The wonderful Pulse Glazer wanted me to do an old school ROH review, so we agreed on a widely underrated show, Round Robin Challenge 2. This show sees Paul London, Chris Daniels and the Amazing Red take part in a 3 match challenge series, Doug Williams challenge Samoa Joe for the ROH title and Homicide and CM Punk battle it out for #1 contendership.
*We open up with Chris Daniels cutting a promo. The Prophecy are no longer hunted, theyâ€™re the hunters, apparently. They also have a new member, Dan Maff.
1. Round Robin Challenge Match 1: Christopher Daniels vs. The Amazing Red: We get a lot of power vs speed stuff early with Daniels clubbing at Redâ€™s back and Red running wild with some ranas and other flip-tastic moves. Daniels eventually cuts Red off and works him over with your usual wear down offence. Red gets out of a sleeper and makes his comeback and weâ€™re treated to a ton of nearfalls. After hitting the Code Red (Yoshi Tonic) Red goes up top, but Daniels crotches him up there by pushing the ref into the ropes. The Last Rites moments later gives Daniels the win.
Winner: Christopher Daniels.
Good match. We saw the old story of the cocky heel vs the young underdog done nicely with Daniels getting some good heat at the end. Add in some cool sequences and a hot crowd and you have one fine opener.
2. Colt Cabana & Ace Steel vs. Da Hit Squad: This is the last time the Hit Squad is teaming due to Maff joining the Prophecy. We start with Mack and Cabana exchanging some stuff. Steel tags in and winds up playing face in peril. Maff gets all cocky, giving Steel a chance to comeback. We get a few nearfalls before the Saints take it home with a double team Colt 45 on Mack.
Winners: Colt Cabana and Ace Steel.
Average stuff. Since Maff was leaving for the Prophecy his interest was elsewhere, thus he let down his team here and The Saints got the win.
3. The SAT vs. Dunn & Marcos vs. EZ Money & Sterling James Keenan vs. Special K (Scramble Match): EZ Money looks like a fat BJ Whitmer. This is your usual early ROH spotfest multi-man match. In case youâ€™re unfamiliar with that, itâ€™s basically 10 or so minutes of poorly coordinated and meaningless spots with some comedic botches thrown in. The SAT picks up the win after the Spanish Fly.
Winners: The SAT.
Pretty fun while it lasted.
4. CM Punk vs. Homicide (#1 Contender’s Trophy): We get a load of fast exchanges early with neither man gaining the advantage. Both start hitting bigger moves and working each other over, but no one can hold an advantage for more than a few minutes. Cide hits his Tope con Hilo on the floor, but gets hit with a belly to belly on the floor minutes later. He struggles back into the ring as the fans are mega into this. Cide hits a backdrop driver and top rope rana, but canâ€™t put Punk down. He goes up top again, but Punk cuts him off and hits the Pepsi Plunge! 1â€¦2â€¦NO! We get some more nearfalls, until Cide locks on an STF which makes Punk tap instantly!
Very good back and forth match. The story was based around both men being so equal; they exchanged stuff the whole match with no one gaining a clear advantage until they got to a stage where they were so tired and hurt all it took was a simple submission to get the victory. Very overlooked match of 2003 ROH.
5. Carnage Crew vs. Hotstuff Hernandez, Don Juan, & Fast Eddie: We start with everyone brawling with everyone. The action is all over the place. People are bleeding. People are hitting each other with chairs. Thereâ€™s some stuff going on the ring. Bleh. Things start getting a bit more organised as Hermandez hits Masada with the BORDER TOSS in the ring. People start taking ridiculous bumps, including Fast Eddie hitting Masada with a top rope frankensteiner TO THE WOOD FLOOR, Hermandez border tossing Fast Eddie into the Carnage Crew and Hermandez missing his big over the ropes tope and landing on his head. In the ring the Carnage Crew triple team Eddie and hit him with the spike piledriver. 1, 2, 3.
Winners: The Carnage Crew.
Good brawl, could have been better though. The start was unnecessarily sluggish and pretty messy at times, but by the end the match really picked up. Some of the bumps took here were absolutely ridiculous; I honestly thought Hermandez died when he missed that tope. If the earlier parts were more organised this could have been really great.
6. Round Robin Challenge Match 2: Paul London vs. The Amazing Red: We start with a feeling out process. Both men hit some nice athletic moves. Redâ€™s fatigue gets to him as London takes over and wears him down. Red gets a few hope spots in before making a comeback. Red gets some nearfalls off a super Code Red and a Red Star Press but canâ€™t keep London down. He goes for a rana but London catches him and hits a powerbomb, then drops him with the Styles Clash for the 3.
Good match. Red was tired from his match earlier in the night, so London had the advantage from the get go. Red tried his hardest to win, but London was too much of a force for him to contend with, as well as London being really aggressive towards Red due to his jealousy with the AJ Styles/tag title situation. The match was sloppy and lacked crowd heat at times, but overall it was pretty good.
*Intermission. GMC is interviewing Matt Stryker. Yay The Brow. He talks about some random â€™conditioningâ€™ stuff. Heâ€™s still awesome. Chad Collyer comes in and says heâ€™s gonna make Stryker tap tonight.
The Scoopster gets another scoop with Michael Shane, who says stuff about not being booked in a match tonight and doing what he wants, when he wants.
7. Alexis Laree vs. Persephonie: This was back when no one cared about womenâ€™s wrestling and SHIMMER didnâ€™t exist. Anyways, these 2 wrestle a normal match that winds up getting pretty boring. The commentary is preposterously annoying; Gabe takes a shot at TNA (which was completely irrelevant) and keeps fantasising about Alexisâ€™ â€œsmall flat tummyâ€, which just confuses me. Alexis hits her reverse DDT finisher or the win.
Winner: Alexis Laree.
Eh. Not horrible for a womenâ€™s match (Iâ€™ve sure seen worse), but hardly anything to write home about.
*Post match Shane and Simply Luscious come out and attack both women. The commentators get pissed and tell the production crew to cut to the back.
The Second City Saints are backstage. Punk whines about how he got bullied because he didnâ€™t drink when he was younger. He cuts a promo on Raven and introduces Lucy (some random chick he got to help him fight Ravenâ€™s girl). She scares me.
8. Matt Stryker vs. Chad Collyer vs. Donovan Morgan vs. Michael Shane vs. BJ Whitmer: Shane put himself in the match, which was originally a 4 way. We start with a long feeling out process with all 5 guys. It slows down as Shane works over Collyer. Soon everyone comes in and has a go at working over Collyerâ€™s leg. He makes a comeback and tags Morgan. We get our finishing sequence with everyone hitting their stuff. The finish comes Stryker takes down and Collyer and puts on the Stryker Lock for the tap out victory.
Winner: Matt Stryker.
Average multi man match. Usual 4 way (well 5 way, but it wasnâ€™t much different) psychology and structure with the middle section being particularly uninspiring.
9. Round Robin Challenge Final: Christopher Daniels vs. Paul London: Both these men defeated the Amazing Red earlier on in the night, so the winner here is the winner of the Round Robin Challenge. Gabe (on commentary) notes a Japanese woman standing at the back, and how she flew ALL THE WAY from Tokyo, Japan to see Paul London tonight. Iâ€™m sure she did.
We start with some stalling until Daniels fakes out London with a handshake and goes to work on his mid section. London comes back and runs wild with his usual stuff. Daniels eventually cuts him off and starts picking apart his ribs. London gets some hope spots in, but is soon hit with the Angelâ€™s Wings! 1â€¦2â€¦NO! The fans are really desperate for London to come back at this point. He gets some offence in but when he gets too much Daniels cuts him off at the ribs. London takes Daniels out with some forearms and goes up top. Daniels keeps meeting London up top as London knocks him off. London hits a super gordbuster then makes his way up to the top. LONDON STAR PRESS! He goes for the pin, but Allison Danger gets on the apron and distracts the ref. London kisses her and throws her off the apron. He throws Daniels over the ropes into her and hits a dive. Back in London hits his leg trap DDT but canâ€™t get the 3. He goes up top again. LONDON STAR PRESS hits knees! Daniels hits him with a flatliner, then hits the BME! 1â€¦2â€¦3!
Winner of the Round Robin Challenge: Christopher Daniels.
Excellent match. The underdog story here was terrific; Daniels destruction of Londonâ€™s ribs combined with Londonâ€™s selling made it perfect. The drama built was reminiscent of London/Danielson 2/3 falls as in how much the fans were into London and wild they went when he finally hit the SSP. Like the Cide/Punk match, this is an overlooked classic from back in the day that showed the peak Londonâ€™s ROH work.
10. Samoa Joe vs. Doug Williams (ROH World Title Match): We start and Doug instantly tries to take Joe down on the mat. Joeâ€™s not having it and outwrestles Doug on the mat. Doug goes right after Joeâ€™s left arm and works it over. Joe ends his momentum with some strikes. Doug starts to work over the arm again but Joe makes a comeback with a big STJoe and continues to wear Doug down with strikes. Joe hits some of his usual move combos. Doug comes back with some strikes of his own and some arm submissions. He gets some near submissions but canâ€™t make Joe tap. He goes for the Chaos Theory, but Joe counters and locks in the Choke! Itâ€™s not long before Doug taps.
Winner, and still ROH world champion: Samoa Joe.
Good match. Doug went after Joeâ€™s arm, but couldnâ€™t make enough progress in the time he had, for Joeâ€™s strikes and high impact offence was taking such a toll on him. At the end, when Doug tried the Chaos Theory Joe wasnâ€™t weak/tired enough (only his arm was hurt) and got the easy victory off the Choke. The story made good sense but didnâ€™t build much drama, as Doug never really got that close nearfall and such he needed to make him look like he could actually take the title. Still a good first title defence for Joe.
*Post match the Prophecy and the Group have a big brawl. Daniels and Morgan hit Shane with a double team neckbreaker and Daniels lays out Joe with the Last Rites.
Overall: This was a good show. The Round Robin Challenge ranged from good â€“ excellent (Daniels/London is a must see if you want to see London at his best in ROH), Punk/Cide is a really good and somewhat overlooked match and thereâ€™s a fun world title match to close the show. The bad stuff isnâ€™t that bad (and thereâ€™s not that much of it), and thereâ€™s certainly enough matches to keep you satisfied. Recommendation for this show.
Overall Score: 8/10.
The Inside Pulse
1. Round Robin Challenge Match 1: Christopher Daniels vs the Amazing Red â€“ ***1/4 (Very fun underdog match)
2. Colt Cabana and Ace Steel vs Da Hit Squad – **1/2 (Average tag match)
3. The SAT vs. Dunn & Marcos vs. EZ Money & Sterling James Keenan vs. Special K (Scramble Match) – ** (Usual 2002 â€“ 2003 spotfest)
4. CM Punk vs. Homicide (#1 Contender’s Trophy) – ***3/4 (Very very good match)
5. Carnage Crew vs. Hotstuff Hernandez, Don Juan, & Fast Eddie – *** (Disorganised brawl but majorly picked up at the end)
6. Round Robin Challenge Match 2: Paul London vs. The Amazing Red – *** (A bit sloppy and such at times but overall a good match)
7. Alexis Laree vs. Persephonie – * (Decent, short womenâ€™s match)
8. Matt Stryker vs. Chad Collyer vs. Donovan Morgan vs. Michael Shane vs. BJ Whitmer – **1/2 (Usual 4 way-esque match)
9. Round Robin Challenge Match 3: Christopher Daniels vs. Paul London – **** (Excellent underdog match, one of Londonâ€™s best in ROH)
10. Samoa Joe vs. Doug Williams (ROH World Title Match) – *** (Suffered due to no one believing Doug winning, but still good)