Mike Reviews – ROH Wrestlerave (28th June 2003) – Concluding Part

Welcome to another ROH Wednesday!

Today we finish off Wrestlerave, with the Main Event scheduled to be Homicide taking on Trent Acid, whilst Christopher Daniels and Raven team up to face CM Punk and Colt Cabana on the undercard.

The event is emanating from Philly, PA on the 28th of June 2003

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and Ray Murrow

Gary Michael Cappetta is backstage with Homicide and Julius Smokes during intermission. Homicide he’s going to bring a bunch of weapons later tonight for his match with Trent Acid. They’ve apparently had issues for six years. GMC stirs trouble by mentioning Low Ki, leading to Smokes cutting a promo on Ki in response. This was a decent segment that furthered the storyline between Homicide/Smokes/Ki

Match Six
Alex Shelley Vs Jimmy Jacobs Vs BJ Whitmer Vs Tony Mamaluke

Jacobs was doing a berserker gimmick at the time, whilst Shelley was the cheeky mat specialist. This is the usual ROH four corner match, with two guys waiting on the apron for the tag whilst two others go at it in the ring. There’s some really good wrestling in this one, with Shelley and Jacobs getting a chance to go at it with one another, with both looking good in the process. Whitmer is the biggest guy in the match by far, so he gets to do the power spots whilst the other three mostly work it on the mat.

Jacobs’ wacky gimmick was a lot of fun at the time, and he’d even occasionally don furry boots to really sell it all. I always find it hard to recap these four corner matches because each one is essentially the same with everyone getting in there to do some nice wrestling until it’s time to hit the finishing sequence. It’s kind of like the Scramble matches where they do so many that you kind of run out of new takes to have on it all. It’s usually always good but there’s not a lot to differentiate one of these from the other outside of signature moves. The formula is usually always the same.

That’s not intended as a knock or anything, it’s just an observation that, from a review perspective, there’s not a lot I feel I can say about these matches after watching quite a few of them over the course of reviewing these ROH shows. We of course hit Finisher Madness™ after a certain point, with everyone coming in to hit a big move only for someone else to come in to break up the pin/submission so that the bout can continue. The finish is a bit interesting though, as Whitmer pins Jacobs with a suplex just before Mamaluke is able to make Shelley submit.

WINNER: BJ WHITMER
RATING: ***1/4

Some nice wrestling, some hot moves and some character work combined to make this the usual Four Corners match from this era to be honest. Fun to watch but not much to really say about it outside of that

Mamaluke doesn’t kick off following the result and seems to just accept it, which took me a bit by surprise actually. I thought he’d be pissed off.

Match Seven
No DQ
The Second City Saints (CM Punk and Colt Cabana) w/ Lucy Vs Christopher Daniels and Raven w/ Allison Danger

Punk and Cabana entering to Cabana’s theme whilst Punk is disgusted by it all is always amusing. Punk and Raven is one of the big feuds in the whole company right now and Daniels doesn’t like Punk either, so it makes sense for him to be backing Raven up here. Daniels is pretty much working this one as a straight up babyface. Punk cuts a scathing promo on Raven to start and begins to reveal why he hates Raven so much by mentioning his dad but Cabana stops him.

Daniels and Raven do the classic babyface shine, including the old school rowboat spot at one stage, which is a bit out of place in ROH but I’m amused by it so I’ll let it slide. Daniels misses a charge in the corner at one stage though and that leads to a Punk chair shot, which causes Daniels to do a blade job. SCS work Daniels over following that, targeting the cut especially, and they do a good job at being vicious Heels whilst Daniels does an equally good job selling it all.

Punk is also bleeding as a result of something, so much so that it starts to stain his hair. Punk does some fantastic maniacal facial expressions whilst working the heat on Daniels, and the Heels keep it pretty simple in general, mostly just working over Daniels’ cut and general head area. Daniels eventually manages to catch Cabana with a reverse DDT and makes the big tag to Raven, who runs wild with a great hot tag segment.

Raven is a surprisingly great babyface considering you mostly think of this character as a Heel. Punk and Cabana do a great job bumping, feeding and selling for him too, which only makes the segment all the better. Eventually the ref takes a bump and isn’t there to count the pin when Raven DDT’s Cabana. We get Lucy and Danger going at it, with Danger getting Lucy with a DDT, only for Punk to then kick her in the face.

Daniels gives Punk The Angel’s Wings as revenge for that, but Cabana takes him out with a Colt 45 and things continue to break down, with Punk choking Raven out with a chain, which is enough for yet another Punk victory as they just continue to keep having Punk get the better of Raven in this feud. Raven hasn’t lost any heat from it though, which is kind of amazing.

WINNER: SECOND CITY SAINTS
RATING: ***1/4

Another good match in a series of them, as this advanced the story nicely and featured some good classic tag team formula

The Saints do another beat down following that before leaving. Raven and Daniels eventually recover and check on one another, which surprised me as I thought Daniels might turn on him actually. Raven cuts a promo in the ring, saying there will be retribution for this and challenges Punk to a Dog Collar match.

Punk cuts probably one of the best promos of his career backstage, where he reveals Raven because Raven reminds him of his alcoholic dad. This was just fantastic stuff from Punk, and Cabana deserves credit for how he reacted to it.

Semi-Main
NWA Heavyweight Title
Champ: AJ Styles Vs Chris Sabin

Both these guys work for NWA:TNA as well as ROH, so they’ve managed to sanction an NWA Title defence. AJ Styles even enters to Ric Flair’s classic theme to get it over. The wrestling here is very slick, with both guys not only being good on the mat but also being good at doing high-flying spots as well, leading to a fast paced exchange of holds and counters. No one really plays the role of a Heel and both men mostly trade momentum throughout the bout, with both man getting a chance to control things at different points in the match.

I think both of these guys were actually Heels in NWA:TNA at the time, with Sabin being the X Division Champ at the time of this show, but AJ Styles is seen as an ROH regular by the crowd, so they’re not really going to boo him, especially as he had “come good” by winning the NWA Title, and Sabin didn’t really work as a Heel in ROH. To be honest I would have had Sabin work as the Heel here just for this match, as the heat is a little bit lacking due to there being no real clear Face/Heel divide. The wrestling continues to be good though and the crowd responds to that.

They don’t do too wild a finishing stretch, as Styles catches Sabin with the Styles Clash after an exchange and they take it home there. To be honest, it felt like the crowd was starting to get a bit tired, so taking it home when they did wasn’t the worst idea and the match itself was fun up to that point. It definitely felt like there was a higher gear it could have kicked into though.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: AJ STYLES
RATING: ***3/4

Great match that could have probably gone to another level if they kicked it up an extra notch and the crowd had been hotter for the match in general

Styles and Sabin shake hands following that, which leads into Styles cutting a promo in the ring post-match. Styles puts over the NWA Title’s lineage and says he respects the fans as much as he respects the belt.

Gary Michael Cappetta finds Low Ki backstage and tells him about Julius Smokes wanting to meet up with Low Ki following the show. Low Ki seems okay with that.

Main Event
Fight Without Honour
Trent Acid Vs Homicide w/ Julius Smokes

Acid attacked Homicide on a previous show, so this match is Homicide’s chance at getting some payback in a match with no rules. Acid jumps Homicide during his entrance and the fight is on right away, with Acid getting a crazy Asai Moonsault onto Homicide, banging his legs on the metal railings as a result. They follow that up with some actual wrestling back inside, and it’s good for the most part. Acid was someone who was spotty but could have a good match with the right guy.

Things soon devolve back into a brawl though, with chairs, weapons and tables all getting involved. They actually set a ladder up between the ring and railings, which leads to Acid giving Homicide a rough looking DDT onto it. That did not look fun. Some of the spots are just brutal looking in general, including one where Homicide sets a chair up in a sitting position and then Brain Busters Acid onto it for a two count.

Acid’s partner Johnny Kashmere joins us to help him out, which leads to Kashmere and Smokes fighting to the back, leaving us with Acid and Homicide one on one to see us out. We hit the near falls, with Homicide snapping off some really nice moves including a Northern Lights Bomber at one stage. Of course this isn’t going home until a table gets broken, and one does indeed get broken when Homicide gives Acid a Diamond Cutter off the top rope through a table on the floor which gets  one of the first “DANGEROUS!!!” yelps from “Lovey”.

Can’t say I don’t agree with him in this instance though, as that looked all kinds of terrifying. Annoyingly that’s only a two count back inside and the crowd barely responds to the two count, because how the heck do you even top something like that? Both men trade Yakuza Kicks, with Acid getting the last one for a two count, which does succeed in getting a pop from the crowd at least. Homicide timed his kick out perfectly as well.

Acid gets the WrestleMania Super-Duper Emergency Ladder and climbs it for something, but Homicide shoves the ladder to send Acid tumbling all the way to the floor onto the railings, which just looked like it was ZERO FUN. Homicide is limping too, which could either be a great sell job on his part or he could just actually be hurt. Either is possible to be honest. Homicide goes for the Brain Breaker, but Acid counters it into a sloppy roll up and that’s enough for three.

WINNER: TRENT ACID
RATING: **

This was a decent brawl for a bit, but then it just got silly and the finish sadly didn’t really work

Homicide offers a handshake following that, but the lights go out before Acid can accept as Special K join us for a rave. They put Acid and Kashmere through a table and then celebrate, setting up a feud between Special K and The Backseat Boyz. The Special K gimmick was actually a decent example of ROH having their finger on the pulse when it came to youth culture and it was also a gimmick that you’d never see in WWE due to explicit references to drug taking.

Jim Cornette cuts a promo from OVW about how he’s coming to ROH in August to look for the next big thing.

The Carnage Crew cut a promo on Mikey Whipwreck and then challenge the Texas Wrestling Academy for a hardcore match at the next show in July.

Special K continue their rave in between all of these promos by the way.

Samoa Joe cuts a promo on Paul London, as they’ll be facing off for the belt in July. This was the usual good intense promo from Joe.

GMC is trying to check in on the situation with Low Ki and Julius Smokes, but some dude yells at him to leave.

In Conclusion

This one is pretty much a thumbs in the middle for me really. Lots of solid matches and some good angle advancement, but there isn’t really a blow away match that you need to go out of your way to see. It’s not a bad show but there are better ones out there from this period.

Mild recommendation