ROH ?Glory By Honor III?
Elizabeth, NJ 9/11/04
We all know reviews are subjective, so some of my reaction to this show may have had more to do with me than with what was being put in front of me. I was tired and cranky as hell all weekend. That said, I thought this was easily the least interesting ROH show I have been to. I usually go nuts for the ROH product, and despite being very unhappy about the company?s conduct thus year I was psyched to see an ROH show again after not having been since May. This time out with a couple of exceptions the show didn?t do much for me. That?s never been true of an ROH show before.
I?m not going to attempt to do a move-for-move recap of the show ? I didn?t take notes and I?m no good at those anyway. Here are the results with some thoughts on each match from yours truly.
The show opened with all of the wrestlers getting in the ring for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. They played American The Beautiful on the PA. Dan Maff gave a speech about what the tragedy meant to him and to NYC. Like everything else that night, this unfortunately was hard to hear clearly. They called for a moment of silence, and wonder of wonders, most (but not all) of the crowd were actually silent. There was an awkward pause and then the wrestlers filed out. Overall this came off looking a little disorganized but it seemed well intended and acknowledging the significance of the day was the right thing to do.
The show proper opened to the strains of Black Sabbath?s ?Supernaut?, which ROH seems to be using as the company theme music in place of the techno crap they had before. Good call. I?m already nodding my head and playing air guitar and there isn?t even a match in the ring yet. So far, so good.
Jimmy Rave (W/The Embassy) d. Dixie with the Styles Clash. Does Rave do any moves that he didn?t borrow from someone else? Potentially good match that was too short to amount to anything. This was clearly intended to strengthen Rave as a heel but his flashier heel persona had about 40% of the crowd cheering him anyway. That?s still an improvement since at least they are interested in him.
Jay Lethal b. Matt Stryker in what amounted to a Loser Leaves Town match. The stip here was that if Lethal lost he could no longer wrestle in ROH, and if Stryker lost ROH would no longer pay for his plane ticket to east coast shows. If you look at that wording carefully you?ll see there?s a loophole if they want to bring Stryker back again, which is exactly what I suspect will happen. A very good match that could have used another 5 minutes or so. Crowd booed the living hell out of Stryker and went crazy for NJ native Lethal, so the match did what they wanted it to do. Stryker got on the mic and bitched out the NJ fans afterward.
Trent Acid b. Kahagas, Fast Eddie, Angel Dust, Izzy, Ace Steele, and Jack Evans. This was really kind of a clustermess but the quality of the highspots made it a GREAT clustermess. Evans did some offense that just looked ridiculous, like flipping over 2 ? times in order to hit somebody with a legdrop that barely even grazed them and looked about as painful as feather duster. However he also did some neat split legged dropkicks and a few other similar moves where he incorporated the acrobatics more smoothly into his offense and it looked great. Heck even when he didn?t really see to be hitting guys with stuff it still looked great because of all the gyrations - it just didn?t look like wrestling offense. Angel Dust and Izzy did some pretty spectacular exchanges, and everybody got a chance to do at least one highspot that was about as insane as their abilities allowed. Kahagas didn?t do anything that special from what I saw. The crowd HATED Kahagas big time, and not in a good, heel-heat kind of way either. Overall a goofy match but really entertaining to watch and within the highspot oriented context they did manage to get across the story of the Special K guys turning against each other. After Acid?s victory two factions of Special K fought with each other ? they teased a catfight between the 2 female valets but it didn?t happen - and the sides never really reconciled so it appears they are pursuing a Special K breakup angle. That wouldn?t be such a bad thing, especially if clears out some of the less worthwhile K members and allows the spotlight to focus more strongly on Dixie, Izzy, Deranged, and Angel Dust. I though it was kind of a waste to have Acid in this match. While a loss would have been bad for him, this win doesn?t do much for him and it might have helped out another of the participants. They might have used Acid better further up the card, where things were in danger of getting a little thin.
CM Punk d. Austin Aries. I wanted to like this match. Really I did. Match had great buildup, great entrances, and a good post-match angle, but the match itself just didn?t entertain me. Too slow and methodical with not much to draw you in or to get excited about. There were too many matches on the show where they did basic matwork with no real sense of pacing and no real attempts to play to the crowd, and this was one of them. I actually missed the finish and the Corino run-in because I got up and went to the concession stand because I was bored. (That?s something which I normally wouldn?t do, but I hadn?t planned on writing this.) I heard everybody popping and got back in time to see Corino and Punk facing off against Aries. That part was well done. The faceoff against Homicide was good though they let it run just a tiny bit too long. Thankfully the iffy sound quality kept me from hearing Homicide?s twin towers comment or I would have had quite a different opinion of this deal. The twin towers comment was just an incredibly stupid thing to say on this day in this building. If the remark was approved ahead of time then Gabe should be ashamed of himself, assuming the man has the capability to feel shame. If it wasn?t approved, then Homicide needs to be suspended and miss a couple of paydays so that maybe the next time he opens his mouth he?ll make sure his brain is at least slightly engaged first. [Yeah, I know, Homicide could kick my a** and might want to do so if he ever reads this. That still doesn?t make him right.] The line probably would have played okay in another state, on another day. Here it was just plain wrong, and stupid.
NOTE: Since this writing, ROH and Homicide have issued a public apology for the twin towers remark.
Based on this one Punk/Aries match, I?m also unconvinced that Aries is ready for the spot they?ve pushed him into. However I may well be wrong since one match isn?t much to go by. These two most likely just had an off night.
Dan Maff and BJ Whitmer d. Chicano & Slash Venom. A good match but it was over just when it started to get really interesting. Given how many times Maff and Whitmer would be wrestling, I understand why they cut it short, but why fly the IWA guys in just for this? The angle with Foley afterwards was fun, mostly because of Foley?s hilarious promo work. He must have said ??right here, in Elizabeth NJ!? about five times. That said, ROH used Ricky Steamboat far better than they used Foley, and probably didn?t have to pay as much for him either. Mick Foley can do no wrong in my book, but he didn?t add all that much to this show. Theme music aside, this was definitely ?Commissioner Foley?, not Cactus Jack.
American Dragon d. Alex Shelley with the Cattle Mutilation. This match was proof that ?slower paced? or ?methodical? doesn?t have to mean ?boring?. Shelley is guy who definitely IS ready for his spot in my opinion. He?s got great heel charisma, wrestles well in the ring, and knows how to work the crowd. This match told a good, dramatic story of moves and counter moves. Both men showed lots of fire and emotion during the match, so that the people watching it remembered that they were supposed to care about what happened in the ring. Shelley escaped the cattle mutilation a couple of times before Dragon successfully wore him down enough to get him in it. Shelley tried to escape and tried to hold out, but was forced to give up. Afterward Dragon tried to show Shelley respect and shake his hand. They teased the handshake several times [one too many times, I thought], but Shelley disrespected Dragon and kept his heel heat going. Both men came out of this one at least as strong if not stronger than when they went in.
John Walters d. Nigel McGuinness by submission following 3 lungblowers to retain the Pure Wrestling title. I?ve been reading a lot of praise for this match on the ?net. I guess my tastes are just different, because except for the closing few minutes I found it tedious and uninteresting. The only other Pure Wrestling title match that I?ve seen was AJ Styles vs CM Punk, so maybe I?m spoiled. This was actually the first Walters match that I can ever remember not enjoying. I don?t think it was entirely his fault as the one other time I saw McGuinness he put me to sleep then too. I needed to have a reason to care about this match and I never got one. There was no angle, they showed little emotion during the match, they didn?t play to the crowd, and except for the finishing sequence ? which I?ll admit was awesome ? they didn?t do anything very exciting in the ring. This reminded of one of those Chad Collyer snoozefests we had to suffer through a couple of years ago. If you like that kind of match you?ll probably like this too. Personally I don?t dig ?em. Perhaps it?ll play better on tape? The crowd didn?t seem that hot for most of this match either.
Samoa Joe d. Doug Williams with a clothesline. Maybe I was still down from the previous match, but this one didn?t seem quite as exciting as I?d expected it to be. Samoa Joe and Doug Williams are two of the best wrestlers in ROH but they didn?t click all that well, and this match felt like as close to a routine outing as a Samoa Joe match is likely to get. His matches are starting to acquire a certain sameness to them, and unlike, for example, Ricky Reyes v Samoa Joe on the 5/15 Boston show, these two didn?t seem to come up with anything that varied the routine enough to keep it compelling. The finish seemed to come out of nowhere and came off a little anticlimactic, which was an intermittent problem throughout the night. Not a bad match by any means, but I?ve seen both guys have much better ones.
Dan Maff/BJ Whitmer d. Carnage Crew
Dan Maff/BJ Whitmer d. Jack Evans and Roderick Strong after KILLING Evans with a Burning Hammer through a chair
The Havana Pitbulls b. Dan Maff/BJ Whitmer following a Romero kick to Maff?s head
Now this is more like it. Exciting, fast paced match that made sense and told a story. As a Carnage Crew fan I was happy to see back in a more prominent spot on the card, even if they did get jobbed first. Highlight of the first fall for me was a spot where Loc had Whitmer in a Boston Crab. Maff made the save wrapping a chair around Loc?s neck with a nasty chairshot ? but Loc maintained the hold and flipped off Maff, even with the chair hanging around his neck. So Maff took the chair back again and just KILLED HIM DEAD with it. DeVito tried to make a save, got killed too, and that was it for the Crew. They looked good while they were in there and hung in well with the other 3 teams. Carnage Crew are still the most underrated team in ROH.
Second fall was mostly about Maff/Whitmer (who were over big time as faces) against Gen Next, plus lots of opportunities for dives and other highspots for all 6 guys. Third fall saw a ton of near falls and it seemed like Maff/Whitmer were going to win but the Pits kept kicking out at 2 and 7/8. The crowd popped huge a couple of times thinking that a pin had taken place. Finish was a little abrupt again as Romero landed a sudden kick and it was over just like that. People seemed a little confused, then angry that Maff & Whitmer hadn?t won. That?s really a good thing, since it means they cared and will probably pay to see these guys get another shot at the belts. The closing angle with Foley was the right thing to do to send the crowd home happy, although at that point Maff and Whitmer were so over that imo they actually didn?t need the Foley rub ? but it didn?t hurt either. The fire extinguisher business didn?t bother me at the time. All I thought was ?cool looking cheap special effect? when the smoke cleared to reveal Foley in mid ring. I can understand why some people didn?t like it, but for me I never even made the connection with 9/11 imagery until I read about people criticizing it.
Overall not the best ROH show by any means. The roster was seriously depleted for this show, which partially explains it. The combination of TNA and Japan has sapped the base of headliners in ROH to the point where unexpectedly losing 3 or 4 main event guys who were booked on a show [Low Ki, the Briscoes, Homicide] is really going to hurt them sometimes. I suppose it would hurt any promotion, but the ROH roster used to be deep enough to withstand that kind of thing. Now I?m not sure that it is. All that said, I?m still looking forward to the next one in NJ on 11/5.