Time for some more ROH, as we look at the penultimate 2002 event that I have in my collection.
I believe Scott has actually reviewed this one as well, so you can see how his scores match up to mine. I’ve not read his take on the show for a while, but I remember enjoying it at the time. I won’t read it before writing my own, just in case it leads me to give similar takes.
This time out we’ve got a pretty famous fight (and yes, “fight” is the appropriate term) between Samoa Joe and Low Ki.
Let’s see how the rest of the show holds up 18 years later (Man I’m old!)
The event is emanating from the Murphy Rec in Philly on the 5th of October 2002
Calling the action are Chris Levie (Gabe Sapolsky) and Jeff Gorman
We open up with a video showing who will be on the show, complete with dance/trance music playing in the background.
Divine Storm (Quiet Storm and Chris Divine) w/ Trinity Vs Special K (Izzy and Dixie) w/ E-Lax Vs Homicide Vs SAT (Joel and Jose Maximo)
Homicide is on his own here due to Carnage Crew causing his regular Boogalou to be injured/jump to XPW. Special K refuse to shake hands, so they get jumped by everyone else to start us out, leading to Trinity (Divine’s girlfriend in storyline) moonsaulting E-Lax and carrying him to the back. Well, that was certainly worth the wage and travel expenses for booking those two people wasn’t it? This is a “Scramble” match, which basically means two guys go at it in the ring with anyone being able to come in when someone leaves the ring. It’s all about quick action and high spots, especially with the three full teams being mostly high flyers.
This one has some good energy but it’s also sloppy as all heck at certain points, which is the risk you take with these sorts of matches, especially if someone forgets a spot or can’t get the execution on something correct due to the frenetic pace. It definitely feels like they’ve sped the video footage up ever so slightly too, which is something ROH would do sometimes on these earlier events in a sneaky way to make you think the action was even more fast paced than it already was. On the bright side, when the execution is on point the moves look great, it’s just sadly not achieved at a consistent level. It’s a match light on psychology, but not without its charm. Homicide manages to survive on his lonesome and puts Izzy away with the Cop Killa before tapping out Dixie with a Stepover Toehold Facelock
Sloppy, spotty and lacking in any real structure or storytelling, but it also had some hot moves and the crowd had fun with it, so it worked fine as an opener and giving Homicide the big win set him up nicely for a singles push.
Homicide doesn’t get long to celebrate as Trent Acid and Johnny Kashmere make their ROH debut as invading CZW guys, seeing as the two companies have agreed to work with one another. They want a tag match with Homicide, but Homicide doesn’t have a partner, so puts out the call for someone to represent ROH and tag with him. Surprisingly Steve Corino of all people accepts the offer and agrees to be Homicide’s partner.
Backseat Boyz (Trent Acid and Johnny Kashmere) Vs Homicide and Steve Corino
Surprisingly the CZW guys agree to the Code of Honour, but Corino cheap shots them anyway to start us out. They tease early on that Homicide and Corino aren’t particularly gelling well as a team, which kind of teases where this one is going. They work this one like a tornado match, with everyone going at it and no tags being made. The Backseat Boyz have some good chemistry together as a team by this stage, so their tandem offence looks good.
This one is all action, with the action itself being decent. Gabe even gets a jab at CZW’s commentator by mocking the way he says “Yakuza Kick”. Corino was doing a sleeper finisher at the time and applies it to Kashmere, but Acid Yakuza Kicks him to break it up. Corino and Homicide fight over who gets to make the pin on Acid at one stage, which leads to Corino super kicking Homicide, which allows The Backseatz to win it with the T-Gimmick (Kind of like a Razor’s Edge where both man grabs an arm) for the three count.
WINNERS: THE BACKSEAT BOYZ
This was fine and served its purpose by giving the CZW guys a win to establish them in ROH whilst also setting the table for a feud between Homicide and Steve Corino.
Gabe pushes on commentary that Corino is a glory hound who doesn’t really care about ROH, which was a gimmick he would play up to the hilt as his time in the company wore on.
The Christopher Street Connect (Buff E, Mase and Allison Danger) w/ Japanese Pool Boy Vs Christian York, Joey Matthews and Alexis Laree
Laree would probably be better known to you all as Mickie James. The CSC were a pretty offensive act that made fun of gay people, and what this feud was built on was them teasing a lesbian pollen angle between Danger and Laree (Ironic as Laree would go on to do such a storyline with Trish Stratus in WWE). CSC observes the Code of Honour but then pinch the babyfaces bums right after.
“Oh ho, is funny because York, Matthews and Laree are not gay so they do not want gay people touching their bottoms. Oh ho hoooooooo”
The CSC get some heat on Matthews following that, doing further suggestive spots that were gross and outdated even in 1982, let alone 2002. Matthews manages to get a reverse DDT to Mase and tags Laree, who runs wild on all of the heels, mostly holding her own in the process. Things break down though and the CSC catches Laree with a double team move so that Danger can steal the pin.
WINNERS: THE CHRISTOPHER STREET CONNECTION
I am beyond done with this act and there’s still plenty more to come. The match itself didn’t last very long and the work wasn’t up to much due to The CSC caring more about gay heel antics than they were about putting on a good match.
The faces beat up Japanese Pool Boy following the bout to get their heat back.
James Maritato cuts a promo backstage. He says The F.B.I gimmick served him well in ECW, but ECW closed and his career plateaued, so now he wants to be more serious to kick it back into life. If Tony Mamaluke wants to keep The F.B.I gimmick then he doesn’t want to tag with him, but if Mamaluke can beat him then he can get the gimmick for his own use. Iornically for Maritato he would jump to WWE not too soon after this and would be back to doing The F.B.I gimmick with Johnny The Bull and Chuck Palumbo.
Battle for The F.B.I Gimmick
Tony Mamaluke Vs James Maritato
Mamaluke observes the handshake but cheap shots right after, which is the third match in the row where someone has done that. Maritato wrestles the match in a t-shirt for some reason, which is strange as it’s not like he had a bad physique during this time period. There’s a lot of good technical and submission based grappling in this one, but there’s an edge to it too with both men throwing strikes on occasion too.
The pace picks up as the match goes along and Maritato gets the Tomikaze/Unprettier/Pulp Friction on Mamaluke, but Mamaluke drops to his knees on the way down and the move looks a bit rough as a result. Mamaluke keeps coming though and gets a modified guillotine choke to pick up the win and The F.B.I gimmick.
WINNER: TONY MAMALUKE
This was fine, but you definitely felt like the two had a better match in them.
Mamaluke raises Maritato’s hand following the bout to likely end the feud, especially as Maritato was on his way to being Nunzio not too soon after.
Ikuto Hidaka Vs The Amazing Red
(I’ve reviewed this one previously on a comp tape so I’ll just re-post it here)
Hidaka did some shots in ECW during its final years but originally came up through the BattlArts promotion in Japan, which was a worked-shoot company where the goal was to make the matches feel like real fights as much as possible (Kind of like what UWFi was). He went to Zero One in 2001 and would have been part of their roster when taking this booking. Red has had numerous retirements due to the high risk wrestling style he employs, but he did have a return to New Japan in 2019 for the Super J Cup.
Hidaka actually manages to out quick Red in the early going, which leads to Red throwing some chops in annoyance. Hidaka throws him outside and then trade some chops on the floor before mutually deciding to roll back in to continue the chop fest inside there. Red gets a DDT to send Hidaka outside and goes for a dive to the floor but Hidaka catches him with a dropkick on the way down and puts him back inside the ring. Hidaka works the leg over back inside, showing some of the submission skills that served him well during his BattlArts days, but Red refuses to submit in the punishing holds.
Hidaka tries a handspring kick in the corner but Red moves and tries a super rana, but Hidaka blocks that and then DDT’s Red. Red counters a springboard move from Hidaka by spin kicking him to the floor and then grazes Hidaka with a flip dive before putting him back inside for a cross arm breaker. Hidaka manages to get to the ropes to break that and dodges a Standing Shooting Star Press, only for Red to kick him down for two. Red tries a running attack in the corner but Hidaka presses him up into the air and kicks him on the way down. Red rolls outside to recover a bit and then comes in where he tries a satellite DDT but Hidaka blocks it into a sit out leg breaker before following with a springboard dropkick to the leg for good measure.
Hidaka goes to a leg lock next, but Red is able to make his way to the ropes before he has to submit and manages to get a desperation enziguri to buy himself some time. Fishtails sequence comes next, with both men trading pinning holds to no avail. Eventually both men go to clothesline one another and that’s ends in a double down. Hidaka gets up first and delivers a Torture Wrack into an Ace Crusher, but Red is able to kick out and then manages a 619 to the gut (Which is booed by the ROH crowd) and follows up with a Yoshi Tonic for two. Red heads up but Hidaka stops that and then tries a powerbomb, but Red counters that into a DDT and gets a Sky Twister Press followed by a standing Shooting Star Press for the win.
WINNER: THE AMAZING RED
This was sloppy in places but it was a fun match overall and worth a watch.
Red’s entrance music sounds a bit like the Dig-Digetty-Dog song from WWF No Mercy on the N64 actually. We get the show of respect post-match.
ETW Television Title
Champ: Fast Eddie Vs Don Juan
Juan comes out to Depeche Mode here actually, and it’s one of my favourite tracks of theirs in “It’s No Good” too. That’ll earn him some Mikey Points™! Rudy Boy Gonzalez trained both of these guys, so he’s at ringside to watch the match. Eddie is legally blind, but despite that has managed to have a wrestling career, so good for him.
This one is fast paced, with both younger guys sprinting through their high flying move sets. Eddie even busts out a blind Asai Moonsault to the floor at one stage in an impressive moment, only to get caught with a Diamond Cutter when he gets back inside for two. Eddie busts out a fall away slam from the top rope so after though to pick up the win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: FAST EDDIE
Short and spotty, but it had good energy
Fellow Texas based wrestlers Bio-Hazard and Michael Shane run down for the heel beat down following the match until Rudy Boy intervenes. However, his opponent for the next match (Steve Corino) comes down to the ring and taunts him. Rudy retorts by calling him a “Dusty Rhodes wannabe” before starting us out with a mic shot.
Texas Death Match
Steve Corino Vs Rudy Boy Gonzalez
Corino is bleeding right from the off and takes a super kick for the pin. However, this is Texas Death rules, so once you get pinned or submitted then you have to break the ten count. I personally hate this stipulation because it leads to a bunch of quick pins that you’d never see in a normal match. You could tell a similar story by doing a Last Man Standing match and wouldn’t need to do the falls aspect.
This one is a decent brawl, as both men fight into the crowd. It’s mostly punches and kicks, but it works for the style of match they are having and works as a palette cleanser following all the high flying and technical wrestling that we’ve had already tonight. Rudy Boy sells well and Corino gets some good heat from the crowd, playing a jerk to his usual high standard.
Eventually Rudy Boy makes a traditional babyface comeback with back body drops and the like, but Corino catches him in his new sleeper hold and cranks it in. Rudy passes out due to being in the hold and can’t answer the ten count as a result, so Corino picks up the clean win.
WINNER: STEVE CORINO
Pretty basic stuff, but it worked as far as making Corino more of a heel.
Rudy Boy refuses to shake hands following the bout so Corino puts him back in the hold, which leads to fellow Rudy Boy trainee Paul London making the save with a ladder. He tries running up the ladder to dive out onto Corino, Bio-Hazard and Shane, but he veers too much in one direction and ends up taking out both Shane and a section of the railings. Corino and Bio-Hazard drag Shane to safety and then back away from London.
Fight Without Honour
Samoa Joe Vs Low Ki
Joe has been brought in by Christopher Daniels as a hired gun to take out Low Ki and is making his debut here. They work this as shoot style in the early going, with strikes and MMA styled takedowns, and it’s snug to say the least. It’s not long before the intensity picks up with both men trading on the feet with big kicks and slaps. It’s unapologetically brutal and the crowd loves it. Really the whole point of this business is to make it look real whilst being fake, but if you have two wrestlers who don’t mind letting it hang loose like this then I’m okay with it.
Ki actually manages to heave Joe up for a Tiger Suplex at one stage, which only gets him a two count but looks good. They tell a good story of Ki continually wearing Joe down with slaps, chops and kicks throughout the bout, but when Joe gets a proper flurry it’s easier for him to take Ki down due to his bigger size. As a result it’s all about Ki chipping away at Joe’s life bar whilst avoiding getting caught with too many big Joe moves. It’s pretty much the wrestling equivalent of Pai Chan fighting Jeffrey on Virtua Fighter 2. It’s a simple story but it’s told well and the work is to a high standard.
Joe muscles Ki up into a DVD from the mat at one stage in a super impressive display of raw power, and then follows with the Emerald Frosion, which gets two when Ki manages to get his foot on the ropes. I like that as it protects the move as Ki being close to the ropes is the only thing that saved him, so Joe looks dominant but Ki looks resourceful. Good stuff. Both men remove the tape from their fists and then drop down their knee pads before going at it like this is a martial arts movie or something. Ki wins that battle with a series of Kawada Kicks before putting Joe down with some knees and punches to finally topple him for three.
WINNER: LOW KI
Very much a “must-see” match from ROH’s first year, as the two men went at it hammer and tongs in an incredibly stiff battle.
Low Ki wants a handshake post-match, and Joe actually gives it to him, showing that he doesn’t ideologically agree with The Prophecy and is just taking a cheque.
Prince Nana Vs E-Lax
They don’t even bother putting this one on the back of the box, probably because Nana beats him clean in seconds. They don’t even bother putting commentary over it either.
WINNER: PRINCE NANA
Dunn & Marcos come down to challenge Nana following that match, but the big guy in a suit known as Slugger comes down to batter them, allowing Nana to flee. Some of the mid-card in this company feels like it’s going nowhere sometimes.
ROH Champion Xavier w/ Simply Luscious Vs Jay Briscoe
Xavier screwed Low Ki out of the Title back at Unscripted and is now refusing to defend the Title in order to mess with ROH on their big event. Both men go at it on the mat in the early going, displaying some nice technical acumen. As in most cases with Xavier, his work is fine but he really comes into his own when he turns up the heel antics, which we see when he gives Jay a disrespectful slap to the face to fire him up.
Jay sells well during the heat and Xavier feels far more natural in the role of villain. Obviously ROH fans didn’t like the fact that the belt got taken off a high level worker like Low Ki and put onto a lesser worker who wrestled like a heel, but people ignore that they were SUPPOSED to react that way. Getting the belt on a shit heel that wouldn’t carry it with honour worked great from a storyline perspective, especially as they had plenty of top level workers for him to work with.
Jay makes a comeback and goes for a dive to the floor, but Xavier dodges and he ends up crashing into the railings. Xavier cockily works Jay over back inside following that, with the idea being that he could probably win it then and there but he wants to keep laying a whupping on his impetuous younger opponent. A reverse DDT from the top looks to end things, but Xavier makes the old cocky cover mistake and Jay is able to kick out.
The story they are telling here is fine but the match has been going on for a bit too long and it’s starting to feel like it’s dragging a bit. Jay makes another comeback and bumps Xavier around before getting a gourd buster and heading up top for a leg drop, which gets him a two count. Xavier replies with a cobra clutch suplex that looked devastating but I think was safe. Xavier gets a powerbomb but tries muscling Jay up for another one and Jay is able to counter into the J-Driller for the upset!
WINNER: JAY BRISCOE
The match probably went too long for the story they were telling, but the story itself was a good one with Xavier getting too cocky due to his undeserved Title win and Jay making him pay for it.
The crowd LOVES that result and cheers loudly in support of Jay for the big upset win. However, The Prophecy doesn’t let him celebrate for long and put a whupping on him so that Xavier can get his heat back with a 450 splash. I’m okay with that as Jay was already elevated by the win and this does a good job of putting heat on the heels. Low Ki and Doug Williams run down to rescue Jay at least.
Falls Count Anywhere
Carnage Crew (HC Loc and Tony DeVito) Vs Da Hit Squad (Dan Maff and Monsta Mack)
This is payback for The Crew laying out Hit Squad at the Unscripted show to take them out of the Tag Title Tournament. This one is a crazy weapons filled brawl, with Mack diving out onto everyone to destroy the front row. This is a good choice to follow the previous match actually, they’ve done a reasonable job spacing out the match types here, although the number of matches itself is probably too high.
This one is full of sickening unprotected chair shots, and it’s not long until they are tearing most of the arena apart. Surprisingly they don’t go heavy on the blood, which is an almost refreshing show of restraint on their part. DeVito gets put on a table and Maff tries to power bomb him through it, but Loc manages to slip out and DeVito hits Mack with a chair, followed by a piledriver through the table on Maff to give DeVito the pin.
WINNERS: CARNAGE CREW
If you like wild crazy brawls then this will be right up your alley.
A host of people come out to check on Maff following that.
Joey Matthews is backstage and looks to be passed out. It’s implied that Special K might have given him something as they are laughing in the next room.
Michael Shane w/ Bio-Hazard Vs Spanky Vs Paul London
All of these guys have come from Shawn Michaels’ school, and have a rivalry as a result. The opening section sees Spanky and London fighting over who gets to beat up Shane, which eventually leads to them going at it with one another. Things are pretty sloppy in this one actually, with quite a lot of the execution being off, from London especially for some reason (possibly because he got knocked loopy by that botched dive earlier?)
The fight heads to the outside, where Shane puts the guardrail over Spanky’s throat and tries to brain him with a chair until London stops him. Back inside they do the hated WWE trope of having Spanky hit London with Sliced Bread #2, only for Shane to cheap shot him and steal the pin for himself. They keep wrestling however, as this appears to be an elimination match.
With two guys left, this becomes more of a traditional singles match with Shane working some heat on Spanky. Things improve a bit at this stage, as they focus more on just having a match rather than trying to do wacky pre-planned triple threat spots. The show itself has been going on for so long at this stage though that this one suffers almost automatically, as you can tell the crowd are getting tired and it hurts the heat.
Spanky makes a comeback on Shane and the two men start trading strikes, which leads to Spanky getting a nice springboard dropkick. An enizguri comes next for Spanky, but Shane kicks out at two. Undeterred, Spanky delivers a Northern Lights Bomber before heading up top with a lovely frogsplash for two. Sliced Break looks to be next, but Shane blocks that and follows up with a swinging DDT for two.
This one has picked up a bit now in the closing stages, with some good work by both men and some well worked near falls. Shane heads up for his Picture Perfect Elbow Drop, and gets it for the three count, eliminating both opponents in the process to become the “New Showstopper”
WINNER: MICHAEL SHANE
The first three quarters of this one were pretty rough but it picked up a bit towards the end.
After going to the trouble of winning the nickname, Shane says he doesn’t even want it.
Christopher Daniels w/ Simply Luscious Vs Doug Williams
If Daniels wins here then Doug will no longer be allowed to shake hands in ROH, but if Doug wins then Daniels will now be forced to shake hands going forward. Gabe pushes that Doug will be disgraced if he can’t be allowed to shake hands, but everyone is going to know that the only reason he isn’t is because he lost a match, so it’s not like it will reflect that badly on him. It’s not like you get sacked for not shaking hands or something. It’s a literal honour system, so the honourable thing to do is uphold a match stipulation. In fact, to continue shaking hands after losing a match like this would be in itself dishonourable. Sorry for picking holes in the story, I’ll just start covering the match itself.
Doug out wrestles Daniels with some nice stuff in the early going but Luscious distracts Doug and that allows Daniels to get him with a suplex. Doug keeps coming though and shows off some more impressive European styled grappling, getting appreciative applause from the crowd. This is a good match but I’m not sure about it as a choice for a Main Event. I would have personally gone with Joe Vs Ki, just because of how good it was and the fact that a match like that would have a better chance of firing up a tired crowd due to how violent it was. Still, I can get why the handshake thing would be considered a bigger deal due to the Code of Honour aspect.
As the match builds both men hit gradually bigger moves on one another, with the selling and execution being on point as you’d expect. The heat is a bit lacking due to just how long this show has been going on for, but there is some at least and the crowd pops when Doug gets the Revolution DDT for two. I do love watching both of these guys wrestle, as everything they do looks good and they are both bring different things to the table, with Daniels being more speed and character stuff whilst Doug brings technical excellence and nice strikes to the table in the form of his upper cuts and running knee strikes.
Daniels manages to catch Doug with the Best Moonsault Ever, but Doug kicks out at two and then catches Daniels with a nice overhead belly to belly for a double down. We get a good sequence of roll ups from both men, with neither being able to hold the other down, and the crowd heat has been steadily improving throughout the match as the crowd realises they are getting a good match. Doug manages to get The Chaos Theory but Daniels is too near the ropes and grabs them to break, before getting a tainted pin with his feet on the ropes.
WINNER: CHRISTOPHER DANIELS
Good match that built gradually to get the fans invested.
Dick Togo and Jay Briscoe send The Prophecy bailing following the match, which leads to Doug thanking them with, yes, a handshake! Way to kill that gimmick straight out of the blocks lads!
Tony Mamaluke is leaving. James Maritato walks up to him and the two share a hug. Mamaluke thanks Maritato for helping him out over the years and Maritato asks him to try and be more serious going forward. He says Mamaluke can get somewhere if he focuses on being a shooter instead of an entertainer. Mamaluke agrees and says he’ll drop the gimmick.
Daniels, Xavier and Samoa Joe cut a promo backstage. Xavier says he will defeat Jay Briscoe in their rematch. Simply Luscious reminds him not to get J-Drilled again in a funny moment, with Joe also thinking it’s funny. Once the promo is done Steve Corino comes along to collect his girlfriend. Daniels wants to know why Corino is hanging around Michael Shane. Corino says he’s just out for him, at which point Shane shows up and annoys everyone. Daniels wants Joe and Luscious to stay and discuss business. Luscious agrees but Joe decides to leave as he’s already taken care of his business in the ring earlier.
This show was overly long but some of the matches were really good and I’m enjoying most of the storylines and characters at the top of the card. The mid-card remains a pretty mixed bag, but overall you’re normally guaranteed at least one excellent match on these shows and Joe Vs Ki delivered it this time.