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

Welcome to yet another ROH Wednesday!

This will be the last review of the classic ROH shows I do, at least for a while anyway. I’ve no idea what will be in it’s place next week but I guess we’ll find out then. I’ve enjoyed these but I’ve been reviewing them for a while now and I fancy freshening things up a bit. We might pick them up again down the line sometime

This week we’ve got a Scramble Cage, a Four Corner Survival and a match between AJ Styles and Bryan Danielson to look forward to, so hold on to yer butts!

The event is emanating from Elizabeth, New Jersey

Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and Ray Murrow

Gary Michael Cappetta is backstage during intermission. ROH World Champ Samoa Joe tells GMC that he’s going to get revenge on Jim Cornette due to what JC and The Briscoe’s did to him back in part one.

Match Six
Scramble Cage
The Backseat Boyz (Johnny Kashmere and Trent Acid) Vs Teddy Hart and Jack Evans Vs The Carnage Crew (Loc and DeVito) Vs Angel Dust and Hydro of Special K Vs The Spanish Announce Team (Jose & Joel Maximo)

The gimmick here is that they’ve put podiums at the top of the cage in each corner to make high spots easier to execute. This is kind of War Games style, with two teams starting and another coming out every three minutes and the match can only end when all of the teams have entered. Hart/Evans and The Backseat’s start us out, with it being all wacky big moves. Hart and Evans end up bailing to the floor due to losing the opening exchange, leaving us with The Backseat’s and The Carnage Crew going at it, with The Carnage Crew getting the best of that.

The SAT are next out, as DeVito has been busted from going into the cage. This one really is all about the spots, with psychology being at a premium. They outright say on commentary that the cage is just there as an excuse for some high-flying, which kind of dumps on the whole notion of why you would have a cage match to begin with, but they’ve put some notable spot monkeys in there to make use of it at least. Notably Hart and Evans do some crazy stuff, with Hart giving his own partner a rana off the top of the cage onto everyone else, which leads to Special K trying to steal the pin when they finally enter.

Evans just takes some insane bumps in this one, so much so that at points I’m genuinely relieved to see him come up alive from them. Seriously, if there was a match seemingly designed to cause a fatality it would be one like this. Ten guys in a cage with bodies flying all over the place and a procession of high risk moves, with so much going on at times that it’s hard to know where to look. Hydro ends up taking a Spanish Fly from the top of the cage at the hands of The SAT, with a bunch of other guys in the ring getting knocked down in the process.

That got a huge pop from the crowd and it looked amazing, and no one died, so I’ll have to give it a thumbs up even though it was a proper daft thing to be doing. Hart and Evans then up the ante even further by diving off the top of the cage to a bunch of guys out on the floor, with Evans doing multiple rotations on the way down for good measure. That was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. How did Jack Evans survive long enough to still be wrestling in in the 2020’s? It’s unbelievable!

The Carnage Crew kills Angel Dust with a spiked piledriver back inside for what appears to be the finish, but The Backseat Boyz come in to break up the pin and then follow up with the T-Gimmick on Hydro to pick up the win to get some revenge for Special K taking the tag belts from them. The Carnage Crew will have to wait to get their revenge on the rich kid ravers though.

WINNERS: THE BACKSEAT BOYZ
RATING: ***

I really didn’t know how to rate this one to be honest. It was just a procession of big moves, crazy dives and double teams, so there wasn’t much in the way of storytelling or psychology going on. Some of the high spots were executed magnificently though and the crowd lost their minds more than once, so the match ultimately succeeded in what it aimed to achieve and some of the big spots truly were thrilling. Some people will HATE this match, and there were parts of it I really didn’t like either, but I can’t deny that it entertained me, so I’ll go with the rating I’ve given and just thank the stars above that everyone survived this match

What we don’t get to see here is Teddy Hart going into business for himself and diving off the cage into an empty ring a few more times. Hart excused this by saying he had a concussion and didn’t remember it, but no one in ROH bought that and this pretty much ended his run there as a result. The fact this happened right after he and Evans had stolen the show in such a big match was just typical of Hart’s career in general, as he just seemed incapable of not ruining things for himself.

Semi-Main
Non-Title
Steve Corino w/ Ronnie Stevens, Guillotine Le Grande and Bobby Cruise Vs CM Punk Vs Christopher Daniels w/ Allison Danger Vs ROH World Champ Samoa Joe

The highlight of the entrances is CM Punk just staring down a crazy bald dude in the first row who is yelling at him to die. Corino’s long ring introduction this time revolves around him holding the NWA Southern Heavyweight Title, with Cruise reading off a long list of names of wrestlers who have held it, with the idea being that Corino is showing that his belt has a greater lineage than Joe’s does. This of course elongates the introduction to a ridiculous length and is the cheapest of cheap heat imaginable, but Cruise is funny with his delivery at least.

Punk and Daniels of course have a beef going on here, with both of them taking cheap shots on the other throughout the match. Joe is looking to take some challengers out of the running, whilst everyone else is trying to get a win so that they can get themselves in contention. All the shenanigans with Teddy Hart have delayed the cage getting taken down and Corino’s long entrance has caused things to drag on for even longer, so the crowd is actually pretty quiet for this in the early going, although they do get them back as the match goes on, especially when Joe flattens everyone with a big dive to the floor.

I’ve never really been a big fan of this match for whatever reason, which is strange because there’s an impressive collection of wrestling talent in there. It’s just never really “clicked” for me, although some of the wrestling is very good and it’s fun to see all four of these characters interact with one another. I also don’t think this sort of match really suits Corino’s ring style, as he’s better in a more straightforward singles or tag setting where he can focus on traditional old school storytelling.

Joe looks really good in this one at points, and he gets plenty of opportunities to look strong by taking on all three guys with suplexes and strikes. Corino and Punk do a few spots throughout the match to show that they’re working together, but there are also moments where they have miscommunication to show that they aren’t fully on the same page. We get the usual Finisher Madness™ section of the match where guys take it in turns to come in and hit some big moves for near falls, with someone else coming in to break it up and hit a move of their own.

The action is good for the most part, especially down the finishing stretch, and the crowd gets into most of the big moves and near falls. The finish keeps the story going as well, with Corino and Punk teaming up to get a double northern lights suplex on Daniels, which leads to a double pin. It’s a screwy finish but it’s an interesting wrinkle that at least that gives Daniels an out for losing and puts both Corino and Punk in possible contention for Title shots whilst also keeping the Corino/Punk/Daniels program cooking.

WINNERS: STEVE CORINO & CM PUNK – DOUBLE PIN
RATING: **1/2

This one still doesn’t do it for me. The wrestling was good and the story was there, but it just didn’t come together for me and it took me a while to get through it

Matt Stryker and Xavier go nose to nose backstage as they will be facing off to see who will win Block A. Stryker says nothing will stop him, whilst Xavier reminds Stryker that he was ROH Champ at one stage. John Walters shows up and challenges Xavier for another match, which Xavier seems happy to do.

Rob Feinstein hypes up the double header at the end of November. It’s Raven Vs Punk on the 28th and Corino Vs Homicide on the 29th.

Main Event
#1 Contender Match
Bryan Danielson Vs AJ Styles

The commentary team decides to not commentate on this one so that we can just enjoy the atmosphere, which I don’t personally mind in a one on one match like this but it would always annoy me when they would do it in big multi-man brawls because you kind of need commentary for things like that.

This match builds really well, with them starting out working it back and forth on the mat until Danielson starts working over Styles’ arm, essentially playing the role of the Heel for the evening. He even talks some smack to the crowd for good measure. All of Danielson’s work on the arm looks good and Styles does a great job of selling it all, so it’s engrossing stuff. Danielson shows off some really good Heel charisma actually, as you can see the beginnings of his eventual World Champion gimmick forming.

Styles eventually manages to suplex Danielson to the floor at one stage though, which leads to Danielson coming up selling his leg. Styles dishes out some of Danielson’s own medicine to him by targeting the leg in vicious manner, including flinging it into the ring post at one stage. This actually leads to Danielson’s knee starting to bleed, which probably means Styles got a little bit over excited with some of the spots there as it’s unlikely that Danielson decided to blade his leg.

Danielson sells the leg really well, with it affecting his ability to fight back, and this gives Styles a chance to show off some viciousness that we didn’t always get to see during his early days in ROH. Danielson gets to be all defiant at one stage though by demanding Styles take it to him, so Styles obliges with a series of kicks and stomps, and the crowd loves it. This match really does have a wonderful mix of great wrestling and consistent selling, and the crowd has responded to it as a result. Considering how late into the night this is, these guys have done a magnificent job getting the people into this.

We head into the closing stretch and the action continues to be really good, with both men believably going at it and the crowd continuing to be into everything. They’ve really worked this as a struggle, with both men wearing one another down gradually over the course of the match so that the match has built up to a crescendo. Danielson gets a number of submission teases on Styles, but Styles is able to hold on and refuses to tap. He even gets a modified Style Clash out of a Danielson arm bar attempt for two, before following up with the genuine article for three.

WINNER: AJ STYLES
RATING: ****

This was excellent and well worth a watch if you’ve never seen it. They were working super hard and the crowd really got into it. It was a textbook example of how to build a match and they didn’t go near fall crazy at the end either. Danielson got a few chances to win it with his submission moves and then Styles put him away with two big moves at the end so that they took it home at the peak. Really great stuff, but I would expect no less from these two. One heck of a match to send me off into the sunset for the time being on these ROH reviews

We get the handshake following that, so both men appear to be back to being babyfaces after both showed the odd Heel tendency in that one.

Good Times, Great Memories with Colt Cabana is next. Loc and DeVito are the first guests, and they don’t like that The Backseat Boyz stopped them from winning earlier. They aren’t worried about facing Special K down the line either. Colt has a poem for them, and The Carnage Crew actually likes it, although they are offended by Colt not liking beer.

Steve Corino brags about clobbering Homicide with a chain back in Part One, and says he’ll cripple Homicide on the 29th of November in a Barbed Wire match.

Gary Michael Capetta tries to interview Jim Cornette and The Briscoe’s, and Cornette is happy to put them over because they have the hunger to succeed. The Briscoe’s leave and Cornette blows off GMC’s worries about him maybe making too many enemies in ROH. This of course leads to Samoa Joe showing up now that Cornette is all alone and then battering him in the locker room. Cornette going from slagging Joe off to then being super nice to him to avoid getting killed was hilarious.

In Conclusion

This one is certainly memorable and features some good wrestling and story line advancement. The Main Event is brilliant and worth the price of admission alone, but the rest of the card holds up well for the most part too, with some sturdy work in the under card. The cage match will probably divide people, but I enjoyed it even though I could appreciate that it had flaws.

Recommended Show

And that’s me done with classic ROH for a while. It’s a shame the real ROH looks like it might be on the ropes for good as I write this in December of 2021. I’d certainly like it to survive in some form or another. If it does fall by the wayside though then I hope the tape library ends up in the right hands, as losing stuff like this would be a tragedy.

Thanks if you’ve taken the time to read these and have enjoyed the wrestling along with me. See you all next week for something new!