the top rope. Not surprisingly, that gets the three count.

WINNER: LOW KI
RATING: ***3/4

That was one HECK of a finishing move right there! The match itself probably went on for a bit too long and they took it home after the peak, but it featured some great action and Jody was genuinely elevated by his performance even though he lost

A hurting Jody returns to the Special K rave following that and gets given a pick-me-up of some kind so that he can dance the night away.

Match Nine
Raven’s Rules
CM Punk and Ace Steel Vs Raven and Colt Cabana

Punk had originally come into ROH as a babyface but now he’s back to being a Heel and he recently started his long feud with Raven. Ace Steel actually trained both Punk and Cabana. Cabana had fallen out with Punk in storyline despite their Chicago connection, which is why he’s teaming with Raven here. Punk angers the crowd with his usual Straight Edge promo to start, with his delivery being great as you would imagine. Raven is super over with the crowd and retorts with a promo of his own, implying that Punk once spent the night at Neverland Ranch back in his younger days.

Punk is full on Heel here, refusing to even get in there with Raven and leaving it up to Steel to wrestle against him. Raven does do a bit of actual wrestling to start, before making use of the rules and bonking Steel with a metal bin lid. In a funny bit on commentary, Lovey runs through all of the upcoming show dates and Murrow replies with “you know a lot of information, do you know the booker or something?” Cute. More weapon shots are sprinkled throughout the match, with Raven getting his trademark drop toe hold onto a chair on Punk at one stage.

Things soon break down into more of a brawl until Punk and Steel are able to isolate Colt and work him over, with Punk even busting out the Diamond Dust at one stage. Colt manages to tag out to a bin wielding Raven, who does a really good hot tag segment before diving out onto the Heels, with Colt following with an Asai Moonsault. Colt heavily sells his leg following that, teasing that he may have suffered a serious injury. Raven goes one on two due to Colt being hurt, and manages to dodge a Punk elbow drop through a table before DDT’ing Steel, thus keeping the feud alive as he didn’t pin Punk.

WINNERS: RAVEN & CABANA
RATING: ***

This was occasionally sloppy but it was a good match overall

Raven wants a handshake from Punk following that, but Punk refuses, so Raven DDT’s Steel again. This proves to be his undoing though, as seeing Steel get unnecessarily beaten up leads to Colt coming to his trainer’s defence. This leads to a Second City Saints beat down on Raven, that ends with Punk giving Raven a DDT. Raven gets a win in the match but Punk keeps his heat and the story has a new development. Works for me!

Homicide cuts a promo saying that he will be bringing in Dusty Rhodes to watch his back in April. Julius Smokes says he’s there to have Homicide’s back as well, but this brings in Low Ki who isn’t happy that street stuff like machete’s is making its way into ROH. Homicide calms things down, but this story will develop further.

Main Event
ROH Title
Champ: Xavier w/ Alison Danger and Christopher Daniels Vs Samoa Joe

Michael Shane and CW Anderson fire the first shot in the feud between The Group and The Prophecy by taking out Daniels and Danger to leave us with a one on one match between Xavier and Joe. Xavier apparently suffered a concussion the week previous to this match, which already puts him at a disadvantage and now he’s lost his back up for good measure. Joe dominates in the early going but Xavier manages to catch him with a Back Cracker in order to get him a foothold in the match.

Xavier manages to muscle Joe over with a belly to belly at one stage in an impressive move and then follows that with a DDT onto the floor. Xavier works the neck back inside the ring, but Joe gets fired up after a dropkick and starts making a comeback, turning Xavier inside out with a lariat. There hasn’t been enough cheating from Heel Xavier for me here, especially as he’s fighting a much bigger opponent in Joe. Outrageous cheating was one of the best facets of Xavier’s character!

Xavier gets a desperation knee to the heat for two and then follows up with a neck breaker. Hey, all of the offence is consistently targeting the same part of the body at least. Instead of pinning Joe off the neck breaker Xavier decides he will try for the 450 Splash, but he finds only knees waiting for him. Joe gets a series of knees to Xavier’s concussed bonce and then applies a choke hold, which is enough for the victory.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: SAMOA JOE
RATING: **3/4

This was a rather limp way for such a snide Heel Title reign to end, as Xavier barely cheated at all and he ended up going out rather meekly all things considered. The match itself was fine and Joe would grow into the role as the time went on and ended up being a strong Champion

Raven cuts a promo backstage. He says he’s impressed by CM Punk, but he also thinks he’s a jerk. He’s annoyed that he couldn’t DDT him, but he’s happy to take 3-4 shots in order to give one and that the Raven Effect is coming Punk’s way.

Daniels says that this has been the worst week in The Prophecy’s history and that Xavier has suffered yet another concussion as a result of his match with Joe. He says that Shane firing the first shot didn’t surprise him and that Corino is a coward. The Prophecy is not done and he will be coming for Joe’s Title. Heck, they might even add a new member soon. War is coming with The Group and The Prophecy will be stronger than ever.

Corino calls out Homicide. Their feud is back on!

In Conclusion

This show might not have the ****+ classic that a lot of early ROH shows tended to have, but it does have a lot of really good action throughout and the show itself is structured well, with lots of different match types and some good matchmaking in general when it comes to the combinations.

Definitely a recommended show!