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

Let’s finish this one off. When we last left things in Part One, Justin Credible had made his ROH debut and CM Punk had once again gotten the better of Raven in their ongoing feud. Later on in this concluding part we have a match between AJ Styles and Paul London, as well as The Group taking on The Prophecy.

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

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and Ray Murrow

We join things in intermission, where Gary Michael Cappetta is interviewing Matt Stryker, who defeated Chance Beckett in Part One. He jokes about his unibrow and then hypes up his upcoming matches with Tom Carter and Chad Collyer. Decent promo actually and Stryker came across as pretty likeable due to having a bit of a sense of humour about himself.

Prince Nana interrupts GMC whilst he tries to send back to the ring, and cuts a good cocky promo about how he’s going to move up in the rankings. He says he’s going to have a partner to watch his back as things go on.

Match Five
Diablo Santiago w/ Oman Tortuga Vs Prince Nana

Santiago and Tortuga are members of the ring crew and have recently been trying to work their way onto the main card, whilst Nana is a spoiled African royal who was probably best known at this stage for getting KO’ed by Low Ki on one of ROH’s earliest shows. He would eventually move into more of a managerial role with his Embassy stable.

Santiago actually looks decent here, getting some nice Mr. Perfect styled rolling neck snaps. However, Nana replies by squishing him with a butt-butt in the corner before getting a big elevated DDT for three.

WINNER: PRINCE NANA
RATING: N/A

Too quick to rate really, but what we got wasn’t terrible of anything

Nana mockingly shakes Santiago’s hand following that, leading to Tortuga checking on him. Nana lays him out as well for good measure. No one is really buying Nana as a bad ass sadly, so that was kind of a waste.

Match Six
Special K (Dixie and Mikey Whipwreck) w/ Becky Bayless Vs The Spanish Announce Team (Joel y Jose Maximo)

The rest of Special K are at ringside as well but I can’t be arsed listing them all so we’ll just go off cagematch.net’s listing. Mikey actually trained Joel and Jose, adding an extra element to this one. This isn’t a Scramble match but it’s still mostly just a collection of MOVEZ, being that it’s Special K Vs The SAT and all. The moves do mostly all look cool at least, although it does get pretty sloppy at points.

The match probably goes too long to be honest, as they are trying to make it “epic” because of the feud between the two groups, but you can only do this spot intensive styled match with all the big moves to a certain point until you just become numb to it. If they’d focused more on doing the proper tag formula and really working some heat then the big moves might have meant more. Eventually The SAT get Dixie all to themselves and pin him with the old Steiner Brothers Electric Chair/DDT move for three.

WINNERS: THE SAT
RATING: *3/4

Was fun at points but it was also kind of sloppy, with not much holding the match together outside of some hot moves

Special K does the post-match beat down, so I guess this feud will continue. The Carnage Crew then runs down to attack Mikey though, as he cost them a match at one stage. I’m not sure if this is a babyface turn for The Crew or if this is all SHADES OF GREY BRO. Justin Credible super kicks Mikey and he would appear to be a new member of The Carnage Crew. Hey all three guys used to work in ECW together so it makes sense to team them up I guess.

Coming soon is The Field of Honour, a kind of G1 styled Round Robin tournament if my memory serves correct.

Semi-Main
#1 Contender Match for ROH World Title
Paul London Vs AJ Styles w/ Alexis Laree

London wears a headband down to the ring to mock AJ in a funny bit of douchery. We get lots of nice technical wrestling to start with some interesting character stuff as well, as both men take it in turns to throw a sly kick at one another leading to a terse handshake on both occasions as they try to keep their cool. You can tell from watching that the tension is going to eventually boil over and it’s entertaining to guess when it might happen.

It’s fun to see them working character and storytelling elements into the match rather than just trading holds. The wrestling itself is good enough to be entertaining all by itself, but the additional elements make for a richer viewing experience, and the crowd is into the story being told. It’s a good example of how you can advance and tell a story through just matches themselves sometimes when you do it correctly.

Things do eventually get more aggressive, with both men throwing strikes before adding some big dropkicks, with AJ getting a missile one off the top and London getting a flying one through to the ropes to AJ when he sells outside of the ring. They shot that beautifully as well, as it seemed like London quite literally came out of nowhere to deliver and AJ sold it big. If this were WWE we probably would have had 25 different camera angles between AJ hitting the floor and London delivering the move, and the moment would have had much less of an impact.

Both men continue to fight aggressively outside the ring, with both of them selling well and the crowd being really into the action. When they get back inside the ring, AJ is favouring his leg and London is selling his arm, which seems to have been cut up somehow during the fight on the floor. London targets the appendage, working it over with some nice stuff whilst AJ sells it all well, as the crowd continues to react really well to everything.

Eventually both men start throwing stiffer strikes and sweat is literally flying as a result, especially when AJ turns London inside out with a clothesline at one stage. That looked and sounded BRUTAL, but I’m sure most of it was just a very convincing sell job from London. There are some great near falls too, with the crowd continuing to be super-in to all the action and the work from both men continuing to nail all of their offence.

In a great sequence they tenaciously fight over a Superplex, with London eventually fighting AJ off and then giving him a Shooting Star Press onto the leg before following up with a Figure Four for a great submission tease. Psychology! AJ manages to make the ropes to break the hold, but the fans were totally buying that. There’s a funny moment where they are just throwing down again and someone in the crowd yells “wrestling is supposed to be FAKE” which just sums up this audience sometimes. Some of them just have to try and be too cool for school.

We get another payoff to the leg work as AJ manages to get the Styles Clash, but he hurts is leg in the process and that delays his pin fall attempt, leading to London being able to kick out. I love stuff like that. They end up doing a double pin finish, as AJ gets a German Suplex but his leg gives out, leading to each man pinning the other. That’s not one of my favourite ways to do a draw in a wrestling match, but it does pay off all the leg work so I approve on that front.

WINNER: DRAW FOLLOWING DOUBLE PIN
RATING: ****

This not only had good wrestling but it also had a hot crowd and told a really good story throughout. The double pin was a bit of a flat ending, but it paid off a match-long story of London working the leg, with the leg giving out being the cause for the double pin, so I can appreciate that

Both men shake hands following that and a fan yells that the match was worth the price of admission alone, and he’s probably right.

Main Event
Losing Stable Must Disband
The Group (ROH World Champ Samoa Joe, CW Anderson and Michael Shane) Vs The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels, Dan Maff and Donovan Morgan) w/ Allison Danger

The Group was actually formed by Steve Corino, but he’s not even here in the climatic bout that will decide its fate. That kind of gives away the finish doesn’t it really, especially as Daniels is here to captain his team? The actual wrestling is good in this one, although I’m not especially sure as to who it is we’re supposed to be cheering for here. Steve Corino is both a Heel and a jerk, so his faction winning wouldn’t be good, but The Prophecy are also Heels who want to bring down the Code of Honour, so I’m not sure them winning would be especially good either.

You can tell on commentary that they are already trying to distance Joe from The Group, as “Lovey” says he doesn’t need them because he’s such an honourable Champion. The match is kind of just guys doing stuff, with the crowd not getting that into it as they aren’t really sure who they want to win. The stuff that is being done is good, especially a section where Shane and Daniels do a segment together, but the story is kind of confusing and the crowd doesn’t seem to have a preference on who they would like to win.

This probably need to be a wild brawl to be honest, especially as one of the stable’s existence is on the line, and a crazy fight would have likely garnered more of a reaction from the crowd because the Heel/Heel nature of the match wouldn’t matter as much. It also feels kind of early to be killing one of these groups off as they only just started feuding with one another. I don’t think it really started properly until March and we’re only in June now. This match kind of whiffs of them trying to kill the storyline off because they’re not happy with how it is going.

The Group does essentially work some heat on Maff at one stage, but the crowd doesn’t really get behind him or treat it as a real heat segment, so it doesn’t really work sadly. Maff does sell it all well though, with the idea being that he has a jaw injury and The Group is targeting it. The crowd do finally react a bit to the Daniels hot tag, and Daniels looks good whilst running wild. Things break down a bit following that with good action as everyone gets to come in and do something.

There’s a great spot at one stage where Shane comes off one turnbuckle with an elbow to Morgan whilst Maff comes off the opposing one with a head butt to CW. They do some nicely timed near falls, with guys only just making it in to the ring to break up pins, leading to some good drama. The crowd isn’t biting quite as much as you’d like, but they do respond to the big moves and pin attempts. They do a shock ending as well, as Maff catches Joe with a flash pinning hold to win the match and possibly set himself up for a Title shot.

WINNERS: THE PROPHECY
RATING: ***

I wasn’t really feeling this to start, but once they made it clear that The Prophecy (or mostly just Daniels to be honest) was the team you should probably want to win I got into a bit more. I’m still not sure exactly why I should have wanted them to win outside of just being plain cooler than The Group, but at least they finally settled into the formula and worked it well for the most part. The wrestling in general was good for the most part too, with Joe and Daniels being the stand outs, although I thought CW had a good night as well. The finish was well done also and did a good job of elevating Maff by giving him the pin

Joe is shocked that he got pinned whilst Maff is almost as shocked that he won!

There are some clips from the earlier Showcase event now, as Jimmy Cash faces Lit of Special, with Cash winning off a big powerbomb. Dunn and Marcos teamed with Slyk Wagner Brown to take on Special K, with Special K getting the win. That second match was pretty much shown in full and would have probably made a solid edition to the main card. Good action and some fine selling from Dunn and Marcos.

The Prophecy gloats about running The Group out of ROH so easily. Daniels even says that Maff deserves a Title shot now, even though Daniels himself wants the belt. That’s very magnanimous of him I must say. Before Daniels can leave though, Raven asks him to be his tag team partner on the next show against Punk and Cabana. Daniels is intrigued and accepts.

Samoa Joe tells The Prophecy that he can fight them off all on his own and doesn’t need any backup. Joe lays down the challenge for Maff to face him on the next show. This was a great intense promo from Joe.

Special K finally gets the sound guys to set up a rave for them, as they have Slugger with them to threaten them. The Carnage Crew attacks them mid-rave however though and cut a promo. Justin Credible said being in WWE made him so miserable and angry that now he’s going to take it out on everyone else, hence joining The Carnage Crew makes sense.

In Conclusion

London/Styles is enough for an instant thumbs up all by itself, but the under card had some good matches too and the Main Event ended up being good through sheer force of will.

Recommended show

I’ll hopefully see you all next week for another ROH Wednesday!