Dark Pegasus Video Review: Ring of Honor - The Epic Encounter Posted by J.D. Dunn on 06.10.2006
The best RoH match so far?
This is the first show to feature RoH's new set and lighting scheme. Nice to see them putting money back into production. The light show and dark background really lend an air of respectability.
Ring of Honor — The Epic Encounter (04.12.03)
From Philadelphia, Penn.
Your hosts are Ray Murrow and Chris Lovey
Mellow (the big, bald, black guy) arrives at the arena.
Alexis Laree introduces us to the RoH Tag Team champions — AJ Styles and Red. She says they are champions because they live with honor. AJ displays his promo skills with "yeah" and "that's right." Paul London interrupts, apparently after having partied with Special K, and wonders what the deal is. He was supposed to be AJ's partner. He even got matching tights made up for them. AJ reminds Paul that he was sick when AJ won the titles with Red. London hilariously tries to get a Thundercats chant going, but the other three just stare at him.
Opening Match: Backseat Boyz vs. Da Hit Squad.
The Boyz got famous in CZW. They debuted late in 2002 with RoH, taking a victory over Da Hit Squad's mentor, Homicide. It's mostly comedy stuff with Kashmere cheapshotting Mafia several times off an overhand knucklelock. Mafia no-sells and stomps on his hand. The Boyz try to doubleteam Mafia, but he winds up giving Kashmere a spinebuster. The Boyz quit and head to the back, but the Squad tracks them down and drags them back to the ring. Mafia hits the fat-ass tope! Back in, Mack gives Kashmere a sick Crucifix Powerbomb into the turnbuckle that breaks the pad off. He also busts out a Crucifix Facebuster on Trent Acid. The Burning Hammer would seem to make it academic, but Kashmere slips out and ducks a swing. Mafia accidentally takes out Monsta Mack with a lariat, and the Boyz finish him with the T Gimmick (Doubleteam Razor's Edge) at 8:03. Mafia is so frustrated he leaves his partner in the ring and skulks to the back without shaking hands. **1/4
The Backseat's victory celebration is short lived, though. Special K interrupts. Mikey says the show needs a little more cowbell. He talks about being in great tag teams with Cactus Jack and Yoshihiro Tajiri. He then brags about training the SAT and Devine Storm. He wants to make Special K the best tag team in Ring of Honor. Of course, any mention of the best tag teams brings out Dunn & Marcos (The Ringcrew Express). The Carnage Crew runs down too and says they just want to kick some ass. That leads to…
Scramble Tag: Dixie & Hydro (w/Slugger, Mikey Whipreck, et al.) vs. The Ringcrew Express vs. The Carnage Crew.
Loc gives Dunn a sickening backdrop suplex to start. Marcos hits Hydro (today's Jay Lethal) with a Gory Facebuster and a Northern Lights for two. Devito gives Dixie a Northern Lights into the turnbuckle. Special K ducks the CC and dives out on Dunn & Marcos. Back in, Dunn and Marcos team up for a doubleteam Shiranui. They all pile on with high-flying move after move. Devito misses a moonsault to finish that. They work in the Tower of Doom spot, taking out everyone else. They hit Marcos with the Second-Rope Spiked Piledriver, but the ref is distracted by Deranged. Mikey runs in and hits the CC with a pair of Whippersnappers (Stone Cold Stunners). Hydro rolls into a cover for the win at 5:29. After the match, Slugger gives Marcos the bodybag, but Mellow comes through the crowd to stare him down. Angel Dust slaps the new guy, so the new guy gives him a Sitout Full Nelson Facebuster. An angry Slugger has to be dragged away. *1/2
RoH Tag Team Championship: AJ Styles & The Amazing Red (w/Alexis Laree) vs. The Briscoe Brothers.
The Briscoes failed to capture the tag titles last month, but the fans demanded a rematch, so here we go. Doubleteam stuff to start. The Briscoes tumble over the top but cut off stereo topes. They try somersault planchas, but AJ and Red dart into the ring to avoid them. Red and AJ finally hit a high-flying move with a criss-cross tope/somersault plancha combo. AJ leaps the guardrail, but Jay catches him with a thrust kick. That leaves Red alone against the Briscoes for the next few minutes. The challengers hit a double dropkick in the corner. AJ runs back in and helps Red get the Code Red on Mark for two. Mark gets caught in the champs' corner. Jay gets the blind tag, and the Briscoes hit a Sidewinder to take over on Red. Red plays face-in-peril as Jay puts him in a single leg crab. Red hits a DDT and tags in AJ. Styles cleans house and hits a Pumphandle Gutbuster on Mark. Mark hits AJ with an Ax Leg Lariat, but Red surprises him by springboarding off AJ's back into a Shining Wizard. AJ and Red try their finisher from last time where AJ lofts Red up into a rana, but Mark shoves AJ out of the way, and the Briscoes counter to a powerbomb/neckbreaker combo. ONE, TWO, THR-NO! AJ makes the save and gives Mark a Styles Clash on the floor! Mark is out cold. Jay dropkicks AJ and goes for the JayDriller on Red, but Red counters to Maximo Explosion and finishes Jay with a Red Star Press at 10:56. They didn't have as much time to get things going as they did at "Night of the Champions," so Red's face-in-peril act was significantly compressed. Both teams looked good again, though. ***1/2
BJ Whitmer vs. CM Punk (w/Colt Cabana).
Before the match, Trinity comes down, looking suspiciously like Stephanie McMahon. She poses like Raven and tries a plancha on Cabana. Colt catches her, though, and carries her to the back to eliminate them both from ringside. Punk, of course, is involved in a bitter feud with Raven. Whitmer is a relative newcomer and hasn't done much of note. That's about to change, though. Punk gives him no respect early. He works the back and neck with a series of DDTs and backbreakers. A SHINING WIZARD gets two before Whitmer comes back and tries to end things quickly before he gets worn down completely. Punk drops him on his head and hits a lariat for two. Whitmer is going for the pin almost literally after every move. A slugfest ends in a stalemate, but Punk takes it to the floor. They tease the table spot before battling it on the edge of the apron. Suddenly, Punk blocks a forearm and German Suplexes them both through the table at ringside. Neither man is responsive, so Referee Paul Turner calls for the bell at 12:21. In fact, neither man is responsive for nearly five minutes. Both men have to be helped to the back as the crowd gives a polite, appreciative round of applause. It was a decent back-and-forth contest before the angle kicked in. *3/4
Christopher Daniels (w/Alison Danger) vs. Homicide.
This is during Homicide's transition to violent family man. Oddly enough, we're JIP. Lovey points out that, despite Daniels' being near the top of the card for most of 2002, he hasn't been able to break into the Top 5 contenders. What a horrible mix of styles this is. They have a particularly sloppy stretch early on where Homicide takes off too late on a forearm and just sort of collides with Daniels. Daniels, ever the consummate pro, staggers around so they can improvise. Unfortunately, they then botch a Dragon Screw. Daniels takes over with help from Alison Danger, and things get a little better. From there, it's Homicide's Strong Style strikes and submission attempt versus Daniels' pro-style offense. If Homicide were portrayed as a monster, it could be a template for Daniels' later matches against Samoa Joe. Daniels gets the uranage and Best Moonsault Ever for two. Homicide delivers a pair of backdrops for two. They fight on top, and Daniels brings him off with a sort of Side Effect. Homicide counters the Angel's Wings to the Cop Killer, but Daniels shoves him away. Homicide hits a lariat for two. Daniels comes back with the Angel's Wings. ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! They go into an awkward series of reversals that leads to Homicide rolling him up with a front legsweep cradle for the surprise win at 11:22. Homicide demands a handshake, but Daniels has to think about it. He doesn't get long, though, because CW Anderson and Samoa Joe hit the ring. Joe chokes out Homicide as Anderson holds Daniels back. Mafia runs out and makes the save, but Daniels rips his shirt to reveal…A PROPHECY SHIRT! Mafia has joined the Prophecy! He throws his old Hit Squad t-shirt in Homicide's face and walks out with Daniels and Danger. The match was just and excuse to introduce Mafia as the newest Prophecy member. **1/4
Gary Michael Capetta catches up with BJ Whitmer who can't remember anything from the match. CM Punk overhears this and promises Whitmer he'll take it easier on him next time so that Whitmer doesn't quit on the fans like he did this time. Things like this are why people love Punk. Capetta later catches up with Julius Smokes and Louie Ramos who are laying the beatdown on Corino's flunkies.
Alexis Laree vs. Ariel.
This is severely cipped. Ariel gets a nice Fisherwoman's Suplex and Northern Lights Suplex, but Laree gets the win after a reverse DDT about :45 of 1:08 shown. [NR]
Non-Title: Samoa Joe vs. Hotstuff Hernandez.
In a normal promotion with a weekly TV series and a monthly PPV schedule, this would likely be a feud that would build for months. Instead, Ring of Honor struck while the iron was hot. Hernandez is still very green here. His one really good move is a lariat. He can do a number of other moves; they're just not executed that well. Joe lets him have some offense, taking Hernandez's no-hands over-the-top tope and a slingshot shoulderblock. Joe slips out of a Pumphandle Slam and goes for the Coquina Clutch, but Hernandez rams him into the corner to counter. Hotstuff gets a double chokeslam (Baldo Bomb), but Joe scissors him into a triangle choke and puts Hotstuff out at 6:38. It was basically a glorified squash as Joe was in no danger. *1/4
Joe grabs a chair and sits in the middle of the ring to think about things. Gary Capetta comes out and asks him what's the what. Joe says the fans don't pay to see non-title matches. He thinks that the next triple threat match should be turned into a four-way title match.
Ring of Honor Championship, Four-Way: Samoa Joe vs. Matt Striker vs. Colt Cabana vs. Tom Carter.
Carter is an interesting story in that he made a reputation in the late nineties based on high flying and spots. He was like AJ Styles before AJ Styles. After a severe injury, he took a long time to come back and changed his style considerably to a mat-based, submission technique. Joe blitzes all three guys, uniting them against him. They blitz him and clear him out of the ring. Carter and Cabana go at it on the mat with Joe intermittently walking in and smacking whoever he wants. Striker sets up his story for the match — trying to prove Joe doesn't intimidate him. Nice spot as Carter stalks Cabana as Cabana tries to suplex Striker and dropkicks his knee, taking both men out. Carter and Cabana form a tentative alliance to work over Striker. Carter hangs back and waits for Joe to go for a tope, then he cuts him right off with a surprise boot. Joe comes back with the STO for two. Matt Striker makes the save and hits a DVD on Joe! ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Cabana makes the save. Cabana hits the Schwein Neckbreaker on Striker for two. Cabana tries to reverse a Carter top-rope rana to a powerbomb, but Carter counters back to a DDT for two. Awesome! Joe makes the save and tosses Carter to the floor. He locks in the Coquina Clutch on Cabana in the middle of the ring. Carter knocks Striker down on the turnbuckle and springs off his back with a frogsplash, hoping to break up the Clutch. Instead, he just knocks Cabana out, and Joe holds on to the clutch for the win at 13:20. ***
Outside, David Young and Iceberg brawl unconvincingly. This looked like Ralphus vs. Norman Smiley.
2/3 Falls: Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson. First Fall: This is the match that many were calling the best Ring of Honor match in their short history. These guys met twice before at "Night of the Butcher" and "All-Star Extravaganza" with each man taking a victory. I'm sure a number of reviewers would cite earlier incarnations of this style of matchup like Dynamite Kid and Tiger Mask or Wild Pegasus vs. the Great Sasuke. This match holds up well as the next step in that evolution, but it has something those matches didn't have — a synergy with the Philly fans in attendance. London strangely allows the match to be taken to the mat early in the first fall, and even more strangely he's successful at it. Dragon slips out of a headlock and boots London straight to the face, drawing boos. In a nice subtle move, Dragon puts the headlock over by selling cauliflower damage to his ear. Danielson begins to wear London down methodically with a combination of draining holds and strikes. The crowd starts dueling chants of "Let's go London" and "Let's go Dragon." It's clichéd now, but back in 2003, it was much more organic. London gets desperate and starts going for higher risk stuff, hoping to catch the fall before Dragon can drain him completely. Dragon is willing to stay with him, hitting a sprinting tope to the floor. Back in, Danielson hits a Swandive Headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring. London stays with his strategy, getting two off a backslide and two more off a legsweep cradle. Danielson tries to match him, dropping his original strategy of wearing down the quicker London and going for the win too soon. He sets London on top and goes for a super backdrop. London is able to shift his weight in mid-air and land on top for the first-fall win at 20:28.
Second Fall: Danielson is still hot after a thirty-second rest period, so he slaps London right in the face. The crowd doesn't like that at all. London comes back with a flying forearm and goes up. Danielson doggedly fights him on top, but London headbutts him off. Danielson finally just dropkicks him, crotching London and hanging him up by his knee. Dragon ruthlessly stomps on London's knee before the ref can free him, drawing chants of "Where's Your Honor?!" from the crowd. Dragon stays on the knee with a kneebreaker. Tempers flare as London fights back with rights. He misses an enzuigiri, and Dragon takes him over with a Dragon Screw into a Single Leg Crab. This is some great stuff, folks. Dragon pulls him to the center and drives his knee down on the back of London's neck, pinning him down. London has to tap at 27:13.
Third Fall: Dragon goes right back after the leg, naturally. London kicks him away and gets a rollup for two. Dragon takes advantage of London's immobility with a series of forearm uppercuts that rock London back against the ropes. London picks him up for a slam, but he has to drop him right back down because he can't support the weight. London gets his Legsweep DDT, but can't cover immediately. Danielson fires back with his Rolling Elbow for two. CATTLE MUTILATION! London squirms to the ropes. Dragon hits a running elbow in the corner, and they fight from their knees. London slaps him down, but Danielson responds with a pair of enzuigiris. DRAGON SUPLEX! ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Dragon goes back to the Single Leg Crab, but London makes the ropes this time. Dragon mounts him in the corner for punches, but London counters to a powerbomb. London lifts himself up to the top with one leg, but it takes so long that Dragon is able to shove him off. Dragon sets up for a Backdrop Suplex, and this time London can't reverse it. ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! London gets his shoulder up! Dragon, the sadistic bastard, goes right back to the knee with a Single Leg Crab. The crowd chants, "Please don't tap!" London crawls to the ropes, but Dragon pulls him back to the center and pins him down with the knee again in a mirror image of the second-fall finish. London still manages to drag himself to the bottom rope. London is out on his feet, so Dragon sets him up on top in an attempt to Backdrop Suplex him…to the floor! Thankfully, London headbutts out of that. London appears to go low, drawing boos from the crowd. London hits a Tornado DDT and pulls himself up. Dragon starts to get to his feet, but Paul hits the SHOOTING STAR PRESS anyway! London rolls him over and covers for the win after an emotionally exhausting match. (41:12) Selling like this should be the standard, but it's unfortunately become a lost art. It wasn't just London not being able to perform moves — or worse, hitting moves and then selling the leg —he, quite literally, could not move to avoid the rest of Dragon's offense. In the end, he had to rely on defensive maneuvers and luck to beat Dragon, and it worked. Easy MOTYC, and arguably RoH's best match to that point. ****3/4
"I Quit" Bunkhouse Riot: Homicide, J-Train, Louie Ramos, Iceberg & Dusty Rhodes vs. Jack Victory, CW Anderson, David Young & Tank (w/Ronnie Stevens).
The brawls from the back spill into the ring to start the match. "Midnight Rider" hits, and the masked Midnight Rider hits the ring. Everyone thinks it's Dusty Rhodes, but Dusty Rhodes sneaks up behind the Group and cleans house. Anderson and Homicide pummel each other in a matchup of the two best wrestlers in the match. Iceberg hits a baseball slide into David Young's crotch. "Jesus Christ, kid, watch the nuts!" There's too much chaos in there to recap, but I'll just say there's a lot of blood and a lot of lowblows. Some more of Corino's flunkies jump in and attack Homicide's crew. Becky Bayless jumps the rail and picks a fight with Simply Luscious. Jack Victory helps out Luscious, which is more of a fair fight considering Victory's jobber history. Rhodes and Homicide drag Victory into the ring and jab a fork into his mouth! Victory quits about ten minutes in. There was no official time because it's not an official RoH match. Fans of sick brawls should get a kick out of this. There weren't any "high spots" to speak of like many brawls you see today, just a lot of punches, kicks and blood. ***
In the back, Rhodes tells Corino that Homicide is taking care of business. Homicide promises that it's not over. Julius also says some stuff. BLUDA! BLUDA! BLUDA!
Elsewhere, Cabana talks about Punk and his history of morality. Punk promises not to compromise his integrity. He says Raven's mind games won't work on him because he rejects Raven's lifestyle. After the "serious" promo, Cabana tells Punk he wants to come up with a catchphrase. Punk doesn't much like his suggestions.
The Carnage Crew tries to cut a promo, but the noise from the ring crew interrupts them. They berate Marcos and Dunn until another member of the ring crew tells them to go back to their crack addict wives. Big mistake. Not calling Devito's wife a crack addict, just telling him to go back to her. Devito smacks him around, and the CC decides to go to a bar.
Christopher Daniels calls the Group/Prophecy feud personal and reintroduces us to the newest Prophecy member — Dan Maff (formerly Mafia). Monsta Mack interrupts and demands an explanation. Maff tells him he's sick and tired of being passed over while following the Code of Honor. The Code of Honor got him nothing but carrying Mack's ass. Daniels tells Mack, who is on the verge of tears over losing his best friend, that April 26 will be the last ride for Da Hit Squad. Nice reaction from Monsta Mack there. He wasn't just a tough guy. He actually looked like he had his heart ripped out.
The 411: Although the undercard leaves a lot to be desired, the main event more than delivers its share. London and Danielson put on a match that recalled both Flair/Steamboat and Pegasus/Sasuke. The tag title match was good, if a little short. Plus, you get the dissolution of Da Hit Squad, and a rebirth for the Prophecy.