Mike Reviews – ROH Epic Encounter (12th April 2003) – Concluding Part

Hey there ya’ll!

ROH Wednesday’s continue, as we conclude The Epic Encounter show.

Last week we had CM Punk and BJ Whitmer having a cracking match, whilst Dan Maff joined Christopher Daniels’ “Prophecy” stable.

This week we’ve got ROH Champ Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson taking on Paul London, so there should be plenty of good wrestling to come.

Gary Michael Cappetta is backstage with BJ Whitmer, who went to a No Contest with CM Punk in Part One after both men went through a table off the apron. Whitmer says he’s concussed and can’t remember what happened in the match. CM Punk comes over and implies that Whitmer gave up and puts him over in an almost sarcastic manner. That was some great Heel jerk behaviour from Punk there and a good example of why this character got over. GMC runs off before we can see that concluded though as Julius Smokes is beating someone up backstage.

Match Six
Alexis Laree Vs Ariel

Laree would likely be better known today as Mickie James, whilst Ariel is a Portuguese wrestler who would go on to wrestle for SHIMMER before retiring in 2016. They’ve cut this down to clips and don’t show the full match for whatever reason, which feels like a bit of a slap in the face to the ladies. What action we do get to see looks good and Laree wins it with a reverse DDT.

WINNER: ALEXIS LAREE
RATING: N/A

Makes me wonder why they stuck that match on the tape if they weren’t going to show all of it?

Match Seven
Hernandez Vs ROH Champ Samoa Joe

Both of these men would go on to end up in TNA of course. Joe won the belt on the last show, but the belt isn’t on the line here. He’s still ostensibly a Heel, but he’s a Fighting Champ and will follow the Code of Honour at least. This is hard hitting, as you’d expect, due to both men being big blokes who like to throw down. Hernandez also buts out his incredible Undertaker styled plancha at one stage too, as I continue to wrack my brain over how TNA just absolutely squandered this guy.

Joe fights back inside the ring with his usual brutal array of kicks and holds, with Hernandez selling it all well. Hernandez makes the comeback and goes for The Meltdown, but Joe manages to slip out, and then counters a Hernandez pin fall attempt into a head and arm triangle choke and that’s enough for the clean win outta nowhere.

WINNER: SAMOA JOE
RATING: **

Good little match there

Joe shakes hands post-match and then sits himself in the ring with the belt, even though there’s a match scheduled next between Tom Carter, Matt Stryker and Colt Cabana. GMC comes down to the ring with a mic and asks him why he’s sitting in the ring like this. Joe grabs the mic from him and says he wants to defend his newly won belt in the next match.

Match Eight
ROH Title
Champ: Samoa Joe Vs Matt Stryker Vs Colt Cabana Vs Tom Carter

Stryker didn’t really do much outside of the early days of ROH, whilst Cabana is now in AEW. Carter was a big name on the indies as The Reckless Youth, but it just never happened for him in a major company. All three of the challengers go after Joe in the early going, but then start arguing over who is going to make the pin, which gives Joe a window back into the match. Things settle down into a standard four corners match following that, with two guys on the apron whilst the other two wrestle in the ring, and there’s a lot of nice technical wrestling on display as all four guys can do that.

Everyone gets a chance to come in and control things for a bit, with the wrestling on display being good, with Carter in particularly applying some nice holds. Joe tries to dive out onto Cabana and Stryker, but Carter cuts him off and gets some near falls back inside, with the two working well together. Stryker has kind of been “just a guy” in this, but he does manage to heave Joe up into a Spicolli Driver at one stage in an impressive display. We hit FINISHER MADNESS™, as everyone comes in to hit a big signature move for a near fall, and that leads to Joe getting a choke on Cabana for the win, even though Carter tried breaking it up.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SAMOA JOE
RATING: ***

Fun stuff, and I liked the finish as Carter would have normally broken up the hold, but Joe is just so gosh darn tough and dangerous that he just kept it applied and won anyway

Joe cuts a promo and leaves, establishing himself as a deserving Champion.

David Young and Iceberg are brawling outside the building, and you can even hear Paul London’s entrance music playing in the background inside.

Match Nine
Two out of Three Falls
Bryan Danielson Vs Paul London

Danielson would go on to become Daniel Bryan in WWE, whilst London would also have a stint in that company. They keep it on the mat in the early going, and it’s the technically proficient grappling you would expect from both men, which leads into things heating up a little bit as the match moves on when both men try to play some mind games on another by feigning strikes and whatnot. If you enjoy technical wrestling mixed in with storytelling elements then you’ll likely love this as both men are excellent at working that kind of match.

The way they gradually build the match is really good, as they throw in little things here and there to show that both men are getting a little bit rattled and the match itself is becoming more heated, such as when London throws a slap to the chest at one stage and Danielson replies with a boot to the face, leading to a standoff with both men eyeing the other up as if to say “Oh, it’s going to be like that is it?”. I love stuff like that, so this is really tickling my taste buds as a result, especially as Danielson’s facial expressions are really on point to get across how increasingly more annoyed he is getting.

Danielson even busts out a Polish Hammer at one stage, which isn’t something you see a lot of anymore but suits the old school technical wrestling battle feel they are going for here. We even get the duelling chants at one stage, as the heat for this has been decent throughout and they’ve been appreciating the wrestling on display. Some of the counter sequences are done really well, such as when Danielson catapults London but London turns that into a skin the cat back into the ring before head scissoring Danielson out of the ring. That was really fluid and made total sense as a sequence of moves.

Danielson replies to that with a TOPE SUICIDA though and then gets a beautiful diving head butt off the top back inside, jumping ¾ of the ring to get it, but it only nets him a two count. We get some more near fall attempts following that, as it feels like we’re not far off from the 1st fall of the bout, and that comes when Danielson tries a super back suplex from the top rope but London shifts his weight and London lands on top for three.

First Fall – Paul London (1-0)

Both men throw strikes at the start of the second fall, as this match continues to become more heated, and the crowd continues to be invested. London tries to finish things with his Shooting Star Press, but Danielson dropkicks him in the leg to stop that, leaving London tied up in the ropes, and Danielson shows a mean streak by going after the leg whilst London is hung up, drawing some boo’s in the process. Danielson as the subtle Heel who gets angrier as the match goes on has always worked. He’s just great at telling that sort of story and gets it over well with his wrestling each time.

London now has a chance to sell his leg, and he’s very good at that, whilst Danielson can target the body part with strikes and submission holds in a vicious manner, which he is also very good at. They’ve done such a good job building this and the wrestling itself has been excellent. Danielson eventually manages to tie things up by locking in an elevated single leg crab and London taps out, leaving us at 1-1.

Second Fall – Bryan Danielson (1-1)

Danielson tries going back to the hold, but London fights back and manages to almost knock him out with up kicks in an impressive display of both desperation and viciousness. In a really nice touch, London tries to reply with a body slam following that, but his leg gives out and he can’t get all of it. Selling! Danielson takes London out with a discus forearm and then goes for Cattle Mutilation, but London is able to make the ropes to break the hold. The fans continue to be really into this and their constant crowd heat has really added to the match’s appeal for me.

We get a slap fight at one stage, with London throwing a flurry of unanswered ones and actually getting a near fall from it as a result. I’m loving how progressively more brutal this match has gotten as it’s wore on, great stuff. The near falls are excellent as well, with some of the kick outs coming at the very last possible second. Referee Paul Turner is perhaps doing a slightly too quick of a count and it’s hampering the drama a little bit, but that’s only minor. In another great bit of selling, London drags himself up to the top at one stage to try and get his Shooting Star, and it’s great to see someone actually struggling to do that due to a leg injury rather than just scooting up because it’s time to do a move.

Both men’s performances have been affected by the punishment they have taken throughout the match and it only serves to make the match more enjoyable as a result. Psychology is so important and when you get it back in enhances a match massively. Dragon manages to get the super back drop this time and then goes back to the single leg crab, but London bravely holds on this time and makes the ropes, with some fans on the front row almost guiding him to them. I love how invested this crowd has been in the match, it’s been fantastic. Danielson tries to suplex London out to the floor from the top rope, but London fights him off and then gets a swinging DDT back into the ring followed by the Shooting Star Press for three.

Third Fall – Paul London (2-1)

WINNER: PAUL LONDON
RATING: *****

They went over 40 minutes there and it was an absolutely fantastic match. One of the best of ROH’s early years in my opinion. Great wrestling, great storytelling and consistent selling make this one a bonafide classic. Definitely worth going out of your way to watch

We get the handshake following that as the fans thank them both. They look knackered following that.

Main Event
I Quit Bunkhouse Rules
Homicide, Dusty Rhodes, Iceberg, J-Train, Louie Ramos and Becky Bayless Vs CW Anderson, Jack Victory, Bar Room Brawler, David Young, Guillotine LeGrande and Simply Luscious

I have no idea who some of these people are, with Iceberg being a hefty dude who was apparently Young’s main rival in NWA-Wildside. J-Train is Julius Smokes, a guy who was mostly Homicide’s manager. Louie Ramos is a Homicide trainee and Becky Bayless ended up doing a Jersey Girl gimmick in TNA as “Cookie”, which was a play on Snookie from Jersey Shore. Bar Room Brawler doesn’t even have a CageMatch.com profile, David Young worked for TNA as a tag team with Elix Skipper at one stage, LeGrande is one of Steve Corino’s buddies and Luscious is Corino’s girlfriend in storyline (And possibly real life too, I’m not entirely sure).

Some guy comes out dressed as The Midnight Rider, but it’s all a distraction so that Dusty can enter and take out all of the Heels with elbows. That was a cute gag actually. This match is a wild brawl with everyone going at it and blood flowing from many of the competitors. It’s different from everything else on the show thus far, and as far as brawls go it’s fine. It’s not on the level of the ROH Vs CZW brawls from 2006, but it’s got all of the violence and weapon shots that you would expect and it’s probably the best match they could have chosen to follow that technical masterclass. Jack Victory eventually quits after New Jack shoves a fork in his face and that appears to be that.

WINNERS: TEAM HOMICIDE
RATING: **

Bit of a flat ending actually and I think the crowd was kind of burnt out from the previous match as they didn’t really react that much

The winners celebrate following that and Dusty grabs a mic to put Homicide over. He thanks the ROH roster for welcoming him and the crowd gives him a good reaction.

Dusty, Homicide and Smokes cut a promo backstage, with Dusty saying Homicide is coming for Corino next.

Punk and Cabana cut a promo backstage, where Punk says that Raven’s mind games aren’t going to work on him. Following the promo the camera stays on them whilst Cabana tries to come up with a catchphrase whilst Punk gets annoyed. That was pretty funny, as Cabana being able to cut through Punk’s self-serious personality by just being a goof was always a joy and a fun wrinkle for the character.

The Carnage Crew yell at and beat up a couple of the ring crew for making too much noise when they are trying to cut a promo.

Christopher Daniels, Alison Danger and Dan Maff are backstage, where Daniels hypes up a match with Michael Shane on the 26th of April, but that match didn’t end up happening as Daniels was instead in a Round Robin Challenge. Monsta Mack interrupts because he wants to know why Maff dumped him. Maff says he’s sick and tired of being passed over and he’s sick of the Code of Honour. Mack seems genuinely emotional that his buddy has betrayed him like this, but they will be tagging one more time on the 26th of April, and Maff seems fired up about it.

In Conclusion

That Danielson/London match makes the entire show an easy thumbs up, but there’s plenty of good action elsewhere on the card as well, with the Punk/Whitmer match being the pick of the under card.

Recommended show!

Will probably start Round Robin Challenge 2 next, but that might change