Welcome back to another ROH Wednesday!
This week we’ll be closing off the Do or Die review. The big match on this part will be Homicide Vs Samoa Joe, and if memory serves it’s a stonking collision so I’m suitably excited!
The event is emanating from the Murphy Rec Centre in Philly, PA on the 31st of May 2003
Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and CM Punk, with Ray Murrow popping in at points
Gary Michael Cappetta is backstage with BJ Whitmer. GMC asks Whitmer what he’s going to do about his recent back luck. Whitmer says he’ll get even with CM Punk at one stage and doesn’t understand what’s going on with The Prophecy and all their cheating. Christopher Daniels comes over to complain about Joe attacking Maff and tells Whitmer he was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the opener and teases bringing Whitmer into The Prophecy. Daniels challenges Joe to a fight and tells GMC to pass the message on, saying he wants an empty arena match after the show.
John Walters Vs Andy Anderson
Walters is a technical guy who would actually work pretty regularly for ROH following this, whilst Anderson is a pretty hench dude from Canada who predominantly worked in Puerto Rico. Walters actually worked some shows over in the UK around 2008 and worked a reasonably local show to me at Grand Pro Wrestling in Wigan. I think he wrestled Martin Kirby. Punk pops in and complains about Ray Murrow doing the commentary. Punk has been a treat on this show commentary wise.
The crowd is pretty dead for this match and it’s not really that good either if I’m being honest. Both men are putting the effort in, but they don’t seem to have much chemistry and the crowd is almost silent for it. It’s giving me flashbacks to the empty arena COVID era to be honest. Anderson shows some impressive power by muscling Walters up into a Splash Mountain Bomb at one stage, but the crowd still doesn’t really care.
Walters has probably looked the better of the two, getting a very nice Canadian Backbreaker into a DDT at one stage, but it only gets two. I think he called that the Hurricane DDT. Anderson gets another Splash Mountain, this time with a spin, and that’s enough for three. Surprisingly though it was Walters who became a regular, even though he lost here.
WINNER: ANDY ANDERSON
These two didn’t really click at all and the crowd was so quiet this match may as well have happened at The Emirates
We immediately cut to the next match following that.
Four Corners Survival
Jimmy Rave Vs Frankie Kazarian Vs CM Punk w/ Lucy Vs Christopher Daniels w/ Allison Danger
Rave ended up having a decentish run in TNA before sadly losing an arm and having to step away from the ring. Kazarian and Daniels are now both in AEW and at one stage were a tag team together there, as well as in latter day ROH and TNA. I’m not sure Kazarian came back that much after this one, but we’ll find out I guess. I know that Rave worked quite a bit in both ROH and CZW would eventually get a push as a Heel following a feud with AJ Styles where he tried to steal the Styles Clash.
Everyone gets a chance to do a bit with one another, and it’s mostly okay, but the big face off everyone is interested in is Punk and Daniels, with the crowd mostly siding with Daniels by the sound of things. The Punk Vs Daniels encounter is fun but we don’t get to see a lot of it as Rave tags himself in and the match breaks down with some dives. There’s been some nice wrestling and moves in this one but it’s also felt a bit disjointed and the crowd heat has been spotty as a result. I think having two guys who were a bit more over with the ROH crowd other than Rave and Kazarian might have helped.
Rave has probably looked better than Kazarian here actually, who for some reason has just seemed a bit off his game. Some of Rave’s strikes are pretty snug, so you can kind of understand why they asked him back as that sort of thing fits in quite well here. Raven actually looks really good here, probably the most impressive guy in the match to be honest, and it succeeds in getting him over with the crowd. This is how you earn yourself a job.
The two valets eventually go at it in the ring, but Punk and Daniels break that up, leading into a series of roll ups from Daniels for two. Punk and Daniels do another nice bit together actually, with some slick counters and some good action, but again it doesn’t last that long before it gets interrupted. They’ve done a great job teasing that eventual singles match for when it’s time to deliver it. Eventually Daniels catches Kazarian with Last Rites (Roll of the Dice) and that’s enough for the three count.
WINNER: CHRISTOPHER DANIELS
Some good bits but there were some awkward moments where it didn’t really work for me. The win keeps Daniels cooking though, with his eventual Title shot coming down the line
Daniels grabs a mic post-match and says he’s still looking for people to join The Prophecy, offering a place to all three men in this match. Kazarian and Rave leave before answering, but Punk remains in the ring and seems to be thinking it over. Punk seems to think that Daniels is afraid of the Second City Saints and that’s why Daniels wants him to join, but he says he will join if Daniels shakes his hand. Oh ho, that’s how you call a bluff right there kids! Daniels teases that he will, but then says no. This was a good angle with strong promo work from both men.
Special K (Jody Fleisch and Slim J) w/ Slugga Vs The Backseat Boyz (Trent Acid and Johnny Kashmere)
We’ve seen Jody a few times in these now, whilst Slim J was mostly a young spot monkey at the time who is still wrestling to this day and even worked for ROH in 2020 at one stage. The Backseat’s were a team that usually worked CZW but they’ve been taking more ROH bookings in 2003. Jody actually shakes hands despite being in Special K, but Slim J doesn’t. Special K won a Scramble on a previous show to set this one up, as The Backseat’s had already left the building for another booking and said they’d face the winner.
Jody looks really good here and does some nice stuff with Acid, leading to the Central American Stand-off to a positive reaction from the crowd. Slim J is super skinny here, but he’d beef up a bit as he got older. Jody is slender too, but he also looks athletic, whilst The Backseat’s are looking muscular and in good shape. They’d probably get a look on Dark Elevation these days actually, although I don’t think NXT would touch them due to Acid’s reported attitude issues.
Slim J being so thin allows The Backseat’s to fling him around with ease at certain points and he takes some impressive bumps as a result. The Backseat’s get over with some of the crowd; with their trademark double teams getting some good reactions. Special K nearly kills Acid with a couple of botched double teams at one stage, and then Jody nearly knees him right in the face with a cross body off the top. This has been a rough night for Trent since Special K took over.
They probably should have just done this as a tornado match actually, as once Special K have actually tried to work some heat it’s kind of the boil, as really only Jody is capable of working a proper match at this point. Acid is also pretty hard to get sympathy on due to his cocky character, although Kashmere does a decent hot tag segment and the girls in the crowd are in to the idea of The Backseat’s fighting back. The terrifying head drops keep coming, with Kashmere seemingly knocking Slim J out cold with a modified powerbomb. It only gets two though.
The finishing sequence is messy as all heck, with moves being sloppy and people getting in the way when they shouldn’t be. It reaches a point where I just want them to take it home before someone gets hurt, as they’ve just lost control of this match and Slim J looks like he genuinely needs some medical assistance, with his eyes being all glazed over. Jody then increases the terror by bringing a scaffold into play, not unlike the one Vic Grimes and New Jack used at Living Dangeorusly 2000. Thankfully the footing is a bit more secure and it leads to stereo moonsaults from Special K off the scaffold onto The Backseat’s.
Jody is selling his knee big following that, and I’m not sure if that’s legit or not, but it wouldn’t shock me if it was real. Why on Earth would you do such a big spot in a throw away match like this? It’s not even like these two teams are feuding and you can justify doing the big spot. Plus, even if they were, it’s the Heels doing it. Acid then nullifies it all anyway by kicking out back inside the ring. Why even do that if it wasn’t going to be the finish? Jody can barely stand, and can’t even climb the ropes, as I genuinely don’t know if this is a real injury or not. Its one heck of a sell job if isn’t. Jody being hurt allows The Backseat’s to get their T-Gimmick finisher on Slim J for the win.
WINNERS: THE BACKSEAT BOYS
I really didn’t like that at all. The dive off the scaffold was spectacular, but it never really felt like they “earnt” it due to this just being a random match with only one segment of build and the dive ended up meaning nothing in the long run either
We’re so strapped for time that we don’t even get to see The Backseat’s celebrate until it’s time for the next match.
ROH World Title
Champ: Samoa Joe Vs Homicide w/ Julius Smokes
Joe defended the belt in England prior to this show in order to make the ROH Title a World Title. This match is just fantastic, with them doing some nice stuff on the mat to start before fighting outside the ring, with neither man holding back, including when Joe gives Homicide an overhead belly to belly suplex on the floor before following up with a Face Wash into the sheet metal barricades at ring side. That looked brutal and Homicide smartly sells it big, acting like he’s been knocked out by it. Joe quite literally destroyed the metal there, and Homicide is now bleeding.
Joe follows with more suplexes back inside, as Homicide desperately tries to fight back. In a great moment Homicide tries to throw a mule kick, but Joe just sidesteps it and goes back to another suplex. The timing and selling was absolutely on point there from both men. Homicide fights back with a swinging DDT and then sets up a table against the railings outside before following with a flip dive, sending Joe and mostly himself through the table in the process. That was another wild spot and the crowd loved it.
See, I don’t mind them doing big spots like that here because it’s the Main Event and they’ve already established that Homicide is willing to do anything to win, so him introducing a table makes way more sense than Special K just randomly deciding it was scaffold time. Joe fights back inside with a choke hold back inside, and in a bad ass moment his chewing gum falls out of his mouth but he just catches it and puts it back in before cinching the hold in again. Low Ki joins us as Homicide tries to fight back, trading some verbal barbs with Joe in the process.
In another great moment in the match, Joe knees Homicide in the face and Homicide teases that he’s out, but Ki slaps him in the face to fire him up, leading to Homicide smiling and making the big comeback. That was great and the crowd loved it. We hit the finishing stretch following that, the crowd behind Homicide and the action continuing to be great. These two guys are just clobbering one another and it’s fabulous, with Homicide SPIKING Joe with a Brain Buster at one stage, which leads to Joe doing the big knocked out sell on the floor.
A gaggle of refs come down to check on Joe following that, with Joe not moving on the floor. They tease that Homicide might win via TKO, but the referee decides the match will continue and Homicide puts hoe into the ring for a two count, which didn’t really get much of a reaction. That surprised me actually, as I thought that would get a pop. The air has kind of gone out of the crowd since that knock out tease actually. Homicide sets Joe up top but gets distracted by Ki and Smokes arguing outside, which allows Joe to bring Homicide down with the Muscle Buster for three. I should bloody hope so!
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SAMOA JOE
The match died a bit at the end, but up to that point it was an excellent bout, as both men were going heck for leather and the action was top notch stuff. They basically saved the show really
Joe talks some more smack to Ki following that and his left eye is swelling up, so that sell job may have been partially legit when he was out on the floor. Homicide is devastated as he felt he had Joe and blew it.
Joe cuts a promo backstage following that, saying his belt is coveted by everyone and that people will put their lives on the line for it. Now it’s time for the war with The Prophecy to end.
Daniels and Allison Danger are waiting in the ring for Joe, and Joe answers, leading to both men going at it in the ring until the ring crew runs down to break it up.
Daniels cuts a promo back in his locker room, where he challenges The Group to a six man tag at the show on the 14th of June in Boston. This was a good fired up promo.
Homicide Vs Joe is the only match you really need to go out of your way to see here and I’d be shocked if it wasn’t on some sort of a compilation that would be easier to get hold of than this show. I will say that I really enjoyed the angle advancement here, with a lot of solid promos both in the ring and backstage. It perhaps verged a little bit into overkill after a certain point, feeling a bit like those 3 hour Russ-Ara shows from late 1999 where there was so much going on that it eventually wore me out as a viewer, but I’m genuinely interested in a lot of the storylines and that’s something to be commended in a more work rate focused company.
This show as a whole doesn’t come recommended but the Main Event was excellent.
Next week we’ll do part one of Night of the Grudges from Boston when ROH Wednesday’s continue!