Tales from the Eastside Directory -Ring of Honor "High Impact" TV report for 9/4/02.

-Two down, one to go. Almost there! Anyway, here we are: The highly-anticipated first episode of Ring of Honor TV. Let's get to it, shall we?

-Wait, before we get to it, a quick visit to rohwrestling.com reveals that two matches have already been signed for the 10/5 ROH show: Low-Ki vs. Samoa Joe (a hired gun for the Prophecy) in an unsanctioned match and American Dragon vs. Doug Williams in a 2/3 falls match. AD/Williams has a good shot at being the MOTY if it lives up to its potential. Okay, NOW let's get to it!

-Open with a shot of an empty ring, where Low-Ki is standing. He's got some words for us: "Welcome to Ring of Honor. This isn't ECW, this isn't the rebirth of WCW, and this is certainly not an imitation of WWE. There's a new era of wrestler at hand, a new era of athlete. The Era of Honor begins tonight!"

-ROH Intro. Shots of all the expected faces, pretty good overall although the music is kind of nondescript. The last shot? Low-Ki, on his knees, raising his ROH World Heavyweight title belt high.

-Back to Low-Ki in the empty ring. "Ring of Honor will present wrestling as a sport. The most athletic contests, with a clear winner and loser." For some reason he repeats this line- or maybe it was a tape glitch? Ki goes over the Rules of Honor: "1) Competitors must shake hands before and after their match. 2) No interfering in matches or having others interfere on your behalf. 3) No harming a referee or causing others to harm an official. 4) No sneak attacks. 5) If you are disqualified in your match, you have broken the Code of Honor." Some screaming is heard, and the camera pans around to see an angry Christopher Daniels throwing chairs. "Low-Ki, you are a HYPOCRITE! (...) You know that Ring of Honor is a farce and the Code of Honor is a farce! That's why I'm going to break down Ring of Honor and rebuild it in the image of the Fallen Angel...in the image of the Prophecy!" Daniels storms off, leaving Ki to growl angrily in his monkey-like way.

-Your hosts for this evening are Steve Corino and Donnie B. Donnie's nickname is "Big 80s" and I can assure you I will never call him that. Tonight: From "The Era of Honor" begins, it's Low-Ki vs. American Dragon vs. Christopher Daniels!

-The Christopher Street Connection (with Allison Danger) walk out to the ring. For those who don't know, the CSC run a gay gimmick. Not of the sanitized Billy & Chuck variety, either; these guys actually make out in the ring as part of their act. We cut to a commercial as they make their entrance. Notably, commentary is handled by Corino and Eric Gargiulo, since this is off the first ROH tape.

-ROH 9/21 spot. Matches announced: Low-Ki defends his ROH World Heavyweight title against Xavier, American Dragon vs. Steve Corino, Red vs. Jay Briscoe (rematch from "The Era of Honor Begins"), the ROH World Tag Team title tournament with Chris Daniels & Donovan Morgan, Jose Maximo & Joel Maximo, Natural Born Sinners, Da Hit Squad, Divine Storm, Spanky & Paul London, and Dick Togo & Ikuto Hidaka! Also, it's a battle of NOAH wrestlers when Michael Modest takes on Takao Omori!

-We're back and the Christopher Street Connection & Allison Danger are still in the ring. They don't get to say anything before Da Hit Squad run out and ambush them. Monsta Mack gives Buff E. a release German suplex while Mafia gives Buff E. an Overhead Belly-to-Belly suplex. Mafia slams Buff E. down so Mack can give him a senton. Mafia with a hard lariat for Mase, then Mase gets given the Burning Hammer by Mack ...for the pin? I guess it was a match. Afterwards, Buff E. is laid on a table and Mafia Superbombs Danger through Buff E.- and the table. DHS take turns with the mic after the match, screaming stuff like "Ring of Honor is not about stupid gimmicks and dumb valets!" and "Sports Entertainment can kiss it's ass goodbye!" This worked as kind of a "mission statement" for ROH I guess, but couldn't they have found a better way to make this statement? DHS are little more than the Dudley Boyz with headdropping moves.

-In the back, Pennsylvania State Athetlic Commission representative Frank Talent goes over the rules while the entire ROH roster looks on. Talent talks about how there shouldn't be any blood or cursing. Spanky, meanwhile, stands in the back and brushes his teeth. Then, when Talent introduces the ring doctor, Spanky puts on headphones and starts jammin'! Talent wishes everybody good luck and finishes his speech. When Talent walks out, Spanky (still wearing the headphones, with the toothbrush in his mouth) leads a round of applause. Spanky is just THE MAN, don't you agree?

-James Maritato has some words for us from the back. He says that it's been over a year since ECW folded, and while he's been working for many independants under the name "Little Guido" for the past year, he thinks it's time for a change. "I'm going back in time, to 1995. In 1995, James Maritato was working for the most elite shootfighting group in the world, based out of Tokyo, Japan..." and Maritato puts on a UWFi shirt. Maritato says he's going back to his shootfighting roots- and he's going to take everything out on Xavier. Good interview, although I wonder how many ROH fans know what UWFi is.

-James Maritato (210 lbs; Queens, NY) vs. Xavier (200 lbs; Queens, NY). Commercial break after the entrances. We return to hear the crowd chanting "AC Slater" at Xavier. Handshake of Honour to start. Collar-and-elbow tieup, Xavier with a waistlock to a full-nelson, Maritato reverses to a full-nelson of his own. Xavier counters to a hammerlock and he drives Maritato to the mat. Maritato floats over to a front chancery, Xavier counters by grabbing one of Maritato's arms and turning to a wristlock. Xavier to a side headlock, Maritato shoots him off the ropes. Maritato drops down and leapfrogs Xavier as he comes the other way. Maritato going for a hiptoss, Xavier reverses, now he wants the hiptoss but Maritato counters to the Fujiwara Armbar! Xavier quickly scrambles for the ropes. Xavier trying for a powerbomb, but Maritato drops out and gets a single-leg takedown. Maritato to the mount, Xavier reverses to his mount and flails away but Maritato reverses back and he rains down blows on Xavier, who is able to make the ropes. Xavier rolls to the floor. Xavier gets up on the apron, shoulderblock through the ropes connects with Maritato but when Xavier tries to flip in Maritato simply moves and Xavier crashes to the mat! I wonder why no one else ever thought of doing that? Maritato locks on a figure-four headscissors, but Xavier floats out through Maritato's legs. Xavier smoothly transitions to a Bow & Arrow, but before he can get it fully applied Maritato flips over onto Xavier's stomach for a two count. Maritato comes off Xavier's shoulders with a victory roll for another two count. Flying headscissors by Maritato throws Xavier off, and Xavier gets some distance from Maritato. Xavier extends the Hand of Friendship, Maritato takes it and Xavier slaps him. Corner whip by Xavier, Maritato reverses and charges in but gets backdropped to the apron. Clubbing forearm by Xavier, then he takes Maritato over the ropes and back into the ring with a Front suplex!

Trio of right hands by Xavier, then a cover but Maritato gets the shoulder up. Chops from Xavier, then he throws Maritato into the corner to work him over some more. Three knees to the midsection by Xavier, then three more hard kneestrkes to the head follow. Gutshot by Xavier and he runs off the ropes with a forearm smash. Cover, but Maritato is again able to kick out. Xavier spits on his hand and slaps Maritato, then cinches him up on the second rope. Xavier attempting a headstand 'rana, but Maritato counters by holding on and locking in a second-rope Boston crab! Maritato breaks at a three count, then comes off the second rope with a dropkick to continue the offense on Xavier. Half-nelson pin by Maritato gets two. Corner whip, Xavier reverses into a Backdrop suplex (not like a Back suplex, this is where Xavier gets the victim stomach-first over his shoulder and falls backward; that's what I mean with Backdrop suplex). Xavier with a pin attempt, but it's still not enough and Maritato kicks out. Side Russian legsweep by Xavier and he runs off the ropes with a kneedrop. Uppercut by Xavier, trying for a running powerslam but Maritato counters that with a DDT! Xavier rolls outside to collect himself, so Maritato dives through the ropes and onto Xavier with a tope suicida! Xavier is rolled back in the ring and Maritato stretches him with an Oriental Scorpion. Xavier falls to the side and he's able to turn out of the hold, but the damage has been done. Corner whip attempted by Maritato, Xavier reverses to a kneelift and he locks in a Cobra Clutch but Maritato is able to counter that by running up the ropes into a faceplant (ala Bret Hart)! Dropkick by Maritato and he covers, hooking the leg but Xavier still kicks out at two. Maritato setting up for the Kiss of Death but Xavier hits two knees to the ribs to break that up. Waistlock by Xavier, Maritato with a back elbow and he goes under Xavier's legs, trying a monkey flip but Xavier grabs Maritato's legs and ties him up with a jackknife cradle for the pin (81). Maritato has some words with Xavier after the match, but they do end up making the obligatory handshake. A very solid undercard match here, nothing exceptional but it had some above-average work from both men and it did a good job of getting Maritato's shoot-flavoured persona over. If they really want to go all the way with Maritato's shooty work, ROH should import some Catch workers from overseas and Maritato tear it up on the mat with them for ten minutes. The right man went over here, as Xavier is one of ROH's best undercard talents and unquestionably the best worker to come out of JAPW, plus he was being set up for a bigger push after this match.

-We cut to an extended clip from the Bret Hart RFVideo shoot interview. Bret talks about when he first heard about Owen's death, about how he hates Vince McMahon, and how he was unmoved by the "Raw is Owen" show. This was alright if you've never heard this stuff before, but Bret has made these comments in countless other places. It's a pathetically obvious and transparent shill for RF's shoot interviews. It's also just a tad exploitive for Rob to use a clip of Bret talking about Owen's death to hawk his softball shoot interviews. The clip clocks in at 9:00 total, and I'm sure they could've found a better way to use this time.

-American Dragon (185 lbs; Aberdeen, WA) vs. Low-Ki (170 lbs; Brooklyn, NY) vs. Christopher Daniels (210 lbs; Sin City). Have I mentioned how cool it is that the chyrons show the weight/location for each wrestler? Very nice touch. Three-way standoff to begin, as the competitors feel each other out. Triple knucklelock, Dragon strikes Daniels with a kick to the theigh. Ki with a kick to Dragon's leg, but those two still have their knuckles laced. Daniels looks to attack both men, but Ki and Dragon charge him with a double lariat, then a double chop. Ki and Dragon to the collar-and-elbow tieup, they tussle to the corners with neither man getting a distinct advantage. They stay in the tieup and wrestle back to center ring, where Daniels sends both men down with a dropkick. Ki to his feet and he hits Daniels with a roundhouse, then Dragon lays into Ki with a chop. Clip. Daniels with an Irish whip to Ki, but Ki reverses and nails Daniels with a rolling koppou kick! Ki with two kicks to Daniels' chest, he Monkeys Up and goes for the Angry Monkey Kick, but Dragon grabs Ki and bridges him over into Cattle Mutilation! Daniels breaks that up and then locks Ki in a Boston crab, while putting Dragon in a chinlock at the same time! Clip. Ki takes Dragon's face off with thirteen stepkicks to the head. Clip. Dragon locks the Oriental Scorpion on Daniels, but instead of bridging back into a facelock he bridges back into a double chickenwing! Ki with a hard kick to Dragon that breaks the chickenwing, but he still has Daniels in a reverse Indian Deathlock. Ki runs off the ropes with a Yakuza Kick (sadly, no "YAKUZA KICK! YAKUZA KICK! YAKUUUUUZA KICK!" from Eric, I guess he only says that for when Trent Acid does the move) to Dragon. Dragon falls back in pain, but he STILL has Daniels' legs locked up so whenever Dragon gets pounded backwards, Daniels takes punishment. Ki going for a roundhouse kick, but Dragon ducks and throws Ki over with a Northern Lights suplex! Daniels is able to pin Dragon's shoulders backwards by switching the leverage in the reverse Indian Deathlock, but it only gets a two count. Ki with two chops to Dragon, Dragon with a chop of his own, Ki, Dragon, Ki whips Dragon off the ropes and into a back elbow.

Clip. Dragon pulls back on Daniels' arm with a stepover armbar. Ki with a kick or two to break Dragon's armbar. Ki snapmares Daniels over and kicks him in the back of the head. Dragon and Ki go nose-to-nose, then Dragon says "That's not how you do it! THIS is how you do it!" and he snapmares Daniels over into a hard kick to the back. Ki responds with "No, this is how you do it!" and he snapmares Daniels over into another hard kick to the back. Dragon with a, you guessed it, snapmare and kick to the back of Daniels' head. Ki with yet another hard kick to the back of Daniels' neck, and Dragon follows suit. Daniels begs off but it's to no avail as Ki and Dragon hit him with a pair of sandwich kicks to the chest. Ki and Dragon go for a third sandwich kick, but Daniels moves and Ki and Dragon end up kicking each other in the foot. Dragon and Ki opt to continue their alliance, going for a double suplex on Daniels but the Fallen Angel counters to a neckbreaker on Ki, while he DDTs Dragon at the same time! Daniels drapes an arm over both of the other men for a cover, but both Ki and Dragon kick out at two. Daniels covers Ki for a two count, then tries his luck with Dragon for a two count. Dragon gets to his feet and kicks Daniels right in the leg. Dragon with a kick to Daniels' leg, then he turns his attentions to Ki and gives him four stepkicks. Ki with a clubbing forearm to halt Dragon's parade of kicks to the face, then he cinches him up on the top rope. Dragon fights back with elbows to stop Ki from executing whatever he had planned. Ki falls to the mat and Dragon turns around, possibly setting up for a diving headbutt or something similar before Daniels runs up the ropes and hammers Dragon with clubbing forearms. Daniels grabs Dragon and puts him in an Abdominal Stretch on the top rope! Dragon is in serious pain, and Ki saves him by giving Daniels a snap kick to the back. Dragon tumbles down to the mat while Ki works over Daniels on the top floor. Right hands by Ki and he pulls Daniels backwards into the Hanging Dragon (Tree of Woe Dragon Sleeper)! Clip. Dragon has Daniels set up for a Tiger suplex (or maybe Cattle Mutilation) but Ki smacks Dragon with an enzuigiri to break that up. Daniels capitalizes with a Blue Thunder Bomb to Dragon, one, two, no. Ki with a chop for Daniels, who staggers back into the corner. Ki going for the Tidal Crush but Daniels moves and Ki handsprings into the turnbuckle! Chop by Daniels, he gets Ki in position for an Iconoclasm but changes his mind and pastes him with a hard Shotei instead.

Daniels going for a Superplex, but Ki shoves him off. As soon as Daniels is shoved off, Dragon sprints up the ropes and hits Ki with a forearm smash. Now it's Dragon going for a Superplex, but Daniels heads back up the ropes and now all three men are standing on the top floor. Daniels cinches Dragon up from behind, but Dragon still has hold of Ki- Dragon with a top-rope Superplex to Ki while Daniels gives him a Back Superplex at the same time! Great spot. That move managed to hurt everyone, but Dragon got the worst of it. Daniels and Ki are to their feet and a punching match breaks out. Daniels ends up on the recieving end of too many rights from Ki, so he snaps the monkey man's neck back with an STO. Daniels points to the ceiling and he's going to the top rope. Triple Jump Moonsault by Daniels finds the mark, right into a cover on Ki, one, two, NO! Dragon breaks up the pin. Daniels is sent to the corner and Ki hits him with the Tidal Crush, and now all three men are down on the mat. Daniels and Dragon are to their feet, Dragon with an elbowsmash but Daniels won't go down. Rolling elbow by Dragon, then another and Daniels is in a bad spot. Dragon grabs the double chickenwing, and he successfully bridges over into Cattle Mutilation! Ki has used this time to recover, however, and now he's ascended the turnbuckles. Dragon wrenches back on Daniels, who is screaming in pain, but Ki leaps off the top with a Stardust Press onto Daniels and Dragon that breaks up the hold! Ki got all of both guys with that, and he's pretty clearly in control. Daniels gets up in Ki's face, not a smart move this late in the match. Ki hooks Daniels' leg- KI KRUSHER! Ki covers, one, two, three (around 15:00 aired, 89)!

Dragon wastes no time grabbing the mic: "Low-Ki! You may have won this match, but you didn't beat the American Dragon! So, what I propose: Next month, in Ring of Hnor, we wrestle in a singles match to see who's really the best!" Daniels takes the mic and starts talking about how much he respects both guys, but he abruptly stops himself and says that both Ki and Dragon can go to hell. Daniels brags, "I can beat both of you in the same night!" Ki takes the mic, saying that both Daniels and Dragon will get what they want, proposing a Round Robin series of matches between the three for the next show. Both Dragon and Daniels nod while Ki promises, "I will prove I'm the best talent in Ring of Honor!" Dragon and Ki shake hands. Ki extends his hand to Daniels, but Daniels refuses the handshake and walks out through the ropes. A graphic tells us that on next week's show we'll be seeing Spanky vs. Paul London and highlights from the Round Robin matches.

Even in clipped form, this was an extremely good match. It lacks the psychological depth it could've had, eschewing extended matwork and build for flashier spots. However, it wasn't a spotfest and they did work in some innovative submission stuff (like the spot where Dragon kept the reverse Indian Deathlock on Daniels while Ki was kicking him around). This also established the individual styles of all three men for future ROH shows: Ki was the determined kicking machine, Dragon was the matworker and Daniels was the disrespectful heel. Ki was made to look strongest of the three, and while his selling (as usual) left something to be desired, his offense was well-placed and executed. Daniels and Dragon did an admirable job of holding things together, and the Stardust Press was an effective setup for the Ki Krusher on Daniels. The angle after the match was also well done; the best angles are the ones that set up great matches down the line, and that's exactly what this one did.

-We close with a promo from Steve Corino, standing in front of a brick wall and looking none too pleased. "Wherever I go, people always ask me, 'Why does Steve Corino just announce, why doesn't he wrestle for Ring of Honor? What has Steve Corino been up to in the past year?'. Well, I'll tell you. If you'd bothered to look on the internet or even pick up a magazine, you'd see that Steve Corino is the hottest gaijin in Japan. Gaijin means 'foreigner', someone who travels seventy thousand miles to wrestle overseas." Corino turns his attentions to American Dragon. "Carrying Shawn Michaels' bags to Japan does not make you a Japanese wrestler! *I* am a Japanese wrestler! American Dragon, you may hit hard and you may strike hard, but you are not a Japanese wrestler. And on September 21st, I am going to give you a lesson in Japanese-style wrestling!"

-This was a pretty good debut for ROH on TV. My expectations were low, just because I thought it would end up being nothing more than a bunch of clips while Donnie B. narrated highlight packages. They seem to have picked the right undercard talent to show off (Xavier, Spanky, Maritato) as opposed to stale acts like the Natural Born Sinners and the SATs. The promos on the show were very good; Maritato's may have went over the heads of ROH's fanbase but I enjoyed it, the Spanky segment ruled and Corino finished off the show in style with an intense, excellent promo that was reminiscient of his better work in ECW. The Low-Ki talk at the beginning could've gotten goofy, but thankfully they kept it short and it was a decent introduction to ROH's rules for those who were unaware of them.

It wasn't all good stuff, however. The DHS/CSC mess recalled ECW at its misogynistic worst, and the clip for the Bret Hart shoot interview was very annoying. They should've cut the Bret clip down to two minutes and given the rest of that time to air the main event in full.

Overall, this was an encouraging start for ROH TV. Hopefully next week's show will have at least Dragon/Daniels unclipped, and Spanky/London and Ki/Daniels only run about ten minutes so they shouldn't need to be clipped. That's a half hour or so of wrestling right there; throw in some highlights of Dragon/Ki and a few promos and you have a thumbs up show all set. Of course, Feinstein may choose to clip the Round Robin matches to show exciting clips from his shoot interview with Tommy Dreamer...

Eastside Spotlight #1 should be up now for your viewing pleasure, read it when you like.

-Patrick

1