ROH Reborn: Completion DVD 7/17/04 Elizabeth, NJ
Backstage, in what looks like a lavatory, Samoa Joe quietly preambles the main event. He then mumbles something to the soon-to-be renamed Hydro.
Praise all the goddesses and gods, C.M. Punk is on commentary, and he likes Nulty as much as I do. Depressingly, however, Sapolsky is still there.
1. Roderick Strong & Jack Evans[o] vs Izzy[x] & Dixie (9:00) 630 senton
All of both Generation Next and Special K are at ringside. Routine drama-void flippy indy sprint, but the fans seemed to think they were watching Misawa-Kawada '94. *3/4
Postmatch, Gen Next annihilates Special K, including Becky Bayless. Shelley says tonight will go down in infamy (he's not wrong...) and Aries declares that its time for everyone else to step aside.
Good stuff, as for once Gen Next looked serious and dangerous instead of annoying wasters of time. It should be noted that no Jimmy Hendrix music played and no one was spraypainted.
Back in the bathroom, Danny Daniels makes no sense explaining why anyone should care about the Carnage Crew Fecalfeud. MASADA is more stoned than NOSAWA Rongai.
2. Pure Title Tournament Semifinal: John Walters vs Doug Williams[o] vs Nigel McGuinness
vs Jay Lethal[x] (18:38) Chaos Theory
As this is part of a tournament for the Pure Title, naturally pure wrestling rules will not be used. Obviously, this had a very British feel, as Williams & McGuinness mimic almost in total what they saw on World of Sport as children in a very successful effort to shave time. Things do eventually culminate in faster, quadropartite action, but a large chunk of this was nothing but fluff. **1/2
3. Weapons Match: H.C. Loc[o] & Tony DeVito vs Danny Daniels[x] & MASADA (10:10)
At long last, the thrilling conclusion to this epic feud. On commentary, Punk mocks this about as I would. Unspectacular tornado tag brawl with chairs, crutches, under-the-ring miscellanea and one table. Everyone half-heartedly juices. Nifty finish: Loc & DeVito put a trash can over Daniels and unleash a full strength paroxysm of baseball bat strikes. Aside from the finish, you see this kind of match on the undercard of any hardcore/deathmatch-based show. *1/4
4. Pure Title Tournament Semifinal: C.M. Punk vs Alex Shelley[o] vs Austin Aries vs Matt
Stryker[x] (19:30) victory roll
Shelley talks AGAIN. He declares Stryker's spot as already taken and punches Punk in the face. Now that's more like it; Gen Next is finally acting how they're talking.
Very problematic match. Obviously, Gen Next mates Aries & Shelley are going to work fully as a team. Early on, an odd dynamic is presented that could be expressed as (Aries & Shelley) vs (Punk vs Stryker), but that intriguing overbooking lasts roughly 3 minutes before sinking fully into the turgid, obsolete, paint-by-number tag match that Generation Next does with virtually no variation every show. Near the end, the odd dynamic returns for an exciting if contrived stretch of action before a confusing finish where, simultaneously, Punk pins Aries and Shelley pins Stryker. The victory goes to Shelley and no explanation why is ever given.
While all four tried to put over the "pure wrestling" concept with extra emphasis on technical wrestling, including the use of T2P-style submissions, the micromanaged booking seriously overreached itself, leading to distractingly amorphous psychology and confusing decisions by the wrestlers. What should have been a fun 20 minutes with four good (or better) technicians thus became very difficult to watch and believe. Less is more in pro-wrestling. **1/4
Punk cuts a decent promo declaring himself better than Shelley. No breaking news, there. Curiously, he specifically excludes Aries from his comments.
5. Falls Count Anywhere: Colt Cabana & Ace Steel[x] vs Dan Maff & B.J. Whitmer[o] (10:50)
gattai isu kougeki
Back on commentary, Punk angrily declares that everything in ROH sucks. No arguments here.
A chair-swinging brawl through the crowd leads to a two-sided balcony-type construct. Whitmer elbows Cabana off the side away from the crowd, which Sapolsky shrieks is a 20-foot drop. Yeah, sure. Then, when Maff shines a spotlight in Ace's eyes, Sapolsky turns into Tony Sciavone with an agonised "that light is red hot!" Yes, Gabe, its a goddamn laser cannon. Stereo chair shots then put Ace away. Actually a decent little brawl, but particularly pointless when considering the coming match in Chicago. **
Oh great, Allison Danger has the mic. She says she still owns Maff & Whitmer's contracts. Good luck with that.
Backstage, Special K do an inadvertent MEN'S Club impression, minus the ability, entertainment, intelligibility and Karma Chameleon soundtrack.
In the ring, Prince Nana, out with a couple jobbers, says he cleaned out his royal bank accounts to bring in a new wrestler for The Embassy. Fully free of comic irony, the dramatic reveal is... Jimmy Rave?! I guess Nana isn't a very savvy shopper. Sort of like paying elite escort rates for a crack whore. And speak of the devil, Rave's opponent is Trent Acid!
6. Jimmy Rave[o] vs Trent Acid[x] (10:03) Styles Clash
Acid takes a full Vedic cycle to get in the ring. Once he does, he absolutely dominates, then loses to (GASP!) the Styles Clash. Rave looked so awful here by comparison Acid looked like one of the best junior heavyweights on earth. Nana shouted over the house mic the entire match, giving it a level of impossibly annoying ambience Jimmy Hart could only dream of. *
7. ROH Pure Title - Tournament Final: Alex Shelley[x] vs Doug Williams[o] (19:21)
In a fever dream forged synthesis of Pancrase's point system and British rules, "pure wrestling" rules grant each wrestler three rope breaks, which can also be taken away from fouls. If you lose all three, your opponent obviously does not have to break a hold in the ropes. I wonder if that'll come into play, here...
The story is Shelley's arm. It was worked on earlier in the evening, so Williams targets it exclusively with a variety of British holds to force Shelley to use all his breaks. Shelley sells the arm like all existence will unravel if a submission gets applied to it, which, contrary to good "psychology" makes it obvious he'll never be able to come back. Both guys show with arrow straight, unsubtle actions through the goofy rules that the match has but one possible conclusion, and so it is: Shelley taps immediately to a submission around the ropes.
This was nothing more than a disguised squash. Shelley got in some courtesy offense, but
the story was so obvious there was absolutely zero drama.
Williams's British wrestling is not at all impressive if you watch the great matches of Johnny Saint, Jim Breaks, Rollerball Rocco and others from the '70s & '80s and realise that the indy Euro-style fad in general is little more than base mimicry. Simply, then, a mistake-free exhibition of technical wrestling and a child's introduction to ring psychology, blunted by a weak match concept. **3/4
Gary Michael Capetta is out to introduce the Punk-Steamboat "confrontation." Over a convoluted, overbooked 15 minutes, Steamboat beats down Punk, Generation Next beats down Steamboat, Punk teases joining the NW...Next, then joins Steamboat in driving them off. Ultimately, then, lots of time was wasted doing what had ostensibly already happened naturally during the draw with Joe: turn Punk face. But we musn't let fans make up their own minds!
8. Samoa Joe, Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe[o] vs Homicide[x], Ricky Reyes & Rocky
Romero (32:01) DQ
Homicide's team is dubbed the Rottweilers. Joe & the Briscoes have no collective name; in ROH that's a luxury granted only to heel units. Sapolsky is in full self-fellatiation mode, declaring this an epic before the opening bell has stopped ringing. Far from this assertion, in reality this was little more than a slightly stiffer, free WWE television level match vacuously bloated to an unnecessary length. It is hard to explain; perhaps they were under indefensible, inexplicable orders from Sapolsky to work light. Perhaps they were as drained as the audience for having to sit through a four hour commercial free episode of Nitro. Perhaps they just didn't know what to do with the irrational match length. Indeed, they seemed to have either no clue how to work together or - impossibly - no desire to. A promised "war" between hated foes was instead a meandering vacuum of midcard routine moving with no dramatic rising action to Homicide throwing a fireball in Mark's face (or thereabouts) for the THIRTY TWO MINUTE DISQUALIFICATION. **1/2
Mark gets helped to the back while the Rottweilers beat down Joe & Jay. This continues
GOOD GAWD AWMAHTY!! Low Ki! Low Ki! Low Ki is back in the Dubbayadubbaya... um, of Honor! His music is playing but he's not supposed to be here!
Ki takes Joe's title belt and chastises Homicide for his actions. Then, in a swerve that could be seen coming with the naked eye from Pluto's apogee, he says that no one disrespects ROH... but him! And he clocks Joe with the belt. The now four strong Rottweilers then cover Joe with an ROH sign and stand tall as the show at long freaking last ends.
Including the post-match angle, this went over an hour. Yes, imagine the final segment of Raw running 45 minutes past the top of the hour instead of 10 and that's about what this was!
In all honesty, Low Ki's return was a good, generally well-executed idea, it just shouldn't have been the climax of a free television-grade show that went almost four and a half hours! Had the main event been a crazy, bloody rampage for 10-15 minutes; that is, the true Six Man War it was billed as, the long angle would have been even more effective than it already was and no one would care about the match being short. "Long" is not synonymous with "epic".
The show is over for the Elizabeth goombahs, but not for us with the DVD. Backstage, we're treated to yet another Special K segment that doesn't appear to tie-up any loose ends at all. Just avant and quit my sight back to Jersey All-Pro, you hacks.
Pre-show matches ("Do or Die III")
1. Matt Sydal[o] vs Delirious[x] (13:01) quasi-Shiranui Kai
An extended club mix of their match at Reborn: Stage One. Just a psych-less floor routine of their moves and ability to work with each other. Their athletic ground work was the best thing here, while their wildly uncoordinated strike exchanges the worst. I'm not sure just how much better they can be than what they showed here, but we'll see. **
2. B-Boy[x] vs Josh Daniels[o] (10:05) ground cobra twist
Entry-level "strong style" junior heavyweight dojo match like you'd see between rookies on a ZERO1 show. Nothing complex. B-Boy looked more interesting, so he jobbed to a surprise ground cobra twist. *1/2
Richard Wagner's 14-hour Der Ring des Nibelungen is an epic masterpiece of music drama. It is not considered such BECAUSE it is 14 hours long, but because Wagner's genius dramatic and orchestral writing shines through across the entire staggering length of the work. This megalithic edifice of art is such due to its almost unbelievable density of technical skill, focused human imagination and profound, centuries-spanning sociopolitical significance.
ROH Reborn: Completion is the direct inverse of this concept. Gabe Sapolsky has shown a consistent belief that length equals quality. This show, filled with tepid TV walkthroughs, clocked in at 4 hours, 24 minutes. On commentary, Sapolsky loudly bragged about this fact as though it were an accomplishment unto itself!
A show is not a legendary supercard because of length. The two All-Star Dream Slam shows - for example - are longer than Reborn Completion by nearly an hour, but they overflow with incredible, lengthy, maximum workrate matches by the best of the best.
Four and a half hours of convoluted, micromanaged matches already worked half-heartedly is not epic. These matches drowned under sports entertainment writing from an indy booker who somehow cannot understand that his company lacks weekly television and pay-per-views is not epic. Spending an hour just to get to a "surprise" return and "shocking" heel turn is not epic.
It is a waste of time.
Let the best wrestlers go for the best matches. Believe it or not, good wrestling takes care of itself and is far easier to coordinate than waiting for mommy and daddy to leave so you can play Monday Night with yourself.
Just ask Misawa, Kawada and Kobashi.
If you're dying to spend 4 1/2 hours on something, of similar length are Wagner's operas Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Gotterdammerung and Parsifal. In wrestling, go for All Japan Women's biggest shows. They're all immesurably better than this insipid nonsense!