EMPIRE STATE SHOWDOWN
October 24, 2003
John Walters . . . finally gets to show exactly why ROH seems to be so high on him.
CM Punk . . . has a memorable exchange with Steve Corino on the microphone, but a completely forgettable match.
Jimmy Rave . . . may have come in dead last in his Field of Honor Block, but his days of bad luck are far from over.
BJ WHITMER vs. DAN MAFF (Field of Honor Block B)
I guess this qualifies something that one could use as an example of “the great hard-hitting action”found on an ROH show, but I’d prefer ROH to stick with wrestling. They stiff each other with chops, bounce each other off the guardrails and then drop each other on their heads until Maff doesn’t get up. It’s a ten-minute version of Misawa/Kobashi at their absolute worst, except these two aren’t even in the same universe as Misawa and Kobashi at their worst. Whitmer winning with the Exploder ‘98 actually makes a bit of sense, concerning Maff’s neck injury (which Rave had inadvertently aggravated the week before) but there’s not a single thing done from either of them to suggest that Maff’s neck may be a factor.
DIABLO SANTIAGO/OMAN TORTUGA vs. MARCOS/DUNN vs. DON JUAN/FAST EDDIE vs. ALEX SHELLEY/JIMMY JACOBS
It’s fun to see the RCE go over, especially since this took place in their local area (Paradise City is apparently Rochester, NY), but there’s very little here that’s seen in any other scramble match. There’s really just the early comedy between Shelly/Jacobs and the Outcast Killas and Dunn using the Awful Waffle, a few years before Chuck Taylor really become known, to win the match. It’s the usual spot-crazy mess that all the other scramble matches are.
CHRISTOPHER DANIELS vs. JOHN WALTERS
Now this is some good wrestling! The layout of the match is rather simple, but they both make it work. Rather than being the spot machine that he’s (sometimes rightfully) pigeonholed as, Daniels goes out there and *wrestles* with Walters, and the result is a match that’s just as engrossing as Walters/Xavier without any of the ridiculous spots. The closest that they come to anything silly is when it seems like they’re going to bust out the extended sequence with the sunset flip and the jackknife cradle, etc. spot, but they don’t go through with it.
The body part work that takes up the first three-quarters or so is really only filler, but they both make sure it’s good filler. Watching Walters work over Daniels’ leg shows why ROH seems to be so high on the guy. He takes Daniels to the mat and tries to tap him out several times, and Walters also gets basic with a dropkick to the knee and dropping elbows on it. Daniels’ great selling doesn’t hurt either, and it’s to the point that Alison Danger’s interference doesn’t seem like it’s being done just to get easy heat, but because Daniels actually needs her help. Daniels’ keeps the leg in mind, even when he’s in control and working over Walters’ back, he leg gives out on a suplex and he stops to favor it every now and then. When Daniels is in control, what was really good becomes really great. Daniels singles out the back, after Danger gave him the opening, and Daniels is even better at working it over because he’s not afraid to get nasty about it, such as using the post and guardrails. There’s an especially nice moment when Daniels does his Arabian press and then goes to a crossface. Walters also reciprocates the selling that Daniels was doing for him, and it only serves to get the fans that much more behind Walters.
Again, the control segments come off like filler, the home stretch of near falls doesn’t really take that into account (although Walters did sell his back after the lungblower), but it’s good anyway. Unlike Maff and Whitmer, who just dumped each other on their heads, Daniels and Walters’ near falls are believable and they both give respect to the moves that they take. Daniels wins out when he hits Angel’s Wings almost out of nowhere and then does Last Rites just to make sure that Walters stays down. This is far from perfect, but it’s quite good, and it’s a much better example of the quality that ROH is capable of putting on. ***1/4
DIXIE/IZZY © vs. LOC/DEVITO (ROH Tag Team Titles)
Aside from the finish, there isn’t anything here that wasn’t seen in previous Special K/Carnage Crew matches. Devito and Loc are in control to start and Special K (both Izzy and Dixie and the other members at ringside) take pretty much every bump that they know how to do. Special K gets control and it’s quickly shown why they’re mostly spot and bump machines, and the hot tag leads to the overbooking and the finish. The one nice element is that Loc doesn’t stay down from the belt shot, but he shows exactly how much it hurt him, and when the other members get Devito preoccupied, he’s easily pinned with the sunset flip powerbomb.
XAVIER vs. CHRIS SABIN (Field of Honor Block A)
Jimmy Rave finishing the Field of Honor with the goose egg made sense because it was part of the whole storyline of AJ Styles trying to teach Rave to be more aggressive, and Rave not wanting to follow through. But, aside from sticking it to TNA with the guy who held the X-Division Title for four months having a big losing streak, I don’t know what the point of Sabin finishing last is. As for the match, it’s not bad, but it’s hard to care too much about it. It’s nice that Xavier is a big enough jerk to try to re-open the cut on Sabin’s eye (from Stryker’s sloppy DVD the week before), but that’s about the extent of it. Until Xavier makes him tap to the Mutalock, it doesn’t seem like Xavier is working the neck by dropping Sabin with those suplexes, especially the nasty Cobra clutch suplex at the end.
Sabin isn’t blameless either, he could have done more to show that his neck was turning into a weak spot, especially after Daniels and Walters had already set the bar for it. His offense mostly consists of him tossing out flying spots for no real reason. Yes, they’re executed well, but that’s about it. The enzuigiri was nice too, but it was more due to Xavier putting it over so well (a reminder of the fact that Xavier was out for four months with a concussion), than it was anything from Sabin.
CM PUNK vs. STEVE CORINO
The real good stuff here is on the microphone before the match starts with Corino making his personal ring announcer read off a list of wrestlers with history of substance abuse, and Punk countering with an equally long list of drugs he’ll never take. The match itself has it’s fun points, usually when Corino and Punk get to interject their personalities into the mix. Corino offers Punk a free shot to the face and Punk tries to cheap shot Corino with kicks, but Steve blocks them each time. Punk gets nasty with a shot to Corino’s injured ear which drops Corino and he’s almost counted out. Punk tries to follow up with a frog splash, but Corino shows that he was playing possum and moves. The super spot is also funny, where Punk holds up Corino for twenty seconds, and Corino only holds up Punk for eight.
So yes, there are fun things about the match, but the match as a whole doesn’t come together all that well. There’s nothing as far as any real structure or story goes, it comes off like Punk and Corino were sent out there to fill up twenty minutes. It doesn’t help that they get goofy toward the end, when Corino unloads on Punk with a decent amount of offense, even if some of it is stolen from Hashimoto and Ogawa, and Punk pops up after a lariat and does a Shining Wizard. The time limit expires and after some teasing of going for another five minutes, they basically screw over the crowd by telling them to “pay for it next time” even though they paid for it this time.
COLT CABANA vs. JIMMY RAVE vs. JUSTIN CREDIBLE vs. JOHN WALTERS
If not for the fact that Walters got his first win in ROH, and for Rave’s bad luck continuing, this would be just another ROH four-way match. There’s nothing altogether special about most of the work, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s clear that they’re just filling time instead of trying to accomplish anything. It’s got the prerequisite crazy submission spot and as it wears on they pretty much just enter as they please to do their stuff.
It is funny to watch Rave constantly get the short end of the stick though. When Cabana and Credible are trade shots on the floor, Rave tries to dive onto them both, but the catch him and whip him into the guardrail and resume their brawl. Walters tries to take them both out with a baseball side and they step aside and Rave gets hit. Toward the end, Credible gives Rave That’s Incredible and Walters tries to break up the pin with an elbow drop, but guess who actually gets hit with it? To that end, it’s surprising that Walters didn’t win by beating Rave, unless the elbow drop was supposed to be enough to keep him out for good. Walters just casually scoops up Credible in the sharpshooter to make him tap. It’s fun to see Walters finally go over, but it’s too bad that his first win was in a throwaway like this.
SAMOA JOE vs. HOMICIDE
This is probably best remembered for the finish of Homicide choking out Joe with the noose, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. Aside from the Special K/Carnage Crew match, which was the same thing they’d been doing for two months, this is the only other match on the show that with some genuine hate and intensity to it. They’ve got their issues in the logic department, although it’s highly unlikely that Joe and ‘Cide went into this looking to put on a good logical main event. But it’s frustrating to see Homicide looking to be out on his feet one moment and then totally reinvigorated the next, and it’s just as annoying when Homicide looks like he’s in big trouble when Joe has the STF on, only for ‘Cide to jump to his feet, toss Joe out, and hit his dive.
Of course, Joe and Homicide also have some good ideas they put to use. It was amusing to see ‘Cide poke Joe in the eyes to stop his forearm strike. It’s also good to see them take advantage of the relaxed rules such as Homicide getting the ropes to break the STF, only for Joe to not break it. They also work in several nice teases when ‘Cide props up the table in the corner, it appears several times that either of them is going to be taking the bump. The noose is good for playing off the lack of rules, but it also taints Homicide’s win to me. Homicide threw everything he had at Joe, but he couldn’t put him away until he dug out the noose.
Conclusion: Once again, this is a decently fun ROH show. Daniels/Walters in the ring and Punk/Corino on the stick are the two big pluses here. The only big negatives are the two FOH matches, but even they had a purpose.