Mike Reviews – ROH Main Event Spectacles (1st November 2003) – Part One

Welcome to another ROH Wednesday!

This week we’ve got a pretty famous show from ROH’s early years, mainly because it features Teddy Hart getting himself over like rover only to blow it for himself. That’ll come next week though, whilst this week we’ve got some Field of Honour and the continuation of the Xavier Vs John Walters feud that I personally enjoy so much, before Homicide and BJ Whitmer close us out in a hard hitting scuffle.

The event is emanating from Elizabeth, New Jersey

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and Ray Murrow

We open up with Colt Cabana doing yoga backstage to prepare for his match with Dan Maff. CM Punk comes over to give him a pep talk, saying that Colt is wrestling for The Second City Saints tonight and not himself.

Opening Match
Field of Honour – Block B
Dan Maff (1-1-0) w/ Allison Danger Vs Colt Cabana (2-0-0)

Colt will sweep the Block and advance to the Finals against the eventual winner of Block A if he is able to defeat Maff tonight. Cabana uses comedy antics to get the better of Maff in the shine, going so far as to dance with both Maff and Danger at points. Maff sells annoyance at Colt’s wacky behaviour well, but Cabana is here to win as well and does eventually start getting more serious as the bout progresses.

Maff does manage to cut Colt off for a bit and flings him into the metal railings around ringside in an effort to wear him down before taking him back into the ring for some suplexes. Colt keeps coming though and we head into the closing stretch, with both men getting some near falls and the crowd being into the action. Cabana heads up with a moonsault attempt, but there’s no water in the pool and the Burning Hammer wins it for Maff.

WINNER: DAN MAFF (2-1-0)
RATING: ***

Good opening match, with the different styles gelling well

This now means that BJ Whitmer, Cabana and Maff will play-off in a triple threat match to decide who will advance to the Finals.

Samoa Joe and Jim Cornette join us, as Joe destroys Maff and Danger at the behest of Cornette. Christopher Daniels comes in and fends Joe off a little bit so that Maff and Danger can get to safety before bailing himself. Cornette grabs a mic and says that what just happened was a receipt for The Prophecy making him look bad during an ROH show in Dayton. The big twist though is that Cornette isn’t actually here to be the manager for Joe but rather Jay and Mark Briscoe, a point that Cornette drives home by attacking Joe with his racket, leading to what I think constitutes a Heel beat down, although Joe is kind of a tweener for the most part so it’s not like it’s easy to feel sympathy for him. That was still a good angle though, and putting Cornette with any decent tag act is going to give them instant credibility.

Izzy and Dixie don’t want to party backstage tonight because they’re worried about their match with The Briscoe’s later on.

Match Two
Xavier and Nigel McGuinness w/ Lollipop Vs John Walters and Tony Mamaluke

Xavier and Walters are the two guys with the issue here, as Xavier has cheated Walters out of multiple matches and their feud has been heating up on every show. Nigel isn’t really a full on Heel here, something that becomes clear when he actually shakes hands with the other two, but he has been brought in by Xavier as a ringer for this one due to his scientific skills and is willing to work with him in order to win.

There’s some really good technical grappling in this one, with Nigel and Walters in particular doing some lovely holds and counters. Xavier is more interested in turning things into a fight rather than actually engaging in the pure wrestling going on, which makes sense when you consider his Heel character. The crowd responds well to the technical wrestling on display, especially when Nigel does some of his European styled counters.

Xavier does bust out the old Bob Backlund arm bar counter at one stage on Mamaluke, which is a spot I’ve always liked, and he adds an extra bit of stank to it by flinging Mamaluke out to the floor whilst doing it. Xavier being a Heel who just enjoys being the biggest jerk he can possibly be is so wildly entertaining to me. His character knows that what he’s doing goes completely against the spirit of ROH, and that’s actively why he enjoys doing it so much.

Xavier and Nigel work a bit of heat on Mamaluke following that, but eventually Walters gets the hot tag and runs wild, looking good in the process. Walters looks to finally have Xavier defeated, but Nigel breaks up the pin attempt following a Back Cracker attempt. Things break down following that, which leads to Xavier stealing the pin on Walters after Nigel has already hit him with a big Pedigree styled move.

WINNERS: XAVIER & NIGEL
RATING: **3/4

Decent match that kept the feud cooking, as Xavier has once again stolen one from Walters. Nigel looked very good in there but I’m not sure whether he became a regular yet or if it was a bit later on in 04/05

Xavier taunts Walters following that and then leaves Nigel behind so he can leave with Lollipop. We see that Prince Nana was watching from the shadows as Xavier and Lollipop walked backstage.

Match Three
Justin Credible Vs Matt Stryker

Credible put Stryker over clean in a previous match in Dayton, getting busted open in the process, so tonight we’ve got a rematch. Credible tries the same tactic as he did in the previous match in Dayton by trying to stall and use Heel techniques in order to throw the more technically focused Stryker off his game. It makes for a fun clash of styles and adds some strategy to proceedings, which is something I can appreciate from a storytelling perspective.

Credible manages to eventually cut Stryker off for a bit, continuing to try and slow things down and draw some heat from the crowd so that they get into the possibility of a Stryker comeback. Some of the fans even go back in time a little bit by bringing back some of the derogatory chants that Credible used to get I his ECW days. Stryker does make a comeback, with Credible bumping, feeding and selling for it all perfectly.

The crowd doesn’t really bite on this one as much as they did for the match in Dayton, but it’s still a well worked match with both men telling a good story as the match progresses, with them gradually building to bigger and bigger moves. Stryker gets a Spicolli Driver (the move that won him the bout in Dayton) but this time Credible is able to kick out and gets a Tombstone Piledriver for a two of his own. Stryker fights back though and busts out an inverted Figure Four Leglock for another clean win over Credible.

WINNER: MATT STRYKER
RATING: ***

Justin Credible just keeps doing everything he can to make Stryker look good in these matches, and he’s put him over clean decisively two times now. They can either end the feud here or keep the story going of Credible chasing and finally attaining the win, which won’t hurt Stryker at this stage because he’s already had two big wins and Credible has done everything he can to make him look good in the matches

We don’t get much of a post-match but the commentators push how Stryker has now both pinned Credible and made him submit in subsequent matches.

Match Four
ROH Tag Team Titles
Champs: Izzy and Dixie w/ Special K Vs Jay and Mark Briscoe w/ Jim Cornette

Izzy and Dixie almost work as underdog babyfaces here, as the whole story of the match is that they are already outgunned against The Briscoe’s physically, and with Cornette in the challengers corner they are now out-tactic’d on top of that for good measure. A lot of the match involves The Briscoe’s clobbering both of the Champions, with the Champs doing an admirable job of being crash test dummies for the challengers.

Izzy actually does kind of a hot tag segment at one stage, but the crowd doesn’t really get into it outside of some dives because Special K are Heels and they don’t really have much interest in seeing them work as babyfaces, even if it is in a one off situation like this. The crowd does get into the big moves in the closing stretch at least, and some of them are admittedly pretty exciting. There seems to be a botch where Izzy is supposed to kick out of the Veg-O-Matic, but he doesn’t, leading to an awkward two count. The Briscoe’s win it soon after with a Jay Driller anyway though.

WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: THE BRISCOE’S
RATING: *1/2

Probably the right result as it was time The Briscoe’s won the belts after many failed attempts, but the way the match itself was structured didn’t really work because Special K aren’t cool or liked enough that they could pull off being the babyfaces for the night

The Briscoe’s celebrate with Cornette and their new belts following that, with Cornette paying tribute to Road Warrior Hawk with a quick promo.

Match Five
Homicide w/ Julius Smokes Vs BJ Whitmer

This is a “Fighting Spirit Challenge” apparently, which means you can by Pin, Submission, KO and there will be a 20 count outside the ring. This one has a good mixture of work on the mat and good old fashion Strong-Style strikes and throws. Whitmer even flings Homicide to the floor at one stage and follows up with a Tope Suicida. Both men are babyfaces, so they mostly trade the momentum between one another as opposed to one wrestler working a traditional heat segment on the other. It’s good action and the crowd gets into the hard strikes.

Homicide gets a dive of his own as the match progresses, but Whitmer fires back with a Super-Duper-Plex back inside, as both men continue to switch control. Whitmer actually gets Homicide in a really punishing looking surfboard style hold at one stage, with the fans reacting to it strongly due to just how brutal it is. Whitmer does the old King’s Road delayed sell from a suplex at one stage, which leads to Homicide just CLOCKING him with a head butt, which leads to both men bleeding. Man, they went full-on Shibata there.

We get a KO tease from that, but Whitmer manages to fight back with a series of suplexes before following up with a powerbomb for two in a great near fall. What’s strange about this one is that the crowd heat seems to have dissipated a bit, even though they’re now hitting the part of the match where you would expect the crowd to be at their peak. It might just be that they burnt them out with the big moves early on in the match, or the head butt was too graphic and it took the crowd out of things.

Whitmer’s bad night continues as he dives out to the floor again, only to find the metal hoardings waiting for him. I can’t even comprehend the thought process that goes into something like that. It looked absolute wretched to take. Homicide pours on more misery back inside by getting the Cop Killa (Kudoh Driver/Brain Breaker), but that actually only gets a two, which causes the crowd to boo rather than pop that the move wasn’t the finish. Either they really wanted Homicide to win or they thought the kick out stretched the bounds of credibility. Or both of course.

Whitmer rolls out of the ring following that to give us our big count out tease, and he does get a pop for climbing back inside after giving off the impression he was done. Homicide gets a big kick out of his own from Whitmer’s Wrist-Clutch Exploder Suplex, as they are really going all out in this one to make it feel like an epic match. They’ve mostly succeeded as well, and the crowd is getting into it again. Homicide ends up destroying Whitmer with a Lariat and that’s finally enough for three.

WINNER: HOMICIDE
RATING: ***1/4

I like myself some Japanese Strong-Style, but part of me felt like they were going a bit OTT with how violent this match was at times. I think it often gets forgotten that, big head drops aside, a lot of those Japanese matches are a lot safer than they look because they’re hitting each other hard in safe places and it’s just as much about dramatically building a match and telling a story as it is beating the absolute cheese sandwich out of one another. This match kind of crossed the line into them just killing one another, with that head butt in particular being absolutely gross. They were working super hard though and I appreciate their toughness, but this could have done with being a little bit faker if you ask me. They managed to make it feel epic and special by the end with the kick outs and the crowd appreciated it when all was said and done, so it was a success. I just personally didn’t like certain parts of it but your own mileage may vary

Both men show respect to one another following that. Whitmer heads to the back and Homicide soaks in some cheers before leaving, but this leaves him open to a Steve Corino sneak attack. Corino tries to go after Homicide’s eye by the looks of things, as a response to Homicide injuring his ear with a slap in their previous bout, although Corino then yells “an ear for an ear” so he might have been targeting that more and I just misinterpreted it. They probably should have had some commentary over it just to clarify.

And that’s intermission so I think we’ll pick this up next week when ROH Wednesdays continue!