ROH Death Before Dishonor II - Part 2 7/24/04 Chicago Ridge, IL
The DVD begins with no talking, no angles, no dismal attempts at stand-up comedy - we're taken straight to the first match. Commentary remains Masked Sapolsky #2 and Mark Nulty.
1. Chad Collyer [x] vs Rocky Romero [o] (11:30) frankensteiner to ude-hishigi gyaku juuji-gatame
Athletic if somewhat inorganic (especially Collyer), competitive match in the New Japan style. Very smooth technical sequences with decent striking. Collyer worked the leg and Romero the arm, both to set up finishers. Romero inflicted more damage, so his victory made sense. His frankensteiner directly into the winning armbar was absolutely gorgeous. Good, BS-free opener, and the superior worker won. **1/4
2. Jimmy Jacobs [x] vs Alex Shelley [o] (14:29) Border City Stretch
Shelley carries in full, utilising his usual Anglo-Mexican technical routine to work the neck to set up his submission finisher. Jacobs defaults naturally to a plucky underdog role and does it well, with strong but brief moments of offense here and there. They even trade big match nearfalls down the stretch, but the result was never really in doubt as Shelley did the most sustained damage. He uses a nifty side backdrop move which he smoothly flips through directly into his finisher for the very believable victory. At this time, these two worked with and against each other all over the indies, so they knew exactly what the other was doing, allowing no mistakes or indecisiveness. Throughout its entire duration, commentary insisted this was a grudge match, but it wasn't worked that way at all. Really good effort by both, but it's probably close to the maximum extent to which they can go with each other, particularly given Jacobs' limitations. **3/4
Afterwards, in the same breath Shelley praises Jacobs' effort, then trashes him. All of Gen Next attack. Steamboat intercedes, correctly insults Evans' do-rag, then summons Walters and Stryker, which leads to:
3. John Walters [x] & Matt Stryker vs Roderick Strong [o] & Jack Evans (10:47) straightjacket-style Blue Destiny
They begin ostensibly in the middle with a hot tag-like beatdown by the faces, who use several interesting, well-coordinated double teams before a violently predictable, typical tag match resurfaces. After dominating to start, Walters irrationally draws the shortest straw to get interminably cut off from his corner. Though he's now bitched two straight shows about Gen Next not fighting fair, Steamboat hypocritically interferes. Later, while trying in vain to stop Shelley from breaking up a potential finish, Steamboat gets jumped from behind by Aries. Stryker stupidly abandons his partner to save the has-been, so Walters loses. Dumb. **
Evans' carnival acrobatics is fun if you're into that sort of thing, but his attempts at real pro-wrestling are laughable. Walters looked the best, which made his loss all the more annoying. This was a step backwards in the Generation Next storyline and belonged on Smackdown or Impact, not a $20 DVD.
4. Six Man Mayhem: Matt Sydal vs Trent Acid [o] vs Shawn Daivari [x] vs Delirious vs Great Kazushi vs Danny Daniels (8:43) suichoku rakka-shiki reverse brainbuster (sort of)
Gabe thinks Delirious has a "lizard face" because he wears a mask all the time. So, what, every luchador is a reptile, then? Anyway, this would have been a fun, brainless spotfest were anyone to get on the same page, but they never really did. So sloppy was this that Great Kazushi (Miyamoto Kazushi of - at the time - All Japan) almost broke his neck taking a cradle, somehow. His Muta-style mist blowing was actually the best executed spot in the match! Consistent with his overall performance, Daiviri didn't know how to sell Acid's finisher, so it looked quite lame. I guess this got six guys work, but it was otherwise nine unnecessary minutes. *1/2
5. ROH Pure Title: © Doug Williams [o] vs Austin Aries [x] (14:13) rope-entwined juuji-gatame
It's pure rules, which means more extremity-based amateur dramatics. Aries apparently believes himself unable to match Williams hold for hold, so he opens the match with some classical British heel tactics which incite a couple closed fists in front of the ref from Williams, which costs him a rope break. Later, Aries forgets about this routine entirely to no great loss. Both guys do, however, remember that pure rules feature a 20 count on the floor, so they walk through the most disinterested, drama-free Japanese double ring out nearfall spot ever witnessed by humanity. These two halfhearted aspects aside, this was virtually identical to Williams-Shelley from Reborn: Completion, including the finish. The "pure" concept does not work. It does not inspire wrestlers to be more technical, it forces already technical wrestlers into being boring. **3/4
6. Low Ki [o] vs Mark Briscoe [x] (16:40) Dragon Clutch
Low Ki absolutely dominates and looks great doing it. He's so confident, every pin attempt is of the cocky, mocking variety. Late, Mark gets a sort of one-man hot tag burst of energy to set up some very nice fast, hard hitting, reversal-abdundant back and forth action. However, this eventually gets sullied by sloppy interference from Julius Smokes to set up Ki's finisher. On the one hand, great as Ki was, this was way too one-sided for 17 minutes; on the other, that very one-sidedness prevented Mark from being fully exposed and allowed the hot finishing stretch. Mark displayed none of the technical prowess exhibited in his match with Shelley, but looked good refusing to give up while getting his ass kicked. Best match so far despite the heel garbage. ***
7. Homicide [o] vs Jay Briscoe [x] (11:21) Western Lariat
Fast, no-nonsense, back and forth indy match. They do not reach exalted levels of selling or technique, but the action is fierce. Jay actually withstands a Western Lariat, but more dumb incursions from Smokes leads to a second. The fans really and truly do not buy Homicide and Low Ki as heels. Their straight, honest cheering of Homicide made the externally imposed heel affectations all the more absurd. Good action, but these guys can do better, especially if the contrived bad guy crap ever gets abandoned. **1/2
8. ROH World Title: © Samoa Joe [o] vs Colt Cabana [x] (17:29) Muscle Buster
Can awful Vaudvillian comedy vanquish the mighty Joe? Colt is all business for two entire seconds, then throws streamers for himself. Joe does his usual stuff, only sloppier and not as stiff. Some strikes from both do not come close to connecting, but get sold anyway. Cabana in fact strikes and sells like he's on free late '80's WWF television, but mostly he's just a clown. At one point, he even flops into an empty corner looking for a tag from Punk. This was a weak, sloppy match with no rhythm and no drama. Cabana was not a believable challenger; even though his hometown marks were eating up his whole unfunny act, his performance was so bad the crowd counted with the ref to three in one voice, glad Joe - who himself looked bad - was able to end this farce. This would be barely passable as an undercard filler match; as a title match it was awful. **
The Rottweilers attack Joe but get chased off by chair-wielding Briscoes. No one seems to especially care.
9. Chicago Street Fight: C.M. Punk & Ace Steel [o] vs Dan Maff & B.J. Whitmer [x] (27:41) nadare-shiki tombstone through table
To the joy of absolutely no one, a neck braced, lipstick-smeared Allison Danger comes to the ring. The bad PA system and "shut the fuck up" chants drown out 99% of her must-hear promo, but the gist of it is that she blames Maff & Whitmer for her getting Copkiller-ed. This takes waaay too long; at one point a fan clearly shouts "I gotta work tomorrow!" Well, there's the door, mark. It's up to you to know your own schedule; it isn't incumbant upon ROH or any other form of entertainment to bend over backwards just for your extra-specially entitled message board trolling redneck ass. Anyhoo, the Wheel of Time turns, the Satya Yuga recommences, all souls have re-transmigrated back from the Brahman, lotuses have closed and opened again and Danger's point is finally revealed: she's here to introduce the weapons! Interns and referees very almost promptly deliver to ringside a barbed wire board, barbed wire two-by-four and a ladder in addition to your usual tables and "steel" chairs.
Gabe declares this an "unsanctioned match" that ROH officials have nothing to do with. Okay then, Mr Booking Genius, if that's true, answer the following questions: 1. Why is this on a DVD with you calling it? 2. Why is there an ROH referee in the ring? 3. Hell, why is there a referee there at all? 4. Why was this match being promoted by ROH for at least a month? 5. Why does Allison Danger decide which weapons get used? ...et cetera.
No sir, I do not suspend disbelief. That nonsense is for kindergarten plays, reality television and American presidential elections. I maintain higher standards for higher arts.
All four men arrive in old faded jeans and sleeveless t-shirts, meaning they're either ready for war or were possibly putting up drywall and/or planning on starting a Loverboy cover band. Since the show's dragging and they really honestly hate each other, the match begins with stalling that'd bring a tear to Trent Acid's eye. Punk & Ace mimic Dusty Rhodes, the blades come out quite early and Maff & Whitmer remove their belts. To whip their foes, that is. The pants stay up. Things progress as usual for a match of this variety: meandering brawly offense called in the ring filling time to set up bigger spots with the international objects, including many insanely stiff, CTE-assured chair shots to the head. Punk & Ace slide the ladder across a table to ram a chair into Whitmer's face, giving the match its finest juicing; Maff crashes Punk hard into the barbed wire board; Punk hits a dive from the top to the outside on Maff and a ladder. For the final stretch, ECW is once again not allowed to die as the fans are beseeched to throw their chairs into the ring. Insane head-dropping on the chair sea leads to Ace avenging the Exploder in Jersey by spiking B.J. through the table and bringing the match's total pinning attempts to two. As crazy as a lot of this was, nothing was particularly over the top by 21st century standards and the dramatic plotting was far too breathably linear. The spots did not accelerate much beyond stalling to props to furniture downpour. Since no one involved was a dedicated deathmatch guy, they could have worked this as epic "hardcore oudou" but opted for a less career-threatening '80's pace. This was not as great as the fans treated it, but it did stay interesting over almost a half hour, which is an accomplishment for a match of this type. ***3/4
Afterwards, Generation Next stumble across the ocean of chairs to assault Punk and Ace. Colt tries to come to their rescue, but also takes a beating. Ricky Steamboat, ibidem. Just to spite that one fan and make sure he's late for work, this goes on for quite a while. Fin.
What an odd, backwards weekend. With its three good title matches and inspired undercard, the previous evening in Milwaukee felt far more the "A" show, while this felt like a lower-priority house show, complete with half-assed obvious title defense and sleepwalking undercard. I guess you can't have a Chicago Street Fight in Milwaukee, but if you're going to base a whole show on one match (that your company has nothing to do with, remember), it had better be a decadal epic. It was not, nor did the show have a comfortable flow overall. Nothing was outright terrible - just annoying, contrived and affected.
No current feud is compelling, interesting or organic. There should be a limit of zero to one total NWO-like heel units per company. At this point, ROH has two, meaning there are eight wrestlers whose very real talent is held back by tired, stock antics. Milwaukee featured very little of this and not coincidentally was the superior show. The lack of backstage tedium on both was a happy respite, however.