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Found 183 results

  1. Going back in time, having Low Ki on the card was one of the strong selling points. In 2002 he’d been ‘the guy’ in ROH, being the first champion and having a great series of matches against all comers. He was also a guy with a real badass aura to him, which to a large extent, he still has when he appears on a show today. Interestingly though, this was at a time when his standing with ROH really had been slipping, and after this he only appeared for them very sporadically for the rest of the year. At this stage though, he arguably gets the biggest reaction of the night. He’s up against Flash Barker here, who the previous year had been the British Heavyweight Champion and the centre piece of the Old School stable. Following the ending of that storyline, Barker would turn face as the respected veteran of the locker room, with a strong-style MMA inspired persona, which is why I would imagine he’s been matched up with Low Ki here. This match is wrestled at much different pace to ones earlier on the card, and it feels more like a match that could’ve been on one of the early ROH shows. There’s lots to enjoy in the early mat exchanges with the two trading strikes and holds, but cautiously rather than unloading everything they have. Low Ki decides early to fight off his back during the initial feeling out process. They exchange some brutal looking kicks until Low Ki hits a Dragon Screw to take over. From there Low Ki starts to dominate, and there are fewer better wrestlers who it just feels right when they are in control. Some might think he can take ‘too much’ of a match, but in an age where too many matches are heavily back and forth, it’s enjoyable to watch him just brutalise opponents. Barker is great at taking the punishment, with his thick frame, and he’s able to stay alive by getting plenty behind any of the moves or strikes he’s able to hit to slow down Ki’s momentum. While Barker is surviving (just), his problem in the match is that he can’t ever seem to get any sort of sustained attack going, as soon as he gets in a move, Ki is able to hit right back; he hits a short clothesline, Ki comes back with a springboard front kick, Barker ranas him, Ki hits a Kappou Kick, Barker hits a spinebuster, Ki catches him with a Hanging Octopus Scissors and the Tidal Wave. That’s the pattern. Flash shows great tenacity to hang in there with Ki busting out all his high impact attacks, so Low Ki then tries to wear the bigger man down instead with submissions like the Hanging Dragon and a cross armlock, but the change of strategy isn’t successful and the 20 minute time limit expires. Predictably for a 2000s crowd, the crowd wants five more minutes, as do both guys, but FWA Head Ref Steve Lynskey plays stickler for the rules and doesn’t allow it, even when Samoa Joe and AJ Styles come down to back up Ki. Even with the draw I really enjoyed this, particularly the cat and mouse exchanges at the beginning, and then the pretty vicious beating that Barker is able to survive. I’d recommend to check this one out. (*** ¾)
  2. This is a rematch from British Uprising I eight months previously. They were due to clash as part of the round robin tournament at Seasons Beatings at the end of 2002, but Storm being pulled mid way through the tournament with an injury means this is the first time they have clashed since then. Storm won the first match - although that was after a ref bump when it looked like AJ had a visual pin - so Styles is coming in determined to even the score on a personal level, while ROH are also now 2-0 down in the inter-promotional matches. I said before the opener of the show that ROH were not being treated as the heels despite them being the ‘away team’, which goes even further in this match with Jonny cutting a pre match promo (and not a particularly good one, although it’s hard to tell with the terrible acoustics) on the crowd. This was mainly due to Jonny having turned heel at Crunch 2003 in March for a big feud against Jody Fleisch, but also I think because they predicted that the fans were going to be on AJ Styles side anyway. Like their first match this is very spot heavy, with a distinct whiff of early 2000s indie wrestling about it, but it’s definitely not as good as their first meeting. In the Uprising contest, the transitions were smoother and there was more of a feeling out process, whereas here they just launch straight into things. The first match also worked better as in that one AJ worked as a subtle heel, and he is far better and more varied on offence than Storm is. That match felt more structured with AJ being able to dictate the pace more and Jonny able to build sympathy from the crowd through his selling. The FWA clearly wanted to get behind Jonny as a top heel – which we’ll see from the post match actions after the main event of this show – and while he had the obnoxious personality bits down to a tee, he was still at times wrestling very much like a babyface with his high flying. There’s still a number of fun moments: AJ’s vault over the barrier into a superkick, AJ’s signature Quebrada DDT, and a nice springboard wheelbarrow into a DDT from Storm and I enjoyed a number of the counters of some of the big moves playing into the first match between the two. The set up the FWA had at the York Hall with the stage and big entrance ramp means there is always the temptation to use it and we get Storm trying to swing off the lighting supports into a rana only for AJ to block and go for a Styles Clash. I’m not sure this section was necessary, but does make it feel different than their first match. The finishing sequence sees Storm getting a top-rope rana (after a few attempts at hitting it) but AJ wining it following a rolling Shotei and a springboard 450-splash to even their personal score at 1-1 and bring ROH back into things at 2-1. Unfortunately the pinfall is botched by ref Steve Lynskey which brings some confusion as to whether the match is over, which in a way is symptomatic of the match where they were seemingly a step off their game. Post match, Storm shakes AJ’s hand before attacking him from behind until Fleisch makes the save. (** ½)
  3. Mikey Whipwreck has always been a real favourite of mine, although I wouldn’t say a guilty pleasure as that doesn’t give him enough credit. His tag team with Tajiri is a legitimately brilliant team. However, it’s somewhat odd to see him here representing ROH, given from what I recall he wasn’t particularly prominent for that company at all, only I think wrestling in a couple of multi man scramble matches with Special K. Feel free to let me know if I’m wrong though! I think him being featured here was also because of the allure that UK companies had at the time for booking former ECW guys. While Whipwreck may not be the most obvious choice to represent ROH, it’s really good to see Xavier in here in a decent spot and being one of the FWA representatives. Like Tighe, Xavier was a young guy who fans were starting to get behind, and who would go on in 2003 and 2004 to be a prominent face for the company with his feuds against Alex Shane and Hade Vansen. The decision to match them up is logical, given the many similarities; both visually, in their statures and ring attire but also in their in-ring style. However because they are so similar, there are times when they simply seem to be exchanging moves with little transitioning – sometimes a styles clash, if it’s not too awkward, can work better than two people that work the same way. The match starts fairly cautiously with Whipwreck stalling, but gets more entertaining when they hit the floor and start trying to dive at each other over the crowd barriers. The selling is a bit all over the place but there is a frenetic chaos to the match and they bring lots of intensity. The match is wrestled in a 2000 ECW way, with chairs and the ringside table and guardrails being used, but as accessories to spots rather than just mindless plunder brawling. It’s a match that feels like it wouldn’t have looked out of place on an ECW TNN show from the last few months of the company. I liked the storyline of Xavier being a younger version of Whipwreck, teaching an old dog some new tricks, and being able to keep one step ahead of him by adapting some of his signature moves. It’s a match that puts Xavier over with him being able to kick out of the Whippersnapper. In one sense the roll up finish feels a bit anti-climatic given some of the punishment they are both taking, but it works in the sense of the youngster being just too quick for the veteran. The FWA goes 2-0 up. (**)
  4. The following is an ROH revisiting project that I started in the spring of 2012. For those of you who haven't seen any of these reviews on the Observer, ROH World, Freakin' Awesome Network, Craphole, Voices of Wrestling, and Wrestling Forum communities, behold and enjoy! There will be no pattern to how I review matches. Some could be rants, some could be quick blurbs, some could be ten page essays. They will be reviews only of matches, promos, and videos that interest me though (largely just the good shit.) Reviews may include spoilers for those who haven't watched retro ROH. The Era of Honor Begins - February 23, 2002 IWA Intercontinental Title Tournament Final Eddie Guerrero vs. Super Crazy A fine match that was obviously not meant to be a show-stealer (leaving that for the main event), but certainly worthy of watching. While it's a short match, Eddie gives a fine appetizer of his Black Tiger persona that later morphed into Latino Heat, not taking Crazy as seriously as he could. Eddie completely outclasses Crazy (who may be starstruck even though this is their second singles match with one another) and the hardcore fans cheer every vicious and dirty tactic of his. He does nothing to actually make the crowd go against him, spending 99% of the match not playing to the crowd. In the end, Eddie's unwillingness to respect Crazy's in-ring ability costs him the title and the match. Rating: ***1/4 Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Christopher Daniels Largely a spotfest, but a fantastically, intelligently executed one. While not on par with the Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit matches, this is one of the greatest threeway matches of all-time, and for good reason. There is NEVER a dull moment in this match, with combinations of maneuvers not yet seen at that point by a large portion (if any) of the audience. Everything done in the match serves a purpose while also being dramatic and entertaining, whether it's a submission, strike, takedown, or highspot. The ending is brilliant and does a great job of setting up the first major storyline and next show. These three were given the opportunity by Eddie and Crazy to go out and have the best match of the night, and they delivered in spades. A match that still holds up ten years later. Rating: ****1/2 Up next - Round Robin Challenge Matches will include: Bryan Danielson vs. Christopher Daniels Low Ki vs. Christopher Daniels Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson
  5. Cole is over with the crowd, getting quite a few chants - despite being the heel. The catchphrase is of course over as well, and in a fun bit early, YOSHI-HASHI apes it as his own to really miff Cole. Pretty standard Cole title defense, lot of trading, but Cole does come off like the bigger star. They trade finish kickouts and then move into a sequence with YOSHI-HASHI working the shoulder with a submission and a sleeper, where Cole barely survives. Cole continues to sell on offense, he was fine there. More escalation, layout here is booked well; Cole hits his real crappy looking destroyer and a shining wizard (again) for another two count. That's it though, he pulverizes YOSHI-HASHI and hits another Last Shot to retain. Even with some extra kickouts in the back half, this was easily better than Lethal's ROH title defenses and the crowd was really into it. ***
  6. This was an interesting spot for Martinez - he probably had the most to prove after the cards came out. And honestly, he did really well here - exceeded my expectations. Goto worked most of this match fighting from underneath and honestly didn't get a lot of offense in outside a neckbreaker and the big forearm exchange. The match kept building on Punisher's escalated offense; Goto slips to the outside to avoid a top rope move and Martinez dives over the ropes (6'6" dude) near the turnbuckle in a big spot. They reverse around each other as Punisher tries for his choke slam and finally Goto hits his finish off a slick counter and that is it. Really a plucky one-move-does-it win for Goto and credit his selling (as much as one sells in a NEVER title match) for creating a good atmosphere here. ***1/4
  7. Total hoss tag team battle here. Great strikes and both teams were fantastic. War Machine handling the G.O.D. just as they did the Bucks - impressive strength. Pop-up powerslam was beautiful. There's a part mid-match where Rowe just casually passes Tama Tonga to Hansen like he's a medicine ball. Rowe powers out of the stun gun and dead lifts Tama into position for Fallout to get the win. Crowd chants for War Machine and afterwards on the mic they proclaim they're after the IWGP World Tag Team titles. Crowd pops for this. Huge two nights for these guys. I really dug this. ***3/4
  8. I thought this ruled, in the same vein as that Cena/Gabriel match where you've got the top guy showcasing why he's deserving of his spot while also making his opponent seem like a threat. I watched this after watching two Danielson/Joe matches from 2003 and not only did I like this way more Joe looked on another level here than he did on those. I liked him periodically looking down at his fist after a strike like he knew he had the ultimate equalizer and that slap was insane.
  9. A Decade Later: ROH vs. CZW
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  11. On the Voices of Wrestling podcast they pointed out that ROH is being bullied by NJPW to do these angles. They are in a position of vulnerability because without these NJPW guys, why would anyone go to these ROH shows? That's why they're failing because they have the cushion of the NJPW guys to say when they need a big house, they lean on other talent from mainly NJPW. Who in ROH has the potential to break out and become a star besides Lio Rush who just got there? Let's be honest, Adam Cole is at the peak of his star unless he goes to the E, Roddy the same thing, ACH isn't what we think he is to them and the other guys are just cogs in the wheel. Why aren't ROH bringing in the hot indie names that if this was 2007 and Gabe was booking it they would? They recruit from these camps and as much as the camps are helping some guys like a Hanson or Matt Taven get exposure, why would any big indie name like a Zack Sabre Jr, a Will Ospreay, a Chris Hero, a Ethan Page, a Marty Scurll, a Ricochet, a Sami Callihan go to a ROH camp when they are already established names and ROH should be booking you based off of what they do elsewhere. ROH isn't the pathway to WWE anymore and that's why more trendy names like a Matt Riddle go to an Evolve instead of ROH. ROH just got too big for their own good