September 20, 2003

Christopher Daniels tries to fulfill his destiny by winning the ROH Title from the man he brought to ROH nearly one year ago. Punk and Raven pick each other’s opponents, the vacant tag titles are decided, and the Field of Honor continues!

Jimmy Rave . . . shows some marked improvement in his second Field of Honor match.

CM Punk . . . doesn’t put on much of a technical match, but looks like the world’s biggest heel by the end of it.

Samoa Joe . . . for all intents and purposes cements his status as the top dog in Ring of Honor.

BJ WHITMER vs. JIMMY RAVE (Field of Honor Block B)

Thanks to Rave, shockingly enough, this wasn’t half bad. The idea here is that Rave wants to tap out BJ to the crossface and works over BJ’s arm to get there (learning from the Cabana loss where he just slapped the hold on out of nowhere and had no success). Rave is pretty good at working the arm, he adds a few smart touches like the Northern Lights into the corner, but traps the arm first to make sure Whitmer takes the bump on his shoulder. There’s another smart spot with Rave’s jumping rana that he follows up with the juji-gatame, and when BJ tries to block the hold, Rave shows some aggression by kicking him in the face to stop him.

For BJ’s part, this looks like the latter part of the Whitmer/Briscoe match from 9/6, he’d rather just dump Rave with suplexes rather than tell a story. Aside from the spot where Whitmer pulled the standing switch when Rave was trying to ram his shoulder into the corner and dumped Rave with the Dragon suplex for a near fall, there’s nothing at all from Whitmer that’s even half as smart or logical as what Rave pulls out. Whitmer can’t be bothered to sell the arm to any great degree until the match is already over. The finish comes off like a fluke, which is intended to continue the Styles/Rave angle, but I don’t think it was intended for Whiter to nearly kill Rave with such a sloppy powerbomb. ***

XAVIER vs. JOHN WALTERS (Field of Honor Block A)

There are a few times when they try getting too cute, such as their sunset flip to jackknife cradle and back again sequence that’s practically mandatory for these sort of matches, and some of Xavier’s spots, but this is actually a pretty engrossing match. The early chain wrestling establishes early on that Walters may have the former champion’s number, and as the match wears on it becomes more and more clear that Xavier may not have what it takes to put him away, and that eventually results in Xavier needing to kick Walters low to finally beat him. The 450 to the floor was one of those spots that Xavier didn’t really need to do, but at least it led to him working over Walters’ neck and back, which in turn led to Xavier dropping the whole “innovative’ (a.k.a. ugly as sin) offense and instead concentrate on simply being a dick. It’s nice that he can do a blockbuster X-Breaker, but the crowd reacted just as much when he just dropped a knee across Walters’ neck, and Xavier was smart enough to take the hint.

For his part, Walters’ performance is fine. His selling when Xavier works the neck and back is believable, he doesn’t really add much offense other than his usual spots, but he doesn’t need to in this case. The fans are perfectly happy to see him take the beating and not stay down, and he doesn’t go crazy like Xavier does. The back cracker while Xavier was on the top comes a bit close, but it had least had a logical set up.


I expected a total spotfest out of this match and I didn’t get it, which is a good thing. But this still isn’t exactly good. It comes off like Teddy and TJ are just doing an exhibition for the ROH crowd instead of the match being something with a life of its own. The matwork and submissions they work are nice, but they’re completely self contained. TJ’s Finlay roll from the second rope doesn’t feel like a real match breaker, despite his attempt make it seem like he had Teddy all but finished. Teddy’s jumping DDT and SSP that finish off Wilson are nicely executed, but that’s about all one can really say about it.


This was good for continuing the Raven/Punk feud, which everyone figured was over when Raven won the cage match, but that’s about it. Corino’s entrance with the entourage and the extended monologue for his introduction is awesome. His work is much less so. His extended control segment on Raven is dull as dishwater. The only notable thing from Corino is his attempted aping of Hansen/Kojima when he takes off the elbow pad and tries for the lariat, Raven ducks and starts reeling off his spots on Corino. Corino is eons better here, when he’s bumping and stooging left, right, and center for Raven. Raven seems to have Corino beat, Punk pulls out the ref, and Corino hits a superkick amidst all the confusion to steal the win. It does its job of continuing the feud and teasing dissension between Punk and Corino, and then gets out of the way.


Punk was a riot on commentary, but, honestly, that was the best thing about this match. All it was good for was eating up time and getting these four on the card. Their timing was good, especially at the end when Sabin and Styles were taken out, which allowed Cabana to finish Stryker with the Colt .45. Their work is generally fine, but there’s nothing else to be found. Nobody is established as much of a weak link (despite Sabin’s winless record in ROH), and there’s nothing as far as any real story or structure to make the match mean anything more than any other ROH four-way match.

TAG TEAM GAUNTLET (Vacant ROH Tag Team Titles)

The match proper starts with a trios between Special K and the Carnage Crew, which makes as much sense as it sounds. It’s not all that different from the same match they had two weeks before, brawling to start, boring control segment by the heels, and then it breaks down with the hot tag. This time though, the rest of Special K interferes and Carnage Crew gets disqualified for whipping them all with straps. This should allow the Briscoe Bros to pick up the pieces and get the easy win, but this winds up being a back and forth spotfest between the teams, with only the running chinlock and the Code Red from Deranged being highlights, until the Briscoes finally put them away with a spike Jay Driller.

Dunn and Marcos enter next and this time the match goes how you’d expect it to. The RCE put up a small fight, but it’s another easy win for the Briscoes. The second Special K team is next, and it makes more sense for this to be a more even affair, but Dixie and Izzy still give the Briscoes much more trouble than they should considering that they’re little more than bump machines with a decently entertaining gimmick. The Briscoes look to have it won, but there’s another big run in to give Special K the win. The last team is the Backseat Boys, which is another short one, as it should be. Trent and Johnny run through their usual spots and sequences and Special K tries to get cute and steal the T-Gimmick, but Kashmere stops them, and they show them how it’s done to take the tag titles.

Alexis Laree comes to say goodbye to ROH, as she’s about to join the WWE and make their women’s division watchable. Special K runs in and attacks her (just in case we haven’t seen enough of them for one show), and Slugger makes the save. This all leads to Alexis vs. Hijinx, which Laree easily wins to head to the WWE on a high note.


Much like Raven/Corino, this is more about furthering the storyline than it about actual wrestling, but this is far more to the point. Instead of toying around with actually trying to have a match, they cut right to the chase. Punk lives up to his name, trying to make a name for himself at the expense of the legend, and Terry wants to shut his big mouth. Terry stretches Punk out early in the ring and they go to the floor and brawl where Terry continues to get the better of Punk. The only spot of theirs which is a bit sketchy is Terry’s superplex through the table. Not that Terry shouldn’t have put him through the table, that was perfect, but between his age and knees, he probably shouldn’t have been able to get Punk up for it.

Punk finally gets an opening to do some real damage when Terry hurts his knee after the missed moonsault, and Punk is every bit as heelish as you’d expect. His work isn’t anything fancy, but it doesn’t need to be. Between Terry’s selling (including him still cursing out Punk, while he looks for all the world like he’s about to pass out) and the way the announcers give the hard sell to Punk being such a jerk as well as the agony of what Terry must be going through, the message comes across perfectly. There’s a few hope spots for Terry, such as when he turns over the figure four, but Punk isn’t denied and puts the hold on and won’t break at the five-count which causes the ref to call it off.

SAMOA JOE © vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS (ROH World Heavyweight Title)

Before Morishima was squashing and backdropping his challengers into oblivion, this is as close to a sprint as an ROH Title match would get. The hate and intensity make it fun to watch, but at the end of the day it’s not very deep at all. It’s fast-paced fifteen minutes of Joe and Daniels pasting each other with strikes and throwing each other around. The only real storytelling touch to the match is the idea that Daniels is purposely keeping the pace quick to make Joe run out of gas, which is a great idea, but the only time it comes up is when the commentators talk about Joe breathing heavy. There’s nothing in the work to suggest that Daniels’ idea is actually working.

Because they’re both so intent on keeping the pace quick, the actual work tends to matter very little, both Daniels and Joe pop up far too quickly and easily, even after getting dumped by a German or a Uranage. There are a fun few touches, like Daniels trying to ape Joe’s Ole kick, and having backfire and then Joe doing it for real. Some will complain about the Allison Danger forced run in (she was holding Daniels’ arm and Joe dragged Daniels to the middle of the ring, and she was dragged in too), but it was harmless fun. There’s a couple of quick teases that Daniels will fulfill his destiny, like when he escapes the muscle buster that beat Homicide and hits a rana, and when he gets the ropes to break the choke, but (even an apparently winded) Joe is still too strong, and when Daniels gets the break Joe just yanks him up and plants the Island driver to finish Daniels for good, and essentially cement that Joe is the top guy in ROH. This is one of those odd cases where the match itself wasn’t particularly good, but the layout was absolutely perfect given the performers and the situation.

Conclusion: From strictly a workrate standpoint, this doesn’t look impressive, but, overall, it’s a whole lot of fun. The only that was completely throwaway was the four-way match, and even that has Punk on commentary to keep you amused. All things considered, this wouldn’t be a bad pickup at all.