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NWK reviews Ring of Honor Final Battle 2002

Posted: Jun 4th, '19, 13:01
by NWK2000
December 28, 2002 Philedelphia PA

Punk and Cabana in the car: Awesome! I think they do a better job than the end of last show did getting across that Cabana is an aloof, lovable asshole (to the point where he doesn't even understand why Cabana would be upset at him). It also introduces Ace Steel as the merry prankster behind the camera

Show open: Good. It doesn't spoil anything major and showcases the wrestlers out of order so you don't get an idea of the card right away.

Steve Corino interview with Gary Capetta: GREAT! This felt like the promo Jeff Hardy should've cut after Bound for Glory 2010, explaining all the negative things that have happened to him in his attempts to get over, and getting screwed by promoters. This also has a tinge of "I'm better than everyone because I worked in Japan" They also allude to Steve Corino's new group. He's also such a big heel superstar he's a dick to sister Allison Danger.



Winner gets a Ring of Honor Contract
CM Punk vs Colt Cabana


I feel like this match tells a more coherent story than their one last show. Cabana is the bigger, more powerful, more technical quasi-heel whereas Punk is the quick, exciting face. The slower pace definitely works better as a showcase for Cabana, who gets to show off his unique submissions and beefy lariats. Punk gets a crazy sunset flip out of a corner Alleyoop spot which I thought was pretty cool. Why this match certainly does have a bit of "Movesz" syndrome, I think they also effectively tell the story of not only people who have wrestled a bunch, but people who have studied their Night of the Butcher match. Punk wins with the Pepsi Plunge.

This felt like a natural evolution to the last match they had, and told a great story

8.75/10
Homicide and the Backseat Boyz back stage: AWESOME. Homicide apologizes for their last match, and the Boyz forgive him. I thought seeing a chilled out Homicide really fleshed out his character.

Christopher Daniels in-ring interview with Gary Michael Cappetta: Insufferable douchebag Daniels demanding an in-ring interview segment works so great. Luscious is with Daniels, and it turns out the meat of the promo is a perfect delusional heel about Alexis Laree attacking Luscious Alexis comes out, and we get
Alexis Laree vs Simply Luscious (w/ Christopher Daniels)

Luscious gets the jump on Alexis because of course she does, Alexis takes control, but then Daniels comes in, hits the Last Rites while the ref is distracted and allows Luscious to pick up the pin.

Stuff like this is why I love Daniels and the Prophecy. You really get the idea that they're following more Sports Entertainment rules, and it enthuses the fans into disliking them more than anyone else as a result.
No rating, excellent segment
The commentators act like they're going to throw to the next match but instead

Steve Corino shows up to cut a promo: It was a great promo in which he, on behalf of his new group, calls out the Prophecy while simultaneously getting over his bitter, pompous character , and dumping Simply Luscious, who leaves the ring in tears. I feel like this would've been more effective if the Corino interview had been inserted at the end of the tape as opposed to the beginning, but that's just a minor nitpick. Daniels also becomes more of a tweener, which s a great place for him to be in general, as people can't help but cheer Daniels in certain situations. Corino is a prick about American fans. Homicide shows up to brawl, and they tease a fork spot, but we don't get it. This was awesome all-together.


Da Hit Squad promo: Alright, but Maff is clearly the strong link in this team promo wise

TAG TEAM SCRAMBLE
The Backseat Boyz vs. Da Hit Squad vs. Deranged & Angeldust (w/Special K)


At first I was a bit miffed that the Backseat Boyz came out to The Midnight Express theme, but they're super charming babyfaces and they turned me around. Also, between the High Impact TV taping and here Jay Lethal has become Hydro.

This is an interesting mix of your normal Scramble fair of moves, as well as the feud between Hit Squad/ Special K, and the fact that it's sudden death adding some psychology. Also the fact that Special K gets the cheap win adds to a feud, which might be the first time since the Whipwreck crew feud a Scramble has meant anything.
7/10



2/3 falls match for the ROH World Tag Team Championship
The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels and Donovan Morgan) (c) vs The SAT (Joel and Jose Maximo)


The story to start is that the heels are more technically proficient but the faces are speedier. When that speed comes into play, the heels stall. The faces dominate early but then the heels take control . The babyfaces attempt comebacks but the heels always thwart it with cheating. The babyfaces do get a comeback, but the illegal man gets pinned with Revelations for the first fall. Much the same in the second fall, with even less offense by the SAT. We get a wacky double down, but it's used for the heels to cut off the hot tag The SAT's make a comeback even hitting a fucking tornado facebuster Doomsday Device but that isn't enough. The SAT hit the Spanish Fly to get the second fall. The third fall all moves, but it works as they've wrestled a relatively tame style before this. As if the Tornado Facebuster Doomsday device couldn't be topped, Morgan catches a Maximo in mid air and, off the other's shoulders, hits a spinebuster in mid air. And that isn't even the finish! Daniels reverses a tombstone into the Last Rites to win.

This was a GREAT match. My only complaint is were a lack of legal man enforcement in the third fall (which, putting my booking hat on for a moment, could've easily been made a stipulation by making the third fall a Tornado Tag rules match), However, I do like the fact that all three falls ended on established finishing moves.

9/10

Jody Fleisch and Special K segment: Jody takes up the Special K's offer to party. I liked this. It gives special guest Jody more character than he would've had had the match just been cold

Carnage Crew (HC Loc and Tony Devito) vs The New Christopher Street Connection (Mace and Japanese Pool Boy (w/ Allison Danger)


The traces of Mace being a heel are gone, and there's just a random unnamed dude with them. Fortunately we don't have to ponder this too long because after some gay panic spots, the Carnage Crew beat the shit out of them with weapons for the DQ. This is one of those things that only they can pull off effectively.

No rating, good squash
Post match:: The gays cuddle each other as their asses are beaten with weapons while DeVito asks if we want to see some gay bashing, which actually stuns the crowd into silence. The CSC are left laying in their own blood.
Homicide promo: AWESOME everyman babyface promo

Jody Fleisch vs Amazing Red


We get some technical wrestling and some fun lucha and a standoff. After some moves and a double down, Special K wander out Special K interferes on Jody's behalf for a win.
This was a meh match

5/10

Post match: Special K beat down Red and SAT when they come down. They demand a rave, but Divine Storm and Trinity come out only to get laid out. JT Smith and Da Hit Squad show up, as does the mysterious black guy. JT dissuades the tension between Da Hit Squad and the Big Black Guy. The Big Black Guy attacks JT, which opens Da Hit Squad open up to attack. The heels then rave. This felt more like a TV angle than you'd normally see in ROH but it makes the Special K into a credible heel unit.

We get Xavier's entrance, and then a...
Xavier promo: Meh. It felt like a house show promo, but it at least gets the crowd riled up for

ROH World Championship
Xavier (c) vs Paul London


Xavier jumps Paul at the bell. Paul eventually fights back. Xavier blocks a high flying move, but Paul surprisingly takes control with a headlock takeover. Xavier does an unclean break, but Paul fights back. Big strike exchange next, which Xavier wins with a thumb to the eye. Now it's all Xavier working Paul's head and neck. London tries to steal a few pins but Xavier fights back. More strikes which Xavier gets the better of. Now Xavier is working the back. They do a good job getting London's heart over, but some of Xavier's offense is so wacky it makes him look like a dweeb, including what leads to the comeback. We get a shooting star press to the outside on a standing Xavier which looks brutal to do on a rec center floor. We get a bunch of false finishes from here. Great false finish where the crowd actually thinks London got three. We get a tease at the Hart/Austin Survivor Series 96 finish, but then Xavier holds on for a Cobra Clutch Suplex going back to the neck when it counted and hitting the X-Breaker for the win.

This was a great match, if not a little slow, but once it picked up it really picked up. London really got over as a main event calibur guy, and they're clearly looking to emulate Shane Douglas' championship runs in ECW with Xavier but he's not at that level.

8/10
Special K and Da Hit Squad segment: Special K's big bodyguard is finally given a name in Slugger, and he kicks the camera man out of the rave. Da Hit Squad show up and give Slugger shit untll they leave. Special K having a bouncer is a great touch.
Steve Corino promo: He shows up dressed to wrestle, gets a chair and starts insulting the crowd. Homicide comes out, but Corino jumps him with his fork and gets Northern Lights Bombed and Piledriven. Low Ki finds out that Corino assaulted 'Cide, and Dragon is pissed as well. Rob Feinstein puts Corino in the match which means
Four Corners Match for the #1 Contender's Trophy
Steve Corino vs Low Ki vs Samoa Joe vs "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson

This is a slower than usual match, BUT you do get a synposis of why Ring of Honor rules, hard hitting, technical wrestling. This match also does the spot where someone taps just as the time limit expires. I get that they want some ambiguity going into the big expansion year, but all the same, why not build to a Ki vs Xavier rematch
All of my whining aside, this is still 45 minutes of Ring of Honor action that I highly recommend.

8/10

Conclusion


ROH is almost unrecognizable from when it began 10 months ago. What was once your run of the mill super indy is a true wrestling company with its own storylines and feuds, and one that is capable of showing a serious product with a lot of wrestling styles represented. A lot of Rob's goofiness seems to be gone, and in its place seems to be an overall good card, which is the first I've been able to say that with no tournaments of round robin challenges present I'm looking forward to ROH in 2003, see y'all at ROH One Year Anniversary Show!

Bonus Matches


ROH High Impact TV taping

Jay Lethal vs Homicide


For some reason, they just let Hydro perform under his regular ring name and hoped nobody noticed
Jay is the Japanese young boy who gets a few spots in but gets killed by Homicide. This was alright for the footage we got, and again, makes High Impact look like a great TV show.
5.5/10

Ring Crew Express promo for high Impact TV: These guys have grown on me, and I thought they'd somehow earned a tag title shot tonight, but instead we get.
ROH High Impact TV Taping
The Ring Crew Express vs The Prophecy

They cut their promo but are attacked midway through. The Prophecy win.
No Rating, Meh squash

ROH High Impact TV Taping
Ace Steel vs Jay Briscoe


Ace looks like a buffer Kenny Omega here. The fact that Jay didn't need a nothing TV match and Ace looked unimpressive.
DUD
ROH High Impact TV Taping
Samoa Joe vs The Outcast Killaz


This is a squash for Joe, but I'm giving it a DUD on principle because they don't bother to explain why handicapped matches are suddenly allowed.
DUD

Re: NWK reviews Ring of Honor Final Battle 2002

Posted: Jun 4th, '19, 15:37
by Big Red Machine
NWK2000 wrote:
Jun 4th, '19, 13:01

Steve Corino promo: He shows up dressed to wrestle, gets a chair and starts insulting the crowd. Homicide comes out, but Corino jumps him with his fork and gets Northern Lights Bombed and Piledriven. Low Ki finds out that Corino assaulted 'Cide, and Dragon is pissed as well. Rob Feinstein puts Corino in the match which means
Four Corners Match for the #1 Contender's Trophy
Steve Corino vs Low Ki vs Samoa Joe vs "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson

This is a slower than usual match, BUT you do get a synposis of why Ring of Honor rules, hard hitting, technical wrestling. This match also does the spot where someone taps just as the time limit expires. I get that they want some ambiguity going into the big expansion year, but all the same, why not build to a Ki vs Xavier rematch
All of my whining aside, this is still 45 minutes of Ring of Honor action that I highly recommend.


8/10
I think by using the term "ambiguity" you are misdiagnosing what is going on here, because this actually very much is building to the idea of a Ki vs. Xavier rematch.
I could be remembering things wrong and my own reviews of these shows were more intended to be "buyer's guides" like a lot of the YouTube reviewers I was watching rather than detailed artistic analysis (I do plan on updating them all at some point... hopefully before DVD players become obsolete) so I don't have too much detail of what was said on later shows recorded and some of this is stuff I am only seeing now in hindsight, but here goes:
The goal here was not to create ambiguity for it's own sake so much as the smidgen of ambiguity was necessary for the situation Gabe was ultimately trying to create, which was one where we could be made to feel that the Prophecy were abusing the power that holding all of the titles gave them in order garner unfair advantages from ROH. Gabe had already dipped his toe into their waters at Glory By Honor with the whole "the Prophecy is trying to ruin ROH's most important show by not allowing any of the titles to be defended!" thing, and the next "this is our biggest show ever" show was the planned anniversary show in February, so it made sense to do something similar there, though this time instead of not defending the titles, they were going to make the top three contenders to the ROH Title have a #1 contendership match right before the title match to give Xavier an advantage.
For that to happen required no clear legal #1 contender, but also to have someone (in this case Ki) who clearly "would have" won, hence this sort of finish. It also allowed Joe (and Dragon) to not only merely "not take the fall" but to not take any sort of loss at all, which was beneficial because not losing would mean less work was required to build up Joe before putting him in the #1 contendership match a few months later to lead to his title win. The intervening show before the anniversary show was used to solidify Ki as someone who should have been a clear #1 contender even more, but the Prophecy were trying to avoid it (and the show also allowed London to be rebuilt a bit so he could be in that #1 contendership match, and put AJ opposite the Prophecy and on the winning side once again as well).

As to why Ki never winds up getting a rematch:
1. Gabe had a master plan to not give Ki a rematch until Joe had the title, which got put off first because of Ki's shoulder injury and then later because Ki didn't want to do a job and/or had a lot of Japan dates and they couldn't quite work it out (I suspect that the "Ki didn't want to do a job" part is the reason why we have the weird four-way we do at the 2nd Anniversary Show).
2. I think it's entirely possible that Ki vs. Xavier was supposed to happen at the anniversary show but plans were changed because of either Ki not wanting to do a job or because of how hot Paul London got, and in particular how much the crowd loved him tonight.
I haven't fully thought this through, but some of the booking makes me think that between London's dental emergency (which we know for a fact changed the booking), Ki's shoulder injury, the entire Group vs. Prophecy debacle (and especially the stuff The Group, but also lack of access to Donovan Morgan), Dragon's tour of England (which I suspect Gabe might have thought Dragon was doing to be back from a lot sooner, or else putting him over Joe right before putting the belt on Joe doesn't make much sense, and it's clear from their 1-1 record against each other than a third match was planned), that a lot things might have switched around at that point, and a planned Ki vs. Xavier rematch at the anniversary show could have been one of them. But that's pure speculation and I think #1 is far more likely).

NWK2000 wrote:
Jun 4th, '19, 13:01
Conclusion


ROH is almost unrecognizable from when it began 10 months ago. What was once your run of the mill super indy is a true wrestling company with its own storylines and feuds, and one that is capable of showing a serious product with a lot of wrestling styles represented. A lot of Rob's goofiness seems to be gone, and in its place seems to be an overall good card, which is the first I've been able to say that with no tournaments of round robin challenges present I'm looking forward to ROH in 2003,
Told you so.

NWK2000 wrote:
Jun 4th, '19, 13:01

see y'all at ROH One Year Anniversary Show!

Not doing Revenge on the Prophecy?

Re: NWK reviews Ring of Honor Final Battle 2002

Posted: Jun 4th, '19, 16:51
by NWK2000
Big Red Machine wrote:
Jun 4th, '19, 15:37
For that to happen required no clear legal #1 contender, but also to have someone (in this case Ki) who clearly "would have" won, hence this sort of finish. It also allowed Joe (and Dragon) to not only merely "not take the fall" but to not take any sort of loss at all, which was beneficial because not losing would mean less work was required to build up Joe before putting him in the #1 contendership match a few months later to lead to his title win. The intervening show before the anniversary show was used to solidify Ki as someone who should have been a clear #1 contender even more, but the Prophecy were trying to avoid it (and the show also allowed London to be rebuilt a bit so he could be in that #1 contendership match, and put AJ opposite the Prophecy and on the winning side once again as well).
Right, but I still think this was the time to pull the trigger on Ki. Ki was obviously one of ROH's big draws, so a win here would've given the fans something to look forward to going into the big anniversary show, and Ki winning the title again would've been a great way to cap off that event and blow off Ki vs The Prophecy



Told you so
]I've never doubted you, but you're forgetting how hard the first six months of Ring of Honor are to sit through. You're remembering the parade of 5-star matches and not "Rob Feinstein's midcard parade" in between
Not doing Revenge on the Prophecy?
You did say it was skippable in your review, and I don't think I can sit through another ROH B-Show and keep my sanity in tact. Wanna get right to the Riot in February!

Re: NWK reviews Ring of Honor Final Battle 2002

Posted: Jun 4th, '19, 17:29
by Big Red Machine
NWK2000 wrote:
Jun 4th, '19, 16:51
Big Red Machine wrote:
Jun 4th, '19, 15:37
For that to happen required no clear legal #1 contender, but also to have someone (in this case Ki) who clearly "would have" won, hence this sort of finish. It also allowed Joe (and Dragon) to not only merely "not take the fall" but to not take any sort of loss at all, which was beneficial because not losing would mean less work was required to build up Joe before putting him in the #1 contendership match a few months later to lead to his title win. The intervening show before the anniversary show was used to solidify Ki as someone who should have been a clear #1 contender even more, but the Prophecy were trying to avoid it (and the show also allowed London to be rebuilt a bit so he could be in that #1 contendership match, and put AJ opposite the Prophecy and on the winning side once again as well).
Right, but I still think this was the time to pull the trigger on Ki. Ki was obviously one of ROH's big draws, so a win here would've given the fans something to look forward to going into the big anniversary show, and Ki winning the title again would've been a great way to cap off that event and blow off Ki vs The Prophecy
I don't know for sure, but I strongly suspect that Gabe had already made up his mind about not having a repeat champion for a long time. He very much looked at the belt as something that would mainly be used to make someone. I don't think that outlook changes until Punk's win, although part of that change could likely be due to feeling like he already had enough of a crop of "made" guys that he could make people without the belt. At this point all he had was had were Ki, Daniels, AJ, Corino, and Dragon, (plus Morgan, but he couldn't/wouldn't do jobs because of NOAH, plus he was a fly-in). Joe was a much better choice, both for this reason and to play into the Prophecy vs. Group feud).

Dong the three-way #1 contendership match did an equally fine job of giving fans something to look forward to by presenting three top challengers. Throw in Joe vs. Dragon, Briscoe vs. Briscoe, and especially Homicide vs. Corino and I think they gave people more than enough to motivate them to buy tickets (especially with it being the NYC debut).


NWK2000 wrote:
Jun 4th, '19, 16:51
Big Red Machine wrote:
Jun 4th, '19, 15:37
Told you so
]I've never doubted you, but you're forgetting how hard the first six months of Ring of Honor are to sit through. You're remembering the parade of 5-star matches and not "Rob Feinstein's midcard parade" in between
No. I remember it well. I was just urging you to muscle through it.
NWK2000 wrote:
Jun 4th, '19, 16:51
Big Red Machine wrote:
Jun 4th, '19, 15:37
Not doing Revenge on the Prophecy?
You did say it was skippable in your review, and I don't think I can sit through another ROH B-Show and keep my sanity in tact. Wanna get right to the Riot in February!
I'd assume a lot of stuff I said in those reviews was wrong, at least in terms of skippability for storyline purposes. Like I said, I was trying to do a buyer's guide more than anything else and I was rather focused on match-quality, not quite recognizing the little stories going on.
For storyline purposes, I think you need to see the main event and the stuff early on with the formation of The Group. As a general rule, don't trust some of my shorter reviews of 2002-2003 shows.