Mike Reviews – ROH Empire State Showdown (25th October 2003) – Part One

Welcome to another ROH Wednesday!

We’ve got a mixture of matches featuring less established guys, some Field of Honour stuff and some decent star power in the second half here, so hopefully it will be a nice balanced show that will build throughout the night.

The event is emanating from Spencerport, New York on the 25th of October 2003

Calling the action are Select Which Name Gabe Is Using This Week and Ray Murrow

We open up with a backstage promo from ROH World Champ Samoa Joe. He gives a speech about war, telling The Briscoe’s that they don’t want to start a war with him. He also addresses his match with Homicide later on, saying he’s not afraid of him and will face him No Holds Barred. This was a good intense promo from Samoa Joe.

Colt Cabana tells us that he’s filling in for Gary Michael Cappetta tonight. He goes over to Homicide and Julius Smokes to tell them about Joe wanting the No Holds Barred stipulation later on. Homicide is down for that.

Opening Match
Field of Honour Block B
Dan Maff (1-0-0) w/ Allison Danger Vs BJ Whitmer (1-1-0)

Whitmer is out of the running if he loses here due to Colt Cabana already having two wins. If Maff wins then his match with Cabana next will decide the Block. If Whitmer wins then he’s still in the hunt for the time being. This one is a hard hitting fight right from the off, with both men trading chops and then heading to the outside of the ring where Maff flings Whitmer into the metal railings around ringside.

Neither man is afraid of taking their lumps to get the match over, and the crowd responds to the back and forth between them, especially when Whitmer gets a TOPE SUICIDA at one stage. Whitmer follows that up by giving Maff a suplex outside the ring, although thankfully ROH is mandated to put mats down for matches in New York, which will have hopefully have softened the blow a little bit. Maff gets revenge by dropping Whitmer right on his head back inside with a back suplex.

This is one of those matches that I can see the anti-strong style brigade really hating, but if big suplexes and hard hits are your thing then this one should tick all the boxes. I like the story they’re telling as well, with both men essentially throwing bombs like two heavyweight boxers until one of them finally stays down. Maff tries to end it with a Burning Hammer, but Whitmer slips out and gets a wrist clutch Exploder Suplex for the three count.

WINNER: BJ WHITMER (2-1-0)
RATING: ***1/4

Strong opening match there, with lots of snug action and vicious looking suplexes that the crowd got into

Trent Acid laments the fact that Johnny Kashmere seems to have left ROH. Acid says that he will get Kashmere to come back for the next show though.

Match Two
Scramble
The Outcast Killaz (Santiago and Tortuga) Vs Fast Eddie and Don Juan w/ Rudy Boy Gonzalez Vs Alex Shelley and Jimmy Jacobs Vs Dunn & Marcos

Fast Eddie is legally blind but I’m guessing he can still kind of see a bit? If not it’s kind of amazing that he can work as well as he does. There’s some good comedy in there with Jacobs and Shelley both doing the berserker gimmick, leading to a chicken fight test of strength with The Outcasts at one stage that Dunn & Marcos break up with stereo school boys.

Like the opener, this match is good but it services a specific niche that some viewers might not enjoy. I like matches like this in moderation though and the action is fun, so I personally enjoy it. Like most Scramble matches it’s all about guys coming in to hit big moves and dives to pop the crowd, and it scratches that itch well, especially when there’s  quadruple rana spot off the ropes at one stage. We get some good near falls and eventually Dunn gets Tortuga with a modified powerbomb for three.

WINNERS: DUNN & MARCOS
RATING: ***

This was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. Psychology was at a premium, but the action was exhilarating at points and all eight guys got a chance to do something

Everyone makes nice following that, although Shelley is limping and looks to be hurt.

Match Three
Christopher Daniels w/ Allison Danger Vs John Walters

This is a pretty big singles match for Walters so early into his ROH career. Both of these guys are technically proficient so they work a lot of this on the mat and it’s good. Daniels gives Walters quite a bit and is happy to sell for him, with the match having an extended period where Walters works over and targets Daniels’ leg. Daniels sells all of that well and the crowd appreciates the good wrestling on display, reacting like a Japanese crowd to a certain extent.

Danger eventually steps in to help Daniels by distracting Walters, which leads to Walters breaking a submission hold and going after her. Daniels breaks that up and then distracts the ref so that Danger can shove Walters off the top, leading to Daniels working some heat on Walters. I like how Daniels essentially lost the technical wrestling battle and needed to go to Heel tactics in order to get himself back into the match, as it puts Walters over as a top level pure wrestler who can hang with any of the top ROH guys in that environment.

Walters does a good job selling for Daniels in the heat, with Daniels targeting his back and mid-section. In a nice touch, Daniels continues to sell his leg even though he is now in control of the match, which opens the door for Walters to make the occasional attempt at a comeback when Daniels’ bad wheel slows him down. Walters eventually manages to catch Daniels with a desperation Back Cracker and then starts making the comeback, with Daniels bumping and feeding for it all perfectly, as you would expect from a guy with his skill level.

We get some near falls, with Walters being allowed to kick out of some of Daniels’ bigger moves, including the Best Moonsault Ever. The crowd responds well to the near falls and gets into the closing stages, although I don’t feel like they ever truly believe that Walters might win it. Daniels continues to give Walters a tonne of offence, but eventually it’s time to go home and he gets the Last Rites for the three count.

WINNER: CHRISTOPHER DANIELS
RATING: ***1/2

Daniels grabs a mic following the match and teases that he might shake Walters’ hand, but instead just puts him over on the mic and then potentially offers him a spot in The Prophecy. This leads to Xavier coming down to complain, although I don’t think he’s actually still a member of the group so I’m not sure why he’s annoyed. Walters reiterates that the next time he faces Xavier he’s going to get even in their feud, which leads to Xavier to attack him from behind. Walters clobbers him back and Xavier bails. This was an effective angle that advanced the feud between Xavier and Walters, and also helped get Walters over as a babyface with the crowd.

Xavier and Daniels continue to argue backstage, which leads to Dan Maff threatening Xavier.

Steve Corino cuts a promo backstage, where he’s surprised that Christopher Daniels doesn’t like him anymore. Corino wants to still be friends with Daniels, although he might not be truly sincere about it. He also cuts a promo on Punk, saying Punk has disrespected the wrong veteran this time. Homicide also gets some verbal barbs thrown his way, as Homicide still hasn’t pinned him or made him submit. He closes by saying he likes to stir trouble and irritate people, which is why he’s still here even though he hates the fans.

Match Four
ROH Tag Team Titles
Champs: Special K (Izzy and Dixie) w/ the rest of Special K Vs The Carnage Crew (Loc and DeVito)

I’d be surprised if Special K lost the belts on their first Title defence, but then again The Backseat Boyz did on the last show, so anything is possible I guess. The Carnage Crew get the big extended shine on Special K to start, clobbering them from pillar to post and just generally kicking the moussaka out of them. Soon both of The Champs are bleeding, as this has just been an absolute destruction job thus far.

Izzy and Dixie have sold it all very well and it works as a cathartic “watch the Heels get destroyed” kind of match, especially as Special K are probably escaping with the belts when all is said and done so it makes sense to let The Carnage Crew kill them first so that the crowd at least gets some satisfaction from the bout. Eventually though Special K is able to use the numbers game in order to cut Loc off and work him over for a bit.

Loc does a good job selling in the heat, as they’ve worked this like a serious match for the most part and it’s been decent tag formula stuff. I can kind of see why Izzy and Dixie were booked in this slot as they, along with Hydro, are probably the three best workers out of the group, so if you were going to belt any of the Special K guys it would be these two. DeVito eventually gets the hot tag and does a nice traditional comeback with things like back body drops, although the crowd isn’t really biting.

The crowd reactions have been lacking here, but aside from that this has been a decent match I think. They’ve worked the formula well and they do some nice big moves and near falls down the finishing stretch. With a hotter crowd this would be pretty good, as the storytelling has been there and the action has been fun. Special K eventually tries the cheap belt shot finish, as Becky distracts the ref and one of the other members runs in to clock Loc with the belt, but Loc is able to kick out at two. The near fall didn’t really get much of a reaction though.

I don’t think ROH crowds particularly like all of these old school heeling spots with run-ins and whatnot, but they’ve executed it well and have smartly managed to keep the referee distracted at all points so that he doesn’t look like a goof for letting it all take place. The Carnage Crew try and finish things with a Spike Piledriver, but the rest of the putty patrol gets involved again, which allows Dixie to get a sunset bomb off the second rope to Loc for three.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: SPECIAL K
RATING: **1/2

That was okay for me, but the crowd didn’t seem to agree

The Carnage Crew are angry following that and it looks like this feud MUST CONTINUE!

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