Mike Reviews – ROH Tradition Continues (16th October 2003) – Part One

Welcome once again to another ROH Wednesday!

We’ve got some big matches on part two of this show, with part one mostly being made up of Field of Honour matches and a Scramble (Plus one big match that you’ll know when you see it), so there should be plenty of good action on both sides of the intermission.

The event is emanating from Glen Burnie, Maryland on the 16th of October 2003

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey”, Ray Murrow and CM Punk

Gary Michael Cappetta opens the show with an in-ring promo with ROH World Champ Samoa Joe, but reminisces about his memories in the Baltimore area first. Prince Nana comes down to interrupt him though, complaining that he hasn’t received a shot at the ROH Title during his time in the company. The crowd has little sympathy for him. This brings out The Champ Samoa Joe, and he’s into the idea, which means the match is on!

Opening Match
ROH World Title
Champ: Samoa Joe Vs Prince Nana

Joe quickly chokes Nana out. There’s no ref, but Joe is declared the winner anyway.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SAMOA JOE
RATING: N/A

Joe officially welcomes the fans to the show post-match and puts the company over. He also hypes up his match with Jay Briscoe later. This brings Briscoe down to the ring, leading to a brawl between the two that Mark Briscoe helps break up.

Colt Cabana is backstage for another edition of “Good Times, Great Memories”. The first two guests are the ROH Tag Champs Trent Acid and Johnny Kashmere. They flagrantly ignore the no smoking sign of course. Colt of course goes for the Backstreet Boyz joke and has cards mocking the guys. He then asks them a sensible question about whether they can defeat Special K again. Kashmere and Acid are of course confident that they’ll win again. Colt then asks the biggest question we’re all thinking about, which is whether The Champs ever get a chub on when women put money in their pants! These segments are still a bit rough around the edges but there’s a germ of something potentially good here if they keep doing them.

Match Two
Scramble
Danny Doring and Josh Daniels Vs Slyk Wagner Brown and Sonjay Dutt w/ April Hunter Vs Dunn & Marcos Vs The Rottweilers (Grim Reefer and Slugger) w/Julius Smokes

Doring gets a decent reaction for his entrance due to his previous ECW days. He feels a bit out of place in a match like this to be honest, with standard tag action perhaps being an arena he would fare better in. Reefer is someone I don’t really know much about, but he looks alright in a section he does with Dutt, with both men working a lot of quick counters and getting a nice reaction from the crowd as a result.

Slugger’s name does an adequate job of explaining how he wrestles, as he mostly does strikes and power stuff. His feeding and bumping isn’t bad for a big dude though. Dunn & Marcos get quite a lot of offence here, with them actually being booked like they belong as opposed to enhancement talent, with them even getting to bump Slugger at one stage.

All in all this is your standard Scramble match, with it being all action and a good way to fire up the crowd, even if there is a touch of sloppiness at points throughout the match. Brown continues to look like a solid hand whenever he’s in there and Daniels doesn’t look bad either. Doring gets to hit some of his trademark moves from back in the day like the Bareback jaw breaker, and the crowd remembers it. Eventually The Rottweilers hit a flurry of big moves on Dunn and that’s enough for three.

WINNERS: THE ROTTWEILERS
RATING: **1/4

Not a classic or anything, but a fun enough collection of spots that the crowd mostly enjoyed

We get clips of the two guys in the next match warming up with techno music playing in the background. I remember always thinking that using that sort of music gave ROH a more contemporary feel at the time, as it was certainly a popular music scene over here in the UK and it was a different approach from the rock and nu metal styled music that was so often used by wrestling companies in video packages and whatnot.

Match Three
Field of Honour – Block A
Matt Stryker (1-0-0) Vs Chris Sabin (0-0-0)

The Field of Honour is ROH’s answer to the G1 Climax or Best of the Super Junior tournaments over in Japan, with a Round Robin point system being used as opposed to single elimination. The winner of Block A will wrestle the winner of Block B in the tournament finals at the end of the year. John Walters and Xavier are the other two guys in the Block. They work this on the mat a lot in the early going and it’s good believable looking grappling.

The pace picks up after a certain point, with both men throwing some strikes, and there’s a brief moment where they aren’t quite on the same page. This match does have the feel of two good wrestlers who aren’t really gelling that well together to be honest, which can happen from time to time. There’s a notable botch at one point where Stryker goes for a powerslam and only barely manages to get Sabin over, with it looking like Sabin almost lands on top of his head. Thankfully Sabin seems okay after that and they keep going.

There’s another moment where they don’t seem to be on the same page when Stryker only just manages to get Sabin over with a powerbomb. I don’t think the guys are being uncooperative here, I just think their timing isn’t right due to issues with chemistry. They are working hard though and just keep fighting through it in order to have the best match they can, with the fans reacting to the near falls and big spots. The finish also goes awry though sadly, as Stryker gets a very nice counter to a crucifix by rolling through and powering up into a Spicolli Driver, but he ends up clocking heads with Sabin in there at some point and it leaves Sabin with a ugly looking wound above his eye.

WINNER: MATT STRYKER (2-0-0)
RATING: **

They didn’t really “click” at all in this one, with there being some notable botches (including the finish). They were working hard and were trying to have the best match they could, but they just weren’t on the same page enough to make the high effort levels count. It happens sometimes

Sabin manages to drag himself to his feet following that and still shakes hands with Stryker, even though the wound on his face looks really gnarly. The crowd are nice and respectful to Sabin when he leaves at least. Stryker apologises to Sabin for what happened and Sabin and accepts the apology.

Match Four
Field of Honour – Block B
Colt Cabana (1-0-0) Vs BJ Whitmer (1-0-0)

Both of these guys hold wins over Jimmy Rave, with Dan Maff being the fourth man in the block. Punk continues his own tradition of talking smack about BJ Whitmer on commentary, taking exception to Lovey saying that Whitmer is as tough as a horse. This is a good mix of styles, with Colt going for his combination of technical wrestling, comedic antics and Heel tactics, whilst Whitmer brings the strong style with an emphasis on strikes and throws.

Colt busts out a couple of classic moves, such as the running knee lift from Mr. Wrestling II and the falling fist drop from Ted Dibiase. That leads to Colt working some heat on Whitmer, with Whitmer selling it well and Colt’s offence looking good. Colt continues the classic move collection by busting out a jumping butt-butt and a Von Erich Iron Claw, with the moves actually getting over with the crowd. Whitmer ends up managing to power out of that though and gets a suplex into the corner for the double down, whilst Punk continues to bag on him on commentary.

Whitmer makes a good comeback with big forearm strikes and the Jun Akiyama styled running high knee and Exploder Suplex combo for two. We get some more near falls following that, with the crowd continuing to be into the match and the action being mostly exciting stuff. Cabana ends up catching Whitmer with a pinning hold OUTTA NOWHERE and that’s enough for three.

WINNER: COLT CABANA (2-0-0)
RATING: ***1/4

I enjoyed that and thought they had a good match together. They meshed quite well from a style perspective and the wrestling was solid, with the crowd getting into the action

Colt cuts a promo backstage following the match, stressing that he was serious tonight and he isn’t just a comedy guy. Good promo from Cabana there.

AJ Styles is giving Jimmy Rave advice backstage, telling him to go after Dan Maff’s injured neck later on.

Match Five
ROH Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Backseat Boyz (Trent Acid and Johnny Kashmere) Vs Special K (Izzy and Dixie)

Izzy and Dixie haven’t come alone here, with other members of Special K joining them as well such as Becky Bayless and Hi-Jinx. Punk leaves the booth to prepare his match during this one. The Backseat’s get a long shine on Special K, with the challengers bumping all over the place for the tandem offence of the Champs. However, Kashmere ends up taking a big double team move on the floor, taking him out of the equation and leaving Acid having to fight two men all by himself.

The match is almost a tornado match more than a tag one, with Acid fighting both men at the same time for the majority of the bout, which the ref seems happy to allow for whatever reason. Things do finally settle into more of a standard tag match, with Special K working some heat on Acid whilst Kashmere drags himself back onto the apron to wait for a potential hot tag. Acid doesn’t do a bad job selling in the heat, but he’s much better suited to the role of a Heel due to his naturally cocky persona.

Acid eventually manages to fight Special K off long enough to make the hot tag to Kashmere, who runs wild on the challengers and looks good. Things break down following that, with the rest of Special K all coming into the ring to try and attack the Champs whilst Bayless distracts the ref. Hey, at least they bothered to distract the ref there to explain why there wasn’t a DQ.

The Backseat’s manage to fight off the rest of the group and seemingly have it won, but Lit drags the referee out of the ring to break the count. The ref yells at the Special K members and that leads to a belt shot on Acid for two in a good near fall. The damage has been done though and Izzy follows up with a springboard 450 for the three count and the belts.

WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: SPECIAL K
RATING: **1/4

This was okay, if a bit spotty. I’m not sure why The Backseat Boyz had such a short Title reign, but I’m sure there was some kind of reason for it

Special K celebrates with a rave, but Loc from The Carnage Crew runs down to attack them. They manage to subdue him, but The Rottweilers then come down for the rescue and leave Special K lying to set themselves up as challengers down the line.

Match Six
CM Punk Vs AJ Styles

Punk cuts a Heel promo prior to the match to make sure the fans don’t like him, although the fact he’s wrestling AJ Styles would probably assure that anyway. Samoa Joe joins us in the commentary booth for this one, whilst Punk and Styles do some nice work on the mat. Punk seems to have cut his head during those opening exchanges, whilst Joe talks about his match with Jay Briscoe later on. Both men continue to work it on the mat and the crowd remains into it, including one of my favourite spots where they end up with their legs locked together and then fighting one another from a handstand position.

Punk manages to catch Styles with a vicious looking back suplex at one stage, with Styles looking like he landed on his head. This makes it look like Punk will be taking over for a bit, but Styles catches him with a lovely looking dropkick and continues to take it to Punk. The match continues to be pretty back and forth, with both men trading the momentum a bit like a Japanese match, and the crowd continues to be into the action. Styles of course busts out some smooth expertly timed counters throughout the match, whilst Punk goes for more heelish tactics such as throwing Styles into the railings and then teasing that he will throw him into the crowd, only to put him back inside.

Punk does eventually manage to work some heat on Styles following that, targeting the mid-section and back, which Styles sells well. Punk makes the mistake of heading up for a split-legged moonsault though, and that leads to Styles getting the knees up and making a comeback. We get some near falls following that, with them being well executed and the fans biting more than once. This has been a really good match that has been built gradually and logically, with good wrestling and an attentive crowd only making it all the better. Both men tease big moves off the ropes, with Punk going for his Pepsi Plunge and Styles going for the Styles Clash, but both moves are fought off. The finish is really nifty though, as Punk goes for a Shining Wizard but Styles blocks it into the Clash for the three count.

WINNER: AJ STYLES
RATING: ***3/4

This was some darn good wrestling and was just a smidgen below being excellent by my watch. It felt like there was a higher gear they could have kicked it into that they never did. It was still a great match though, and that finish was superb

Punk still gives a handshake following that, but he clearly isn’t happy about the result.

And that’s intermission so I think we’ll end Part One. I’ll hopefully see you all next week when ROH Wednesdays continue!