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  1. Ring of Honor 2003 was something that was interesting to me for a couple reasons. The first was that it featured so many highly regarded matches with great show titles - 1st Year Anniversary (3 way), London vs Daniels from Round Robin II, The Epic Encounter, Night of the Grudges, Main Event Spectacles, and Bitter Friends Stiffer Enemies and War of the Wire. ROH 2003 was also intriguing because these shows or matches are pretty hard to find. Comparatively 2004 stuff is still easy to track down because of such landmark shows or matches that have sold well over the years. Enough fans bought these back in the day either in 2004 or after that they're available on eBay or Amazon. Or they were significant enough to put on a compilation or two. Think of Joe vs Punk's trilogy, Generation Next, Weekend of Thunder, Final Battle 2004...I even see the Reborn series and some of the highlights now and again. Going back 2003 on paper had as many or more MOTYCs than 2004 but these DVDs don't see the light of day as often as 2004. It was an odd situation. One would think 2003 stuff would be more available and ROH would have gone back an re-printed those shows. I mean I got Joe vs Punk II in 2008 but I don't recall much of any 2003 stuff being available then...save the early compilations which are hit or miss in terms of quality. Sidenote - The best title is 'Let the Gates of Hell Open' which is the Rottweilers comp. Sorry for being long-winded. My point is that part of my interest in 2003 was also based upon its scarcity. 2004 was pretty available and 2002 due to the Takedown Masters and other re-print/re-packging was available (although I dragged my feet on that). Yeah 2003 had all of these classic bouts but never seemed within reach. So back in 2016 I scooped up ROH's Year Two DVD set as fast as I could (along with some other stuff) because I knew ROH's comps always went out-of-print. Knowing the lack of availability of these matches/shows for a fair price, this seemed like the only chance I would have. Its stupid but fear of missing out was at the heart of this. History has shown that to be a good move on my part. Since then ROH has dramatically cut back on their DVD production especially their compilations, which I think is their biggest asset (re-issuing their back catalog). I was finally able to see the all time classics mentioned above and man I was so glad. These were awesome contests and the biggest discovery was just how amazing Paul London was then. Seriously if he had stuck around, ROH would have been a different place for the better. But as you can tell from the title of this post, its not about him. Its not about those matches but the ones that were omitted. There was no Corino vs Homicide. I really wanted to see those but apparently they were omitted to be put in the Notorious 187's comp from the same time. I passed on that due to the problem of too many duplicated matches from other DVDs. So years went by and I just figured I'd miss 'em. That's part of being a fan is knowing you won't see everything you want to. However, at the start of the pandemic a lot of places put stock on sale. ROH was one of them and the Homicide one wasn't available but there was a Steve Corino one!? But there was Bitter Friends Stiffer Enemies and War of the Wire listed. The backstory of the feud has to do with Corino kicking Homicide during a tag match in 2002. Homicide then gets revenge at All Star Extravaganza when he stabs him with a fork ala Abdullah the Butcher. Final Battle 2002 sees Corino hurt 'Cide and take his place in the 4 Way match. That's a classic match you should see. So now we're onto 2003 with the 1st Anniversary show where Corino introduces his ill-fated Group of Samoa Joe, Michael Shane and CW Anderson. This causes a big problem for ROH as this goes against the official booking. Of course this is a work. It doesn't matter because the fans are pissed. The match happens and its OK but the excitement comes from the fans shouting at Joe and company at ringside. It really is at or beyond ECW levels of unrest. Eventually the fans spill over the guard rail and attack Steve and his group. This is crazy! There is some certainty that most of these folks were plants but its been pointed out that a few real people rushed the ring as well. Supposedly Homicide breaks character and protects his foes. I for sure saw Joe beat the hell out of one guy. This was a tremendously risky booking decision but it paid off. I would consider this more of an angle than a match. vs Homicide (Bitter Friends Stiffer Enemies 2003): Here's the first real meeting in my view and its a battle. Its a relaxed rules match and the only real rules enforced are the rope breaks and the ring-out count. Beyond that it appears anything goes! The blood was flowing and hits were connecting. Early on Corino eggs 'Cide to give him his best shot and gets a hard slap in return. This pops Corino's ear drum and as you may know he's left permanently deaf in that ear. What's odd to me is that this blow takes place so soon. I had always thought it took place late in the match. Credit to Corino for continuing after this injury. This was a great match (****) but it left room for the feud to continue. ----- vs Homicide (War of the Wire 2003): It makes perfect sense that they escalated to a barb wire match. Although I'm sure CZW did barb wire matches, I look to this bout as the sequel to Funk vs Sabu in ECW. ROH was the true heir to ECW's throne. To me this match felt like bringing the wire out of retirement after Paul E. vowed never to do another Barb Wire match. As if to say that the hate was so intense that only an ancient and forbidden battle would settle the score. They did it justice as both wrestlers put their bodies on the line. Their seconds got involved as well and made things more chaotic. I think it was a classic ROH match. Do not expect a work rate match with barb wire though. He had it in him in 2002 ASE and Final Battle but he'd gained some weight. More than that, I appreciate that as it puts over the damaging effects of the wire (If you are looking for something like that BJW has you covered.) That being said I wouldn't say it was the best wire match EVER but it was worth the wait. ----- In all honesty, I can't see why this was omitted from the Year Two DVD in terms of quality of content. These matches deserved to be on Disc #2 of that set as both are iconic matches. Secondly, disc #2 is the weaker of the set. I think we all would have picked these bouts over the Scramble Cage Match from Main Event Spectacles or AJ vs Kaz Hiyashi from Final Battle for instance. Perhaps swap one out at least. That being said, I'm glad they were available on this Steve Corino DVD. Like Paul London, I think ROH would have been a different place had Corino stuck around long term. His story in ROH is an odd one. He comes and goes every few years but always feels like an outsider threatening the principles and values of the company. In the included interview, he compares himself to Riki Choshu in this regard. I'm glad I got to see his first invasion and am looking forward to his return and the SCUM storyline in the future. Thanks for reading!
  2. Grimmas


    Discuss here.
  3. Bryan Danielson defends the ROH World Title Right now, this is in my all time Top 50. One of the most overlooked matches in US indie wrestling history. Heel masterclass by Bryan and a focused Homicide performance, which makes his character moment at the end more rewarding. Excellent dueling arm work and consistent selling from both. Great continuity with the past when it comes to previous Bryan title defenses and the finish has 1/20/97 vibes to it. ****5/8
  4. Not an all-time classic, but this is easily the best and final match in their best of 5 series. It's kind of lame seeing folks trying to escape continuously in cage matches, specially in blood feud cage matches, but that's not the case here as they recognize they are locked in the cage because they want to fight. Great bit with them showing their hate for each other to the degree they were biting each others foreheads, fingers, etc. while battling on top of the cage. There's also a handful of big bumps in this with Danielson hitting a massive diving headbutt off the top of the cage and a big avalanche backdrop off the top rope. Also Homicide bringing back the brass knuckles he used to win the taped fist match was neat callback. The highlight of this was the finishing airplane spin that goes on for over a minute. I know an airplane spin is not what you would picture as the finish to a blood feud, I thought it was great. Julius Smokes played a big role in this, so it sucks he wasn't ringside for it. I think him trying to interfere and it backfiring would have elevated this.
  5. Not an all-time classic as you would expect we would be getting from these two in a different best of 5 series, but I thought this was still very good and by far the best match they've had in their best of 5 series so far. Most of this develops with some ringside brawling, but it's different than what you would expect as you get a rolling small package running into fans, an airplane spin the crowd, backslide pins, etc. They 've brawled in their other two matches in the series and those where the high points of those matches, but this is by far their best ringside brawl so far. This is the type of brawling I could see Dusty Rhodes losing his mind for and laughing for 15 minutes on commentary on a mid to late 90s WCW Uncensored. When they get back in the ring they keep it nice and tidy and leave a ton on the table for the remaining two matches in the series. Worth noting how underrated Julius Smokes is. He was fundamental in the Rottweilers success. He's a tremendous hype man/manager just constantly getting the crowd riled and just screaming in the opponents faces.
  6. Crazy match. Not a classic by any chance or anything, but two guys who just hate each other brawling it out. Homicide is coming in off a loss to Samoa Joe in a world title match and his frustration due to lack of title wins is starting to kick in. Worth noting Julius Smokes is an incredible hype man. His ringside work never gets the proper recognition it deserves. The match itself is just built around both guys just hitting each other with stiff strikes for 12 or so minutes while it slowly escalates to a brutal finish with Homicide using a noose to choke out Joe.
  7. https://vimeo.com/19142823 British Uprising was designed to be the FWA’s signature show each year. Coming off the success of Uprising I and a good year for the company, the pressure was on for Uprising II to live up to expectation. It was a show which the company poured a lot into, but while no means a bad show – I think there’s a lot to like, especially viewed many years after the fact – for whatever reason it just didn’t land as was hoped for. As with the previous year, the FWA ran the York Hall – a great venue for wrestling – and there is a good crowd on hand. The production; from the entrance way, the video screens, onscreen graphics, ramp and use of pyro shows the time and effort put into trying to make the show feel big time, and it’s one of the reasons I always enjoyed the FWA; they were a company – for better or worse – taking those risks to try and build the UK scene. It’s clearly not WWE level production, but when compared to what indie companies on the US scene were doing at the time for example, it deserved credit. A word as well for the great Uprising opening video, introduced following a clearly ECW inspired in ring introduction from the often much maligned (they were pretty bad) but infectiously enthusiastic FWA commentary team of Tony Giles and Nick London. Finally, before getting onto the opener, this show is rather infamous for being heavily delayed because of a bomb scare, causing the building to have to be swept by the police for explosive devices. Thankfully a hoax call, but it was perhaps a sign that despite no lack of effort and goodwill, fate really was conspiring against the FWA and Uprising II that day. The opener is the culmination of a storyline that had been running for most of the year, whereby home grown up and comer Jack Xavier was being matched against a series of imports being brought over for FWA shows to prove himself. After matches against Juventud Guerrera, Chris Hamrick, Mikey Whipwreck and EZ Money comes arguably his biggest task – taking on Homicide. This match is at its best when Homicide is on top, and at times he really lays a beating on Xavier with plenty of chops and kicks and some nasty looking face washes and drop kicks in the corner, one of which looks to legitimately injure Jack’s nose. I enjoyed Homicide immediately putting on an STF at that stage and wrenching back on the now bloody nose – work that cut! Jack was able to generate sympathy from the crowd through his selling and Homicide was always a wrestler that worked well on top as a Japanese strong style/New Jack lite hybrid. Jack is able to get in some brief flurries using his pretty unique move set but nothing to where he’s able to inflict any sustained damage. Showing how much punishment he’s dished out, Homicide almost wins by count out following his trade mark tope con hilo to the outside. It’s something of an upset, both in terms of the profile of each guy and the context of the match, when Xavier ends up winning what is a fun contest. On the one hand it was good – it’s to the detriment of your own guys when the better known imports would always get put over – and it fits with the storyline of Xavier having now proved himself, but due to the nature of people’s perceptions you sense some resentment from the crowd at him going over. It’s tough, sometimes you can get over more in a hard fought loss rather than fans feel you are being over pushed. As I say though, that is only a slight sense that you get, and this is a good match that helped cement Xavier as a key player going into 2004. (***)
  8. It's Ringkampf vs. The Rottweilers. Homicide & Low Ki vs. Thatcher & WALTER. 2017 is wild. This was such a great match - loved how it was structured. At first we get Ringkampf pretty much dominating The Rottweilers in the ring, but once Homicide & Ki take things to outside the ring, a full blown tag brawl comes about & The Rottweilers get back into things. Lovely stuff. Loved seeing Homicide hit some of his classic signature moves, made me pop big time, Low Ki was as explosive as ever - he's so great & of course Team Ringkampf, Thatcher & WALTER, once again proved why they are 2 of the best wrestlers in the world & one of the best tag teams on the planet. Great match. ****
  9. Chris Hero and Homicide go 40 minutes in a seedy german nightclub. This was actually quite good when they stuck to matwork and basic stuff. They understood how to make their holds meaningful, and Homicide punishing Hero with stomps, kneedrops, headbutts etc. was pretty damn good. However, some of the reversal sequences they tried came across as sloppy and Hero may have oversold as he was acting dead for much of the 2nd and 3rd fall which reflected poorly on Homicide.
  10. 1993 RAW lives on. This was a fun TV match that would fit right in on a show at the Manhattan Center. Falla Bah makes a good fake Yokozuna and should probably be signed by WWE. Pretty agile for a guy his size. Starts at 6:03 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HG8Ct2rJKHM