Seeing how the show after the “Round Robin Challenge” show had nothing special on it, except maybe an Eddy Guerrero appearance, I want to talk about the start of pushing the top stars in the company at that time, with the introduction of the actual ROH Title. Thus we have the show “Road to the Title”.
The show was a one night tournament to determine who would be the finalists that would wrestler for the title. However it wasn’t your basic one night bracket tournament. They divided sixteen participants into four blocks, and each block is a mini-tournament within itself and the winner of each block would go to the finalists. This meaning there would be four finalists.
The blocks were:
A – Spanky (known to W.W.E. as Brian Kendrick), Paul London, Jody Fleisch and Johnny Storm
B – Christopher Daniels, Scoot Andrews, A.J. Styles and Jerry Lynn
C –Jay Briscoe, Doug Williams, Bryan Danielson and Biohazard
D – Prince Nana, Low Ki, Amazing Red and Xavier
It wasn’t really a specific order in which they had the matches take place, just seemed kind of random. All the matches in the tournament weren’t all that great. The three final ones saved the show, but I want to mention the tournament, because obviously it leads to one of the most important things in R.O.H. history, which is crowning their first World Champion. I’ll go through all the matches. .
Bryan Danielson beat Biohazard is a very lame short match.
Spanky and Paul London was next and although the match was OK, I expected it to be better, knowing both wrestlers. Spanky won the match.
Doug Williams vs. Jay Briscoe. This is where I caught my first glimpse of Doug Williams. He started the match chain wrestling with Jay Briscoe, and right there I was impressed with Doug Williams, because I loved his style which I never saw before. Doug Williams won, with Jay being lectured by Mark (his brother) which would leave to a mini-feud and later storyline.
Johnny Storm vs. Jody Fleisch. Two wrestlers which I never heard of before…well I grew up with a Johnny Storm, but it’s not the same one (lol). They were two British wrestlers who gave some really good spots, but they also botched up some other ones. Jody Fleisch won.
Low Ki knocks Prince Nana out in another short match.
Amazing Red defeats Xavier in a short OK match. Xavier would become the 2nd R.O.H. World Champion in history, but I’ll tell you beforehand, I can’t stand the guy. He can’t work, and he’s sloppy, at least in my opinion. Why he got the title, made no sense to me.
Christopher Daniels defeated Scoot Andrews in another short match.
The last Block semi-final match was A.J. Styles vs. Jerry Lynn. The only good semi-final block match, although I don’t think you can expect anything less from these two guys. A few anecdotes from this match that are worth mentioning. At the start of the match, they had a series of arm drags, going back and forth, until at one point they both went for the arm drag at the same time and hurt each others arms. A simple yet original spot I’ve never seen before. Also, back then it was a bit more common place, but forget about it today, or even during 2004 (where I’m currently at), but the commentators were actually speaking highly of T.N.A.. The commentators in general will speak about other promotions up until 2004, although it wasn’t the most common thing. A.J. wins.
In any case, in general, as I said, I think the semi-finals for each block were pretty worthless. I think they were filler to make the tournament seem like something special and “real”. I think it is was a “cheap” way to push the talent they wanted to push to the main event quickly. So if you decide to pass on the semi-finals of each block, you won’t lose much because it’s the finals of each block where the tournament actually starts getting good and has a point.
The only block final match that isn’t worth watching is Spanky vs. Jody Fleisch. Spanky is a good wrestler and a high flyer, similar to Jody Fleisch, however this match was way too short and way too spotty. So this match is skippable.
The rest of the three finals are worth watching, which I will briefly mention below:
Doug Williams vs. Bryan Danielson. Very good match. This match further improved my respect for both Doug Williams and Bryan Danielson. Two equally matched wrestlers. The first five minutes was back and forth wrestling holds, with some very exotic holds that I couldn’t’ help but applaud. Seriously, for the first year or so, I applauded a lot of moves watching the matches by myself because I seen a lot of new stuff through R.O.H.. Around 2004 it’s more “OH” or “AWESOME” than applauding because I think by this point I don’t see new stuff that’s different, despite seeing awesome matches. However, during the first two years, I found myself clapping a lot to many matches and moves. Both men kicked out of each other’s finishes and Doug Williams won with an inverted suplex. Overall a great performance by both men. Really impressed. Was surprised that Doug Williams took the victory seeing how Bryan headed the previous shows. This paved the way for Doug Williams in R.O.H.
Amazing Red vs. Low Ki, another match I was looking forward to. Have to say, another great one. I was basing the match expectations on their match in TNA during the first year of TNA’s existence, which was awesome. Well, this match delivered. Just from the opening sequence, I can tell we were in for a beauty. Red slaps Ki, and Ki tries to hit back but Red avoids them all even flipping. Crowd goes nuts. Those types of things makes me except something special. Overall, I think this match was better than their TNA match and it showcased what both men can do. The match ends when Low Ki does a Ki Crusher from the top rope and it looked SICK!
The last block final was A.J. Styles vs. Christopher Daniels. How many times have them men fought? They just had the thousandth match in T.N.A. recently. You’re probably sick of seeing them wrestle, however back then, it was not a common practice so I will talk about it. So how was this match? It started off pretty slow, but starting picking one after a spot where Daniels threw A.J. Styles off the apron and into a guardrail thus busting A.J. open. After that they struggled back and fortth until Daniels got the pin with the Last Rites. Very good main event.
Thus the finals are set for the following show:
Christopher Daniels vs. Doug Williams vs. Low Ki vs. Spanky.
I’m going to talk about this match on its own in the next article, because I believe it deserves an article on its own. Also, I’m going to do it a bit differently than my articles up until now, which I will also explain on my next article.
However, summarizing the tournament, although the concept was original, it was obvious that the “blocks” were just filler to put over the main event guys then wanted to build R.O.H. around. But the block finals were all good matches except for the Spanky match. I would recommend watching this one night tournament for any wrestling fan, and that way know and understand “The Road To The Title”.
— Jose Perez