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

ROH Scramble Cage Melee 8/24/04 Braintree, MA

1. o-Alex Shelley vs x-Jay Lethal (12:45) cradle
Jay explodes from the bell with fast, plucky underdog offense but Shelley soon breaks momentum by targeting the knee. And target it he does, for the entire match. Jay never once regains control, merely managing a couple counter cradle attempts. Shelley attacks the knee exclusively - including with a brutal top rope double stomp - then wins with a roll-up by pulling Jay's tights just when it looked like Jay was going to turn things around. Without an epic comeback by the face, a match like this is just a waste of 13 very long minutes. Then again, another 10 minutes with Jay carrying would be sloppy indeed. **

2. o-Jimmy Rave vs x-Angel Dust (10:49) pinfall (Styles ("Rave") Clash)
Rave is flanked by Prince Nana and the Outkast Killaz; Angel Dust with the rest of Special K, all of whom are still acting depressed and downtrodden. We all care very deeply for their plight. Sapolsky refers to this typical, east coast-style spotfest as a "bonus attraction." If you need a new Zen koan to meditate on, there it is. Inexplicable over-selling by both men aside, this was brainless but mostly harmless junk food. Despite involving distraction from Prince Nana, the final sequence was brisk and well performed. Angel Dust has creative offense, but he'll never be more than the extended mix jobber he ultimately was here. Rave, meanwhile, continues to baffle with his inconsistency. Athletically, he looked pretty good, but would periodically forget then remember he was the heel. **

3. o-Ace Steel vs x-Roderick Strong (9:36) ura-jji-gatame
Billed as a "grudge match," such a concept here apparently translates to "schoolgirl patty-cake slapping segued into a fast paced dojo run-through." Brisk and stiff though it was, at no point did it feel like anything more than a card-filler. The finish was not particularly well done, as both did a poor job of establishing that Ace was working up to a submission - especially considering the move he won with was neither a regular finisher nor particularly well applied. You see, Ace, you hurt an arm by bending the elbow backwards, not forward. **

4. x-Colt Cabana vs o-Austin Aries (16:09) referee stop (Rings of Saturn)
I'm just not buying the concept ROH tries to sell that Cabana's goofing around is an offensive tactic deliberately designed to frustrate his opponent. To me it just looks like cynical self-service, especially when the most interesting of such moments are actually just wholesale rip-offs of British great Les Kellett. Still, the weird synthesis of comedy, technical wrestling and brawling (including a blade job by Cabana) at least weaved a match less on autopilot than what you typically see on the independents. It honestly wasn't that good, but their creative spirits were in the right place. I'd rather see a bizarre experiment than a staid walkthrough. Cabana's bleeding being sold as contributing to him passing out from Aries' submission was rather contrived, though. I seem to recall seeing such a thing somewhere else, too. Wrestlemania XIII, perhaps? Gabe steals from only the best! **

5. ROH Tag Title (10th,1): Rocky Romero & o-Ricky Reyes vs x-Dixie & Izzy (13:15) pinfall (double team backbreaker / diving knee drop)
The story is the same as every other Special K match of the past several shows: they're trying to be serious wrestlers, not drug-addled raver prats. Structurally, this means every match defaults to the tried, true and tired formula of "underdog gets ass kicked, refuses to lose, loses." In this case, it's especially phony since Romero & Reyes are obviously several tiers above the scrawny Jersey kids. Seeing clearly professionally trained, well-conditioned wrestlers sell for guys who have as much substance in their offense as they have muscle mass blows up the entire match concept by stretching suspension of disbelief to transparent thinness. Furthermore, the old school battered babyface routine doesn't work with Special K since they're neither interesting or likeable. All they have going for them is goofy flippy offense. Putting them in a championship match and making them the focus of it is a brazen misuse of Romero & Reyes' undeniable talent. But at least these four were allowed to work a straight, Japanese-style tag without any of the usual ROH nonsense. **

6. ROH Pure Title (2nd,4): x- Doug Williams vs o-John Walters (18:49) knee hold around ropes
A real British wrestling match is divided into several rounds of 3 or 5 minutes. Each round is basically worked as a miniature match within the context of the overall whole. When done well, such nested dramatical construction is quite compelling. But take out the rounds and it's amazing how dreary the affectations of the style start to look. If these two were allowed to just incorporate such elements and their natural technical abilities into a real match instead of having to extract them exclusively - or even do a traditional World of Sport rules match - they could put on quite a show. As it is, the "pure wrestling" concept is flat-out boring and unfairly limiting on the workers. In fact, the strict conventions ultimately make every Pure Title match look and feel the same no matter who is in it - even if we get a title change! That said, Williams and Walters are talented, so of course that talent is going to shine through no matter what. It would just be nice if we could see all of it. ***

7. 3-way match: x-Samoa Joe vs o-Homicide vs C.M. Punk (17:53) pinfall (Punk Pepsi Plunge)
As is the case with all threeways, the action is structured around rotating singles matches while the third guy disappears for several minutes. The transitions for such here are all contrived; one never really feels a given omission is logical - it's just more "oh hey, where did Punk go?" while Homicide and Joe trade their usual scanty offense. Though these three where actually quite uncoordinated and arhythmic (particularly Homicide, as is usually the case), the mechanisms contriving the personnel rotations are less a knock on these specific performers and more a damnation of the entire concept itself. What was more problematic was actually the overall B-show apathy of the entire affair. The one interesting aspect - Joe using Homicide's fork against him (including doing an STFork!) - was actually integrated into the match in the most preposterous manner possible. Homicide gets the fork from his manager, but Punk knocks it away and the two scramble after it, looking for all the world like kittens playing with a ball of yarn, only for Joe to eventually grab it and hide it in his knee pad. For the finish, Punk had Joe fully beaten then Homicide stole the win, but it didn't feel like anything was proven or furthered. There were long stretches, indeed, where all three were just going through the motions. Overall, this match did have some decent moments - especially in the last third - but for the most part this felt like some kind of unholy crossbreed of Dragon Gate with old school Memphis television. ***

8. Scramble Cage Melee: B.J. Whitmer vs Dan Maff vs o-Jack Evans vs x-Trent Acid vs H.C. Loc vs Tony DeVito vs Kevin Dunn vs Kirby Marcos vs Diablo Santiago vs Oman Tortuga vs Fast Eddie vs Altar Boy Luke (17:39)
The silly concept here is to throw 12 curtain-jerkers into a caged battle royal where eliminations can only come by doing a move off one of the platforms lashed to the top of the cage. The cage is not closed so that guys can rotate in and out to do real called matches (such as they are) while everyone else screws around on the floor. Despite Gabe's hilarious attempts to make it sound like this had some kind of storytelling purpose, no one could be convinced this was designed to be anything but a crazy, wacky spotfest. And indeed it was, in fact bearing the stupid sort of charm that made early '00s CZW so entertaining. Unfortunately, almost every single participant was seriously injured in this match, so, once again - great job, Genius Gabe. **

* * * * *

This was not a terrible show that you should go out of your way to avoid watching (like Reborn: Completion), it was simply pointless. It was a B-level "come buy shit at our merch table, marks" house show that shouldn't have even been filmed. In fact, Cabana-Aries and the final three matches would all have a curious charm to them if seen on a shaky, grainy handheld bootleg - but treating this as a "real show" and charging $20 for the dvd is just embarrassing. What's particularly head-scratching is that this wasn't even the first day of a weekend double shot - ROH's next show is two weeks later!


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