National Guard Armory – Philadelphia, PA – Saturday, December 27, 2003
Chris Lovey and CM Punk are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Bryan Danielson vs. Jay Briscoe
Jay is one half of the ROH Tag Tam Champions. They start aggressively chain wrestling right away. Danielson goes for an early Cattle Mutilation, but Jay avoids it. Jay tries to keep pace with the American Dragon on the mat, but that’s a tough task for anyone to manage. Danielson lands a hard dropkick for two and then starts attacking the arm. Jay fights back and goes after the neck. He hits a vertical suplex and a hard clothesline for a two-count. Danielson gets fired up and throws some European Uppercuts. Jay cuts him off and hits a hangman’s neckbreaker. Danielson fights right back with a ridiculous European Uppercut and then he unleashes the Airplane Spin. He follows up with the diving headbutt for two. Danielson goes for a roaring forearm, but Jay blocks it and they trade slaps. Jay goes to the eyes and hits a Falcon Arrow for two. He follows with a Mafia Kick for two. Now Jay tries the Jay Driller, but Danielson blocks it but can’t block a second Mafia Kick. Danielson then hits a Dragon Suplex from out of nowhere and locks on Cattle Mutilation for the win at 13:35. The finish came out of nowhere but aside from that this was a hot opener.
MATCH #2: Fight Without Honor – Xavier vs. John Walters
Walters attacks during Xavier’s entrance and we’re off and running. They take the fight into the ring and Walters is too fired up to be stopped in the early going. It doesn’t take long for the hated rivals to head back to the floor, where Walters continues to dominate. Back in the ring Walters tries to use a chair but Xavier avoids it. Xavier takes control now and Prince Nana comes out to watch for some reason. A ladder gets involved and Walters hurls it into Xavier’s face. Xavier tries to hit a piledriver but Walters counters with an Alabama Slam right on the ladder! The ladder gets set between the ring apron and the guardrail, and this time its Walters feeling the steel. Out on the floor Xavier resets the ladder between the apron and the guardrail and hits a nice springboard Arabian Press. Back in the ring Walters fights back with a Codebreaker. Walters clotheslines Xavier and both men tumble to the floor. He sets up a table but doesn’t use it and they get back on the ring. Xavier tries to fight back but Walters hits the Hurricane DDT right onto the steel chair! Walters follows with a sick chair shot to the head that busts Xavier wide open. Now Walters locks on a submission hold with an assist from the chair. Walters tries to suplex Xavier from the ring through the table on the floor, but Xavier fights him off. Xavier knocks Walters back onto the table and hits a springboard 450 splash! That was awesome. Back in the ring Xavier seems to be a little bit better off than Walters. Xavier goes outside, and Nana helps him get another ladder out. He sets up the ladder in the ring and climbs, but Walters brings him down with a Lungblower! That gets two for Walters when Nana pulls referee Paul Turner to the floor. Turner shoves Nana down but the match continues. Walters brings the first ladder back in the ring and sets up it horizontally in the corner. Xavier hits Walters with the X-Breaker for two. They fight up on the top rope and Xavier hits a Super Kiss Your X Goodbye. Xavier chooses not to cover, instead setting up the broken ladder horizontally in the corner. He sets the other ladder up right near the other. Nana puts a chair on top of the horizontal ladder. Xavier and Walters both climb the upright ladder and slug it out. Walters hits an ill-advised Sunset Bomb off the ladder that just looked sick for everyone. I’d say that’s a finisher, and it is at 18:44. That totally surprised a lot of people, because this was way better than most thought it would be. These two had a nice little mid-card feud that had produced some okay matches, but they built logically to the Fight Without Honor and the climax of the feud delivered in spades. Walters looked like a million ROH bucks after this.
MATCH #3: Field of Honor Tournament Final Match – Matt Stryker vs. BJ Whitmer
Stryker and Whitmer wrestled in a couple of Four Corner Survival matches in the spring, and then first wrestled each other in a singles match back in August Field of Honor qualifying match. They wrestled to a time-limit draw so they both earned a spot. In the actual tournament, Stryker beat John Walters, Chris Sabin, and Xavier to go 3-0 and win Block A. Whitmer beat Jimmy Rave and Dan Maff but lost to Colt Cabana. Maff, Cabana, and Whitmer all finished 2-1 and had to face each other in a three-way match to determine the winner of Block B, and Whitmer emerged triumphant there to come into this match with a 3-1 record. At War of the Wire, Whitmer defeated Stryker as part of a gauntlet and looked particularly vicious in doing so, which nicely puts some heat on this match.
They start with some chain wrestling and show off how evenly matched they are. Stryker attacks the arm and starts wearing Whitmer down. He throws Whitmer to the floor and wipes him out with a dive, which is slightly unusual for him. Whitmer reverses a whip and sends Stryker into the ring post. Back in the ring Whitmer goes after Stryker’s arm, and Stryker responds by going after Whitmer’s braced left knee. They spill back to the floor and Stryker continues to decimate Whitmer’s knee. After several minutes of abuse Whitmer connects with a Golden Gate Swing. Both men are down and Whitmer is getting a much-needed breather. Back on their feet Whitmer is in control. Whitmer tries the Wrist-Clutch Exploder but his injured leg won’t allow him to complete it. Stryker takes advantage and unloads with a flurry of offense. He cinches on the Stryker Lock and Whitmer taps out at 18:09. I feel like the Field of Honor gets dumped on a lot, but really, it’s a great concept that produced some pretty good matches, this one included. Sure, the long-term Matt Stryker push didn’t exactly pan out, but there was no reason not to give it a shot.
MATCH #4: ROH World Title Match – Samoa Joe vs. Mark Briscoe
Joe has been the Champion since 3.22.03, and this is his eleventh defense. Mark earned this title shot by pinning Joe in a tag title match at The Conclusion. Joe attacks right away and we’re off and running. They go right to the floor and Joe tries an Ole Kick but Mark wisely rolls back inside. The match calms down a little bit but they are still aggressive in their chain wrestling. They wrestle to a stalemate. Mark then takes control and gets quite a bit of offense in. He even utilizes the Face Wash, which just angers the Champ. Joe slaps Mark back to the floor and goes for the Ole Kick again but this time Jay pulls his brother out of harm’s way. Joe is rightfully pissed. Back in the ring Joe hits the STJoe and the Big Joe Combo for a two-count. Joe is dominant now, working Mark over with a variety of offense. Mark comes back with a uranage slam from out of nowhere for two. He follows with a back elbow and a vertical suplex for another two-count. Joe comes back with the snap powerslam and a kick that sends Mark to the floor. He follows him out with the Elbow Suicida but hits Jay with it! That allows Joe to finally hit the Ole Kick. Joe grabs a cell phone to tell someone all about it. That’s awesome. Back in the ring Joe covers for two. Joe executes the rolling sunset flip for another two-count. He hits a powerbomb and quickly turns it into the STF. Mark reaches the ropes. They get up and trade some strikes, and Joe emphatically wins that battle. Joe covers for two. Mark hits a release German Suplex for two. He follows with a Back-Drop Driver for another two-count. Mark tries the Cutthroat Driver, but Joe slips out and hits a series of knees and a kick to the chest for a near-fall. Joe follows with a bridging Dragon Suplex for two. He unloads with a series of strikes and locks on the Choke. Mark passes out at 14:43. This started off strong but lagged by the end. Mark was also hardly a threat to the title at this point, so this was just a placeholder title defense for sure; a well-executed one, but still.
CM Punk makes his way down and he still wants to know who took Lucy out all those months ago. Joe doesn’t take too kindly to Punk’s interruption. Punk calls out Christopher Daniels, but Joe doesn’t want to see that either. Joe makes his point and then leaves, but Christopher Daniels, Dan Maff, and Allison Danger meet him in the aisle and a fight breaks out. Daniels and Punk take their brawl into the ring and Daniels takes control. Colt Cabana comes out to make the save. Danger tries to protect Daniels but Punk and Cabana chokes her like a rag doll. Punk literally threatens to kill Allison Danger if Daniels doesn’t tell him who was behind the attack in August. BJ Whitmer comes out wielding a chair and reveals himself as the newest member of The Prophecy and the man who took out Lucy! Whitmer had reason to be angry with Punk dating back to The Epic Encounter when Punk German Suplexed him off the apron and through a table. Punk talked trash to Whitmer consistently afterwards. Maff is upset, because he swore on his father’s memory that The Prophecy had nothing to do with it. Daniels explains that he didn’t want Maff to know so that Maff could believably deny any wrongdoing. Maff eventually comes around and the new Prophecy is born.
MATCH #5: CM Punk & Colt Cabana vs. Tomoaki Honma & Kazushi Miyamoto
Cabana and Miyamoto start the match with some fast-paced chain wrestling. Punk and Honma tag in and things get heated quickly. Honma takes the advantage and they spill to the floor. Punk reverses a whip and sends Honma into the guardrail. Miyamoto tags in and Punk takes him down. Cabana comes in and the Second City Saints are in control. After several minutes Miyamoto reverses a vertical suplex and the hot tag is made. Honma is a house afire. The referee loses control a bit as the momentum shifts back and forth between Honma and Cabana. Miyamoto comes in and Cabana gets him with a hurricanrana for two. It doesn’t take long for Miyamoto to make the comeback and the crowd is into him. Miyamoto goes up top and hits a Swanton Bomb for two. Cabana fights out and both men knock each other down. Tags are made and Punk and Honma tear into each other. Punk knocks Honma to the floor and looks for a dive but Miyamoto cuts him off with a Spear. The action comes flying in from all over the place and the referee has no control. Honma hits Punk with a Blockbuster for two. He and Miyamoto hit Punk with a superduperplex for a two-count when Cabana breaks up the cover. Miyamoto misses a dive on Cabana to the floor, and Cabana lands an Asai Moonsault. Punk and Honma go back and forth and Punk hits the Pepsi Twist for two. Miyamoto comes in the ring, but Cabana dumps him to the floor. Punk then hits Honma with the Pepsi Plunge to get the pin at 16:35. ROH takes a 1-0 in the four-match series. That was a fun tag team encounter, with a fast pace throughout and a hot crowd.
MATCH #6: AJ Styles vs. Kaz Hayashi
They start with some aggressive chain wrestling. Styles strikes first with a hard dropkick, but Hayashi fights back with one of his own that sends Styles to the floor. Hayashi tries to whip Styles into the guardrail, but Styles hops over the railing and disappears into the crowd. Back in the ring they trade chops and then step it up to forearms. Styles hits a spin kick to win that battle. Hayashi hits his own spin kick and follows up with a hard brainbuster. That gives Hayashi the advantage and he begins to wear Styles down. Hayashi hits a piledriver for a two-count. Moments later Styles hits a modified tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a two-count. Momentum swings again and Hayashi hits an ugly slingshot DDT for two. Styles hits a gutbuster and then an STO Backbreaker for two. Hayashi delivers a back-handspring kick to the gut, and then both men clothesline each other. Back on their feet Styles goes for the Styles Clash but Hayashi counters with a nice rana for two. Hayashi hits a Dragon Suplex for two. He locks on a Crossface and Styles reaches the ropes. Hayashi goes up top, but Styles pulls him down into the Styles Clash for the pin at 14:48. They did some stuff I guess, but they never were able to elevate it into something more than an exhibition. A fine exhibition it was, but I just expected more from these two.
MATCH #7: Satoshi Kojima vs. Homicide
Both men start cautiously, and Homicide strikes first with a chop to the chest. Kojima has a definite size advantage, but Homicide knocks him down with a shoulderblock anyway. Homicide knocks Kojima to the floor and teases the Tope Con Hilo. Back in the ring Kojima goes to work on the arm. Homicide responds by doing the same. Both men start chopping each other and Kojima wins that battle with a poke to the eyes. Kojima takes Homicide down in the corner and plays with the referee, telling him that he doesn’t understand his count on account of being Japanese and all. Homicide fights back with some boring offense, including a dropkick that sends Kojima to the floor. He follows with the Tope Con Hilo, much to the delight of the crowd and Julius Smokes. Homicide whips Kojima into the guardrail but then steps right into a belly-to-belly suplex. That landed Homicide directly on top of his head and he’s legit knocked loopy. Of course, it doesn’t matter as back in the ring Homicide goes to work. Kojima cuts him off and hits an elbow drop off the top rope for two. Homicide responds with a swinging DDT for a two-count. Kojima hits a shitty spinebuster for a near-fall. He goes for the Lariat but Homicide counters to a terrible DDT and then hits the Ace Crusher for two. Kojima responds with his own Ace Crusher for a near-fall. Once again Kojima goes for the Lariat, but Homicide blocks it and hits another Ace Crusher and again gets two. Homicide then runs right into the Lariat and that gets a two-count. Kojima then hits another Lariat to get the pin at 13:11. Homicide was not himself after getting dropped on his head on the floor, but I’m not a big Homicide fan anyway so I’m not sure how much of a difference it would have made. The match was not so very good.
MATCH #8: All Japan World Double Tag Team Title Match – The Great Muta & Arashi vs. Christopher Daniels & Dan Maff
Muta and Arashi have been the Champions since 6.8.03, and this is their third defense. Maff and Arashi start the match. Arashi dominates that with his power. Tags are made, and here’s the man everybody wants to see. Muta and Daniels are in no hurry, and Muta sprays some green mist into the air. Daniels and Maff regroup on the floor. I hate Dan Maff, like a lot. Back in the ring Muta controls Daniels for a bit. Arashi tags in and he uses his power on both Maff and Daniels. The Prophecy use some less than honorable tactics to take advantage for the first time. Daniels and Maff keep Muta isolated in their half of the ring for several minutes. Muta fights back with a dropkick and makes the tag. Arashi also throws a dropkick and the crowd is fired up. Daniels and Maff cut Arashi off and go to work on him. Arashi catches Daniels with a powerslam. Muta tags in and goes after Daniels’ knee. He hits the Dragon Screw and then locks on the Figure-Four Leglock. Maff breaks it up and Arashi knocks him off the apron. Maff hits Muta in the back with a chair from outside the ring. He tries to hit Muta inside the ring as well but gets a face full of red mist. Daniels takes Muta down and goes for the Best Moonsault Ever but there’s no water in the pool. Muta capitalizes with the Shining Wizard to get the pin and retain the titles at 16:07. It was kind of neat to just have Muta in a Ring of Honor ring, but the match itself was dull. They went back and forth a few times and then it was over, never really establishing a story or anything particularly meaningful.
Five of the eight matches here reached three stars or higher, so that’s a good enough percentage to get a recommendation. I like the idea of this show in two halves, but the second half ended with two disappointing matches and the two companies tied at 2-2, so it really didn’t live up to the promise of the concept.
Tags: Christopher Daniels, Final Battle, ROH, Samoa Joe, The Great Muta