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

ROH Final Battle 2004 12/26/04 Philadelphia, PA

1. x-Trent Acid vs o-Jimmy Jacobs (6:00) pinfall (Contra Code)
Syrupy little indy junior match with odd moments of comedy and an unusual lack of stalling from Acid. Afterwards, Acid gets on the mic and says he quits. And so it is: he is not thereafter seen in ROH. But that's okay, heroin is more interesting anyway. *

2. x-Becky Bayless & Angel Dust vs o-Lacey & Deranged (7:40) pinfall (Implant DDT)
The boys do a typical shallow-but-visually appealing flippy indy match; the girls have a very minor role. Becky has absolutely zero skill. This was another storyline-only type match that doesn't do anything for you unless you've gotten just the right kind of head injury so you can deeply care about a pointless feud on the bottom of the card. *

3. o-Homicide vs x-Josh Daniels (10:19) kimura lock
Television type match that had the length it did not through any in-ring tactics but so commentary could promote Homicide's coming best of 5 series against Bryan Danielson. Daniels gets a couple stretches of dominance, but it wasn't particularly believable given how obvious an infomercial this was. Homicide works on the arm and wins with an arm submission. Fundamental, old as the hills pro-wrestling strategy - but in this case it's supposed to be a stern message sent to Danielson. Alrighty then. *

4. ROH Pure Title (3rd): o- John Walters vs x-Jimmy Rave (11:32) submission
These two wrestled just last show, so credit must be given for them doing a completely different match from last time. The extraneous wrinkle that's supposed to pique our interest is that both men lose all three rope breaks. Really, though, it doesn't end up mattering because it all comes down to the usual formula of the champion locking a submission around the ropes. In this case, Walters hangs Rave in the "tree of woe" and yanks a sort of straight-jacket sleeper from the outside. The referee alternates between checking Rave and counting out Walters. Rave submits right after the count of 19. Kind of cute, I suppose - at least you can't say that was ripped off from the 80s. Cute affectations aside, this was actually pretty torpid. Maybe both guys had a little too much nog over the holidays, but their hearts just didn't seem into it. The momentum shifts in particular were very much walked through. **

5. Fight Without Honor: H.C. Loc & x-Tony DeVito vs Dan Maff & o-B.J. Whitmer (14:58) pinfall (wrist-clutch Exploder into thumbtacks)
In this company even a sodding deathmatch is centered on a manager. Actually, a former manager. Allison Danger won't go away and fully 75% of the commentary is about her and not the four guys brawling. But brawl they nonetheless do, slogging through attacks with chairs, tables, ladders, trash cans - basically a low-fi version of pre-PG WWE hardcore. The crowd is rightfully dead until Mick Foley comes out, cuts a promo during the match and introduces thumbtacks and our finish. Though the spots (such as they were) were actually very similar to the Chicago Street Fight back in April, nothing felt significant because no one really cares about this feud or Allison Danger. Believe me, I'm the last person in all of wrestling to care one iota for crowd reaction - but it should say something that the only thing that got the fans interested was Mick Foley. They actually chant for him after the result, not Whitmer or Maff. *

6. o-Jay Lethal vs x-Weapon of Mask Destruction #2 (6:22) pinfall (high-angle Dragon suplex)
Regarding the Weapon, Gabe says "this guy looks very generic" - you see, he's actually everyone's favorite false-Mexican Syrian French Canadian, El Generico. And because he's El Generico, he actually looks better in the ring than Jay, who often looks like he's suffering from stage fright. But this match was just to put him over, so he gets the win after taking some decent (if basic) looking offense from Generico. Many fans were actually chanting for the Weapon, so Gabe probably ground his teeth to a fine powder. **

7. Steve Corino & o-C.M. Punk vs x-Alex Shelley & Roderick Strong (17:32) Anaconda Vice
For a large chunk of this, Shelley and Strong were incidental to the Vaudeville comedy duo of Punk and Corino. The only things missing were the striped jackets, boaters and canes. Some of it was actually kind of funny, but I see it as a cynical technique to keep Corino from having to work hard. Yes, the guy who publicly bitched about Misawa being "lazy" was the most useless, lazy bitch on this entire show. The whole match was in fact structured so Corino wouldn't have to do anything but joke around and show off his signature moves in one single stretch of action. Punk gets isolated, then Corino gets the hot tag, does his three moves, then gets isolated without offense until Punk can tag back in - suddenly at max hit points - and win. But this wasn't about Punk winning, it was about Shelley losing. After the match, Aries and Strong use it as an opportunity to jettison him from Generation Next. In total, this wasn't without its moments and in fact wasn't as unbearable as a lot of recent ROH tag matches, but tourist Corino's egotistical presence really distracted from three guys who are supposed to be part of the company's core. **

8. o-Bryan Danielson vs x-Low Ki (~20:53) no contest (later ruled DQ victory)
What would be a marquee, high tension main event anywhere else on the independent scene in ROH is an over-long angle disguised as a match. This existed only to set up something in the future. The situation (which has already been touched upon this show in Homicide's match) is that Danielson and Homicide are going to have a best of 5 series, each match of which will have a different stipulation. The first one will be submission only, so Homicide's buddy Low Ki beats the hell out of Danielson's apparently already injured arm. Danielson sells the ten minutes or so of mugging to the hilt, acting like the limb is completely inoperable. However, additional damage to it causes him to "Hulk up" and get a stretch of momentum. They brawl into the crowd (most of whom have dozed off), Homicide jumps Danielson with a chair and the match is thrown out after approximately 22 minutes. This was a very weak effort even from Danielson - and everyone in the building responded accordingly. ROH needs to stop focusing on what's going to happen and worry for once about what is actually happening right now. What an insulting waste of time. *

9. ROH World Title (3rd,29): x- Samoa Joe vs o-Austin Aries (17:30) pinfall (450 Splash)
ROH seemed to center this entire show on the idea that the crowd will lose their mind for a title change. Indeed, the building was a mausoleum for virtually everything until it started to look like Aries was going to win. Sure enough, when he did the crowd went nuts. The sad thing is that one "correct" response like that will make the promoter think they put on a great show. So then, after 150 minutes of purportedly intricate plotting and strategising by C.M. Punk and 40 minutes of technical wizardry by Bryan Danielson, Aries gets the win in 18. But he didn't do it by working harder than Danielson and Punk or being a better technician or strategist or striker, he did it by... well, being booked to win. The truth is this match was of lower quality than even Joe's run of the mill title defenses. Joe may have blown up on his walk to the ring, ignored Aries' work on his knee and even forgot a couple spots. Aries looked fine (if comical, given the size difference) but the clear bottom line on this is the American booking philosophy that you can do whatever lazy crap you want so long as the title changes hands. Such mass psychology worked just the way it was supposed to on these Philly fans. Absolutely no one will remember the crappy match, just that it was the one Joe finally lost. **

* * * * *

The champ is dead, long live the champ. Everything here was a digression just to get to the title change. The other matches were either wholly pointless or television-like segments to promote future shows. American wrestling has an obsession with telling you about what just happened, hawking what's going to happen, but never getting around to what's currently happening. That was 90% of this show. Still, the stranglehold of over-booking was loosened a bit and 2005 will start with a new champion, so we'll see what happens.


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