Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

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Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:28 pm

Pulled from my F4W account (please allow me to post my archive without interruption - the archive ends at Wrestlerave.)

There will be no pattern to how I review matches. Some could be rants, some could be quick blurbs, some could be 10-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

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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
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:29 pm

Round Robin Challenge - March 30, 2002

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Round Robin Challenge Match #1
Bryan Danielson vs. Christopher Daniels


A stellar as hell opener, with some absolutely terrific psychology by having the wrestlers work on each other's necks. While it was blatantly obvious this these two were not out to have Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, Jushin Liger vs. Brian Pillman, or Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero, the two definitely set the bar for opening matches. The story of Daniels out to prove a point while having a chip on his shoulder, building up to the sudden submission finish, couldn't have been booked any better.

Rating: ***3/4

Round Robin Challenge Match #2
Low Ki vs. Christopher Daniels


This match was ALL story - thankfully, the story was largely centered around actual wrestling. Reflecting back, the work these two put together in-ring and as characters has gone on largely to be underappreciated. A fine top-of-the-hour-on-Raw style paced match. The post-match Daniels promo is a tad disappointing, as Low Ki failed to call him out on his shallow excuse - remember, DANIELS made the remark that he could beat both Ki and Danielson on the same night. The commentary also does an oversell of the mention of a championship, not allowing the viewer to listen to the crowd reaction. It sounded like the crowd wasn't all that excited over it.

Rating: ***1/4

Round Robin Challenge Match #3
Guest Ref - Ken Shamrock
Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson


Now THIS is a work of art - Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards should study and analyze this match to the point of absolute mental exhaustion. This is how you mix mat wrestling with strikes and dramatically close near-falls, with nice spots blended in here and there. At least 75% of this match is purely on the mat, and everything is done smoothly and crisply. The transitions are just gorgeous. Finishers are executed and the crowd actually buys into them. The psychology of Danielson's prior match with Daniels is played up to flawlessly. Danielson vs. Daniels set the bar for openers in this company; this match set the bar for ALL ROH matches. I thought of taking a 1/4* away, but the post-match selling of complete exhaustion and fatigue from both men boost it to perfection. Shamrock is two for two in refereeing a five star match.

Rating: *****

Up next - A Night of Appreciation
Matches will include:
Low Ki vs. AJ Styles
Christopher Daniels vs. Donovan Morgan
Brian Kendrick vs. Bryan Danielson
Eddie Guerrero & Amazing Red vs. The SAT
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:30 pm

A Night of Appreciation - April 27, 2002

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The ROH Debut of AJ Styles
Low Ki vs. AJ Styles


A pretty damn impressive debut for Styles, and I'm sure at the time this was a great DVD seller. While it's good and fun, it doesn't hold up in 2012, and is in no way a MOTYC. Neither of these two had found their grooves yet as ring generals, and the lack of someone such as Eddie Guerrero, Bryan Danielson, or Christopher Daniels showed. What they do put together is a very visually dazzling 15 minute exchange of spots and strikes, occasionally mixing in some actual technical wrestling, but without the subtle drama of the main events of the past two shows, or the psychology of Eddie vs. Super Crazy and Daniels vs. Danielson. Despite its flaws, this is a match that I would want as a PPV opener, as it gets the crowd going and sets an edge-of-your-seat tone for the show.

Rating: ***1/2

Christopher Daniels vs. Donovan Morgan

This was a crisp, clean technical match, but lacked the drama due to Morgan's lack of charisma (talking about Donovan, not Jim Cornette's Mr. Untapped Potential). Everything made sense and looked great, and I can only imagine if Gabe Sapolsky had stuck with his original main event for this show. I have no idea why he thought the forgettable Morgan deserved the rub of going over Daniels though and starting a decent push, but thought Daniels would be hurt jobbing to Eddie Guerrero in a dream match.

Rating: ***

Gauntlet Match Final
Brian Kendrick vs. Bryan Danielson


Everything was fine, but this was 10-15 minutes of nothing special. When the most memorable aspect of the match is a wardrobe malfunction, you know you've put together a forgettable contest. I should also mention that the post-match angle goes on FOREVER and is not once interesting.

Rating: less than ***

Eddie Guerrero's Independent Farewell
Eddie Guerrero & Amazing Red vs. The SAT



(NOTE: The above video does NOT include the pre-match intros or the incredible post-match farewell for Eddie.)

Another match that was fine but nothing memorable (I SO wish we had gotten Eddie vs. Daniels instead.) It's nice if you're curious to see proof at how superior Eddie was to the other three participants. This is the kind of match that Bryan & Vinny would probably gush over while everyone else drifts off during their wank-fest. Eddie's post-match appreciation is very touching though and a special moment, one of the greatest in ROH history.

Rating: less than ***

Coming up - Road to the Title
Matches will include:
Paul London vs. Brian Kendrick
Jerry Lynn vs. AJ Styles
Doug Williams vs. Bryan Danielson
Low Ki vs. Amazing Red
Christopher Daniels vs. Jerry Lynn OR AJ Styles
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:31 pm

Road to the Title - June 22, 2002

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ROH Title Shot Qualifier
Paul London vs. Brian Kendrick


Yet another match that is a great showcase, but doesn't hold up very well. Comparable to the Do or Die pre-show matches that would occur later on. Nothing special here and mildly disappointing for their careers prior to WWE. Still a million light years ahead of their work since WWE pink slipped them though.

Rating: less than ***

ROH Title Shot Qualifier
Jerry Lynn vs. AJ Styles


My pick for match of the night, as Lynn brought his A-game being the ring general that Styles needed. While not everything paid off, there was solid psychology and storytelling with Lynn trying to soften Styles up for the cradle piledriver, and I was interested to see where the armwork for Styles was gonna lead to. If it had been more clearly defined, this may have been great more than just very good. Satisfying match though and a nice appetizer for their TNA work involving Low Ki at the time.

Rating: ***3/4

ROH Title Shot Match
Doug Williams vs. Bryan Danielson


Another solid technical match, but lacking the true drama to be anything special. Everything was solid, the storytelling/psychology worked, but they made the mistake of not finishing the match with the Chaos Theory, which had the crowd popping HUGE.

Rating: ***1/4

ROH Title Shot Match
Low Ki vs. Amazing Red


You need to see this for the opening minute sequence, but there was more to the match than that. I would consider this the indy version of Chris Jericho vs. Evan Bourne or Bret Hart vs. 123 Kid. A great way of showing that Red could hang with the main-eventers and take an ass-kicking instead of just flipping around with a bunch of jabronis.

Rating: ***1/2

ROH Title Shot Match
AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels


Yet another good, solid technical match, but with more intensity than Williams vs. Danielson. This is a nice preview of what the two would go on to do later in TNA. In the end, the earlier match Styles had with Lynn had too much of a residual effect on him (Daniels merely had to defeat Scoot Andrews earlier), as the exhaustion was more evident in him compared to Daniels.

Rating: ***1/2

Up next - Crowning a Champion
Matches will include:
Natural Born Sinners vs. Carnage Crew
Low Ki vs. Doug Williams vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Christopher Daniels
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:32 pm

Crowning a Champion - July 27, 2002

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Hardcore Match
Natural Born Sinners vs. Carnage Crew


I'd say a lot of wrestlers could actually learn from this match. It was quick and made its point - these two teams despised each other, and weren't out there in the middle of the show to have a MOTYC. They didn't waste time setting up spots; they grabbed shit and beat the fuck out of each other. If ROH decides to ever do another Homicide compliation, I'd say to include this - this is EASILY the highlight of the Natural Born Sinners short lived run in ROH.

Rating: ***1/2

Vacant ROH Title - 60 Minute Iron Man Match
Low Ki vs. Doug Williams vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Christopher Daniels



(Note: the above video does NOT include the pre-match promos or the emotional post-match.)

The MOTYC main events for ROH came back with this one and with a serious vengeance. Just excellent work for all four men, and I loved the storytelling told within the rules (gain 2 points for a victory, lose one point for a defeat), as it very cleverly built to the finish (a finish that had been five months in the making), and gave a solid reason to continue the ROH vs. Daniels feud. In this match, Low Ki relied on determination and intelligence to outsmart Daniels, rather than beating the shit out of him as usual. Daniels did his best, remembering when certain trademark Ki spots would come from previous matches and countering them. Williams and Kendrick were masterful in this match as well, doing their jobs perfectly to set up the finishing sequence of this classic.

Rating: ****3/4

Up next - Honor Invades Boston
Matches will include:
Paul London vs. Michael Shane
Bryan Danielson vs. Donovan Morgan
Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe
Low Ki vs. AJ Styles
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:33 pm

Honor Invades Boston - August 24, 2002

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Michael Shane vs. Paul London

Shane quite easily surpassed Christopher Daniels as the biggest cun* on the roster in 2002 with this match. His pure arrogance and narcissism was just amazing during this time. Of course, this was the first time London showed that he could play a sympathetic babyface and he was damn good at it. And what a smart finish to put even more heat on Shane!

Rating: ***

Bryan Danielson vs. Donovan Morgan

As if you needed any evidence that Daniels was not only eclipsed as being the #1 heel before 2002 ended, here is proof that Danielson surpassed him as ring general too. The submission work was far more engaging in this match than in Morgan's debut at A Night of Appreciation, and the booking of Morgan being an established red-ass certainly helped. I'd have paid money to see these two have a rematch, but that unfortunately never happened due to Japan commitments the two had.

Rating: ***1/2

Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe

This match between 18 year-old Jay and 17 year-old Mark is a hell of a lot better than one would assume. Sure, there were lots of video game moves, but there was also a remarkable psychology going on between the two. It was a simple story of Mark being presented an opportunity with the opponent he would know best and making the most out of it. And yes, this match has SELLING. Quite a bit of it actually.

Rating: ****

ROH Title Match
Low Ki vs. AJ Styles


For the first time, ROH has TWO ****+ matches on the same show. Perhaps working with Jerry Lynn throughout the summer in TNA made the difference, but this was a huge improvement over their previous match at A Night of Appreciation. Instead of just providing a spotfest, these two decided to spread the spots throughout and make them mean more once the audience got to see them. I just love the work they did on the mat in this one, and my favorite moment is probably Ki being on his back, but coiling his legs to strike at any moment. This was just a FANTASTIC first title defense for Ki, and the importance of the championship showed in the work and demeanor of both men.

Rating: ****1/2

I must mention that immediately following Xavier challenging Low Ki, the DVD cuts to a promo from the guy who SHOULD have ended Ki's reign - Michael Shane. Fantastic promo from him, none of the bitching and moaning that you'd get from Daniels and the Prophecy.

Up next - Unscripted
Matches will include:
Dick Togo & Ikuta Hidaka vs. Christopher Daniels & Donovan Morgan
Paul London vs. Michael Shane
Tag Titles Tournament Final
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:33 pm

Unscripted - September 21, 2002

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Tag Titles Tournament Semifinal
Dick Togo & Ikuto Hidaka vs. Christopher Daniels & Donovan Morgan


A smooth, well-executed tag match, but nothing all that special. This one didn't live up to expectations, but is still a good match. Just not the great one that you'd imagine on paper. It's a shame Togo got hurt after this show, I'd love to see what he could have done in singles with someone like Paul London.

Rating: ***1/4

Hardcore Match
Paul London vs. Michael Shane



(Note: the above video does NOT include the full post-match.)

Before there was Kevin Steen vs. El Generico, there was Paul London vs. Michael Shane. An extremely dangerous match that London tends to reflect back on and question due to the insane risks taken. Nonetheless, this is a classic, but not the end-all, be-all five star match that the crowd claims it to be. What I really appreciated is that because of the brutality, that allowed logically for time to be available to set up the big spots. Nobody takes the pounding these guys did and just gets up right away to "hulk up" or have "fighting spirit." On the other hand, I have to knock off a 1/4* due to Shane not selling the beating he took whatsoever when he got the post-match heat on London. With all that said, a star-making performance for London (and should have been for Shane). I wish Shane had done the surprise dethroning of Low Ki and Gabe Sapolsky had booked Shane vs. London in the first ever Fight Without Honor match (Ki vs. Samoa Joe is insane but not in a gimmick match way) for the Pittsburgh debut, with everything on the line as it'd be a title match with the loser being fired. (And need I mention all the awesome title defenses London could have had with Bryan Danielson, Ki, AJ Styles, Homicide, CM Punk, Daniels, and Joe?)

Rating: ****

Tag Titles Tournament Final
Christopher Daniels & Donovan Morgan vs. Bryan Danielson & Mike Modest


Another good tag match with solid storytelling but not engaging in the least. If you've seen Beyond the Mat, don't listen to that carny Alexander - it is NOT a tragedy Modest was never signed by WWE. Daniels? Yes. But Modest? Maybe he should have been a trainer or agent, but that's it. He has about as much of an attention-grabbing charisma as Linda McMahon. The post-match is quite stupid as well, as it makes the babyfaces look like whiny bitches and no better than the Prophecy, who won the match by having chemistry and outsmarting them.

Rating: ***

Up next - Glory By Honor
Matches will include:
Low Ki vs. Samoa Joe
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:34 pm

Glory By Honor - October 5, 2002

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Samoa Joe's ROH Debut
Low Ki vs. Samoa Joe




Yeah, this match sure saved the show from being considered among the crowd of Suffocation, How We Roll, Underground, The Bitter End, and Escalation. (Don't be fooled by the card on the DVD cover artwork.) Not just a show-saver, but an incredible debut for Samoa Joe. The backstory itself was brilliant (Joe being nothing more than a hired gun of the Prophecy). And then to see someone come in to IMMEDIATELY show he could be Ki's equal in terms of brutality. The finish couldn't have been booked any better, as EVERYTHING in the match logically led to it. An absolutely fantastic way to maintain Ki's momentum and get Joe's ROH career started with a fucking BANG. Due to a number of unforeseen circumstances, I'd consider this to be one of the most important matches in company history; this showed that Joe could potentially become a cornerstone of the company at some point.

Rating: ****1/2

Up next - All Star Extravaganza
Matches will include:
Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson
Christopher Daniels, Donovan Morgan, & Samoa Joe vs. Low Ki, Homicide, & Doug Williams
ROH Title Shot Gauntlet Final
Low Ki & Steve Corino vs. Masato Tanaka & Shinjiro Ohtani
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:34 pm

All Star Extravaganza - November 9, 2002

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The Prophecy cut a group promo. I mention this because Xavier's portion is some of the worst drek you will ever hear and not convincing in the least. At least with Low Ki you're convinced he has some conviction in his tedious promos. What a great idea to put the title on this guy instead of Michael Shane, who busted his ass in the ring and cut awesome promos yet could still get heel heat.

I should also note that while skipping through the earlier chapters on the disc, seeing CM Punk and Paul London very briefly on-screen together really makes me wish Gabe Sapolsky had booked that match back in the day.

ROH Title Shot Gauntlet Match
Bryan Danielson vs. Paul London


This was simply nothing more than a quick sample of what they would go on to do later. The winner was pretty obvious since London had already wrestled Michael Shane and Amazing Red (even with a break due to Tommy Dreamer's appearance to perform fellatio on the promotion.)

Rating: less than ***

Tag Titles Match
Christopher Daniels, Donovan Morgan, & Samoa Joe vs. Low Ki, Homicide, & Doug Williams


A very fun tag, albeit long and turned into a Dragon Gate style match at the end without any explanation whatsoever. You really couldn't go wrong with this six man combination in 2002. The match started Joe's rise to prominence, which was necessary due to Brian Kendrick's departure to WWE, cancelling Sapolsky's original idea for the ROH Title.

Rating: ***1/4

ROH Title Shot Gauntlet Final
AJ Styles vs. Bryan Danielson


Another excellent match for the promotion, and standard affair for Danielson. The mat work in this was just phenomenal, and Styles might be the most underappreciated guy in that aspect. Matches like this show he's not just some high flyer, and it was a great followup for him after his performance at Honor Invades Boston. I can only imagine what these two could be doing in a rivarly for the WWE nowadays. And what a finish! THAT is how you maintain the momentum for the winner and loser.

Rating: ****1/2

Low Ki & Steve Corino vs. Shinjiro Ohtani & Masato Tanaka

Another damn good match to close out an ROH event after the mediocrity (putting it nicely) that was Glory By Honor. Yeah, it was really a showcase match for Ohtani & Tanaka, but the crowd heat made it more than that. Ki & Corino, even with Ki already wrestling a 20+ minute six man tag earlier, showed that they could go toe-to-toe with the two legends. This is a nice little preview of when other legends would come into ROH, such as Jushin Liger, Kenta Kobashi, and Mitsuharu Misawa.

Rating: ***3/4

The show closes out with Homicide stabbing Corino with his ghetto fork backstage. You know, back when the feud started and was actually interesting.

I'll be skipping Scramble Madness as there isn't a match on there that I'd ever wanna see again. The three main events (Samoa Joe vs. Homicide, AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels, Bryan Danielson vs. Doug Williams in a 30 Minute Iron Man) are tedious and/or super disappointing.

Scramble Madness stock photo - https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7469/281 ... 96a0_c.jpg

Up next - Night of the Butcher
Matches will include:
Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson
Xavier vs. AJ Styles
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:35 pm

Night of the Butcher - December 7, 2002

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ROH Title Shot Match
Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson


A tremendous match that likely would been better if they didn't have qualifier matches earlier on the show. The All Star Extravaganza match Danielson had with Styles was the first glimpse in him being aggressive. This was his first display of actual frustration, and a sign of things to come much later down the road. London also showed that he could be the 21st Century Ricky Morton quite well, and I'd say he rivaled Rey Mysterio at the time for that role. Even though I didn't watch the qualifiers, I could see the psychology coming through from them, and everything led quite beautifully to the finish. The post-match was the icing on the cake for this classic, clearly explaining the simple story these two told throughout the contest.

Rating: ****1/4

ROH Title Match
Xavier vs. AJ Styles


Yeah I didn't care for this one very much. Xavier just didn't have the charisma, presence, or in-ring consistency (Jerry Lynn at least had that last thing going for him) to be in such a high-profile position, and this match did him no favors in my opinion. Over the years, Styles has shown that he's best suited playing a bad-ass or an underdog to a bad-ass. Letting a chickenshit heel get heat on him? That leaves a lot to be desired. This just wasn't very engaging, but the finish at least had some psychology and saved it from being a failure.

Rating: less than ***

Coming up - Final Battle 2002
Matches will include:
Christopher Daniels & Donovan Morgan vs. The SAT
Xavier vs. Paul London
Low Ki vs. Samoa Joe vs. Steve Corino vs. Bryan Danielson
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:36 pm

Final Battle 2002 - December 28, 2002

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Tag Titles - 2/3 Falls Match
Christopher Daniels & Donovan Morgan vs. The SAT


I can't believe I read a review that claimed this match was technically sound. I hit skip with less than two minutes remaining due to the fucking atrocious physical conditioning of the SAT. Just pathetic. And reminds me that these two guys got Eddie Guerrero's farewell instead of their opponent on this night, Christopher Daniels. They made him look like the greatest wrestler of all-time. Perhaps Alan (of f4wonline.com) should watch this - the theory of relativity might finally cause him to love Daniels.

Rating: less than ***

ROH Title Match
Xavier vs. Paul London


Xavier cuts one of the most unintentionally hilarious in-ring promos you'll ever hear prior to the match. As for the match itself...

Now this is more like it. Easily Xavier's best title defense up to that point, as London actually knows how to play a sympathetic babyface. But the champ brought his A-game too, working on the neck and paying that off at the conclusion of the match. This isn't the greatest match of all-time or anywhere near it, but it did its job perfectly - you now had a reason to put down your hard-earned money to see someone take the title away from Xavier, because he finally proved that he (with the right opponent of course) was capable of taking you on a hell of a journey.

Rating: ***3/4

ROH Title Shot Match
Low Ki vs. Samoa Joe vs. Steve Corino vs. Bryan Danielson


A pretty damn good main event that I was about to give ****+ for, but there were too many negatives to do so. First, it did NOT have to go 45 minutes. This could have been wrapped up in 25-30 minutes with a clear winner. Second, I appreciate a match finishing with a dramatic pace, but not at the sacrifice of logic (the ref stopped giving a shit about who was legal without any explanation being given.) Third, Corino clearly tapped out to Ki right before the time-limit had exceeded. After the show the audience sat through, it'd have been a great audible to just have Ki win, and it'd give the NYC crowd something to look forward to at the One Year Anniversary Show.

Rating: ***1/2

SUPER DUPER ROH 2002 AWARDS

Wrestler of the Year:
Low Ki
Runner-up - Bryan Danielson

Debut of the Year:
Samoa Joe - Glory By Honor

Breakout Performance of the Year:
Paul London - Unscripted

Feud/Rivalry of the Year:
ROH vs. The Prophecy
Runner-up - Paul London vs. Michael Shane

Show of the Year:
All Star Extravaganza
Runner-up - Road to the Title and Honor Invades Boston

Moment of the Year:
Eddie Guerrero's farewell @ A Night of Apprecation
Runner-up - Low Ki's victory @ Crowning a Champion and Paul London's performance @ Unscripted

Match of the Year:
Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson - Round Robin Challenge *****
Runner-up - Low Ki vs. Doug Williams vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Christopher Daniels - Crowning a Champion ****3/4

ROH's Top 10 Matches of 2002 (in chronological order):
Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Christopher Daniels - The Era of Honor Begins ****1/2
Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson - Round Robin Challenge *****
Low Ki vs. Doug Williams vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Christopher Daniels - Crowning a Champion ****3/4
Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe - Honor Invades Boston ****
Low Ki vs. AJ Styles - Honor Invades Boston ****1/2
Paul London vs. Michael Shane - Unscripted ****
Low Ki vs. Samoa Joe - Glory By Honor ****1/2
AJ Styles vs. Bryan Danielson - All Star Extravaganza ****1/2
Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson - Night of the Butcher ****1/4
Xavier vs. Paul London - Final Battle 2002 ***3/4

Up next - Revenge on the Prophecy
Matches will include:
Homicide vs. Paul London vs. BJ Whitmer vs. Colt Cabana
Samoa Joe vs. Bryan Danielson
Xavier & Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki & AJ Styles
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:36 pm

Revenge on the Prophecy - January 11, 2003

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BJ Whitmer's ROH Debut
Paul London vs. Homicide vs. BJ Whitmer vs. Colt Cabana


A wild, wickedly fun match that I watched for the first time. There was a never a dull moment, and this was actually a hell of a debut for Whitmer, as his weaknesses weren't as annoyingly obvious in this match as they would become later. All four men were clearly different wrestlers back in 2003, and this is a nice look back on what they were before the business burned them out. I was about to go so far as to deem this a MOTYC, but again, the ref drops the tag rule without any explanation whatsoever.

Rating: ****

Samoa Joe vs. Bryan Danielson

Yeah this was fucking brutal. It was also just outstanding. The selling, the pacing, the psychology, the facial expressions. And to think this was just a sign of things to come for them! Danielson also showed a new side of himself that would later be perfected - an underdog outmatched by sheer size and also viciousness. SEE THIS.

Rating: ****

No Holds Barred Match
Xavier & Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki & AJ Styles


A damn good main event and a nice conclusion to the Ki vs. Prophecy feud. In many ways, this match summarizes the whole storyline - very, very good, maybe even great, but not the end-all, be-all due to some awkward moments. This also did not have the heat of London vs. Michael Shane from Unscripted. But they went out and put on a hell of an entertaining match, one that would convince the Pittsburgh market to beg for ROH to return. I also greatly appreciated Daniels selling his exhaustion and beating in his backstage promo after the match. (Although I do not care whatsoever about Steve Corino & The Group.)

Rating: ****

Up next - One Year Anniversary Show
Matches will include:
Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe
Samoa Joe vs. Bryan Danielson
Low Ki vs. Paul London vs. AJ Styles
ROH Title Match
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:37 pm

One Year Anniversary Show - February 8, 2003

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Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe



They couldn't measure up to the sheer heat of their Honor Invades Boston classic, and there were way too many finishers killed in this match, but it was still pretty damn good. The mind games early in the match were a nice touch that while the bad blood was gone, there was still some pride on the line. Hell of a memorable finish too.

Rating: ***1/2

Samoa Joe vs. Bryan Danielson

Like Jay vs. Mark, this rematch couldn't measure up to its original, but still did a banging job. This one had less technical wrestling in favor of sheer brutality. Hindsight being 20/20, I'm not sure why Danielson went over considering Joe's title victory wasn't that far away. Maybe Gabe Sapolsky was gonna book Joe vs. Danielson III for the title on the same night as Low Ki vs. Paul London. Oh well.

Rating: ***3/4

ROH Title Shot Match
Low Ki vs. Paul London vs. AJ Styles


Yeah this fucking ruled and should be seen to be truly believed. This is another match that I'm sure London reflects back on with regret. It was Sapolsky making the best of a corner he put himself in - he wasted the Final Battle 2002 main event by not having a winner. But on this night, he put the three biggest names in the ring together that had faced Xavier before. For Ki and Styles, they had proven throughout the summer of 2002 they could have some awesome multi-person matches feuding with Jerry Lynn in TNA. To put these three together was brilliant. But it was obvious who was gonna win, because the winner was gonna be a huge underdog in the title match. Ki vs. Xavier was apparently really shitty (I've never bothered watching it). Xavier vs. Styles was dull. Xavier vs. London was a hot match that got the job done, by having London play a sympathetic babyface. Therefore, London had to win this one.

Rating: ****1/4

ROH Title Match
Xavier vs. Paul London


I want to thank whoever made the final decision to cut Xavier's pre-match promo from my Best of Paul London: Please Don't Die DVD.

LONDON SHOULD HAVE WON THIS. PERIOD. This was easily Xavier's best title defense, and maybe the best match of his career. He did a fine job of working with the exhausted London. This rematch from Final Battle 2002 also had the advantage of a red-hot NYC crowd instead of Philly; they were going APESHIT at the nearfalls in the finishing stretch. Even the catfight added to the match's story and crowd heat. This was sports-entertainment booking done the correct way. But I can only imagine if London had won, and then his matches against Danielson, Amazing Red, Christopher Daniels, and Styles had all been title matches (making them more important than they already were), before he would drop the title in his farewell match to the dominating Joe. London wins, and I seriously call this a MOTYC instead of just a great match. Nonetheless, SEE THIS. Maybe London's greatest night as he had to perform two very different styles of matches back-to-back.

Rating: ****

Coming up - Expect the Unexpected
Matches will include:
Raven vs. CM Punk
Xavier & Christopher Daniels vs. AJ Styles & Amazing Red
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:37 pm

Expect the Unexpected - March 15, 2003

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Raven vs. CM Punk

A good match but went too long just to establish that Raven "still had it." Also sloppy at points too. The beginning of Punk's ROH push though, and the rest is history up to where he stands today in the business.

Rating: ***

Tag Titles Match
Xavier & Christopher Daniels vs. AJ Styles & Amazing Red


Another good but sloppy match, although this was due to Xavier's concussion sustained early in the match from Red's enziguri. Daniels looked like a total pro once again, as he and Styles have an almost unstoppable chemistry with each other; it's almost automatic like Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage, Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit, or Austin Aries vs. Bryan Danielson. They should have definitely gone home much sooner than they did for Xavier's sake, as his injury clearly led to the botched finish. Oh yeah, this had the "fuck monitoring who is and isn't legal because we're about to go home" problems that plague the indies. Again, this is a good match, but NOT the magical moment the company was hoping for to close out the show.

Rating: ***

Up next - Night of Champions
Matches will include:
Christopher Daniels vs. Doug Williams
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:38 pm

Night of Champions - March 22, 2003

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ROH Title Shot - FWA Title Match
Christopher Daniels vs. Doug Williams


This would be tied with Low Ki vs. Paul London vs. AJ Styles for my favorite ROH match so far, and it's a totally different flavor. EVERYTHING clicked and they fired on all cylinders. There was not a single sloppy moment in this match. Let me get the one nitpick out of the way - they didn't engage the crowd in enough of a frenzy at the end. With that out of the way, this is a wrestling purist's textbook match. Selling? Check. Psychology? Check. Storytelling? Check. Wow, Just WOW. And now Williams gets to shake hands going forward, that way we never have to talk about their disappointing Glory By Honor match again, and we can just remember this. This match is just a thing of beauty. This is THE most underappreciated match in ROH history. Hands down. It's hard for me to imagine this being topped as I move along in 2003.

Rating: ****3/4

Oh yeah, Samoa Joe ended Xavier's out-of-place ROH Title reign on this show. I guess I should mention that.

Up next - The Epic Encounter
Matches will include:
AJ Styles & Amazing Red vs. Briscoe Bros.
Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:38 pm

The Epic Encounter - April 12, 2003

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Tag Titles Match
AJ Styles & Amazing Red vs. Briscoe Bros.


An improvement over their Night of Champions "effort," but still dripping with flaws. A huge problem with selling in this one, and the ref fucked off in the finishing stretch with enforcing the tag rules. I hope the final match they have is better than this one.

Rating: less than ***

2/3 Falls Match
Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson


"You're my bitch!" - Paul London as he's locked in a seated abdominal stretch

THIS. IS. ART.

I could probably write an actual essay on this, but I'm too tired to do so. First of all, this match makes me wanna pop in some Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit and Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat just to compare. Every single thing in this match was perfect. Remember what I said about them being a little worn out at Night of the Butcher? Well they fucking proved me right in this one.

This is the match anybody would watch and wonder why the FUCK London let his own ego get in the way. This kind of effort, in which his selling NEVER gets sacrificed, is what you want as a centerpiece of the WWE. Maybe Brian Kendrick by association killed his attitude, but there's no logical reason when looking at this match that London shouldn't be on CM Punk and Danielson's level right now. He looked like the second coming of Jushin Liger or Shawn Michaels in this match.

I must not forget Danielson's performance in this masterpiece as well. He dove further into his subtle heel persona, giving us even more of a sign of things to come down the road. For the first time in ROH, he momentarily antagonized the opposition fanbase. His frustration, in the end turning to what appeared to be desperation, was nothing short of flawless going against London's tenacity.

What also puts this match above Christopher Daniels vs. Doug Williams for me as the best ROH match of 2003 so far is that these men were both babyfaces; this wasn't a story of a clear-cut heel, and then failing to fully engage the crowd to its fullest potential. Danielson played the subtle heel to London's scratching-and-clawing babyface, and it got MORE of a reaction than the black-and-white Daniels vs. Williams. That is a true testament to both of these men.

Get yourself the new ROH Danielson compilation if you haven't seen this yet - this match alone will be worth every penny. You don't need to wait for a sale.

This is more engaging than Low Ki vs. Danielson; it's also my favorite ROH match so far in my rewatch. And there is NO way that this can be topped for 2003. NO WAY.

Rating: *****

Up next - Retribution: Round Robin Challenge II
Matches will include:
CM Punk vs. Homicide
Paul London vs. Christopher Daniels
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:39 pm

Retribution: Round Robin Challenge II - April 26, 2003

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ROH Title Shot Match
CM Punk vs. Homicide


A really, really fun match that felt like a rough draft due to some issues with selling and pacing (they kept going several more minutes after peaking the crowd with the Pepsi Plunge.) I'm looking forward to seeing what they could do in their later matches. Just an exciting match from start to finish that needed some polishing. This is the 2003 (and better) version of Low Ki vs. AJ Styles from A Night of Appreciation.

Rating: ***1/2

Round Robin Challenge Match #3
Paul London vs. Christopher Daniels


London's 2003 run just kept rolling along with this classic. A tremendous match that built off of Daniels vs. Doug Williams, Daniels vs. Homicide, Xavier vs. London, and London vs. Bryan Danielson. While it didn't have the pace of Daniels vs. Williams, it had the more engaging story - there was just simply nobody else in 2003 that sold and got sympathy heat like London. Not Chris Benoit. Not Rey Mysterio. Not Shawn Michaels.

Daniels also brought his A-game for this one, moving fluidly and with a vengeance. He had a weak spot on London, and he wasn't gonna succumb to London's tenacity like he did in his classic against Williams at Night of Champions. Daniels was just on point in this match. I can only imagine these two having an actual feud back in the day.

Rating: ****1/2

Up next - Do or Die
Segments will include:
Tom Carter vs. Matt Stryker
An epic Second City Saints promo
Samoa Joe vs. Homicide
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:39 pm

Do or Die - May 31, 2003

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Tom Carter vs. Matt Stryker

This one definitely hasn't aged that impressively, although I appreciated the effort in it. Full disclosure before I get to the critiquing: this and the match against Doug Williams two months later are the only matches of Carter's that I've seen; I've never watched any of his Reckless Youth material.

Both men did a solid job of incorporating technical wrestling, and had the benefit of a hot crowd when the match started. It's a shame that neither man had the charisma and selling ability/willingness to truly engage the crowd. Put Alex Shelley and Bryan Danielson in this exact spot, with the same amount of time, with the same storytelling goals in mind, and this would have been significantly better.

I appreciate that Stryker was able to overcome the leg work Carter had done on him by rolling him up during an attempted submission, since based on the commentary Stryker was more experienced with technical wrestling schemes. But this was honestly no better than a fun but ultimately forgettable 10 minute match on SmackDown! This certainly wasn't worth the $40 I shelled out on eBay just to see this match, but hey, I sold the master copy for $50. I'm not surprised that ROH hasn't prioritized including this match on Year Two or any other comps.

The post-match is hilarious yet tedious, with Carter whining about being a junior style pioneer on the indies and not getting respect for it, saying Stryker's pin was a fluke too. Again, this is the only promo I've ever watched Carter/Youth cut, but it was not impressive, and the phenomenal promo later on this show in the exact same ring wasn't doing Carter any favors.

I must note that Allison Danger came to the ring to discuss Carter having a spot in the Prophecy, and she had a one-piece spandax bellbottom outfit that had me laughing. Was fashion in the very early 21st Century really that horrendous, or was that just a wrestler lacking fashion awareness?

Rating: ***1/4

Second City Saints post-match promo

Epic. You get CM Punk's self-important preaching followed by Colt Cabana and Lucy just having a good time. This is CM Punk living up to his justified hype as a character.

ROH Title Match
Samoa Joe vs. Homicide


A damn good match for its time, but these two were capable of better. Very dangerous shit they pulled off here, but there were times when the crowd bought that Homicide was really gonna do it. Pretty impressive when it was 2003!

Rating: ***1/2

Up next - Night of the Grudges
Matches will include:
CM Punk & Colt Cabana vs. Raven & BJ Whitmer
AJ Styles vs. Paul London
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:40 pm

Night of the Grudges - June 14, 2003

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No DQ Match
CM Punk & Colt Cabana vs. Raven & BJ Whitmer


A really good brawl here that served its purpose - get some blood flowing for this feud, but not in a show-stealing manner (due to its position on the card and the feud had not yet reached that point.) Some pretty dangerous shit, and this is a longer, deeper version of the Natural Born Sinners vs. Carnage Crew from Crowning a Champion. Not only is this a precursor of what is to come in the Punk vs. Raven feud, but it's also a nice preview of what was to come down the years in the indies for other feuds as well.

Rating: ***1/2

ROH Title Shot Match
AJ Styles vs. Paul London


"You guys are worth the price of admission alone!" - a fan as both men embraced after the match

This is yet another work of art for ROH. It's also another frustrating example of the fall of Paul London as an in-ring performer. In this one, he abandoned his sympathy babyface role in favor of playing a subtle, diabolical douche-bag. On the surface, this appears to be a match over a simple misunderstanding. But when one looks deeper and reflects on how the two got to this point, everything done in this match turns out to have even more meaning.

First, let's stay on London. His performance in this match for me goes back to his breakout feud with Michael Shane. That was his first time seeing the real cutthroat nature of the business as an on-screen character. Then he moved onto getting a title shot against Xavier at Final Battle 2002. Due to the champ's shenanigans, London failed to win the big one despite his remarkable efforts. Then he got another shot against Xavier at the One Year Anniversary Show - in order to get that one, he had to defeat Low Ki AND Styles... on the same night. While London dd earn the title shot, Styles had to take TWO finishers in order for London to get the victory in that title shot match. Then London failed again against Xavier, despite an even more gut-wrenching effort than in their previous encounter.

London then moved on to the 2/3 falls classic against Bryan Danielson at The Epic Encounter, in which he came very close to losing but was able to overcome with tenacity. He also learned how Danielson came so close to defeating him - ruthless aggression bordering on being a heel. Next up, London lost another big collision involving the Prophecy, this time against Christopher Daniels at Retribution: Robin Challenge II, who won not just by cheating, but with mind games and working an injury on London.

For Styles, the road to this match is a story as well. He had failed twice before in his previous two title matches against Low Ki at Honor Invades Boston and Xavier at Night of the Butcher for very different reasons; in the end though, the result was the same for him. He then was presented with another opportunity, but failed to capitalize on it in the threeway against Ki and London. Remember, even though Styles took the pinfall in that match, it took TWO finishers in order to do so. And again, who pinned him? London.

Then there's also the simple backstory of London feeling (wrongly) that Styles abandoned him as a tag partner in favor of Amazing Red. So these two, with all of these backstories in mind, finally got to collide - and it's for another opportunity at the ROH Title!

London proved immediately that he had learned from his encounters with the Prophecy, playing mind games with Styles via the ridiculous amount of handshake offers and also spending time outside the ring, just like Daniels had done to him. He also was extremely aggressive against Styles at times, which goes back to the 2/3 falls match he had with Danielson. This mind game he played with Styles ultimately paid off, when he handed Styles the opportunity to do one of his signature guardrail-area kicks (a nod to the amazing spot Styles had against Danielson at All Star Extravaganza), only to use the NWA Champion's trigger-happy aggression against him. This is where London's true plan came to fruition - focus on the left knee of Styles.

Styles was put in a position in this match to play the sympathetic babyface. And you know what? He did a fucking fantastic job. He didn't play Ricky Morton or Shawn Michaels; this was a different flavor of sympathetic performance from him. His hope spots, relying on adrenaline and irritation/anger, were absolutely magical, and in the end gave him a chance against the cerebral London. As the commentators explained, it became a battle of London's calculating gameplan against the ferocious short comebacks of Styles, which gave him opportunities to get the heat on London and wear him down.

What also needs to be pointed out in this masterpiece is that EVERYTHING was smooth, crisp, and firing on all cylinders. This was Triple H vs. Chris Benoit, but done to perfection. Not a single move, spot, or submission was wasted. In the end, these two men were absolutely even, and that's why the draw finish was the correct conclusion based on how this match was laid out; this match's booking was Styles, London, and Gabe Sapolsky being backed into a corner (due to Styles winning the NWA Title that week in TNA) and responding by making a beautifully flawless work of art out of it.

How does this compare to the London vs. Danielson 2/3 falls ***** match? It's right below it. But this also leaves Daniels vs. Doug Williams in the dust. This was another engaging chef d'oeuvre. One can argue that this is Paul London's greatest match; it is likely the best of in the career of Styles as well - maybe even better than his jaw-dropping roller-coaster encounter against Samoa Joe at Turning Point 2005. I am certain this match was used to help base the performance of Styles in that one two and a half years later.

Rating: *****

Up next - Wrestlerave
Matches will include:
CM Punk & Colt Cabana vs. Raven & Christopher Daniels
Homicide vs. Trent Acid
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Re: Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

Post by supersonic » Mon May 21, 2012 6:40 pm

Wrestlerave - June 28, 2003

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No DQ Match
CM Punk & Colt Cabana vs. Raven & Christopher Daniels


This was another great chapter in the Punk vs. Raven feud, although slightly sacrificed to plant seeds for another feud that would come down the line. What matters most is the finish of the match, followed by one of what I consider to be Punk's three greatest promos in his career (the others would come in 2005 and 2011.) This match (and more importantly Punk's promo afterwards) did its job, which was to get me PUMPED for the dog-collar match on the next show.

Rating: ***1/2

Hardcore Match
Trent Acid vs. Homicide


What made this match work was how exciting it was - it even holds up today. While there was a lack of deep storytelling, the match almost made up for it just by sheer willpower. These two men absolutely killed themselves to keep the crowd going, and I must admit there was never a dull moment in this match. If they had just bothered to tell a deep story and not have too many ridiculous near-falls, this would have been remembered as fondly as Paul London vs. Michael Shane. However, I would say this is a precursor to the company's ladder matches that would come years later.

Rating; ***1/2

Up next - Death Before Dishonor
Matches will include:
Entire Carnage Crew vs. Hotstuff Hernandez, Fast Eddie Vegas, Don Juan, & Rudy Boy Gonzalez
Doug Williams vs. Tom Carter
Homicide vs. Colt Cabana vs. Dan Maff vs. BJ Whitmer
CM Punk vs. Raven
AJ Styles & Amazing Red vs. Briscoe Bros.
Samoa Joe vs. Paul London
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