Mike Reviews – ROH Night Of The Grudges (14th June 2003) – Part One

I think about two people on the whole Blog actually read these things, but I’d probably be watching these shows just for fun anyway so I might as well review them too.

The event is emanating from Cambridge, Massachusetts on the 14th of June 2003

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and Ray Murrow

Paul London cuts a promo to start us out, where he talks about all the great matches he’s had in ROH and then hypes up his match with AJ Styles later on. This was a decent promo, as London continues to tease a possible Heel turn.

AJ Styles and Alexis Laree cut a promo in response. Styles is now the NWA Heavyweight Champ as well as being ROH Tag Champ. He acknowledges that London has defeated him previously, but that was in a Triple Threat match. Tonight it’s one on one though. That was a decent promo from AJ as well, and he came over a bit heelish too actually.

Opening Match
The Carnage Crew (Loc and DeVito) Vs The Christopher Street Connection (Buff E and Mase) w/ Arial

I have no idea who Arial is and she doesn’t even have a Cagematch.net profile. Carnage Crew are angry working class brawlers whilst CSC are wacky comedy gay guys. The crowd seems mostly okay with The CSC actually, and treats them as babyfaces, which is interesting as you don’t think of early 00’s wrestling fans as being the most tolerant bunch of people you could find.

The CSC shine on The Carnage Crew early on with their comedy gay antics, but eventually The Carnage Crew decides they cannot sanction this buffoonery anymore and cut off Mase with a nice double team wheelbarrow swinging neck breaker. Mase sells the heat well and The Carnage Crew mostly stick to brawling, although a double team move of some kind seems to go awry at one stage.

Tony DeVito is a really good hand and probably would have been in NXT were it around at the time, as he’s a solid guy you can stick in the mid-card. Eventually Buff E gets the hot tag and does a pretty good hot tag segment actually. More gay antics follow, with the crowd still reacting pretty positively to it, although they stop to make out with one another at one stage which draws some boos. Eventually The Carnage Crew power through though and DeVito wins it with a Moonsault.

WINNERS: THE CARNAGE CREW
RATING: **1/2

Decent opener

The Carnage Crew continue to put the beats on their opponents post-match and then attack poor Arial for good measure with a second rope Spiked Piledriver. Some of the crowd even chants “one more time”. Ah yes, there’s the 2003 wrestling crowd I was expecting. The Carnage Crew tease doing it again but then don’t to draw Heel heat.

Match Two
Chance Beckett Vs Matt Stryker

Beckett is a Hart Family trainee who mostly wrestled in Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling, whilst Stryker is one of ROH’s main resident pure wrestlers. This one is mostly fought on the mat, and it’s good. If technical wrestling isn’t your thing then you probably won’t enjoy it, but if you like watching guys trading holds and trying to work a body part then this will probably scratch that itch for you.

The crowd mostly sticks with the match and enjoys some of the counters, with Beckett being the more heelish of the two wrestlers. Things pick up a bit as we hit the closing sections, with both men going for more strikes and high impact moves in the quest to pick up the win. It’s good action and the crowd remains into it for the most part. They start doing the annoying “TWO” thing after two counts though, which was a thing for a bit in 2003.

Stryker shows some good fire and tries to put Beckett away with a Figure Four, but Becket counters to a modified Texas Cloverleaf, which is a neat bit of storytelling as another wrestler (Chad Collyer) has already defeated Stryker with that hold twice so it shows that Beckett has done his research. Stryker manages to survive that though and gets Beckett in the Stryker Lock for the win.

WINNER: MATT STRYKER
RATING: ***

Good match. I’m not sure if it earned Beckett a job though

We get the handshake post-match, even though Beckett teases not doing it at first.

Match Three
John Walters Vs Chris Sabin Vs Justin Credible Vs Homicide w/ Julius Smokes

Walters is the hometown hero and is mostly a technician. Chris Sabin would go on to greater fame in Impact Wrestling, where he won their World Title. Credible is fresh in from WWE and super kicks Angeldust of Special K so that he can steal his place in the match. He would appear to have the Prong version of “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” back here as opposed to the Grinspoon one. Homicide had a hard fought battle with Samoa Joe over the ROH World Title on the previous event.

Gary Michael Cappetta interviews Credible in the ring prior to the match, where he cuts a babyface promo to play into the cheers and “EC-Dub” chants from the fans, saying he’s going to make this match just incredible. I know some people like to make jokes about Credible and rag on him for his ECW run, but goodness me did he get an absolute MONSTER pop for that entrance and promo. The ROH crowd treated him like a megastar right out of the blocks.

Walters does some really nice technical stuff in the early going, with Homicide holding his own pretty well with him for the most part and it’s really good action. Sabin is making his ROH debut here and he looks good. He also looks pretty big from a size perspective, which is not something you tend to think of with him because he was usually an X-Division guy in Impact/TNA outside of his singles push in the World Title division.

The wrestling in general is pretty good in this one, with everyone bringing their own attributes and style to the match. Walters is mostly pure wrestling, Credible mostly does brawling, Sabin brings speed and Homicide does a little bit of everything. It’s a one fall wins it bought, with all four guys getting a chance to do something and get themselves over. We of course get a barrage of dives, with even Credible busting one out, and that leads to some nicely executed near falls which leads to Homicide tapping Walters out with a Step-over Toe-hold Face-lock.

WINNER: HOMICIDE
RATING: ***1/2

Homicide shakes hands with Walters post-match to put him over even though he lost in his hometown, and that leads to Walters getting cheered.

The camera follows Homicide backstage, where Low Ki again tells him that he needs to stop bringing in street people like Smokes into ROH.

Match Four
No DQ
The Second City Saints (CM Punk and Colt Cabana) Vs Raven and BJ Whitmer

Punk and Raven are feuding, with Whitmer coming to help Raven out because he and Punk have an issue going on as well due to Punk giving him a German Suplex off the apron through a table in a match they had. Punk of course cuts the big pre-match pro-straight edge promo to rile up the crowd, and as usual it works a treat. Raven retorts with a promo of his own, saying he made the mistake of wrestling Punk previously whilst he was in a good mood, but he’s come into this match miserable, which is bad news for The Saints. Yeah, CM Punk and Raven are both good promos. In other news, water is wet.

They work this more like a straight tag match to start, even though it has the No DQ rules, and it’s good stuff for the most part. Raven shows some good fire when he stomps a mud-hole in Punk whilst Whitmer looks good on the mat. Eventually Punk brings an end to this wrestling nonsense by braining Whitmer with a chair shot, which leads to Raven doing similar to Cabana before chasing Punk around and busting him open with some shots from a metal bin. Whitmer would appear to have bladed from the chair shot as well, as this has now become the wild brawl I think we were all expecting it to be.

Raven does a fun spot where he gets a fan to hold one of the bins and then flings Punk face first into it, leading to the gory visual of Punk’s blood being all over the bin. Everyone fights into the crowd and they continue to have a fun wild brawl. Strangely when we get back to the ring we get a segment where The Saints work some heat on Whitmer, complete with tags and whatnot, which just seems strange after they’ve been brawling all over the place. Either do the brawl or do the traditional tag match, this halfway house approach doesn’t really work.

Whitmer does sell well during the heat and The Saints work it well, but it just feels really out of place that they’re working this sort of match when the match has these stips and they’ve already done the brawling. Why wouldn’t Raven just come in and attack them, it’s not like he can be DQ’ed for doing so. Raven does do a very good hot tag segment when given the chance though, with the Saints bumping and feeding for it all perfectly. Raven doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being a very good wrestler sometimes. His timing and execution was underrated.

Raven does appear to finally have Punk pinned with a DDT, but Colt Cabana pulls him out before the pin can be made. This allows Punk to give Whitmer a chair assisted Shining Wizard and drape Cabana on top of him, but that only gets a two so Cabana has to add a Colt-45 to pick up the win. I do love how they’re pretty much just doing Raven/Dreamer again at this stage, but this time it’s Raven in the Dreamer role as he just can’t manage to get the pin on Punk and Punk keeps managing to contrive ways to keep winning.

WINNERS: THE SECOND CITY SAINTS
RATING: ***

The switch between tag match to brawl back to tag match was pretty jarring, but the work itself was good and this is definitely a hot feud right now

Punk laughs maniacally at once again being able to deny Raven before doing a cheap post-match attack for good measure. Punk eventually puts Raven through a table with a big leg drop, and it looked UGLY, as in Punk just LANDED on Raven full bore. Horrendous.

That’s intermission and a good time to end part one. I’ll hopefully see you next week for the concluding part as ROH Wednesdays continue!