Photos used in this column are courtesy Mary-Kate Anthony.
The year 2020 has not been kind to the human race, and the world of pro wrestling has certainly not been immune to that. It’s been a trying, depressing year, having to face something so seemingly unfathomable. It’s been a year of deaths aplenty for wrestling fans; many of these deaths have had some of the most tragic circumstances imaginable.
Now another passing has occurred, this time a former Ring of Honor Champion at just 42 years of age. This column will be a tribute to John Bedoya, who performed primarily as Xavier. Before digging into his career (which mostly will be about his work in Ring of Honor), I want to express my sincerest condolences to his friends, family, and wrestling colleagues. While it will be his contributions in the squared circle that receive attention in this tribute, we should all remember that his biggest impact was outside of it, and I hope the words of another pro wrestler that passed too soon at the end of this column will appropriately express that.
Having debuted in 1997, Xavier was one of the many independent wrestlers in the Tri-State area that laid the groundwork for the golden age that would come for the independent scene by the mid-2000s. He was in the East Coast’s top mix with the likes of Low Ki, Homicide, Da Hit Squad, Reckless Youth, Ric Blade, Mike Quackenbush, Ruckus, and the Briscoes, headlining many Impact Championship Wrestling and Jersey All Pro Wrestling events by 2001, including winning the world title multiple times for the former.
There’s a strong argument to be made that prior to Ring of Honor’s birth in February 2002, the greatest match in independent wrestling history took place on June 30, 2001 at the Elks Lodge in Queens. It was a battle for ICW’s top prize in a ladder match. Both men would tear the house down, having a standout match for the genre in a year that the World Wrestling Federation monopoly had a few too many of them. Low Ki would emerge the victor and champion, but it was the post-match in hindsight that had arguably the biggest takeaway, as Xavier refused to shake Low Ki’s hand. It was an unintentional foreshadowing of what was to come the following year.
ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky chose to slot Xavier as a mid-carder for the first several months, making him the epitome of 50-50 booking. So it came as a shock that just two months into Low Ki’s reign as ROH Champion at Unscripted, Xavier would dethrone him, and that it was done in the most controversial fashion possible, turning heel and getting help from Low Ki’s arch-nemesis Christopher Daniels. It was the formation of the Prophecy, to also include Simply Luscious and Donovan Morgan at the faction’s inception.
For the next six months, Xavier would be vocally rejected as the company’s top champion. Not once did any of his successful title defense matches close out a card; Sapolsky’s choice of doing that indicates that he didn’t have faith in Xavier headlining, even as champion.
Whereas he may have been accepted a decade later once the indy talent pool began to not be quite so stacked as the 2000s, he was really out of the place in the top spot. Some of his matches were definitely disappointing, and he lacked the aura of a top guy; it’s crystal-clear now that he was the George W. Bush to the Dick Cheney mastermind role portrayed by Daniels. (It also didn’t help that while champion, Xavier did quick jobs to Bill DeMott and Chuck Palumbo on episodes of Velocity.)
But there was one challenger that defined Xavier’s reign, who like the champion, came into the business sooner than it was ready to maximize his skill sets. That challenger was Paul London. While the main event of the first-ever Final Battle in December 2002 would be a four-way title shot match involving the bigger names of Low Ki, Samoa Joe, Steve Corino, and Bryan Danielson, it was Xavier vs. London that stole the show. It was the first time that the title drew primal emotion from the audience; they were truly invested in seeing London be the one to take the title off Xavier.
But it was not to be; Xavier finally had a quality match in his title reign to close out 2002, and would enter 2003 still champion. To kick off 2003, closure was brought in the Prophecy’s feud with Low Ki; the company made its debut in the Pittsburgh area on January 11 for an event that would be known as Revenge on the Prophecy, headlined by Xavier & Daniels losing a No Holds Barred match against Low Ki & AJ Styles. It was a fitting end to the story, rocking the Steel City crowd to wrap up ROH’s first-ever main-event storyline.
With Xavier barely scraping by London and also losing to Low Ki and Styles in Pittsburgh, those three were thrown together to have a three-way title shot at the company’s first-anniversary show at the Elks Lodge, with the winner then challenging Xavier for the title later that night. It’s the only time that London and Low Ki have ever collided, and it was the first time that London had also faced off against Styles. The three-way was an absolute barnburner, tearing down the Elks Lodge crowd even more so than Xavier and Low Ki had done less than two years earlier.
But there was only one correct winner for that three-way. Although Low Ki had stolen the show with Xavier in the very same building before, it wasn’t in ROH; their lone ROH match to date was far from acclaimed. Styles had already challenged Xavier a couple months earlier at Night of the Butcher, and that too was far from acclaimed. London had proven to be Xavier’s greatest opponent, and although Low Ki and Styles could match the Austin native in terms of spectacle and workrate, neither were on his level when it came to rallying a crowd.
With London completely exhausted after winning the three-way classic, Xavier would IMMEDIATELY demand the title match take place. London would of course oblige, and the two of them once again tore the house down, drawing even more emotion than they had just several weeks earlier at Final Battle 2002. The two of them played their roles to absolute perfection (as did the accompanying opposites of Allison Danger and Alexis Laree), and this time, despite having every advantage in the world over London, the champion would have to cheat to win.
Once again in hindsight, it’s quite obvious that booking mistakes were made with Xavier vs. London II. The event would be infamously headlined by a scramble match exceeding 30 minutes and involving the likes of Special K, Da Hit Squad, The SAT, and Mikey Whipwreck. It’s one of the most widely-rejected matches in company history, with little to no redeeming qualities going for it. This time, there was no excuse for Xavier and London to be shafted this way again. Several weeks earlier, it was understandable to headline with Low Ki vs. Joe vs. Corino vs. Danielson; but Xavier and London had proven that night they could steal the show, and that they had the chemistry to close out any ROH event, including one as historic as the One Year Anniversary Show.
It’s also clear that it was a mistake to keep the title on Xavier. While it was a historic moment when he was finally dethroned the following month by Samoa Joe at Night of Champions, what London was able to emotionally pull from the Queens crowd is something that simply doesn’t come around very often. It was time to pull the trigger; perhaps in hindsight, had an audible been called to have Xavier vs. London II be moved to the closing spot and give London some rest during the scramble spot-fest, maybe Sapolsky would’ve decided to pull the trigger before sending London back out there.
Before moving on, if there’s one thing that could really be said to put over London’s one-night performance in Queens, it’s this. Anybody who is a fan of the story told with Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania XXX… this is the earlier version of it without the trigger being pulled. And Xavier deserves his fair share of credit for the incredible story told with London that night.
Xavier was not the only champion in the Prophecy the night they formed at Unscripted; Donovan Morgan & Christopher Daniels also became the company’s inaugural tag team champions, winning the one-night tournament. Unfortunately, Morgan would have conflicting bookings with Pro Wrestling NOAH. Sapolsky made the smart booking decision of putting the heat on the Prophecy; they claimed since they held all the power as champions, they made the rules; any combination of the Prophecy could defend the tag titles, taking a page out of the Fabulous Freebirds’ book.
The Prophecy would twice use the Freebird rule for the tag titles. At the first-ever All-Star Extravaganza in November 2002, Morgan & Daniels teamed with their hired gun Samoa Joe to successfully defend the belts in trios action against Doug Williams, Low Ki, & Homicide. By the end of the night, Joe made it clear he was only helping the Prophecy for a payday, not to push their ideology that spat on the Code of Honor.
The second time, it would be Xavier & Daniels defending the tag titles. In the closing match, they would lose the straps against Amazing Red & AJ Styles at Expect the Unexpected in March 2003. The match was hindered though as Xavier suffered a concussion. A week later at Night of Champions, he was once again limited, not being able to give his best effort to maximize Joe’s moment in shifting over the ROH Title.
Xavier would be gone for a few months from ROH, making a surprise return at the company’s first-ever supercard-type event, the inaugural Death Before Dishonor on July 19 in New Jersey. It wasn’t clear if he was still a member of the Prophecy, as in storyline, Daniels was caught off-guard via a phone call caught on videotape. They would go on to have their first-ever singles encounter to determine who would challenge Joe for the title at Glory By Honor II.
Xavier vs. Daniels would take place on August 16 in Connecticut, with the event going on to be known as Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies. It’s an event that’s known for many things. In the main event, Low Ki would accidentally knock out Dan Maff, who had since joined the Prophecy during Xavier’s time away from ROH. It also held the first-ever singles match between Joe and CM Punk. It’s also best known for an acclaimed and brutal, incredibly bloody war between Corino and Homicide, with the former losing some hearing in one of his ears.
Today, Xavier vs. Daniels gets its long-overdue recognition.
Currently, I am on a retro timeline for much of the professional wrestling industry. So far, the only ROH event given the lapsed spotlight has been The Era of Honor Begins. But many years ago, I took a look at all the “Good Shit” from ROH’s glory days on various message boards. Here’s an excerpt of my thoughts on Xavier vs. Daniels.
“What I really love about this one is that it legitimized Xavier and showed after almost a full year of usually not living up to his position in the company, he deserved it and was finally ready. He not only went toe-to-toe technically with the established Daniels, he went toe-to-toe with him in terms of selling and playing the psychological games. In the end, Daniels proved he was superior when it came down to who knew how to play dirty and get away with it. A VERY pleasant surprise here,..”
As the lapsed journey soon continues, there’s a chance that my position on this could change. But seventeen years later to the very date today, August 16, 2020, I deem Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies to be the greatest match of Xavier’s career. It’s better than the ladder match against Low Ki; it’s better than the feud-ender in Pittsburgh; it’s better than either emotional match against Paul London. It was a true show-stealer, a brilliant piece of business that showcased Xavier at his “all-around best” as a technical wrestler, and that he could exceed at more than being a daredevil or chickenshit heel. Considering that Daniels has stood out as such a gem so early in the lapsed journey, perhaps it should come as no surprise that Xavier’s best match would be against the Fallen Angel.
Daniels won the classic, going on to unsuccessfully challenge Joe in the Glory By Honor II main event the following month. In the meantime, Xavier’s position in the Prophecy still remained unclear. He got programmed against John Walters in matches that were nothing special until the very end. But maybe in hindsight, Xavier was unknowingly becoming Mr. Final Battle; once again, he stole the show in a Fight Without Honor, losing to Walters on one of the company’s marquee events on the calendar. In the post-match, Xavier embraced the Code of Honor, shaking the hand of Walters and aligning with Prince Nana to form the Embassy and put the Prophecy behind him.
Unfortunately, it would be the last time Xavier ever appeared at Final Battle. He would never become synonymous with the event that in its first two years, he had proven to be the reliable show-stealer. In early 2004, his injuries just kept piling up, once again getting shelved. By the summertime, with the company reeling from original owner Rob Feinstein’s ephebophilia scandal, Sapolsky went on a creative shakeup. Xavier was no longer in ROH, being dismissed in storyline by Nana at Survival of the Fittest 2004. At the company’s landmark Reborn: Completion on July 17 in New Jersey (the real sequel to the prior year’s Death Before Dishonor in hindsight), Nana introduced Jimmy Rave as his new “Crown Jewel” of the Embassy.
Xavier would return two more times for one-off matches. The Long Island event on February 11, 2006 was a chaotic one for Sapolsky, complete with bad weather, talent becoming unavailable for multiple reasons, and the much more remembered one night only return of the WWE-contracted CM Punk. Xavier and Punk would both work matches involving Bryan Danielson, who was the ROH Champion at the time. For Xavier, he finally got his elusive rematch for the title after three years, as Nana brought him back and gave him the title match opportunity that the departed Abyss had (thanks to the Embassy winning the second trios tournament in Dayton a couple weeks earlier at Tag Wars 2006.) It was an unsurprisingly good match considering Xavier’s opponent was an in-his-prime Danielson, and unfortunately, it would have no finish, instead getting thrown out due to interference to set up the more marquee return main event of Punk & Danielson against Rave & Adam Pearce.
Xavier’s final ROH appearance would come a year later at Fifth Year Festival: NYC, being the first wrestler eliminated in a four-way involving Jack Evans, Shingo, and Jimmy Jacobs. It’s a shame that would be his last appearance, just a completely forgettable footnote. He never got a chance after holding his own with Danielson the year before, and he never got a chance with another “rebirth” on the horizon for ROH as it would soon make its debut on PPV. (At the very least, I wish he could’ve also had a “proving ground” type defeat at the time against Takeshi Morishima to give the then-champion even more equity.)
Xavier was set to come out of retirement and make his return to ROH 13 years later in a first-time-ever match against Jay Lethal. It was to truly be a clash of generations, two former world champions in the company colliding in Las Vegas at the first-ever Past vs. Present event. Sadly, the event never took place due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. ROHbots both past and present can now only imagine what the chemistry would have been between two very dependable in-ring performers that during ROH’s “Glory Days” of the 2000s, went under-appreciated due to the indy talent depth back then.
Throughout his pro wrestling career, Xavier would continue working other home promotions like ICW and JAPW, as well as NEW and WSU. That part of his career is best left to those who are more well-versed on it. It goes without saying that ROH was the flagship of the underground scene throughout the 2000s, and therefore, his contributions there are what define his career and wrestling footprint the most.
As mentioned, The Lapsed ROHbot Flagship has so far only reviewed one ROH event. The following reviews of select Xavier matches will be a combination of what’s been reviewed so far on that journey, as well as his cherry-picked ROH matches reviewed so many years ago. At this time, ROH has never uploaded an Xavier match to its YouTube channel; that should hopefully change in the very near future, but for now, those who wish to watch the matches reviewed here will largely have to seek out old ROH event and compilation DVDs or take a look at what’s available on Honor Club.
In addition, this column will include a match review not posted yet from the ongoing lapsed journey, but neither of the ROH Title change matches involving Xavier from 2002 and 2003.
Our first match comes from the summer of 2001 in Queens. As the mainstream monopoly was in the midst of overdoing arguably the greatest gimmick match concept of all-time, two young, hungry competitors would climb the ladder to determine who the top dog was in Impact Championship Wrestling (not to be confused with the company formerly known as Total Nonstop Action.)
ICW Title – Ladder Match
Low Ki vs. Xavier
ICW Last Stand at the Elk’s
June 30, 2001 – Queens, NY
This match is uploaded on ICW’s YouTube channel, but due to the company’s choice to split it into multiple videos, it won’t be embedded here.
After some terrific back-and-forth stuff, including attempts for each to establish themselves as alphas, Low Ki got the brief advantage due to a corner kick, only for Xavier to cut him off with a yanking head-first towards a turnbuckle. This allowed Xavier to set up the ladder as a platform on the apron and a nearby barricade, resulting in a strike exchange on the ladder before Low Ki wins that battle.
Shockingly, Xavier got the advantage and drew a “Holy shit” chant when he sent a charging Low Ki directly onto the ladder via an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, which I wasn’t expecting so early on. When Xavier got time to try climbing the ladder, they paid homage to a spot from WrestleMania X, with Low Ki pulling Xavier’s pants down and then chopping his naked ass, causing him to then fall in a Tree of Woe position on the ladder for Low Ki to kick the shit out of.
Moments later, Xavier regained the advantage by cutting off Low Ki and powerbombing him on the ladder as he sat across the middle ropes, drawing another “Holy shit” chant. His joy would be short-lived however, as Low Ki would catch a break by suplexing him on the ladder as it sat across the apron and barricade. I really appreciated that at this point, they were selling the pain (much of it likely real) as they struggled to land strikes on each other
After back-dropping Low Ki off the ladder, an overly cocky Xavier mocked him, only to be placed in a Dragon Sleeper. But Low Ki was too gassed and damaged to keep up the advantage and hold on, ending up outside to eat a beautiful Arabian Press from Xavier.
The match would even out when Low Ki forced Xavier to eat a DDT on a ladder, both of them down as the Queens crowd stood and gave their approval. But even when Xavier cut off Low Ki to deliver a Kiss Your X Goodbye, he was too damaged to quickly capitalize on the opportunity, sluggishly setting up the ladder and giving the challenger enough time to match him up there for another battle.
The match has a brief clip, although nothing that ruins the momentum for the viewer. Both got atop the ladder, but Xavier won that battle by hitting a Sunset Flip Powerbomb; although this may seem a typical spot nearly 2 decades later, this was quite the sight to behold in the aftermath of the War.
Xavier arguably got too cute after hitting his trademark Sitting Neckbreaker, opting to go for a 450 Splash off the ladder instead of trying to get the championship. Low Ki predictably moved out of the way in time, and upon standing up, Xavier was sporting a partial crimson mask as they both exhaustively climbed 2 ladders.
After the ref was knocked down, Low Ki managed to bring the belt down but when a second referee arrived, it was in Xavier’s possession; a third ref arrived to say that’s inaccurate, causing the match to restart. Not a big fan of this sports-entertainment booking, especially as the third ref briefly struggled to reattach the belt above the ring. In addition, there appeared to be confusion, as Xavier was announced as the “new” champion, even though some records indicate he was the defending champ coming into this.
Once attached, Xavier put the final touches on cementing his heel position for this match by shoving the ref off the ladder. The heel heat is nonexistent, making it clear that the fans aren’t emotionally connected with Xavier (even with him shitting on Queens in the geographical location part of his intro announcement) and/or they just wanted to experience a crazy ladder match. In no surprise to me, the match peaked when they ascended to the top of the ladder again and Low Ki landed a Ki Crusher. This rightfully won the match for Low Ki, who grabbed the belt and collapsed down to the mat to the thunderous Queens applause.
Low Ki’s friends immediately checked on him and hoisted him on their shoulders to help him celebrate, the crowd continuing to chant the champion’s name. Many more faces that would become familiar the following year were on scene, some of them surprising. As Low Ki had enough in him to stand alone and show off the belt, the crowd chanted for the company. Xavier blew off a handshake attempt, perhaps foreshadowing a possible dishonorable future elsewhere.
This started off as an all-time classic ladder match that got a bit soiled by the sports-entertainment direction; so one big takeaway coming out of this is that as great as this match was, it didn’t leave the impression that ICW was the alternative needed in a world monopolized by the WWF. Someone else would need to step up for that.
As mentioned, the lack of clarity on who the defending champion was is really sloppy and unacceptable. It’s not clarified in the pre-match introductions, and the ring announcer’s statement at the false finish isn’t in line with the info found on Cagematch (but the results and title lineage don’t appear to be in sync there either.)
Where this match truly succeeded though is that it established Low Ki as arguably the top star on the underground, someone to keep an eye on as a potential centerpiece for anyone who dare try filling the void left behind by ECW.
This also showcased Xavier tremendously, although he still had a lot of improvement to make in order to truly connect as a heel. With that said, this is one of the greatest matches of his career and a shining piece of evidence to point to when discussing opportunities that would come later his way.
While this failed to be an all-time great ladder match, it was still a great one, and more importantly, a historically significant one for the underground scene, a much-needed sense of hope to close out a rather bleak, depressing first half of 2001 for pro wrestling.
And it also left me with one question:
Although there wouldn’t be very many opportunities for it, why didn’t Gabe Sapolsky ever book Xavier vs. Paul London in a ladder match? Rating: ****
Scoot Andrews vs. Xavier
ROH The Era of Honor Begins
February 23, 2002 – Philadelphia, PA
Xavier got “AC Slater” chants from the crowd before even the opening handshake. I was surprised by how good this was. Andrews reminded me way more of Dean Malenko than Ric Flair or anyone else in the “Nature Boy” lineage – his movements, his balding, his attire, his body type. Unfortunately, there was a botch in which Andrews landed straight on his head, but they continued.
I was really impressed with how much Xavier sold his neck after taking a Pumphandle Reverse Piledriver, and even more so that it was a near-fall via rope break. He certainly appeared to be the ring general in this match, shining through most of it. It was smart of them to show that Xavier scouted the Pumphandle Reverse Piledriver coming again, turning it into the X Breaker for the victory. I’ve enjoyed this so far event since the actual wrestling started. Rating: ***¼
Xavier vs. James Maritato
ROH Round Robin Challenge
March 30, 2002 – Philadelphia, PA
Xavier has a promo from earlier, bummed that he can’t face Scoot Andrews in a rematch due to injury. Instead, he gets the former Little Guido, going by the name of James Maritato. I don’t give a single shit about Maritato’s promo, and considering that Xavier has headlined other indy events against the likes of Low Ki and Homicide, this should be a mismatch in my book. I’m not swayed by Maritato’s UWFI experience.
Maritato keeps Xavier at bay for a bit until getting dropped off the top rope with a DDT. Maritato cuts Xavier off though when he blocks a corner Frankeinsteiner attempt and turns it into a Boston Crab from the top rope before hitting a shotgun dropkick. All Xavier has to do though is lift Maritato overhead and drop him to regain control.
However, Maritato blocks a powerslam, hitting a Tornado DDT and causing Xavier to powder. He keeps on the attack, going for the STF and then what Garguilo calls an Oriental Scorpion. Xavier is giving way more than I would’ve allowed here. Xavier surprises him with a pin variation though, and I’m not a fan of a victory for him that isn’t so decisive. To be blunt, if a secondary singles title were to eventually be introduced, I’d be eying Xavier or Bryan Danielson to be the first champion. Rating: less than ***
The rest of the match reviews included here are from several years back, and do not necessarily reflect what I will have to say about Xavier’s performances throughout the rest of the lapsed journey. Some of these reviews are also just glorified quick thoughts.
ROH Title Match
Xavier © vs. AJ Styles
ROH Night of the Butcher
December 7, 2002 – Philadelphia, PA
Yeah I didn’t care for this one very much. Xavier just didn’t have the charisma, presence, or in-ring consistency (Jerry Lynn at least had that last thing going for him) to be in such a high-profile position, and this match did him no favors in my opinion. Over the years, Styles has shown that he’s best suited playing a bad-ass or an underdog to a bad-ass. Letting a chickenshit heel get heat on him? That leaves a lot to be desired. This just wasn’t very engaging, but the finish at least had some psychology and saved it from being a failure. Rating: less than ***
ROH Title Match
Xavier © vs. Paul London
ROH Final Battle 2002
December 28, 2002 – Philadelphia, PA
Xavier cuts one of the most unintentionally hilarious in-ring promos you’ll ever hear prior to the match. As for the match itself…
Now this is more like it. Easily Xavier’s best title defense up to that point, as London actually knows how to play a sympathetic babyface. But the champ brought his A-game too, working on the neck and paying that off at the conclusion of the match. This isn’t the greatest match of all-time or anywhere near it, but it did its job perfectly – you now had a reason to put down your hard-earned money to see someone take the title away from Xavier, because he finally proved that he (with the right opponent of course) was capable of taking you on a hell of a journey. Rating: ***3/4
No Holds Barred Match
Xavier & Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki & AJ Styles
ROH Revenge on the Prophecy
January 11, 2003 – West Mifflin, PA
A damn good main event and a nice conclusion to the Ki vs. Prophecy feud. In many ways, this match summarizes the whole storyline – very, very good, maybe even great, but not the end-all, be-all due to some awkward moments. This also did not have the heat of London vs. Michael Shane from Unscripted. But they went out and put on a hell of an entertaining match, one that would convince the Pittsburgh market to beg for ROH to return. I also greatly appreciated Daniels selling his exhaustion and beating in his backstage promo after the match. (Although I do not care whatsoever about Steve Corino & The Group.) Rating: ****
For the next portion, both matches impacting Xavier from ROH’s first-anniversary event are being included.
ROH Title Shot Match
Paul London vs. Low Ki vs. AJ Styles
ROH One Year Anniversary Show
February 8, 2003 – Queens, NY
Yeah this fucking ruled and should be seen to be truly believed. This is another match that I’m sure London reflects back on with regret. It was Sapolsky making the best of a corner he put himself in – he wasted the Final Battle 2002 main event by not having a winner. But on this night, he put the three biggest names in the ring together that had faced Xavier before. For Ki and Styles, they had proven throughout the summer of 2002 they could have some awesome multi-person matches feuding with Jerry Lynn in TNA. To put these three together was brilliant. But it was obvious who was gonna win, because the winner was gonna be a huge underdog in the title match. Ki vs. Xavier was apparently really shitty (I’ve never bothered watching it). Xavier vs. Styles was dull. Xavier vs. London was a hot match that got the job done, by having London play a sympathetic babyface. Therefore, London had to win this one. Rating: ****1/4
ROH Title Match
Xavier © vs. Paul London
ROH One Year Anniversary Show
February 8, 2003 – Queens, NY
I want to thank whoever made the final decision to cut Xavier’s pre-match promo from my Best of Paul London: Please Don’t Die DVD.
LONDON SHOULD HAVE WON THIS. PERIOD. This was easily Xavier’s best title defense, and maybe the best match of his career. He did a fine job of working with the exhausted London. This rematch from Final Battle 2002 also had the advantage of a red-hot NYC crowd instead of Philly; they were going APESHIT at the nearfalls in the finishing stretch. Even the catfight added to the match’s story and crowd heat. This was sports-entertainment booking done the correct way. But I can only imagine if London had won, and then his matches against Danielson, Amazing Red, Christopher Daniels, and Styles had all been title matches (making them more important than they already were), before he would drop the title in his farewell match to the dominating Joe. London wins, and I seriously call this a MOTYC instead of just a great match. Nonetheless, SEE THIS. Maybe London’s greatest night as he had to perform two very different styles of matches back-to-back. Rating: ****
ROH Tag Team Titles Match
Xavier & Christopher Daniels © vs. Amazing Red & AJ Styles
ROH Expect the Unexpected
March 15, 2003 – Cambridge, MA
Another good but sloppy match, although this was due to Xavier’s concussion sustained early in the match from Red’s enziguri. Daniels looked like a total pro once again, as he and Styles have an almost unstoppable chemistry with each other; it’s almost automatic like Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage, Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit, or Austin Aries vs. Bryan Danielson. They should have definitely gone home much sooner than they did for Xavier’s sake, as his injury clearly led to the botched finish. Oh yeah, this had the “fuck monitoring who is and isn’t legal because we’re about to go home” problems that plague the indies. Again, this is a good match, but NOT the magical moment the company was hoping for to close out the show. Rating: ***
ROH Title Shot Match
Xavier vs. Christopher Daniels
ROH Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies
August 16, 2003 – Fairfield, CT
The pre-match promo did a perfect job in laying the psychological groundwork for what turned out to be a forgotten classic. To me, this holds up extremely well over the years and has gotten better; I consider it the second most under-appreciated match in ROH history. The match starts off as a feeling-out process, which for two stablemates you would think it was a waste of time, but you must recall this is Xavier’s first major ROH match in five months. He needed to use the feel-out to not only get his feet wet again, but also show Daniels that he was his equal as an in-ring technician and could one-up the real Prophecy leader. Eventually though the real meat of the story came into play.
Knowing that the same strategy worked on Paul London at Retribution: Robin Challenge II and almost on Doug Williams at Night of Champions, Daniels focused the majority of his work on Xavier’s ribs, which cost the former ROH Champion many opportunities to finish the match (such as being in too much pain to pin Daniels after a successful 450 splash.) It was quite obvious to me that during his time away, Xavier studied those two classics Daniels had, in particular the loss against Williams. If you recall, Williams worked heavily on the neck of Daniels (a fairly well-known injury since WCW) in that one, which is what Xavier went for in this one.
Not only is the neck work brilliant because of the backstory to the Daniels vs. Williams match, but it plays into how Xavier had successfully defeated Paul London twice, as his finish is a modified (more dangerous) version of the neckbreaker. The selling of both men in this one was quite phenomenal, and makes you wonder what exactly caused Xavier to pretty much drift off into obscurity over the past several years. Based on the day, I may say this tops Xavier’s emotional encounter against London at the One Year Anniversary Show.
What I really love about this one is that it legitimized Xavier and showed after all almost a full year of usually not living up to his position in the company, he deserved it and was finally ready. He not only went toe-to-toe technically with the established Daniels, he went toe-to-toe with him in terms of selling and playing the psychological games. In the end, Daniels proved he was superior when it came down to who knew how to play dirty and get away with it. A VERY pleasant surprise here, and I encourage Alan (of f4wonline.com) to go back and watch the work of Daniels in the early days of ROH. He was just tremendous. Rating: ****1/4
Hardcore (Fight Without Honor) Match
Xavier vs. John Walters
ROH Final Battle 2003
December 27, 2003 – Philadelphia, PA
Very similar to the Homicide vs. Trent Acid match at Wrestlerave, but not quite the amazing spectacle. There’s a lot of shit in this match that I’m sure both men regret, especially the finish. Another stupidly entertaining spot was the springboard 450 to the outside on Walters through a table. I’m sure that was worth it. Really fun match not only to end this mid-card feud, but conclude the journey of Walters to his first major singles victory. Rating: ***1/4
ROH Title Match
Bryan Danielson © vs. Xavier
ROH Unscripted II
February 11, 2006 – Long Island, NY
I gotta say, I like this surprise and it was a good move to get the NYC native booked here. Would I have given him a shot at the title? Probably not (as I’ll also detail later). HOWEVER, the former ROH Champ had yet to be granted a shot at the top prize after losing it to Samoa Joe three years earlier. Logically, he should’ve never had to be in contender’s matches in 2003-04 or have to fill in for someone who stopped getting booked.
These guys worked hard, with Xavier especially bringing his working boots and having one of his best matches in ROH. I know, I”m shocked too, that one of his best singles matches would be against Danielson. Xavier did an exceptional job of working on the neck and shoulders, perfectly setting up the champ for his modified neckbreaker finish and signature transitional Kiss Your X Goodbye (a pumphandle facebuster). He would hit the latter, but never got to his finisher, as the all-around superior Danielson would get him in the Cattle Mutilation for what was to be the obvious finish. However, Rave interfered to go after Danielson. It was never explained, but I assume the Embassy used Xavier to weaken Danielson and/or Rave wanted the glory of ending his reign. That’s the only logical reason I can think of for this match ending that way. Rating: ***1/2 (and would’ve been higher without the Dusty finish)
More thoughts from Unscripted II:
“I wanna make sure to mention that with the exception of a forgettable fourway match a year later, this was pretty much it for Xavier in ROH. He never, ever should’ve held the title, but he found his groove by 2003 and it’s a shame his indy career didn’t take off from there. I know he still attends ROH events, and I think it’s a shame ROH does nothing to showcase him as a former champion that did have some great matches during the early years. I found his matches against Paul London and Christopher Daniels to be quite exceptional, and he definitely played his part in the main event at Revenge on the Prophecy. Sounds like a spiritual person too as Eddie Guerrero detailed in his autobiography.”
Elimination Match – Xavier’s Final ROH Match
Jack Evans vs. Xavier vs. Shingo vs. Jimmy Jacobs
ROH Fifth Year Festival: NYC
February 16, 2007 – New York, NY
Xavier is the mystery opponent, and doesn’t exactly receive a warm welcome. Then almost immediately, fans chant “Welcome back!” More on his tenure at the end of this review. He feels out of place here, but I’m definitely open-minded after the classics he’s had against Daniels and Paul London.
After a good sequence between Shingo and Xavier, Evans provides the first highlight when his Sasuke Special is avoided, causing him to crash into a barricade and have me screaming “GOD DAMN~!” The next highlight comes a few minutes later as Xavier decimates Jacobs, eats a Burning Hammer from Shingo, and then a reverse Hurricanrana Jackknife Pin by Evans to be eliminated. Xavier definitely needed to upgrade his gear, but more on him later as mentioned.
Shingo and Evans double-team Jacobs, but the former Tag Champ is resilient despite numerous blows, including a springboard knee strike from Evans that would make Seth Rollins proud. Shingo blocks a Shiranui and drives Jacobs neck-first onto his knee to eliminate him; Lacey is none too impressed as the crowd rallies behind Evans for the final portion of this match.
The Blood Generation stablemates ensure there will be no hard feelings before getting to business. The spectacle continues with numerous bombs, including a successful Sasuke Special from Evans, plus a Gordbuster on the top rope followed by a lariat that wouldn’t just impress JBL, but have him screaming so loudly as he’d mark out.
Evans cuts Shingo off with a front flip kick and after some more strikes including a Busaku knee, goes for the 630 Splash. Shingo tries to cut him off but Evans stops that with knees to the face and then hits the 630 to bring this nice appetizer to its conclusion.
While this is definitely not a classic, what I appreciate is that there were no silly tag rules. It was a pure scramble with everyone legal to allow bombs to be dropped aplenty. If ROH ever gets around to an Evans compilation, this should be included. Rating: ***
More thoughts from Fifth Year Festival: NYC:
“As mentioned, this was the finale for “The All-Around Best” Xavier. While a year earlier I had only mentioned that Unscripted II was pretty much his swan song, I didn’t do his time in the company justice, focusing too much on that event being the actual finale for CM Punk.
For OG fans of ROH, it’s no secret that Xavier is one of the worst picks to ever hold the ROH Title. The debate has gone back-and-forth for far too long; he was a poor choice to be in such a position. No argument can soften the blow; more than his inconsistent workrate, which actually DID peak with show-stealing matches during his time in the company against Paul London, John Walters, Bryan Danielson, and Christopher Daniels, his horrendous promos were a far bigger problem, in no way ever adequately conveying the emotions of his assigned character.
As mentioned, Xavier did show at times he was a capable hand in very different matches. The hardcore match against Walters at Final Battle 2003 is often mentioned as a favorite of that match type in the company’s history, and is very comparable to Trent Acid vs. Homicide taken place 6 months earlier that same year at Wrestlerave. Both of his singles matches against London at Final Battle 2002 and One Year Anniversary Show are highlights of his ROH Title reign, as London’s ability to generate sympathy and fight from behind against ANY type of heel (including Xavier’s chicken shit flavor of it) were the perfect complement to accentuate Xavier’s arsenal. That also speaks volumes as to how elite London was as a performer before he signed with WWE; he managed to get two compelling matches out of Xavier, which the far more decorated AJ Styles failed to do. With that said, Xavier and Styles had an excellent feud-ender tagging respectively with Daniels and Low Ki at ROH’s Pittsburgh debut in January 2003, bringing the very-hard-to-find Revenge on the Prophecy to a hot close.
Xavier’s match against Danielson had the potential to be a career highlight for him, but it wasn’t meant to be as Sapolsky felt the need to give it a sports-entertainment finish. In hindsight, since Xavier would only be brought back one more time, that being a year later, with no other plans at all for him, Danielson should’ve just gone over clean to make it the classic that it was looking to be.
Xavier’s match against former Prophecy stablemate Daniels at Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies would be my pick for his greatest match ever. It was a tremendous game of chess and scouting between two combatants that would know each other so well, both with something to prove to each other in their quest to dethrone Samoa Joe, the former Prophecy mercenary, for the ROH Title.
Xavier has been known to actually attend ROH events in Manhattan, and I personally saw him among the crowd on WrestleMania XXIX weekend. No matter how obscure he became, I believe that anyone who’s been ROH Champion shouldn’t be treated as just another fan in the audience. It’s also a shame that it looks like injuries in early 2004 derailed him, right after the feud-ending gem against Walters. Perhaps the spot that would eventually go to Jimmy Rave would’ve been his to grab onto and maximize, finally having the perfect mouthpiece in Nana to do all the talking for him while he brought it in the ring. We’ll never know.
There’s not much to Xavier’s body of work in ROH. There’s not even a true top 10 to be made for him. But I will present the matches that best reflect his time in the company, from the historic title changes, to the already mentioned gems, to his anticlimactic finale.”
The list below was made in 2017.
Xavier’s All-Around Best ROH Matches
- Xavier vs. Scoot Andrews – The Era of Honor Begins ***1/4 (2020 rating)
- Xavier vs. Low Ki – Unscripted
- Xavier vs. Jay Briscoe – All-Star Extravaganza
- Xavier vs. Paul London – Final Battle 2002 ***3/4
- Xavier & Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki & AJ Styles – Revenge on the Prophecy ****
- Xavier vs. Paul London – One Year Anniversary Show ****
- Xavier vs. Samoa Joe – Night of Champions
- Xavier vs. Christopher Daniels – Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies ****1/4
- Xavier vs. John Walters – Final Battle 2003 ***1/4
- Xavier vs. Bryan Danielson – Unscripted II ***1/2
- Xavier vs. Shingo vs. Jack Evans vs. Jimmy Jacobs – Fifth Year Festival: NYC ***
To the wrestler that touched more people in and out of the ring than he may have realized…
To the All-Around Best…to the former ROH World Champion… to the wrestler that had fans throughout the Northeast rocking in the early 2000s… that had fans aching for a title change… that should’ve been Mr. Final Battle… that was worthy of so much more during ROH’s later peak years… that perhaps came into the pro wrestling business just a little too soon…
To the wrestler that for those who have revisited ROH’s glory days, have come to learn you were actually better than most remember, and thus have only further proven that indeed…
It used to be better.
RIP John “Xavier” Bedoya. You will never be forgotten.
“One of the best things about my time in the indies was that I was blessed with a chance to work with a bunch of young Latino wrestlers, guys like Xavier and Amazing Red and the SATs—Joel and Jose Maximo. I formed a real bond with those guys. To this day, they call me to talk about the business, to talk about the Lord.
Sometime later, after I’d gone back to WWE, Xavier sent me a very moving letter, telling me how seeing the things that I’ve gone through and witnessing to him was helping him get through some tough times of his own. He also gave me a Christian book that really impacted my outlook, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It teaches about why we were created, what we’re really here for. It teaches about getting out of oneself and serving others. The fact that Xavier thought to send this book to me really touched my heart.”