The SmarK Retro Rant for Ring of Honor: Do Or Die (5/31/2003)
– So by now I’m sure most of you know about my saga with ROH — Gabe Sapolsky sent me tons of tapes a couple of years ago and I did a few of them, and then Rob Feinstein went and made a move on an undercover reporter masquerading as a 14 year old boy and I decided not to review ROH anymore. I had planned to return when Rob was inevitably divorced from the promotion, but then real life interjected and I no longer had the time to devote to huge amounts of random wrestling tapes anymore. But hey, there’s nothing in the WWE backlog that I’m dying to do, and people have been whining about me not doing ROH anymore, so here you are.
– Taped from Philly, PA.
– Opening match: BJ Whitmer v. Dan Maff
Gotta say, it’s hard to take an “assassin” named Maff too seriously, but he certainly has the look. Maff throws some chops to start, but Whitmer blocks one and throws an exploder suplex, so Maff bails and decides to walk. BJ follows for a brawl on the floor and Maff takes a nice pair of bumps into the railing, but irony strikes and BJ goes there instead. Back in, Maff takes over with a back elbow and pounds on the back, and a senton splash gets two. We hit the chinlock and Maff follows with a lariat for two. Into the corner for a running facewash, but Whitmer pops out of the corner with a high knee for two. Continuing with that, he hits another two high knees, but walks into a half-nelson suplex. Ouch. Whitmer does the All-Japan no-sell, so Maff dumps him on his head again. Stay down, dude. This time he doesn’t get up, but Maff tries a Burning Hammer anyway, so BJ reverses to a german suplex. Note to all you youngsters out there: If you drop someone on their head in real life, don’t stall. Whitmer goes up, but Maff’s valet Alison Danger trips him up, and the Burning Hammer (inverted death valley driver) finishes.
(Dan Maff d. BJ Whitmer, Burning Hammer — pin, 9:03, **1/2) Pretty slow most of the way, but a solid finish saves it and makes for a good opener.
– Tony Mamaluke v. Jason Cross
Cross had a few shows with TNA and didn’t do anything terribly notable, but he’s got a good wrestling name. Mamaluke takes Cross down by the arm to start and they do some nice mat wrestling, with Mamaluke going to a headlock. They head out and Cross gets the first dive of the match, and then heads in to follow with another somersault onto Mamaluke. Back in, that gets two. Mamaluke gets a side suplex and then follows with a DDT for two. Awkward sequence there. Mamaluke goes to a neck-vice off a knee, and they fight over a suplex, which Mamaluke turns into a northern lights suplex for two. Dragon screw legwhip into a version of the Brocklock follows, but Cross makes the ropes and kicks him off. Cross then hits a sick looking somersault flip into an Unprettier for two. Jumping neckbreaker gets two. Like that first move wouldn’t have finished. Mamaluke comes back with a tornado DDT attempt, but hangs onto the neck for a submission move instead. Interesting. Cross drops him on his head in the corner to break. That works. Brainbuster, times two, only gets two. Oh come on, two brainbusters doesn’t finish it? Another one and Cross goes up, but a shooting star press misses. He keeps coming with a dragon suplex for two, and this time he hooks the leg, which makes commentator CM Punk happy. Back up again, but Mamaluke crotches him and finishes with the superplex into the choke.
(Tony Mamaluke d. Jason Cross, chokeout — submission, 8:51, **) Lots of interesting stuff here, with a bunch of crazy head-dropping moves and cool submissions from Mamaluke, but it was getting too silly at the end with Mamaluke kicking out of multiple brainbusters and stuff that would kill a normal person.
– Oman Tortuga v. Iceberg
Iceberg, your usual Mantaur-ish big bearded dude, did a pre-match promo with “ROH” printed in thumbtacks on his forehead, so you know he’s tough. Tortuga slogs away to start, but gets pounded down and sideslammed. Running powerslam gets two. Suplex into a DDT gets two, but Iceberg just pulls him up. Blind charge misses and Tortuga tries to come back, but he doesn’t do it smartly, trying to overpower the big guy and failing. An ill-advised charge leads to a painful looking Emerald Frosion, and a senton is enough punishment. However, Iceberg tries to use a SHARP STICK on him afterwards. NOOOOOOOOO! Luckily, more jobbers save their friend.
(Iceberg d. Oman Tortuga, senton splash — pin, 2:58, 1/4*) Total squash.
– Interestingly, we get clips of a match between Persephone and Alexis “Mickey James” Laree next, with Laree doing a quick job. Well, she got the last laugh there.
-Matt Stryker v. Tom Carter
OK, now is this the “real” Matt Stryker or the current WWE version of him? It’s so hard to keep track sometimes. Carter is apparently the former Reckless Youth. They fight over a knucklelock to start as the fans do the 50/50 chants for them, and we get a nice mat sequence. They trade wristlocks and Carter goes into an armbar, but Stryker makes the ropes. Stryker takes him down with a keylock submission attempt, but Carter makes the ropes. Stryker blocks a rollup and it’s another standoff. Another reversal sequence leaves Carter with a cross-armbreaker, which Stryker reverses to a bow-and-arrow. They reverse each other again, with Carter getting an STF, but Stryker makes the ropes.
Onto more traditional wrestling stuff, as Carter misses a blind charge and Stryker gets two, so Carter takes him down with a face plant and follows with a senton for two. Dropkick gets two. Carter follows with a rolling leglock, so Stryker strikes out of it, and we hit the chinlock. Stryker up with a powerslam for two, and we go back to the chinlock again. Carter fights out and charges, but gets dumped, and Stryker follows with a plancha. Carter recovers with a DDT on the apron and goes up, but Stryker uses Kurt Angle’s Pop Up Superplex to bring him down, and it’s a double KO.
They slug it out and Stryker comes back with a leg lariat and a pair of knees, but Carter gets the brainbuster and a frog splash for two. That’s so disrespectful — he should have known that Eddie would die two years later! Some people. Reversal sequence and Carter gets a pair of rollups for two, into a series of near-falls, and both guys punch each other out. Stryker is up first with a DVD, which Carter turns into a crucifix, which Stryker turns back into the Death Valley Driver again for two. Oh, that was nice. They head up and battle for a DVD on the top, which Carter turns into an inverted DDT off the top for two. See, they BUILT to this stuff instead of just throwing it out 5 minutes into the match. Another counter sequence sees Carter take Stryker down with a dragon screw into a Texas Cloverleaf, but he makes the ropes. He tries another one, but can’t, so drops a knee on Stryker’s knee instead and gets two. Stryker’s knee is shot, so Carter tries a kneecrusher, but it’s reversed by Stryker, and Carter rolls through into the Cloverleaf, which Stryker rolls through into a pin.
(Matt Stryker d. Tom Carter, rollup — pin, 18:26, ****) See, that was great because the match told a story, with Carter trying to build to the knee submission and Stryker not wanting to tap again and trying to stay a step ahead. Carter turns heel after the match, refusing to shake hands and calling it a cheap victory.
– Izzy & Dixie v. The Carnage Crew v. CM Punk & Colt Cabana v. Jay & Mark Briscoe.
After a quick jump to the back where Samoa Joe kicks Dan Maff’s ass, we join things with Cabana and Jay trading rollups. Cabana slugs away, but gets dumped, and Jay follows with a pescado. In the ring, DeVito attacks Dixie, but walks into a tornado DDT. He dumps him into the turnbuckles, however, and gets two. Everyone gets involved and the Crew double-teams Izzy, but he dropkicks both of them and goes after Mark Briscoe. Sliced Bread #2 gets two. Mark comes back with an exploder, and CM Punk comes in, but it breaks down again and everyone is fighting again. Everyone gets dumped, leaving Punk and Izzy, and Punk punks him out. Next up, Punk slugs it out with Jay, and clotheslines him down. Loc and Cabana go next, and Colt gets a backbreaker into a Punk legdrop. Izzy jumps on Colt’s back and he tries turning it into a Doomsday Device with Punk, but Punk hits his own partner by mistake. The Crew slugs it out with the Briscoes, and they trade suplexes until Jay takes Loc down with a Yakuza kick, but Loc throws another side suplex to win that battle.
The Crew goes after Izzy next and try a double-team powerbomb, but Izzy turns it into a rana and Dixie takes out Mark Briscoe on the outside with a high cross. Jay follows with AJ Styles’ Fosbury Flop onto a pile of people. Meanwhile Punk and Cabana are destroying Special K and finish with the Colt 45 and Pepsi Plunge.
(Second City Saints d. Special K, Carnage Crew & Briscoes, Punk Pepsi Plunge — pin Izzy, 11:04, **1/4) This didn’t really go anywhere.
– John Walters v. Andy Anderson
They trade headlocks to start and Walters works a wristlock, as they battle to a stalemate. They trade snapmares and Walters gets a rollup for two. Anderson comes back with a backdrop suplex, into a delayed vertcial suplex, and that gets two. Anderson misses a charge and Walters powerbombs him out of the corner for two. Stepover toehold, but Anderson makes the ropes. Walters tries the flying splash, but misses, and Anderson powerbombs him for two. Another try is reversed by Walters, and he yanks Anderson off the top for the double KO. Weird spot. Walters sunset flip is reversed into a bridge by Anderson, but Walters DDTs him for two. Slugfest and Anderson finishes with a helicopter slam.
(Andy Anderson d. John Walters, helicopter slam — pin, 6:41, *1/2) They looked nervous and awkward out there, and it was just a match to go on after the intermission.
-Jimmy Rave v. Frankie Kazarian v. CM Punk v. Christopher Daniels
Punk at least had the decency to change his shorts between matches. Rave starts out with Punk and gets chopped for his troubles, but Rave returns fire and Punk goes running to the floor to sell it. Back in, Punk tries a headlock and gets armdragged as a result, so he tags out to Kazarian and lets him try. Kazarian takes Rave down with a leglock and works a wristlock. Daniels comes in and overpowers Kazarian, but quickly tags out when Kazarian doesn’t stay down. Rave comes in and gets dropkicked as Kazarian starts working heel, and both guys tag out to Punk and Daniels. They play some mindgames with each other and stall before Punk goes to the armbar as they exchange headlocks. They get into a stalemate, which turns into a shoving match, and Daniels takes him down with a hammerlock. Punk reverses that, and they each miss dropkicks, allowing Daniels to stomp a mudhole in the corner. Punk comes back with a jawjacker, and Jimmy Rave tags himself in.
Rave dumps Daniels with a clothesline, and follows with a pescado, as does Kazarian. Back in, Punk gets a kick to the back for two on Rave. Delayed brainbuster, but Punk doesn’t cover, and Rave comes back. Punk cuts him off with a powerslam for two, however. Nice to see him hooking the leg after ranting about it on commentary. Kazarian comes in and quickly gets backdropped by Rave, leaving him open for a corner clothesline from Daniels, so Kazarian brings Punk back in again. Daniels gets a back elbow and side salto for two. Punk wisely tags back out to Rave again, and he slugs away on Daniels and follows with a leg lariat for two. So out goes Daniels, in comes Kazarian.
Rave gets a quick enzuigiri on Kazarian, who tags out to Punk. Punk eats a Shining Wizard, however, and Punk tags out to Daniels, who takes a DDT from Rave. Rave fights off everyone and goes after Punk, taking him down into a crossface out of a tilt-a-whirl headscissors before Kazarian saves. Rave gives Kazarian a backdrop suplex for two for his troubles, and goes up. Daniels follows him up, however, and headbutts him to the floor, but Punk sneaks in with his own superplex for two on Daniels. Butterfly backbreaker for Daniels, but the valets both interfere and the men get them under control.
Daniels takes Punk down with a rollup for two and tries an exploder, but Punk blocks, and then blocks the Angel’s Wings. Daniels blocks the Shining Wizard, until Kazarian lays them both out to break it up. Kazarian superkicks Punk for two. Springboard legdrop gets two. Rave seems to have vanished for the moment, as Punk DDTs Kazarian for two. Punk goes for the Plunge, but Rave breaks it up and rolls up Kazarian for two, but gets DDTd for two. Back to Daniels, who tries a leapfrog on Kazarian and gets caught with an electric chair instead, for two. Lariat and another springboard legdrop get two. Kazarian tries his finisher, but Daniels reverses to an STO, and then blocks a leapfrog and rolls the dice for the pin.
(Chris Daniels d. Frankie Kazarian, CM Punk and Jimmy Rave, neckbreaker — pin, 20:14, ***1/2) Finish was pretty much out of nowhere, but I liked the way it built up nicely without the usual clichÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â© dives taking up the whole match.
-Jody Fleisch & Slim J v. Trent Acid & Johnny Kashmere
It takes some big balls to use “Chase” as your entrance music in a world where the Midnight Express aren’t dead yet. Fleisch starts with Acid and they trade flips and flops before Acid dropkicks him. Another gymnastics sequence and it’s a stalemate. I don’t get why fans always go nuts for that stuff, because it’s just showing off and never has any meaning within the context of the match. Kashmere takes Slim J down with a headscissors, bringing Fleisch back in again, and Special K trades off on him for a bit. Acid finally comes in and the Backseat Boyz hit J with an awesome double-team powerbomb / neckbreaker combo. Special K bails and the Boyz follow with a double plancha.
Back in, the Boyz do some dancing and clean house with clotheslines, as Acid gets two on J. J and Jodi come back on Acid, however, with a double-team neckbreaker, and Fleisch gets a high cross on Acid for two. Standing moonsault and standing shooting star get two. J goes up with a double underhook DDT off the top, although it looked really protected and not very impressive. If you can’t make it look real, don’t bother. Double suplex gets two on Acid. Fleisch springs in with a try at his spinning DDT, but Acid blocks and they fight on the top. Awkward sequence sees Fleisch blocking Acid’s move off the top, but Fleisch goes up himself and gets taken down with a rana.
Slim J cuts off the tag, but Acid makes the diving tag and it’s hot tag Kashmere. Acid comes flying in with a springboard dropkick and Kashmere hits J with something kind of like a Cradle Shock for two. Hart Attack into a boston crab/legdrop, but Jody breaks it up with his 720 DDT, which looked sloppy. Slim rolls up Acid, but they tumble to the floor and everyone brawls outside. Into the crowd, as Fleisch and J climb up a convenient scaffolding and moonsault onto the Boyz. That was just a stunt show for the sake of it. Fleisch over-rotated and nearly missed and killed himself, too. Back in, Slim J gets two on Acid.
Things break down totally as Fleisch’s knee is shot and he can’t make it up, while the Boyz play dead, and finally they pop up and finish with a double crucifix powerbomb off the top when J just takes too damn long on the top.
(Backseat Boyz d. Special K, Acid powerbomb — pin Slim J, 15:46, ***) It was going along really well until the silly dive off the scaffolding just killed it dead, with a long break before the out-of-nowhere finish. Still, the first 10 minutes were good enough to make it worth watching.
-ROH Title: Samoa Joe v. Homicide.
Joe works the arm to start and they work on the mat, and it’s a stalemate. Joe slugs away with his knees, and Homicide goes down. He recovers and dropkicks Joe to take him down, but Joe makes the ropes to hold him off. Homicide tries a corner splash, but Joe catches him and spikes him with a uranage. Joe beats him down for two, but Homicide suplexes him and dumps Joe on his head in the process. This apparently upsets Joe, because he blocks a Homicide baseball slide by tossing him into the rail. The big kick is blocked, so Joe gives him an overhead belly to belly instead. Fair enough. Back into the chair goes Homicide, and this time the Ole Kick hits. At this point, it was a new thing, apparently. Homicide’s pal Julius quips “I’ll stab your ass!”, but Joe is undeterred. Poor Homicide is a quivering mass of jelly, and back in we go.
Joe starts biting the now-bleeding challenger and drops him on his head with a german suplex, again with a dragon suplex, and again with another german suplex. That gets two. They trade slaps, but Homicide pulls out a swinging DDT and they head out, where a table naturally gets involved. Thankfully, there’s no stalling, and Homicide puts Joe through it with a running dive, and back in for two. Joe comes back with a powerbomb for two, which floats over into a crossface, which Joe casually turns into a choke as Low Ki joins us at ringside. This seems to motivate Homicide, as he reverses to his own choke until Joe makes the ropes.
Homicide tries a back and front lariat combo, but Joe fires off a pair of knees to put him down again, and then picks him up and gives him a knee right in the mouth. Oh, SNAP. Homicide gets up at 9, although god knows I don’t know why. Joe smacks him down again as Ki gives him a pep talk, Brooklyn style, and that’s enough to motivate him. Homicide suplexes Joe and gets a Diamond Cutter, but decides to go up and hits a flying boot to the gut for two. He throws a couple of kicks to the face and tries another suplex, but Joe fights him. Homicide manages to suplex him on his head, and Joe bails.
Refs come out to tend to Joe, who plays dead on the floor. Homicide decides to take a cover instead of waiting for the ref’s decision, and he only gets two. He keeps throwing kicks, but now Joe is just getting nicely pissed off and won’t stay down. They go up, but Homicide’s corner men get into an argument, leaving him distracted. Joe takes the opportunity to bring him down with a Muscle Buster off the top, and really there’s no question after that.
(Samoa Joe d. Homicide, Muscle Buster — pin, 18:16, ***3/4) I liked the whole “Homicide has to win to prove to his family that he’s not a talentless thug” story going on, and his resulting desperation in the ring. And Joe just seems to be the kind of guy who has a blast in the ring every time he’s out there.