Author Archives: Tim Cooke

Jimmy Rave’s 2005

There has been a lot of talk recently about the resurgence of Jimmy Rave and how he is potentially the best wrestler in the world in 2016.  From the footage I’ve watched from him in 2015-2016, I’m not sure I could back that claim.  The more interesting thing to me is that Jimmy Rave had a fantastic 2005, that was viewed positively at the time and upon re watch in recent months.

Rave had super solid **** matches with CM Punk, AJ Styles, and later in the year as part of the Embassy versus Generation Next multi-man feud.  ****, what’s so great about that?  For one, Rave got over as a real heat drawing heel.  That just didn’t happen in ROH.  And while Punk and Styles were good workers in their own right, they certainly weren’t what they would become 5-8 years down the line.

I’d suggest checking out the following matches:

CM Punk (02/26/05 – Chicago)

If this match happened in 2016, move for move with the same crowd reaction, people would be saying it is an easy MOTYC.  It was viewed that way back in 2005 by most, but at the time, it was still a good match and an example of something different in the highly technical world of ROH.  Maybe the closest ROH ever got to being prime-Memphis like.

CM Punk (05/07/05 – New York City)

You would think a chain match, with a guy like Punk who doesn’t have the best body control, in front of a New York City crowd would be a disaster?  You’d be wrong.  Besides being bloody, this had the grit and intensity of a lucha apuestas match.  Once again, Rave easily holds up his end of the bargain.

CM Punk (05/14/05 – Chicago)

Okay, so this is the weird one.  Move for move, moment to moment, they execute a cage match that is arguably good, maybe very good.  But there is no heat.  That could have been due to the length of the show (which ROH was notorious for), the downtime to set the cage up before the main event, and the booking to have this be pin fall, submission, or escape.  It’s worth taking a look at, but unfortunately is a disappointing finish to a really well booked and well wrestled feud.

AJ Styles (07/23/05 – Philadelphia)

This is probably the most underrated match in ROH history, outside of Chad Collyer vs. Rocky Romero from July 2004.  It’s a street fight and once you get past Rave and Styles wearing designer jeans, there is nothing but positives.  Rave’s top notch punches, which he seems to have ditched in his most recent run, are on display here, as well as the bumping, selling, and intensity that was needed as Styles could only work sparse dates for ROH because of TNA obligations.  This even has a brain buster on a chair, a move that I shouldn’t like at all, but it fits in this match pretty perfectly.

There is also an angle on the April 16, 2005 ROH show that leads to the chain match.  It starts with Rave leaving because he doesn’t want to wrestle Punk, who then wrestlers Embassy member Mike Kruel.  Punk beats him and Rave comes back out and they have a great brawl, which ends with Rave attacking Punk’s second, Traci Brooks.  Well worth seeing but not certainly not essential.

Rey Misterio Jr/Steven Regal vs. Eddy Guerrero/Dean Malenko (11/03/97 – Nitro)

While oddly booked, this kind-of, sort-of parajes incredibles match works. It’s more a testament to the four guys in the ring than anything else but they could have sleepwalked through the match and it still would have at *least* been average. Instead, they do there 1997 state-of-the-art spots and you come out of watching the 3:52 match thinking, “That was way too good to clock in just under four minutes.”

I love finding new takes on arm dragging out of moves. This match has a spot that I haven’t seen done anywhere else. Regal goes for his patented double arm, butterfly suplex. As he lifts Guerrero, Eddy arm drags out of it. Fantastic spot that needs to be stolen by a current luchador or US indy worker.

Eddy continues to be on fire here, getting loud “Eddy sucks” chants at the beginning of the match and when he finally enters after Rey and Malenko square off. Eddy even pulls out the “Fuerza Guerrera clapping spot” to fake his appreciation for Malenko’s opening segment, which works great as Malenko is a tweener, if not a face himself.

Time: 3:52
Rating: ***1/4

Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko (10/27/97 – Nitro)

Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko (10/27/97)

The Rey Misterio Jr./Dean Malenko series of matches in is a somewhat controversial.  John Williams, writing in 2000 for the Death Valley Driver Video Review Top 20 Matches of the 1990’s Pimping Post, was not a fan.

“Dean and Rey didn’t really work all that greatly together. As I said above, Dean often liked to control the match for 11:00, then give Rey 2:00 of high spots before hitting the finish. Perhaps people liked this. I liked Rey working back and forth matches with Psic [Psicosis] and Juve [Juventud Guerrera] in TJ [Tijuana] and Mexico quite a bit better.”

Scott Keith, regardless of what you think about him, had and still maintains a pretty influential presence on the internet with regard to wrestling match ratings.  He had much more praise for their Great American Bash match.

”Those last few minutes were CRAZY. **** Meltzer kind of buried the match, despite giving it the same rating, noting that Rey’s cred was pretty much shot now because he lost his debut to a mid-card guy.”

Dave Meltzer thought the Nitro match was good.

“Rey Misterio Jr. pinned Dean Malenko to retain the cruiser title in 4:35 by turning the Texas cloverleaf into a cradle. Misterio Jr. got a huge reaction coming out since he is actually from San Diego, which is something not mentioned in the commentary. Very good match.”

I’m not a fan of their longer Pay-Per-View matches but found this to be a quick and dirty and ultimately more satisfying version of their match formula.  Almost like a digest version.  I imagine I could find 4-5 spots in a modern day Dragon Gate match and put it to music and the match could come out looking great. This is the real equivalent of that.

They start out with mat work, which is brief but well executed.  The first big spot comes when Malenko tries to snap mare Rey over, who instead flips and lands on his feet, leading to a lucha elbow bump, followed by a terrific rotation arm drag out of a fire man’s carry hold.  Malenko gets to hit his top rope gut buster over the knee, which gets a big reaction from the crowd as possibly being the finish.  Rey and Dean do a spot that current AAA wrestler Aerostar would expand upon in 2015 (GIF coming soon) and then they go to the finish.  Rey had been winning most of his matches over the past couple of months with a springboard into the ring with a rana to get the pin.  Rey goes for that again, but Malenko catches him and power bombs, which gets a nice reaction from the crowd.  While trying to put on the Texas cloverleaf, Rey cradles Dean and gets the “upset” win.  Excellent finish.

I would have liked to have seen what 2004 Rey Misterio Jr. would have done with 2004 Dean Malenko.

Time: 4:35
Rating: ***

Eddy Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit (10/20/97 – Nitro)

Eddy Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit (10/20/97 – Nitro)

Benoit and Guerrero produced many solid matches against each other in WCW, though this may be the best. Their October 16, 1995 Nitro match is a strong match, but lacked crowd heat since both were relatively new to WCW. I don’t like the November 18, 1995 WCW Saturday Night match that others really like.  It’s solid and while Benoit is good in it, Eddy was still growing especially as a babyface.  Here, they work an abbreviated version of “Benoit tries for the knife edge chop but Eddy keeps ducking out of it.” It’s a really nice formula, especially for two guys who were so talented that they could pull it off.  They would work a more extended version of this formula on the March 5, 2001 episode of RAW, though that overall match is not as good as this one.  Since Eddy was the Cruiserweight champion and was defending his belt against Rey Jr.’s mask six days later, he had to go over.  In a finish that I suspect was put together by Benoit and Guerrero, Benoit hits the second turnbuckle with his head and is “knocked out.”  Randy Anderson checks on him and while he does that, Eddy hits a frog splash and Anderson gives a really great displeased look and a little slower count, but Benoit is pinned.  Strong match with a great finish.

Time: 7:14
Rating: ***1/2

Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Silver King (09/22/97 – Nitro)

This is almost an interpromotional dream match, especially for the time period. AAA versus CMLL. Silver King stood out in both of the 1997 CMLL ciberneticos and Rey Jr. in the fall of 1997 is as good as ever week in and week out. Quick holds are exchanged early with the segment culminating with Rey doing running up the body into a rana that takes Silver King over the top rope and to the floor. Though Samurai and Kanemoto do this in their June 1997 Best of the Super Juniors final, I’m pretty sure Rey and Silver King do the first US reverse rana off of the top rope, which gets a huge reaction and a big near fall. A Silver King rana reversal gets another good near fall. Eddy Guerrero comes out to ringside and is greeted with loud “Eddy sucks” chants. Silver King hits a great superkick.  A missed moonsault allows Rey to go to the apron and hit his springboard rana for the pin, the third consecutive week he used this for the win.  The best 4:00 minute match possible.

Time: 4:00                                                                                                                                 Rating: ***