The opening skit was beyond insulting- gym bags being thrown, disco lights strobing and crackheads doing breakdancing, let's get to the fucking wrestling
1) Jeremy Lopez v. Michael Shane-5
Lopez frequented WCW Saturday night back in the dying WCW days, I mainly know as Briand and myself watched almost all of it from '99. Not sure where he is today, well, shit, where the hell is Michael Shane at current? Guess since Tracy left him, she took the Bentley Bounce right out of him. Okay onto the match, Lopez is aggressive, in a controlling sort of way, like when your wife has to "remind" you of the leaves needing to be raked. Shane is always a step behind, but plays it well. This overachieved as an opening match.
2) Colt Cabana v. CM Punk- 6
Colt's elder statesman in this fed, fast forward 11 years and he's still in the 2nd match on the show. The build upwards in this I really like, and they did it well; not just a bunch of arm work that doesn't go anywhere, rest holds, or aimless crowd brawl, but there is a bit of it, then we go to stuff like neckbreakers, a hard clothesline, etc. There's a funny dynamic when close friends in the business wrestle, where you get a sense they feel there's more to prove or show you how good they are because they know each other better; I just got the sense these guys wanted to have a good match.
3) EZ Money v. Paul London- 6
Why am i digging '02 ROH so much better than the newer stuff? like the idea of these two in a match, both guys relished on pulling out stuff no one else was doing, but wrestling hadn't devolved into meaningless spot after spot. Guys still liked having their opponent sell the fuck out of something cool they did at this point, so when EZ flips over the ropes into a clothesline, which wouldn't mean shit right now, London tries to break his neck selling it then shows everyone that 'hey, that nearly broke my neck; damn im' in a lot of pain." For some reason i heard him saying that using actor Ed helms voice, don't ask why. See this one for those reasons if you're sick of Young Bucks matches.
4) Bryan Danielson v. Chad Collyer- 5
It's arguable who knows more about pro technical wrestling, Danielson clearly is the better in ring storyteller, who's able to craft masterpieces, yet here he lets Collyer look like a main eventer in any arena in the world. He stops Dragon at every turn, and this feels like it's in the vein of Eddie-Dean from ECW, just without the pathos. Couple big spots feel weak near the end, but match is quite solid and one of Collyer's better bouts, i'd venture to say.
5)Special K v. SAT v. Jay Briscoe/ Amazing Red v. Da hit Squad- 5
Jay's in action, guess Mark is still a minor so he's at home waiting for Kate Winslet's topless scene in Titanic. Red and the SAT's are breezing through these intricate spots like they're tying their shoes. Guess Joey Matthews is subbing in for Special K- his partner Deranged isn't a wrestler, he's a 70 pound idiot someone found in a dance club desperately trying to get someone, anyone's attention. Stiff forearm exchange from Jay and Maff that will cure any toothache- by knocking it out. I thought we were getting ready for a typical huge dive spot ( i was looking who would play the Danny Doring in it) but instead, I was surprised and Red superplexed Deranged onto about 6 guys from the top buckle. Fuck yeah. Excess is such a vice, and here it got unbearable, there was a lot of good stuff in this but a match where a Steiner Screwdriver and 7 piledrivers in a row doesn't finish a match is not a world i want to live in.
6) Divine Storm v. Jeff Starr/ Shockwave- 3
Fun sprint, that was it though. The try out guys didnt' get much offense in but guess that's the point. Announcers called Divine doing a flying DDT off the top; if that was a flying DDT I'm a bag of salt. Looked more like a guy trying to get a female to give him head while flying off the side of a mountain. Finish move was unbelievably sick and will cost Shockwave some extra dough for medical bills.
7) Bryan Danielson v. Paul London- 8
If oysters get womens' phermones going, i'd venture a guess that Danielson's pummeling forearms could do the same for men's testosterone, that or someone caught on fire. I thoroughly dug this; was HBK aware of what these two were doing in training or was he too busy looking at himself in short shorts in the mirror? Perfect pacing, really tremendous accurate selling from each and every move. London is a step above Danielson at this point, in my opinion and the super back drop has never looked better. Awesome finish as well, this and the ladder match with michael Shane cement London as possibly the guy carrying this company in the early days.
8) Xavier v. AJ Styles- 4
I've never seen an Xavier match I've liked. Flip side of the coin, there's not much AJ i don't like. But, Xavier's shittiness shone through. He totally represented that indy style i hated during that time, just big moves and no psych. hence, AJ's knee got kicked a few times and it was hurt enough to make him lose the match? Only big spot i really liked was a slingshot back drop from AJ that made Xavier think he was Moira Mac Taggart (fanboy joke)
9) Carnage Crew v. Homicide/ Abdullah the Butcher (Bunkhouse Match) - 3
The Crew aren't known for their wrestling accumen, so this is perfect. well, sorry, bad word choice, that particular word and HC Loc have never been mentioned together, unless you count the time he did successfully (and soberly) pulled out of his sister, finally. Sure there's a limit on number of inbred abortions you can have. okay, way off topic now, but has anyone seen that Disney short film "Grand Canyon?" It's eerie, serene, majestic, looking at those crags and splintered rocks draws similar comparisons to Abby's forehead and I weep. Fork comes out 5 seconds in the match, Abby never bothers using his knobby knees to climb in the ring until the end when post match, he bludgeons some fat turd (coincidentally wearing a clean white t shirt) in what can only be resembled as torture porn. ROH and fetishm have always went hand in hand in many ways, add that sick pasttime to it's list. Homicide seemed to be actively trying to make this something, broke his back on a flip through a table, got blood, gave blood, and tried to mend DeVito's cross eyes with his fist. In the end, this plays out exactly as you may picture it does.
overall, a lot of this show was damn fun and knew how to market itself, once you get near the end, esp. the main, it became just another indy fed that will bring in any one to sell tickets to see fuck finishes and blood. The only hand Abby shook that night was Feinstein's with a fat check being passed in the process.