Generation Next - May 22, 2004
Good Times, Great Memories
Guest: Trent Acid
Entertaining segment that forwarded the Carnage Crew gym bag defecation storyline, an angle that I've come to appreciate more over the years as undercard fun, and it fit the gimmick of the Crew quite well. That such antics have actually happened on the road only adds to it. (It'd turn out to be the new Carnage Crew that committed the heinous crime as revealed later on the show.)
Alex Shelley's Big Surprise
What is supposed to be a filler scramble opener involving Dunn & Marcos, Special K, and the Christopher St. Connection instead turns into one of the most important segments in ROH and independent wrestling history. Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, & Jack Evans interrupt the ring entrances, destroying the Connection (never to be seen again in ROH) and Ring Crew Express. Shelley then announces that the series of "Generation Next" matches are cancelled in favor of the four hungry upstarts forming Generation Next so that they can together become stars overnight. Special K (who are on a very bad streak) come out and we get some quick opening matches.
Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, & Jack Evans vs. Izzy, Dixie, & Angeldust
Not as effective as I would hope. GeNext plain and simple should have decimated Special K within 2 minutes to mark their territory immediately as an unfuckable faction.
Alex Shelley vs. Hydro (Jay Lethal)
This one wasn't as annoying as the previous match, as it did a great job of getting over Shelley as the leader of GeNext, and showing the potential Lethal had to be a breakout singles competitor. Perfectly executed.
GeNext would later attack Jimmy Rave and John Walters before those two wrestlers squared off.
Jimmy Jacobs vs. Nigel McGuinness
Didn't expect this one to hold up as anything more than an acceptable, and it surprised me. It was quick and to the point of slowly showing that these two were definitely on their way up, although I didn't care for Jacobs kicking out of the Tower of London.
Tag Titles - Hardcore Match
CM Punk & Colt Cabana vs. Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer
A good match that would have just been great had their been no attempts at maintaining order. This was an out-and-out blood feud at this point and it was known beforehand that this was a hardcore rules style match.
Briscoe Bros., Jimmy Rave, & John Walters vs. Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, & Jack Evans
This match is set-up when GeNext come out to threaten the Briscoes after their match against the Outcast Killaz, only for Rave & Walters to show up to even the odds.
This MAY be a perfect match. This had psychology from both teams. This had a great feeling-out process in the first third of the match that made sense. These eight men didn't expect to be wrestling each other on this night. There were also many, many great moments of offense that just did nothing short of amaze. For over 40 minutes, these eight men just went out there and tore the fucking house down. With it being an eight-man tag, I'm also more than happy to empathize with the ref not being able to maintain order down the stretch - to try doing so would be an exercise in futility.
This match also had many great segments of cutting the ring in half from the babyface and heel side. Things sometimes got a little dirty too, as the makeshift babyface squad was fed up with the antics of GeNext. Ultimately though, the antics of GeNext earlier in the evening (Aries piledriving Walters) paid off in spades, as the finish came when Walters couldn't get out of Shelley's Border City Stretch, having no choice but to tap out.
This is nothing short of a classic, and I'd throw it in the mix with Gabe Sapolsky's greatest booked matches. THIS is how you make stars overnight. THIS is how you establish not only a dominant act, but get other wrestlers that are just treading water into something productive. And in the process, the fans got to see one of the damnedest matches they've ever seen. I can't quite put this on the same level as Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson, Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson, and AJ Styles vs. Paul London, but dammit it's close.
CM Punk and Ricky Steamboat confrontation
This really was quite simple and predictable. Asshole new guy tries to antagonize a retired HOFer as a means to draw attention to himself. And guess what? It fucking works. The promo Punk cuts is another one to add to his collection of great ones, and then his deceit into physicality with Steamboat for a couple minutes is great stuff, making me REALLY wish WWE had done Punk vs. Steamboat in 2009. Thumbs up here.
ROH Title - Relaxed Rules Match - There Must Be a Winner
Samoa Joe vs. Homicide
This def needs to be on a new comp soon, as it holds up tremendously. This match does what the Saints vs. Prophecy should have done - immediately establish that this is a WAR. Whereas the impromptu show-stealing match earlier is a "work of art" style of match, this is just brutality and hatred. They beat the shit out of each other without destroying the bad-ass personas of one another. This has hard hits, dangerous drops, ghetto forks, ambushes, hardway bleeding. None of those things are what I'd personally encourage, but in this one they serve as purposeful elements. The finish is a tad meh, but it established that the sheer size and hatred of Joe is too much for Homicide to overcome. Supposedly they go on to top this month two months later. I'm looking forward to it.
This is simply one of the greatest pro wrestling events I've ever seen. It has great wrestling. It has varieties of wrestling and characters. It has forward progression of storylines in an interesting fashion. It has breakout performances. It plants seeds for the undercard to become more important down the road. This is pretty much a perfect show, and it turned out to be without spending a shitload of money flying in huge stars of that time from WWE or NOAH. This is EASILY ROH's best show of 2004, better than any 2002 or 2003 show from the company - some matches later in 2004 may be better than anything on this event, but no event as a whole in ROH's first three years can measure up to it.
Get this NOW. And yes, I do have one master copy I'm looking to get rid of.
Up next - World TItle Classic
Matches will include:
Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, & Roderick Strong vs. Jimmy Rave, John Walters, & Matt Stryker
Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk