Mike Reviews – ROH Death Before Dishonour (19th July 2003) – Concluding Part

It’s time for another ROH Wednesday!

Let’s finish off this show today, with Samoa Joe, Paul London, Raven, CM Punk, AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy all scheduled to appear.

The event is emanating from Elizabeth, New Jersey on the 19th of July 2003

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and Ray Murrow

Gary Michael Cappetta is backstage with Low Ki, who defeated Deranged of Special K back in Part One. Low Ki says he’ll keep teaching Special K lessons if they don’t follow the Code of Honour, and then targets Danny Maff for a match down the line, which I believe will happen in August. He refuses to tell GMC about what happened between him and Homicide on the Wrestlerave show.

We get a video recap of Special K beating up The Backseat Boyz at Wrestlerave.

Match Seven
Scramble Eight Man Tag
Special K (Angel Dust, Dixie, Hydro and Mikey Whipwreck) Vs Joel Maximo, Jose Maximo, Trent Acid and Johnny Kashmere

Both The SAT and Backseat Boyz hate Special K, so they’ve aligned here to take them on together. This is a Scramble match, so it’s a cacophony of spots, with someone being able to come in once one of their partners leave the ring. It’s a match that is light on psychology, and at points it looks like Special K actually have five people on their team and not four, which just adds to the chaotic nature of things. I can get why some would hate this, but we’ve mostly had brawls and technical wrestling on this show so far, so a wild spot fest is kind of a palate cleanser. Eventually some babyface miscommunication leads to Mikey pinning Acid with a Whippersnapper.

WINNERS: SPECIAL K
RATING: **1/2

Typical Scramble madness. I enjoyed it but I could see others not liking it

The SAT and The Backseat Boyz are gutted following that defeat, and The Backseat Boyz seemingly go Heel by beating The SAT up.

Match Eight
Krazy K Vs Joey Matthews Vs Jeff Hardy

Krazy K was one of Hardy’s trainees so he got him a booking here, whilst Matthews is one of his friends. Jeff had recently left WWE following a period where he had basically lost his passion for wrestling, even though WWE was booking him to wrestle the likes of Chris Jericho and The Rock. The ROH fans decide they don’t appreciate him getting a booking here and boo him out of the building as a result, even though him being here helped draw a decent house and there are some people in the crowd who have come expressly to see him.

The ROH crowd decides to chant “you got fired” at Jeff, and you can tell that this negative reception has thrown him off a bit. The fans follow that up by chanting “we want Matt”, which considering he was seen as the “lesser” Hardy at the time had to sting a bit. The commentators outright bury Jeff at points too, which just makes this feel all the weirder. There are a few botches in this one, as the commentators try to keep justifying this hostile reception to Jeff by noting he lost his passion for wrestling and that meant it was silly for him to come to ROH.

Joey Matthews works the match as a straight up Heel, but he may as well not bother as this is a Heel Vs Heel Vs Heel match as far as this crowd is concerned, and the match itself just isn’t really that good either. There’s a chance they could have salvaged this with a good outing, but the match wasn’t really that good to begin with and the crowd reaction has clearly thrown both K and Jeff off their game. Matthews looks decent though, and even gets cheered at one stage for cheap shotting Jeff. Jeff eventually takes out Matthews with a Swanton and then pins K with a pinning hold.

WINNER: JEFF HARDY
RATING: *

Bad match with a hostile crowd

Jeff flips off the crowd following that and chats some smack to some of them as well, before then trying to put K over by raising his hand, which only leads to both of them getting booed. What an absolute train wreck.

Entertaining as it kind of was to see an entire building defecate on a match like that, who on Earth elected the ROH fan base as the moral majority all of a sudden? Yeah, Jeff wasn’t at his best during this period of his career, but he still called up ROH and asked to work for them because he liked the product and he helped give the company some exposure in the process. The ROH fans really came across as entitled jerks here, and the way they seemed almost offended by the fact that some female fans decided to buy a ticket in the hope of seeing Hardy was kind of troubling in a lot of ways. It’s okay for women to want to attend a wrestling show because they like one of the wrestler’s guys; it’s something that’s been going on for years. Just look at how the Von Erich lads used to be received by the female contingent back in the day for instance, or even Tanahashi in New Japan today. A female fan wanting to buy a ticket to an ROH show so they can cheer for Jeff Hardy is GOOD for ROH. Their money is as valid as yours and it all goes back into the coffers, so maybe don’t look down on them so much you self-satisfied pricks!

We get clips from March 2003, where CM Punk defeated Raven in Cambridge, MA via submission, getting himself over as a legitimate top of the card Heel threat in one night. At the same venue in June, Punk once again gets the better of Raven. Then at Wrestlerave, Punk chokes Raven with a chain and then finally reveals that the reason he hates Raven so much is because Raven reminds him of his alcoholic father, delivering one of the greatest promos of his career in the process.

Match Nine
Dog Collar Showdown
CM Punk Vs Raven

Punk cuts the big Heel promo before the show, taunting the crowd that the building doesn’t sell alcohol. He even takes a cheap shot at Danny Doring at one stage, which leads to Doring drinking a beer in the crowd so that they can chant “EC-Dub” for it. Was that ad-libbed or planned? It kind of made Doring look bad that he didn’t come down to shut the Heel up. Punk then tries to weasel out of the Dog Collar stipulation, which leads to the fans letting him know how they feel about that. That isn’t happening though and he eventually puts the collar on.

This is a good intense brawl, with Raven dominating in the early going and busting Punk open in the process, with Punk selling everything excellently. Punk manages to put Raven through a table in the ring though, which is a desperation move that buys him some time and allows him to take over, with Raven also doing a good job selling. They’ve done a good job of combining brawling spots with storytelling elements here and it’s been a strong match as a result. They’ve certainly “earned” the right to do this sort of stuff by escalating the feud throughout the previous months.

They end up going into the crowd at one stage, with Raven getting fans to hold chairs so he can throw Punk into them, whilst Punk uses the chain to pull Raven all the way down the bleachers. We head back to the ring following that, where Punk grabs a mic and talks some trash whilst clobbering Raven with the chain. Punk ends up talking too much smack though, and that allows Raven to drag him off the top rope with the chain and make the comeback. Raven being someone who can make an awesome fiery babyface comeback will always surprise me no matter how many times I see it.

We get some near falls following that, with Punk managing to kick out of the drop-toe-hold onto the chair. The ref ends up taking an errant chair shot just before Raven gets the Raven Effect on Punk though, meaning there is no one to count. Colt Cabana runs down to help Punk, which leads to Danny Doring making the save for Raven and brawling with Cabana. However, Cabana did enough damage that Punk is able to make the cover and steal let ANOTHER win over Raven to keep the feud cooking along.

WINNER: CM PUNK
RATING: ****

This feud continues to be great, as they had a super intense hate filled fight there and they had Punk win once again whilst also making it clear that Raven had it won, so you want to see another match so that Raven can finally get the job done

Punk crucifies Raven on the bottom rope with some athletic tape following that and pours some beer down his throat, which is the big heat angle because Raven is a recovering addict. This leads to Tommy Dreamer of all people making the save for his old enemy though, as the ECW guys reign supreme tonight. Heck, it makes sense considering where the show is taking place and the fact they have more than just the usual ROH crowd in tonight. Dreamer and Raven decide to give Punk a taste of his own medicine, by pouring some beer down his gullet as well. It’s so ironic that Dreamer was here, as this Raven/Punk feud really has just been Raven/Dreamer from ECW, with the Heel always winning but the babyface doing just enough each time that you stick with it as a viewer and it doesn’t become bad heat instead of good heat. Punk selling the beer spot is fantastic too, and it really makes it feel like a Heel getting his comeuppance. However, because Raven still hasn’t pinned Punk you’re willing for another match to happen just so you can see that too.

Paul London cuts a promo backstage. It’s a pleasant heartfelt promo where he talks about how ROH put him on the map and he recaps his major ROH matches over the course of his time there. I enjoyed this and thought London came across well.

We get clips of AJ Styles and The Amazing Red having some matches with Mark and Jay Briscoe. Tonight it’s the last meeting between them, regardless of who wins.

Semi-Main
ROH Tag Team Titles
Champs: AJ Styles and The Amazing Red w/ Alexis Laree Vs Mark and Jay Briscoe

This is similar to the previous two matches between these teams, with lots of fast paced action and big moves in the early going. Both teams are going for pins though, so it actually feels like they are trying to win rather than just doing moves for the sake of it. There’s even some psychology at one stage, as Red has a bad wheel and the challengers work it over for a bit, with Red selling it well. Jay even spits at Styles at one stage whilst wrenching in a single leg crab, essentially making The Briscoes full on Heels here.

The crowd doesn’t really boo The Briscoe’s despite them trying to work some heat and doing heelish things, but that could be that they are starting to get tired after a long night of wrestling. They work the formula well though and the match is good as a result. Styles eventually gets the hot tag and works a nice segment with the challengers. The crowd continues to not really care that much, but the action remains good and both teams continue to keep trying to actually win the match with their big moves, which is nice to see.

The Briscoes get some nice near falls with a spiked J-Driller on Red and a Doomsday Device on Styles, but the Champs manage to hang on and that finally gets the crowd to wake up and get into the match, at which point they instantly take it over when AJ gives Jay a Styles Clash for three, although Red seemed to injure his knee even further in the closing stretch.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: RED & STYLES
RATING: ***1/4

Good match that would have probably had a higher rating with a more invested crowd. I enjoyed the fact they combined the classic tag formula with the more MOVEZ inspired ethos of ROH and ended up crafting a nice middle ground

We get the handshake following that.

Jim Cornette will be attending the ROH show in Dayton, Ohio because he wants to see what all the fuss is about and he thinks he can make some money at the show.

We get some clips of classic Paul London and Samoa Joe matches in ROH. They meet for the ROH World Title in the Main Event.

Main Event
ROH World Title
Champ: Samoa Joe Vs Paul London

This is London’s last night before a run in WWE, so he’s looking to win the belt as a way to cap off his ROH run. They play up the size difference here, with Joe bullying the smaller London and London being all gutsy with fighting back and timing his comeback attempts well. London could have really been a Ricky Steamboat styled babyface in WWE had he been taller I think, as his work is great and he’s a good looking dude to boot.

It’s a really good match actually, with solid work throughout and both men playing their roles excellently. Joe’s offence looks suitably brutal and London sells it all perfectly, making it look even more vicious than it already does. They succeed in getting the crowd invested in it too, which is pretty impressive since we’re coming up to midnight by this stage in proceedings.

London actually tricks Joe into thinking he’s hurt at one stage by slapping the corner pad and then following up with a DDT and Shooting Star Press for two in a fantastic near fall that the crowd actually bought, which is a heck of an achievement because everyone knows he’s leaving. There isn’t really another point in the match where they truly think London is going to win like they did there, but they got them once at the very least, which is more than I thought they would.

Joe gets some near falls of his own, as they’ve built this well and the wrestling has been great. It’s a great pairing actually and I would have loved to see them try doing the whole Vader/Sting dynamic if London had stuck around, with London finally managing to take the belt from Joe. However, Joe is staying and London is leaving, so Joe locks in a choke hold and London eventually goes out to end the match.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SAMOA JOE
RATING: ***1/2

The locker room sends London off in a nice moment. London does the big farewell promo and the crowd appreciates it. It’s another lovely moment actually, as London does a really nice heartfelt promo and it just makes me think that WWE could have done far more with him than they did. He would have been a huge star if AEW were around at the time because they wouldn’t have cared as much about his size and would have focused on his strengths.

Raven cuts a promo backstage, where he directly references the Raven/Dreamer comparisons when it comes to CM Punk. He wants Punk in a cage match, where he guarantees victory this time.

The Carnage Crew cut a promo backstage, where they talk about ditching a family gathering so that they can go to a strip joint. They talk smack about Special K and Mikey Whipwreck, saying Mikey is going to get crippled.

Christopher Daniels cuts another promo from Japan, saying he now knows who the targets will be when The Prophecy goes after the belts when he gets back.

Rob Feinstein wants a promo from Punk and mentions that Raven wants the cage match. Punk shives Feinstein down and says he won’t be held responsible for his actions in that cage match.

In Conclusion

One of the best overall shows I’ve watched so far in this run of reviews actually, with good to great matches up and down the card and some fantastic storyline stuff with Punk/Raven thrown in for good measure. Only one stinker bout in the form of the Jeff Hardy debacle, and even that was at least interesting to watch from a crowd perspective. An easy thumbs up.

Recommended show!