Mike Reviews – ROH Wrath of the Racket (9th August 2003) – Part One

It’s another ROH Wednesday!

This time we’ve got ROH coming from Dayton, with the big draw being an appearance from Jim Cornette, hence the show name. Blog poster Jeff Gorman is apparently doing the ring announcing on this one too, so there’s even a BOD tie in. What more could you ask for?!

The event is emanating from Dayton, Ohio, on the 9th of August 2003

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and Ray Murrow

Ace Steel and Colt Cabana open the show talking about The Field of Honour. Colt wants to be in that, but Ace is more interested in talking about their match with Alex Shelley and Jimmy Jacobs. They head over to Homicide and Julius Smokes and ask them what The Field of Honour is. Colt ends up getting confused about the answer in a funny bit.

ROH Tag Champs AJ Styles and The Amazing Red cut a promo on The Prophecy, who will be getting a Title shot tonight. Once the promo is over, AJ and The SAT make sure to check on Reds knee. He says he’s okay, but they don’t seem to believe him.

Match One
Four Way Tag Team Scramble
Don Juan and Fast Eddie Vs The Carnage Crew (Loc and Masada) Vs Special K (Deranged and Hydro) Vs The SAT (Jose and Joel Maximo)

The commentary team wonder where DeVito is, which makes me think it’s a story point we need to make note of. This is your usual Scramble match, with lots of big moves and high spots. You don’t even need to tag in, with the rules allowing you to come in the moment someone else leaves. It’s organised chaos basically. It won’t be for everyone, but I enjoy matches likes this in moderation and it’s a good way to introduce newer fans to the ROH product, with some more traditional wrestling scheduled for later on.

Some of this is super sloppy at points, but when the moves and spots hit properly they look great and the crowd is into it for the most part, popping for all of the big moves. Deranged loses his pants at one stage, but he still takes a wild double team face buster move from The SAT, which gets one of the bigger reactions in the match. I can only imagine Jim Cornette watching this backstage and pulling his hair out, which kind of amuses me. Eventually Deranged gets a partner assisted rana for the three count on Loc.

WINNERS: SPECIAL K
RATING: **1/2

Standard Scramble stuff, with all the assorted plusses and minuses that come with it as a match concept

Special K has a rave in the ring following that, but The Carnage Crew is not done with them, whilst The SAT shake the hands of Juan and Eddie. Jim Cornette joins us, and insults poor Jeff about the quality of the microphone. Cornette insults the Special K with some classic Cornettisms and says he’s brought a team to ROH. This leads to Dunn & Marcos coming out, to tell Cornette that they are the top tag team in ROH. Cornette is not impressed however, and sicks Christopher Daniels and Dan Maff on them, leading to the big beat down on the poor Ring Crew Express. They even deliver some classic Midnight Express double teams in a fun moment.

BJ Whitmer cuts a promo ahead of his World Title match with Samoa Joe later on. Tonight is basically a home game for him as he grew up roughly an hour away from the venue. This wasn’t an amazing promo or anything but it felt genuine, which is all you can ask for.

Match Two
#1 Contender for HWA Title
Chet The Jet w/ Brock Guffman Vs Nigel McGuiness

HWA is known as Heartland Wrestling Association and is a local promotion, so ROH is giving them a guest match here. Guffman cuts a decent Heel manager promo, but going after Cornette was a mistake as he’s only going to look lesser by comparison. Winner of this gets a shot at Chad Collyer for the HWA Title.

Chet uses a lot of power stuff here, with Nigel trying to work his European style using the likes of technical holds and strikes. The crowd respond well to the action and it’s a decent match, with both men clearly jazzed to be working on an ROH show and doing the best they can to have a good outing.

It’s nice that the fans are giving them a chance actually, as sometimes fans use the guest match as an opportunity to sit on their hands. It was probably clever from ROH to put a “proper” ROH match on first, as it means the crowd are less likely to get restless because they want to see regular ROH guys instead of the HWA guys.

We get some nicely done near falls, with the crowd continuing to respond well to the action, with Chet getting a big elevated reverse DDT styled move at one stage for a two count. That looked really good and would have made for a good finishing move. Nigel catches Chet with a pinning hold OUTTA NOWHERE following that kick out and that’s enough or three.

WINNER: NIGEL MCGUINESS
RATING: **1/2

I liked that. Decent wrestling and the crowd responded well to it

Both men shake hands following that and continue to get a good reception from the fans.

Coming Soon: The Field of Honour

Match Three
Chris Sabin Vs Homicide w/ Julius Smokes

Sabin was already working in NWA:TNA by this stage and was the reigning X-Division Champ as of this show, although he would lose it in the next couple of weeks from this event taking place. Interestingly he doesn’t wear the belt down to the ring, whereas AJ Styles has been bringing the NWA World Title down to the ring with him for some of his matches.

This is a good back and forth match, with some mat work being followed by Homicide throwing strikes whilst Sabin tries to go for a more speed based approach. I don’t think the two men have much in the way of chemistry together, but they are both good in the ring and put together a solid match.

The match is a bit lacking in crowd heat, but it’s not like the crowd dislikes it either. They just aren’t that especially fired up by the action. It’s one of those matches that you’re probably not going to go back to over and over again, but it’s a strong edition to the card that makes both men look good. Homicide shows how the street style is working it’s way into his wrestling more and more by mule kicking Sabin and then following up with the Brain Breaker for three.

WINNER: HOMICIDE
RATING: ***

Good match

Sabin still shakes hands afterwards despite the mule kick. Homicide then talks some smack into the camera to Steve Corino.

Match Four
The Second City Saints (Ace Steel and Colt Cabana) Vs Jimmy Jacobs and Alex Shelley

Jacobs was still doing his Berserker gimmick at this stage, even going so far as to have “Huss” on the back of his trunks. The crowd is very Japanese-like here, being pretty quiet but then applauding the better wrestling moves and counters. It’s a bit weird, but at least they seem to be digging the match in their own way.

The match itself features some good wrestling from Steel and Shelley, as well as some good comedy spots from Cabana and Jacobs. Cabana and Jacobs would of course end up teaming and feuding with one another later on in their ROH careers. Jacobs and Shelley get a bit of a shine and then Shelley gets cut off for the Heel heat segment, which he sells well.

The SCS do some nice tandem offence and work in some character work for good measure. They work the formula well and the Jacobs hot tag gets a good reaction, with Jacobs running wild and looking good in the process. The SCS feed and sell for it really well too, with the crowd getting into the action.

We get some nice counters and near falls in the closing sections, with the crowd continuing to dig the action. Eventually poor Shelley ends up getting folded up by a terrifying looking assisted Colt 45 from The SCS and that’s enough for the three count.

WINNERS: THE SECOND CITY SAINTS
RATING: ***1/4

They worked the formula well there and it was a fun match. Jacobs and Shelley gained something even in defeat

The SCS still shake hands following that, even though they are Heels, because they believe in The Code of Honour at least.

Match Five
Justin Credible Vs Matt Stryker

Credible continues to get real superstar reactions during this ROH run. He’s been treated as a bigger star by the ROH crowd than he seemingly ever was by the ECW fans. Interestingly he gets the big pop for his entrance but then gets booed in the match itself because Stryker is the hometown wrestler, which is an interesting dichotomy. Credible totally plays into it too, happily working Heel and using old school Heel tricks like pretending Stryker refused to give him a clean break when Stryker actually did.

Credible is a good cocky Heel, so he slips into that persona easily here and Stryker plays off him well. Credible even shoves the ref at one stage, as they’re telling the story of Credible using his veteran smarts and tactics to throw the less experienced Stryker off because Stryker has thus far had the better of Credible in the straight wrestling aspect of the bout. Credible even grabs a mic and insults poor Jeff before cutting a Heel promo and threatening to walk out. Credible has really committed to this bit and he’s succeeded in turning basically the whole building against him.

Stryker drags Credible back and bumps him around, with Credible taking some impressive bumps and really going above the call of duty in an effort to make Stryker look good. We even get some ECW style crowd brawling at one stage, which is where Credible finally gets a foothold because that’s more his wheelhouse. Stryker manages to send Credible into the ring post outside the ring though, which leads to Credible coming up bleeding, as he’s doing everything he can to try and get Stryker over here.

I know this sort of thing should be expected, but so many guys even today come out of WWE and think of themselves as bigshots who don’t want to give indie guys anything more than the bare minimum in matches like this. Credible has actually gone out of his way not only to tell an interesting story in his match but he’s also been fully prepared to sell and bump all over the place in order to make his opponent look good. It’s genuinely refreshing and something I wish ex-WWE guys would do more when they work on the indie scene.

Credible does work a bit of heat, but Stryker soon makes the comeback and gets a near fall with a Lionsault. Both men get some near falls following that, with Credible kicking Stryker out of the air with a super kick at one stage in a nice spot. Some of the near falls are very nicely done and because I don’t know the finish coming in some of them genuinely get me. Credible actually lets Stryker kick out of his trademark Tombstone Piledriver at one stage, which genuinely shocks the crowd, and Stryker follows up with a Spicolli Driver not soon after for the clean pin.

WINNER: MATT STRYKER
RATING: ***1/4

Honestly I almost wanted to stand and applaud Justin Credible in my house there. What a completely unselfish performance from him where he did everything in his power to make Stryker look good, including bumping all over the place, letting him kick out of his finisher and then doing a clean pin fall job. Again, he got a superstar reaction coming out and he could have easily coasted in the match and could have even probably demanded to win if he’d really wanted to, but instead he went out there and made Stryker look great before looking at the lights for the hometown guy. Bravo Justin, bravo I say! The match itself was really good and Stryker made sure to make this opportunity count by showing some impressive fire, but it really was the Justin Credible show, and what a show it was!

And that’s intermission, so we’ll pick this up next week in the concluding part when ROH Wednesdays continue