Ring of Honor Scramble Madness November 16th, 2002

November 16, 2002

American Civic Center in Wakefield, MA

Your hosts are Jeff Gorman and Chris Levy

The show starts with the Prophecy talking backstage. Once again Xavier wrestles in a non-title match, this time against Jeremy Lopez. Samoa Joe and Daniels get into a beef when Joe yells at Daniels about not being paid enough to disrespect the Code of Honor. Dunn & Marcos then interrupt with their schtick and asked for a shot at the Tag Team Titles. Daniels goes off on them before telling them that they will be facing Samoa Joe in a handicap match. The problem with the Fallen Angel gimmick is that Daniels played it too goofy to be taking seriously. Joe showed some personality here at least.

Jay Briscoe and Amazing Red are in the ring. Jay said that he picked Red as his partner then calls out his brother Mark, who calls out his partner, which turns out to be Christopher Daniels. The Fallen Angel comes out and says that not only is he Mark’s partner, he is his master as we now know that Mark is in the Prophecy. I like the idea of Mark joining the Prophecy. It gives them a lot of ways to further his feud against Jay and the story that he is splitting their family apart and it sets up for a nice turn down the road when he breaks away from them.

Jay Briscoe & Amazing Red vs. Mark Briscoe & Christopher Daniels

Mark starts the match by attacking Jay from behind. Jay fights back and they trade kicks. Red tags and they work a crisp fast-paced sequence that the crowd appreciates. Daniels tags and hits a shoulderblock but Red comes back with a headscissors and a dropkick. Jay tags and beats on Daniels for a bit. Mark tags and he takes it to the mat with his brother as they go back and forth. Jay gets the best of that and holds up his brother, allowing Red to hit a springboard STO. Daniels then sends Red to the floor and drops him on the guardrail. Red plays face-in-peril for a bit as Mark and Daniels use quick tags to cut off the ring. Red manages to catch Daniels in a small package but Mark distracts the ref. Mark gets two with a back suplex then puts Red in a surfboard. Super Ace Crusher gets two. Red goes to the wrong corner for a tag then gets powerbombed by Mark. Daniels charges but Red boots him in the face and hits a hurricarana before making the tag. Jay runs wild on Daniels. Gordbuster gets two. Fisherman’s Buster gets two. Mark comes in and Jay plants him with a DDT. Daniels hits Jay with an enziguiri then Mark clotheslines him as they both spill to the floor but that was after he tagged Red, who hits Daniels with a missile dropkick. Spin kick gets two. Code Red (Sunset Bomb) gets two. Red tries a rana but Daniels blocks that then gets the win with the Last Rites (15:47) **3/4. After the match, Mark walks up the ramp and laughs at his parents, who are on the verge of tears.

Thoughts: Decent match but really nothing more than that. The angle with Mark joining the Prophecy was more impressive to be honest. The match dragged in the middle as the heat segment on Red went on for far too long.

Joey Matthews is backstage with Special K. Izzy is shaking a pill bottle as Joey wants to know if they are with him. Alexis Laree interrupts and wants to know why he did not have his back last week as Joey is all fucked up and laughs. Laree leaves and says that she wants nothing to do with him if he going to act like this. Sadly, I think this was the case on real life too.

Mace w/ Allison Danger vs. Alexis Laree

Mace pie-faces Laree then taunts the crowd. Laree comes back as the announcers talk about how Buff E has left Mace and that their team is done. Laree hits a headscissors and a dropkick then flies out with a tope. She rolls Mace back into the ring but gets hit with a suplex. He taunts Laree, who comes back with a low blow then hits a tornado DDT that looked horrendous but it gets the win (2:37) 1/4*. After the match, Danger comes in and kisses Laree but ends up getting hit with an inverted DDT.

Thoughts: This was pretty bad but it was kept short. The finish was botched too. The feud between Danger and Laree continues.

Steve Corino cuts a promo on Homicide and how he got attacked by him with a fork last week. He even has his eye patched up. Corino puts over how he has a full-time job with Japan and despite his best efforts, the fans do not respect him and he says that he doesn’t care about Philly as he will go back to Japan and will also get his revenge on Homicide. Corino cut a solid promo here.

Jeremy Lopez vs. Xavier w/ Simply Luscious

Xavier grounds Lopez and attacks the arm. Lopez comes back and they battle over a key lock. Lopez hits a pair of armdrags and a dropkick but Xavier puts on the breaks on the second dropkick attempt. Xavier beats on Lopez then rams him in the corner. Brainbuster gets two then Xavier applies a chinlock. Lopez fights out but Xavier yanks him down by the hair and follows that with a backbreaker for a nearfall. Lopez fights back again but Luscious trips him up and that allows Xavier to send him to the floor with a knee smash. Xavier beats on Lopez before ramming him into the post. In the ring, Xavier hits the X-Slam for a nearfall then Lopez works an ankle lock. Xavier escapes and knees Lopez in the face. They trade chops and Lopez wins that battle. Lopez comes back with a Yakuza kick then gets two off of a neckbreaker. Xavier blocks a tornado DDT attempt but Lopez comes back with a double underhook tornado DDT. Tiger Bomb gets two. Xavier stops a charge and comes back with a nasty Cobra Clutch Suplex that gets two. He signals for the X-Breaker but that gets countered and Lopez hits him with his finisher, the Chicken Wing DDT, but that only gets two. Xavier floats over on a suplex attempt and knees Lopez in the back of the head before hitting the X Breaker then getting the win with a 450 splash (10:45) **1/4.

Thoughts: Average match. Having your champ face off in a competitive match against a former WCWSN jobber is not going to do them any favors. The crowd was practically silent for the duration of the match.

Matt Thompson & Tony Mamaluke vs. Da Hit Squad

Thompson is really tall and skinny. Who is billed at 6’8 but weighs about 175lbs. Mack and Mamaluke start the match on the mat. Mamaluke grapevines the leg for a minute. Mamaluke makes a blind tag to Thompson who comes in with a springboard crossbody then hits a headscissors. Thompson eats a clothesline then gets caught with an overhead belly-to-belly before tagging Mamaluke. Mafia beats on Mamaluke in the corner to the fans delight but Thompson makes the save when he goes for the pin. Da Hit Squad use quick tags to beat on Mamaluke as Mack gets a nearfall with a wheelbarrow suplex as Thompson made the save. Thompson is really green by the way and just about everything he does looks mistimed. Mamaluke continues to get his ass kicked. Mack hits Mamaluke with a dropkick as the announcers make reference of Maritato being called “Nunzio” in the WWE. Thompson roughs up Mack outside the ring as Mamaluke hits Mack with a leg drop inside. The crowd wants Thompson in the match as Mamaluke hits a tornado DDT as both men are down. Thompson tags and hits a fanastic quebrada for two. The match breaks down Mamaluke gets slammed down in midair then Mafia picks up Thompson and hits the Burning Hammer for the pin while Mamaluke had Mack in the Butterfly Lock but the pin was made before Mack tapped out (9:50) *1/2.

Thoughts: Not a whole lot to this match. Thompson did a few nice highspots but in reality was far too green overall. On commentary, they pushed that this was his 4th or 5th match ever. I have no idea what became of the guy.

Joey Matthews & Izzy & Slim J & Deranged & Angel Dust vs. Quiet Storm & Spanish Announce Team & Amazing Red w/ Trinity

Jose starts off by overpowering Deranged. They take it to the mat and it is just okay. Deranged looks decent but also looks to weigh about 140lbs. Jose hits a snap powerslam then hammers on Deranged outside of the ring. Slim J and Red are in the ring now as in Scramble rules, anyone can enter once someone leaves the ring. Slim blocks an armdrag but ends up getting turned inside out with a clothesline. Izzy and Joel work a sequence as Levy (Sapolsky) bashes those dismissing these matches as a “Spotfest” due to the athletic ability these guys possess. Izzy looked good. Angel Dust and Divine work a solid sequence and now everyone is on the floor except for Storm and Matthews, who works a headlock on the mat. Now all of Special K is in the ring and they all dive onto the opposing team who are on the floor in a car crash sequence if there ever was one. Back in the ring, Deranged gets beat on by the SAT’s and Red. Deranged eats a flying knee smash from Red that gets two. Storm tags and puts Deranged in a tree of woe then after the rest of Red’s team knock Special K off of the apron, they all take turns hitting Deranged with baseball slides. Divine gets two with a brainbuster but gets caught with a tornado DDT that gets two. Matthews tags in and gets hit with a crossbody. He does come back with a clothesline as Divine gets hit with a triple enziguiri as Deranged’s timing was WAY off. He actually attempted the move after Divine was on the mat. Special K takes turn hitting Divine with elbow drops. Red then hits Slim J with some sort of powerbomb variation that I have never seen before and this triggers a sequence of all sorts of powerbombs and DDT’s that is too fast to recap. Storm hits Matthews with the Spinal Shock then after Red hits Matthews with a running flip dive, the remaining members of Special K all get powerbombed off of the top rope, which is followed by Special K hitting the other team with moonsaults. Slim J gets killed with the Storm Cradle Driver but that gets broken up and that leads to another sequence of hot moves that ends with Joel powerbombing Deranged five times until hitting a backdrop driver then shortly after that, Red gets the win with the Infrared on Angel Dust (17:47) ***1/4.

Thoughts: The crowd went nuts for this match, which was fun to watch at least. Some of it was really sloppy at points but the choreographed stuff was at least new. Izzy continues to impress and stands out as the most promising member of Special K. I remember Slim J wrestled a match for TNA in the infancy of the company and never really impressed me and just kept grabbing his crotch. He only did that once here but still had the Eminem look going. As you will notice, a few wrestlers were pulling double duty, with Red being one of them.

Handicap Match
Dunn & Marcos vs. Samoa Joe

Dunn & Marcos charge Joe but just end up bouncing off of him. Joe slaps them around and gets two with a powerslam on Dunn. He pulls Marcos’ shirt over his head and hits him with the Island Driver then hits Dunn with the Island Driver after that for the win (1:39) 1/4*.

Thoughts: Just a quick little match to put Joe over as a monster.

Street Fight
Paul London & Rudy Boy Gonzalez vs. Michael Shane & Bio-Hazard

Shane and Bio-Hazard attack their opponents from behind on the ramp. Shane and London are in the ring as Rudy Boy is beating on Bio-Hazard on the floor. London hits Shane with a few kicks as the camera work keeps switching around and it makes it tough to get into the match. Rudy Boy and London beat on Shane in the ring. They hit him with a few double team moves then Rudy Boy fucks up when he tries to fake a dive to the outside as he gets caught in the ropes then London hits both guys with a somersault plancha. Rudy Boy roughs up Shane in the ring as London hits Bio-Hazard with a standing moonsault on the floor. Rudy puts Shane in the Tarantula as London sends Bio-Hazard through the guardrail. Shane then hits Rudy with a DDT on the floor as Bio-Hazard hits London with a flying mare as he was seated in a chair inside the ring. Bio-Hazard hits London with a Death Valley Driver then asks the cameraman where he can find a ladder. He finds it and places it across the guardrail but London comes out and rams him into the post. London then lays it across the apron and guardrail as Shane gets a nearfall on Rudy Boy. London stands on the ladder but Bio-Hazard kicks it and London crotches himself on a rung. Shane gets shoved off of the top rope and through a table as everyone is down. In the ring, Bio-Hazard suplexes Rudy Boy onto the ladder then follows that with a Swanton Bomb. London comes in and holds a chair as he moonsaults Bio-Hazard then heads up top but gets cut off by Shane. Rudy Boy then super kicks Shane and London hits the Shooting Star Press but Shane kicks out as London is shocked. Bio-Hazard yanks out London and whips him into the guardrail. Shane catches Rudy Boy with a super kick but London comes back in and dumps him outside. London then places Bio-Hazard on top of Rudy Boy’s shoulders who hits him with a top rope powerbomb then London finishes him off with a running Shooting Star Press (14:24) *1/4.

Thoughts: This match was a mess. It had no heat at all, the layout was terrible as was the camera work. It was like two separate matches were going on at the same time. Crowd was dead for this one too.

Carnage Crew & Masada vs. Alex Arion & Don Juan & Fast Eddie

Eddie and Masada start things off with a back-and-forth sequence. The faces then clear the ring as Eddie hits them with a quebrada. In the ring, DeVito beats on Arion. He takes him down with a dropkick then Arion gets hit with a triple-team move. Arion fights back and chops down Loc as Don makes the tag. Loc hits him with a back suplex then tags Masada, who hits Don with a powerbomb. Don continues to play the face-in-peril as he kicks out of a few pin attempts. He manages to roll away from a moonsault attempt by DeVito and makes the hot-tag to Arion, who takes out all three men. Fast Eddie tries to snap Masada off of the top rope with a rana by leaping off of Arion’s back and he botched the move badly. Arion then hits Masada with a splash but as the ref was ordering Eddie back to the apron Loc hits Arion with a chair in a spot that took way, way too long to develop but could only get a two count. Really bad sequence there by everyone involved. Fast Eddie hits Loc with a springboard dropkick but gets overmatched and hit with the spike piledriver from the top rope as the Carnage Crew & Masada get the win (7:27) 3/4*.

Thoughts: Masada did not look bad in his RoH debut. Physically, he looks like a mix between Matt Hardy and Chris Hero, which is not ideal. The last few minutes were awful though. Arion was the most competent wrestler in the match by far.

Homicide vs. Samoa Joe

This match came about after Homicide stabbed Joe’s buddy Corino in the eye last week. Also, Joe made Homicide pass out in the Coquina Clutch at the same show in a six-man tag. They trade front facelocks on the mat to start. Joe then murders him with all sorts of strikes then backs him into the corner. He boots him in the face a few times then gauges his eyes. Homicide catches him with a drop toehold and attempts an STF but Joe manages to escape and duck outside. Homicide then flies out with a somersault plancha that wakes up the crowd. Back inside, Homicide chops Joe hard then returns the favor and gauges his eyes before hitting him with a running knee strike. Homicide hits some more chops until he gets caught in a uranage. Homicide rolls outside and Joe whips him into the guardrail. Back inside, Joe gets a nearfall with a Dragon Suplex. Homicide fights back and takes Joe off of the top with a rana that gets two. He then hits front-to-back clotheslines but Joe comes back with a Death Valley Driver. Homicide then comes back with a back suplex and gets two off of that. Homicide kicks Joe in the face a few times to little effect and he ends up hitting Homicide with a powerbomb then locking on an STF. Joe then switches to the Coquina Clutch but Homicide is able to reach the ropes. They trade slaps and chops until Homicide ducks a clothesline and rolls him up for the win (9:56) **1/2. After the match, Joe abides by the Code of Honor.

Thoughts: The match was going along fine but the finish came out of nowhere and felt anti-climatic. However, the match showed that Homicide could hang in there with a guy like Joe and helped establish him as a singles wrestler.

#1 Contender’s Trophy Match
Christopher Daniels w/ Simply Luscious vs. AJ Styles

The story here is that Daniels wants to win the trophy so the belt can remain in possession of the Prophecy. AJ works a side headlock to start. He keeps going back to the move as the announcers put over AJ’s work in TNA. They trade armdrags until the collide after both attempting crossbody blocks. AJ hits a dropkick and follows that with a neckbreaker that gets two. Daniels sends AJ into the corner with a monkey flip and they take it outside. Daniels drops AJ across the guardrail and yells at the fans. He whips AJ who does the spot where he leaps over the guardrail then catches his opponent with a super kick when they charge after him. Back in the ring, AJ hits a facebuster then puts on the bridging Indian Death Lock. Daniels reaches the ropes and AJ hits him with a wheelbarrow facebuster. He heads up top but Daniels cuts him off then hits a DDT. Daniels then goes to work on the neck then takes him down with a flying forearm. They are now choking out each other but Daniels breaks that up with an eye poke then hits a back suplex for a nearfall. Eye of the Hurricane gets two. Daniels hits an STO and tries the BME but lands on his feet. He catches AJ with a Flatliner and that gets two. AJ comes back with a neckbreaker as both men are down. AJ is up first and hits Daniels with a dropkick and a discus clothesline. Brainbuster gets two. Daniels comes back with a Blue Thunder Bomb as both men are down again. Daniels hits another STO then hits the BME but AJ kicks out. AJ fights back and they have a reversal sequence that ends with AJ hitting an inverted DDT for a nearfall. They now have a pinfall reversal sequence that finally ends with AJ catching Daniels with the Styles Clash and getting the win (15:12) ***. After the match, the Prophecy attacks AJ until Jay Briscoe, Amazing Red, and the SAT’s make the save.

Thoughts: Good match but disappointing considering who was involved. Daniels wrestling at the beginning of the show could have also played into the match being slower paced than usual. AJ will now get a shot at the title the next show.

30 Minute Iron Man Match
Doug Williams vs. American Dragon

The match starts on the mat with Williams working the leg. He then switches to the arm until Dragon gets a quick rollup for two. Dragon then works a stepover toe hold as a fan chants “boring.” He then puts on the Muta Lock but Williams elbows his way out of that. Dragon takes Williams down again and acts cocky which allows Williams to escape. More matwork follows until Dragon runs into a clothesline. They now battle over a key lock until Dragon takes him down. He works the arm for a bit then grabs a side headlock. Williams is now working a neck vise until Dragon drops down to escape. They are now trading Judo throws then Dragon beats on Williams in the corner before working a side headlock on the mat. Williams counters that with a headscissors as Levy runs down the next show on December 7th called “Night of the Butcher.” Bryan puts on a rear naked choke as this match is getting repetitive with all of the back-and-forth matwork. Dragon uses headbutts and chops to knock down Williams. He steps on the back of his neck and drops an elbow as we are at the halfway point. Dragon gets aggressive as he hammers away on Williams and chokes him out in the ropes. Williams gets him up in the Gory Special then turns it into a backslide for two. Dragon sends Williams into the corner and boots him as he is hanging off of the ropes. Dragon then hits a superplex and that gets two. Northern Lights Suplex gets two. Dragon is pissed and they work a reversal sequence that ends with Dragon hitting a Dragon suplex for a nearfall but Dragon follows that with a second one and scores a pinfall (18:23).

Daniels tries for the Cattle Mutilation but Williams turns that into an Ace Crusher that gets two. They trade European Uppercuts until Williams knocks Dragon to the floor then follows him out with a tope. Back inside, Williams gets a nearfall with a pair of flying knee smashes. Williams hits a release German suplex then locks on the Cobra Clutch and swings him around. Dragon fights back and hits a snap suplex then hits a diving headbutt that gets two. Dragon dumps Williams outside as he avoided the Chaos Theory and they end up fighting on the top rope, ending with Williams countering a super back suplex in midair that gets two. Williams gets a victory roll for two as there are just five minutes left in the match. Floating DDT gets two. He hits the Chaos Theory but Dragon just kicks out at two, shocking the announcers. Williams slams Dragon and heads up top for a  flying knee smash but that only gets two. Williams hits a few more German suplexes and then another Chaos Theory but Dragon gets his foot on the ropes to break the pin. Brainbuster gets two. Dragon fights back and dropkicks Williams in the back of the neck. He sets Williams up on the top rope as there is just one minute left in the match. Dragon hits a super back suplex and goes to cover but Williams reverses it into a crossface as time expires with Dragon winning 1-0 (30:00) ***1/4.

Thoughts: Up until the first and only pinfall, this felt repetitive and more like an exhibition than a match. It was back-and-forth mat wrestling just for the sake of it rather than building up to something. It picked up near the end but I was not a big a fan of this one as some people were. The crowd did not really get into this until near the end either.

Dragon is backstage talking about how Williams was close to beating him for the second time but no one beats him twice. He reiterates that point and says that they are the two best indy mat wrestlers around and he knows that Williams will come back to RoH to face him one more time.

They catch up with a pissed off Williams backstage who says that in England, they wrestle best of three falls matches and challenges Dragon to that style of match, saying that he will beat him.

The Prophecy are backstage as Daniels looks like a goof with Luscious on the phone blowing him off and Joe punking him out after reminding him how he is just a hired gun. This is supposed to be the leader of the top heel group and the valet treats him like a joke. Joe leaves then Daniels tells Xavier that he will retain the belt next show.

AJ is with Alexis Laree when he gets jumped by the Prophecy. Xavier holds up Laree so Luscious can slap her. Daniels then yells at AJ about how the belt is not leaving the Prophecy.

Final Thoughts: I was not too thrilled with this show. The angle of Mark Briscoe joining the Prophecy was good and they are pushing Homicide as a singles wrestler, which is good as the crowd likes him. However, the middle of the show was pretty bad and burned out the crowd. None of the matches were memorable, to me anyway, and the depth of the promotion was shallow here with a few guys having to pull double-duty and a lot of the newer guys being at a lower level who did not impress. Another thing that bothered me was Levy (Sapolsky) on commentary. He was so obnoxious in stating how the fans in RoH were better than everyone else as they do not try to put themselves over, which was not the case, and in hyping up the promotion as the best in the world.

Here is my schedule for the next several days:

Sunday: WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event 10/4/86
Tuesday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 10/5/86
Thursday: Highspots Shoot Interview with Mike Awesome
Friday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 10/11/86
Saturday: RoH Night of the Butcher 12/7/02

D-Bry Madness?

Magoonie sent this in right after Raw…

“Wow…that was Bryan’s Randy Savage Moment. Remember…The Macho Man
beat the One Man Gang by DQ too. The only difference is that we have to
wait a few weeks for the Finals” 

Makes a good amount of sense, and would have made even more had they done it on the go-home show to SummerSlam. Still, it’s pretty cool to see such a ground-swell of fan support actually get a guy to the top. Then they put him out there to perform, and he does so in spades. He got a good match out of Ryback, and neither Cena nor Punk could accomplish that. Daniel is also like Macho in that you could put him in any era, in any company, and he’d still get over with what he’s doing. WWE should have no fear of pushing him to the moon, because the kids can get behind him just as much as Cena, if not more. Looking like Cena ain’t gonna happen unless you have the world’s greatest genetics, but looking like D-Bry? Sure. Hell, and they’re even dating the same chick.

Dig it. Mad freak out!

50/50 booking = method to the madness?

I'm an advocate for a lot of what WWE does, for example,in the live thread, while everyone bemoaned Sheamus, Orton & Big Show opening Raw last night, I just watched and saw a good match with some cool spots. The smark mentality can be a hindrance at times and stop you from seeing that actually, there is some good wrestling going on. Ryback's promo too… it actually made a ton of sense and logic, but all the smart fan wants to do is put down his promo skills and talk about how they could have booked it better. To be honest, I can totally see why Vince, Cena etc would see smart fans as unappreciative idiots. We can be a very cynical bunch at times.

But one thing not even I can defend is the 50/50 booking. But maybe we can comprehend it. Last night Ziggler loses to Swagger, and Barrett loses to R Truth – two seemingly insane booking decisions that leave new champions looking like losers. My question is… is the WWE mentality when it comes to 50/50 booking that YOU NEVER KNOW WHO'S GOING TO WIN? If we keep putting everyone over each other with no definitive overall winner, does that keep things unpredictable in their eyes? Is that what they're going for? Please, explain what you think is the method to the madness. 

The 50/50 booking is because they want everyone at the same level, which in their mind is bringing the lower-end guys up to the level of the mid-card guys.  In fact what it's doing is flattening EVERYONE out and not letting anyone get over.  As noted by another commenter, Vince doesn't want another big star jumping to TNA or MMA or whatever, so no one gets to be a real star except for one or two tippy-top guys.  It's just what happens when you have to satisfy the investors through calculated mediocrity.  

RetROH Recap: ROH Motor City Madness 10-7-06

–Since ROH TV this week is a Road Rage featuring clips from Best In the World, I thought I’d do something a little different and recap a classic ROH dvd from their glory days. Motor City Madness from October 2006 wasn’t necessarily the most important show in ROH history but it was a fun one nonetheless, and featured a hot double main event: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson (or as you know him, former WWE World Champion Daniel Bryan) defends his ROH title against today’s current TNA World Champion Austin Aries, and The Briscoes take up the mantle of defending Jim Cornette in his conflict with “The Notorious 187” Homicide, who is partnering with Samoa Joe.


–First off we have current ROH matchmaker Delirious facing a debuting Zack Gowen. Yes, the one-legged wrestler and WWE free-rehab client had a run with ROH for a few years, starting off here and leading him to a membership with Jimmy Jacobs’ Age of the Fall. Gowen has “Moonsault” printed on the back of his shorts here. Because that’s what people are gonna remember about him. His moonsault. For those who don’t know what Delirious’s gimmick was, he was a masked guy who was basically a paranoid schizophrenic, and he predated the Festus gimmick of coming to the ring calm and then freaking out when the bell rings into a flurry of activity. Plus he had a demonic component, with moves called Shadows Over Hell and the like. It sounds like a bunch of indie gimmicks rolled into one but he was pretty good about keeping all the elements in harmony, so he seemed more like a character than an over-ambitious Create-A-Wrestler come to life. Lots of “sports entertainment” jokes from Prazak and Leonard (the commentary team from hell, and one of the biggest reasons not to watch ROH’s early DVDs. If people are overly excited about Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuiness these days, it’s probably because they remember how much worse it used to be). They each hit a few quick spots in succession. Gowen was a better wrestler than he ever got credit for, considering his handicap. You gotta give him credit for at least trying to become a better wrestler in spite of it, rather than just playing into the gimmick and never doing anything else, like so many others would. Gowen misses his trusty moonsault, and Delirious finishes him off with a cobra clutch-backbreaker segued into a Cobra Stretch (basically a Crossface but with a cobra clutch) for the submission. Fun little kickoff match, not much to it though.

Jim Cornette comes out to glad hand the crowd, and announces that Roderick Strong is too injured to wrestle. Roddy then comes out, and declares that he wants to compete, and Jim shuts him down. Six years later and Strong is just as weak on the mic, unfortunately. Homicide comes out to chase Cornette off and cap the segment that went nowhere and liked it.

–Next up we have some women’s wrestling, as Allison Danger (Steve Corino’s sister) and Lacey (the object of Jimmy Jacob’s desire during his “Emo Warrior” days and the subject of some of his original songs) team up against Daizee Haze and MsChif. Some combination of all these girls wrestled in tags and 4 ways on ROH shows for YEARS, give or take an Ashley Lane (aka Madison Rayne). These four are also SHIMMER vets. Not a bad match, although a little heatless, since a lot of the crowd seemed to thin out. Women’s wrestling in America, even top level wrestlers from SHIMMER, is still automatic smoke-break territory for a lot of guys, unfortunately. Haze & MsChif were sort of the faces, mainly, although for long periods they’d extend the formula and draw sympathy heat on Danger. At one point MsChif drilled Danger with a frankly insane rope-hung Pedigree. The ending saw MsChif spit green mist in Danger’s face, after Lacey put her in the path, and Haze scoring the win. Not bad if you want to see some quality female wrestling, although it wasn’t the fastest match ever held and the crowd was dead or not present.

–Before he was an American Wolf or ROH champion, we just had little Davey Richards from Othello, Washington, coming out to “Running With The Devil” and wearing that same robe and pretty much the same trunks. This was very early in Davey’s run and he still hadn’t won the ROH faithful over quite yet, although he got quite a bit of a face reaction. His opponent is Claudio Castagnoli, known these days as Smackdown lowcarder Antonio Cesaro. Claudio is still in his Swiss Banker gimmick here, and still has the stringy long brown hair and snazzy suit. Oddly enough though, Claudio was still part of the Kings of Wrestling at this point and was one half the tag champs, although he & Chris Hero were still in their banker & superhero characters and hadn’t quite yet become the team they would later make their name with. This starts out extremely slow, with a lot of armdrags and headlock takeovers from Davey. After a quick spill to the outside it picks up more, with Claudio working some ground technique and culminating with a series of traded strikes. Chris Hero appears at ringside to distract Davey, leading to Davey getting clubbed in the head with a Halliburton (remember them?) and Claudio hitting the Alpamare Waterslide for the win. Started out a little slow but it turned into something fun.

–Next up, the lights go out, and the soothing sounds of “The Ballad of Lacey” filled the arena as the fans held their lit cellphones aloft while Jimmy Jacobs made his entrance, along with Lacey and his partner Colt Cabana. (Do people still do that cellphone thing at concerts? It’s been a while since I’ve been to a big one. The last one was Sublime with Rome and everyone just held up joints). They are facing “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels (no appletinis, sadly) and Matt Sydal, who you now know as WWE superstar and Spice enthusiast Evan Bourne. Jacobs is still the “Emo Warrior” here and is infatuated with Lacey, who is mainly just a control freak. The story here is that Colt was sleeping with Lacey, and thus she was added to the team to Jimmy’s chagrin. Colt was still ostensibly a face despite this, so they were basically the “wacky tag team partners who hate each other”. Colt was in the early stages of taking pity on Jimmy here, and that would later lead to a feud between the two. Daniels and Sydal were pretty regular partners around this time. I should note that they come to the ring to Daniels’ regular theme, “Disposable Teens” by Marilyn Manson. Consider this: Colt came to the ring to “Copacabana”, Jimmy had his self-penned emo song, and Sydal was coming out to “Clavicle” by Alkaline Trio, an awesome song but one that sends the complete wrong message for a wrestler by saying “I wanna wake up naked next to you/kissing the curve of your clavicle” in the chorus. This might be the only time in recorded history where the guy coming out to Marilyn friggin’ Manson had the manliest theme song.

Anyhow, the match featured four guys with very unique styles that still managed to mix together well. Cabana & Daniels did a pretty decent comedy spot at one point, with Daniels grabbing hold of Lacey after she interfered, Colt making a charge and stopping himself before colliding with her, Daniels attempting to roll him over with a sunset flip pin, and Colt holding onto Lacey until Daniels pulled the both of them down, leaving Lacey laying between Colt’s legs, and Colt not wanting to let her go, to Jacobs’ chagrin. It sounds better than it was. After some more mat wrestling, Colt got fired up enough to hit the Bionic Elbows on Daniels in rapid order, but Daniels countered the final clothesline into a flatliner-into-Koji Clutch, which I didn’t see coming. Later Colt had another of his signature spots countered in excellent fashion, as he went for the Flying Asshole on Sydal and missed, landing on the ropes for Sydal to hit a gorgeous looking no-hands hurricanrana. In the end of the match, he did finally hit that Flying Asshole on Sydal, but then attempted to launch a top rope maneuver only to have Jacobs knock Sydal into him, leaving Colt crotched on the ropes. Jimmy was ready to capitalize with the Contra Code, but was soon distracted by his woman paying attention to Colt’s crotch, leaving Daniels to tag in and hit Angel’s Wings for the pin. In the appres. Jimmy’s former partner and then-heated enemy BJ Whitmer came out to brawl with him, only to be pulled apart by the other three. Whitmer cuts a promo on Jacobs and chases him to the back.

–But we’re not done yet! Daniels grabs the mic and cuts a promo on the Kings of Wrestling, challenging them to put the tag titles on the line. This draws out Chris Hero, by himself. Hero scoffs at the thought of giving Daniels and Sydal a title shot, and Sydal points out that while Daniels has nothing to prove, if the question is whether he himself is worthy, Hero can come to the ring to challenge. After both hemming and hawing, Hero accepts, and we have us a one on one match. Hero isn’t the muscled guy with the more traditional look that we know as Kassius Ohno today quite yet. Here he still is wearing his Superman-parody shirt and baggy yellow pleather pants. Hero hadn’t hit on the elbow-strike gimmick yet and didn’t much in the way of the cravat variations; here he was mainly a power wrestler with a handful of aerial tricks up his sleeve. It was another interesting contrast in styles, with Hero mainly trying to keep Sydal grounded. Sydal at one point does an AJ Styles-style moonsault into reverse DDT hold, but instead of dropping straight back with the reverse DDT he does that split-legdrop thing that Melina used to do. Claudio attempted to make the run in at the finish but was fought off by Daniels, leaving Sydal to hit Hero with a missile dropkick in one corner and a Shooting Star Press out of the other for the win. And hey, there’s “Clavicle” to play Matty out. Decent match but it showed more of Hero, who wasn’t at his best yet, than Sydal, who was pretty damn good here. He was also exceedingly charismatic, on the mic and on his way out. Wonder where that charisma disappeared to in WWE?

–Cornette’s back out to cut another promo on Homicide (or as he calls him, Homo-cide). Cornette gives his usual energetic hate-promo against Homicide. Imagine what he does regularly against Steen, just replace all the fat jokes with street thug or Hispanic jokes. Cornette finally goes as far as to call Homicide out to challenge him for a fight. At this point Cornette was basically a heel commissioner, although he took great pains to point out previously that he was not doing a heel commish angle and strictly had a problem with Homicide. Homicide gets ahold of Cornette and sets him up for the Cop Killa, but Cornette is bailed out by The Briscoes, who attempt to hit the Spike J-Driller on Homicide until Samoa Joe makes the save, setting up the Falls Count Anywhere street fight later in the show.

–A Six Man Mayhem match is next, featuring some young talent, many of whom are from the ROH training camp. We have “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross, famous for failing to impress on the most recent season of Tough Enough. We have Pelle Primeau, who was talented but ridiculously small, even by ROH standards. We have Top of the Class winner Shane Hagadorn, who was always involved in ROH’s low card in one way or the other around this time and later became a manager for the Kings of Wrestling. We have both members of Irish Airborne, Dave & Jake Crist, who are now currently the Juggalo Championship Wrestling tag champs under masks as the Ring Rydas. Finally, still using the Embassy theme music despite Prince Nana having left ROH the very night before, we have Jimmy Rave. The gimmick with Rave, at the time, was that when he posed in the ring during his entrance, rather than the fans throwing streamers in the ring the way they would for a main event, they throw rolls of toilet paper at him. Pretty fun stuff, and one I’d love to see the ROH regulars adopt for someone nowadays, since Rave is semi-retired and working as a counselor at a rehab facility after having been a patient himself. Watching this back, I’m struck by how much talent and charisma Shane Hagadorn really had. Unfortunately, not many people have ever looked more like “just another guy” than Hagadorn, and he had no physique worth speaking of. Cross, as many who have watched him over the years will tell you, is actually a very decent athletic wrestler, and was probably written into Tough Enough as someone who was marked for failure. At one juncture he attempts a through-the-ropes baseball slide dropkick on Rave, which Rave ducks, and Cross held on, pulled himself straight back through the ropes, and hit it again. Words don’t do it justice, it was a cool athletic spot that looked like something John Morrison or Kofi Kingston would do today. Later he also dropped the rest of the fray with a Space Flying Tiger Drop. Rave was the biggest star in the match at this point, which is what made it a surprise when Pelle Primeau scored a surprise Stunner on him and the shock victory. Pretty fun for a trainwreck match, and it’s too bad to see that six years later the most successful amongst all these guys are the two wrestling for Insane Clown Posse. That’s wrestling for ya, I guess.

–For the ROH title, we have “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. Austin Aries, a feud that had gone on for a long time in ROH and had headlined a number of shows, including Enter The Dragon a year prior (I have that one too, and if you play your cards right…..). In some ways, it’s really surprising that these two are two of the biggest stars in wrestling today, and in some ways it’s completely obvious, because they are clearly world-class workers. Aries was still an acquired taste for some people, as far as his semi-comedic offense went at this point (that goddamn Pendulum Elbow, bleh) but there was no denying he could put on a great match every time, especially with Danielson, who he had great chemistry with. Seeing Danielson during this time, no one ever believed he’d even make it to WWE, let alone be a World champion and main eventer. He was still wearing plain solid-color trunks, had very little muscle tone, and didn’t wear kneepads or kickpads on his boots. Couple that with his buzz cut, and he looked pretty much like a ringer for Bob Backlund (and he even used a Crossface Chickenwing at times). At least he still had “The Final Countdown” as his entrance music. Aries looks more or less like he does these days. Danielson was ostensibly the heel here, although the crowd still gave him support by doing the dueling “Austin Aries” and “Let’s go Dragon” chants. I won’t attempt to do any play by play here, as these two put on a clinic. Part of what made these two work so well together was that Danielson would put on his usual mat-wrestling clinic and could really get the crowd riled up against him with his smug heel schtick, and Aries could hang with Danielson on the mat but had the more explosive flashy offense, with his high flying moves and power spots. So Danielson could grind Aries down into the mat while mouthing off the fans the whole time and get the heat going, and then Aries could make his big comebacks on his feet and the crowd would pop huge. They had it worked out to a science, and yet their matches never really got repetitive. At the end it looked like Aries was going to finish it off, hitting the Brainbuster and then attempting a 450. Danielson moved out of the way of the 450 and Aries landed on his feet and rolled through, only for Danielson to counter into a small package for the quick win. I love those “slip on a banana peel” finishes because it makes both guys look good: Danielson for being smart and crafty enough to get the clean win, and Aries for having his opponent all but beat until one little window of opportunity lost it for him. Both guys looked like a million bucks here, and it wasn’t as long as some of Danielson’s usual hour-long epics. I’d say this looked like two stars in the making, but at this point they already were stars, and it’s gratifying to know that WWE and TNA have learned to agree.

Samoa Joe rushes out to attack Danielson, who he was feuding with at the time (the two would have one of my all-time favorite ROH matches in a cage at Chi-Town Spectacular) and is immediately cut off by The Briscoes while Homicide runs out to fill out our main event. The coolest thing about this match is that if they really wanted to they could have had a great traditional tag match with lots of mat wrestling and power moves, but they could just as well have a bloody brawl. For this one we got a little sampling of both. Things started out in the ring with some traditional tag work. Jay & Joe did a lot against each other, as they had a long history. A dive to the outside from Mark onto his opponents brought this one out of the ring, where the street fight aspect came into play. Well you don’t need to ask Joe twice: he started throwing half the chairs in the building over the rail onto Jay, while Homicide picked up the fallen ones to club Mark. He also suplexed Mark into a row of upright chairs, and then reversed a charge with a back body drop onto more upright chairs, before simply throwing several of them into Mark’s head. (Nigel would not approve, needless to say). Not to be outdone, Joe even powerslammed Jay through a standing chair. The bumps Jay & Mark take here are absolutely sick, and show what tough fuckers they are for continuing to work after the fact. The action then spills outside the building, where most of the fans spill onto street to watch the Briscoes get thrown into a brick wall, literally (although Mark does a Tiger Mask dodge up the wall at one point, he still looked like he wiped himself out completely). Joe also scores a Razor’s Edge on Jay into the side of the production truck, ala Nash & Mysterio, but Mark finally turns the tide with a Shooting Star onto both men off the same said truck. That’s more or less the last we see of Joe for this match. A table conveniently placed outside the arena is enough for Homicide to go through, although it doesn’t quite break, leaving it for another double-flapjack into it and Jay finally standing on it, attempting to stomp it down. Not to be outdone, Homicide hiptosses both Briscoes through a table back inside, and it still doesn’t break, even after a subsequent suplex to Jay. Jay then slams Homicide into it and the legs bow down, though the table still doesn’t crack. Jesus, Orton sells more than those tables. It’s crazy to see the whole crowd full of fans literally following these guys through the arena, leaving whole sections of chairs empty and primed for bumping into. Back in, The Briscoes attempt at a springboard Doomsday Device is countered into a Cop Killer attempt by Homicide which is then reversed into a Spike J-Driller for the Briscoes win. The crowd gives them the appropriate “That Was Awesome” chant, though Jay heels it up on the mic by telling them that it’s the stupidest fucking chant he’s ever heard, before cussing them all out. That the Briscoes managed to stay standing after the sick bumps they took during that one is astounding. Just an absolutely brutal hardcore brawl, and one that focused more on the hard hitting bumps that each team was taking than bloodletting and slashing stuff. I wouldn’t doubt if this one match shaved a year or two off Jay & Mark’s careers, but it really sold the hatred between them & Homicide & Joe. Absolutely sick.

–As I said, this maybe wasn’t one of the crucial shows in ROH history, but the two main events made it an easy thumbs up and one of my favorites from my modest ROH video collection. I don’t know if this one is still in print, so I can’t necessarily say to check it out for yourself, but if you manage to find a copy, then it’s for sure worth the buy. Until ROH TV next week, you know the drill…