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

It’s another ROH Wednesday!

This week we close out Wrath of the Racket, with the Main Event scheduled to be AJ Styles and The Amazing Red defending the ROH Tag Titles against Christopher Daniels and Dan Maff, with Samoa Joe defending the ROH World Title against BJ Whitmer in the Semi-Main slot.

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

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and Ray Murrow

Les Thatcher is handling intermission this time because Gary Michael Cappetta isn’t here. He’s there with The Prophecy of Daniels, Maff, Allison Danger and, now, Jim Cornette. AJ and Red’s reign is over tonight. This was a darn good bit of pro wrestling promoage, with Cornette in particular being on point.

Colt Cabana and Ace Steel are backstage, with someone pretending to be Lucy filming them. They go over and mess with Chris Sabin, asking him what The Field of Honour is. Sabin blows them off, but does reveal that he has been invited to The Field of Honour.

The Prophecy attacks Amazing Red and The SAT at the merch table. The beat down seems bad enough that Red is really hurt as a result of it.

Match Six
Four Way Survival
Slyk Wagner Brown w/ April Hunter Vs Hotstuff Hernandez Vs Scoot Andrews Vs Michael Shane

Brown and Andrews were both notable indie guys that never really had a chance to make it in one of the main federations. Andrews in particular was heavily hyped for a while and had some WWE try outs, but it just didn’t end up happening for him. Hernandez probably ended up being the biggest pushed commodity of the guys involved due to how far up the card he got in TNA, whilst Shane had a decent run in TNA’s early days but was basically a non-factor by 06/07 when he was a lackey in Raven’s failed Clockwork Orange style stable.

This is your typical Four Corner Survival match, in that every guy gets a chance to come in and do some moves and a bit of character work if they have any kind of a character to get across, which ultimately leads to Finisher Madness™, where everyone gets a chance to come in and hit a big move when things break down. Hernandez looks good with some power stuff and Shane shows off some good Heel charisma, but Wagner and Andrews are kind of just “there” and don’t really do much to stand out.

Andrews had been out for a year prior to this due to his wife having a baby, so he’s a little shaky to start but he grows into the match once his rustiness starts to subside. It’s funny because Andrews doesn’t really work that much of an indie style and he was probably deemed “too small” for WWE in 2003, but I reckon he would easily get signed today and he’d transition to WWE style pretty well. And even if he didn’t, I’m sure AEW would give him a chance on Elevation, and if he could get over there then he could get a contract that way.

The crowd isn’t really that into this one, and to be honest there have been better Four Corner matches in ROH. I think stylistically they just don’t have the right combination of guys to have the hot match you could sometimes get in one of these. It hasn’t been bad or anything, but it’s certainly not as good as the one of the previous show that BJ Whitmer won. Some of the spots look kind of contrived too, with it sometimes taking a while for the big quadruple spots to be pulled off.

Hernandez of course does his big dive to the outside on everyone, and as usual it looks awesome and gets a great reaction. And as usual, I am constantly baffled that TNA had his guy and essentially wasted him. Wager tries a Shooting Star Press on Hernandez during the finishing stretch, and botches it BADLY. Thankfully he doesn’t die, so I can be amused by it and suggest that someone sends the clip to Maffew. Shane eventually catches Andrews with a Fisherman’s DDT and that’s enough for three.

WINNER: MICHAEL SHANE
RATING: **1/4

Picked up a bit in the closing stages after a somewhat shaky start

We learned during that match that AJ Styles will be allowed to select a replacement partner for the Main Event later due to Red being taken to hospital.

Match Seven
Invitation to Field of Honour
Slim J Vs Jimmy Rave

The winner of this one will get into The Field of Honour, which if my memory serves correctly is a kind of G1 Climax styled tournament where you have to win matches in a round robin format before advancing to the finals. Slim J is kind of doing an Eminem thing with the bleached blond hair and white wife beater. Rave has been having some good performances and is kind of starting to get over as a game youngster, so he would probably be the favourite here as he has greater versatility than Slim J does.

This is kind of just a match really, with Slim J being kind of a generic spot monkey. He does bump around well for Rave’s offence, but the match doesn’t really have a lot of substance to it and there are a few botches from Slim J as well. The crowd gives them a chance and appreciates the good moves, but there doesn’t seem to be much emotional attachment from them towards it. They’re kind of just reacting to moves, even though they’ve structured it like a proper match where Slim J has worked some heat.

Rave manages to knee Slim J in the face to start his comeback, and Slim J sells it like absolute death in order to get it over. We get some near falls following that, with some of them being a tad sloppy. Rave gets a very nice counter into a Crossface and that’s eventually enough for the clean submission win and a pop from the crowd.

WINNER: JIMMY RAVE
RATING: *3/4

Both men were working hard out there but it didn’t really click and it was pretty sloppy in places. Rave winning was definitely the right result

Slim J refuses to shake hands following the match because Special K don’t do that.

Semi-Main
ROH World Title
Champ: Samoa Joe Vs BJ Whitmer

Whitmer has got a protective face mask on here, as well as a big brace on his left knee, so he’s probably not having fun and that’s BEFORE Joe starts hitting him. This is a really good hard hitting match, with Whitmer throwing off his mask at one stage to show how tough he is, only for Joe to then hit him right in the face because

Thanks, Cenk.

Anyway, Whitmer keeps coming despite that and sweat quite literally starts flying when the two start throwing chops at one another. This is very much one of those Japanese style matches where both men hit snug and hit often, so if that style of wrestling is your jam then this match should scratch that itch you have. The crowd is mostly into it, with Joe not really getting booed despite Whitmer being from Ohio. To be fair, Joe hasn’t really done anything that heelish. If your opponent is stupid enough to remove the protective guard they have for a certain part of their body then you’re pretty much a moron if you don’t instantly hit them there, and Joe is no moron.

Whitmer does a good job of getting the mixture right between fighting from underneath whilst still taking the fight to Joe, making him look like a deserving challenger whilst still getting Joe over as a dangerous Champion. When both men are required to sell they do a good job and their offence looks impressive also, with Whitmer getting some big near falls off a suplex and back drop respectively, but Joe manages to survive the big moves and gets a straightjacket German Suplex for the clean win after a game effort from Whitmer.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SAMOA JOE
RATING: ***3/4

Very good match there, as Joe continues to nail it with this Title reign and Whitmer gained something even in defeat from how gutsy he was

We get the handshake following that and both men get a nice reception from the crowd.

Steel and Cabana are still looking for Rob Feinstein. The next gag is that they run into Nigel McGuiness and can’t understand what he’s saying because of his accent. They run into Dunn & Marcos and insult them too. Of course Cabana ends up looking like a goober by insulting them poorly, because he understands what comedy is.

Main Event
ROH Tag Team Titles
Champs: AJ Styles and ??? Vs The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels and Dan Maff) w/ Jim Cornette and Allison Danger

Homicide ends up being the partner as he has an issue with Dan Maff. This one starts out as brawl and a good one at that, with AJ and Homicide getting stereo dives out into the crowd at one stage. We haven’t had a tonne of brawls like this tonight, so they haven’t burnt the crowd out on them and that means this one has more of an impact than it would on a show full of them. In a funny spot the two Heel managers end up in the dreaded rowboat at the hands of the babyfaces, with the Heels selling it big time.

Things do eventually settle into a standard tag match with the babyfaces getting a shine on the Heels, and it’s good stuff, with the Heels bumping and selling for it well. Eventually Danger presents enough of a distraction that Maff is able to cut Homicide off with a suplex, leading to the heat segment. Homicide does a good job selling that and The Prophecy work the formula well, so it’s good tag action.

Styles does eventually get the hot tag and does a really nice segment with the two Heels, running wild and looking like an absolute superstar in the process. We hit the near falls following that, with both teams having chances to win it and the kick outs/saves being time well. It’s just a very professionally worked tag match where every segment of the tag formula is executed well and the crowd gets behind the babyfaces in the hope that they will win.

Homicide ends up accidentally taking out Smokes with a dive at one stage thanks to Maff, which keeps that issue cooking as Maff is taking on Low Ki on the next show. The ref gets bumped and Cornette throws in the racket, but AJ Styles ducks it and then gives Daniels a Styles Clash onto the racket itself to get a three count from the revived referee.

WINNERS: STYLES & HOMICIDE
RATING: ***1/4

Good solid tag team action, where they hit all the buttons they needed to hit and the crowd responded well to the action

Cornette shakes hands with AJ Styles and Homicide following the match, following the Code of Honour, which would seem to mean he’s out of The Prophecy after being in for just one show. Daniels and Maff attack him for this, which leads to Amazing Red attempting to make the save with the racket, only for him to then get taken out as well. This brings out Samoa Joe, who succeeds in clearing the ring, keeping the issue with him and Daniels cooking in preparation for their eventual Title match together. Cornette grabs a mic now he has been rescued and puts ROH over.

Homicide cuts a promo on Steve Corino backstage. He will face him on the next show. This was a good promo from Homicide and made me excited to see the match.

Samoa Joe puts BJ Whitmer over in a promo and then puts all of his future challengers on notice. This was the usual good intense promo from Joe.

Steve Corino responds to Homicide, talking about how Homicide lives the street gimmick and that he has nothing left to prove after already beating Homicide twice. However, Homicide mentioned Corino’s son in his promo, so now Corino is game to wrestle him again. This was a great promo by Corino, although he tried to work-shoot it a bit too much for my liking. You’ve got a good believable issue going on already; you don’t need to muddy the waters.

Steel and Cabana finally locate Rob Feinstein and Colt wants to know what it is. Feinstein says it’s a tournament and that Colt is invited. The camera then falls over Blair Witch style after Steel and Cabana walk off, implying that “Lucy” was attacked.

In Conclusion

This was a really solid show. There wasn’t that big blow away match you sometimes get on this ROH tapes, but there was a lot of good storyline advancement going on and the general wrestling quality was to a good standard, with a lot of well worked matches that helped elevate guys like Matt Stryker and BJ Whitmer, even with Whitmer not even winning his match. It was a fun watch that breezed by pretty quickly for me and an easy thumbs up.

Recommended Show!