Ring of Honor: Death Before Dishonor July 17th, 2003

July 17, 2003

From the Rex Plex in Elizabeth, NJ

Your hosts are Ray Murrow and Chris Levy

CM Punk is backstage. He says it is the most important night in his life. He calls Raven no better than the dog a collar goes around and promises to end the feud tonight as it has gotten way too personal. He talks about choking out Raven at Wrestlerave and gloats that he gave Raven a flashback of his horrible life then talks about a time when his dad came home from work drunk then puked as he was asleep and turned blue then watched the light fade away but tipped him over so he could breathe again and regrets doing that ever since as he wanted the misery and pain to end. He now cannot figure out why he let Raven live as he is better than him because he has saved lived while all Raven has done is ruin them. Colt Cabana then walks in to interrupt as Punk pins him up against the wall and says how he is sick of his “Tom Foolery and shenanigans.” He walks away then Cabana looks into the camera and attempts to be funny as he claims that fans say they remind them of a “modern day Dave Coulier” before saying he has a serious side because he cried during the film “My Girl.” Cabana closes by saying we should wait until the night is over so we can take him seriously.

Before the show we see Special K having a rave at ringside. Elax has even made his return, to the joy of no one.

Backstage, Gary Michael Cappetta approaches Samoa Joe and asks him about his match against Paul London, who is having his last match in the company tonight. Joe then runs down other special moments and says that it won’t be one for Paul London tonight as this is his night and he will retain his RoH World Title. Cappetta then gets notified off camera that Homicide and Julius Smokes are here so he runs off to find them.

Back to the ring as the Special K rave continues. Becky Bayless was smoking hot here.

Cappetta talks to Homicide and asks what happened at the closed door meeting between Low Ki, Julius Smokes and himself after Wrestlerave. Homicide calls Cappetta a dumb ass for suggesting that he is now in a feud with Ki as Smokes and another one of Homicide’s thugs call Cappetta a “bitch-ass wigga” and does not care that Steve Corino refuses to come back to RoH because of him. Homicide then tells Cappetta to tell Corino that he is challenging him to a Strong-Style match in RoH and that he will leave his guys back in Brooklyn.

Back in the ring as the show is starting with the rave continuing in the ring. They then start to mess with ring announcer Stephen DeAngelis. Now, the Christopher Street Connection come down to the ring with Ariel as they have interrupted the rave. A “you suck dick” chant is aimed at the CSC as they tell Special K that they do not like their raves but rather disco music as they dance briefly until Special K jumps then from behind. The CSC get destroyed until Low Ki comes out and he looks pissed. Special K all back away from him as Ki first excuses himself for interrupting but that he is not here to see anyone dance and that he came here for a fight. The bell then rings as Deranged, Cloudy, and Hijynx all plead with Ki, who slaps down Cloudy. Hijynx laughs as Ki laughs with him before taking him down with the Dragon Clutch as the bell rings again. The rest of Special K leaves except for Deranged, who hits Ki with a low blow then mocks Ki as we now have a match.

Deranged vs. Low Ki

This is Ki’s first match in RoH since returning from injury. Deranged lands a bunch of shots then hits a tilt-a-whirl armdrag. Deranged then snaps off a hurricarana then gets two off of a spin kick. Deranged chokes him on the mat then targets the injured shoulder of Ki. Deranged doesn’t look half bad here. He kicks Ki in the face before going back to the arm as Levy tells us that Ki is only at 75%.  Ki gets sent through the ropes with a dropkick then Deranged takes him out on the floor with a springboard moonsault. They head back inside as Deranged hits Ki in the back of the head with a springboard dropkick. He then tries a handspring move but Ki catches him and just slams him down in a clunky-looking sequence. Ki is now viciously kicking Deranged in the face as he grabs him by the hair. He then drills him with a rolling Koppu Kick in the corner as he is just brutalizing this kid. Deranged sells like he is dead on the mat as Ki yanks him up so he can chop him in the corner. He then hits Deranged with the Tidal Crush as a few of the Special K goons distract Ki so Slugger can run out and grab Ki as the ref does nothing because this is not a match with honor from what Levy said. We then see that Ki is grabbing Slugger by the dick as he has the big man down. Deranged moves in for the attack but Ki picks him up and hits a pair of Krush Rushes before hitting the Ki Krusher then gets the win with the Dragon Clutch (6:34) **.

Thoughts: Fun match that was able to put Ki right back in the mix as a top guy for the company. Deranged did his part here too as this was a smart way to start the show.

Christopher Daniels is “backstage” at a New Japan show as he tells us that this is the biggest night in RoH history but that they never would have been in position to draw 1,200 fans tonight if it wasn’t for him and that the company was built on his shoulders. He then calls out Low Ki and how he will take him out just like he did with Corino, by getting close to those around him. He then says that he will challenge for the #1 Contender’s Trophy when he gets back to the states.

Jimmy Rave vs. Matt Stryker

These guys both trade hammerlocks to start. They are now fighting over a headlock as Stryker wins that battle then attacks the arm. Rave now takes control as he takes Stryker down with a Fujiwara armbar and that leads to a back-and-forth sequence that ends in a stalemate. Levy says that we will get some information about the “Field of Honor” as soon as tonight as Stryker has Rave grounded. Stryker targets the arm as this match has slowed down. Rave fights back and hits a backbreaker then follows that with a bridging suplex for a nearfall. Stryker comes back with a boot to the face but Rave counters a leg lock and puts on a rear chokehold. Stryker backs Rave into the corner but gets placed up top as Rave hits a Spider belly-to-belly suplex but poses for too long and that allows Stryker to hit a suplex of his own. Both guys are down then trade chops in a sequence that ends with Rave kneeing Stryker in the gut. Shining Wizard gets two. Rave ducks his head and gets booted in the face. Stryker then comes back with a leg lariat and gets two with a powerslam. Rave escapes from a Death Valley Driver attempt and goes for a headlock but Stryker hits a jawbreaker. Rave then uses a satellite headscissors to take down Stryker then puts on a STF. Stryker reaches the ropes then gets up and hits Rave with the Death Valley Driver for the win (8:45) **.

Thoughts: The action here was okay but they did not have the greatest chemistry and just a showcase for Stryker as a threat in the upcoming “Field of Honor” tournament. Stryker did not have anything to warrant a push, IMO.

Weapons Match
Carnage Crew & Justin Credible & Masada vs. Fast Eddie & Don Juan & Hotstuff Hernandez & Rudy Boy Gonzalez

Match starts with a giant brawl outside of the ring. DeVito is smiling as he canes Fast Eddie. The action starts to spill into the ring where Hernandez crotches Masada on the top rope then he an Eddie mistime a double dropkick that draws a “you fucked up” chant. In the ring, Credible is chopping Juan in the corner then powerbombs him for a nearfall. The action is everywhere as Rudy Boy follows Credible into the crowd and it looks impressive as there is a decent sized crowd here. The camera work is shaky though. In the ring, Eddie hits Masada with a release German suplex, crashing his head off of a chair. Loc cuts him off the top then climbs up and hits a released German suplex that sends Eddie through a folding chair! That draws a well-deserved holy shit chant as that spot looked fantastic. The ladder is in the corner across the ropes as that is used as a weapon. These guys are just beating the shit out of each other now but its all action and come cool spots too. Juan DDT’s Masada off of the top rope and through a chair as DeVito breaks up that pinfall. Masada bounces the ladder off of Hernandez then Eddie sets it up in the corner. He climbs up but Loc is on the second rope and cuts him off. DeVito climbs up the ladder and takes Eddie down with a superplex after Juan takes Masada off of the apron and through a few chairs with a swinging neckbreaker. Christ, this match is brutal. Everyone slows down for a few minutes then the Carnage Crew put Juan through a table from off of the apron with a spike piledriver as Levy alerts us that Gonzalez and Credible are now brawling in the parking lot. Hernandez then flies out and hits a tope on Masada that gets a good reaction. Gonzalez comes out as Levy now tells us that Credible is hurt and unable to continue. Back to the match as Hernandez puts Masada through a few chairs with a crucifix powerbomb (8:04) ***1/4.

Thoughts: This was a lot better than I was expecting. No idea what happened with Credible here but he did look very good in this match. Some of these spots were absolutely brutal though as these guys beat the shit out of each other.

Outcast Killaz vs. The Purists

The purists are Tony Mamaluke and John Walters. They are both very intense during the pre-match handshake. Levy talks up the Purists as Mamaluke starts off the match by grounding Tortuga, who to his credit fought back well, as they end up tangled in the ropes. Walters and Santiago tag in as they also roll around on the mat. They are letting the Outcast Killaz look a bit credible here. Walters works the ankle as the announcers talk about the feud the Killaz have with Dunn & Marcos. The Killaz take control of the match and hit a few nice double-team moves. Walters clotheslines Santiago then puts both of the Killaz in a contrived double submission hold that does not even get that much of a response from the crowd. Mamaluke works a neck vise but that gets broken up with a jawbreaker. Mamaluke comes back with a knee to the gut then gets two with a flying knee smash to the face. Walters tags and chops down Santiago in the corner. Dropkick gets two. Santiago comes back with a blockbuster as both men are down. The crowd rallies behind Santiago, who makes the tag. Tortuga then runs wild on Mamaluke and puts him in a stretch after elevating him in the wheelbarrow position as Santiago dropkicks him down. Walters comes in and dumps Santiago on the ropes then sends him to the floor with a dropkick. Mamaluke then powerbombs Tortuga as Walters stretches him out while Mamaluke puts him in a leg lock and they get the win (8:31) **1/4.

Thoughts: A decent way to showcase the new Purists team. Also, they let the Outcast Killaz shine a bit here and they did fine.

After the match, Dunn & Marcos come out and mock the Killaz. Then, Xavier makes his return as he walks down the aisle and stares at the duo, who are doing their routine. Xavier is not amused as he takes them both out with a double clothesline. He hits Dunn with a Cobra Clutch suplex then hits Marcos with the Kiss Your X Goodbye but not before kneeing him in the head three times. Gary Michael Cappetta then comes out and asks Xavier why he has returned. Xavier said that he cannot believe RoH would hold a tournament with the eight best wrestlers without inviting him and says that all he wants is respect and will go through seven other guys to get some. He closes by saying that he is back and better than ever. Decent promo from Xavier but the sound was not too good here.

Tom Carter vs. Doug Williams

Match starts with some back-and-forth action on the mat that the crowd appreciates. Carter works the arm for a bit as Levy puts over the matwork featured in RoH and how they respect it, unlike “other” companies. Williams fights back and hits a pair of European uppercuts before using a figure-four neck lock. Carter escapes and from that puts Williams in a bow-and-arrow hold. Williams then fights back and hammers away. Neckbreaker gets two. Carter is able to put Williams in an armbar then continues to work on the arm for a while. They go back and forth with Williams trying to act aggressive as Carter counters by targeting the arm. Williams rolls outside and sells his shoulder but drags Carter outside then sends him into the guardrail. Back inside, Carter blocks a suplex attempt but Williams eventually gets him up in a delayed vertical suplex that gets two. Tornado DDT gets two. Williams kneedrops Carterin the head before placing him up top. Williams tries for a German suplex but Carter reverses and has him in a hammerlock. Williams tosses him off as both men are down on the mat. Carter comes back with a moonsault block that gets two but Williams sends him into the corner and hits a pair of knee smashes. He then hits a top rope kneedrop that gets two. Williams targets the head but Carter comes back with a Flatliner and a pair of Shining Wizards but is unable to put him away. He heads up top but Williams cuts him off. Williams tries to take him off but Carter counters with a swinging DDT. He heads back up top and hits a beautiful frog splash that gets two. Carter uses an armbar but Williams lifts him up off of the mat and tosses him into the corner. Williams then hits the Chaos Theory but sells his arm and is unable to cover. He gets up and tries a suplex but Carter reverses the hold and rolls him up for the win (14:21) ***1/2.

Thoughts: Really good match. This was also the last appearance of Carter in RoH. No idea what happened here but it made no sense to have him win this and blow off joining the Prophecy if he was planning on never returning to the company. His wife did give birth several weeks before the match so maybe he just decided to quit wrestling. Does anyone know what happened regarding his departure?

After the match, Allison Danger meets Carter in the back and asks him to join the Prophecy because Daniels wants him in the group. Carter doesn’t say anything then walks away. This was the last time Carter was in RoH.

#1 Contender’s Trophy Match
Colt Cabana vs. BJ Whitmer vs. Homicide w/ Julius Smokes vs. Dan Maff w/ Alison Danger

After some blind tags, Whitmer and Homicide start off the match. They go back-and-forth in a decent sequence. Colt blindly tags Homicide and tries to attack Maff from behind but that fails. Colt has been doing his comedy schtick the whole time. Maff hits a suplex but misses a diving headbutt. Cabana comes back with a lariat. Whitmer and Homicide tag in and go at it for a bit. Whitmer goes outside and Homicide flies out with a tope as he crashes into the guardrail. Back inside where Whitmer catches Homicide with a powerslam then hits a Northern Lights Suplex as Cabana breaks up the pin. Cabana is now in as Homicide chops him in the corner. Cabana comes back with a suplex-type move that ends up as a butterfly lock but Whitmer tagged himself in and targets the back and neck of Homicide, who then returns the favor as they trade kicks to the back in a “Strong Style” sequence. Maff then yanks Homicide to the floor. Whitmer charges and Maff backdrops him outside then Maff pauses and look back and forth before flying out with a tope that he overshot and wound up in the front row. That looked quite painful. Cabana then takes out the other two with a quebrada. In the ring, Maff and Whitmer trade chops until Homicide pokes Maff in the eye. They all trade various suplexes. Whitmer is getting destroyed in the corner as Cabana is back in with the action too fast to call. The crowd goes nuts as Maff hits Cabana with a German suplex as he hit Homicide with a fisherman’s buster. Everyone is down on the mat as Colt is up first. He tries to hit Whitmer with the Colt 45 but Whitmer floats over and hits an inverted DDT. Whitmer gets flattened by a clothesline courtesy of Homicide. Maff hits Homicide but misses a cannonball. Cabana hits Homicide with a draping Ace Crusher then Maff hits Cabana with the Burning Hammer and covers but Whitmer breaks that up. Whitmer hits a Saito suplex for two that Homicide breaks up. He boots Whitmer in the face then sends Maff to the floor. Homicide places Cabana on top but takes too long as Whitmer takes him off with a German Suplex. Whitmer then goes up top and hits Cabana with an Exploder for the win (13:45) ***3/4. After the match everyone shakes hands except for Maff, who spits at Homicide then leaves after telling everyone to fuck off. Maff and Smokes then get into it as Maff yells at Smokes to “go back to the projects.”

Thoughts: Awesome stuff. All four guys busted their ass too. They are doing a fine job with the Homicide storyline of him trying to get away from his thug past to provide for his kid yet needing protection and having Smokes and his thugs with him, with everyone hating Homicide for bringing Smokes into the company. They are also giving Whitmer a push and although he was fine in the ring here, he did not really stand out other than being taller and having a better physique than most on the roster. See, even in RoH that can be the case as that is something not just unique to the WWE but rather accustom in all of professional wrestling.

Daniels is shown backstage from “Japan” as he is talking to Danger on his phone. He tells her to watch the show and call her as soon as the title matches end. He then gets off the phone and says that Xavier’s return was planned all along then tells Maff that he stole the show and made a mockery of the “Code of Honor.” He then addresses Tom Carter and tells him he needs his answer soon as its better to be with the Prophecy then against them.

Cappetta is backstage with Low Ki. He asks him about hurting Special K tonight as he tells Cappetta that they have disrespected the Code of Honor since the company began and will teach them lessons until they stop breaking the code. He calls out Maff for betraying his family before closing by saying he will be the RoH World Champion again. Cappetta then asks him about his meeting with Homicide as Ki tells him that it is not of his concern and to do his job and listen as he tells him he will be the RoH Champion once again.

We are shown a clip from Wrestlerave when Special K put the Backseat Boyz through a table.

Scramble Match
Mikey Whipwreck & Hydro & Angel Dust & Brian XL vs. Backseat Boyz & Spanish Announce Team

Hydro and Joel start off the match with a nice little sequence. Hydro in particular looked good. Angel Dust then comes in and hands a pill to Kashmere, who shoves it back down his throat and hits him with a few chops. Kashmere then spears Angel Dust and applies a figure four. Brian XL flies in with an elbow as he and Jose work their usual botch-filled sequence of highspots. Whipwreck hits Acid with a facebuster then this heads to Special K getting suplexed in a lame spot. Acid and Hydro anre in the ring and its clear that they are the best two in the whole match. The SAT’s then take down Hydro as Jose puts him in the Camel Clutch and everyone else hits him in the face with dropkicks repeatedly. Angel Dust springboards in to hit Jose with a blockbuster that gets two. The match breaks down then Jose drops Angel Dust as both men are down. Joel then hits the Maximo Explosion on Brian XL as now Trent Acid runs wild then this leads to the SAT’s hitting Hydro with the Spanish Fly. Joel then holds up Mikey for Acid but misses and gets hit with an enziguiri as Whipwreck then gets the Whippersnapper on Acid for the win (8:22) *1/4. After the match, the Backseat Boyz destroy the SAT’s as the crowd applauds.

Thoughts: These scramble matches were a lost cause and this match pretty much sucked. A majority of the Special K guys were useless and the SAT’s fucked up all the time. And fat Mikey Whipwreck is just awful in every single way. And he trained these guys too.

Krazy K vs. Joey Matthews vs. Jeff Hardy

A few fans start a “Fuck you Hardy” chant as he came to the ring in a goofy mask doing some of his terrible dancing. Hardy had a few vocal fans here at the start then a loud “You Got Fired” and a “We Want Matt” chant breaks out just before the match. Matthews beats on both guys to start. Hardy fights back as the fans boo then he takes off his mask as the girls in attendance scream. Hardy clotheslines Matthews to the floor then works one of the worst sequences I have ever seen with Krazy K. My god, wrestling school students in their first week could have done a better job. Hardy is still wearing his coat here too. Matthews comes back and tosses Krazy K to the floor. He follows him out and orders the fans to get out of the way then teases throwing him over the guardrail before tossing him back inside. Hardy comes out and brawls with Matthews then Krazy K flies out with a twisting plancha as Hardy doesn’t ever bother to catch him. Even the announcers are noting how Hardy isn’t giving a shit out here. Krazy K and Hardy team up on Matthews until Krazy K goes for a quick rollup. Hardy comes back with a powerbomb then takes forever to climb up and gets shoved off by Matthews as the crowd cheers. Matthews then hits Krazy K with an inverted DDT for two as the fans are completely shitting on this match and rightfully so as it is awful. Hardy and Matthews fight up top as Hardy shoves him off then hits the Swanton Bomb. Hardy now goes after K and gets the win with his double leg drop rollup (6:15) DUD.

Thoughts: What a fucking disaster this turned out to be. If not for Matthews, this would have easily reached negative star territory as Hardy and Krazy K were fucking horrible. The crowd hated Hardy, who looked every bit as strung out as he did before getting canned by the WWE. Krazy K was never seen in RoH again and for good reason. Its almost worth seeking this out because of the trainwreck factor.

We are shown a recap of the Punk/Raven feud.

Punk taunts the crowd before the match about how the building does not sell alcohol and that they were led down the wrong path as they start a “shut the fuck up” chant back at Punk, who says he feels sorry for them because Raven led them down the road to ruin. Punk then compares Raven to his “lousy, drunk father” as the crowd starts an “alcohol” chant. He then rips on Danny Doring, who is shown chugging a beer in the crowd as the fans start an “ECW” chant. Security prevents Doring from coming out to the ring as Punk again rips on the crowd until Raven comes out for the match. Punk was truly great here.

Dog Collar Match
CM Punk vs. Raven

A few in the crowd start a “CM Pussy” chant. They get chained together as Punk tries to escape but Raven yanks him back then uses the chain as a weapon. The action heads outside where Raven sends Punk into the post then crotches Punk with the chain before sending him into the guardrail with a Russian leg sweep as Punk is already busted open with his forehead painted red with blood. Raven continues the assault as he rolls Punk back inside. He sets up a table in the corner but Punk hits him with a low blow. Raven comes back with a kneelift but Punk reverses an Irish whip and sends Raven through the table as he now takes control of the match. He beats on Raven outside of the ring then chokes him out with the chain then busts open his forehead. Punk sends Raven into the guardrail a few times before sending him into the crowd. Punk steps back to take a breather but Raven yanks the chain as Punk flies into the guardrail. Both men are brawling through the crowd as this match is pretty fucking good right now. Raven knocks Punk through a few chairs then they head through to the other side of the crowd where Raven hands a fan a chair to hold so he can bounce Punk’s head off of that. Raven heads up to the bleachers but Punk yanks him down as Raven takes a hell of a bump. Punk now whips Raven with the chain as they head back towards the ring. Punk brings a garbage can ringside then rolls Punk into the ring. He hits Raven with a back elbow smash as Punk hurt his arm on that move. Punk then drops a knee on Raven as he has a microphone and calls Raven an “old timer” as he beats on him some more. He hits a suplex then a step-up enziguiri before he climbs up top and talks into the microphone but Raven yanks him off. Punk gets back up and taunts Raven by calling him “Flamingo” but Raven fights back. He clotheslines Punk down several times and gets two with a kneelift. He sets up a chair and sends Punk into it with a drop toehold for two. He then spits on Punk before grabbing a chair but Punk ducks as the ref gets hit with the chair. Raven then yanks Punk down then hits the Raven Effect but the referee is down. Colt Cabana runs into the ring and hits him with a low blow before hitting a DDT onto the chair. Cabana then taunts the crowd but Danny Doring comes out from the crowd and takes him out with a clothesline as they brawl outside but in the ring Punk rolls on top of Raven as the referee awakes and gets the win (18:22) ****. After the match, Punk tapes Raven’s wrists to the ropes as he is on the floor. Punk then grabs the mic and tells Raven that he is better than him and all that is left to do now is to send Raven back to rehab as he cracks a beer and pours it down his throat. Punk then calls Raven an addict as someone screams “I can’t believe you gave him a fucking beer.” Tommy Dreamer then comes out from the crowd to whack Punk with a chair as the crowd starts an “ECW” then a “Dreamer” chant. Dreamer then ties Punk to the ropes as the crowd chants “fuck him up Dreamer, fuck him up.” Dreamer then unties Raven, who can barely stand then they hug as the fans applaud. Raven then grabs the mic as he welcomes Punk to his worst nightmare as he cracks a beer then pours it down Punk’s throat, who is spitting it out. Dreamer when pulls a Sandman and smashes the can against his head as Punk is flipping out. Raven pours another beer on Punk as Dreamer struts around. They leave as the referees untie Punk, who flips out and tosses them down as he heads to the back.

Thoughts: Excellent match and easily the best from Punk at this point in his career. Both guys beat each other and kept it heated throughout the entire time. The post match stuff was fun as well with Dreamer surprising everyone by running in and he had some fun with Raven as they tortured Punk. It also set them up to have another match to keep the feud going.

Paul London cuts a promo about his experience in Ring of Honor as this was his last show before heading to the WWE. He puts over his opponents like Michael Shane, Bryan Danielson, Low Ki, and AJ Styles. He closes by saying that he will not let the people down and has a special feeling tonight and has to win the Championship. Long-winded promo from London, who seemed genuinely emotional here. And came off a tad high as well.

The Briscoes vs. AJ Styles & Amazing Red w/ Alexis Laree

The stipulations here are that this is the last match between the two teams and no matter who wins, there will not be a rematch. Match starts with Jay and AJ beating the shit out of each other as they spill outside. Mark and Red fight in the ring then Mark misses a dive to the floor. AJ sends Mark into the guardrail but Jay sends whips him then rolls AJ back inside. Red tags in and hits Jay with the Code Red for two. Mark tags in as the Briscoes now attack AJ, who comes back with a lariat on Mark. AJ tries for the Styles Clash but that gets blocked as Red tags and they hit Mark with stereo enziguiris for two. Red kicks Mark in the back then hits a basement dropkick for two. AJ tags as the announcers bring up Red’s knee injury. AJ gets two off of a dropkick then a neckbreaker. Red tags back in as he chops Mark then gets a baseball slide for two. Mark comes back with a low dropkick onto the hurt knee of Red. The Briscoes take turns working over the knee of Red as Mark uses a single leg crab. Jay chokes out Red as the referee orders AJ back to the apron. Laree rallies the crowd behind Red as he gets taken down with a Dragon Screw. Red gets sent to the floor and gets roughed up briefly before getting rolled back into the ring. Mark and Red exchange chops until they have a sloppy reversal sequence that ends with Mark getting two with a powerbomb. Red then is able to come back shortly after that with a Kryptonite Krunch as both men are down. Red finally makes the tag as AJ beats on both of the Briscoes. Mark then hits AJ with a T-Bone suplex then hits Red with a Mafia Kick. AJ comes back with a slingshot crossbody and then this leads to a Tower of Doom spot with each team getting a nearfall. Jay hits Red with the Jaydriller but AJ breaks up the pin by tossing Mark at his brother. The Briscoes hit AJ with a springboard Doomsday Device for two as Red is down in the corner. AJ comes back with the Phenomenon on Mark then Red hits Jay as he tried the Jaydriller then hits a Shining Wizard and that leads to AJ hitting Jay with the Styles Clash for the win (14:27) ***1/2.

Thoughts: Good match. The story at the end was that Red sacrificed his injured knee in order to help retain the Tag Team Titles. The Briscoes were so damn impressive too, especially when they were both under 20 years old. The Tag Team Belts have not been focused on much, especially with Red having been out with an injury, but that will be changing going forward.

Jim Cornette is shown in a promo with the Ohio Valley Wrestling logo in the background. He says that he will be part of the RoH show on August 9th as he wants to see what RoH is all about as he smells money and wants to be a part of that. He closes by saying that his appearance will make news on the internet and the magazines. Not bad and it did the job in making you intrigued as to why Cornette will be appearing on a RoH show.

We see clips of the last few matches featuring Paul London and Samoa Joe. This lasts for several minutes.

RoH World Championship Match
Paul London vs. Samoa Joe (Champion)

This match gets the boxing-style ring introductions as London gets a great crowd reaction as streamers drop from the ceiling after its announced that this is his final night in the company. Joe takes down London after the handshake then grounds him on the mat. London fights out as they are both on their feet. London puts Joe in a side headlock then they work a fast-paced sequence that ends with Joe destroying London with a forearm smash to the face. Joe beats on London in the corner for a bit. London floats over and gets a quick rollup then sends Joe out of the ring. He sends him into the guardrail with a baseball slide then takes him down with a moonsault off of the guardrail. Back inside, London barely gets a two count off of a splash but gets caught with an uranage off of a charge. Joe targets the back of London then catches him off of a springboard and throws him across the top rope. Joe then puts London in the tree-of-woe but misses on a baseball slide. London flies out with a pescado but Joe caught him then slams London into the post. Joe puts London in the chair and hits him with a few running kicks. In the ring, Joe hits London with a missile dropkick then gets two with a German Suplex. Joe tries for the Island Driver but London counters with a rollup as that leads to a rollup reversal sequence. London hits the dropsault then fakes out Joe pretending that he is hurt as he hits the legsweep DDT. London then heads up top and hits the London Calling but Joe kicks out at two. That looked perfect by the way. Joe then ducks a swing and locks on the Coquina Clutch as he drags him back in off of the apron. London escapes quickly but misses a spinning heel kick. Joe gets two with a Dragon Suplex. London comes back with a quick backslide but Joe comes right back with a vicious lariat. Joe then murders London with all sorts of strikes then locks on the Coquina Clutch and after a struggle, London’s hand drops three times as Joe retains the title (14:13) ***1/4. After the match the entire locker room comes out as Whitmer and Williams hoist him up on his shoulders before they all say their goodbyes to him. London grabs the mic as the roster surrounds him with the entire audience now giving him a standing ovation. He thanks everyone here as he refers to them as family. He then thanks Rudy Boy and hugs him then puts over the RoH office for making this show possible. The crowd starts a “please don’t go” chant then London said that no matter what he will always have Ring of Honor in his heart. He then says goodbye to everyone in the ring.

Thoughts: Good match but not a classic or anything. It was missing something. The announcers telling the story that London was risking his WWE contract by taking this match as he could get hurt by Joe wasn’t the worst I have heard but no one seemed to buy that or the fact that he was going to win this match. They just seemed happy to see him for the last time and wanted to give him a good sendoff. The end with the locker room wishing London luck as he went to the WWE was great and he gave a passionate, from the heart speech to the fans and other wrestlers. That was a great moment.

Raven cuts a promo behind a chain link fence about how Tommy Dreamer could not beat him for 2.5 years but now he cannot beat CM Punk. He then says that payback is hell and that he does not think that Punk has suffered enough because he is an “arrogant piece of shit” as he challenges Punk to a cage match and guarantees victory as long as Punk has the balls to face him.

The Carnage Crew talk about their ugly wives and shitty jobs then tell Mikey Whipwreck is a crippled old man then run down Special K as Credible calls them a joke as they leave to head to the “nudie bar.” Credible wasnt that good here on the mic.

Daniels tells AJ & Red that the Prophecy is coming for those titles but his first priority is taking the RoH World Championship from Samoa Joe. The Prophecy has gotten better but they have been a weak stable for a long time. This act is not a favorite of mine.

Rob Feinstein approaches Colt Cabana and CM Punk, who he asked to cut a promo about the challenge issued by Raven. Cabana warns Feinstein to leave Punk alone but he does not listen then Punk shoves Feinstein down as he tells him how he does not care where the match happens and that he will not be held responsible for his actions and how no one does what Raven did to him. The Punk character was so, so much better than the other acts in this company. Quite frankly, no one else was close.

Final Thoughts: Even at 4.5 hours long, this show was incredible. This show had it all:hot feuds, memorable moments, and great action. Plus, the pacing was fantastic. There was minimal filler as they reestablished guys, formed new teams, and had a great sendoff for London. Even Jeff Hardy’s disaster of a debut was enjoyable in a way. Plus the action was good as RoH hit a home run for their biggest show to date. Definitely seek out this show because it is one of the best that RoH has ever produced and it is loads of fun.


So for those who thought the Demolition-Warriors battle of the last tournament was intense, check this out:  I was going to close the voting tonight on the second round, but we have TWO matches in a virtual dead heat, by which I mean decided by less than TEN votes each!  Each of the following is currently deadlocked 49.5% – 50.5%, so this is your last chance to vote for your favorite before I shut it down later tonight. The contenders: Tag Tournament Group CH Tag Tournament Group CQ

The death of Phillip Hughes ……

I know most of your readers are American, but for those who follow cricket on here, a difficult but extraordinary week has ended. I thought it might be appropriate for the board to at least note the passing of the young Australian cricketer, Phillip Hughes.

A promising, charismatic and thrillingly unorthodox batsman, he was struck in the neck by cricket ball whilst batting in a match on Tuesday and died on Thursday. He was the equivalent, I think, of MLB's most prodigious young hitter. More than that, the bowler is also young and full of potential. The grief is therefore partly for Sean Abbott, who was simply bowling as aggressively as possible.

A twitter-inspired #putoutyourbats gesture broke out in all cricket-playing nations, whereby cricket bats were placed outside houses, businesses, schools and parliaments. Players of other sports – first division soccer – walked out to play with a cricket bat in hand.  Before the rugby international in England, the crowd stood and applauded for 63 seconds (63 was the score when Hughes was struck).

The death of young charisma is not alien to readers of this board; the grief has been profound in many countries. But a question is also being posed: how does sports/entertainment respond to the deaths of its heroes? This weekend has probably seen a record low number of dangerous deliveries at batsmen; crowds will probably never laugh and jeer when a batsmen gets hit again. But will the game change? How much should we ask our sportsmen to risk? Do we take their bravery for granted? Are symbolic gestures of grief enough?

In terms of pro-wrestling, I think the answer is undoubtedly and unfortunately "yes".

​I don't pretend to follow anything in that e-mail, but people really make fun of guys for getting hit in cricket?  That's pretty messed up, man.  ​

WWE Confirms Warrior’s Death

This is just awful.  I've talked about Warrior in the past and how big a part of my childhood he was, in that he was the first guy where I followed him basically from day one and watched him get the rocket push to the top.  Really makes the DVD all the more petty and awful now.  I guess he at least got a chance to say goodbye on Monday night.  RIP.

Breaking News from ROH about Death Before Dishoner XI–

Directly quoted from ROH’s Facebook
Ring of Honor Wrestling “DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR XI” FREE on iPPV Tonight

Ring of Honor is pleased to announce that “Death Before Dishonor XI”
will be streamed for FREE in real time this Friday evening, September
20th at 8:00 pm. In the tradition of the event, this too will go down
in the history books! Tonight we will crown a brand new Ring of Honor
World Champion as Kevin Steen takes on
Michael Elgin and Adam Cole battles Tommaso Ciampa in a pair of
semi-final match-ups! Later in the night, the winner of those two bouts
will then collide with the winner being crowned new ROH World Champion!
This event will only be broadcast live and will not be posted for

Go Fight Live (GFL) has approached ROH to
demonstrate its new and upgraded technology which promises to present a
flawless stream for the viewing pleasure of ROH fans.

To watch “Death Before Dishonor XI” just go to GFL.tv for information and log in instructions.

Thanks for your support and we look forward to presenting one of this
year’s premier Ring of Honor events absolutely FREE Tonight!!

You can’t do better then free, so if you have even the faintest passing interest in ROH or Indy wrestling now is the time to check it out!  Assuming the stream works…

UPDATE: Stream didn’t work, opportunity to win new fans lost AND the live crowd sucked.
Way to go ROH, Way to go!

The full card after the jump

Former ROH World Champion, Jay Briscoe will present the new champion with the ROH Championship belt.

Adam Cole vs. Tommaso Ciampa

“Unbreakable” Michael Elgin vs. Kevin Steen

reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish), Matt Taven, & Michael
Bennett w/ Truth Martini & Maria Kanellis vs. Adrenaline RUSH (ACH
& Tadarius Thomas), Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander

Special Interview with BJ Whitmer

Ricky Marvin vs. Roderick Strong

American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards) vs. Forever Hooligans (Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov) (c)

Silas Young vs. Jay Lethal


Time of death?

The bad news keeps piling on for TNA, and I really am curious as to what your thoughts are for the survivability of the company.  Are these really necessary measures which are going to sustain TNA, or the last desperate attempts of a dying company to stay afloat for a tiny bit longer?


ah, their survival is 100% dependent on Spike and Panda and nothing else.  They could die tomorrow at the whim of both companies, but Spike keeps them around for solid ratings in that timeslot and Panda presumably uses them as a tax writeoff.  The question is how MUCH money can the company lose before Panda no longer finds them useful as a plaything, which is probably why Dixie is doing the desperate cost cutting to remain an attractive loss leader instead of a giant albatross ala WCW 2000.  If they're content with giant losses, TNA will be around forever.  If not, they'll be shut down next week.  No way to call it otherwise.  

Question(s) about the death of the territories…

Hey Scott,

I was thinking about the death of the territories and thought this could be an interesting blog topic.

Let's say Vince either doesn't take over the WWF or doesn't try to take the company national and kill the territory system, who do you think would have been the next promoter/promotion to try to go national? Do you think they would have succeeded? How much longer do you think it would have taken for a company to try to replicate the success Vince wound up having?

I'm not old enough to be familiar with the territorial system (I turn 26 last night), but I enjoy watching and researching pre-WWF expansion wrestling and man, I wish I could time travel and go to shows back then. The way everyone speaks about those days, it seems like there was such an emotional attachment of fans to wrestlers/company that just doesn't exist anymore. I also think that the death of the territorial system has wound up hurting wrestling long term since wrestlers today don't have the same resources to utilize in terms of training and seasoning. I think Vince just kind of assumed that there would always be an influx of new talent and it'd never dry up, but it kind of has. I don't want to sound like the bitter old man rambling about how much better things were back in his day, but it seems like there was just a deeper talent pool 25+ years ago than there is today.


Well, I mean, Jim Crockett DID go national, although he ended up selling to Turner as a result.  Bill Watts absolutely would have succeeded but for circumstances beyond his control, namely the collapse of the oil industry and Vince McMahon being a giant douchenozzle.  
Thing is though, the territory system was gonna die either way, so if dinosaurs like Verne Gagne couldn't adapt to it, it was best they died off when they did.  It had certain advantages with training and fan loyalty, but the transition to the PPV/TV model was like an atomic bomb on the wrestling scene that changed the way everyone had to do business to stay viable.  
Sure, as a fan I miss going through the Apter mags and reading about crazy stuff going on in Continental or Tri-State or whatever, but even then as a fan there was a certain feeling of "Man, I really like these guys, I hope NWA or WWF snaps them up so I can watch them on TV every week."  
Maybe someday WWE will collapse in itself due to a black hole of irony forming when they air one too many self-contradictory "Did You Know…" segments and territories will crop up again from the remnants.  But then TNA would be the #1 company and I DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN THAT WORLD!

Book Review: The Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling.

Many tag teams have graced the squared circle of wrestling, many great, many merely good, many bad. In the recent history of wrestling, no team made more of an impact than Hawk and Animal, The Road Warriors.

Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling is Joe “Animal” Laurinaitis’ foray into the literary world. It is his account of the lives and careers of the legendary Road Warriors. You may be surprised here…this book is actually pretty great. I know a whole slew of people malign Animal for trying to prostitute the Road Warriors name in the days since Hawk’s death, but if you read the book, you will find that is not the case.

The book starts in Minnesota, where both Joe Laurinaitis and Mike Hegstrand originated from. They were both gym rats and bouncers at local bars, both known for their impressive physiques and take no shit attitude in bouncing. One of the bars they worked at was run by a gentleman by the name of Eddie Sharkey, who had some pro wrestling ties. Sharkey took one look at his motley misfit bouncers and decided that maybe he should start training some guys for wrestling. With that thought, Sharkey enrolled one of the most impressive wrestling classes ever: John Nord, Mike Hegstrand, Joe Laurinaitis, Rick Rood, Barry Darsow. That is like a who’s who of wrestling in the 80’s and early 90’s, and further testament to my theory that the greatest pipeline for wrestling talent EVER was Minnesota in the 70’s and 80’s. The training sessions were grueling, but all of the guys toughed it out, and it was Rood and Joe who were almost immediately invited to wrestle for Ole Anderson and Georgia Championship Wrestling.

Ole wanted to bring Joe in and saddle him with a gimmick he had developed after seeing a certain Mel Gibson movie of the time: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Joe initially dressed in some leather and denim with a silly YMCA reject leather cap, and was supposed to tear through the GCW roster. However, Georgia was experiencing some promotional turmoil at the time, and the newly christened Road Warrior was transferred to Jim Barnett’s territory, where he served basically as a jobber. Joe was not thrilled, and decided to quit the business, and he made no bones about bad mouthing his experience to all who would listen on his trip back to Minnesota from the deep South.

Rick Martel changed Joe’s viewpoint. He explained to him what it was he was doing wrong, burning bridges and all. Ole Anderson, whose mother lived in Minnesota, once again showed up in Joe’s life, and upon his return to Eddie Sharkey’s bar, laid eyes on a promotional shot of another up and coming wrestler: Mike Hegstrand. He was floored, and wanted to pair Joe and Mike together. Joe, burned by the business initially, cautiously agreed to go back with Ole. Upon Joe and Mike’s debut in GCW, they were given the NWA National Tag Team Titles. Read: They were GIVEN the NWA National Tag Team Titles. No match necessary, as the last champs, Arn Anderson and Matt Bourne, had to be stripped of the titles because of a rape charge against Bourne. So The Road Warriors, now named Hawk and Animal, debuted in GCW as the tag champs, and rampaged through the territory, to the point where, in their initial year in wrestling, they were named PWI Tag Team of the Year. An auspicious start, for sure.

The Road Warriors phenomenon was up and running. Hawk and Animal’s timing of when to jump ship was something to behold as well. When Black Saturday happened, with Vince McMahon basically buying the TBS TV time slot where GCW was featured, the Road Warriors had already brokered a deal with the AWA, as well as lucrative appearances in Japan. The Road Warriors were a powderkeg, over wherever they went, buzzsawing their way through opponents. They won the AWA Tag straps in fairly short order from the Fabulous Ones, a match kind of famous for its squash qualities. Animal addresses a long held smark belief in the book, that Jerry Blackwell and Larry “The Ax” Hennig stiffed them in retaliation for the Warriors stiffing opponents. He said it never happened, but that Hennig and the Warriors always had very stiff matches. Take that with several scoops of salt, but, hey, at least Animal addresses it.

Hawk and Animal ran roughshod through the AWA, but saw the writing on the wall of the dying organization. They decided to attempt to ply their trade in Jim Crockett promotions instead. This leads to two funny stories in the book.

The first is this: Animal is attempting to explain the mindset of the Gagne’s. While he doesn’t totally bury them, he does indirectly. But it leads to a funny story. Jimmy Snuka was wrestling for the AWA at the time, and at one particular show, Greg Gagne was complaining that Jimmy was in no condition to wrestle, and was hamleting on about it. Snuka gained wind of these accusations, and confronted Gagne. Basically, what he said, in synopsis, was this: “You think I am too fucked up bruddah? FUCK THAT. I will show you FUCKED UP bruddah.” Snuka then retreated into the bathroom, snorted a giant line of coke, swilled down a couple of beers, then re-emerged into Greg’s face, stating “NOW!! NOW I AM FUCKED UP BRUDDAH!”

The second story is up to you to read.

Anyway, the Road Warriors dropped the AWA Tag straps to Steve Regal (not that one) and Jimmy Garvin on the way out of the organization, with assistance from the Freebirds. They showed up in the NWA and Dusty Rhodes booked them to the moon. These are the best parts of the book, the Road Warriors NWA exploits, because many, myself included, reminisce fondly on their run in the NWA. These sections include The Crockett Cup, Bunkhouse Stampede, Night of the Skywalkers, and War Games. Animal states that he thinks War Games was Dusty Rhodes greatest idea (I agree) and that was the height of the Road Warriors. Along the way, they went from ass kicking heels to ass kicking faces, courtesy of Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khurshev, also known as Barry Darsow. The Russians. Nikita Koloff was also part of that formidable triumvirate. In reality, Nikita, born Scott Simpson, was a college football teammate of Joe Laurinaitis, Animal, so they had a strong bond. War Games was one of the greatest ideas in wrestling history, in my opinion, and Hawk and Animal were a big part of it. I have not mentioned Paul Ellering yet, and he was involved in that initial War Games. Basically, Ellering was paired with the Warriors at the end of his active in ring career in Georgia in 1983, and was figuratively and QUITE literally the Road Warriors manager. He booked the flights, hotels, et al. He was also instrumental in the process of the Road Warriors becoming an in ring threat, mapping out their matches for them. Anyway, the first War Games match is a classic revered by most long time wrestling fans, and it concluded with the Warriors giving JJ Dillon their newly created finisher: The Doomsday Device. Most fans know that move, it is a truly terrifying proposition for all involved. And in this case, in War Games, it reared its ugly head. The cage was too low to allow for proper execution, and JJ ended up separating his shoulder.

The Road Warriors ran roughshod through JCP for most of their tenure there, winning the NWA Tag Team titles by destroying the Midnight Express. They won the first Crockett Cup. While there, Animal, the artist of the group, developed the teams’ trademark spiked shoulder pads. The Warriors, the LOD, eventually lost the NWA Tag straps to the Varsity Club on the greatest fast three count in wrestling history, and were poised to become big heels thanks to the machinations of Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes had the Warriors turn on him in a tag match on WCW Saturday Night, and Animal rammed a shoulder pad spike into Rhodes head, resulting in a five alarm blade job. This was shortly after Turner had purchased the product from Jim Crockett, and the order from on high was no blood. Add in the fact this occurred at Saturday dinner hour, and Dusty’s goose was cooked. Big Dust was fired, and the Road Warriors quickly grew weary of the WCW grind. They sought greener pastures…in the WWF.

Now, The Road Warriors had actually had a face to face with Vince McMahon in 1985…where Animal astutely pointed out to the man himself that he was on the “Deca” diet. Animal makes no bones about the Warriors steroid use. Animal and Hawk were looking for guaranteed contracts in 1985 to counter Jim Crockett’s offer back then. None were forthcoming. In 1990, Vince still wasn’t offering guaranteed contracts, so the Road Warriors settled for a per appearance deal where merchandising would help pad their bank accounts. Vince, in his infinite wisdom, also wanted the Road Warriors to change their name. He had Ultimate Warrior headlining the promotion, and didn’t want too many warriors, even if Hawk and Animal were the original warriors…Jim Hellwig and Steve Borden were Road Warrior clones, as were the Powers of Pain (Animal basically trained Terry Szopinski, Warlord) and Demolition. The Warriors chose their alternate name: The Legion of Doom. And the LOD ran through the WWF like a buzzsaw, first helping the Hart Foundation win the WWF Tag Team Championship from Demolition at SummerSlam 1990 (one of this writers favorite wrestling memories). From there, LOD destroyed everything in their path, which lead to a match with Power and Glory at Mania 7. Hawk’s promo for that match is still priceless, to me. “Sour and Gory.” They proceeded to destroy Power and Glory there, and won the WWF Tag straps at SummerSlam 1991 from the Nasty Boys.

However, shit was about to get a little too real.

Hawk, by this point, had a massive drug problem. He was wholly unreliable, and it resulted in multiple drug suspensions. Animal was not thrilled by this. The second drug suspension led to the LOD losing the Tag Titles in a match that never happened, according to Animal, against Money Inc. Paul Ellering soon joined the troop again, but with a bad idea: Rocco. Hawk hated Rocco (as did I as a 12 year old) and soon the angle was treading water, and Hawk was in a bad way. Hawk and Animal wrestled Money Inc at SummerSlam 1992 at Wembley Stadium, but Hawk was so fucked up during the match that Vince McMahon, on commentary, was cursing him out off mic and off camera. Hawk decided that night to stick it to his employer, and his friend of years, and walked out and started hanging out with a London group of the Hells Angels.

Animal, in the meantime, had some lingering health issues. Herniated discs. He underwent spinal fusion surgery and was sidelined for two years. Meanwhile, Hawk resurrected the Road Warriors with Kensuke Sasaki as the Hellraisers, and Animal was none too pleased. They eventually patched up their differences, and in 1996, made their triumphant return to WCW television.

It didn’t work.

Sure, they were booked near the top of the card. But it never really caught on. They left WCW after less than a year, and hooked back up with WWF. Their first match? Against the Headbangers. A double count out. The fuck? People were ready to embrace the LOD and WWF fucked it royally up, and their WWF run was just plain bad. Sure, they put over the New Age Outlaws, but damn man, Hawk became a drunk, PUKE became an LOD member…it was a period to forget.

Animal is not a dummy when it comes to all of this shit. He seems to recognize all of the issues the LOD was going through, and makes no bones about it. It was around this time that Animal, no stranger to the wrestling partying lifestyle himself, found Jesus. Hawk was there as well, and in one case of Jesus’ miraculous power, Hawk, Animal, and Shawn Michaels became born again. Must of had a happy hour discount on salvation that day.

October 19, 2003. Just a few months after the Road Warriors made their final appearance in a WWE ring, where Hawk was accused of not selling long enough, the long inevitable truth occurred: Mike “Hawk” Hegstrand died. It was a sad coda for the greatest tag team ever. But Animal pushed on, to mixing results.

Animal formed a sort of “New” Road Warriors with Heidenreich. Bad idea. It was tasteless, senseless, and stupid. Animal agrees to these points, even saying that rapist Heidenreich shared some of the same demons Hawk suffered from. Kinda heady damning with faint praise.

In the end, Animal has proven to be a good man and a good father. His son, James, has proven himself as a hell of a middle line backer for the Rams. Animal is a wrestler who seems to be, at last, at peace with himself. While we all mourn the loss of Hawk, the more colorful member of the team, it should not be lost on what Animal, Joe Laurinaitis, has done with his family.

What a Rush.

Book Review: Death Clutch

If a wrestling fan, or Vince McMahon himself, were to create a template of the perfect pro wrestler, a specimen who would turn heads at airports and in arenas, a man with talent on the mic, a man with a legitimate athletic background, that template would pale in comparison to Brock Lesnar.

Indeed, Brock is perhaps the greatest talent WWE has ever discovered.  A goliath with muscle on top of muscle, it is this authors opinion that no man has had a better “look” for the genre. Add into the fact that Lesnar was an outstanding NCAA amateur wrestler who won a NCAA D-1 wrestling title? Even better. For the man to leave wrestling and become a legitimate MMA badass? Even better.

“Death Clutch” is the autobiography of a man who has lived a life greater than anyone on this website can ever attain to. Unfortunately, people looking for a magnum opus on the life and career of this unique athlete will be disappointed. Its not that the book is actively bad or anything…its just that there isn’t much here. Its 207 pages of whatever Lesnar deigns to tell you. I read this thing in about three hours, and was left with one general feeling: “I want more.”

Lesnar relates the story of his growing up poor in South Dakota, born into a family of dairy farmers. Actually, he doesn’t relate that story too much, as this book is like a video stuck in fast forward. What you do glean from the first 30 pages of the book is that it was Brock’s mom who instilled in him the insatiable will to win. Her philosophy basically boiled down to “You don’t like to lose? So DON’T LOSE.” And young Brock soaked that message in from day one, becoming a wildly successful amateur wrestler in High School. He eventually landed at Bismarck State Junior College. It should be noted that Brock wasn’t necessarily a dominant high school wrestler. He was damn good, don’t get it twisted, but he had yet to grow into his body. He was a late bloomer. Once he grew into that mammoth frame and experienced some great successes at Bismarck, including a NJCAA national title, he was recruited to the University of Minnesota, under the tutelage of legendary wrestling coach J Robinson.

Lesnar, by now pretty much filling into the man we have seen on the television airwaves, had quite a successful career at U of M. As impressive as his eventual NCAA Heavyweight Wrestling title is, I would say the stories of his failures leading up to that moment more succinctly describe the measure of the man. Simply, the man lost a couple of times here and there, most famously to a wrestler named Stephan Neal, who would go on to his own greatness as an offensive lineman for the New England Patriots (and as a Pats fan, Neal was excellent).

Lesnar came to a career crossroads: What does a successful amateur wrestler do once college ends. There is always the Olympics, the Kurt Angle approach, but Lesnar wanted none of that. In what becomes a recurring theme in the book, Lesnar wanted what most humans desire: cash. Cold hard cash. And at that point, the WWE had lots of it. WWE offered Lesnar a large deal to join the then Federation, and Lesnar was hooked. He wanted to escape poverty. He wanted to provide for his parents. With that in mind, he journeyed off to Louisville, KT to begin his pro wrestling apprenticeship.

Lesnar spent about 15 months in OVW, where he teamed up with fellow U of M wrestling standout Shelton Benjamin. Talk about a talented tag team. But OVW was not where an accredited athlete of Brock’s stature wanted to be. He wanted the bright lights and big cities. Luckily for him, Vince McMahon is a mark for big men. And Vince was ready to push Brock Lesnar to the moon.

Brock made his WWE debut the night after WrestleMania X-8. There, he made poor Spike Dudley into his plaything. Speaking as someone who remembers that debut, it was impressive. Brock was impressive. Unfortunately, the book skips over Brock dominating Spike and the Hardy Boyz. That seems to be an issue throughout the book here: Brock loses perspective, especially regarding the men who helped make him. Brock would have been a main eventer regardless of any efforts Spike Dudley or the Hardy’s made to put him over based on look alone. We all know Vinnie Mac’s proclivities. But it would be nice if Brock at least acknowledged them in this book. Nope. Not happening. Instead, Brock relays stories of looking around the WWE locker room and not wanting to be like any of the wrestling lifers he saw. Particularly Ric Flair. He respected these guys for their in ring achievements, but did not want to end up being a 40 or 50-something wrestling to chase that last elusive big payday, that big spot. I find that admirable. Listen, a lot of wrestlers end up chasing the dream way too long. They burn the candle at both ends, spend money like its never going to stop coming in, and in some extreme cases, destroy their bodies and destroy their lives. Lesnar wanted no part of that. He relates a story in the book of a conversation he had with Curt Hennig. Hennig told Brock maybe the best single piece of advice any aspiring wrestler can hear: “Get in to get out.” Perfect. Its just a shame that perfect advice could not be followed by Mr. Perfect himself.

Brock ended up winning the WWE Undisputed Title from the Rock at SummerSlam 2002. That was a true passing of the torch moment. Once again, the book is lacking in descriptions for this monumental wrestling moment. Brock then went on to face Undertaker at the next two PPV’s, including their notorious Hell in a Cell match. For my money, that is a top 5 cell match, just incredible, especially with the amounts of blood Undertaker shed. Those looking for insight into the Undertaker-Brock rivalry though? Nothing to see here. I guess Brock, much like Taker in their first meeting, just wasn’t “feeling it.”

Brock traveled the WWE landscape with Kurt Angle. But even from the beginning it wore on Brock. Soon, to counter the turbulent lifestyle and daily aches and pains, he was washing down massive amounts of vodka and vicodin. Not a healthy diet. Brock eventually met Angle in ring at WrestleMania XIX in the main event of the show. Agent Johnny Ace, new to WWE, wanted to make a statement and have Brock win the title with a WrestleMania moment. That would be a 300 pound shooting star press. Brock knew the move: he had performed it regularly in OVW. But it had been a while since he had done it. He practiced it a few times, nailed it, and the move was in for his main event showing versus Angle. Angle and Lesnar had a fantastic match, one I feel is a bit underrated by the online pundits. When it came time for that infamous Shooting Star, I think everyone reading this knows what happened. Lesnar says he slipped on a sweaty top rope and under rotated. Regardless, it was ugly. Brock, by all rights, should be in the Darren Drozdov wing of the hospital. I watched it live and almost shit my pants. It was as ugly a botch as you are likely to see, and it is a testament to the toughness of Lesnar that he was able to finish the match. Angle also deserves a lot of praise for that match, seeing that he was performing with a BROKEN FUCKING NECK and reportedly went into convulsions backstage directly following the match.

So Brock was off and running as a two time WWE Champion. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Brock began to self destruct right here. He hated the schedule. He hated the travel. He loved being in ring performing, but the rest of the lifestyle rapidly grew old for young Brock. He asked for some time off. Vince said there was too much invested in Brock. Brock bought his own plane. Still didn’t help. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Vince telling WWE Champ Brock to lose to the Rock on a house show in Miami. The chapter devoted to this scenario just comes across as stupid and petty. Miami, for the uninitiated, is Rock’s hometown. Rock MADE Lesnar by jobbing clean in the middle to him at SummerSlam. Sure, Brock was WWE Champ at this point, but Brock’s rationale here is just plain wrong. Sure, he was strung along by master manipulator Vince McMahon. But its a HOUSE SHOW NON TITLE match with a man who transcended wrestling. Its fucking ROCK. Giving Rock a payback win in his hometown over the guy who had unseated him as WWE Champ? That’s wrestling in a nutshell. Brock eventually went along with the plan, but had his foot firmly planted outside of the WWE by this point.

Brock was soon defeated by Eddy Guerrero at No Way Out 2004 for the world title, in an effort to let Eddy help draw in that growing Latino market. Brock was bitter. Brock states in the book that, before his decision to leave wrestling, he was supposed to beat Goldberg at WM XX in 30 seconds. Well, with him now leaving, that wasn’t the case. What resulted was a hilariously bad match at Mania ending with Steve Austin, the guest ref, standing tall over the two belligerent behemoths. Brock had a battery of lawyers to help him escape WWE, but, in his own vicodin and vodka fueled hastiness, he took a look at a release form sent to him by WWE, said “Fuck it” and signed it. What he didn’t realize was that Vince McMahon is a spiteful bastard. The agreement included a non compete clause through the year 2010. Ouch.

So Brock was out, and he decided the NFL would be a worthy venture. He was slated to have a pro day for the scouts…only to ruin himself with a motorcycle accident days before the tryout. Rule #1 if you aspire to be a sports star: That motorcycle is not a good idea. Ask Jason Williams.

Brock was not pleased that WWE wielded a clause or law over his head that prevented him from earning a respectable living. He fought them tooth and nail, and the WWE lawyers kept delaying and delaying and delaying. Truly the essence of the American Legal System. Brock eventually was able to fight out from under these rulings and resume a wrestling career in NJPW.

In the midst of all this, Brock bedded and eventually married his girlfriend Rena Mero. Over and over again throughout the book, he cites her as inspiration in his career and declares his undying love for her. I will leave the reader to make their own jokes on this, but I sincerely believe she and Brock have a true relationship.

Brock eventually got into the world of MMA. I am not a huge MMA guy, so I am going to spare details here and leave it to better writers who better appreciate MMA. I love boxing, pro wrestling and amateur wrestling, but I have never gotten too emotionally invested in MMA. Just a personal preference. Regardless of that, Brock’s descriptions of how badly he wants to pound Frank Mir’s face in are outstanding. He beat Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Championship and validated a lot of pro wrestling fans in the process. He then defeated Frank Mir, a man who had beat him in his first UFC fight, and proceeded to make a total ass out of himself. He talked shit. Bud Light was a sponsor of the event, and in his post match interview, Lesnar said he was looking forward to drinking a bunch of Coors Light’s. Dana White was non too thrilled, and chewed Lesnar out backstage. Brock’s response? He said to Dana that he would walk into the post fight press conference carrying a KEG of Bud Light. That would have been AWESOME, to see this Neanderthal fighter carrying in a fucking KEG of beer to a press conference? Man alive. Anyway, it didn’t happen, and we are all less enriched for it.

Brock soon relates his battle with diverticulitis. A truly harrowing experience that no one should deal with. Suffice it to say, Brock overcame the odds, beat the disease, and kept on fighting.

The book ends with Brock’s fight against Cain Valasquez (the epilogue) and before Brock retired from UFC and jump started his WWE career. The book is short on pages and short on details, but it is still a fun read. Its a book you can finish on a day off, or one you can finish, if you use public transportation, in a couple of days on your way to work. Anyone expecting “The Next Big Thing” in wrestling books? You will be sorely disappointed.

Eddie’s Death

Hey Scott,

                I wanted to get your thoughts on how WWE handled Eddie Guerrero’s death. At the time, I thought they were being completely disgusting and, whenever anyone complained, they’d claim, “It’s what Eddy would’ve wanted” or something like that.                 I thought, at the time, that they were just being pricks. But, now, with Lawler’s heart attack, and the following angle, which I understand he was basically fine with, I’m wondering whether Eddy would’ve been fine with how WWE handled his death. (And by, “handled” I don’t mean, “Could they have come up with a better angle?” I mean, “By trying to make his death an angle at all.”)
Thanks for the Great Work.

I really can't see Eddie being fine with Randy Orton telling his family that he was burning in hell, sorry.  It was terrible then and still is now.  

Repost: Cheating Death, Stealing Life

(As requested by Adam in the comments) The SmarK DVD Rant for Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story It’s great that they finally did a feature DVD on Eddie, after all the tragedy and setbacks in his life, but it’s kind of a shame that it’s coming out at a time when he’s blaming himself for his run as a main eventer falling apart. Main Feature: – We start with Eddie introducing us to the various members of his family, and his mother embarrassing him with baby pictures. – Eddie takes us around El Paso and takes us through school. Not surprisingly, there was a wrestling ring in the backyard and they used it every day. Eddie and Chavito hung out at the arena and used to wrestle each other during intermission, thus amusing the fans. – He was of course formally trained by his father, Gory Guerrero, and he could never quite impress him. – He talks about going cruising in the Pinto at 10 MPH with his dad, who was doing it to bug him (successfully). This segues into a montage of the low-riders. – Next up, meeting his wife on a blind date, and then getting married a day after Gory’s funeral. You have to think that was a bad omen. – When Eddie started in the late 80s, big wrestlers weren’t in fashion, so he set his goals lower: Japan and Mexico. – Once in Japan, he becomes Black Tiger and meets Benoit and Malenko. – Skipping forward to ECW in 1995, and his classic matches with Dean. The great thing about the WWE owning everything is that they can pull footage of whatever they want for stuff like this. – Jumping ahead another two years to Halloween Havoc 97, as Eddie and Rey have the second or third best match of the year, after Hart-Austin and Hell in a Cell. And then it all went bad. – With the WCW situation not fulfilling him, he started turning to drugs and liquor to fill the void. In 1999, he drove to the corner store to get some eggs, but fell asleep at the wheel at 130MPH and the cops thought he was dead. At best, he was expected to maybe walk again, but never wrestle. – He returned six months early, thus messing up himself worse, and this time he got hooked on painkillers and OD’d for the first time. Amazingly, he still didn’t take the hint, and started mixing painkillers and booze two months later, and it was back to the hospital again. – Onto the WWE, as Eddie reinvents himself as Chyna’s boyfriend and creates Latino Heat. – Dean and Chris knew about his problems, but Eddie never paid attention, so they went behind his back to Jim Ross and reported it before it got any worse. So they told him to either go home or go to rehab. He chose rehab, but lost his wife in the process. So it was back to the bottle again and he woke up in jail after a drunk driving charge. Welcome to rock bottom. – Eddie was fired as a message to the rest of the company, and that’s when he finally realized what he was throwing away. He started doing indies again, and the WWE was watching. So they gave him one last chance, and he promised to stay sober for the rest of his life. He got his wife back as a result. – Next up, the “Lie, Cheat, Steal” vignettes with Chavo Jr., which turned him into a superstar. – We go back to Art Barr for the origins of the frog splash, and then onto No Way Out 2004, as Eddie gets the ultimate redemption and wins the WWE title from Brock Lesnar. Sadly, he proved to be nothing more than a transitional champion to Bradshaw of all people. The Extras: – Two discs of extras, as per usual with these releases. – Hector, Chavo & Mando Guerrero v. Cactus Jack and the Rock N Roll RPMs. This from Superclash III, the AWA’s infamous failed attempt at a crossover PPV. This was the opening match, back when Cactus Jack was nothing more than a jobber with a bit of a name on the indy circuit. Future Beverly Brother Mike Enos is the referee. Hector starts with the RPMs, who end up colliding, and Hector takes them down with a double headscissors. Jack comes in and gets taken down by Mando with a rollup for one, but Jack fights back and tosses him. They brawl outside and Mick takes his first sick bump on PPV, a backdrop on the concrete. Truly historic. Back in, Hector & Mando double-team the leg, and the Guerreros start trading off the leg. Jack tags in one of the RPMs, and Lee Marshall is no help in naming him. It’s either Mike Davis or Tommy Lane, but it’s been years since I’ve watched them so I forget who’s who. Basically picture the Rock N Roll Express, 10 years past their prime and still trying to be cool. The Guerreros do some triple-teaming and it’s a dogpile in the Guerrero corner. Back to Jack, as he locks up with Chavo in the corner and drops an elbow for two. Into the heel corner, as the RPMs work him over, and Chavo is YOUR Mexican-in-peril. He quickly rolls away and makes the hot tag to Hector, however, and it’s BONZO GONZO. Hector would have been considered the breakout star at this point, by the way. Bodies fly and the Guerreros hit the heels with dives, as Chavo finishes Mike Davis with a moonsault press at 6:32. Some good spots, but not much more. *1/2 – Hair v. Mask: Eddie Guerrero & Love Machine v. Octagon & El Hijo de Santo. This is from the famous When Worlds Collide PPV put on by AAA & WCW in 1994, and if you want a tragic team, the heel side is Eddie (nearly died a few times), Art Barr (died of misadventures with drugs) and Louie Spicoli (also died of misadventures with drugs). Sadly, Eddie and Art’s ring entrance, as they make swimming motions at the crowd, is cut out. Art Barr thankfully does it again after the introductions. Art Barr was basically the most hated wrestler in Mexico at this point, just for reasons like that. Eddie starts with Santo and gets an armdrag, as they take it to the mat and the crowd heat is off the charts. Eddie starts on the arm and takes him down with a chinlock, but Santo quickly powers out and Eddie bails. Next up, Octagon goes with Love Machine, and they have a stalemate until some cheating from Eddie puts things the rudo way. A Doomsday Device variation, with a rana from Eddie, gets a pin on Santo, and the PowerPlex finishes Octagon at 4:04 to finish the first fall. In lucha rules, you need to pin both members to win the fall, which leads to weird finishes like that one. Second fall: Eddie clubs Santo down and gets a blockbuster slam for two. Vertical suplex gets two. Octagon comes in and Eddie asks for forgiveness, but then pokes him in the eyes and Barr comes in with a great standing dropkick, and Eddie slingshots in, leading to Santo coming in for a brawl. Santo drops an elbow on Barr from the top and the heels collide, leading to them getting dropkicked to the floor and hit with a double tope suicida. Back in, Santo gets a sunset flip on Eddie for two, and goes up, but Eddie brings him down with a rana for the pin. So now they just need to beat Octagon to win. So they double-team him and get a clothesline, but Octagon comes back with a rana on Eddie to even things up, and a legsweep into a submission hold on Barr gets the submission at 10:28, and it’s one fall apiece. Final fall: Santo gets a quick rana on Eddie, but Barr breaks it up. Eddie gets a camel clutch, but Octagon breaks that up. Santo gets his own, but Barr breaks that up. Barr tries a slam, which is reversed to a cradle for two. He goes to a Regal Stretch, but Octagon calmly comes in and punts him in the ribs, then kicks him down. A double elbow puts Barr down, and Santo gets a suplex for two. Octagon pounds away on Barr and goes to an armbar, but Eddie calmly pokes him in the eyes and catches him with the Gory Special. Santo breaks that up and they head to the top, where Santo brings him down with an electric chair for one. Barr breaks it up and dumps Santo, as Los Gringos get their own tope suicidas and they fight outside. Back in, Eddie goes to the top with Santo, but gets taken down and powerbombed to the floor. In the ring, Barr hits Octagon with the deadly tombstone (illegal in Mexico, but behind the ref’s back in this case) and gets the pin. All that remains is beating Santo. Barr clotheslines him into a german suplex from Eddie, but that gets two. Barr goes up again to finish as Eddie sets up the superplex, but the frog splash only gets two. Octagon gets put on a stretcher while they keep beating on Santo, but Barr hits Eddie by mistake, and Santo pops up with a dive onto Eddie on the floor. However, this allows Blue Panther to run in and piledrive Barr, as the crowd goes absolutely bonkers. Santo gets the easy pin on Barr, leaving it Eddie v. Santo. Santo gets a rollup for two as the paramedics revive Octagon. Eddie powerbombs Santo for two. To the top, as Eddie gets a belly-to-belly superplex, but only for two. Back to the top again, this time with a rana for two. Dragon Suplex gets two. Barr finally recovers, as Santo gets the pin off a reverse rollup for the pin at 22:12 to win it. The last fall was absolutely off the charts, heat-wise. ***** – Eddie Guerrero v. Dean Malenko. This is their final match from ECW, 2/3 falls, and it has commentary from Eddie, Dean and Todd “Who’s Jushin Liger?” Grisham. This was a rare case where the ECW crowd actually acted with class for once, applauding their departure for WCW instead of chanting “You sold out”. They do some matwork to start and it’s a stalemate. Eddie starts on the arm and tries taking him down, but Dean bridges to prevent a pin. Eddie bars the arm and goes to a cross-armbreaker, but Dean rolls him over and they make the ropes. Another back-and-forth sequence of reversals leads to Eddie springboarding off the ropes with a headlock takedown. The flying armdrag sends Dean into the corner, and they take a breather. Eddie takes him down with a uranage and a fisherman’s suplex for two. Eddie’s comment on his physique: “I was a lot chunkier”. Eddie wraps up Dean in a headscissors, but Dean reverses to a bow-and-arrow and wraps him up on the mat. That gets two. Dean goes to a Regal Stretch, but Eddie makes the ropes. Dean snapmares him down and they trade shots to the face, so Dean bails. Back in, Eddie with the overhead suplex for two. Enzuigiri gets two. To the top, as Eddie gets a superplex for two. Backbreaker, but Dean comes back with a backslide for two. They fight over another one and Eddie rolls him up for the first fall at 10:32. Second fall: Dean whips him into the corner and clips the knee on the rebound, but Eddie comes back with a german suplex for two. Dean dropkicks the knee to take over again and wraps him up in a kneebar, then whiplashes him out of the corner to set up the Texas Cloverleaf. Eddie submits at 13:20 to even things up. Last fall: Dean gets a corner clothesline to set up a brainbuster for two. Leg lariat and Eddie bails, so they brawl outside, and Dean clobbers him with a forearm back in. Sitout powerbomb gets two. Eddie comes back with a tornado DDT for two. His own brainbuster allows him to go up with a frog splash for two. Rana gets two. Eddie goes up and Dean follows, so Eddie takes him down with a sunset flip for two. Another tornado DDT is blocked by Dean, and he follows with the exploding gutbuster, and that gets two. Eddie comes back with a rollup for two. Dean gets his own and both shoulders are down for the pin at 19:46, so it’s a draw. This was basically just an exhibition rather than something intended to be competitive, and judged by that standard it was excellent. ****1/4 – WCW Cruiserweight title: Chris Jericho v. Eddie Guerrero. This is from Fall Brawl ’97, and an odd choice because it’s not that great of a match or anything. The show is fairly historic for being the moment when WCW managed to kill the Carolinas off as a wrestling territory by jobbing out Flair in the main event, but that was par for the course with them. Jericho’s former Pearl Jam ripoff music is changed to generic music for this DVD. Y2J was in his initial bouncing babyface era, in the days before he developed a personality and his career took off. Jericho gets an armdrag to start and they trade headlocks until Eddie uses the hair. Jericho overpowers him, but Eddie goes to the arm and takes him into the corner for some chops. Jericho returns fire and takes him down with an armbar, but Eddie fights his way up. Jericho keeps taking him down again into a cross armbreaker situation, so Eddie rolls it over for two. They trade cradles and Jericho gets two. Back to the armbar, as Eddie is unable to fight out of it. He finally reverses out, but Jericho alley-oops him onto the top rope and follows with the Lionsault for two. Back to the arm we go. Eddie necksnaps out of it this time and goes to work, taking Jericho down with a chinlock, using the knees to dig into the back. Backdrop suplex sets up a bridged dragon sleeper, but Jericho powers out of it, only to be kicked in the face for his troubles. Eddie drops an elbow on the back and slingshots onto it for two. Gory Special is reversed by Jericho to his own version, and he turns it into a flapjack from there. Eddie recovers, but misses a dropkick, and they slug it out. Jericho hits him with a pair of corner clotheslines, and then blocks a ropewalk attempt by crotching Eddie. He follows with the springboard dropkick. He tries to follow with a powerbomb off the apron, but Eddie hangs on, and they end up tumbling to the floor and colliding on the railing. Back in, Eddie misses his slingshot and Jericho hits him with a high impact release german suplex. That gets two. Eddie comes back with Rock Bottom, but stalls too long and Jericho recovers with a powerslam. Eddie charges into the corner and gets tossed down again by Jericho, and he follows with a leg lariat for two. Another flapjack and a cradle attempt are reversed by Eddie for two, and he tries a rana, but Jericho blocks with the double powerbomb and they go up. Superplex is blocked by Eddie, and it’s frog splash time at 16:44 to give Eddie the belt back. Took a while to find their groove, but once they did it was some good stuff, to be sure. **** – WCW Cruiserweight title: Eddie Guerrero v. Rey Mysterio Jr. This is from Halloween Havoc ’97, and it’s of course a classic. Commentary here from Michael Cole, Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio. Eddie lays the badmouth on Rey to start, and they slug it out, which allows Rey to dominate him with a monkey-flip and send him to the floor. He follows with a dive attempt, but misses and gets introduced to the stairs. Back in, Eddie slingshots him, but walks into a dropkick. Rey tries a handspring, but Eddie catches him and drops him on his head. Ouch. Brainbuster gets two. Eddie, on commentary, talks about the huge disrespect of voluntarily removing his mask in Mexico, which earned him the eternal awe of Rey. Eddie does some mask-ripping and goes to an abdominal stretch, then transitions into a pumphandle slam for two. They fight over a knucklelock, and Rey springs off the ropes with a crazy springboard DDT. Eddie bails and Rey tries to follow with a dive, but Eddie zips back in and dropkicks him off the apron. Rey talks about the crazy DDT and never being able to duplicate it again. No kidding. Back in, Eddie goes to the rear chinlock and does some more mask-ripping, which sets up the Gory Special. Rey reverses to a armdrag, but Eddie dropkicks him in the head to stop that rally. A backbreaker sets up a submission move on the mat, and he follows with a back elbow for two. Eddie starts throwing chops in the corner, and then hangs Rey in the Tree of Woe and adds a dropkick. He charges, however, and misses by a mile, as Rey dodges him to cause some testicular damage, and follows with the plancha. Back in, Rey catches him with the West Coast Pop for two. Eddie clotheslines him down again, but Rey swings off the ropes with a headscissors to put Eddie on the floor, and then follows with an absolutely insane springboard into a rana on the floor. The great thing about it was that it was one fluid move with no stopping. Back in, Rey hits him with a leg lariat from the top, for two. Springboard moonsault is blocked by Eddie’s knees, and he follows with the killer powerbomb for two. Eddie runs him into the corner, but charges again and gets rammed into the turnbuckles. Rey tries another West Coast Pop, but lands on Eddie’s knees and it looks to be over. Eddie goes up, but misses the splash, and they end up on the top rope. Rey fights him off and Eddie tries for a Splash Mountain, but Rey reverses for the rollup and the pin at 13:57. Best WCW match of that year, nuff said. ***** Really interesting commentary from the boys, too. – Next up, you get all the “Lie Cheat Steal” vignettes from Los Guerreros, which turned him into the breakout star of 2003. Plus, for some reason, videos from Finger Eleven, Seether and Soil, as well as the trailer for Day of Reckoning. Disc Two: – Stevie Ray v. Chavo Guerrero. Don’t even remember what this was about or why Chavo was working twice. This was, however, during the Crazy Chavo period. Oddly enough, Stevie’s Harlem Heat music is not changed here, whereas on the Benoit DVD, Booker T’s music WAS. Chavo dodges Stevie and stalls to start, and Chavo submits to a handshake at 1:36. Har har. A wrestler? THROWING A MATCH? Shocking. This leads immediately into… – Hair v. Hair: Eddie Guerrero v. Chavo Guerrero. Criss-cross to start and Chavo bites him in the butt. Where’s Dusty on commentary when you need him? Eddie bails and complains about the bad treatment, but Charles Robinson has no interest in seeing the bite marks. Eddie brings a chair in, so Chavo grabs a seat. They do some more stalling and tease a handshake, before Chavo finally attacks him and they slug it out. Backdrop sends Eddie into the arms of Robinson, and it’s back to the lockup. Eddie dropkicks the knee, and then adds a dropkick to the head and slingshots onto the back. They brawl outside and Chavo gets the worst of that, so Eddie follows with the Gory Special back in the ring. Chavo fights out, so Eddie clotheslines him down again and goes to a rear chinlock. He throws some forearms, but Chavo comes back with a monkey flip into the ropes and some forearms of his own. Eddie takes a run at him, but Chavo catches him with a backbreaker. They brawl outside and Eddie gets the advantage, pulling up the mats and going for a suplex, which Chavo reverses. Back in, Chavo goes up and gets crotched for his troubles, as Eddie brings him back down with a superplex. He alley-oops him into the corner and goes up, but his own version of the frog splash hits knee. Eddie follows with a tornado DDT and starts cutting hair, but the ref pulls him off. The frog splash looks to finish, but Chavo moves and hits him with his own tornado DDT. Now Chavo goes for the scissors, but gets cradled and pinned at 11:56. Chavo thus shaves himself bald. This never really got going. **1/2 – Intercontinental title, Ladder match: Eddie Guerrero v. Rob Van Dam. This is of course from the Edmonton RAW in 2002, which I was there for, marking the only major title change I’ve seen live. Slugfest to start, and Rob gets a heel kick and Eddie bails. Rob misses a pescado on the way out, but sends Eddie to the post. Suplex on the railing sets up the guillotine, but Eddie sends him facefirst into the ladder and pounds away. Suplex and Eddie drops the ladder on him, thus breaking the supports already. Back in they go and slug it out again, and Eddie gets a vicious elbow. Eddie feeds off the crowd’s booing and pounds Rob down, and posts him, which is of course smart psychology for a ladder match, because that way he can’t climb. Even Lawler picks up on that. I guess Raven made an impression on him. Eddie pounds the knee with a chair, and back in he stomps away on it. Backdrop suplex counters an RVD headlock attempt, and he works RVD in the corner. Rob comes back with a monkey flip, but Eddie gives him an MDK Powerbomb and finds the emergency backup ladder under the ring. Rob baseball slides it, and follows with a quebrada onto the ladder, which pretty much takes both guys out. Benoit joins us via the crowd, with a ticket of course to circumvent getting thrown out of the building earlier, and we take a commercial break. We return with Eddie ramming the ladder into RVD’s face on the floor, and back in Eddie makes a climb attempt. Rob missile dropkicks the ladder to stop that. That bump looked so nasty live, and on TV for that matter. Rob comes back as we try to start an “Eddie G” chant, but everyone else was into an “RVD” one. Rob gets Rolling Thunder on the ladder, which again looked brutal. My friend Roy and I are valiantly cheering Eddie on, though. Rob climbs, but Eddie knocks him off by smashing his face into the ladder and then hitting a sunset powerbomb off the ladder to kill Rob dead. Eddie heads up the ladder, and here’s where the dumbass fan runs in and knocks him off. We actually thought it was Steve Austin for a moment, then we realized it was just a drunken idiot. My friend worked security for that show and they caught hell afterwards because of it. The match continues regardless, as Eddie goes back up the ladder and hits RVD with a swanton bomb from the ladder. Good god Eddie is a maniac. Eddie grabs a chair and gives Rob what for, but Rob gives him some right back and stomps a mudhole, then walks it dry by dropkicking the chair into his face. That’s one dry mudhole. Legdrop and moonsault on the ladder. SICK SHIT. Rob climbs, but Eddie yanks him down and suplexes him into the ladder, which nearly destroys another one. Ladder goes into the corner, but the fickle hand of irony sends Eddie crashing into it, and then Rob monkey-flips him into it for good measure. Looked like Eddie was about 2 inches away from breaking his ankle on that bump. Another Rolling Thunder on the ladder and superkick puts Eddie in the corner, and Rob climbs again. Eddie prevents that with a dropkick to the knee, but when he grabs the chair, it’s Van Damination. Rob climbs in the corner, but the ladder slips and he can’t frog splash him off the ladder. Earl Hebner should have helped steady the ladder there. Eddie goes up and gets dumped to cover for the blown finish previous, and Rob climbs to regain the IC title at 18:13. Messed-up finish hurt it a bit, but otherwise this was Match of the Year quality all the way, complete with sick spots and hard work on both sides of the equation. ****1/2 – Smackdown tag title match: Edge & Rey Mysterio v. Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle v. Los Guerreros. This is elimination rules, from Survivor Series 2002. Chavo makes sure to lay down the law to everyone before the match, then opts out of the match. Mysterio starts with Benoit, and gets CHOPPED. You have to capitalize it for full effect. Rey snaps off a rana and flapjacks him, and Edge comes in for a double-team hiptoss and some elbows. Benoit comes back with more chops and brings in Angle, who immediately gets backdropped and tags in Chavo instead. Edge takes him down and gets a dropkick, and Rey comes in with the falling splash for two. Chavo tries a powerbomb, but Rey reverses to an armdrag. Eddy comes in to take care of business, however, and pounds on Rey Rey. Rey comes back with a flying headscissors and a monkey flip, so Eddy tags Angle again. Kurt hammers on Rey, but gets headscissored. He charges and misses, and Rey’s alley-oop to the top is blown, as he slips and falls onto the mat. That’s pretty rare for Rey. Angle suplex gets two. Benoit gets a standing neckbreaker and a vicious backdrop suplex for two. Angle gets his own backdrop suplex for two. Angle gives Edge a cheapshot and tries the Angle Slam on Rey, but it’s reversed. Angle hits him with a clothesline to recover and gets two. Benoit gives Rey a knee to the gut and snaps a suplex for two. I should point out that if you stare at Rey’s tights long enough, you can see a sailboat. Or maybe it’s the Statue of Liberty – I was never good at those 3D puzzle things. Angle hits the facelock, and counters a reversal attempt by Rey. Rey fights out and gets a leg lariat, and everyone’s out. The Guerreros decline the tag from Angle, so Benoit gets it instead. Hot tag Edge, and he’s a heel-killing machine. Faceplant for Benoit and overhead suplex for Angle, as Eddy & Rey tumble over the top rope. Edge goes for the spear, but lands into a crossface-anklelock combo that’s so awesome that it deserves it’s own spot in the Hall of Awesome. Rey breaks it up as Angle bails, and hits a bunch of people with a spinning tope. Meanwhile, Benoit suplexes Edge, until Eddy hits a sunset flip on Benoit while Benoit carries Edge over with a german suplex, and gets two. That’s insane. Benoit goes right back to suplexing Edge, but the hair saves Edge from permanent brain damage. Benoit goes up, but Eddy sneaks in with a frog splash for two, so Benoit hits him with the headbutt instead. Angle Slam for Eddy and anklelock, while Benoit puts Edge in the crossface, but the ref is distracted. Chavo lays out Benoit with the belt and gives it to Angle, thus convincing Benoit that Angle did the deed. More shoving results, and Edge finishes Benoit with the spear at 13:08. Crowd kinda didn’t like that one, actually. Angle, hero of sportsmanship, destroys Edge with a suplex afterwards, and Benoit takes out his problems on Chavo. God’s Team fights back to the dressing room, while Eddy tries to steal a fall on Edge. Los Guerreros work Edge over in the corner, and Chavo gets two. Eddy’s senton gets two. Main Event Sleeper wastes some time, and Chavo gets a dropkick for two. Eddy uses the tag rope for some choking, and a backdrop suplex follows. We go back to the facelock again. Chavo dropkicks him for two. Edge comes back with a flapjack on both of them, and makes the hot tag to Mysterio. Crossbody for Chavo and a tilt-a-whirl for Eddy, and the heels collide to set up an alley-oop rana on Eddy that gets two. Edge dumps Chavo, and does a sloppy reversal sequence with Eddy to set up the 619, but the ref is distracted, allowing Chavo to hit Rey with the belt. Lasso From El Paso finishes at 19:25. That beltshot finish is kinda played, to say the least. This was pretty disappointing, but in a “weak Smackdown” way rather than a “weak RAW” kind of way. One problem Heyman has is giving away the great matches on free TV and then not being able to top them on PPV, where it counts. This really should have had 40-45 minutes, given the buildup for it. ***1/2 – US title tournament final: Chris Benoit v. Eddie Guerrero. As openers go, you can’t complain here. They lockup to start and Eddie hides in the ropes to break. Crowd seems torn on whether to cheer for Eddie tonight. Guerrero takes Benoit down with a hammerlock, but gets overpowered and bails. Back in, they exchange wristlocks and take it to the mat, but Eddie overpowers him. They go for the knucklelock and Benoit wins with power, so Eddie kicks at the leg and takes him down with a wristlock. Eddie surprisingly opens the chop war, and gets a rana that turns into a pinfall reversal sequence, and they trade armdrags. Benoit bails this time. Good sequence. Back in, Eddie grabs a headlock and overpowers Benoit, and back to the headlock. Chris flips him off the move, but Eddie grabs the headlock again and takes him down. They trade tombstone reversals, but Benoit settles for the shoulderbreaker and tries for the crossface. Eddie quickly makes the ropes. He bails, so Benoit follows with a tope suicida. Back in, Benoit sends him into the corner to work the corner, and slams him a couple of times to set up a half-nelson submission on the mat. Benoit gets a rollup off a whip to the corner, and then charges and hits elbow, allowing Eddie to put him on top and bring him down with a rana. That gets two. What is with Cole and “legscissors”? Eddie gets a backdrop driver for two. He hammers on the shoulder for a bit and grabs an armbar, and they exchange chops. Eddie goes to the eyes to win that battle, but Benoit backdrops him and elbows him down to set up more chops. They fight for a suplex and end up on the top, as Benoit brings him down with a backdrop superplex. That gets two. Benoit starts throwing the germans as Cole names former US champions and notes that the winner will join that list. Um, they’re both former champions, MC. Eddie blocks the germans, so Benoit takes him down with a crossface, and Eddie makes the ropes. Benoit with a backbreaker for two. Eddie comes back with the rolling verticals, and the third one ends up on the top as a superplex. Both guys are out. Eddie recovers first, but misses the frog splash, although they mistimed it and Benoit got hit on the way down. He snaps off a powerbomb for two, however. Benoit needs to powerbomb people more. Back to the crossface, but Eddie makes the ropes again. The ref gets bumped and Guerrero grabs the belt and nails Benoit with a weak shot and a frog splash, but it only gets two. Eddie grabs the belt again, and this time tries the sneaky route by knocking the ref out and playing dead, but he does too good a job and can’t revive the ref. This allows Benoit to sneak up from behind with another crossface that taps Guerrero, but the ref is still out. Benoit releases to tend to the ref, and then nails Eddie with another german suplex to prevent use of the belt. To the top, but the diving headbutt hits the ref. This is getting silly. And finally, Rhyno runs in, turns on Benoit with GOAR GOAR GOAR and Eddie finishes with the frog splash (after an “Oh well” shrug of the shoulders) at 22:14 to win the title. This was headed towards MOTYC territory until the first ref bump, at which point it got silly and undermined the whole “wrestling title” idea. Still, a stellar opener. **** – Smackdown World title: Brock Lesnar v. Eddie Guerrero. Brock overpowers him to start and hammers on him in the corner, into a monster backdrop. Snap suplex, but Eddie slugs back and elbows him out of the corner. Brock knees him down and blocks a rana with a spinning powerbomb. That was pretty dangerous. Overhead suplexes and Brock gets a high knee in the corner and another overhead suplex that puts Eddie on the floor. Eddie trips him up and posts the leg, however. Brock powers him back into the post, however, and gets the fisherman’s suplex to retake control. He grabs a sleeper, but Eddie escapes, only to get pressed. He escapes that too and clips Brock, but Brock gets the lariat. He follows with a slightly botched german suplex. Brock pounds away in the corner, but misses a charge and rams his knee into the corner. Nice callback to the high knee earlier. Eddie works on the knee and gets a backdrop suplex. Brock chokes him out, however, but Eddie sneaks in with a heel hook, which he turns into an STF to a big pop. Nice spot. Brock powers out, so Eddie rams the knee into the mat and goes back to work on it while Brock tries to fight him off. Eddie goes for what looks like a Nagatalock, but Brock fights him off again. And again. Eddie keeps coming, and it costs him, as he walks into a belly-to-belly. He tries a suplex, but Eddie counters with a headscissors and dropkicks the knee again. This time it’s a figure-four, and that crowd is all about that. Brock makes the ropes, however. Eddie goes right back to the knee and goes into a half-crab now, and another STF. Brock powers out again. There’s some really swank psychology going on here. Brock comes back with another german suplex, as the power v. technical battle continues, and Eddie walks into a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. That gets two for Lesnar. Brock goes to the chickenwing on the mat, into a sleeper, but Eddie powers him into the corner to break, but misses the missile dropkick. Brock sells the leg as he gets a vertical suplex, bless his heart. He’s even got a bloody nose going. That’s my boy. Bodylock on the mat, which he turns into a gut-wrench suplex for two. Nice mat-wrestling as Brock rides him on the mat with bridges, into the bodylock again. Eddie fights up and headbutts out, then smartly dropkicks the knee again and takes Brock down with a headscissors. Brock misses a charge and Eddie comes back with the rolling verticals and goes up, but misses the frog splash. F5, but the ref gets bumped in the process. Brock grabs the title, but Goldberg runs in with a spear (apparently having broken the handcuffs) and Eddie gets two. And since the belt is still there and it’s Eddie, he tries to hit Brock, but it misses and Brock goes for the F5. Eddie counters to a DDT in mid-move, however, hitting the belt on the way down, and the frog splash does the impossible and wins him the World title at 30:06. ****1/2 – We finish with about 40 minutes of little features from Confidential and the like, covering commercial shoots, family history, Eddie’s post-title celebration, and Wrestlemania. Nothing too exciting. The Inside Pulse: The main feature itself is awesome, powerful stuff, and the bonus matches are good but pretty disappointing in some ways compared to the Benoit set. They hit most of the marks, but didn’t pull enough good stuff from WCW or anything from his 2000-2002 period in the WWE. Still, the alternate commentaries are great and make the matches well worth watching again, and there’s a pair of ***** matches on there and a few other ****+ ones, so this is a monster set by any standard. Highly recommended.