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

ROH Glory By Honor III 9/11/04 Elizabeth, NJ

1. o-Jimmy Rave vs x-Dixie (5:39) pinfall (Styles ("Rave") Clash)
Same script as a show ago, but even more truncated. Rave dominates, Dixie makes a comeback, Prince Nana starts bellowing something on the mic no one can understand because of the bad P.A. and Rave wins with the Styles Clash. This is really how you're starting your "biggest show yet," eh? *

2. x-Matt Stryker vs o-Jay Lethal (4:24) cradle
Sapolsky explained it in much dumber, circuitous terms, but basically this is a "loser leaves ROH" match. Both come out firing with dojo intermediate class fury. After an exchange of New Japan undercardery, Stryker gets control and snares an ankle lock, only for Jay to twist and roll it into a cradle. A bit awkward, but still a cool spot. Looks like Gabe once again thinks we're at a television taping, though... *

3. 6-Man Mayhem: Ace Steel vs o-Trent Acid vs Izzy vs Kahagas vs Fast Eddie vs x-Angel Dust (7:16) pinfall (suichoku rakka-shiki reverse brainbuster)
A sloppy, goofy backyarder clusterfuck. You know you're in deep trouble when Trent Acid looks like the most professionally trained player in the match. True to form, the fans gave this display of futility a standing ovation.

4. o-C.M. Punk vs x-Austin Aries (18:55) schoolboy
Punk dominates the first half of the match by exclusively targeting Aries' left arm (Aries is actually left handed, so this makes sense). Working off the same concept as his matches with Danielson, then, the concept is to let the better worker carry everything and let Aries have his flashy moments of offense while trying to break Punk's momentum. Fair enough, and done well. The problem is how to handle Aries carrying, since at this point he just isn't adroit enough to do it. The momentum change comes with the lamest technique wrestling can utilise: Punk misses a dive. Aries then blasts him off the apron with elbows - using the hurt arm and selling nothing. One sloppy dive later and Aries is in control. So how does Punk compensate for Aries' shortcomings? He sells the scant damage inflicted on him thus far like grim death. After dominating utterly with his technical wrestling, Punk is suddenly so battered and exhausted you actually wonder if a whole sequence got cut from the match! Aries gets a handful of nearfalls, then Punk goes back to the arm - which is suddenly damaged again - working some rope-break nearfalls. This is all decent enough down the stretch and they pull off some nice counters; I particularly liked Aries trying to block the Shining Wizard with his hurt arm, only to suffer more for doing so. But then we get a ref bump. Strong & Evans attack, Ace Steel drives them off, then Alex Shelley stumbles in and attacks... but Steve Corino makes the save! Punk schoolboys Aries just as the ref wakes up and the marks all jump for joy at what they witnessed. The silliness that amounted to the finish was actually well done if you're into that sort of thing. But what I'm left with is that Aries is still clearly not ready for prime time. ROH thinks otherwise. ***
Steve Corino hadn't been seen in ROH since the War of the Wire event on 11/29/03, where he defeated Homicide in a no rope barbed wire match. Homicide, in fact, contronts him after the Punk-Aries match with a truly terrible, excrutiatingly long promo.

5. Dan Maff & o-B.J. Whitmer vs x-Chicano & Slash Venom (3:05) pinfall (wrist-clutch Exploder on to chair)
Chicano & Venom are shrieking harpy Allison Danger's latest hirelings in her attempt to destroy Maff & Whitmer. No one cared 10 years ago, so why am I explaining this now? Anyway, the match was a spirited little brawl while it lasted, but who the hell brings in two guys from Puerto Rico just to have them job in 3 minutes? *

6. o-Bryan Danielson vs x-Alex Shelley (19:20) Cattle Mutilation
Shelley carries the first half in meandering fashion. Down the stretch towards the finish, a key plot point being sold was Shelley's work on Danielson's neck, but during this period of control it's not immediately clear that that is what he's doing. He does land a sharp dropkick to the back of the head and tries the Border City Stretch early, but there was nothing to warrant Danielson later selling as though the match were on a razor's edge due to such damage. They plowed forward as though Shelley was doing a great job in his half of control, but he simply wasn't. Momentum goes Danielson's way in an equally murky manner: Shelley's in full command, then thumbs Danielson's eyes, making him explode with furious European uppercuts. So momentum flipped because Bry got angry? Considering we're supposed to believe his head and neck were being brutalised, that makes even less sense! He is Bryan Danielson, though, so things are much more clear and professional with him in charge. In sharp contrast to Shelley's performance, Danielson brutally destroys Shelley's arms in very clear focus indeed. True to script, Shelley launches a brisk comeback late, but a savage Regalplex is too much and the final Cattle Mutilation attempt wins it for Danielson. Shelley tapped almost immediately. Like Punk-Aries, it was crystal clear who the real prospect was and who was just along for the ride. Unfortunately, the guy along for the ride had his hands on the wheel too much. ***

7. ROH Pure Title (3rd,1): o- John Walters vs x-Nigel McGuinness (16:11) body scissor cross-arm sleeper
Instead of sleepwalking through the cookie-cutter pretentions of the "pure wrestling" concept, Walters & McGuinness decided to go for something closer to the British-influenced junior heavyweight style showcased by New Japan in the early 80s. The story of the match was, for once, a real wrestling contest instead of the yawn-worthy "who will use their three rope breaks first?" affectation that plagued every other Pure Title match. The first half was devoted to Walters controlling a wrist lock and Nigel's efforts to escape. So creative and exciting were these efforts that in essence the guy on defense was the one carrying. Nigel's tricks and techniques were all very British but didn't feel nearly as contrived or ripped off as the World of Sport worship usually seen on the mid-'00s indies. The coolest involved an Arabian Press type backflip off the rope to unravel the wrist lock and in the same motion fire a spinning back elbow. Thereafter, they went back and forth organically in the aforementioned junior heavyweight idiom. All nearfalls were predicated upon efforts to defeat the opponent, not efforts to get him to use a rope break. The finish was acceptable but came a bit abruptly. It'd be great to see these two get 7-10 more minutes with the gloves all the way off, but what we did get really was pure wrestling, utterly devoid of the typical ROH over-booking. Easily the best match of the card. ***

8. ROH World Title (3rd,23): o- Samoa Joe vs x-Doug Williams (17:52) pinfall (lariat)
It is not surprising that this match followed the standard Samoa Joe formula. It's a Joe title match, C.M. Punk isn't involved, so of course we're not going to see anything we haven't seen before: the opponent carries the first half in his own unique style, Joe comes back with form offense that hardly connects, et cetera - no big deal, it is what it is. What is surprising, though, is just how awful Joe's conditioning was. He blew up literally four minutes in. Williams had to oversell even minor sequences just to provide a glimmer of hope that Joe could get his breath back! As embarrassing as this all is, this match wouldn't have been anything to write home about even if Joe hadn't died right away because - again - it's a typical Joe title defense. Williams brought some truly exquisite individual moments, such as brilliantly countering Joe's powerbomb-STF combo Johnny Saint style, but at the end of the day (and the anticlimax lariat finish), the booking was just too transparent a template. Even during the nearfall flurry of the final third, it never believably felt like the clearly superior Williams had a chance of winning. But that's ROH for you. **

9. ROH Tag Title (10th,2) - Ultimate Endurance: o- Rocky Romero & Ricky Reyes vs Dan Maff & x-B.J. Whitmer vs Roderick Strong & Jack Evans vs H.C. Loc & Tony DeVito (20:25)
Ultimate Endurance is not a new type of match invented by Gabe Sapolsky, it is several lower undercard matches crammed into one segment to appear to the myopic to be a new type of match. This is fine and dandy if the multiplicity of lower undercard crammage was kept on the lower undercard, but we're to believe that this pile of randomness is a credible main event! Basically, the first two falls are just pointless digressions to get to the "real" match of Whitmer & Maff challenging for the titles. The path through these digressions is strewn with utter nonsense: in the first fall (submission only), a brawl erupts on the floor between everyone but Maff, Whitmer & Loc. Multiple referees - including the guy in charge of the current match! - try in vain to break it up. Maff & Whitmer use this opportunity to attack Loc's legs with chairs and follow with a double team crab hold. The second fall is a couple minutes of "six man mayhem" random spot crap. The third fall, which is supposed to be the "real" match, isn't much of an event since Whitmer had been destroyed literally the entire match, and continued to be until the end. This was a waste of time made even more infuriating by the fact that once again, the most talented wrestlers in an ROH match (here, the Havana Pitbulls) were badly, stupidly booked. A good booker gets the best out of a wrestler's abilities, he doesn't bury them under affectations and contrivances, nor does he book them to wrestle only half of a 20 minute match. I understand the "endurance" part - what has to endure is one's patience and wrestling sensibilities - but I have yet to figure out what's so "ultimate" about this rubbish. **

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This is the kind of show that makes Ring of Honor so frustrating to watch. Instead of just letting the talent go out and put on a show, we're forced to endure a pretend television taping with the equivalent level of in-ring work and way too much extracurriculars. I don't care that Steve Corino came back, I don't care that Mick Foley was there, I don't care what Homicide or Allison Danger or Samoa Joe or anyone else has to say, I just want the talented wrestlers to work good matches and not get buried under pile after pile of overbooked garbage. ROH is not a big league. It isn't now in 2014 and it wasn't in 2004. Sapolsky thinks he can just pretend to be a "real" wrestling company, but no matter what his delusions are, the fact is that ROH is an indy. It's Double-A Gabe. Everyone on the roster wants to show off so they can get more money somewhere else. Let them.


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