Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

ROH Round Robin Challenge III 5/15/04 Lexington, MA

1. Round Robin Challenge #1 - ROH Tag Title (6th,1): C.M. Punk & x-Colt Cabana vs Dan Maff & o-B.J. Whitmer (7:07) pinfall (suichoku rakka-shiki wrist-clutch Exploder)
Stupidly, the tag title is on the line in every round robin match. The Almost-Prophecy jumps the Saints before they get to the ring and a brawl commences. They work a fast, hard pace that eschews psychology but also the tedious pretensions of ROH's usual obsession with obsolete American-style tag rasslin'. But since this is ROH, it is utterly impossible to exorcise all pretensions, so not once, not twice, but three times Punk and Cabana try to walk out on the match (which of course makes no sense since ROH does not have ring outs); Allison Danger interferes (and nauseates us all by wearing a bikini top) and Ricky Steamboat at last orders Punk & Cabana back to the ring. They obey because what other recourse do they have? He's a 51 year old non-wrestler who had to retire from a neck injury, after all. There's no way two active wrestlers in their mid-20s could dare oppose that! Thereafter, Cabana gets dropped with the wrist-clutch Exploder and the Saints' first title reign ends seven minutes into its 21st day and less than one full show. **

2. x-Matt Stryker vs o-Alex Shelley (7:00) cradle
After being an inarticulable dummy for Joe previous show, Stryker's now allowed to be himself, which features interesting technical wrestling that blends nicely with Shelley's obscure fusion of Mexican and European grappling. Though they seemed to be thinking past their own dexterity in a couple places and Shelley's style of selling is unrealistically ostentatious, they worked well together within the pittance allotted them. Shelley took Stryker's Death Valley Bomb finisher but intelligently rolled to the outside to prevent a loss, then came back moments later with a freaky llave-type cradle to get the flash win. Throughout, neither strayed from a technical, chain wrestling approach. They didn't use it as an interesting opening just to shave time, they stuck with it as a dedicated stylstic concept and weaved it in and out of striking and power moves where applicable. Nice little match, and here's hoping we see more of this. **

3. o-H.C. Loc, Tony DeVito, Kevin Dunn & Kirby Marcos vs Prince Nana, Josh Daniels, Diablo Santiago & x-Oman Tortuga (8:04) pinfall (DeVito lariat)
This match is predicated upon the long-term storyline that Loc and DeVito are trying to dicsover who defecated in their luggage. Yes, Gabe Sapolsky is a genius. Not even a think-tank of Robert E. Lee, Stephen Hawking and Gary Kasparov could outsmart this guy. Clearly. Anyway, this victory will surely bring the Carnage Crew a step closer to the august fecal knowledge they so desperately require. A string of random words is not a novel, so why should a string of random moves be considered a wrestling match?

4. o-Samoa Joe vs x-Ricky Reyes (9:53) pinfall (Island Driver)
Nice, astonishingly stiff brawly U-style match thanks mostly to Reyes. Joe actually sells until nothing gives him a burst of energy and he unleashes his standard barrage of five moves. Though Joe, of course, doesn't deviate from his usual stuff, Reyes' incredible striking clearly pissed Joe off for real. This anger increased his pace and brutality, making the match far more memorable than many of his title defences. Reyes played a huge part in the success of this not just with his hard striking, but by creatively playing off of Joe's shallow pool of maneouvers with moments such as countering a bodyslam with a triangle choke. Joe of course wins, but the real talent was obviously Reyes. ***

5. Round Robin Challenge #2 - ROH Tag Title (7th,1): x- Dan Maff & B.J. Whitmer vs Jay Briscoe & o-Mark Briscoe (13:25) cradle
In announcing his intentions for the human race to reach the Moon, President John F. Kennedy said of this most admirable of goals: "we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Pro-wrestlers, on the other hand, do not seem to share this noble sentiment. They most certainly do not share it in ROH tag team matches. The dead horse has not just been beaten, all flesh has been flayed from the poor creature's bones, the remains of the skeleton pounded to powder. Correctly filling out Sapolsky's Madlibs form, Maff and Whitmer isolate Mark until Jay gets the hot tag for a few moments, then the magically revived Mark scores the "upset" flash pin on Maff. We have new champions again - Maff and Whitmer's reign lasted just over an hour. The only interesting spot in the match was Mark spectacularly botching a top rope maneuver. Had these four wrestlers simply walked into the ring and held up a large sign reading "IBIDEM" for 14 minutes, the effect would have been the same. There's a reason why tag team wrestling thrives in Japan and can never get off the operating table in the United States, and this is it right here and on every show. The idiot who books this comatose regressivity shrieked in ecstasy at the finish as though this were a 40 minute epic ending a three year reign. **

6. x-Dixie vs o-Josh Daniels (4:52) pinfall (Fisherman Buster)
Daniels squashes Dixie, during which Ox Baker of all people shows up waving a towel trying to unsolicitedly coach Dixie and Special K. Special guest booker Syd Barrett, apparently. How many people in the house would have even known who Baker was? n/r

7. Six Man Mayhem: o-John Walters vs Trent Acid vs MASADA vs x-Izzy vs Hydro vs Roderick Strong (12:31) pinfall (nadare-shiki Canadian Backbreaker Drop)
You can't accuse ROH of false advertising, as this really was mayhem and there were unquestionably six guys. They did lots of stuff, too. They were fast, they were hard, they were flippy, they showed off their movesets and alleged creativity. But they didn't conduct a wrestling match. Some may see the entertainment or art in six disperate musicians going on stage at the same time and playing as loud and fast as they can without any regard for what the other five are doing, but those who appreciate wrestling for coordinated art would and should be very bored with this sort of thing. Something worth pointing out: this was every man for himself and no tags were necessary, yet they still found a way to work a hot tag spot in! *

8. o-Homicide vs x-Spanky (16:14) pinfall (Western Lariat)
In all honesty, neither Homicide nor Spanky can be considered the upper echelon of pro-wrestling. However, their hearts tilt towards Japan and as such both have a certain ephemeral comportment and altitude to their craft that elevates them above an indy scene populated both by hobbyists and starry-eyed Monday Night-raised occidentalists, even if those individuals may actually have more raw talent. From this perspective, a reasonably alotted singles match between the two should easily produce perhaps not a classic, but an exciting foray well away from the torpidity of the surrounding card - provided, of course, no external pressures would deliberately interfere with such a performance. And there's the rub: Homicide has shockingly turned heel. He's a totally different man, he's on the edge, he could snap at any moment... Except, he isn't any different beyond acquiring severely annoying affectations and a manager that interferes as though we're in 80s WWF. Through this morass are orders to march lighter and slower than both wrestlers' capabilities up until the finishing blitz. Exciting though this phase genuinely was - both men countering each other's finishers was especially exquisite - even that was blunted by the match finish being predicated upon outside interference. Ring of Honor claims to be a "real wrestling" alternative to the big bad evil WWE, yet regularly utilises the exact same techniques that have long soured and frustrated the very fans ROH is allegedly trying to pander to. Implementing this exact attitude for the explicit purpose of an angle or feud is fine in a 5-minute television squash, but if you're giving 16 minutes to quality workers and charging $20 for it, you'd better let them show us what they're truly capable of. **

9. Round Robin Challenge #3 - ROH Tag Title (8th,1): Jay Briscoe & x-Mark Briscoe vs C.M. Punk & o-Colt Cabana (19:15) pinfall (Frog Splash)
Well, we're back to where we started last show, perhaps for the sake of giving the East Coast the exact same title change the Midwest just got to see? In any case, with Punk and Cabana no longer having to default to super hometown babyfaces, an actual match can be constructed predicated upon wrestling instead of the formality that was witnessed in Chicago. Because this is both teams second match of the evening, the pace is very slow to start, as all insist on selling damage from the previous bouts. While an admirable eye for details, it doesn't exactly add anything until Mark's brutalised ribs get exposed again, coming some ten minutes into a match which previously had been a slog of directionless jockeying to and fro. Punk and Cabana's tricks and techniques to keep Mark isolated from his corner are actually quite clever and interesting in one regard, but ultimately such a thing - psychologically valid though it may be - makes for a very boring match because Mark is doing absolutely nothing. Indeed, such a savage pummelling actually spoils the ensuing hot tag, since it is generally inconceivable to automatically assume the victim would be ravaged for ten minutes and then lose with no drama. Drama, though, did occur in the culmination. Some signs got missed, which lead to some confusion, but the Briscoes turn the tables with some very nice spots, including Mark breaking up a Punk Tiger Suplex with a Shooting Star Press (which looked excellent despite the stupidity of such a decision, given the damaged abdominals). In the end, Mark fights out of the Pepsi Plunge but ends up launching himself abs-first directly on to Cabana's knee, who then punctuates the match with a Frog Splash. A well crafted affair significantly superior to their previous meeting in Chicago, but still plagued by the dreariness of the obsolete style of tag wrestling ROH insists on using with impunity. ***


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