Backseat Boyz vs. Da Hit Squad
I wondered why this match was so early in the show, but after seeing it the spot makes sense. It's a short match and Hit Squad is just squashing the Backseat Boyz the whole time. There's a bunch of spots where Maff or Mack are out of spot and Kashmere or Acid have to stall until the move happens. Kashmere flips out of a burning hammer and Maff slowly remembers he's supposed to try and clothesline him and hit Mack, but Mack isn't in the right spot so that's awkward. Then the Boyz hit the T-Gimmick on Maff and get a three count. It wasn't good so at least it was short.
Special K vs. Carnage Crew vs. Dunn & Marcos
This was a drag race of a match with wall to wall high spots and tons of dives. No flow at all to this match I bet I loved it the first time I saw it. Carnage Crew almost get the win with a second rope piledriver, but other Special K guys distract the ref and Mikey Whipwreck comes in an hits some stunners and Hydro steals the pinfall.
AJ Styles & Amazing Red vs. The Briscoes
A match with a story and some flow to it. This is novel and exciting. Watching Amazing Red matches now is weird because everything he did has become more refined and even higher flying by the later wrestlers, but I remember how groundbreaking his stuff was and a lot of it is still cool now. Red is the face in peril for the match as you would imagine since he's so very small. Cool dives and lots of big moves from both teams. AJ boosts Red up to a top rope hurrincanranna that almost knocks Jay backwards off the top, but its countered into a top rope powerbomb neckbreaker combo. Mark clotheslines AJ out of the ring and slingshots onto him for a 'ranna, but AJ catches it and hits a Styles Clash on the floor. Red counters the Jay Driller into a Maximo Explosion and hits the standing shooting star press for the three count. This was a match I loved back in the day. Now I definitely find it to be way too fast paced with a bunch of big moves that don't mean anything. Is this what it feels like to be JR? I still like it, but it's not as awesome as when I first experienced it.
CM Punk vs. BJ Whitmer
Good back and forth match although it is a bit sloppy at times between the two guys. Classic early Punk wrestling though. Some good groundwork at the beginning before turning into a hard hitting affair. Ends with a double count out after a german suplex off the apron through a table which I'm okay with as it's a pretty midcard match and built to more stuff afterword.
Homicide vs. Christopher Daniels
Another solid back and forth match. This one was crisper than the last one, but they were really awkward with the finish off back and forth submission and pinfall counters that just looked rough.
Samoa Joe vs. Hotstuff Hernandez
Back and forth big man match here. This was the first Samoa Joe match I'd ever watched and I couldn't figure out why they made him champ. Not too bad on a rewatch though. Not great, but good hard hitting stuff and Hernandez looked solid as well.
Samoa Joe vs. Colt Cabana vs. Tom Carter vs. Matt Stryker
A really good four way match here. Joe doesn't do much in the beginning of the match, but everybody takes some shots at the champ and he gives them right back when he wanders in to break up pins or submissions. Everybody gets some good stuff in and shows their wrestling acumen. Awesome finish as Joe locks in the Coquina clutch and Carter hits a frog splash to break it up, but Joe holds on anyway and gets the submission.
Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson (2/3 Falls)
This match is still awesome. It's one of my favorites of all time and after all the other matches weren't as good as I remembered I was kind of worried about this one, but it was for nothing. They pace themselves slowly and really make everything matter in this one. They build up every attempt Bryan goes for the belly to back suplex off the top rope and it's a key part of the match. London counters the first one and gets the first pinfall. Early in the second Bryan knocks London off the top and traps his legs in the ropes and goes to work on them. That sets up the story of the second fall as Bryan goes to work on and eventually gets a submission with a single leg crab. In the third fall it continues the same way and eventually Bryan gets the belly to back suplex, but doesn't get the pinfall with it. He gets the cattle mutilation, but no submission, and the single leg crab again, but still London fights out. London counters a fourth attempt at the belly to back suplex with a tornado DDT off the top then hits a shooting star press to the back of Bryan as he tries to get up and gets the three count.
This match is just so well done. It tells a great story and is just two great workers having a great match. Everything is executed crisply and is sold well. Nothing happens without a reason and the wrestling tells a story and that's the best you can get.
Dusty Rhodes, Homicide, Iceberg, & Homicide's Crew vs. CW Anderson, Jack Victory, David Young, & The Bar Room Brawlers
This is just a clusterfuck of a brawl. They don't announce who's in it since the match is unsanctioned and people just show up brawling until they play the music for the Midnight Rider and Dusty finally comes out. He clears everybody out with bionic elbows then everybody brawls around ringside and bleeds and hits each other with weapons. Homicide then tries to gouge Jack Victory's eye out with a fork and he says I quit. This is just so pointless and meandering. With the heel group's leader in Steve Corino missing it makes even less sense to have this match.
Going back and watching early RoH shows might be even rougher than I had anticipated. I don't really regret watching this show except the first and last match. A bunch of spot matches building into mat based wrestling makes sense to me. Gabe is fucking terrible on commentary and his biggest fault is he's always trying to get over the stories he's booking without allowing for any subtlety to take place. Danielson vs. London is fucking awesome and unless you're going to buy a comp with that match on it that makes the dvd worth a purchase if you find it. It's still the standard I hold a 2/3 falls match to and is so good. The earlier stuff might not be great matches, but it's a fun kind of mediocre and that's not bad. Feel free to skip the main event bunkhouse brawl though.