A2Z Analysiz: ROH Final Battle 2002 (Steve Corino, Low Ki, Samoa Joe, American Dragon)

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Final Battle 2002

Murphy Recreation Center – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – December 28, 2002

In an ROH High Impact TV Taping match, Homicide defeated Jay Lethal in Lethal’s ROH debut.

Chris Lovey and Ray Murrow are on commentary.

MATCH #1: CM Punk vs. Colt Cabana

This is a rematch from NIght of the Butcher, where Cabana picked up the victory. They start off fast and furious with some chain wrestling, both with something to prove. Cabana lands the first big strike, a hard clothesline to take the advantage. Punk is able to fight up briefly but when he tries a Shining Wizard Cabana blocks it and hits a powerbomb for two. Moments later Punk sends Cabana to the floor and wipes him out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring Punk goes up top for presumably a moonsault, but Cabana goes up and brings him down with an inverted superplex. Cabana goes up top and this time it’s Punk bringing him down, with a belly-to-belly suplex. Both men are down. Back on their feet Punk unleashes a flurry of offense, including an airplane spin, Finlay Roll, and a split-legged moonsault for two. Punk tries a reverse rana but of course can’t hit it because this was when Punk would try stuff he couldn’t do. He can however, hit a Shining Wizard, which gets a near-fall. Punk delivers the Face Wash and goes up top for the Pepsi Plunge. He nails it perfectly to get the pin at 9:24. It’s always fun to watch the early matches of guys who became big stars like Punk, just to see where he came from. This was a very typical match for two guys trying to get over in the early days of Ring of Honor, and it worked.
Rating: **¾

Gary Michael Cappetta is in the ring to interview Christopher Daniels, who makes his way out with Simply Luscious. Daniels is angry because last time ROH was in the Murphy Rec Center, Luscious was attacked by Alexis Laree. He and Luscious challenge Laree to come out, which she quickly does.

MATCH #2: Alexis Laree vs. Simply Luscious

Luscious attacks from behind and here we go. Laree ducks a clothesline and hits a spear. Luscious complains to the referee, and while his back is turned Daniels sneaks in and hits Laree with the Last Rites. That’s enough for Luscious to get the pin at 0:32. Not much to see there.
Rating: DUD

Steve Corino Confronts Christopher Daniels

Corino makes his way out to talk some business. Luscious is his real-life girlfriend by the way, and they’re blending that into the storyline. Corino puts over the year he’s had in 2002, and that he did it despite the fans not being there for him. He says he’s forming his own Group and they’re going after all the titles. Corino says he can’t have Luscious telling Daniels all his secrets, so he dumps her and she cries. He then challenges Daniels to throw the first punch, but Daniels has other business tonight so he declines. Daniels bails, and Corino turns his attention to Homicide, calling him a “disrespectful young boy.” Homicide comes out and chases Corino away with a fork.

In an ROH High Impact TV Taping match, ROH Tag Team Champions Christopher Daniels & Donovan Morgan defeated Dunn & Marcos in a non-title match.

MATCH #3: Lucha Libre Gauntlet Match – Konnan vs. Divine Storm

This match was only on the ROH Uncensored Volume One DVD. Konnan will face Chris Divine first. They start with some Lucha inspired chain and mat wrestling. Both guys do a bunch of armdrags and submission holds. Konnan gets winded very quickly. Eventually Konnan traps Divine in a Fisherman Buster of sorts to get the first pin at 3:32. Storm comes in for his part of the match and this becomes a bigger disaster by the minute. Konnan is so winded he can barely move. After some terrible back and forth wresting, Storm ends this travesty with a rollup at 5:28. This was an awful exhibition that just made everyone and the company as a whole look bad. I can see why this wasn’t included on the DVD.
Rating: DUD

MATCH #4: Three Way Tag Team Scramble Match – Backseat Boyz (Trent Acid & Johnny Kashmere) vs. Da Hit Squad (Mafia & Monsta Mack) vs. Special K (Angeldust & Deranged)

The action in this is going to be fast, furious, and hard to call. I admit I’m not particularly a fan of any of these three teams. Lovey tries to sell this as a dream match, but I would be very disturbed if anyone was dreaming about seeing this match. The Backseat Boyz and Special K provide the high flying early on, while Da Hit Squad counter with their size and power. The action spills to the floor and a lot of guys stand around waitin gto be hit with a dive. Other members of Special K interfere in the match, including Hydro, who wrestled earlier in the night as Jay Lethal. That’s a quick transition. The Backseat Boyz end up alone in the ring with Special K but they can’t put either of them away just yet. Angeldust and Deranged fight back but Da Hit Squad make their way into the ring and just guess how that goes. Magia puts Angeldust in the Figure-Four Leglock and Mack hits the Frog Splash. Acid breaks up that cover. The action continues coming from all angles. Mafia hits Deranged with a German Superplex and then goes for the Burning Hammer. Special K breaks it up and Izzy hits Mafia with his cast. Angeldust and Deranged both get the pin at 10:23. That was a pretty typical Scramble match, with non-stop action, blown spots, and no selling. It was fine enough for what it was.
Rating: **¼

In an ROH High Impact TV Taping match, Jay Briscoe defeated Ace Steel with the Jay Driller.

MATCH #5: ROH Tag Team Title Two Out Of Three Falls Match – The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels & Donovan Morgan) vs. The SAT (Joel Maximo & Jose Maximo)

The Prophecy have been the Champions since 9.21.02, and this is their second defense. Morgan and Jose start the match. These two teams faced each other in the first round of the Tag Team Title tournament, obviously Daniels and Morgan earned the win there. I don’t know what else the SAT did to deserve a title shot. Anyway, Morgan and Jose go back and forth with chain wrestling, and Jose actually gets the advantage so Morgan takes a powder. Tags are made and the SAT continue to control the early portion of the match. Finally the Champs take over on Jose and use their expert teamwork to wear him down. After several minutes of action Jose is able to duck a Daniels clothesline and hit a tornado DDT. Tags are made and Joel is a house afire. The Prophecy is able to cut him off and they hit Revelations to score the first fall at 14:00. I’m surprised it took that long for the first fall to happen.

The Champions are looking dominant as the second fall begins. They continue to wear Joel down, trying to get the win in two straight falls. In a nice touch, there is a new referee for the second fall. Eventually Joel makes the tag and Jose is a house afire. This is just like the first fall really. Jose hits Morgan with a low blow and then the SAT hit a Doomsday DDT but Daniels breaks up the cover. Daniels goes up top and the SAT bring him down with the Spanish Fly to even the score at 20:42. The referee has no control of the match as both teams are desperately trying to win the third fall. Daniels hits Jose with the Angel’s Wings but Joel breaks it up. Joel avoids the Best Moonsault Ever and hits Daniels with Maximo Explosion for two. After some more furious action, Daniels catches Joel with the Last Rites to get the pin at 24:43. I’m not sure who everyone pissed off to deserve 25 minutes of the SAT. The match was okay in spots and might have been lots of fun as a one-fall, 15-minute contest. But there was no reason for it to be as long as it was or as many falls as it was. Daniels and Morgan looked great but the SAT were limited in their style that only really worked in Scrambled Egg matches.
Rating: **¼

In an ROH High Impact TV Taping match, Samoa Joe beat The Outcast Killaz in a handicap match.

MATCH #6: The Carnage Crew (DeVito & Loc) vs. The New Christopher Street Connection

Buff-E is nowhere to be found, so someone I do not recognize is taking his place. They are still accompanied by Allison Danger. This match is all clipped up but rest assured Loc and DeVito dominate. The Carnage Crew get fed up with the CSC’s homosexual antics so they grab some hubcaps and lay waste to them for the DQ at 1:20 (shown). I’m sure we didn’t miss much.
Rating: DUD

MATCH #7: Amazing Red vs. Jody Fleisch

They start off fast and furious of course. The crowd seems juiced to see these two expert high flyers go at it. Red takes the first advantage and sends Fleisch to the floor. He follows him out with a nice dive to wipe him out. Back in the ring Red tries the 718 but Fleisch avoids it and hits an enziguiri. Feisch gives Red a receipt by knocking him to the floor and following him out with a springboard shooting star press. Back in the ring they battle on the top rope and do moonsault together for somer reason. They crash to the mat, and the Special K crew make their way out. Red and Fleisch get to their feet and slug it out. Red wins tha battle and controls the match, oblivious to the fact that Special K is there. Fleisch hits a quebrada for two. He goes up top and Red spinkicks him down down. Red goes up top for the Infrared but Special K pulls Fleisch out of the way! Fleisch then hits the 720 DDT to get the pin at 6:14. At least they didn’t let them go too long, because this was going nowhere fast.
Rating: *¾

Special K attacks Red after the bell, and keep control over the SAT when they come out to make the save. Divine Storm and Trinity come out to try and help, but they get beat down too. Finally Da Hit Squad and J.T. Smith come out to run Special K off. Slugger sneaks in and hits Smith with a Chokeslam.

MATCH #8: ROH Title Match – Xavier vs. Paul London

Xavier has been the Champion since 9.21.02, and this is his third defense. The match is joined in progress with Xavier clubbing London down. London comes right back and takes it to the Champion. He sends Xavier to the floor and goes for a dive but Xavier moves out of the way and London is able to stop himself. Back in the ring London takes Xavier down with a headlock. Xavier takes a cheap shot but London cuts him right off with a leg lariat. London tries a headscissors but Xavier catches him and slams him face-first on the mat. Xavier goes to work on the head and neck area. London continually fights back but Xavier is able to keep him down and keep the pressure on. Xavier hits a bridging German Suplex for a two-count. He goes up top for the 450 and London goes up there to fight him. That proves to be a mistake as Xavier knocks London all the way to the floor. London perseveres and goes back to toss Xavier down crotch-first on the top rope. Back in the ring London hits the dropsault for two. London follows with a sloppy powerbomb and then goes up for the London Star Press. Xavier rolls to the floor so London hits the move to the floor! Back in the ring London goes back up top but misses the London Star Press and Xavier rolls him up for two. London comes back with the inverted Roll of the Dice for a near-fall. Xavier tries to throw London into the turnbuckle and London avoids it but slaps the turnbuckle pad for affect. That’s pretty cool. A cocky Xavier then walks right into a DDT but it only gets two! That would have been a great finish. The crowd is not happy with the referee. Xavier hooks on a Cobra Clutch and London rolls it into a cradle for two. The Champ h olds on to the Cobra Clutch and turns it into a suplex. Xavier then hits the X-Breaker to get the pin at 17:01. That was a really good match with solid psychology, great crowd heat, and a logical finish. Xavier was not so bad.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #9: Number One Contender’s Trophy Four Way Match – Homicide vs. Samoa Joe vs. Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson

Before the main event can begin, Steve Corino makes his way out to the ring in his gear. Corino says you can’t have a main event without him. Homicide comes down to disagree but Corino has a fork ready for him. Corino hits a Northern Lights Bomb and three piledrivers to take Homicide out of the match. Rob Feinstein comes out and allows Corino to replace Homicide in the match.

Ki knocks Corino to the floor and Danielson knocks Joe to the floor, leaving Danielson and Ki alone in the ring. They mat wrestle back and forth, recalling their main event match from The Round Robin Challenge back in March. Joe tags himself in and he goes to work, as he and Danielson have a personal issue with each other. Danielson tags Corino, and now all four men have officially been in the match. None of the four have been able to gain any kind of sustained advantage in the first 10 minutes or so. The match continues on this way, as two guys wrestle for a while, and then someone else tags in and more stuff happens. I’m amazed that no real patterns or highlights are emerging through this match, at almost 30 minutes in it has just been lots of stuff and moves. We’ve crossed the 40 minute mark and the pace is picking up considerably. The parade of big moves carries on down the stretch, and Ki has Corino trapped in the Dragon Clutch. Time runs out just before Corino taps out and it’s a time-limit draw at 45:03 (close enough). With that kind of talent in the ring I’m shocked that something more memorable didn’t come of it, but it just seemed like they were killing time in the early going and didn’t really pick up the pace until the match was in its final stages. There was nothing really wrong with what they did, it just wasn’t exciting or interesting, and ending it in a draw certainly didn’t help. Big disappointment here.
Rating: ***

The Aftermath

Da Hit Squad, Divine Storm, The SAT, and Amazing Red get past Slugger and beat up Special K to take the locker room back. Slugger threatens them before walking away.
Elsewhere, the Carnage Crew talks about their loss tonight, but say that since their lives suck so much and they got to beat people up tonight it was hardly a loss for them.
Low Ki puts over the match he just had with three other great athletes. He talks about his goals for 2003, chiefly regaining the ROH Championship.
Gary Michael Cappetta is with Steve Corino, who reveals Simply Luscious as the first member of The Group.

I grew up and now I write for Inside Pulse. Oh, and one time I saw a blimp!