Mike Reviews – ROH Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies (16th August 2003) – Concluding Part

Welcome back to the concluding part of this show as ROH Wednesdays continue, where we’ve got Steve Corino Vs Homicide, CM Punk Vs Samoa Joe and Dan Maff Vs Low Ki, so at least a couple of those matches should be good at the very least.

The event is emanating from Fairfield, CT on the 16th of August 2003

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and Ray Murrow

We join things during intermission, where Gary Michael Cappetta is trying to get an interview with Steve Corino. CM Punk storms out of the dressing room before GMC enters, yelling about Christopher Daniels. GMC enters and Corino plays dumb about his neck being hurt and kicks GMC out of his locker room.

Match Seven
Four Corner Survival
Deranged Vs Hydro Vs Slyk Wagner Brown w/ April Hunter Vs Jonny Storm

Deranged and Hydro are both in Special K, whilst Brown does the power-high-flyer act and Jonny is a high-flying guy from the FWA in England who we last saw taking on AJ Styles on the Frontiers of Honour show. This is your standard ROH Four Corner match, with two guys going at it in the ring whilst the other guys wait on the apron. Each wrestler gets to come in and do a bit and then things eventually descend into Finisher Madness™, where everyone comes in to hit a big move or two for a near fall.

Brown looks decent in this one, perhaps because he’s getting a bit more comfortable with the ROH style the more he works there, and Storm does a good job getting over with the crowd following a reasonably long absence from the company thanks to some fun offence and the odd comedy antic. The two Special K lads mostly work together and we get a wacky spot at one stage where everyone ends up in a submission hold of some kind on the ropes, which gets a big pop from the crowd.

We get the parade of dives, with biggest man in the match Brown going last. Storm’s gravity defying dive kind of outshone Brown’s though. The Special K lads do eventually fight one another, which leads us into the closing sections, with Storm again being the breakout star of the match in my opinion with a slew of hot moves, including The Wonder Whirl, which is basically Shingo Takagi’s “Made in Japan” move. The Special K push continues though, as Deranged pins Storm with a reverse rana after Brown crashes and burns.

WINNER: DERANGED
RATING: **3/4

Good action in that one and hopefully we see Storm again because he got over there

Deranged almost seems shocked that he won.

Match Eight
Non-Title
CM Punk Vs ROH World Champ Samoa Joe

These two would go on to have a famous series of matches with one another in 2004, but right now they are both in the middle of other feuds/storylines so this is kind of just a match for the sake of it, although Punk can possibly get in the Title hunt with a win. Punk cuts a pre-match promo to hype up his cage match with Raven on the next show in Boston. It’s a CM Punk promo where he hypes up a match and talks about how much he hates the guy he’s feuding with, so it’s of course very good.

This is plenty of stiff action in it, with Punk soon bleeding from the mouth as a result of Joe’s hard hits. Punk manages to counter the Ole Kicks outside the ring by giving Joe a drop-toe-hold onto a chair, but when he tries an Ole Kick of his own it ends up going awry and Joe delivers the genuine article in a neat little segment. I like how they played with the established formula a bit there, as they still gave the crowd the spot they expected but they took them down a different avenue first in order to keep them guessing.

This match has been a lot of fun actually, with Punk being on the defensive quite a lot but always showing some life and constantly scrapping in order to get back into the match, targeting Joe’s injured elbow. Punk has a bum knee though, so he sells that continuously throughout and Joe sometimes goes after it. It’s another psychologically sound match in an evening full of them, and the work has been hard hitting and believable. Punk has already scored a bunch of wins over Raven and he’s giving Joe a really challenge here as well, showing that he belongs in this company.

Punk gets some near falls and continues to look good in the match, but Joe manages to survive and eventually catches a Shining Wizard and turning it into a vicious looking single leg Boston Crab, which causes Punk to uncle so that he still has something left when he takes on Raven.

WINNER: SAMOA JOE
RATING: ***3/4

Great match where they gave Punk enough offence to show that he could one day be a challenger for Joe once the Raven stuff is finally over with whilst showing Joe to be resourceful Champion who can beat opponents in multiple ways

Christopher Daniels runs down to attack Samoa Joe following the match, with Daniels actually laying Joe out with the Angel’s Wings. He bails before Punk can get hold of him though. Joe and Punk shake hands following that, as Punk is a jerk but he still believes in the Code of Honour.

Semi-Main
Steve Corino w/ Guillotine Le Grand Vs Homicide

Corino debuts Bobby Cruise as his personal ring announcer here, with Cruise doing a long introduction in order to put Corino over by listing all the belts he has won in order to wind up Homicide. Some of these intros would get ludicrously long. Interestingly Cruise would eventually end up as the regular ROH ring announcer at one stage. In a funny gag, Cruise has to stop for some water at one stage due to how long the introduction is taking.

This is a good intense match, with both men doing regular things but putting that extra amount of stank on them due to how much they don’t like one another. The big spot the match is probably remembered for is Homicide giving Corino a vicious slap, with the slap busting Corino’s eardrum and leaving him with hearing problems for the rest of his life. Corino tries to bail following that, but Julius Smokes and the rest of Homicide’s crew (including new addition Slugger) chase him back into the ring and the bout continues.

Homicide continues to bring the hate by raking barbed wire over Corino’s arm and shoulder in order to draw blood. Urgh, that made me kind of queasy to be honest. Soon both men are bleeding, with Corino nearly destroying Homicide with a piledriver through a table. It didn’t even look like they got that right to be honest, it looked brutal. Homicide is literally lying in a puddle of blood on the floor following that, kind of like what would happen when someone bled on ECW Anarchy Rulz for the PSX.

I can totally see why some people wouldn’t like this due to all the blood and brawling, but we’ve mostly had high-flying and technical stuff tonight, so this match feels unique by comparison and this is a genuinely heated feud so it makes sense for both men to have a match like this. The wire spot was really unpleasant, but the rest has been standard brawl stuff done with an extra edge to it due to the hatred of the feud, so I can deal with that.

They do a repeat of a spot from their previous singles bout in ROH, where Homicide tries a dive to the floor but Corino dodges it and Homicide goes flying into the front row as a result. That’s a clever call back actually. The missed dive led to the end of the match last time as Corino was able to take advantage of it and win with a sleeper hold, but this time Homicide is able to survive the hold and makes the ropes.

The crowd is really into this match and it’s adding a lot to it, especially as Homicide is doing such a good job defiantly holding on. That really is an underrated aspect of his game when it comes to working as a babyface. He’s fantastic at being gutsy and fighting against the odds, especially when on the back foot like he is here. Corino stops to blow snot on the fans though, and that allows Homicide to catch him with a Diamond Cutter off the top for two in a great near fall.

I’ve loved this way more than Homicide’s hardcore match with Trent Acid as there’s been lots more selling and this one really feels like a hate filled feud whereas that one kind of felt like overkill for a feud that had barely been set up in ROH. Outside of the barbed wire and the table they’ve kept the gimmicks to a minimum here for the most part as well, which has helped with making it feel like more of a fight rather than an exhibition of wild spots.

They continue to bring the near falls, with both men having chances to win it only for their enemy to kick out. The crowd continues to be into it and they really want Homicide to win, which makes for a great atmosphere. In another nice call back to the previous match between the two, Homicide locks Corino in a submission hold and then drags him back into the middle when it looks like Corino might make the ropes. This leads to Guillotine throwing in the towel, so Corino can lose without losing face.

WINNER: HOMICIDE
RATING: ****

Fantastic hate filled brawl there, with consistent selling from both men and some genuine intensity between the two competitors. They can always do a rematch down the line too as they’ve each won one and Homicide didn’t get to make Corino tap out, giving him a reason to want to fight him again

Homicide poses over Corino following that and pours some water on him for good measure. He doesn’t attack him though and leaves peacefully.

Main Event
Dan Maff Vs Low Ki

Kind of an odd choice as show closer to be honest, as Corino and Homicide is the hotter issue and they just had an incredible intense match with one another, giving these lads an uphill struggle. Low Ki seemingly decides they are going to bridge that gap by having a super stiff encounter, as he throws a number of outrageously stiff slaps and kicks. I suppose they have been building up to this one ever since Maff turned earlier in the year, but it doesn’t feel like a Main Event feud to me.

Maff throws some stiff shots as well, but Low Ki is kind of a jerk and doesn’t really sell them that much. Dude, Maff is not only hitting you really hard but he’s also considerably bigger than you, it’s not going to kill your credibility to sell more for him. Maff does eventually control things for a bit, targeting Low Ki’s previously injured shoulder, and Low Ki is at least selling for him properly now.

It’s not a bad match, but it doesn’t “feel” like a Main Event, especially after the previous two matches. It kind of feels like they are rushing Maff up the card a bit actually. This would have been fine as the third from the top or even the Semi-Main match, but Main Event is a step too far when you factor in the match that came before it. They are working hard though and it’s a solid match in the wrong slot on the card in my opinion.

The finish ends up being Low Ki kicking Maff in the head following a springboard off the ropes and Maff doesn’t move. It looks like he has been knocked out legitimately, so Low Ki just scoots over and pins him to end the match. That looked legitimate to me; like Maff was knocked out for real and they called an audible. If not it was an incredible sell job from Maff

WINNER: LOW KI
RATING: **1/2

Was a solid match that ended abruptly, possibly due to a real life injury?

We some replays of the kick from different angles following that. They don’t even play Low Ki’s music and people come down to the ring to check on Maff.

Special K spikes Alexis Laree’s drink, which is all kinds of “aw no”, although it cuts away before we see any after effects.

Christopher Daniels cuts a promo backstage, where he puts Maff over for taking that kick from Low Ki and surviving it. He doesn’t want to talk about Xavier right now and instead focuses on his upcoming match with Samoa Joe. CM Punk interrupts to quiz Daniels over what happened with Lucy in Dayton. Daniels deflects so Punk moves on to cut a promo on Raven ahead of the cage match. We got a solid Daniels promo and an excellent promo from Punk there.

In Conclusion

Great show, with lots of excellent wrestling and some strong storyline advancement. Easy thumbs up!

Recommended Show!