Mike Reviews – ROH Retribution: Round Robin Challenge 2 (26th April 2003) – Concluding Part

ROH Wednesday’s Continue!

Last week we left things with Christopher Daniels and Paul London both winning a match each in the Round Robin Series with them due to meet one another later on. We’ll review that match today, along with Samoa Joe taking on Doug Williams for the ROH Title. Let’s waste no further time and see this puppy get concluded!

Gary Michael Cappetta is backstage during intermission with Matt Stryker, who will be in a Pure Wrestling fatal four way later on. Stryker says you need to be right both mentally and physically to win a match like that. Chad Collyer interrupts to say that he’s going to make Stryker tap out to his Texas Cloverleaf later on. Stryker says he’s learnt from his previous mistakes and that Collyer will be tapping out later. GMC finds Michael Shane and Simply Luscious are hanging out backstage. Shane was supposed to wrestle Daniels tonight, but the Round Robin Challenge ruined that, so now he’s going to find a way to get involved in a different way.

Match Seven
Persephone Vs Alexis Laree

Persephone was apparently trained by Shannon Moore and worked a lot in Women’s Extreme Wrestling, whilst Laree would go on to wrestle in WWE and TNA as Mickie James. They do some counter sequences at the start and the crowd is kind of responsive to it, although the commentators ruin it a bit by ogling the ladies instead of treating them as athletes.

Persephone decides to try and Moolah things up a bit with some hair-mares before going to a chin lock, followed by some general Heel tactics such as choking Laree on the ropes. That kind of match feels a bit out of place in somewhere like ROH, but I can appreciate the two women for working the formula and for both playing their roles well.

Persephone is a good Heel wrestler actually, and Laree sells everything she does well. The crowd doesn’t really get into it, but its fine. It’s an actual wrestling match at the very least, which you didn’t always get around this timeframe. It’s certainly not a T&A break; these two are actually going out to wrestle one another.

Interestingly they don’t really give Laree a proper comeback, as she just catches Persephone with a reverse DDT out of nowhere and that’s enough for three. That ending was a bit abrupt, but the match itself was fine up to that point.

WINNER: ALEXIS LAREE
RATING: **

This was okay, with them doing a traditional Face/Heel match with a clean finish. The wrestling itself was basic but mostly fine and I can appreciate them going out there and actually working a proper match

Michael Shane and Simply Luscious attack following that, with Luscious giving both women Spicolli Drivers. Both of these two are members of Steve Corino’s Group, and Shane sits in the ring, which leads to Cappetta trying to interview him, only for Shane to chase him off. Before Shane can talk though we head backstage.

The Second City Saints cut a promo backstage, with CM Punk being his usual self-satisfied serious self, whilst Steel and Cabana give one another withering looks. Punk formally introduces Lucy, saying she’s there to take out Trinity if she comes back to ROH. Punk targets Raven once again, saying his life is a war and it’s a war that Raven won’t survive. Once the promo is over, Punk asks Lucy to follow the Code of Honour going forward. All three of the lackey’s bond whilst Punk looks on frustrated. This was a great promo from Punk followed by some genuine funny stuff at the end whilst he played straight man to his wacky ensemble of stablemates.

Match Eight
Pure Wrestling Fatal Five Way
Michael Shane w/ Simply Luscious Vs Donavon Morgan Vs Matt Stryker Vs BJ Whitmer Vs Chad Collyer

Shane has apparently added himself to this match. I can only assume there were technical difficulties with his promo which was why it got cut? Morgan is in The Prophecy, so he refuses to shake hands. Shane works this one as a straight Heel, whilst Morgan is more of a Tweener and everyone else are ostensibly babyfaces. Morgan eventually gets sick of Shane’s Heel tactics and attacks him out outside of the ring, but when he goes after Luscious he is prevented from doing a move by Stryker because he just wants to focus on the match without all this gaga happening outside.

Collyer and Stryker do a bit together, with Stryker looking for some payback due to Collyer already defeating him twice with the Texas Cloverleaf. The wrestling is general is good here, with a nice mix of strikes and technical grappling, and everyone gets a chance to get into the ring and do something. The crowd isn’t really that into it, but the wrestling itself is to a good standard. The announcers do make an effort to explain why people are tagging in and out when it’s one fall wins it, by saying that if they don’t think the other wrestler is ripe for the picking then they’ll let someone else soften them up for them until it’s time to tag themselves back in.

A big part of the match is based around everyone going after Collyer’s legs, and he sells that well, but the crowd still isn’t really biting and have mostly sat on their hands for this one. The match does feel like it starts to drag after a certain point. I’m all for some technical wrestling, especially when it’s guys who can do it well like these can, but it can be a bit of a slog to get through when the crowd isn’t invested in the action. There’s only so long you can sit and watch four guys attack another guys’ leg before it starts to get a bit tiresome you know?

Collyer eventually manages to dodge a Shane knee drop attempt and tags in Morgan, who does a de facto hot tag on Shane, which the crowd does mostly respond to at least. This Prophecy Vs Group feud would be much better if The Prophecy were actually babyfaces elsewhere on the card instead of just in situations like this. It’s “Shades of Grey, Bro” and not the good kind in my opinion. Things break down following Morgan’s flurry on Shane and it quickly descends into Finisher Madness™, where everyone  comes in to hit a big move for a near fall. Eventually Stryker gets Collyer in a modified Figure Four and that’s enough for the win.

WINNER: MATT STRYKER
RATING: **3/4

It dragged a bit in the middle but it picked up a bit at the end and the crowd popped for the finish

The announcers push that this is Stryker’s first big win in ROH.

Match Nine
Round Robin Challenge Match #3
Christopher Daniels (1-0-0) w/ Allison Danger Vs Paul London (1-0-0)

London gets the better of Daniels in the early going with some nice technical wrestling and counters, so Daniels gets on the mic and tells him to show him some respect, so London counters by saying that maybe Daniels should show some respect first and actually start shaking hands. Daniels does indeed offer a handshake following that, but it’s of course a SWERVE and he kicks London in the ribs, but London recovers from that and soup can’s Daniels to the floor before following with a dive.

London is now back to being a full babyface here in comparison to the match with Red earlier, although he’s a babyface with a bit of an attitude. Daniels eventually manages to cut London off with a knee to the gut and then works over London’s mid-section, with London selling that all well. The crowd stays with London and the match has decent heat in general. In fact, the commentators point out that there’s a woman on the hard camera side who has flown all the way over from Japan just to see London wrestle tonight. Now that’s commitment!

London manages to kick out of The Angel’s Wings at one stage, which leads to Daniels arguing with the ref in order to give London a bit of a window to fight back, getting a springboard forearm smash for a double down. London’s selling has been excellent here, an aspect of his game that he’s always been good at. London does the big fiery comeback and he looks great, with Daniels bumping and feeding for it perfectly. London continues to sells his ribs throughout the closing stretch, with both men getting some nice near falls and the crowd continuing to be into the action.

Eventually London gets the Shooting Star Press but his mid-section hurts so much that he can’t make the pin right away, and when he does Danger gets up on the ropes anyway for the distraction. London plants a snog on her for that and then back body drops Daniels out on top of her before following with a TOPE SUICIDA. London gets a big DDT back inside the ring following that, but it only gets two, so he heads up for another SSP. Daniels gets his knees up this time though and gets a Complete Shot followed by the BME for three.

WINNER: CHRISTOPHER DANIELS (2-0-0)
RATING: ****

Excellent match, with a good mix of selling from London and some great near falls at the end. I also liked how Daniels still technically won clean even though Danger got involved during the match itself as well

With that win Daniels wins the entire series and could have put himself into potential contention for the ROH Title

Main Event
ROH Title
Champ: Samoa Joe Vs Doug Williams

Doug defeated Daniels back in March in order to earn this Title shot. This is Joe’s second defence of the belt, although his defence on the last show wasn’t officially recognised by the company, so technically it’s his first. Doug is someone who can actually match Joe for size, so that should potentially add a different dynamic to this one, especially when you take into account Doug’s technical proficiency.

Doug has the better of things on the mat in the early going, with his technical acumen being on full display as usual. The crowd appreciates his European styled counters as well, giving good reactions to some of his holds and counter-holds. Joe responds by doing his usual array of brutish strikes, including the Face Wash in the corner, with Doug selling all of that well. Joe also busts out a big hanging Brain Buster as well at one stage, but it only gets him a two count.

This is a good solid meat and potatoes match, with both men pitting their own styles against one another and everything looking good. The crowd continues to appreciate the match and it’s generally a really solid effort from both men. Like the Punk/Homicide match from Part One, this match feels like a genuine athletic competition between two men who are trying to out-wrestle and out-fight the other, and it’s been a good watch as a result.

You do feel like this might have a higher gear that it could possibly kick into, but overall it would be hard to complain about the calibre of the wrestling on display and the crowd reactions are the proof that is the pudding. Both men gradually up the ante with bigger moves, such as Doug coming off the top with the Bomb Scare Knee Drop and Joe throwing a big snug Lariat, but neither man is able to pick up the win. Doug tries for The Chaos Theory, but Joe blocks it and delivers some knees before going to the Coqina Clutch for the submission win.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SAMOA JOE
RATING: ***1/4

Good stuff there and a solid note on which to end the show, as both men worked a hard-hitting believable match and the crowd responded

The Prophecy attack Joe following the match, leading to Michael Shane making the save, as I’m really unsure just which of these two factions I’m actually supposed to be supporting here. Shane was a complete Heel earlier but now he’s running wild like a babyface. Daniels cuts him off anyway and The Group is eventually laid out, with Daniels grabbing the mic to say we have just seen The Prophecy’s retribution. The beat down angle itself was fine in that it hit the beats it needed to, but I’m confused as to which of these stables I’m actually supposed to like. Joe is mostly likable, but Shane is an absolute turd up until the closing angle, where he’s suddenly running wild.

Loc and DeVito are hyping up the 31/05/2003 show, where they’ll get to fight The Briscoe’s, Second City Saints and Special K. They target CM Punk for think he’s better than them.

The Prophecy are happy about the closing angle.

Samoa Joe says he’s going to hunt The Prophecy following that.

In Conclusion

Solid effort from ROH there, with lots of good matches and a cracker between Daniels and London. Definitely enough for a thumbs up.

Recommended show!