“It used to be better.” – The Lapsed Fan Pro Wrestling Podcast
A full explanation of the expansion is at the end of this review.
The following CZW content is all available on the Highspots Wrestling Network.
Best of the Best Quarterfinal Match
Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe
CZW Best of the Best
May 19, 2001 – Sewell, NJ
Someone named The Dew arrives and protests the match taking place, having made investments in both. He declares Jay the automatic winner, but instead gets banned from ringside for the remainder of the night.
Jay is 17 years old and Mark is 16 years old. How timely to watch two teens wrestling in light of the Speaking Out movement. In having to skim past the low-rent bullshit to get to this gem, it’s quite clear that while obviously green, the Briscoes had very high potential and were already ahead of so many of their peers on the card. The bumps, technique, transitions, and facial expressions were exceptional considering that they were both still in high school.
They earned a standing ovation several minutes in, having pulled out some dazzling highspots before reaching a stalemate. It’s unfortunate that some in the crowd were focused on irrelevant gay-bashing chants. Later on when Jay had control, he busted out some impressive shit, including a Pearl River Plunger and Tombstone Piledriver before hitting a long-distance Top Rope Splash and follow-up DDT, spiking Mark on his head.
It was immediately after this that they introduced some terrific psychology. Mark tried his damnedest to avoid to Jay’s Double Underhook Piledriver, but once Jay hit it, the crowd erupted with a “Holy Shit” chant. Their lack of experience showed, however, as it was a near-fall kick-out for Mark rather than him getting his foot on the bottom rope. They showed a lot here because siblings would be best able to scout one another’s finishers, but they just needed a little bit of time under the learning tree to refine this portion of the match.
Jay continued bringing the aggression, only to get cut off when Mark pulled out a Fisherman Buster. With Jay on the apron, Mark followed up by jumping off the top rope to hit a Hurricanrana, drawing both outside to the crowd’s approval. Mark then followed that up with a Top Rope Moonsault on Jay outside. At this point, some in the audience were declaring this a ***** match.
They got another mid-match standing ovation when Mark hit a Super Northern Lights Suplex for a near-fall. After a very good chop battle, Mark managed to hit the fatigued Jay with a Cutthroat Driver. This had the same issue as earlier, in which it was a hot moment, but they did a kick-out instead of rope break for the near-fall.
After a Powerbomb, missed Moonsault, and Half Nelson Suplex, they had another exchange with Jay hitting another Half Nelson Suplex for a hot near-fall. I loved Jay’s exhaustion here, hoping that had been the end before getting back to work on Mark.
It was weird that when Jay went for the Super Pearl River Plunge, he went backward and Mark fell on him, only for that to be the victory for Jay. Perhaps it can be argued Mark had taken too much consecutive damage to kick out even with Jay padding him underneath. What was even weirder was that within seconds, the footage moved on to the next match rather than let the post-match ovation settle in.
This was a sensational spot-fest with some quality (albeit flawed) psychology, earning its legacy as the show-stealer that put the Best of the Best tournament on the map strongly enough to become an annual tradition for CZW. Absolutely amazing performance from these two teenagers and I can’t wait for rematches down the road. Rating: ****
Reckless Youth vs. Minoru Fujita
CZW Take One
June 8, 2001 – Sewell, NJ
By this point, I’ve seen a number of Reckless Youth matches from CZW already. Although he doesn’t cut a pre-match promo here, he proved to be solid on the mic and have some personality, although he doesn’t have the level of charisma of CM Punk at the time (or later on, Homicide or Kevin Steen) to pull off the recreational-looking gear (gym shorts and sleeveless T-shirt.)
This is also my first look at Fujita, and the two of them show good chemistry as expected. With that said, for all the cool moves and bumps, the reversals, the submission work, they lacked the high-impact drama of the Briscoes tournament classic the month before, coming nowhere close to that crowd atmosphere.
It was nice for Fujita to get an immediate submission on the Reverse Sleeper Hold, making it more realistic instead of dramatic. I also like Reckless going heel on Fujita, but have no interest in Ric Blade making the save, nor do I give a shit about the three-way they agreed to have the following day.
This signified a big flaw for Reckless Youth; for whatever underground legacy he had by this point, I haven’t seen him work an underground crowd into a frenzy as so many countless others have done in the nearly 2 decades since the Monday Night War ended. Rating: ***
It turns out the three-way involving Ric Blade apparently didn’t happen due to a shin injury. Instead, it’s a singles rematch in its place.
Reckless Youth vs. Minoru Fujita
CZW Breakaway Brawl
June 9, 2001 – Smyrna, DE
This was an improvement over the day before, drawing a better reaction from the outdoor afternoon crowd and the two having each other scouted. It still didn’t work the crowd into a frenzy, something I’m expecting to see from a Reckless match since he’s considered an underground legend.
The finish was the same as the night before, showing that Reckless simply wasn’t on Fujita’s level despite competitive efforts and occasional minor attempts at mind games. I really hope these two can do better, as Fujita trolled Reckless afterward to tease more rematches. So far, Reckless Youth’s best feels like a good PPV pre-show match, rather than a PPV main card show-stealer; kinda like what Jerry Lynn was known to do in WWF at this time. Rating: ***1/4
Tap Out Match
Reckless Youth vs. Minoru Fujita
CZW A New Beginning – July 7, 2001
This was by far the crispest Reckless match I’ve seen so far, in what will be the last I see of him for likely quite some time on this underground journey. While he still couldn’t get quite the crowd reaction on a beautiful Tope Con Hilo as someone else would years later on the scene, this was a truly focused, intense effort from him.
Perhaps having learned from his JAPW match against Low Ki, I loved that Fujita surprised Reckless with a spinal kick to cut off his control. In no surprise, every time Reckless would appear to get control, Fujita regained it, continuing the story of his submission dominance after their prior two matches. It would take a second low-blow and two Shining Wizards for Reckless to gain real control about ten minutes into this.
However, even that was short-lived, as once Fujita reached the ropes on a submission, he evaded a 2K Bomb, hitting a Northern Lights Suplex and getting the win a Cross Arm-Breaker. Reckless claims after the match he was ill with a fever and wants one more shot at Fujita on his last date of July 28, challenging him to a 2/3 falls match. That wouldn’t happen, and while this is the best Reckless match I’ve seen so far, I can’t say that I’m sad he’s not gonna be anywhere on this overall journey for quite some time. Rating: ***1/2
We now finish off the 2001 summer season with two more Low Ki gems outside the land of ultraviolence, and that weren’t on my radar for the Lapsed ROHBot Prologue.
This match is available via JAPW Video On Demand.
Low Ki vs. Minoru Fujita
JAPW Here to Stay
June 15, 2001 – Bayonne, NJ
Another Fujita match with an instant tap out upon a submission finisher, this time with him immediately submitting to a sudden Dragon Sleeper. This was just around 10 minutes and not the show-stealer I expected on paper, instead serving as more of a greatest hits at the time. In this case, it was appreciated as they genuinely got the crowd amped, resulting in a standing ovation afterward.
That Reckless Youth had tapped immediately twice in CZW to Fujita, who then tapped immediately here, must’ve boosted Low Ki’s ego even more. Rating: ***¼
Low Ki vs. Super Dragon
Millennium Pro Wrestling – July 28, 2001
I”m unable to find the name or exact location of the event, having checked the company’s web site, Cagematch, SoCal Uncensored, and the Wrestling Observer Newsletters of late summer 2001. The date was provided by 411Mania’s TJ Hawke from his blog review of the match, as well as a transcript of an interview that SoCal Uncensored had with Super Dragon, dated May 22, 2002. The link will be provided after this match review, as it also includes Super Dragon’s memories of the match.
The match was fine stuff, not picking up until Low Ki cut off a Tope Con Hilo attempt. The commentator amuses me when he says “Low Ki’s obviously been watching some Super Dragon tapes,” considering the behind-the-scenes stuff that’s about to be shared.
Low Ki would control most of the next several minutes until Super Dragon was successful on a second Tope Con Hilo attempt, briefly taking both men down. They blocked each other’s finishers, but Low Ki eventually regained control when cutting off Super Dragon with a Rolling Koppu and follow-up suicide dive of his own. But he took too long to attempt a Phoenix Splash, which was evaded and allowed Super Dragon to hit a fantastic lariat and springboard spinning heel kick.
Super Dragon would hit his own Phoenix Splash for a near-fall, but I’m disappointed this didn’t take place in Philly or NYC, as this SoCal crowd just doesn’t have the same bloodthirsty, chaotic expression with its approval. Low Ki would regain control after blocking a Psycho Driver and driving Super Dragon into the corner while in a Fisherman’s Carry. After a brief battle on the top rope, Low Ki went to the opposite corner and they dove at one another to mutually knock each other down. That was a weird idea.
Moments later, the match reached a 20-minute time limit draw. This was a foolish compromise to make, souring what promised to be a very good to great match. A more fitting, chaotic draw would’ve been either they brawled outside and got so heated that they got counted out and didn’t give a fuck, OR beat the fucking shit out of each other so bad they reached a double TKO. At the very least, a 30-minute time limit may have sufficed to allow this first-time match-up to be PPV-quality; in this case, the bell expired right as the match was starting to heat up, rather than arrive at a frenzied peak. Rating: ***1/2
“Steve: I should also mention at that time, you had started wrestling for MPW. Your second match in MPW was against Low-Ki (28 Jul. 01), which was considered a dream match by a lot of people. How do you feel that match came out? Why the time limit draw on a match that was so heavily hyped?
Super Dragon: I was really excited about that match going in, but once I met Ki I wasn’t as excited. Not many people know this, and I may get shit for saying it, but Ki didn’t want to do the job in the match. He even accused me of being a backyard wrestler. I offered to lose, but that wasn’t in MPW’s plans, so we ended up doing that stupid finish. I think with a straight finish it would have been a lot better. I have no problem with Ki now. I guess he just hadn’t seen anything from the West Coast before. I didn’t hold that against him. We seemed to be cool after the match, and I think I gained his respect. I respect him a lot as a wrestler, and I think he’s one of the best in the Indies. Sorry if being honest pisses people off, but this is uncensored dammit! If you have a problem with me, I’ll shit in your hat.”
With that in mind, it’s time to clear up what’s going on with this journey.
It’s come to my realization that in order to give the fullest texture on Ring of Honor’s Feinsten/Silkin eras, the spotlight must expand to the rest of the underground wrestling scene throughout the 2000s. Therefore, there will be many more stops around the globe on this journey, including (but not limited to):
- The Lapsed Midwesterner (cherry-picked)
- The Lapsed Chikara Non-Fan (cherry-picked; dependent on digital availability in light of recent closure)
- Totally Lapsed Nonstop Action (cherry-picked)
- The Lapsed Guerrilla (entire shows)
This will not be the easiest journey to get through, subjecting myself to some individuals that have been exposed as monsters. As someone who can stomach and enjoy Chris Benoit matches on occasion, I’m confident I’ll get through this objectively. (But don’t be surprised if when I see these assholes doing stupid shit in pro wrestling, I mince no words in calling them out on their poor displays of judgment throughout this expanded journey.)
For over nine years, Ring of Honor was the flagship of the American underground wrestling scene. Therefore, The Lapsed ROHbot remains as the flagship of this entire journey. The nostalgic flashbacks and charity spotlights will remain exclusive there.
Next time on this journey, we head over to the Hoosier State, spotlighting its stars that weren’t featured on the Lapsed ROHbot Prologue. Will one of the region’s most storied underground rivalries stand the test of time, or will it be exposed as not being up to par nearly 2 decades later?