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

Welcome back to another ROH Wednesday!

Today we’ve got Steve Corino Vs CM Punk and Samoa Joe Vs Homicide amongst other matches, so we should have some darn fine action to look forward to.

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

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and Ray Murrow

Colt Cabana is filling in for Gary Michael Cappetta today and winds up Dan Maff over Maff losing to BJ Whitmer earlier in the night. Cabana asks Maff why he and The Prophecy attacked Lucy in Dayton. Maff says they had nothing to do with it, and even goes as far as to swear on his father’s grave that The Prophecy was not involved. Cabana says he’ll beat Maff in their Field of Honour match, which Maff isn’t amused about.

Match Five
Field of Honour – Block A
Xavier (1-0-0) Vs Chris Sabin (0-1-0)

Sabin suffered a gnarly cut near the eye in his previous FoH match with Matt Stryker, but he’s still here to compete tonight despite a wicked shiner. Xavier of course targets the injured eye area like the jerk he is, but Sabin fights through that and gets to shine on Xavier with some high-flying moves. Sabin’s offence looks really good here and Xavier does a good jump bumping around for it. Xavier manages to cut Sabin off eventually though, driving some vicious knees to Sabin’s face.

I like how Xavier wasn’t afraid to just be an unlikable Heel who didn’t always do flashy stuff and would just focus on winning. He could still do the big moves and would occasionally bust them out, but he was also happy to just use Heel tactics and strikes, which is why he worked so well as a Heel in the early days of the company. Sabin does a good job selling in the heat, as Xavier continues to mostly target the head and face area to make the most of Sabin’s previous injury.

Sabin eventually fights back and even teases a superplex to the floor, which earns both men a “Please Don’t Die” chant, but they don’t end up going through with it. We get some near falls following that, with Xavier actually delivering Austin Aries’ “Last Chancery” move to pick up a clean submission win OUTTA NOWHERE.

WINNER: XAVIER (2-0-0)
RATING: **3/4

Sabin is now out of the running. This was a decent match that felt like it had a higher gear it could have kicked into but they never really got there

Xavier is in a great position to win the Block.

Match Six
Steve Corino w/ Bobby Cruise Vs CM Punk

Corino’s extended ring introduction tonight includes Bobby Cruise reading a list of names of wrestlers who were known for enjoying booze, smoking and drugs, seeing as he’s taking on the teetotal Punk tonight. The funniest gag is all of Raven’s gimmicks getting read out at one stage and the final one just being “all of the Von Erich’s” is a pretty mean payoff but I also can’t deny that it isn’t a little bit funny too. Punk actually counters with his own list of drugs he’s never taken, although he gets Steven D’Angelis to read it out for him instead of Cruise.

After something like 10 minutes of intros we finally get to the wrestling match, with them kind of going for the Jake Roberts Vs Macho Man IC Title Heel Vs Heel match from SNME dynamic, with both guys trying to out Heel one another at different points. They have a decent back and forth match, focusing mostly on storytelling and trading strikes. Punk does eventually get to gain control of things for a bit and works Corino over, with Corino settling into the babyface role for tonight. Corino does sell well, so I can get why he’s able to draw some sympathy despite being a Heel.

Corino even starts Hulking Up at one stage, so Punk slaps him in the ear that Homicide injured in a previous bout. The ref tries to stop the match, but Corino tells him to give him a minute and eventually manages to pull himself back up, only to collapse again. Punk tries coming off the top with a frogsplash, but Corino was playing possum and moves out of the way before making a comeback. Add Corino to the list of career Heels who could do a really good fiery babyface comeback when the need arose for one.

We get some near falls following that, with Punk kicking out of a slew of Zero-1 finishers at one stage in a fun sequence. The crowd gets into the action and enjoys seeing Corino bust out the other guys’ moves. Some of the near falls are really well done, with both men timing their kick outs well and the crowd biting on a few of them. Eventually the time limit runs out though, leading to a 20 minute time limit draw.

TIME LIMIT DRAW
RATING: ***

Good match that told an interesting story and the result leaves more on the table if they are to ever wrestle again

 Corino teases that he wants five more minutes following that, but ends up swerving the fans and deciding against it. That leads to Punk and Corino having a bonding moment over how much they hate the fans. That was pretty funny.

Semi-Main
Four Corner Survival
Colt Cabana Vs Justin Credible Vs Jimmy Rave Vs John Walters

Walters is working double duty tonight because he’s so desperate to get that big win. This one has some good action in it, as most of these four corner matches do. One of the best moves is where all four guys get locked up in a sequence of submission moves. Some of the crowd reactions are a bit lacking, but they’ve watched quite a bit of wrestling by this stage as there were a few matches on the show that didn’t even make the final tape, so I can understand them being tired. Walters end up managing to catch Credible in a Sharpshooter and that’s enough for the clean win.

WINNER: JOHN WALTERS
RATING: **3/4

This was decent four corner action and that was a big win for Walters over a former ECW Champion, as Credible continues to have zero qualms in making the resident ROH guys look good during his run here

Credible shakes hands with Walters following that to give him even more of a rub.

Main Event
Non-Title No Holds Barred Match
ROH World Champion Samoa Joe Vs Homicide w/ Julius Smokes

They waste no time in heading outside in this one, with Joe doing his Ole Kicks and Homicide doing his crazy out of control flipping tope to the floor. A table soon gets involved, with it getting propped up in the corner. Joe tries to powerslam Homicide through it, but that goes awry and the table doesn’t break, so Joe decides to just powerbomb Homicide through it instead for two. They quickly got the crowd back onside after they booed the original botch there.

Joe continues to take it to Homicide, with a Step-over Toe-hold Face-lock being used as a submission tease, but Homicide makes the ropes. Joe doesn’t actually need to break the hold because of the match stips, but Smokes talks trash and Joe lets it go to jaw with him, which is a nice way of getting around the rules in a manner that makes sense. Joe actually tries coming off the second rope with a shoulder tackle, but Homicide catches him with a cutter on the way down and then starts making a comeback.

Joe puts a stop to that with an enziguri, which leads to a knock out tease, but Homicide is able to break the count. This has been a good hard hitting fight with some big moves and weapon spots sprinkled in, and the crowd has enjoyed it. They have worked it at a quick clip and haven’t given it loads of time due to it being an intense fight where guys would naturally get worn down quicker. Homicide manages to knock Joe down and then chokes him with a noose to put him out for the win.

WINNER: HOMICIDE
RATING: ***1/4

Good intense brawl there, where they worked it in a believable manner and the finish was a good way of having Homicide win without making Joe look weak

Homicide taunts Joe post-match to set himself up for another Title shot.

Special K are having a rave backstage and disrespect the tag belts again. Rob Feinstein comes in to tell Izzy and Dixie that they’ll be facing The Briscoe Brothers for the belts on the next show. Special K doesn’t like that.

Jim Cornette cuts a promo, saying he’s going to make fools of The Prophecy on the next show.

In Conclusion

There wasn’t a super blow away match here, but there were a lot of good ones and the storyline advancement was on point, so I enjoyed it for the most part. There are better overall shows from 2003 and also some shows that had a few weaker matches but also some absolute top level bangers on them too, so you’re probably better of hunting those down. This is a solid effort though; it just doesn’t need to be near the top of your purchase list.

Mildly recommended show