The SmarK Rant For Ring Of Honor: Road To The Title (06/22/02)


The SmarK Rant for Ring of Honor: Road to the Title (6/22/02)

– Taped from Philly

– Your hosts are Donnie B (Nova’s brother) & Steve Corino.

– This is a bigass tournament for the ROH title. Four blocks, and the winner of each advances to the final at the 7/27 show, which I also have in my “to be reviewed” pile.

– Block C: Bio-Hazard v. American Dragon. Dragon was recently seen on Velocity getting squashed. I appreciate the graphics for the names this time around. Bio-Hazard gets a springboard elbow to start and hammers away in the corner, into a rolling necksnap out of the corner that gets two. Northern Lights suplex gets two and they exchange chops, which Dragon wins. Running elbow, but a german suplex is blocked, so he puts him down with a forearm instead. Charge hits boot, but Dragon DDTs him instead and gets an inverted suplex to set up his rollover double-underhook for the submission at 2:31. Bit too quick, but it’s the nature of the beast with this kind of tournament. *

– Block A: Paul London v. Spanky. Spanky (Brian Kendrick) grabs the arm to start, and London trades wristlocks with him until Spanky rolls him over with a headscissors for two. Nice counter. Spanky takes him down and bridges the hammerlock, and they exchange armbars. Spanky takes him down with a monkey-flip, but London grabs a facelock. London charges and springs in with a headscissors, and dropkicks Spanky down to set up a spinkick that sends Spanky out. Spanky avoids a dive, and heads back in with an inverted suplex and a backdrop suplex. That gets two. Reverse elbow gets two. Spanky neck-vices him, but London fights out. A sunset flip is blocked with a knee to the head by Spanky. Good stuff. Straight kick to the face gets two. London fights back again, but a floatover suplex gets two for Spanky. They slug it out, won by London, and he comes out of the corner with a corkscrew. Spanky charges and hits boot, but another try results in a headscissors. London superkicks him, however, and both are out. London goes up after fighting Spanky off a few times, but a Shooting Star Press misses. Sliced Bread #2 is blocked by London, however. London sends him out with an enzuigiri, and then follows him out with a tope con hilo. London springboards back in with a quebrada for two. They exchange suplex attempts, which London turns into a faceplant for two. London goes back up for another try at the SSP, but Spanky crotches him. A superplex is blocked by London, and they crash off onto London’s head. Ouch. That was either horribly botched or killer psychology. Spanky takes the opportunity and gets two. Another DDT allows Spanky to go up, and he fights off London, and then heads down for some kick reversals until Sliced Bread #2 finishes at 9:58. To again answer a question that a couple of readers have asked, Sliced Bread #2 (a version of the Acid Drop) is even better than sliced bread, which was supposed to be the greatest thing ever. This match wasn’t far behind that, as indy wrestling goes, with a consistent pace and clever reversals galore. ****

– Block C: Doug Williams v. Jay Briscoe. Williams starts on the arm and Briscoe reverses, but Williams takes him down for two. They do more wristlock reversals, which leads to Williams taking him down with a heel hook, and Briscoe bails. Back in, Williams grabs a headlock and they work off that with some good old school stuff. Jay escapes and they criss-cross into a slightly messed-up sequence where Briscoe tries to slug him down, but Williams sucks it up and grabs a headlock again. Briscoe suplexes out for two. Dropkick and snap suplex set up a rolling suplex into a facebuster for two. Odd moment: Commentator Steve Corino is talking about wrestling families, and how the Harts and the Von Erichs didn’t air their dirty laundry in public. Must be some OTHER families by the same name he’s thinking of. Williams goes up with a flying kneedrop for two. Briscoe powerbombs Williams for two. He heads up with a legdrop that gets two. The Jay-Driller is blocked, so he legsweeps Williams down into a double-underhook submission instead. Williams fights off Briscoe’s offense and goes the rollup-german suplex (The Chaos Theory) for the pin at 6:17. Bit of a style clash, but Williams looked awesome. **1/2

– Block A: Jonny Storm v. Jody Fleisch. Fleisch is from M-Pro, so you know he’s good people. They flip around to start with a gymnastics exhibition like RVD on speed and that goes nowhere. Storm pounds away and sends Fleisch out, following him out with a corkscrew senton to the floor. Back in, Fleisch takes him down with a Japanese armdrag and they criss-cross until a dropkick puts Storm on the floor. Fleisch follows with a highspot fakeout, and Storm tries to sneak back in. Fleisch superkicks him and dumps him with a clothesline. He follows with a shooting star press to the floor, and they head back in, where Storm gets a sunset flip for two, into a pinfall reversal sequence. Fleisch reverses a german suplex to a rollup for two, and a Masjastral gets two. Lots of near-falls there. They both head up and Storm superplexes him with a german off the top that gets two. They fight on top and Storm gets a rana off there for two. Charge hits boot and they do an awkward rollup sequence that gets two for Fleisch. Storm gets alley-ooped over into the corner, and back into a rana for two. That was pretty contrived. Fleisch springboards in with a tornado DDT for two. Another try is blocked, but a powerbomb finishes for Fleisch at 7:01. This seemed more like a do-it-yourself cruiserweight kit than a real match. **1/4

– Block D: Prince Nana v. Low-Ki. Nana attacks before the bell and chokes away, and whips Low Ki around the ring. Suplex and Nana stomps away, and a corner splash puts Low Ki down. Nana keeps stomping until Low Ki fights back, but gets pounded down again. They exchange chops, but Nana stomps a mudhole and buttsplashes him into the corner. Low Ki chops him down a few times, but another corner splash from Nana results. Low Ki ducks another buttsplash and kicks his head off for the referee stoppage at 3:53. Too much Nana. ½*

– Block D: The Amazing Red v. Xavier. Winner of this gets Low Ki. Lucky them. Xavier throws Red across to start, but Red DDTs him out of the ring and follows with a tope con hilo. Back in, Red starts hammering and comes out of the corner with a corkscrew, but Xavier reverses to a powerbomb and takes over. Knees in the corner get two. Red gets a rana, but Xavier mulekicks him. Camera really messed up there. Red gets a high kick into a snap sunset flip for two. Xavier gets a pumphandle bomb for two. He goes up but misses a bad 450 and Red gets a huge tornado DDT for two. Red to the top, but Xavier blocks with a weak shot and they reverse each other until Red kicks him down and gets the Infra-Red flying splash for the pin at 4:20. Another style clash, and Xavier is pretty mediocre. *1/2 The camera follows them to the back, where Chris Daniels berates Xavier for not getting rid of Low Ki and tells Red that he’d better get the job done.

– Block B: Christopher Daniels v. Scoot Andrews. Daniels attacks to start and clotheslines him down, but Scoot gets an inverted powerbomb and a dropkick for two. Daniels knees him into a neckbreaker and pounds away, but a bulldog is blocked for two. A pumphandle slam is blocked by Daniels, but a tiger bomb gets two. Straightjacket drop gets two. STO from Daniels turns the tide, and a moonsault finishes at 2:28. Not much there. ¾*

– Sumie Sakai v. Simply Luscious. This would be an impromptu battle of the valets. Luscious rolls her up for two. Sakai gets a backslide for two. Dropkick sets up a slam for two. Luscious gets a bad dropkick and a powerbomb for two. He stomps away on Sakai, but gets dropkicked. Sakai goes up with another dropkick (time to learn a new move) that gets two. Luscious suplexes her for two. Sakai chops her into an abdominal stretch, and slams her again before going up with a moonsault for the pin at 3:26. Strictly amateur hour stuff. ½*

– Block B: Jerry Lynn v. AJ Styles. They jockey for position to start and Lynn takes him down into an armbar, and they reverse off that for a bit. Lynn armdrags him down and we get the stalemate. They reverse off a hammerlock and Lynn slugs away, into another stalemate. Styles grabs a headlock and they slug it out until Lynn clotheslines him for two. Lynn pulls him into a bow-and-arrow, which Styles reverses for two. Lynn keeps slugging away while Corino plugs NWA-TNA, and Lynn gets a backbreaker for two. Styles charges and hits boot, and they slug it out again. Lynn suplexes him into the turnbuckles in a sick spot that gets two. Gory Special, but Styles superkicks him down for two. Styles chops away, but runs into an elbow and gets bulldogged for two. Lynn’s DDT is blocked by Styles, who starts kicking at the arm and gets a single-arm DDT into a cross-armlock. Styles works on the arm with some good stuff and goes into a hammerlock. Lynn dumps him, and guillotines him through the ropes to bring him back in. Lynn’s suplex is blocked with a neckbreaker, and both are out. Styles gets two. Styles kicks him down into another cross-armlock and some ground-and-pound. AJ stays on the arm and does his springboard inverted DDT for two. Styles Clash is reversed by Lynn, but Styles reverses the piledriver. Lynn gets the enzuigiri and both are out again. Another try at the piledriver is turned into the pinfall reversal sequence (thus making me wish that Fleisch & Storm hadn’t done the same thing, but worse, earlier. You never see that happen in the WWE) and a million near-falls lead to Lynn getting a german suplex for two. Lynn gets a tornado DDT for two. Styles drops him out of a fireman’s carry for two. To the top, but Lynn crotches him and slugs away on the top. Styles sends him down and gets a twisting senton for two. Lynn pounds him down into a DDT and gets an F5 for two. Styles Clash finishes at 15:30. Bit slow to start, but it ended up the usual great match between these two. ***3/4

– The Hit Squad destroy a pair of jobbers with extra malice. This leads to an extended brawl with the SAT and another team. And then another one with the Christopher Street Connection getting destroyed .

– Block A finals: Spanky v. Jody Fleisch. Fleisch takes him down to start and they criss-cross into some armdrags and a rollup for Fleisch that gets two. Spanky takes a breather and comes back with a hammerlock, hanging on as Fleisch tries to snapmare out of it. Fleisch escapes and sends him out with a leg lariat, but Spanky crotches him to block a dive. Back in, floatover suplex gets two. Leg lariat gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Fleisch fights back and blocks Sliced Bread #2, then follows him out with a quebrada that misses by a mile and rams his leg into the railing in sick fashion. God those kind of misses scare me. Back in, Fleisch misses a Shooting Star Press, but gets a rollup for two. How he’s still walking is beyond me. A springboard DDT misses and Spanky rolls him up for two. Fleisch goes for a fireman’s carry, but Sliced Bread #2 sends Spanky to the finals at 5:13. Never really got going. *1/2

– Block C finals: Doug Williams v. American Dragon. Dragon grabs a headlock, which Williams throws out of. Dragon takes him down with the arm, and gets an enzuigiri. They trade wristlocks and Dragon kicks him down, but Williams goes right back to the arm. Williams legwhips him down, and ties him up with a leglock while pounding him down. Dragon reverses to an armbar and works a headscissors. They reverse leglocks, and Dragon biels him down. Williams takes him down with a bodyscissors that goes into a stretching move, and Williams hammers him down with forearms. Abdominal stretch from Williams, but Dragon takes him down with a rollup. Williams rolls out of it and stomps him down again, then catches him with a backbreaker and hangs on before turning it into a bow-and-arrow. Hammerlock suplex gets two. Gory Special, and Williams backs him into the corner and then dropkicks him into the turnbuckles. He hammers with forearms and hits his triple knee sequence (corner knee, high knee, flying kneedrop) but misses the third. Dragon legwhips him and goes to the leg, but Williams rolls him out of the ring as Dragon hangs onto the leglock. They fight on the apron and Williams suplexes him to the floor. Back in, Dragon reverses a suplex, but Williams turns it into a rolling rollup for two. Williams charges and hits boot, but gets a tornado DDT out of the corner for two. Dragon blocks a forearm with a neckbreaker and both guys are out. They slug it out with forearms and Williams drops first. Dragon goes up with a diving headbutt, and that gets two. Williams ducks a charge and gets the Chaos Theory for two. Dragon kicks him down with high kicks, and they head up for a backdrop superplex by Dragon. That gets two. Williams counters the submission with a suplex, into a neck bridge for the pin at 13:17 to send him into the finals. Finish looked a little weird, but this was some quality technical wrestling. ***1/4

– Block D finals: The Amazing Red v. Low Ki. Red goes for the cheapshot to start, prompting a kick from Low Ki. Red gets his own and barely survives the flurry of punches from Ki before flipping out of the corner. That was truly something to behold. I can’t really do justice to Ki’s punch series in words – as noted by the announcers, it was like something out of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. They work off a wristlock and Red tries to kick him down, but Ki legwhips him down and UNLOADS with his own kicks. Another one misses and Red gets the standing moonsault for two. Red starts pounding and gets two. Red works him in the corner and dodges a charge, but gets nailed with a koppo kick by Ki. He chops in the corner, but walks into a dropkick. Red gets dumped, but ducks a kick. Another one hits and Low Ki charges, but misses a handspring kick. He compensates with another koppo kick to send Red to the floor, however. That gets two. He takes Red down with a vicious hairtoss for two. The kicks start again, but Red gets a tornado DDT. He sends Low Ki out with a kick, but Low Ki blocks a dive by kicking him in the head. That’ll work. Back in, that gets two. Ki Krusher is reversed by Red to a cradle for two. Rana is blocked by Low Ki, but Red turns it into a reverse rana (in theory – it didn’t really come off well). Red goes up for the Infra-Red, but misses. Low Ki slugs him with a forearm, into the Ki Krusher, but he sends him into the turnbuckles instead of dropping him on the mat. Ouch. Back in, Low Ki goes up and misses a corkscrew senton, but rolls through and goes up again. Red kicks him down and tries a rana, but Low Ki blocks into the Ki Krusher from the top to pretty much legally kill Red for the pin at 11:16. Brutal match. ***3/4

– Block B finals: AJ Styles v. Christopher Daniels. So the winner here faces Spanky, Low Ki and Doug Williams in an iron-man match at the 7/27 show for the ROH title. They fight over a takedown to start and Daniels works the arm and gets one. They trade wristlocks and Styles works on the hammerlock, and Daniels reverses. Styles counters a rollup and stays on the arm, and they fight over a facelock before Daniels rolls him up for two. Back to the armbar for Daniels, which Styles reverses to a headscissors. Daniels goes to the headlock and they work off that, as Daniels switches to an armbar. Dropkick gets two for Styles, and he’s back to the armbar. Daniels goes to a neckvice, which Styles reverses to a submission move and a rollup that gets two. Daniels goes back to the facelock and overpowers Styles, and then goes back to the headlock. Styles snaps off a headscissors and pounds away in the corner, but Daniels chops him. They slug it out on the apron and Styles dropkicks him to the floor. Styles follows with a pescado, and they head back in. Daniels tries a suplex off the apron, and they slug it out there while Donnie B mixes metaphors like Jim Ross on an acid trip. Painting pictures with violence does not make you the Pavarotti of Wrestling. Styles gets sent into the railing and blades, and back in Daniels works on the cut. They head out and Daniels pounds on Styles, and back in he hammers on the cut. Flapjack gets two. Daniels clotheslines him to set up a quebrada, which misses. Styles comes back with a brainbuster and sends Daniels out. They fight on the apron and Styles springboards in with a guillotine for two. Daniels gets the STO into a chokehold, but AJ fights out and rolls him over for two. Daniels pounds him down again and guillotines him on the top for two. Falcon Arrow gets two. They slug it out and Styles gets an enzuigiri, as both are out. AJ slugs him down and gets a powerslam for two. German suplex into a facebuster gets two. Styles chops into a kick, but Daniels counters with another STO and both are out again. Blue Thunder Bomb gets two for Daniels. He goes up, but AJ crotches him to block the moonsault, and gets a DDT for two. Styles Clash is blocked by Daniels with an anklelock, but AJ kicks out of it. Small package gets two for Daniels. Backslide gets two for Styles. Rollup gets two for Daniels, reversed for two by Styles. They reverse another rollup for two. AJ’s DDT is reversed to the Last Rites for the pin at 21:49. Good heavyweight match. ***1/2

The Bottom Line:

A thoroughly entertaining tournament with enough diversity in the styles to keep things interesting for 2 ½ hours, and some darn good professional wrestling to boot. Spanky v. London steals the show, but there was nothing terrible here and that’s about all you can ask. The no-bullshit style of the promotion continues to impress me, too.

Highly recommended, and you can of course pick it up at or