ROH Wednesdays continue for another week!
They are giving some new faces a chance this time out, hence why they’ve gone for the “Do or Die” name, as if you make the chance count then you could potentially get some further bookings down the line. The second half of the show is scheduled to feature the usual top talent as well, with a Homicide Vs Samoa Joe Main Event pencilled in.
As usual we’ll break this up into a couple parts.
The event is emanating the Murphy Rec Centre in Philly, PA on the 31st of May 2003
Calling the action are “Chris Lovey” and CM Punk, with Ray Murrow popping in at points
We open up with a promo from Homicide and Julius Smokes. Homicide says he did everything you’re not supposed to do until he had a child in 1996, and that gave him a reason to start making sacrifices. He can’t get a normal job, so he’s going to do anything he can to become the ROH Champ and make the Main Event money. This was a good promo.
Special K are partying in their locker room, but some of them aren’t into it, so Hydro suggests they steal some lights and set up a rave. Oh well, it’s something to do I guess. The lighting guy prevents it, so they trudge off.
BJ Whitmer Vs Dan Maff w/ Allison Danger
There were apparently some matches prior to this but they appear to have been cut from the DVD, probably because they only have a maximum of 3 hours to work with and this show had something like 15 matches if Cagematch.com is anything to go by. Whitmer is a pure wrestler who can mix it up in a slugfest too if needs be, whilst Maff is the big enforcer for The Prophecy faction. The Prophecy are Heels as far as I can tell but they’re also feuding with another stable called The Group who often act heelish as well, so who even knows?
Much as I like Ray Murrow, CM Punk is a definite upgrade on commentary. This one is all about elbows and chops to start, and its good snug action. Whitmer must be a Jun Akiyama fan, as he not only throws Exploder Suplexes but also does some running high knees for good measure. Maff tries to bail at one stage, so Whitmer throws him into the new sheet metal railings at ringside, with Maff selling that well and the collisions making an impressive loud noise. Maff manages to reverse one however and that’s enough for the cut off, leading to some heat back inside.
Whitmer sells well back inside, but that’s probably because Maff isn’t giving him much choice. Whitmer fights back and we get some even more snug shots, as these two are just wearing one another out, and Maff flattens Whitmer with a stiff clothesline at one stage. These guys had clearly been watching their NOAH and All Japan tapes because they are throwing down here and showing no mercy in the process. If that style of wrestling doesn’t do it for you then this isn’t the match for you, but if you appreciate guys knocking seven shades out of one another then this should scratch that itch you have.
Eventually we move on to some more suplexes, with Maff getting a Half Nelson and dropping Whitmer on his head a couple of times. That looked utterly brutal, but Whitmer seems to be alive at least. Burning Hammer looks to end things for Maff, but Whitmer slips out and returns the favour for the earlier head drops by giving Maff a big German Suplex. OOOF, this one has been a hefty slice of strong style. Whitmer tries heading up but Maff distracts the ref and Danger crotches Whitmer, leading to Maff getting the Burning Hammer for three.
WINNER: DAN MAFF
Good opener, and I don’t mind the finish either as Maff is supposed to be a cheater now he doesn’t follow the Code of Honour so the way he won made sense and got that new character trait across
Maff disrespects Whitmer following the match for good measure to really ram his new character home. Julius Smokes comes down to the ring following that and grabs a mic to question Maff over his new allegiance. Maff chews him out and Smokes talks some trash in response, leading to Low Ki coming down to the ring with his left arm in a sling due to injuring it against Flash Barker at Frontiers of Honour. Maff bails rather than face off with Ki, who grabs the mic and disses Maff for how he won the match and says that down the line they’ll go at it. He then turns his attention to Smokes, saying that a thug like him doesn’t deserve to be in a ring designated for athletes. ROH isn’t about thug life and the streets don’t belong, and neither does Smokes. Smokes looks ready to fight following that, but Homicide comes down to break it up, which leads to Ki giving him a pep talk for the match later on with Joe. Good angle there that teased Ki/Maff and an eventual Ki/Homicide match down the line. Ki leaves and Trent Acid then sneaks in to give Homicide a Yakuza Kick, which set up an eventual match between them down the line as well. That angle did a lot of heavy lifting for the future there, although perhaps the Acid cameo was a step too far.
We get clips from earlier on the show, where Dunn & Marcos took on Slugga and Hydro, which led to the Special K guys winning. Slugga looked pretty rubbish but the other three did well.
Tony Mamaluke Vs Jason Cross
Mamaluke was a star in ECW and was a natural fit in ROH due to his technical abilities. Cross was mostly working in NWA-TNA at the time and was known for wacky high-flying moves. The crowd seems to prefer Mamaluke, as he gets some scattered chants whilst the two guys trade holds and counters in the early going, showcasing some nice technical skills. Cross doesn’t take long to bring some high spots into it though, sending Mamaluke out of the ring and following with a series of dives before putting Mamaluke back into the ring for a two count.
Mamaluke fights back and the crowd is pretty quiet to be honest, which seems a bit unfair as the wrestling has been decent, but Mamaluke hasn’t been in ROH for a while and Cross doesn’t really seem to be that over with the crowd, so it kind of makes sense. Mamaluke throws some nice suplexes at points, with Cross bumping well for them. Cross’ general selling isn’t that great though I must say, with it feeling like he’s going through the motions a bit and doing it more because this part of the match requires it rather than him actually being in pain.
Cross gets some hot moves in the finishing stretch, including a very nice neck breaker off the ropes at one stage. Mamaluke gets some nice submission moves in reply, and does one of his customary big bumps by getting suplexed into the corner at one stage and folding himself up in the process. Mamaluke is one of the all-time best bump takers from this era. Cross gets some more near falls, whilst Punk complains that Cross isn’t hooking the leg enough and that’s why Mamaluke is kicking out. Mamaluke actually cheats in order to save himself, shoving the ref into the ropes to crotch Cross and then getting a superplex into a front face lock for the submission win.
WINNER: TONY MAMALUKE
I’m not sure we needed another Heel finish like that straight after having one in the previous match. The match itself was fine, but Cross doesn’t really do it for me
Cross hugs Mamaluke following the match for some reason, even though Mamaluke totally cheated him out of a win.
Rob Feinstein is hanging out backstage and Iceberg thanks him for an opportunity tonight. It’s revealed that Iceberg has put thumbtacks in his head to spell ROH. Diablo and Oman Tortuga come over to complain that he’s booked and they aren’t. They want a match later, so Feinstein books them against Iceberg to shut them up.
Oman Tortuga w/ Diablo Vs Iceberg
Tortuga and Diablo work the ring crew and are the alternate universe Dunn & Marcos, in that they’re goofs but nobody likes them. Iceberg is a big bloke from NWA: Wildside who I think got a bit of a run in NWA:TNA at one stage when he was brought in as a heavy for Don Callis. Tortuga bumps around pretty well for Iceberg, who does basic power stuff and looks okay, but I’d be surprised if he could work a proper match due to his size. You have to think it would be rest-hold city after a certain point.
Punk mentions on commentary that he’ll never fight Iceberg and I don’t think he ever did. Lovey actually pushes on commentary that Iceberg isn’t booked but Feinstein is too scared to tell him otherwise, so Iceberg has got a match by proxy. Iceberg eventually gets a running back senton splash for the win and the crowd chants “don’t come back” which is pretty mean because it wasn’t like he was THAT bad or anything. His stuff actually looked okay, it’s just pretty difficult to do stuff with a guy that size because it’s not like he can have a normal match and you kind of need that ability in a work rate focused company like this.
Diablo gets battered post-match as well, with Iceberg giving him a gnarly German Suplex before grabbing a pointed stick. Yes, you heard me right
Oh man, I never thought a company like ROH would tee me up for that one but I’m utterly delighted that they did. Anyway, Dunn & Marcos come down to try and rescue their ring crew colleagues and manage to stun Iceberg so that they can get them to safety.
We get clips from earlier in the show, where Alexis Laree and Persephone went at it. It looked a lot like the previous match they had on a show in April, with Persephone doing standard Heel woman shtick and Laree working a more modern style. Persephone ends up getting her win back with a double arm DDT.
Matt Stryker Vs Tom Carter
Stryker was a fixture during this period of ROH but I don’t think he did much afterwards, whilst Carter was a big name on the indie scene for years under the name Reckless Youth. The crowd is split here, whilst both men trade some nice technical holds and counters in the early going. Carter once broke Punk’s skull, so Punk isn’t especially fond of him. Punk was apparently back way too quickly from that injury as well.
Both men wrestle to a stalemate for the most part, and if you like technical wrestling then this should satiate your thirst as both men are technically proficient and can trade holds very well. Stryker actually takes us back to the 70’s at one stage by getting a two count off a snapmare of all things, and the crowd actually accepts that. The crowd have been very Japanese-like with this one actually, as they’ve been watching intently and have been very polite, applauding the holds and counters like a Japanese crowd would.
I think the match might go on for a little bit too long considering that it’s a mid-card match with no build or storyline going on, but the wrestling itself is good and (as mentioned) the crowd are very patient with them. Carter gets our first big spot of the match by giving Stryker a DDT onto the apron before heading up, only for Stryker to run up and suplex him back into the ring. They’ve built this nicely.
Punk steps out before the finish as he has a match next, so Ray Murrow steps in as we head into the finishing stretch, with Stryker firing up. Carter comes off the top with a lovely Frogsplash at one stage, but Stryker kicks out a two. You know, if Carter is going to go on to win then that should have been the finish. Both men trade pinning hold attempts and that leads to a double down, which the crowd appreciates.
The bigger moves continue to come, with Stryker getting a Spicolli Driver and Carter countering another one off the second rope into a reverse DDT, which gets one of the bigger pops of the match from the crowd. Carter gets a cool looking inverted Texas Cloverleaf but Stryker makes the ropes after an impressive sell job. I do like a good submission tease, they can be as effective as a good near fall sometimes. Carter tries it again but Stryker counters to a pinning hold this time and that’s enough for three.
WINNER: MATT STRYKER
They maybe went a tad too long in my opinion, but they built that match well and the crowd was appreciative even during the slower parts, so they deserve props for how they paced it. With an actual feud or storyline behind it then it would have maybe justified the longer run time, but as it was I think they could have shaved five minutes or so off it and had a tighter better match overall, but maybe that’s just me?
Carter doesn’t want to do the handshake post-match, which leads to Gary Michael Cappetta coming down to try and find out why. Carter says he thinks that was a cheap pin from Stryker and talks down to him, acting like a big shot because he’s a King of the Indies. This is a pretty good Heel promo actually; I didn’t know Carter had that in his locker. If he was around today he’d be in MLW or AEW for sure. Carter says the Code of Honour is stupid and challenges Stryker to a submissions match. Stryker says a win is a win, and that he’ll happily accept the challenge provided that Carter shakes his hand right now. Allison Danger interrupts though and tries to recruit Carter to The Prophecy, but Carter shakes the hand of Stryker instead, so that isn’t happening anytime soon. There’s been quite a few angles on this show actually and I’ve liked most of them, mainly because they’ve logically set a bunch of things up for future shows and I can appreciate that.
Special K (Dixie and Izzy) w/ Slugga Vs The Carnage Crew (Loc and DeVito) Vs Second City Saints (CM Punk and Colt Cabana) w/ Lucy Vs The Briscoe Brothers (Mark and Jay)
Scramble matches are basically organised chaos, with someone coming straight in without a tag when a wrestler leaves the ring so that the action can continue. They are anarchic mad house bouts full of big moves and high spots. Punk hates coming out to Cabana’s Barry Manilow entrance music, which just makes it all the funnier. Before the match starts properly we see that ROH World Champ Samoa Joe has a scoop for Cappetta, which is him beating the crap out of Maff as revenge for what The Prophecy did to him on a previous show.
This keeps the nice variety in match types going, as we’ve gone from Japanese strong style to a big man squash to a technical masterclass to a wacky Scramble. Punk of course hates both Special K and The Carnage crew because they indulge in drugs and booze respectively, although Special K are rich kids who take drugs for fun whilst The Carnage Crew are working class blokes who drink to forget how awful their lives are. Hey, there’s no shame in drinking to forget, just forgetting to drink.
This is another match where your own personal tastes will dictate how much you like it, as I can see some hating a parade of spots like this, but I enjoy it as a slice of something different. I wouldn’t want an entire show full of these matches, but as a special event on a card it’s a fun diversion, as you can just turn your mind off for a bit and just enjoy watching the Crash Test Dummies get flung around. Eventually the Saints pick up the win when Punk Pedigrees Dixie off the top rope.
WINNERS: SECOND CITY SAINTS
Typical Scramble nonsense, but I quite enjoy those matches so I dug this
Everyone but Special K shakes hands following that, with The Carnage Crew doing so grudgingly because they don’t like The Saints. Punk then cuts a promo on Special K on shakes their limp hands before insulting all the pot smokers in the crowd, saying he is the voice of the voiceless. So yeah, he was doing that shtick long before WWE in case you were wondering. Punk targets Raven, and insults the ECW Hat Guy who happens to be in the crowd tonight. It’s Punk Vs Raven on the 28th of June. Cabana embarrasses Raven once again by grabbing the mic and then they leave to his music, annoying Punk once again.
And that’s intermission so I think we’ll end Part One there. I’ll hopefully see you all next Wednesday where we’ll conclude this show.
ROH Wednesdays will continue!