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[2003-05-17-FWA/ROH-Frontiers of Honor] James Tighe vs Paul London

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The growing momentum of the FWA in the latter half of 2002 came at the same time as the emergence of ROH as a company generating a significant buzz. With the featuring of Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles in prominent positions in the FWA, Christopher Daniels winning the British Heavyweight Title and in return Doug Williams being featured heavily in the States, a relationship between the two promotions was established. A joint card between the two was the logical progression. This brings us to Frontiers of Honor; a one night tournament between the two companies, featuring six inter-promotional matches. The concept was enough for another very strong attendance and the companies’ second show at the York Hall.

 

A key note before getting into the opener is that unlike some inter-promotional shows, this is treated more like a sporting rivalry rather than an invasion or a heated grudge. As such, ROH wrestlers are not presented overtly as heels in their matches, outside of Christopher Daniels – who actually says he’s competing for himself rather than ROH. Given that so many in attendance were clearly excited to see US guys who were getting a lot of hype, it’s safe to say that was the best approach to go for rather than force a heel invading company dynamic onto the occasion that would have been somewhat tone deaf. What’s encouraging though, is that despite this, the home town FWA guys mostly get support as well rather than being turned on, which can sometimes happen when seen to be facing guys perceived as ‘cooler’ or better (something which can happen when ROH guys face New Japan wrestlers today for example).

 

The opener between James Tighe and Paul London is very much a babyface vs babyface match, with clean action, and both guys getting support from the crowd. Listening to the ThROH The Years podcast on the PWO feed you can sometimes forget what a great babyface that London was at this point, able to elicit genuine affection and support from the crowd. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the match not having a defined heel, you don’t get to see that great selling from London. Tighe was a really promising technical wrestler at this stage, who was starting to grain traction with the crowd and he works the match in the style of a Dean Malenko in a WCW cruiserweight match in 96/97, looking to wear down a high flier with submissions and holds, but not in a necessarily vicious way, which would perhaps have allowed London to really rally people behind him. Early on there’s some nifty arm work from Tighe but nothing necessarily coherent that runs throughout the match, He does act as good base though and there’s lot of fun back and forth action. In particular is London’s impressive running shooting star press off the apron.

 

Looking at their international reputations, it’s perhaps a shock that Tighe picks up the clean win with his Tighe–tanic finisher (a cross legged brainbuster), but he was starting to get a significant push in the FWA, with 2003-04 being arguably the peak of his career. It’s to Tighe’s credit at this stage that he looked so comfortable in there with a guy that would be signed to the WWE by the end of the year. This is an enjoyable opener that doesn’t overstay its welcome at a little over 10 mins, but I feel like if Tighe had been more vicious, and enabled London to generate that sympathy from the crowd it could’ve been something really good. The match puts the FWA 1-0 up. (** ¾)

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This was a very nice opener with some exciting sequences & offense in general by both men. In particular London as usual delivered THE GOODS & probably was the main reason why I enjoyed the match as much as I did, but Tighe also does hang in there w/ him and has a few nice moments. ***

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