ROH Weekend of Thunder Night Two 11/6/04 Elizabeth, NJ
1. v-Nigel McGuinness vs v-Chad Collyer (15:00) full time draw
Instead of opening with the usual flying squirrel exhibition, ROH decided to go with a serious technical wrestling match. They followed the standard three phase structure, Nigel carrying the first third with his very smooth, professional technicial skills. He's not quite ready for primetime and hasn't even really been tested in a higher-tension dramatical match, but his blend of 80s-style World of Sport and catch wrestling has been a genuine bright spot over the past several ROH events. The quality, however, drops noticably with Collyer in command. While Nigel was able to carry him into some clever counters while they were grappling, once Chad acquired momentum the difference in talent was obvious. Collyer opted for a less interesting "heel technician" sort of act, going for cheap shots, eye rakes and the like. Things got interesting again down the stretch as they traded clever pinning attempts, but then Collyer locks in his Texas Cloverleaf finisher (despite not once working on the legs) and holds on until the time limit expires. The dumb marks behave like they just got screwed even though ROH always announces the time limit for each match. Anyway, this was a solid if shallow opener. The real story to take out of it isn't any kayfabe silliness with a draw, but the fact that Nigel McGuiness is quickly becoming one of the most talented wrestlers on the roster. **¾
2. H.C. Loc & o-Tony DeVito vs Davey Andrews & x-Anthony Franco (4:08) pinfall (spike piledriver)
Almost Japanese-style rookie abuse. Punk's kids gets some offense, but no momentum. I never understood how you can teach rookies by jobbing them to veterans in 3 or 4 minutes. Have them wrestle each other for 20 on the pre-show or something. At least this was the 2nd match, not the 6th like last show.
3. Four Corner Survival: o-Izzy vs x-Trent Acid vs Jack Evans vs Fast Eddie (7:04) pinfall (nadare-shiki Shiranui)
Fast, hard, brainless fun. Acid and Evans looked particularly in synch, so it would be interesting to see them try to put a real match together. ROH does this sort of thing all the time, but for whatever reason this one clicked more than others. Of course there was still no psychology, no story, no drama and no point but I'll be damned if it wasn't entertaining. Still, I find it hilarious that the fans booed and chanted "bullshit" for a serious technical match going to a time limit draw but give this a roaring standing ovation. **
4. o-Jimmy Rave vs x-Jay Lethal (8:39) pinfall (Styles ("Rave") Clash)
They come out firing hard and fast, opening with a sequence of nearfalls and dodged finishers immediately from the bell. Rave gets control first but cannot put Jay away with several power moves. Jay even gets a rarely-seen counter of the Styles Clash before gaining momentum by winning a stiff trade of chops. The crisp lightning strike of action continues with Jay in control; he gets a 2.9 nearfall with a brutal lariat, counters the Clash a second time and almost gets Rave to tap with an odd sort of reverse Cobra Clutch d'Arce choke looking thing. But when he looks for his dragon suplex finisher, Rave's manager distracts the ref so Jimmy can hit a low blow and the Styles Clash for the win. Up until the ripoff finish, this was a fast, exciting match where both Rave and Lethal were for once at the top of their game. ROH to fans: "Fooled ya!!" Why don't you chant "bullshit" for this one, morons? **
5. No DQ: o-C.M. Punk & Ace Steel vs Austin Aries & x-Roderick Strong (19:58) pinfall (reverse Pepsi Plunge on to ladder)
Punk & Ace come through the crowd to jump Aries & Strong. They brawl and Punk gets an immediate nearfall on Aries with a Michinoku Driver II of all things. Thence, they work full tornado rules - no referee stupidity here in any form. Jack Evans soon appears bearing a ladder, so much of the encounter is 3 on 2, but not consistently. Jack exists basically for when they need a guy in really crazy spots. Overall, they structure this on a pendulous series of man advantages: one guy will get temporarily incapacitated by a big hardcore spot and double-teamed until he can recover and swing the action in the other direction. They repeat this without much acceleration (or, indeed, drama) over the whole match. During the middle several minutes, the action meanders into a cul-de-sac, looking perhaps like they ran out of spots, had to call everything in the ring and got lost doing so. The finishing stretch sees some creative moments, the best of which comes when Strong and Evans put Punk up for a Double Impact. Evans jumps off the top and Punk grabs him in mid-air and powerslams him down into the ladder. Of course, since it was on Evans no nearfall could come from it, but Punk and Ace then pick off Strong and go after Aries 2 on 1. Aries then insanely misses a 450 to crash fully into the ladder so Punk can beat the already battered Strong.
Overall, they were probably going for something more akin to the famous Wrestlemania XVI ladder match than to ECW or W*ING type hardcore - though obviously at a much lower budget. The match was 100% predicated on the individual big spots strewn throughout; while some of them were visually appealing there weren't enough "OMG these guys are out of their minds" type spots to compensate for or distract from the frankly dull unfolding of the match as a whole. It was a delight to see an ROH tag match without the usual anachronised garbage, though. **¾
6. o-Kevin Dunn & Kirby Marcos vs x-Dixie & Angel Dust (4:45) pinfall
Punk is sitting in a chair in the middle of the ring, having been there all intermission. He refuses to leave until Joe gives him a rematch. To pass time, he reads aloud from Mick Foley's children's book. Finally, Joe shows up and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah eventually Punk gets his title shot and an elbow in the face. Not only is Punk a better wrestler than Joe, he's also way better on the microphone. Punk gets the last word: "I'll be ready to fight, Joe. You just better work on some cardio!"
Unfortunately, none of that prevents the tag match from happening. It's exactly what you'd expect from these four: sloppy, spot monkey pointlessness.
7. ROH Pure Title: o-© John Walters vs x-Homicide (18:31) disqualification
Homicide can actually wrestle, but the ultra-technical Euro-catch specialty of Pure Title matches really isn't his forte. The psychological impetus of this was apparently supposed to be Homicide staying calm and not getting frustrated by the pure rules while picking his cheap shot moments World of Sport heel style, but what was actually seen was just an awkward, clunky technical match. It looked fine with Walters carrying, confused with Homicide in charge. He did manage to work some British style closed fists behind the referee's back; later, the ref did catch him and should have deducted a rope break but the guy seemed deeply confused as to the match's rules. None of this ends up mattering one whit, because in the 13th minute Homicide, while attempting a top rope suplex, slips and falls forward head first to the floor. After three minutes of deliberation between referees and Homicide's manager, the match continues - though Homicide looks woozy, like he'd just been revived from a knockout. Walters locks a scorpion, Homicide reaches the ropes, Walters locks a crab hold, Homicide says something to his manager, who immediately enters the ring and hits a lariat right in front of the ref for the DQ, and we're all left wondering just what the hell we saw. To my eyes, it did indeed look like something legitimate happened to Homicide, but ROH has cried wolf too many times to really know for sure. One thing is certain, though: whether by hook or by crook, this was not good. **
8. ROH Tag Title (10th,5): © Rocky Romero & o-Ricky Reyes vs x-Dan Maff & B.J. Whitmer (16:11) cradle
These four guys walked through today's assigned intelligence-insulting retardation with such a lack of energy that I can't help but think even the performers themselves realise how stupid the booking is. Romero & Reyes won the title with the single worst clean finish I've ever seen. From there, they haven't been allowed to work even against clearly inferior challengers - and here it got worse. The champions can accomplish absolutely nothing without referee incompetence or manager interference. It's so bad that the wrestlers themselves have basically become secondary implements of a match worked by the two guys who aren't wrestlers! Terrible as that is, Gabe didn't stop there: for the finish, he decides to insult Kobashi Kenta by having Rocky Romero kick out of the Burning Hammer. The match then grinds to a complete halt as the referee leaves the ring entirely to confront Reyes & Romero's manager face to face. Reyes and Romero then switch places (because they apparently look identical, now), Reyes rolls up Maff and they all bask in the chilly silence of an unimpressed crowd. After the tag team abortions of the previous show, I didn't think it could get much worse. Well, it got worse. Sapolsky hasn't just invalidated a championship, his booking has invalidated an entire division. Tag team wrestling has been taken out back and shot in the head. *½
9. o-Jūshin Thunder Liger & Samoa Joe vs x-Bryan Danielson & Low Ki (21:17) pinfall (Liger Bomb)
This was the perfect match for Samoa Joe and a vacationing Liger. Since Joe can only do five moves and Liger only wants to do about that many, it's a perfect formula to have Joe stand on the apron and sweat while Liger gets destroyed. Ki and Danielson control the entire match, themselves not doing much beyond their signature moves. Indeed, this seemed to be constructed by taking the previous evening's light workout between Liger & Danielson and filling a tag match around it. Like that previous match, this was entirely about Liger basking in the adulation of his American fans. He got it, he acted like Hulk Hogan, he got beat up by Danielson & Ki's dastardly heel tactics, and he was given yet another win. And Samoa Joe was there. If you've ever wondered what Liger would look like working Smackdown, here you go. **½
The most obvious interpretation is to say Weekend of Thunder was so-named in honor of Jūshin Thunder Liger, but when all was said and done it was named after WCW Thunder.
This second night was marginally superior to the first but was plagued by the exact same laziness and bad booking. The only thing that was ultimately proven over this weekend is that tag team wrestling has lost all relevence in ROH. Watch this show if you must, but don't dare spend money to do so.