July 10, 2011
Matt Peddycord
The Powerdriver Review

ROH: Final Battle 2003
12/27/2003
Philadelphia, PA
National Guard Armory

Your hosts are Chris Lovey and CM Punk. He’s FANTASTIC on color commentary.

Gary Michael Capetta is talking some smack about Jim Cornette when the Carnage Crew walk over to him angrily demanding to know where Special K is at. What’s the problem between these two groups? Don’t worry folks – Capetta will get the SCOOP~!

Meanwhile, Samoa Joe has a new segment in ROH called “Samoa Joe’s Ring”. He’s going to show you how to PWN somebody. Today, he plans to choke out Oman Tortuga from the Outcast Killaz. And that’s what happens. Joe chokes Tortuga down to the mat. When Joe lets him go, of course Tortuga hightails it to the locker room.

Bryan Danielson vs. Jay Briscoe
Jay is one-half of the ROH tag champs with his brother Mark, but now they each look to have some singles competition. Who better to try and score a win over than Bryan Danielson? Until he finds out who attacked his girlfriend Lucy at Wrath of the Racket back in August, CM Punk vows to continue ruining ROH shows and this show won’t be treated any differently just because there’s All Japan guys here. Danielson tries to twist Jay’s arm off to start. Jay controls Danielson with a headlock, but Dragon is too good for that crap and counters into a Liontamer. Back to the headlock, but Danielson escapes easily and cranks back on the arm in unnatural positions. Enough of the arm work – Danielson fires back with European uppercuts. Jay absorbs the blows and delivers a snap suplex. Some shots from Jay riles up Danielson to unload on him with a jaw-breaker of a European uppercut. Jay was totally asking for it. Jay hits a reverse neckbreaker, but Danielson nails an enziguri. Another European uppercut leads to an Airplane Spin. Regal Roll sets up the Flying Headbutt for 1-2-NO! They exchange slaps. Danielson spits on Jay and then gets his face raked. Lovey says that must be the Jim Cornette influence shining through. Jay hits a Falcon Arrow for two, followed by a mafia kick for another nearfall. Danielson backdrops out of the J-DRILLER and counters a second attempt with a Dragon Suplex for 1-2-NO! CATTLE MUTILATION gets the submission win. (13:35) Great match, but I never felt like Danielson was in any kind of trouble. ***½

In the back, Trent Acid stops Jay Briscoe and asks for a tag title shot. It’s whatever Cornette wants, bro.

John Walters vs. Xavier – (Fight Without Honor)
I just found out that John Walters was one of Undertaker’s druids at WrestleMania 20. Huh. Xavier has been one of my faves to watch throughout these few early ROH shows I’ve seen, so I have a feeling this one is going to be good where there is absolutely no rules. This all started when Xavier beat Walters with a cheap low-blow at Glory By Honor II in that Field of Honor tournament. Walters tries to gain an early advantage by beating Xavier into the ring instead of letting him have his entrance fun. Nobody here from the Prophecy to support Xavier, but his stance with them seemed a little shaky anyway at this point. Walters hits a powerslam and catapults Xavier over the top rope to the floor. He whips Xavier into the guardrail and finds a chair. He misses with a running swing, which allows Xavier to get the chair for himself. Prince Nana is here at ringside! With Walters down in the corner, Xavier puts the chair over him and leaps down into the corner with a knee drop on the chair. He gives Walters another knee drop on the chair and goes out to find a ladder. Xavier delivers a running dropkick in the corner as Nana says to the camera, “That’s where the money is.” Walters avoids a corner charge by throwing the ladder back in Xavier’s face. He tilts the ladder up against the ropes, but then Walters telegraphs a backdrop. Xavier wants to powerbomb Walters on the ladder, but Walters says NO and delivers an Alabama Slam on the ladder! Now the ladder is all bent up! Understandably so. To the floor, Walters makes a scaffold out of the bent ladder in between the ring and the guardrail. Looks like Walters wanted to give Xavier the HURRICANE DDT off the apron onto the ladder, but Xavier slips out and knees Walters on the ladder to bend it up even more. Xavier finds a table and then bends the ladder back into place to recreate the scaffold effect. He puts Walters on the ladder and proceeds to come off the top rope for a SPLIT-LEGGED MOONSAULT on the ladder! In the ring, Xavier is grabbing his shoulder. Walters fights back with a Codebreaker. Back to the floor they go. Walters sets the table up that Xavier found earlier, but they don’t play it off. Back inside, Walters delivers the HURRICANE DDT on a set-up chair! Big chairshot to the head busts open Xavier. In a cool spot, Walters applies a Surfboard with the chair stuck in Xavier’s back while Walters pulls back on his chin. INSANITY~! Xavier blocks a suplex from the apron and baseball slides into Walters to put him on the table. 450 SPLASH through the table! Why not. Majorly contrived, but it was fun. Back in the ring, they trade weak punches on their knees. When that isn’t enough, Xavier spin kicks Walters away to get a break. Xavier finds another much taller ladder and sets it up in the ring. He starts to climb up, but so does Walters who brings Xavier down with a LUNG BLOWER! Cover by Walters, 1-2-NO! Prince Nana pulls out the ref. Walters sells a hurt knee after the crazy move he just pulled off. That costs him a step, as Xavier takes advantage with a reverse neckbreaker. Cover, 1-2-NO! They fight into the corner where Xavier delivers Kiss Your X Goodbye. Afterwards, Xavier sets the ladder up on the middle turnbuckle. As a sign of support, Prince Nana puts that chair on the ladder. Xavier starts the climb up the taller ladder, but Walters is there to meet him with a SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB onto the ladder and chair! They were really too close to the floor, which killed the spot. Just so dangerous. Walters drapes his arm on Xavier and gets the 1-2-3. (18:44) I would have went higher with this had some of the spots went better than they did. Still, what’s here is really intense and what hits looks good. Walters would go on to defeat Doug Williams in August for the ROH Pure title, which is about the only other thing I can remember him doing in ROH. ****

After the match, Xavier tells the world that John Walters has earned his respect. Once that’s over, Prince Nana makes Xavier the first member of The Embassy.

Matt Stryker vs. BJ Whitmer – Field of Honor Tournament Finals
Field of Honor? Is that anything like the Field of Dreams? If ROH builds it, maybe 1,000 people will come? No, some call it ROH’s answer to New Japan’s G-1 Climax tournament with the round-robin style. Lovey tells me that Stryker had his shoulder separated in a match the previous night in HWA while Whitmer has been hit BAD with that nasty flu bug that ravaged seemingly everybody in the winter of 2003. We’re talking a 101-degree fever here folks. Whitmer’s just three degrees from Delirious! Feeling out process to start. Stryker dumps Whitmer out for a somersault plancha. WHAT! Big mistake for Stryker though, as there is plenty of places out there for Whitmer to throw him into to work on his shoulder. Back in, Stryker has to kick at Whitmer’s braced up knee to catch a break. Whitmer makes the ropes during a STRYKERLOCK attempt and then takes off the knee brace. Stretch Muffler by Stryker. Punk calls it a Horse Collar. Potato, tomato. Same hold. To the floor, Stryker lifts Whitmer up for a shinbreaker and drops Whitmer’s knee on a ringside table. Back in, WOO! Yes, it’s time for the Figure-Four! No leg work could ever be complete in North America without the figure-four. Whitmer reverses the hold, but that just causes Stryker to one-up himself with the ringpost figure-four! After a shinbreaker and a dragon screw leg whip, Stryker reverts to the Stretch Muffler. He makes the ropes and hits a desperation Golden Gate Swing on Stryker. Punk calls Whitmer Hillbilly Jesus. HA. Whitmer applies a variation of the Koji Clutch, but Stryker reaches the ropes. Whitmer can’t deliver on the WRIST-CLUTCH EXPLODER because of his knee, so Stryker kicks at his wounds and puts Whitmer away with the STRYKERLOCK! (18:09) Great psychology and great wrestling are two ingredients for awesome in ROH. This might be the match of the night. ****¼

ROH World Champion Samoa Joe vs. Mark Briscoe (w/Jay Briscoe)
Since Jim Cornette and the Briscoes tried to screw over Samoa Joe, he’s looking to kill himself a Briscoe brother tonight. Joe goes NUTZ on Mark to start. He wants the Ole Kick down on the floor, but Mark says F that and hops back in the ring. After some back and forth armdrags, Mark hits a pair of corner clotheslines. Boy, he was brave AND stupid for attempting such a thing. Mark wants a running facewash, but Joe pops up and open palm strikes Mark to the floor! Joe wants the Ole Kick again, but Jay pulls his brother out of the way to disappoint the Philly crowd again. Jay gets in Joe’s face, but it goes nowhere. In the ring, Mark runs into STJoe. Snapmare, chop to the back, kick to the chest, knee drop! That was all from Joe! Cocky cover gets two. Mark thinks he’s going to be effective by giving a Samoan a headbutt, but fails miserably. Mark refuses to give up in a Boston crab and then catches Joe with a Uranage. Mark manages a suplex on Joe for two. Joe kicks Mark out to the floor and wipes out Jay with a suicide dive. Now that he’s taken care of, Mark finally eats the Ole Kick. In a bit that was relevant in 2003, Joe pulls a Terrell Owens and pulls out the cell phone to call somebody. Punk says that if Rob Feinstein wants to fine Joe, all he could be paid in was bananas and coconuts. NICE. Joe takes Mark for a spin in the rolling cradle for two. Powerbomb into the STF follows. Mark grabs the ropes and decides it would be smart to unload on Joe. Joe responds ten times worse with slaps and the enziguri kick. Cover by Joe, 1-2-NO! Mark hits Joe with a back suplex and calls for the CUTTHROAT DRIVER. Yeah right. Joe kicks him back down and picks him up for a Dragon Suplex for 1-2-NO! Joe buries some knees into Mark’s shoulders and finishes him off with the COQUINA CLUTCH! (14:45) Like Mark Briscoe had a chance. ***

CM Punk leaves the announce booth to ruin the show. He tells Joe to get out of the ring. Joe responds with STFU, n00b! No disrespect, but Punk doesn’t want a fight. He just has some business to take care of here. He wants Christopher Daniels to come out right now. Joe could care less. He tells Punk if he doesn’t leave, he’ll have 99 problems and his beeyotch won’t be one of them. Now that Punk’s out of his ring, Joe drops the mic and leaves. Nobody tells HIM when to leave. He’s the champ. The Prophecy stops Joe right before he gets to the curtain and beats the heck out of him. We see a little bit of Punk vs. Daniels while the Prophecy watches on. Colt Cabana makes the save before any Angel’s Wings can laid out on Punk. WOW! Punk chokes Allison Danger with a towel and threatens to KILL her if Daniels doesn’t tell him what he knows about Lucy’s assailant. Daniels admits the Prophecy was responsible for what happened to Lucy as BJ Whitmer shows up and nails Cabana with a chair! Once the ring is cleared of the Second City Saints, Daniels gets on the stick and reveals that BJ Whitmer – the newest member of the Prophecy – was the unknown assailant. Why? Because back at The Epic Encounter show in April, Punk KO’ed him on the concrete. Dan Maff has a tough time accepting Whitmer as an ally, but Maff warms up to him.

Meanwhile, The Carnage Crew interrupt Capetta’s interview with the Briscoes to find out what the down low is about Special K. He tells them that Special K is on their way to Chicago to appear on ‘Good Times, Great Memories’. The Carnage Crew just think he doesn’t know anything and walks off to find Special K somewhere in the Armory. That building can only be so big, guys. Just listen for the rave music!

And now it’s time for ROH vs. All Japan!

Ray Murrow replaces CM Punk on commentary.

CM Punk & Colt Cabana vs. Tomoaki Honma & Kazushi Miyamoto
The established tag team of Honma and Miyamoto go by the name Turmeric Storm in All-Japan and the ring announcer refers to them as such. Before the match begins, Dunn and Marcos interrupt Great Muta with their usual introductions. That makes a Muta very angry. Cabana, ever the funny man, pumps up his wrestling boots like their Reeboks from 1991 before he hooks up with Miyamoto. Some people love BMW’s, Colt Cabana loves Reebok Pumps. Several wrestling sequences that lead into stalemates occur. We get a tag switch as Punk and Honma give it a go. Punk goes after the arm early, but Honma ducks under a boot in the corner and pulls Punk out to the floor. Punk reverses a whip into the guardrail. Back in, the Second City Saints concentrate on Miyamoto’s leg for a while. Punk tags himself in to help out with an inverted Boston crab/camel clutch combo to really stretch out Miyamoto. Honma runs in and breaks that up with a dropkick. Cabana wants a Too Cool Elbow Drop, but Punk is Too Serious for that. More double-team action as Punk whips Cabana in the corner for the Double Knee to Miyamoto’s chest. Cabana’s Boogie Woogie Man strut costs him though as Miyamoto falls on the back of Cabana’s leg. Tag to Punk, he tries to prevent the tag. No good. Hot tag to Honma, he dishes out some forearms. Crazy Elbow on Punk, followed by a Muta face slam. That gets two. Honma delivers the Flatliner/DDT combo on the SCS. Unrealistic, but a cool looking spot. Punk slams Honma off the top. Chris Lovey ~ “SHADES OF FLAIR/STEAMBOAT~!” Cabana charges into a powerslam. DDT by Honma. Miyamoto is back in the ring, but Cabana cuts him off with a Frankensteiner for1-2-NO! Miyamoto fires back with palm strikes and hits a pretty Swanton Bomb for 1-2-NO! Enziguri to Cabana allows a tag to Honma and to Punk on the other side. Lots of forearms from Punk set up a Michinoku Driver of sorts. Honma has to roll out after that. Miyamoto floors Punk with a spear, Cabana drills Miyamoto with a Lariat, Honma nails Cabana with a springboard forearm, and then Punk delivers a springboard dropkick to Honma! Awesome! Honma looks to finish with SHALIMAR TEA (Blockbuster) to Punk! Cover, 1-2-NO! There’s a modified Tower of Doom on Punk! Cabana stops the count, but gets thrown out. Miyamoto misses a pescado, allowing Cabana to deliver an Asai Moonsault. Inside the ring, Honma warms up his forearm, but Punk stops him with a Devil Lock DDT. Cover, 1-2-NO! Pepsi Twist! That doesn’t end the match either as Miyamoto makes the save. Cabana throws out Miyamoto again so he can help out with the PEPSI PLUNGE on Honma! Punk covers and gets three. (16:35) Pretty fun extended formula match if I do say so myself. ROH – 1 AJPW – 0 ***¼

AJ Styles vs. Kaz Hayashi
After WCW, Kaz Hayashi went to All-Japan to rebuild their junior heavyweight division and became really awesome. The commentators make a point to say that Hayashi was the first guy to ever take the Styles Clash back in WCW. Hmm. There’s some feeling-out indy style stuff to start as they play around with a headlock. Down on the floor, Styles LEAPS over the guardrail off a whip and hides in the crowd for a little bit. To avoid any tomfoolery, Hayashi gets back in the ring. Eventually, Styles returns to the ring. They get into a forearm battle. Hayashi charges into a spinning back kick. Hayashi returns the favor with a double-bird and a spin kick of his own to set up a brainbuster! After some more of that headlock, Styles escapes and tries to sunset flip into the STYLES CLASH. Hayashi kicks him away though in mid-move. Hayashi hits a piledriver, but AJ backdrops out of a second one and KILLS Hayashi with a Gunn Slinger that lands Hayashi across AJ’s own back! Styles begins to concentrate on the back and applies a bow and arrow. Hayashi comes back with a slingshot DDT. Didn’t get it all the way though. AJ nails Hayashi with a pumphandle into a gutbuster, followed by an STO into a backbreaker. Sort of a variation of that backbreaker/gutbuster combo he does. Hayashi fools AJ with a handspring off the ropes and instead of going for the elbow, he mule kicks Styles. Hayashi blocks another STYLES CLASH attempt with a sick hurracanrana for 1-2-NO! AJ avoids a Dragon Suplex, but then gets caught in a Crippler Crossface. AJ makes the ropes and crotches Hayashi up top. He goes for the STYLES CLASH, but Hayashi ranas out of it again – only this time, AJ rolls through his hurracanrana into the STYLES CLASH FOR REALZ! That’ll do it for Hayashi. (14:49) Some good stuff here, but I can’t help feeling like Hayashi held back a little bit. ROH – 2 AJPW – 0 ***

Satoshi Kojima vs. Homicide (w/Julius Smokes)
This crowd is flipping out for Kojima. Fun little shoulderblock battle to start. Homicide actually takes Kojima off his feet and dropkicks him to the floor. Homicide puts the brakes on a Tope Con Hilo when Kojima steps aside and has himself a seat. Back in, they trade some armbars. Kojima gets into it with Julius Smokes and gives him a crotch chop. After Homicide and Kojima chop each other, Kojima has enough and pokes Homicide in the eyes. As he chokes Homicide down in the corner, the ref asks him to stop, so he says things like “I don’t understand!” and “I’m Japanese!” The crowd has a collective orgasm over it. Homicide fights out and hits that Tope Con Hilo he wasn’t able to earlier. He whips Kojima into the guardrail, but then takes an overhead belly-to-belly suplex head-first on the concrete. Kojima grabs a camera from a fan at ringside and takes a picture of Homicide just for fun. Back inside, Homicide appears to be knocked out on his feet. Homicide reverses a corner whip for a clothesline and a running face wash, but then he falls on his butt like he can’t stand up. Kojima misses one forearm smash in the corner, but not a second one. Flying Elbow Drop connects for 1-2-NO! Homicide blocks a corner charge with a boot and hits a tornado DDT for 1-2-NO! Kojima comes back with a sit-out spinebuster and calls for the LARIAT. Homicide stops that with a DDT and hits the Ace Crusher. Kojima nails Homicide with the KOJI CUTTER, which is the same thing as the Ace Crusher. Homicide won’t take that LARIAT as he blocks it with a boot and hits another Ace Crusher. He charges into a LARIAT anyway as Kojima covers for 1-2-NO!. A second LARIAT does the trick though. (13:12) Was that an All-Japan finish there or what? The first five minutes were at least pretty entertaining. Everything else was just Ace Crushers. ROH – 2 AJPW – 1 **¾

Jerry Lynn wants the ROH Pure Title!

AJPW Unified World Tag Team Champions Great Muta & Arashi vs. Christopher Daniels & Dan Maff (w/Allison Danger)
MUTA IS HERE! And it’s a big deal. At least it’s a lot better than the stuff he’s done in the US over the last ten years prior to this show. Maff and Arashi start us off. Fun fact: When Arashi quit sumo wrestling and debuted in All-Japan in 1987, he accompanied Giant Baba over to the US for the Crockett Cup that year. Their matches aren’t on the Crockett Cup ’87 commercial tape, but I looked it up and this statement is in fact true! As big as Maff is, there’s not much he can do with Arashi as he sumo attacks Maff around the ring. Now we get Danielson vs. Muta. Danielson thinks he’s going to mess with Muta’s mind, but then Muta sprays the green mist and the Prophecy gets the heck out of there. Back in, Muta corners Danielson. He runs into a boot in the corner. Ugh, Muta’s not looking so good. He fights out of the corner though and tags Arashi. Maff helps Danielson back Arashi into their corner for a tag, but Arashi starts clubbing Maff. Tag to Muta, he drops the Flashing Elbow. Ha, Maff completely flips out in the corner. MOONSAULT? Allison Danger jumps on the apron to bring him down. Muta teases another mist spray, but Danielson nails him from behind before she takes a load in the face. Giggity. Danielson hits a split-legged moonsault and delivers the STO into the Koji Clutch. The Prophecy continue to cut the ring off with Muta until he rolls past Maff and hits a dropkick to set up a tag to Arashi. DROPKICK to Maff! He avalanches Maff and gives him a belly-to-belly suplex for 1-2-NO! Maff fires back on Arashi with forearms and tags Danielson. He runs into a powerslam as Muta gets the tag. Muta starts dropkicking the knee to set up for the Dragon Screw Leg Whip! Figure-Four! WOO! Arashi takes Maff to the floor while Danielson attempts a bunch of rollups on Muta. As Muta comes off the ropes, Maff nails him in the back with a chair! Danielson holds Muta while Maff gets back in the ring to nail Muta with the chair, but Muta hits him with the RED MIST! Maff is done. Danielson catches Muta with a Uranage to set up the BME, but Muta avoids that and hits Danielson with the SHINING WIZARD to take us home. (16:08) The Prophecy refuse Muta’s handshake. Instead, they bow. Nice bit of continuity there. This was pretty good. I wasn’t expecting that much. ROH – 2 AJPW – 2 ***

Good Times, Great Memories LIVE from Chicago! In his tuxedo t-shirt, Colt Cabana gives us a rundown of what will be happening today. Special K will be on the show! Plus, CM Punk will be visiting. Special K are his first guests. He asks them what’s the deal with you guys partying all the time. Becky Bayless stops by and takes over everybody’s attention when the Carnage Crew attack and ruin the show! They scare Special K and Becky away all because Devito’s 14 year-old daughter went to a rave and somebody slipped her X. She must be a very healthy 14-year old. Well, she probably was before that rave anyway. Now the Carnage Crew hates ravers. It would be easier to list what they don’t hate about the world at this point.

Before we go, let’s see how the Prophecy is holding up. The cameras are supposedly turned off, but they’re not! Maff is still pissed about swearing to Punk on his mother’s grave that the Prophecy had nothing to do with what happened to his girlfriend Lucy. Danielson tells him that nobody told him to swear on anybody’s grave. Okay, camera on. Now that BJ Whitmer has taken over Xavier’s spot, the Prophecy is seriously all united and stuff!

Final Thoughts: Nothing bad about this show at all. Only one out of EIGHT matches didn’t quite reach *** and two matches went ****+. Lots of great matches with lots of build towards Danielson/Punk for a later date. Of course that one-on-one match never happened. But yeah, thumbs up for Final Battle 2003.

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