No real reason for this one other than the fact I haven’t reviewed any Ring of Honour on here yet and we’re coming up for the eleventh anniversary of this show, so I thought it would be fun to show how the wrestling landscape has changed since this event took place. I also liked the symmetry of posting a show which contains Bryan Danielson taking on a monster World Champion when he’s just recently taken on a monster World Champion in WWE.
Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way here….
So i just read that more tix have been sold for the NXT Brooklyn show as opposed to the meaningless Battleground show.(as of Thursday night) Do u see the group that runs RAW try and bully their way into running the big NXT show to save face. In particular Vince and Kevin Dunn.
No, because really the whole thing is set up for HHH to succeed, given that Vince needs to prove to Wall Street that his doofus son-in-law can run a wrestling company in case the worst happens. So they’re going to give HHH every chance to make it work on his own.
On a similar topic, I’m not really fond of making big power moves against ROH like this deal with Jushin Liger coming in for Takeover. It’s awesome for the fans in a sense, but destroying what is basically your own feeder system seems like some pretty short-sighted manuevering. Unless they’re going all in on this WWN deal and basically have decided that ROH must die as a result.
August 24, 2002
From the Americal Civic Center in Wakefield, MA (Not exactly Boston but close enough I suppose)
Your hosts are Donnie B. and Steve Corino
Low Ki cuts a promo about how he gave it his all, even losing 10 lbs in the one-hour iron man match just for the love of this sport. He says that this is his life and the RoH belt signals his love for professional wrestling. He then AJ Styles that he has the utmost respect for him but he did his heart and soul to become champion and he will prove to him and everyone else that it is not the size of the fighter but the size of the fight that he will bring.
Quiet Storm vs. Amazing Red
They start out with an over-choreographed lucha sequence to start that did not look all that great. Well, this stuff was still en vogue in 2002 so the crowd applauded. Speaking of the crowd, they are jacked for this show. Storm stomps Red in the corner then they trade headscissors. Storm rolls outside and Red hits him with a somersault tope then kicks him in the chest. He rolls storm back into the ring and kicks him some more. Storm comes back and hits a few neckbreakers that gets two. Storm then comes back with the Canadian Destroyer and heads up top but Red turns a diving headbutt attempt into a cutter the goes up top and hits the Infrared before finishing him off with the Red Star Press (6:06) *1/2. After the match, Special K attacks both men until the Spanish Announce Team and Chris Divine make the save.
Thoughts: Some of these moves looked good but they had a lot of timing issues early and this felt like more of an exhibition than anything else. This match did set up the next one though.
Spanish Announce Team & Chris Divine vs. Izzy & Brian XL & Dixie
The Scramble match rules mean that tags are not necessary. Joel Maximo chops Izzy then they trade kicks until Joel hits a cradle drop then tosses him to the floor. In the ring, Dixie and Divine work a sloppy sequence until Divine nearly murders him with a brainbuster. Jose and Brian work an awful sequence that ends with Brian getting clotheslined to the floor. Izzy then takes out everyone with an insane springboard moonsault. Brian then almost kills him attempting the Fosbery flop then Elax climbs up and hits a senton and it looked like they forgot to break his fall. Ouch. In the ring, Brian and Joel work an ugly sequence. Dixie tags and gets two with a snap suplex. Discus forearm gets two. Izzy tags and hits an enziguiri then a neckbreaker before tagging Dixie. The SAT’s then work a wacky hold that Corino calls “The Human Taffy Machine.” Dixie comes back with a tornado DDT on Jeol but Divine hits him with a tiger suplex. Jose hits Izzy with a cool looking sitout facebuster. Brian hits his typical sloppy high-flying stuff on Jose. The SAT’s work a stacked powerbomb that I am surprised Dixie didn’t have his neck broken. Divine then hits Elax with a super faceslam and after that, the SAT’s hit Brian with the Spanish Fly for the win (9:12) *3/4.
Thoughts: There was some nice offense here and Izzy in particular stood out but a lot of it looked bad. Brian XL just might have been the worst wrestler in RoH during their first year. He was awful in every single way.
Divine is in the ring and calls out Low Ki for a title match. Low Ki’s music hits and we get a match.
RoH Championship Match
Chris Divine vs. Low Ki (Champion)
Divine chops Low Ki to start. Ki comes back with a bunch of kicks then hits the Tidal Crush, setting up the Dragon Clutch for the win (0:55) NR. After the match, Ki plays to the crowd, who go crazy for him.
Thoughts: I really did not get the point of this but it was short and inoffensive.
Christopher Daniels cuts a promo recorded in an office stating that he is in Japan, showing the world why he is the #1 wrestler in the world. However, he said that the Prophecy will be in Boston and a new member might debut as well. Daniels then tells Ki that he has caused all of his problems and screwed him out of the RoH Championship and will return to RoH on 9/21/02 and help destroy the image of RoH with the help of the Prophecy and it will all be Low Ki’s fault. Good to see them try to establish a heel stable and a feud for the title.
Dunn & Marcos vs. Christopher St. Connection w/ Allison Danger
The CSC toss Dunn outside then beat on Marcos, mixing in some homoeroticism in the process. The CSC use quick tags to maintain control and chop Marcos hard in the corner. Marcos manages to escape from the corner and tag Dunn who cleans house. The match gets clipped as the CSC are making out then toss Marcos outside before hitting Dunn with the Gay Basher for the win (3:42) *. After the match, Danger beats on both men.
Thoughts: The CSC did a lot more wrestling than usual and did not look too bad in the ring. But still, the tag team division in RoH still left a lot to be desired at this time.
Mike Tobin w/ Danny Drake vs. Scoot Andrews
Andrews cheapshots Tobin after the handshake then takes him down with a leg lariat. He then hits a guillotine leg drop and an Alabama Slam that gets two. Tobin floats over on a pumphandle and hits a Russian leg sweep and a springboard leg drop. Tobin heads up top but misses a swanton bomb then pancakes him after a botched move. Andrews then hits him with the Force of Nature for the win (2:03) 1/2*. After the match, Xavier comes out and challenges him to a rematch.
Thoughts: A nothing match and the having a match to set up an impromptu match happen again tonight is lazy.
Scoot Andrews vs. Xavier
They start by going back and forth until Andrews takes control with a facebuster. He hits a dropkick but Xavier sends him to the floor with an enziguiri then flies outside with a split-legged moonsault. Back inside, Xavier rams Andrews into the corner then hits an overhead suplex for a nearfall. Andrews comes back with a clothesline then tries the Force of Nature but Xavier escapes. He tries for a sunset flip but Scoot turns that into the Roll of the Dice. Xavier comes back with a splash mountain then goes up top and hits a 450 splash for the win (4:07) *1/2. After the match, the announcers say that Xavier has to be in title contention after winning this feud.
Thoughts: They were pushing Xavier as a threat on commentary as they set him up to face the winner of tonight’s championship match. I have no idea how someone who lost in the first round of the championship tournament got to be the #1 contender either.
Michael Shane pulls up in a Lexus SUV with Biohazard. He tells him to grab his bags after saying how good it is to win a RoH contract. Shane continues to act cocky and better than the rest of the TWA guys, with Bio-Hazard as his sidekick.
Michael Shane vs. Paul London
Rudy Boy Gonzalez watches the match at ringside. Shane attacks London from behind after the handshake. He gets cocky and taunts the crowd, letting London take him down. Shane charges and London backdrops him outside on to Biohazard then takes them both out with a tope. In the ring, London hits the dropsault for two. He hits Shane with forearms in the corner and they do not look too good. Shane shoves London off of the top rope and he flies outside into the guardrail as Shane poses from the top rope. Christ, London is insane. Shane goes outside and softens up London as Corino cracks a lot of lame jokes at the expense of Rudy Boy. He was trying way too hard to be Bobby Heenan on commentary. In the ring, Shane hits a top rope elbow drop that gets two. He has London in a front facelock as the crowd rallies behind London, who escapes and hits a spinning heel kick and a clothesline. Shane blocks a tornado DDT attempt and sends London into the turnbuckle with an overhead suplex and that gets two. Shane puts on a reverse chinlock then grounds London for a bit. London comes back with a mat slam. He dodges a charging Shane but ends up getting kicked in the face afterwards. They fight up top and Shane takes him down then puts London in the Haas of Pain. London turns it into a cradle. He then gets two off of a rana before taking him outside with a spinning heel kick. London then flies outside with a springboard somersault plancha and Shane sells the ankle, similarly to when Chris Marvel legitimately broke his ankle on the “Round Robin Challege” Show. London rolls him outside as Shane sells the ankle and Rudy Boy comes inside to check on him but Shane quickly rolls up London for the win (12:45) ***. Shane did a great job of selling there. Simply Luscious steps into the ring to offer Shane a spot in the Prophecy on the behalf of Christopher Daniels. Rudy Boy steps in and grabs the mic from her and tries to convince Shane to say no. Shane ends up hitting Luscious with a super kick then does the same to Rudy Boy. Bio-Hazard and Shane now attack London with Shane finishing with his top rope elbow drop.
Thoughts: Good match. Shane was the better worker of the two and came across as a star, with London being the crowd favorite due to his crazy moves. They also pushed Shane as a loner here, with him not needing anyone to get ahead.
American Dragon vs. Donovan Morgan
This was set up a few months ago when Daniels brought in Morgan, who pissed off Dragon by dissing the Code of Honor. They lockup for a minute then Morgan goes outside and wants Dragon to join him but he wants to keep it in the ring. Back inside, Morgan shoves down Dragon, who comes back with an armdrag then grabs an armbar. Dragon gets two off of a dropkick then goes back to the arm of Morgan. Dragon locks on a sleeper but Morgan turns that into a back suplex. He takes Dragon outside and sends him into the guardrail a few times. Morgan takes Dragon back inside and takes him down after a few forearm smashes that looked quite snug. Morgan then puts on a legscissor full nelson that Dragon counters into a reverse surfboard. Morgan then ends up catching Dragon with an exploder that gets two. He tries a suplex but Dragon floats over and hits him with an enziguiri as both men are down. Dragon is up first and takes him down with a forearm smash then gets two with a spinning wheel kick. Dragon fires away in the corner then gets two with a Northern lights suplex. Dragon eats boot on a charge then Morgan jumps off of the second rope and hits Dragon with a DDT that gets two. They trade rollups until Morgan hits an overhead suplex and that gets two. They now trade European uppercuts and Dragon wins that war. He comes back with a snap suplex then heads up top and hits the diving headbutt but that only gets two. Morgan counters a Fujiwara armbar with the Golden Gate Swing but that only gets two. The camera shows Morgan’s busted eye as Dragon puts Morgan in the Cattle Mutilation but the fifteen minute time-limit expires and the match is ruled a draw (15:00) ***1/2. Both guys want five more minutes, as does the crowd, but the referee will not let that happen. The crowd then chants “kill the ref.” Dragon yells at Morgan to shake his hand and extends it out as Morgan stares him down and cheapshots Dragon before hitting the Pedigree.
Thoughts: Damn good match. Both guys hit each other hard and it was a back and forth battle that was enjoyable to watch. Morgan was good in the ring and its a shame that he did not get a longer run with the company.
Da Hit Squad tell the Carnage Crew that they are ready to make the sacrifice.
The Carnage Crew are shown entering the Murphy Rec Center and beating the shit out of two ring boys then tells Da Hit Squad that those were them.
Boston Massacre Match
Carnage Crew vs. Da Hit Squad
This is a hardcore match with the Code of Honor not in effect. They brawl all over the place to start and none of it looks all that good. In the ring, Mafia hits HC Loc with a German suplex. Devito comes in with barbed wire wrapped around his arm and hammers away at Mafia, busting him open. Mafia comes back with a kick to the head and now has the barbed wire and uses that to bust open Devito. The crowd is not all that into this match as it is just garbage brawling that has been done to death. In the ring, Monsta Mack wraps the barbed wire around the head of Loc. Mafia starts screaming in an attempt to rile up the crowd but it fails miserably. Devito opens up Mafia some more then inside of the ring, he hits him with clotheslines and each time Mafia gives him the finger and yells “fuck you.” No one cares. Devito sends Mafia into the corner with an overhead throw then Loc and Mack fuck up a chair swing spot by hitting the chairs together but Mack sells it anyway. The Carnage Crew destroy Da Hit Squad with chairs then Da Hit Squad escapes and goes back to the locker room to grab something and each come back out with a piece of plywood covered in barbed wire and toss it into the ring, where the Carnage Crew are currently standing. They now brawl in the ring as the pieces of barbed wire covered wood are placed in the corners with everyone doing there best to avoid making contact. Da Hit Squad are not over in Wakefield at all by the way. Devito ends up sending Mack into the barbed wire then Mafia spears Devito through the board as the crowd starts a “holy shit” chant then puts him away with the Burning Hammer (11:04) 1/2*.
Thoughts: A garbage brawl that went on for way too long. Da Hit Squad flopped in Boston, who did not respond at all to their antics like the crowds in Philadelphia have been. And those antics were opening match indy-level stuff anyway.
Don Juan vs. Bio-Hazard w/ Michael Shane
Bio-Hazard takes control early on and hits a pair of suplexes. He catches Juan off of the top and hits a Northern lights suplex that gets two. Juan manages a backslide but Bio-Hazard puts him away very shortly after that with a Teardrop suplex (2:12) 1/4*.
Thoughts: Just a showcase for Bio-Hazard, who was alright in the ring and bigger than most guys in RoH. Besides that, he did not stick out at all.
Maverick Wild vs. Alex Arion
These two guys wrestled for New England Championship Wrestling at this time. Wild did some enhancement work for WCW and WWF in the 90’s. They start the match with a rollup reversal sequence then fight over an armbar. Wild hits a backbreaker but Arion locks on an armbar. He hits a tilt-a-whirl headscissors before going back to the arm then more or less repeats the same sequence as this match is getting repetitive. Wild comes back with a Russian leg sweep then gets two with a suplex. He hits Arion with a basement dropkick to the back of the neck. He gets cocky with his pin attempt and Arion cradles him for two. They trade chops in the corner until Wild misses a corner splash in a terrible looking spot then Arion hits him with a super kick that gets two. Wild stomps Arion’s foot and hits a spinning wheel kick before chopping him in the corner. Arion is able to catch Wild with a front facedrop then heads up top and comes off with a splash but Wild gets his knees up. Wild then picks up Arion, who turns it into a victory roll for the win (5:49) *.
Thoughts: A basic match. Arion was repetitive in the ring but looked competent as Wild did not impress at all. Arion wrestled a few more matches for the company while this was the only time Wild appeared.
Tuesday: WWF The Big Event 8/28/86
Thursday: Kayfabe Commentaries 1992 WWE Timeline as told by Bret Hart
Friday: WWF Championship Wrestling 8/30/86 (Final Episode)
Saturday: RoH Unscripted 9/21/02
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The SmarK DVD Rant for Ring of Honor: Joe v. Kobashi.
Gotta admire them for honesty in the titles.
Anyway, I previously had done a review of the main event on the blog, but I figured that I’d sit down and do the whole show because I wanted to watch the match again, just for kicks. Or in this case, chops.
– Taped from Manhattan, NY
– Your hosts are Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.
Colt is still his fun-loving self at this point, so it looks like Homicide has not yet ruined his life. Claudio starts with a wristlock, but Colt takes him down with an armdrag and controls the arm. They dodge each other for a stalemate, but Cabana monkey-flips him and keeps on the armdrags. Claudio catches him with a European uppercut to take over, and throws a seated forearm for two. A quick try at a surfboard submission gets two, and a delayed vertical suplex is unexpectedly reversed to a small package for two when he holds it too long. Oh, nice spot. Claudio keeps coming with the inverted suplex for two, but Cabana dumps him and takes too long with a quebrada attempt, so Claudio heads back in. Cabana charges into the corner with a high knee and a butt-butt in the other corner to set up a lariat for two. Claudio comes back with a spinning neckbreaker for two, but Colt elbows out of another move and sets up to finish. He gets distracted by Homicide’s lackeys, however, and Claudio finishes with the, uh, Ricolabomb.
(Claudio Castagnoli d. Colt Cabana, powerbomb — pin, 7:48, **1/2) A good opener, nothing spectacular. Claudio’s Euro-trash gimmick is fairly interesting, however.
– Matt Sydal v. Christopher Daniels v. Azrieal
Gotta say, as long as the allusion is biblical and not Smurf, Azrieal is right up there with the coolest wrestling names I’ve heard. This is elimination rules, according to the DVD packaging. Daniels gets a big-time star reaction here. Armdrags galore to start and Sydal briefly teams with Azrieal before they turn on each other. Sydal chops on Az in the corner, but gets powerbombed by Azrieal for two. Daniels gets a leg lariat on Az for two, and the crowd is clearly behind Daniels here. Az snaps off a rana on Daniels and goes back to chopping Sydal, and it leads to a nice spot where Daniels monkey-flips Sydal into an Az powerbomb attempt, but then clotheslines both guys to take over. Backbreaker on Sydal and he adds a chop in the corner, but Sydal goes up. Daniels tries to bring him down with a superplex, but Sydal fights him off and launches off Az with a tornado DDT on Daniels for two. A crowd member comments “You fucking suck, Azrieal!” Ouch. Az gets a cobra clutch slam on Daniels to set up a Sydal legdrop for two, and they double-team him. However, that goes badly and Daniels easily comes back with a simultaneous bulldog and clothesline on them. That’s awesome. He kills them with clotheslines and powerbombs Sydal for two. Azrieal takes advantage of the distraction and clotheslines Daniels off the top for two, setting up a guillotine legdrop with Daniels between the ropes. Sydal turns on Az again and gets a leg lariat for two. Daniels bails, so Sydal follows him out with a rana from the apron to the floor, and Az adds a pretty lame pescado onto them. Back in, the kids slug it out and Az gets a leg lariat for two. They head up and Sydal brings him down with a top rope belly to belly to eliminate him at 9:26.
That leaves us with Daniels v. Sydal, and he gets a couple of quick rollups for two, but Daniels PLASTERS him with a lariat. That’s a case where the Jannetty Sell works. Backdrop suplex gets two for Daniels. Death Valley Driver gets two. I like the addition of ramming his back into the turnbuckle, but he should go all Oklahoma Stampede with it and do it into all four. Sydal fights back with chops and an enzuigiri, and a standing moonsault gets two. Sydal goes up with a high cross for two. Rollup gets two. Daniels finishes with the Angel’s Wings to put him away, however.
(Daniels d. Sydal & Azrieal, Angels Wings — pin Sydal, 13:02, **3/4) Azrieal looked totally out of place with those two, and it would have been a better match one-on-one. Finish was kind of out-of-nowhere, too.
– ROH Tag titles: BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs v. Sal Rinauro & Tony Mamaluke
Mamaluke and Whitmer take it to the mat to start, as Whitmer powers out of an armbar and brings in Jacobs. Rinauro comes in as well and gets overpowered and armdragged. He catches an armbar, however, and brings Mamaluke back in for a rollup that gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. He dropkicks the knee and goes after the leg, but then goes to a camel clutch. Sal comes in and Mamaluke dumps him on Jacobs for two. Whitmer comes in and tries a DDT on Mamaluke, but Tony blocks with a choke, so BJ suplexes him into the corner instead. How is Mamaluke not paralyzed yet? Jacobs comes in with a chop off the top and they use the CLUBBING FOREARMS in a comedy spot. Jacobs drops some elbows for two. We learn that tagging someone’s boot is legal, as the champs double-team Mamaluke into jelly and Whitmer powerbombs Jacobs onto him for two. Mamaluke fights him off with a double-knee and makes the tag to Rinauro, who comes in with a flying rana on Jacobs. Back to Whitmer, who hits Sal with a rolling suplex and misses a big boot, but catches a lariat instead. Mamaluke has apparently made a blind tag and comes in kicking, then takes BJ down with an armbar. This turns into a triangle choke, but BJ powers him into the turnbuckle to break. Back to Jacobs, who goes up into Doomsday Device position, and hits Mamaluke with a rana off Whitmer’s shoulders for two. That’s quite the finisher. Whitmer keeps going after Mamaluke, however, and goes up, but Sal dropkicks him to the floor. Jacobs also tries to bring Mamaluke down, but gets powerbombed as a result. Sal gets an enzuigiri and they hit a double-team DDT for the titles? Did not see that coming.
(Sal Rinauro & Tony Mamaluke d. BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs, Rubik’s Cube Driver — pin Jacobs, 13:48, **1/2) This was kind of a meandering match, hovering between comedy and serious, and it didn’t really feel like it had the tag formula that most good tag matches do.
ROH Pure Wrestling title: Nigel McGuinness v. Jay Lethal
Nigel’s arrogant pre-match promo is great stuff. Lethal takes him down with a headscissors to start, but Nigel powers out of it. Another headscissors by Lethal, but Nigel escapes again, and walks away from a chop attempt. Can’t blame him. Nigel takes him down with an armbar and slugs away, blocking chops at the same time, and takes him down again with a neck vice. They trade stuff out of a knucklelock and Lethal bicycle kicks him and follows with chops, before Nigel takes him down with a leglock. Lethal resists the temptation to use up a rope break and fights out, then pounds him with forearms in the corner. He whips Nigel into the corner, where he does a headstand and mulekicks Lethal after luring him into a blind charge. Lethal bails and recovers before heading back in. Nigel goes to work on the arm with a single-arm DDT and hangs him in the Tree of Woe, and then kicks him in the back when he pulls himself up. NASTY. Lethal escapes another attempt and this time avoids the headstand kick by chopping him down. Spinebuster and he blocks a blind charge, following with a leg lariat on Nigel for two. Nigel avoids a dragon suplex, but Lethal gets a backdrop suplex anyway and goes up with a diving headbutt for two. A superkick sets up a leglock submission by Lethal, forcing Nigel to use a rope break. However, Nigel uses his trusty iron behind the ref’s back for the pin.
(Nigel McGuinness d. Jay Lethal, iron — pin, 10:59, ***) Match was nothing special, but Nigel is going to be a superstar once the WWE steals him.
– Jimmy Rave v. Roderick Strong
Prince Nana’s valet-on-a-leash routine cracks me up. Rave dodges Strong to start and grabs a headlock, and they trade chops in the corner. Strong wins that one, sending Rave to the floor. Back in, Rave goes to the headlock again and stays on that, but Strong suplexes out of it and whips him into the corner. A couple of more of those and Rave bails, so Strong baseball slides him into the railing and adds another chop. Nana distracts him, however, and Rave sends him into the railing to take over. Back in, a suplex gets two. Rave adds a Brutus Beefcake stomp and a neckbreaker for two, and he goes into a neck vice. Strong comes back with a crossbody for two, but Rave hits a lariat to the back of the neck to slow him up, and gets two. Choking sets up another neckbreaker for two. Roderick fights back with forearms, but Rave takes him down with a legsweep into a submission, which gets two. Strong fights out with chops and a backdrop, and a dropkick gets two. Backbreaker sets up a Boston Crab, but Rave makes the ropes. Sunset flip is blocked by Rave, but Strong reverses for two. A uranage variation of the backbreaker puts Rave down, and a big boot gets two for Strong. Running forearm into a backbreaker gets two. Another one is reversed by Rave and he spears Strong, into a Snow Plow for two. Nana throws a chair in, but Strong gets the gutbuster into the Stronghold (ha!) to finish.
(Roderick Strong d. Jimmy Rave, Boston Crab — submission, 13:43, ***) I really like the psychology of Strong shown here, which we never see in TNA. Instead of just being the guy who does backbreakers, here he does them to soften the back and get an easy submission from a back-related submission move.
Ricky Reyes v. Pelle Primeau
This would be the standard post-intermission ROH nothing match. Seems like it’ll be a squash. Reyes kicks him down to start and gets a backdrop suplex, into a demon bomb and choke to finish.
(Ricky Reyes d. Pelle Primeau, chokehold — submission, 0:50, DUD)
James Gibson v. Jimmy Yang.
This being the debut for Yang and the swan song for Gibson would seem to telegraph the finish, but you never know with Gabe. Some of the fans prematurely shoot their streamers for this match, which is pretty Freudian, I suppose. They fight over a lockup to start and Gibson takes him down, and they reverse until it’s a stalemate. They fight over a wristlock and Yang takes him down with a headlock, and they work off that. Yang holds on to frustrate him, but Gibson reverses to a rollup for two. Gibson starts working on the arm, but Yang spinkicks him in the corner to break. Nice armdrag sequence from Gibson, however, sets up a neckbreaker for two. Legdrop gets two, and he keeps Yang on the ground with a headscissors. Yang fights out and gets a SWEET kick combination for two, and now it’s his turn to go after the arm.
Gibson fights out and dumps Yang, then follows with a suicide dive, sending both guys into the front row. Given that the railing is about a foot away from the ring, that’s not hard, but still. Back in, Gibson comes off the top, and Yang catches him with a spinkick. Superkick gets two. They trade pinfall attempts and do the Flair sequence before clotheslining each other for a double KO. Gibson recovers first with a high knee and backdrop, into a spinebuster for two. Yang comes back with a moonsault press for two and another spinkick, and he goes up again. Yang Time misses and Gibson DDTs him into an awkward attempt at the tiger bomb which he turns into a choke, but Yang rams him into the corner to escape. Another crack at Yang Time hits, but only gets two. Back up again, but Gibson brings him down and powerbombs him into the corner, and another powerbomb gets two. I would have sworn that was the finish, but the choke ends up doing it.
(James Gibson d. Jimmy Yang, guillotine choke — submission, 15:49, ***1/2) Good exit for Gibson before going on to the much more gratifying role of being one-half of The Pitbulls on the most boring wrestling show on TV.
Homicide v. Jack Evans
They trade wristlocks to start and Evans showboats on the escape, which Homicide mocks him for. Homicide takes him down with a monkey-flip, and Evans returns the favor, but neither can take advantage. Homicide dances and the crowd chants “You Got Served” in a funny moment. Evans sends him out with a headscissors and follows with a somersault tope. Back in, running knee gets two, but Homicide hits him with a backbreaker and t-bone suplex for two. Evans catches a rana for two, but Homicide clotheslines him down again and gets a half-crab. Nice bit of dickery as he yanks on Evans’ hair and makes his head touch his foot until the ref breaks it up. Into the Tree of Woe for a sliding dropkick from Homicide, which he follows with a guillotine legdrop. Blind charge hits boot and Evans tries to come back, but he walks into a swinging DDT from Homicide that gets two. Blind charge misses, however, and Evans goes up, but Homicide crotches him right away. Evans recovers with a 450 butt splash for two. That could have ended badly for someone. Homicide bails and gets dropkicked into the front row as a result, and Evans follows with a springboard senton. Back in, Evans gets caught up with the rest of Homicide’s posse, before getting a springboard dropkick on Homicide for two. They head up and Homicide gets an Implant DDT for two. Evans is pretty much dead, but he fights off the Cop Killer, so Homicide takes him down with the Ace Crusher. Homicide lets him up and finishes with the lariat, but doesn’t cover, because Colt Cabana is on the balcony cutting a funny promo against him. This gives Evans the chance to hit an inverted rana and roll him up.
(Jack Evans d. Homicide, rollup — pin, 13:39, **1/2) This was going fine until it just died when Cabana turned it into an angle.
– At this point, the announcers sign off and let us have the live atmosphere.
Samoa Joe v. Kenta Kobashi.
And now, the main event, which is truly one in every sense of the word. Although Joe gets a big reaction, the entrance of Kobashi is like Hulk Hogan coming into the building or something.
Joe throws a kick to start while they lock up, thus annoying fans right off the bat. Once they get to the ropes, he adds a slap, and thus makes it clear who the babyface will be. Another lockup and Kobashi chops him so hard that you can almost feel it through the screen, and they fight over a knucklelock. Joe suplexes out of it and tackles him down, then baseball slides him into the railing and follows with a suicide dive. Back in, that gets two. Elbowdrop gets two. Joe goes to a chinlock, which he turns into a neck vice, so Kobashi makes the ropes to break. He tries throwing some chops in the corner, but that just pisses Kobashi off and he returns fire. Joe goes with kicks instead, a smart move, and knocks him down with an enzuigiri. He adds the short kicks to really rub it in, but that pisses Kobashi off even MORE, so Joe has to knee him in the face to put him down this time. Oh, this is sick and awesome and tremendous. Joe kicks him down and drops a knee, and Kobashi bails.
On the floor, Joe throws him into the railing and follows with the Ole Kick , but he gets sloppy and Kobashi chops him on the second attempt, and then chops him into the front row. That’ll learn him! He adds a DDT on the floor and they head back in for a facelock from Kobashi, but he decides just to chop Joe instead. How does he do that shit without taking off skin? Running knees and the big chop to the chest follow, for two. Back to the facelock, which he tries to turn into a suplex, but Joe reverses to his own. Kobashi keeps throwing chops, so Joe keeps kicking, and when that doesn’t work, they get into the nastiest chopfest ever. The sweat flying off is one of those images you don’t forget. Joe loses that one and Kobashi gets two. Abdominal stretch for Kobashi, but Joe makes the ropes. Kobashi gives him another chop for two. He goes to a neck vice and chops him on the bridge of the nose for good measure.
Joe blocks the spinning chop and takes him down with a uranage, and a senton follows as he makes the comeback after all the abuse. He throws chops in the corner and goes for a powerbomb, but Kobashi fights him, so he powerbombs him into the turnbuckle instead. Facewash time! Muscle Buster gets two as the crowd freaks out a little bit. Joe throws some UFC-style knees to the head and tries the choke, but Kobashi escapes, so he powerbombs him instead for two and turns it into the STF. This leads to one of the most awesome sequences of the match, as Kobashi looks likely to tap and the crowd chants “Please don’t tap.” Then every time he makes it to the ropes, Joe cuts off another body part and makes it look like he’ll tap. Finally he stretches his foot over and forces the break. Joe thinks it over and goes with a charge, but Kobashi chops him into a half-nelson suplex for a double-KO. And now, the most awesome sequence of the match, as Joe struggles to the corner and Kobashi absolutely destroys him with chops, throwing upwards of 70 of them and turning Joe’s chest into hamburger. He keeps throwing chops to knock Joe down and out, then adds another suplex for two, as Joe grabs the ropes on instinct to break.
Joe makes one more comeback attempt, but runs into a sleeper, which Kobashi turns into a suplex that should have finished in any other universe. Joe is done and Kobashi is all fired up, but Joe fights back with chops until Kobashi schools him with his own and ends the suffering with a lariat.
(Kenta Kobashi v. Samoa Joe, lariat — pin, 22:15, *****) Even with the insane amounts of hype that it had going on and the reputation it has gained since then, I was still not disappointed. It was a great battle of manly stoicism between two guys who just let it all hang out for the fans and beat each other into hamburger as a result. The crazy stuff like Kobashi’s million chops in the corner, where you think that he’s going to stop and then he picks up the pace again, were amazing. And the crowd reaction was one of the most rabid I’ve ever heard, especially when they started freaking out with Kobashi in the STF/crossface sequence, trying to figure out how he can make the ropes. And the finish was tremendous too, with Joe throwing everything he had at Kobashi and not being able to beat him, and then Kobashi just patiently beating Joe into unconsciousness and getting the pin. Tremendous stuff, and a ***** match for sure. It was like what a great heavyweight title fight would translate to in wrestling terms, basically.
While the rest of the show was largely forgettable, the DVD is worth the purchase for the main event alone, which is probably why they called it “Joe v. Kobashi.”
Highest recommendation for the main event.
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