“It used to be better.” – The Lapsed Fan Pro Wrestling Podcast
This review is dedicated to the memories of my late friend Troy Torres, Jr. and my late godfather Mike Sullivan. (Their deaths are not recent, nor are they COVID-related.)
ROH A Night of Appreciation
April 27, 2002
We begin with a brief look at what was happening throughout the past month both in and out of wrestling.
LAPSED TABLE SETTING OF HONOR
Happening in sports:
- Tiger Woods won his third Masters on April 14, marking the third successful defense of a Masters title (only previously done by Jack Nicklaus in 1966 and Nick Faldo in 1990.)
- Before the NBA Playoffs began, two #1 draft picks and Hall of Fame centers’ careers came to a close with victories, but not with their career-defining franchises. On April 16, Patrick Ewing and the Orlando Magic defeated the Atlanta Hawks at the Phillips Arena; that was followed the next day by Hakeem Olajuwon and the Toronto Raptors defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers at the then-named Air Canada Centre.
- The hardwood and the ice transitioned into their annual postseasons, with the NBA MVP going to Tim Duncan (of the San Antonio Spurs) and the NHL’s Hart Memorial Trophy going to Jose Theodore (of the Montreal Canadiens.)
- With their first pick in franchise history, the Houston Texans selected Fresno State quarterback David Carr #1 overall to kick off the NFL Draft. Hall of Fame picks from the draft included North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers by the Carolina Panthers, Syracuse defensive end Dwight Freeney by the Indianapolis Colts, and Miami (FL) free safety Ed Reed by the Baltimore Ravens. In addition, Kent State linebacker James Harrison went undrafted (eventually being signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers.)
Happening in pop culture:
- RIP Layne Staley 1967-2002
- RIP Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes 1971-2002
- DC Comics released the 600th issue of Batman.
- On April 24, Comcast launched G4, a TV network intended for the video game industry.
- Billboard’s top singles included “Too Bad” by Nickelback, “My List” by Toby Keith, and “Foolish” by Ashanti.
- Ashanti’s self-titled debut album was released on April 2.
- An acclaimed underground rapper named 50 Cent released his debut official mixtape on April 26, titled Guess Who’s Back?
- Set to be released the weekend after this ROH event, Hollywood and moviegoers alike braced in anticipation for Spider-Man.
Hollywood also had a game-changer for both itself and pro wrestling…
- In another clear indication that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s days as a full-time pro wrestler were numbered, his first film in a lead role was a box-office success, as The Scorpion King got released on April 19 and had already accumulated over $65 million in total domestic gross by the end of the weekend that this ROH event took place.
Happening in pro wrestling:
- RIP Edward “Wahoo” McDaniel 1938-2002
- RIP Lou Thesz 1916-2002
- While still advertised for this ROH event, Eddie Guerrero made his WWF return on the April 1 edition of Raw at Albany’s Pepsi Center, attacking IC Champion Rob Van Dam.
- Six days before this ROH event, the WWF held Backlash 2002 at Kansas City’s Kemper Arena; its final PPV event using the World Wrestling Federation name, Hulk Hogan dethroned Triple H for the company’s world title in the main event, while Kurt Angle and Edge collided in a show-stealer. For ROH, the most interesting result was Eddie Guerrero dethroning Rob Van Dam for the IC Title; Eddie would successfully defend the title against Jeff Hardy the following day on Raw in St. Louis at the then-named Kiel Center, meaning he would go into this ROH show as WWF IC Champion.
In addition, some newsletter notes and excerpts of relevance (issues are dated usually 5 days after their actual publishing date):
“The 4/27 Ring of Honor show in Philadelphia drew a sellout 425 fans, so they did make a comeback after not selling out the show last month.” – Wrestling Observer Newsletter (Dated May 6, 2002)
Lastly before moving on, some ROH nostalgic podcast plugs:
- Last Stop Penn Station – https://laststoppennstation.com/
- An Honorable Mention – https://www.spreaker.com/show/3475975
- ThROH the Years – https://redcircle.com/shows/throh-the-years
The DVD begins with a video recorded earlier in the day, the Carnage Crew excited for their match and bullying jobbers for no reason. Then it abruptly cuts to an intro video for the events, showing highlights from Round Robin Challenge and set to yet another techno song that I’ve no info for. In fact, this is the same exact preview video from last month. Why am I seeing clips of post-matches for this DVD?
Quiet Storm wants to show Brian XL a submission. XL doesn’t have time for that, as he’s an asshole that’s proud to be a spot monkey.
OH GIDDY~!~!~! It’s the Christopher Street Connection taking Da Hit Squad’s spot earlier in the day by talking to the fans outside the Murphy Rec Center, dressed up as their homophobic archenemies as well. “Da Hit Squad might be the hardest-hitting… but check this out, the hardest kissing…” Then they make out to the crowd’s disapproval. Hit Squad the show up and run them off. Once again, this storyline is THAT much creepier after Dan Maff’s SECOND termination from ROH thanks to #SpeakingOut. The absolutely lowest common denominator – that’s what this bullshit is as the bigots gets the crowd marking out. It’s the same fucking promo as before! It’s a shame that this might be the first “ROH” chant in history.
Quiet Storm finds Bryan Danielson, telling him Brian XL wants to learn his latest submission move. Danielson is happy to oblige, and Chris Divine scrams. This is one of the earliest displays of actual personality from Danielson as he stretches the unsuspecting XL.
It’s revealed during a conversation between Boogaloo and Da Hit Squad that Homicide’s in Japan. Devito shows up to talk shit and imply something dark but vague.
The skits won’t fucking stop. Frank Talent of the PA State Athletic Commission calls the locker room together, telling them to welcome one of his guys. Brain Kendrick is completely ignoring Talent, instead listening to something on his headphones. Talent says more officials will be present tonight, and gives Eddie Guerrero some shine on his farewell night. Talent calls out Kendrick for the headphones, and Talent claims that tonight is a “full house” and asks the roster to “go 110%” for Eddie.
We finally get to in-ring action after more than 10 minutes of these skits and videos.
Former ECW ring announcer Stephen DeAngelis is serving in that position for ROH tonight. On commentary are Donnie B. and Steve Corino; Eric Gargiulo has recently left due to misreading the overblown political beef between ROH and CZW, choosing the latter out of loyalty.
Da Hit Squad vs. Christopher Street Connection vs. Prince Nana & Simply Luscious
Da Hit Squad crash the ring, and Maff tells tells the Christopher Street Connection “bring yo’ faggot asses out here!” Corino then follows that up on commentary with “They may be fags, but I hope they’re not stupid and come to the ring.” Donnie then chimes in with “I tell you what Steve, stupid and gay is no way to go through life.” Corino then responds with “by the sounds of their music, they’re not only gay, but freakin’ stupid too, because Da Hit Squad… they’re gonna kill these guys.” Man, this segment is trying so hard for me to do another LGBTIQ charity spotlight.
It starts off with Hit Squad against the Connection, but then Allison Danger shows up to say something that’s inaudible. Corino says his real-life sister is “a known alternative lifestylist.” She announces that it’s a three-way match, then Nana arrives with Luscious and Elax. This is an absolutely god-AWFUL segment as one of the homosexual characters joyfully performs a sexually motivated Bronco Buster on Maff.
Nana throws Elax out, choosing Luscious to be his partner. I cannot believe this kicked off such a historic event for the company, and this is proving to be equally vile to the prior two months’ segments involving Da Hit Squad. The bigots destroy everyone to the crowd’s delight, and Maff wraps it up with a Burning Hammer on Luscious. [Thanks to Trevor Dame on ThROH the Years for also pointing out that when Maff pinned Luscious, he had quite the handful of her breasts. There’s no benefit of the doubt for that after #SpeakingOut.]
Elax is concerned for Luscious, but gets clotheslined by Steve Mack for his trouble. A table is then introduced, with Elax placed on it and eating a senton from Mack.
Fuck this entire segment. As for this review’s charity spotlight, it’s being centered around something else; on the next ROH chapter of this journey, I’ll do a bonus “make-good” involving the LGBTIQ community for this fucking bullshit.
Jay Briscoe vs. Tony Mamaluke
In a promo taped earlier, Mark Briscoes points out that his brother hasn’t won a match yet in ROH, and this is a nice simmering sibling rivalry.
They go to the mat early, with Mamaluke being dumped out. The former ECW midcarder seems to have the advantage, but Jay holds his own with the technical wrestler as Mark provides vocal support. Jay gains control with a leg lariat, and I laugh at Corino on commentary that ROH wants to avoid being “sports-entertainment” after the steaming pile of shit that occurred before this match.
Jay’s control is temporary, as Mamaluke takes him down with a Fujiwara Arm Bar. That leads to Jay’s left arm being targeted by the more experienced veteran. Even though Mamaluke’s technique is solid, it’s hard to really believe he can do this to Jay considering his Sabre-like physique and not having the Sabre-like personality to offset it, even in a world in which MMA has gone mainstream for the past 15 years.
As the commentators go over the promotion’s rules, it’s pointed out that in tag team matches, “a tag is only legal if the man on the outside is actually grabbing the tag rope.” Yeah, I’m sure that’s gonna be consistently enforced. Meanwhile, Jay blocks a Superplex attempt, countering a Super Gordbuster and selling his left arm, unable to go for the pin.
Jay wins a chopping battle, which I find believable no matter what Mamaluke’s background may be. They exchange very good counters and pin attempts, until Jay finally wins in ROH, planting Mamaluke with the Double Underhook Piledriver. In the post-match, Mark isn’t thrilled that he no longer has trolling fodder to use against his brother, and Mamaluke chooses to be disrespectful in defeat. Their parents congratulate Jay, but Mark chastises him, claiming he almost lost. Meanwhile, James Maritato tells Mamaluke to cut the comedy bullshit.
Not a gem, but perfectly serviceable undercard material to advance a slow-burn storyline.
Divine Storm vs. Christian York & Joey Matthews
York & Matthews cut an awful pre-taped promo, with York being especially egregious.
Quiet Storm holds his own for a few minutes, while his partner Chris Divine falls prey to a Spinebuster and Pendulum Swing by York, causing a save to be made. York gets the ring cut in half on him, but the smaller curtain-jerkers aren’t seasoned enough as a team to sustain control. Brian XL inserts himself, doing a Fosbury Flop to York, and his friends are pissed for his interference.
York manages to cut off Divine’s control with a Super Atomic Drop, getting the hot tag to Matthews for a good house of fire. York & Matthews hit the Full Effect (resembling a double-team Burning Hammer) on Storm but Divine trips Matthews. Storm eventually gets a sudden leg submission on Matthews, leading to a tap out victory.
This match reflects much of wrestling in 2020 – all the moves and technique may be good, but I don’t give a single shit about the individual characters, so the match doesn’t click at all for the audience.
Rating: less than ***
Scoot Andrews vs. Xavier vs. James Maritato
The former Little Guido points out his history in three-way dances, vowing to get a submission victory. Andrews has zero charisma during his promo. We’re thankfully spared an Xavier promo.
The crowd immediately throws “AC Slater” chants at Xavier, who has by far the most in-ring charisma of these three, continuing to be a clear standout in the midcard. The early highlight is Maritato flipping Xavier backwards, causing Andrews to be planted with a DDT. Moments later, Maritato stops Xavier from eating the Force of Nature from Andrews.
This is definitely feeling like a poor man’s attempt at Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Christopher Daniels, as they do a combo corner spot – Andrews powerbombs Xavier, who simultaneously gives Maritato a Super Fallaway Slam. None of these three feel quite on the same page, sloppily transitioning to big spots and counters.
Xavier eats a Force of Nature, but the pin is broken by Maritato. Xavier sells the devastating finisher as the other two duke it out. He gets crotched on top by Andrews, who eats a Super Russian Leg Sweep from Maritato. The former ECW midcarder gets a victory that highly irritates me, causing the potential star that is Xavier to tap out to the Fujiwara Arm Bar. Inexcusable booking as Xavier has shown signs of being a future money draw for the company, while Maritato is nothing more than undercard fodder.
Rating: less than ***
Simply Luscious confronts owner Rob Feinstein, pissed off at her treatment considering the miles she drove from Texas. Feinstein promises better for her next month.
At long last, we get to the money, real starchy portions of this card.
The ROH Debut of AJ Styles
Low Ki vs. AJ Styles
Styles has no charisma during his pre-taped promo, but he’s a proven playmaker in the ring elsewhere, so whatever. He definitely has intense charisma during his entrance, matching up very well to Low Ki.
This starts on the mat, with the mentioned charisma and intensity missing earlier on the card between Jay Briscoe and Tony Mamaluke. In fact, this picks up for Low Ki almost right where he left off against Bryan Danielson the month before. Styles shows his size and strength advantage during a knuckle lock test of strength, providing an interesting dynamic for Low Ki, as he has someone that can do almost everything he does, but has the power that other technical studs haven’t in Ki’s past.
Ki targets the left hamstring of Styles to break the knuckle lock, showing his martial arts advantage to counter the larger size of Styles. They have a dick-shaking contest in the form of trading kicks before it goes back to the mat. Once they’re back up, every strike is delivered in spectacular fashion thanks to the previously mentioned charismatic intensity of both.
During another lockup, Ki keeps it interesting, delivering more kicks to the left knee then the chest of Styles. But after a chop and snapmare takeover, Styles tackles him down, only to eat a kick to the face from Low Ki. This is far, far from a dramatic peak, but man is this looking to be a recipe to remember. Low Ki is proving a tad bit quicker, keeping the advantage with more kicks until Styles nips up for a Hurricanrana to gain control.
That control is short-lived, as shortly after a Hanging Neckbreaker from Styles, he eats a Superkick counter in the corner from Low Ki. The King of Indies finalist follows up on the face of Styles, hitting him with a Mutoh Elbow. But Ki makes the mistake of going for another chopping battle, as Styles cuts him off and hits a Pele Kick to knock him out of the ring. Styles gives kicking receipts, all of them precise with the perfect mix of exhaustion and intensity in the delivery.
Back in the ring, Styles delivers a tremendous Brainbuster, but moments later Low Ki delivers a Rolling Koppu and follow-up Mafia Kick that causes Styles to be dumped out and the audience to give some well-earned applause. They go on the apron, with Low Ki apparently going for a Ki Crusher perhaps to the outside. Styles of course blocks that, only for Ki to fall into position in the ring to apply a Dragon Sleeper within the ropes.
Ki goes for the Ki Crusher, but in an obvious match highlight, Styles counters with a perfectly-timed, high-impact DDT in the middle of the ring! Ki is able to counter a Wheelbarrow and tries for the Dragon Sleeper, but Styles escapes and hits a Springboard Inverted DDT for a near-fall! The audience is completely behind Styles, who goes for a Hurricanrana, but gets Powerbombed and bridged for an incredible near-fall!
Ki breaks out the Kawada kicks, and they are just tremendous. He also counters a Styles comeback attempt with a Tiger Suplex Bridge near-fall, and Ki looks like the favorite to win at this point, just having too much control. Even with Styles cutting him off with a clothesline and hitting a chain of moves, he’s fighting underneath a bit too much here.
Ki gains control with a Gordbuster, able to follow-up with the Tidal Crush. Styles gets his knees up on a Phoenix Splash and has the proper adrenaline rush to maintain control. In the clear #1 highlight of the match, Styles lifts Ki for a Crucifix Powerbomb, but changes his mind planting Low Ki face-first with an absolutely sensational DDT!!! AND LOW KI FUCKING KICKS OUT!!!!
As the crowd goes bonkers, Styles goes for the Spiral Tap, which Ki evades. As they both struggle to get to their feet, they have another gripping strike exchange, which Low Ki wins with an Enziguri. Styles blocks the Ki Crusher attempt and goes for the Crucifix Powerbomb DDT, but Ki has it scouted this time, rolling Styles for the win! However, Styles kicked out at three, making this result controversial and even with it even Low Ki, MUST indicate a rematch to come in this company.
Despite the result, Styles shows Ki respect as the crowd gives them a standing ovation. Just a great, great debut for Styles that totally cemented his spot in this company. Low Ki’s bumping style perfectly complemented the big moves of Styles, and they had the matched charismatic intensity as well. It’ll be difficult for this to be topped by anything else on the card.
Christopher Daniels has a pre-taped promo, happy to face the debuting Donovan Morgan tonight. I’m not buying any of this praise from Daniels, which is a mix of work and shoot to sell his disdain to the other proven ROH stars.
Carnage Crew vs. Dunn & Marcos
The Crew issue cheapshots on D&M, almost completely squashing the ring crew members. This team feels very much like it’s more suited for CZW, but they’re not completely out of place here. Decent showcase for both teams to make the Crew look strong and show some fire from D&M. In the post-match, the Crew beat the shit out of D&M with hub caps.
Donovan Morgan’s ROH Debut
Donovan Morgan vs. Christopher Daniels
Donovan Morgan has a pre-taped promo, appreciating the earlier praise from Daniels. He has zero charisma. None. Zilch.
Daniels is a complete star at this time, getting adulation from fans at ringside despite being the top heel in the company. Even against someone he respects like Morgan, he refuses to follow the Code of Honor.
The wrestling itself is totally fine, all the mechanical stuff done properly, but it doesn’t get interesting until Daniels plants Morgan with a backdrop driver. That leads to an actual story being told, as Daniels targets Morgan’s neck. After a few minutes, Morgan regains control with a neckbreaker, leading to Morgan using the same strategy as Daniels.
After they trade pin attempts, Morgan targets the left leg of Daniels with a leg lock submission. Daniels sells it, unable to maintain control after a chin-breaker and getting dumped on his head. This match seems to be the telling the story of it just being even, as Daniels moments later drops Morgan with a German Suplex, targeting his neck again.
Daniels goes for the Iconoclasm, but eats a jumping DDT from Morgan. Because Morgan has no charisma or intensity, he’s not getting any sustained reaction for his work, even when dumping Daniels on his head again. He finds himself falling prey to the Crippler Crossface from Daniels. Morgan finally gets a reaction when he blocks the Last Rites and delivers a Swinging Neckbreaker for a near-fall, but he ain’t getting AJ Styles-level reactions, not even when doing that move again with a successful bridge pin for the victorious debut.
Daniels has a post-match promo as always so far. He gives Morgan credit, making no excuses. He teases a handshake, then pulls back on it. He still has high words but views the Code of Honor as a farce. Daniels continues praising Morgan while shitting on Low Ki and Bryan Danielson, saying they can’t be trusted. Daniels offers to be Morgan’s partner going forward. Wow, Gabe Sapolsky sacrificed Daniels jobbing to Eddie Guerrero in the main event for a fucking DONOVAN MORGAN PUSH?!?!?
Texas Wrestling Academy Gauntlet Match
Featuring Brian Kendrick, Bryan Danielson, Michael Shane, Paul London, and John Hope
In a pre-taped segment, Kendrick arrives late for a TWA meeting. Kendrick is being as annoying and disrespectful as Brian XL earlier.
Highlights are shown of the first match in the gauntlet, as Paul London defeats John Hope after a Shooting Star Press that impressed. It’s noteworthy that he’s shown taking a dive to the outside that shows him landing flat on his back and head.
Paul London vs. Michael Shane
London continues impressing, showing great fire and unique moves that other stars on the roster haven’t utilized, such as the Moonsault Dropkick. Shane has the SSP scouted though, and the fatigued London is prone to the Flying Elbow Drop for the finish. I’d like to see these two in a proper singles match.
Michael Shane vs. Brian Kendrick
These two have no love lost, slapping each other during the pre-match handshake, and it leads to a strike exchange. They have each other scouted well, and the commentary storyline of Corino hitting on Simply Luscious seems mistimed considering the action taking place. In fact, Shane is busted open after falling to the outside.
This feels very much like a WWF match, consisting of numerous kicks and punches several minutes into it. Kendrick eventually targets Shane’s neck, which would be smart to keep doing to soften him up for the Shiranui. That’s short-lived though with Shane cutting him off in the corner. As Kendrick has control again and delivers punches, the bleeding Shane dares him to punch more.
Kendrick tries a Skin-the-Cat, but Shane scouts it, cutting him off and then diving towards him on the outside. Back in the ring, Kendrick regains control, targeting Shane’s neck again. But it’s the bleeding that is more bothersome to Shane, as when he’s on the top rope for another elbow drop, he just collapses. While he’s able to make a comeback, he ultimately falls prey to the Shiranui for the finish. Decent stuff, and let’s hope this final part of the gauntlet can live up its previous entry in the King of Indies six months earlier.
Brian Kendrick vs. Bryan Danielson
Kendrick appears to target Danielson’s neck early, driving him head-first while in a head-scissors. Danielson eventually gains control over Kendrick, who’s experiencing a wardrobe malfunction as his pants are splitting at the crotch. Kendrick’s bumping is standout here, right on par with Low Ki.
The fatigued Kendrick for a slingshot or springboard move, but gets cut off by Danielson. However, Kendrick has enough to deliver a hard strike moments later that causes Danielson to be dumped off the apron. It’s notable on commentary that there’s a crazy road story about Kendrick in Alaska – that must be the show these two wrestled on… the one that DID host the only Eddie Guerrero vs. Christopher Daniels match in history!
Kendrick targets Danielson’s neck again, trying to soften him up for the Shiranui. That’s short-lived once again as expected, eating a Cravate Suplex from Danielson. After significant control from Danielson, all of it top-notch mechanically and compatible to Chris Benoit, Kendricks lands a boot to cut him off. They botch a small package counter, showing just how tired Kendrick probably really is.
Danielson shrugs Kendrick off on a Shiranui attempt. After Kendrick blocks the Dragon Suplex, Danielson just dumps with a German Suplex. Danielson continues dominating, but eventually eats a Shiranui and kicks out. This isn’t as epic as it should be, and with it being a gauntlet match, of course it isn’t. Danielson manages to get the Dragon Suplex, but is too close to the ropes and that allows Kendrick a rope break.
In a surprise, Kendrick hits a Super Shiranui to put Danielson down and win the gauntlet. That’s a lot to invest in someone that up to this point, has yet to provide a show-stealer in the company, and the moment itself didn’t have any time to sink in.
In the post-match, Kendrick demands a handshake, which is obliged. Kendrick says this gauntlet match was the first step towards him becoming ROH Champion, throwing himself in the mix and calling himself “The Showstopper.” Danielson cuts a boring promo, pointing out that Kendrick had never beaten him before tonight. Christopher Daniels shows up and that should be an upgrade on the mic as Danielson wants in the tournament.
Daniels says he WILL be in the tournament, win it, and be the first-ever ROH Champion. Scoot Andrews arrives to interrupt him, throwing his name in the hat. Daniels chastises him for the interruption. Andrews retorts with “[something something] pedophile!” Andrews wants Daniels in the first round of the tournament, and after that pedophile remark, Daniels gets arguably racist with “Don’t get your afro in an uproar, pal!”
This segment is becoming absolutely brutal, and not even a promo treasure like Daniels can save it. Xavier arrives and throws his name in the hat. His promo is horrendous. Jay Briscoe arrives and you know the drill by now. Prince Nana hilariously inserts himself into the equation. The mic acoustics are so horrendous I can’t understand most of his promo, and neither can Daniels.
Low Ki then arrives and confronts Nana. The Ghana native slaps Ki and gets his ass kicked in response, taking a shot to the jaw and setting up an obvious first round squash in the tournament. Low Ki is rather humdrum doing a “face of the company” type promo, describing each of the other sex title contenders one at a time. In the highlight, Ki laughs once his attention turns towards Kendrick, having no proper words to describe him. Ki thanks Danielson for their classic war the month before, leaving Daniels as the last one for Ki to say something about it. It’s the predictable chastising for all the dishonor. Ki says the only Daniels becomes champion is “over my dead body.”
While it’s understandable that for the next event on June 22, the title tournament had to be promoted for this crowd, this was such an incredibly sloppy way of doing it. It definitely created interest for the original three-way main-eventers to collide again at some point though. Meh, this company is still fledgling, so you live and learn at this point.
It’s time to show some appreciation for the man that put this company on the map.
The SAT vs. Amazing Red & Eddie Guerrero
Eddie is proudly wearing the WWF IC belt around his waist, getting a deserved historic pop from the Philly crowd. As sentimental as this moment is though, I can’t believe THIS is what was done with Eddie considering this card had Daniels (the original opponent for Eddie), Low Ki, Styles, and Danielson, the latter two never having faced him at all. He’s clearly superior to everyone else in this match, feeling like Nikolai Jokic teaming with a gimmick league player against some beer-leaguers.
The commentators announce that additional names for the ROH Title tournament include the UK’s Doug Williams, Jonny Storm, and Jody Fleisch, as well as Styles and Jerry Lynn. There are definitely some gems in those additions. The four remaining winners on June 22 will then compete for the title in a four-way 60-Minute Iron Man match on July 27.
There’s not much interesting to say about this match. Everything about it is mechanically fine, just being a novelty for Eddie’s farewell as he gets to work with some Latino friends he had made during his time on the indies. Red eventually played babyface-in-peril, building to the obvious hot tag to Eddie that the crowd would eat up on this night. About 10 minutes into this, the locker room is shown being at ringside to witness Eddie’s farewell, admittedly adding gravitas to this.
Eddie is a tremendous house of fire as expected, but it doesn’t get the expected pop. The finishing sequence is red-hot, as Eddie elevates Red to deliver a Super Frankensteiner. Red then eats a Somersault Plancha, and Eddie plants Jose with a Splash Mountain Powerbomb for the victory.
Brain XL interrupts the post-match moment, saying that his bullshit and leading to Eddie obliterating him with his trademark moves, capping it off with the Frog Splash!!! The ref even counts the three for Eddie, although I won’t count this as an actual match.
Eddie’s farewell promo is highly emotional for him as the Philly crowd chants his name and thanks him. They cap it off with “We will miss you!” chants, and he responds that the feeling is mutual. It’s difficult to make out everything he says due to the poor mic acoustics (live reports per The Observer were that he revealed he had recently lost a custody hearing for his children), but he credits his newfound Christian faith for his recovery and resurgence. He says he’s so happy when he steps in the ring, referring to the locker room as his brothers, and puts the Philly fans over as well for their support and kindness going back to the days of ECW. He says no matter if they cheer or boo him, he’ll always love them and remember them and be thankful for them as wrestling fans.
In a sentimental moment that through no fault of Eddie doesn’t age well (and it’s not the only one), he closes by putting over Rob Feinstein, thanking him for the opportunity. The participants of the main event then embrace, with Red briefly holding the WWF IC Title belt.
Rating: *** (for the match)
Low Ki and Danielson are pissed upon discovering Brian Kendrick backstage, realizing he didn’t bother showing up to give support to Eddie. Morgan & Daniels show up to shit on the moment too, starting a pull-apart with all three hells getting the hell out of dodge. Kendrick chastises them for causing him to now have heat with Low Ki, but Morgan convinces him to drop it. Morgan now sees the same thing Daniels does, which is that ROH sucks. Daniels says if he had hair, this company would make it go gray.
This lacked the MOTYCs (let alone five-star classics) of the first two events, but there’s an argument that the novelty of Eddie Guerrero’s farewell compensated for that. There’s still a great match in the middle, with AJ Styles living up to his “Phenomenal” moniker in a war against Low Ki. While nothing else really stands out, those two segments alone make this an easy recommendation, and prove ultimately that indeed… #ItUsedToBeBetter.
Once again though, the steaming pile of shit program involving Da Hit Squad and Christopher Street Connection contained to steam quite zestily in a segment equally vile as the prior two months. As mentioned after that segment, I am punting the LGBTIQ-related charity spotlight to the next edition of The Lapsed ROHbot – in fact, I’ll do two of them on that one to make up for here.
Instead, the charity spotlight today has a very centered focus. It’s about the path that Eddie Guerrero took that landed him in ROH, and that this landed on New Year’s Eve has been completely intentional.
This event obviously marked the end of a very short era, which was the underground wrestling scene being blessed with Eddie Guerrero’s involvement. In just five months, Eddie set a shining example overall on how every mainstream wrestling superstar ought to conduct himself in situations in which they have overwhelmingly favorable leverage.
Eddie Guerrero was undoubtedly an essential piece of Ring of Honor’s birth, serving as the marquee attraction against Super Crazy that would sell out the company’s debut event. As this lapsed journey continues, we will see many other wrestlers with a significantly higher quantity of matches and appearances in ROH, and yet their footprint in the company comes nowhere close to what Eddie’s was in just two events. His contributions go beyond how many tickets or home videos he moved; he is undoubtedly one of the defining performers that shaped ROH’s identity long before he was back on the underground.
Clearly, every underground fan, as well as promoters and wrestlers across the scene, wishes that Eddie’s run would have lasted longer. But someone as special as Eddie Guerrero was always destined to be a mainstream star. In what will be said many times throughout this lapsed journey, perhaps it’s best to quote Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
This only happened though because Eddie developed a major alcohol and substance abuse problem in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was 22 years ago today when he injured himself and was sidelined for six months due to a drunk driving car crash on New Year’s Eve. Three years later, this addiction to alcohol culminated in the WWF firing him after another drunk driving arrest on November 9, 2001. Fortunately, his career resurgence came with him conquering those particular recreational demons.
In my own life, I had the privilege of making friends with the first person that this review is dedicated to – Troy Torres, Jr. of Tacoma, WA. I only knew him in the last few months of his life, but by the time we were introduced to one another, he continued to face many demons. One demon that he had already conquered was alcoholism, and he was fighting to conquer more, leaving an inspirational footprint on me that those I’ve known for years can’t come close to measuring up to.
Sadly, the story of alcohol and substance abuse doesn’t always have a happy ending, with so many souls, careers, and relationships being flushed down the drain because of those demons. One of those souls happens to be my godfather, who took his own life sometime in 2000. I’ve also seen from afar how alcoholism deteriorated the mental, physical, and financial health of distant family members, leading some of them to their deaths as well.
In recent times, I also encountered multiple people charged with DWI offenses, both of them repeat offenders that had thankfully not harmed anyone. What I took away from them wasn’t that they had fucked up again; it was that they were worried about how their mistakes would impact their loved ones, including their children. I saw face-to-face how drunk driving could upend the lives of so many.
Eddie Guerrero was far from perfect, and in recent months, many of our favorite wrestlers from the past decade got exposed and accused for faulty behaviors as well thanks to #SpeakingOut. As we still try to heal from that long overdue industry-wide scandal, I think it’s also important to remember that even people who commit abhorrent behaviors can have their spirits broken in ways that nobody would ever wish upon them.
Undoubtedly, Bill DeMott had to be fired by WWE for his abuses during his time as a trainer, just like so many of his peers would be in 2020. But nobody could’ve seen the heartwrenching card that his family would be dealt just several months after resigning in 2015. What DeMott and his family have shown over the past five years though is that when faced with such tragic adversity, we can either let it demoralize us, or we can grow from it, let it give us a purpose, and be a shining light in a world of such darkness.
Today’s charity spotlight is more than a charity; it is a spotlight on helping those who suffer from alcoholism, as well as those who have been victimized by it.
If you or anyone you know is battling alcoholism or substance abuse issues, please know that help is available to help you overcome and persevere. There are many resources available for those battling alcoholism, and if that person is you or someone you know, please know the battle does not have to be fought alone. As we close 2020, let today be the first day towards recovery.
Today’s charity spotlights include:
Alcoholics Anonymous – https://www.aa.org/
To find a local AA chapter – https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/find-aa-resources
The Keri Anne DeMott Foundation
“On October 10th, 2015 Keri was hit head-on and tragically killed by a multiple DUI offender while driving home. She was only 20 years old.
Keri Anne had a passion for making others happy; whether it was through her artwork, volunteering her time, or simply making people laugh, Keri had a mission to change the world with her infectious smile and selfless personality. Keri was a member of the Delta Gamma Sorority while attending the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, where she spent much of her time volunteering and inspiring her peers to make the world a better place. She continued to study Sociology after transferring to the University of Central Florida her sophomore year. Keri hoped to become a social worker to help children and families in need. She was an avid beach-goer, a talented artist, a loyal friend, and she is loved by many.
On April 22nd, 2016, the man responsible for taking Keri Anne’s life was sentenced to the mandatory 15 years in the Florida Department of Corrections, and his driver’s license was revoked for life.
The Keri Anne DeMott Foundation was started by the DeMott family to honor Keri’s memory and to share her story, with the goal to one day end drunk, impaired, and distracted driving. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the foundation will continue Keri’s passion of helping others by giving back to local community groups and national organizations that inspire, motivate, and help others.
Keri’s father and foundation founder, Bill, travels nationwide speaking to law enforcement, schools, colleges, and various community groups sharing Keri’s story in order to make younger generations more aware of how the decisions they make every day can have a significant impact on the lives of those around them. Bill’s touching message and powerful delivery are the cornerstone of the #KeriAnneDeMottMatters Campaign; it inspires individuals to make the right decisions and change the world in the process.
By partnering with organizations like JAX Impact, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), the UCF Police Department, the Titusville Police Department, and other local law enforcement agencies, we hope to educate younger generations about the dangers of impaired driving and become a voice for thousands of victims and families that have faced the same tragedy.”
As we close out this challenging year tonight, remember to celebrate responsibly. I urge you to stay home. If you choose to partake in festivities, be sure to drive sober. If you choose to be under the influence, then set up a designated driver. Have enough money for a cab, Lyft, or Uber if necessary. You’ll save lives by doing that – including your own.
As for the new year, if you’re suffering from alcoholism, I wanna reiterate that I’m rooting for you to follow in Eddie Guerrero’s footsteps. Make 2021 the year that you kick that addiction’s ass for yourself, for your future, and for those you love. My friend Troy was strong enough to do that – and so are you!